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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ken Zangara Back In The Game; Named McCain NM Finance Chair; Will Host July ABQ Party For Prez Hopeful; Plus: Insider GOP Contest Draws Newcomer 

Ken Zangara
GOP warhorse Ken Zangara is back in the saddle and preparing to host a July 14th ABQ fundraiser for the man he hopes will be the next President. The well-known ABQ auto dealer, who has raised big dollars for Bush, has started shaking the money tree for soon-to-be GOP presidential nominee John McCain. Zangara has been named McCain's state finance chair and we've confirmed that his first big money raising effort will be a McCain fundraiser at Zangara's ABQ NE Heights home. The invitation lists several suggested giving levels:

Event Co-Chairman: Raise/Contribute $25,000; Name listed on invitation; Private Dinner with Senator McCain; Photo opportunity with Senator McCain; 2 tickets to general reception

Event Host: Raise $10,000 / or Contribute $4,600 per couple; Name listed on invitation; Photo opportunity for 2 with Senator McCain; 2 tickets to general reception


Individual Ticket: Contribute $1,000; one ticket to the General Reception

Those of you laughing all the way to the bank these days can get more info on the McCain visit here---kzangara@zangara.com 505.385.4041

Zangara, a former Bernalillo County GOP chairman, lowered his political profile after trying to play peacemaker following the 2003-04 debacle when the state GOP had a bitter power struggle over the chairmanship of Ramsay Gorham. In '06 Zangara settled accusations with then-Attorney General Madrid that his dealership overcharged customers. At the time, Ken told me he was bidding adieu to La Politica, but it was not to last. Zangara was among those greeting President Bush last month at a Los Ranchos fundraiser for GOP congressional hopeful Darren White. In the early days of the Bush presidency, Zangara and his wife Kathy spent time with the Bush's at their Crawford Texas ranch.

With the economy shaky and the demand for campaign contributions high because of all the open congressional seats, Zangara will have his job cut out for him raising money for McCain. The July 14th fundraiser may offer the first clues on how enthusiastic the GOP base is for McCain who also banks on his appeal to independents and conservative Dems.

GOP INTRIGUE

The insider political intrique continues over Saturday's state GOP convention in Las Cruces, with another ABQ attorney joining the contest for the largely honorific post of GOP National Committeeman. 50 year old Anthony Contri tells us he is up to challenging fellow attorney Pat Rogers who has been campaigning to replace former State Rep, George Buffet. Buffett, 80, is giving up the post after a four year stint.

Rogers' candidacy has generated controversy because he was involved in the US attorney scandal along with his ally, GOP lawyer, lobbyist and powerbroker Mickey Barnett. There has been an ongoing struggle in the state GOP with Barnett and Rogers representing one faction. Buffet ousted Barnett from the committeeman's post four years ago,. Contri says he is not taking sides in the factional dispute, but it is clear he represents the opposition. Contri owns RhinoCorps, an ABQ software engineering firm employing 70. Another name being bandied about is that of car dealer Don Chalmers, but he has not publicly announced a committeeman candidacy.

What about GOP US Senate nominee Steve Pearce getting involved in the committeemen struggle and fielding a candidate? Insiders say Pearce is content to sit this one out on the sidelines. No doubt there will be plenty of future internal party power wrangling that Pearce will have a chance to weigh in on--if he chooses.

SHE'S ON BOARD

Michelle Lujan Grisham e-mails to let us know that she is on board with the campaign of ABQ Dem congressional nominee Martin Heinrich who beat her and three other rivals in the primary election. She said the reason she is not joining Rebecca Vigil-Giron in hosting a victory celebration for Heinrich at the National Hispanic Cultural Center tonight is that her Father-in-law passed away on election day. The question about Grisham's support of Heinrich arose when her named did not appear on the invitation to the Heinrich event, but she says she is supporting him. The Heinrich team says she has a campaign event scheduled with Martin in July.

PHOTO OP

This horse is ready--literally-- for the campaign trail. We don't think it's the one northern Dem congressional nominee Ben Ray Lujan rode in his campaign TV ads, but maybe it's a relative. If they put an Obama sign on the other side of the horse, he and Ben Ray can take a ride when Obama goes looking for northern votes.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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