Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tom's Alone Time: June TV Screens Are His As Pearce Regroups; A Monahan-Dyson Exclusive Report, Plus: Heinrich Works To Heal Primary Wounds 

Udall by Bralley
Steve Pearce took a good sized bite out of Tom Udall on his way to beating Heather Wilson for the GOP US senate nomination, and it worried some Dems that their senate contender was being defined by Pearce's tough TV ads. But now the tables are turned. Udall is the only congressional candidate who extended his TV buy past the June primary. He still has on the air two bio spots and this week is adding an issues ad to the mix. With nearly $3 million raised and about $2 million in the bank, insiders say it is a good bet that Udall stays up on the tube every week until Election Day

I would bet they stay up the entire time or pretty close to it. It is a smart move for him, as he needs to redefine himself, especially since Pearce already started doing it to him in the primary, putting Tom with Heather. And with not much else out there, why not? Analyzed one veteran Dem operative.

Udall had no Dem primary opposition, allowing him the luxury of raising big money and not spending it. If he buys about $100,000 a week on ABQ TV--an educated guess--it would cost him nearly $1 million for June and July, a staggering sum to many, but run-of-the-mill in today's off the charts campaign spending.

Udall's newest ad doesn't mention Pearce. It goes after the man the D's are trying to tie every Republican to this year--George Bush. The message cites high gas, food and health costs and lays the blame at the feet of the incumbent Prez and by implication one Steve Pearce.

Monahan & Dyson
We worked the Udall story with veteran KOB-TV political reporter Stuart Dyson who previewed the new ad and wondered how long it will take Udall rival Pearce to follow Tom on the airwaves. He probably won't want him to hog the tube for long, but Pearce needs to raise money and plot strategy, matters that could keep him from matching Udall--at least for a while. Maybe one of those ubiquitous "third-party" groups will come with ads for Pearce?

If Udall has decided to start extra early and stay on through Election Day, he won't be the first candidate to have done so. In his 2006 re-election campaign for Governor, Big Bill also started in June and stayed on until the votes were cast. Udall is using the same media consultant as Richardson--Murphy,Putnam.

Is there a downside for Udall in going up so early? Only that many voters are burned out on politics and won't be paying much attention. But Udall soon will face an unending and unbending attack campaign from Pearce who trails by a large margin. Any goodwill he can build during the laid-back days of summer could pay a dividend when the coolness of October ushers in the final combative stretch of Campaign '08.


It was a little noted upset, but the primary defeat of northern GOP congressional candidate Marco Gonzales at the hands of Rio Rancho contractor Dan East has put a major wrinkle in the plans of the GOP to create a stumbling block for Dem primary winner Ben Ray Lujan. Gonzales, an attorney and former staffer for Senator Pete Domenici, had the senator's endorsement and the support of the party establishment,. They wanted a Hispanic challenger to Lujan and hoped to put the race in play by getting help from a third party challenge by Carol Miller. The upset of Gonzales (East managed 54% of the vote) has changed all that. So what went wrong? We asked a GOP insider for the scoop:

Marco simply didn't raise money, and he underestimated the fact that, all things equal (with no info from either camp), East wins the Republican primary. Marco didn't make things unequal; he did a couple of mail pieces, autodials, and some radio, but not enough to make a dent; East focused his limited resources in his fortress counties. Marco didn't do enough to talk about Domenici's endorsement of him. There was probably a sense of entitlement from him as well; the voters certainly corrected that.

Gonzales let he race get away from him by allowing East to tote up huge margins, appropriately enough, on the East side. The contractor took 69% in Quay, 72% in Roosevelt and 60% in vote heavy Farmington, all heavy Anglo areas where Gonzales needed to work.


He won a healthy Democratic primary victory by capturing 43% of the vote in a four way race, but there is still healing to do for ABQ Dem congressional nominee Martin Heinrich. It did not go unnoticed that Heinrich is throwing a victory party Thursday night at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and one of the hosts will be Heinrich primary rival and former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. However, Heinrich's other Hispanic rival, Michelle Lujan Grisham, is not listed as a host. But Michelle is having a "Thank You" celebration for supporters at her ABQ North Valley home June 28. Grisham and Heinrich announced their events within hours of one another Tuesday, leaving the impression that the healing process may take more time than Heinrich would like.

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