Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Senate Storm: Los Alamos Again Bites Udall; Pearce Pounces; Newspaper Stiffed, Plus: Heather's House Party, And: More On Ed's Spread 

Pearce Vs. Udall
For Republican Steve Pearce the June campaign trail has been drier than a good martini, but Wednesday the drought finally broke as Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall found himself back between a rock and a hard place over the familiar topic of funding cuts for Los Alamos Labs. Rep. Udall cast a vote against budget cuts for Los Alamos, but then refused to take questions from the state's largest newspaper, the ABQ Journal, and its correspondent Michael Coleman:

" I approached the U.S. Senate candidate at the hearing to ask a couple of questions about the vote today and he said he wouldn't talk, but would issue a statement. When I asked why he was ducking my questions, he said "I'm not ducking you." Huh? It was a little odd, because he's always made himself available to answer questions. Must be a touchy subject, ya think? Coleman reported.

Udall's vote against budget cuts comes after Republicans pointed out he voted for Los Alamos cuts last year. Pearce emerged from his summer cocoon and fired away

"Apparently Tom Udall is now willing to walk away from his history of opposing many of the policies he said he believed in the past. Today's flip flop on funding cuts to Los Alamos is just another example of that election year transformation...It is...good to know that he has changed his position and now supports what I have been supporting for many years. But it is shocking to recognize that he voted for the same exact cuts just last year."

Udall, who has urged Los Alamos to transition to non-nuclear missions such as as developing alternative energy, said in a written statement:

"Although this legislation contains many good provisions, it does not provide a path to the future for our national laboratories, and I could not support it. This bill not only cuts critical programs it rescinds funding that LANL and Sandia have already been promised and have budgeted for the current fiscal year."

The House Appropriations Committee, over Udall's objections, passed the budget which slashes Los Alamos funding and sent it to the House floor. But there is a long way to go in the budget process.

The renewed controversy over Los Alamos came on the very day that Udall unveiled a new TV ad to address his vulnerability over his budget votes.

His vote Wednesday from his position on the powerful Appropriations Committee was criticized immediately by anti-nuke groups who supported cuts to the labs nuclear programs.

It is not so much the actual status of the labs that is giving Udall trouble--voters know cutbacks are inevitable--it is the risk of having an image of ineffectiveness and indecisiveness. Udall leads Pearce in the polls and has room to maneuver, but refusing to answer questions about his vote just sets him up for questions down the road. But first, the critics have another question: If you can't defend yourself to the newspaper, how can you defend the people of our state in the United States Senate?


More on that $5,000 a pop fundraiser Obama quietly held as part of his ABQ trip this week. We reported that the maximum an individual Can give for the general election is $2300, and that's correct. But our financial insiders tell us that individuals can still donate an additional $2300 for the just concluded Dem primary elections. If they haven't previously donated to Obama, they are eligible to give a total of $4600, right up until the day he is is nominated for the presidency. After that, the $2300 limit kicks in. That, the insiders say, was the reason for a $5,000 a pop fundraiser. Money over the allowed limit goes to the national Dem Party.

Meanwhile, politicos here are assessing how Obama's decision to forgo public financing for the prez campaign will impact the congressional races. Will extra money raised mean Obama will be able to register many new voters in the ABQ and the northern congressional district and improve Democratic chances there?

Obama disappointed public financing advocates with his decision, but NM public interest groups and politicians who support public financing haven't made much noise about it. It seems the passion for political reform can be quite selective.


Steve Pearce will have to stand in line to get fund-raising help from Rep. Heather Wilson. Darren White has first dibs. The ABQ GOP congresswoman and loser to Pearce for the GOP US Senate nomination, will host a fundraiser at her ABQ North Valley home this Sunday for ABQ GOP congressional hopeful White. The invitation also lists Wilson's husband, attorney Jay Hone, as a host. The fundraiser does not shoot for the maximum contribution of $2300, but instead suggests $1000 donations. With all the hands out this year and the lack of enthusiasm in the Republican base, even that amount can be challenging.

Wilson and Senator Domenici, who endorsed Wilson over Pearce, have said they will help Pearce in any way they can. White's Dem rival, Martin Heinrich, is in the midst of an on-line fundraising campaign. He hopes to raise $35,000 by the end of the month.


Southern NM GOP congressional hopeful Ed Tinsley has taken heat for keeping a second home in Santa Fe which is outside of the southern district. We reported the home at the upscale Las Campanas subdivision is valued at $2.3 million.

Santa Fe's liberalism is often viewed with disdain down south. But Ed does have one thing on his side. Tom Blog (yes, that's his real name) of Santa Fe says the precinct in which Tinsley's posh home is located "is the most Republican precinct (based on declared party) in Santa Fe County." Now, if only all those R's could vote for Ed.

Sen. Montoya
Just where were we in 1976 anyway? I blogged Wednesday of the '76 US Senate campaign and how, as a young radio newsman, I traveled with Dem US Senator Montoya and AP reporter Bill Feather and how we spent an evening celebrating Bill's 50th birthday drinking the night away with Montoya at the Las Cruces Hilton. But it could not have been the Hilton, as blog reader Harold Morgan points out, because that particular hotel was not built until 1986. Hell, was it even Las Cruces? After 30 plus years, memories shrouded in nicotine and Jack Daniels are not always easily summoned, even though those substances have long since been banned from our diet. But we have our memories--as faulty as they may be at times.

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