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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Poll: Pearce By 6 Over Wilson; Pete On The Phones For Heather; Voters End Melodrama in 48 Hours, Plus: More Breaking News On Your Special Sunday Blog 

Pearce & Wilson
Steve Pearce is closing in on the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate, holding a six point lead--45% to 39%--over rival Heather Wilson in an ABQ Journal poll released Sunday. Still, the race has not been closed out. Wilson, a traditionally strong closer, is pulling out all the stops in the final hours of Primary '08, including that eleventh hour endorsement from retiring US Senator Pete Domenici who Saturday was working the phones for Wilson. (Details below.)

But the story this Sunday is Pearce and his unapologetic conservative message. "Pearce's message of being the consistent conservative appears to have worked," said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, in the game since the 70's.

If Pearce wins this thing, and it will now be a Wilson upset if he doesn't, it will be on the strength of the southern congressional district he has represented since 2002, and in particular
the "Little Texas" counties straddling the Texas border. Pearce is trouncing Wilson 64% to 23% there. As expected, Heather holds a commanding lead in the ABQ area, beating Pearce 57% to 27%. But my experts say with Pearce's expected power in the south, a 60-40 win in the ABQ area may not be enough for Wilson. She may need to hit over 65% here, a tall order indeed. In the northern district the two contenders are more competitive, with Pearce leading 46% to 37%. The poll was taken May 27-29 and has a margin of error of 4%.

Wilson now needs a light turnout in the south and a heavy one in ABQ, but southern Republicans have a competitive congressional primary to vote on, whereas in ABQ the congressional race is a dud and not pulling in the crowds.

The first round fight for the power and glory of the US Senate is now down to mere hours. Pearce has got to keep his head down, plow ahead and hang tough. Wilson must ignore the polling and try to pull more last minute surprises out of her hat. But at this point a conservative party, not surprisingly, is gearing up to annoint a true-blue conservative as its standard-bearer for the state's first open US Senate seat since 1972.

DOMENICI IMPACT

While the Journal poll was flashing across the Web Alligators in Washington were assessing the initial impact of Senator Domenci's Friday night endorsement of Wilson. They say polling indicates the endorsement had a positive effect in the northern congressional district, where Republicans are sparse. They say there seemed to be a bump in Republican vote-heavy Bernalillo on the order of three to five points, but there was no collapse in Pearce's numbers or a huge surge for Wilson. However, the south held solid for Pearce, and he may even pick up a few votes from southerners resentful of Pete's play. There are still some remaining hours for the endorsement to be put to work which could give Wilson a bigger boost. Judging by those Journal poll numbers she is going to need all she can get.

USING DOMENICI
Pete Domenici
Now that retiring GOP US Senator Pete Domenici has endorsed Heather Wilson for the US Senate nomination in her contest with fellow US Rep. Steve Pearce, how will Domenici be put to work to drum up support for Wilson? (Check our Saturday blog for the fascinating insider details on how the late endorsement came about. Here is Domenici's interview with the ABQ Journal on the subject.) Saturday, Domenici voiced a "robo-call" message that was phoned to Republicans across the state in which he urged a vote on Tuesday for Wilson. Wilson also did an automatic phone call touting the eleventh hour backing. In the automatic phone call, heard here courtesy of KKOB-AM radio's Peter St. Cyr, a frail sounding Domenici says Wilson's record is being "unfairly distorted" by out-of-state interests.

"Heather Wilson is exceedingly qualified to fill my shoes in the US Senate...I ask you to vote for her on Tuesday." Domenici says in the 30 second phone call.

Will there be more? Like a news conference or rally Sunday or Monday showing Domenici with Wilson? Will Wilson's campaign stamp her Monday TV with "endorsed by Domenici?"

There is much that could be done with an endorsement from Domenici. The good news for Steve Pearce is there is not much time to do it.

WHITE VS. CARRARO POLLING

No one will be surprised by the huge lead GOP Bernallilo County Sheriff Darren White has established in the Journal poll over ABQ state Senator Joe Carraro. White has had such a big lead all year that his was the only major congressional campaign not to put up TV ads. The question on Election Night will be whether White, the chosen one of the current powers-that-be in the state and national GOP, can reach the 70% mark. The Journal has him garnering 72% to Carraro's 13%. Carraro had a small budget and bought some billboards and minimal TV.

MICHELLE NUKES REBECCA

ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham came with negative TV against rival Rebecca Vigil-Giron over the weekend. She brings up that federal audit that criticized former Secretary of State Vigii-Giron's handling of federal Help America Vote Act money.

Grisham's problem from the get-go has been the splitting of the hefty Hispanic Dem vote with Vigil-Giron. It has allowed Martin Heinrich to break free of both of them. Attorney Robert Pidcock is also in the race. Lujan's negative TV on Rebecca, combined with the positive TV she is running, will likely take her past Vigil-Giron who has been running second to Heinrich. However, displacing Heinrich at this late stage in the game is her main goal, and that remains highly problematic.

MONDAY ELECTION SPECIAL

Join me and top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland Monday at 5 p.m for a live, one hour election special on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ/Santa Fe. We'll run down the key races with expert analysis from our guest panel. Tuesday night join us again on KANW for Election Night coverage starting at 6:30 p.m.

Election Night coverage is made possible on KANW by grants from Ladera Golf, Serrano and Sons--Construction and Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors.

E-mail your latest campaign news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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