Monday, July 14, 2008

Early Shake-Up In Pearce Campaign; Insiders Say Manager Out, Plus: Bill Vs. "Dr. No" In Special, And: ABQ House Candidates Plot Positions 

Steve Pearce
Tom Carroll barely had time to find a parking place at Steve Pearce's US Senate campaign headquarters. Turns out he won't be needing one. Insiders report Carroll, hired as Pearce's campaign manger only a couple of weeks ago, is headed for the exits. Carroll wasn't talking, but one of the Alligators opened up.

"It appears there was a conflict with what Tom wanted to do and what Pearce's other advisers wanted. He submitted a campaign plan that conflicted with their ideas," detailed our insider.

Carroll, who once served as NM GOP executive director and who runs his own PR firm, has consulted numerous campaigns.

Carroll is a hard charger and so is Pearce's longtime media adviser Arthur Finkelstein of NYC. Pearce is also no slouch. His Washington office is known for having high personnel turnover. No word on who the new campaign manager will be.

The southern NM GOP congressman faces an uphill battle against his well-financed Dem foe, Tom Udall, who has been building points on the TV airwaves since the June primary ended.

Veteran New Mexican political analysts--both D and R--are still not writing off the possibility of a Pearce upset, citing the state's history and independent streak. And the middle of July is a better time than October for some old fashioned campaign power struggles, but Pearce needs to start showing stronger command and control. If he can't do it now, voters may ask how he'll do it in the US Senate.

Smith aka "Dr. No"
Big Bill has found an exit strategy for a special session of the Legislature that look liked it was coming off the tracks before it even left the station. The Guv has added an item to the session, now set for early September, that is sure to win widespread support--rebating some of the millions of dollars from the state's oil and gas surplus to Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico.

There's nothing like putting a big check in taxpayers' mailboxes just days before the November election to win friends and influence voters. Come to think of it, if your approval rating has dipped below 50% for the first time in your term as Governor, it might also help you, even if that health care plan stays bottled up.

The special has been derided ever since the Guv conceived it. He wants it to produce a plan to provide health insurance coverage for all New Mexicans. But recalcitrant senators have signaled it is a no go. Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith is the face of the formidable opposition. He says the state's finances can't support free coverage for all. For that, the Deming lawmaker was given special gubernatorial attention:

"I am tired of members of the Senate—some members of the Senate—constantly saying no to any kind of progress on education reform, on health care," said Richardson. "I am tired of these 'Dr. No's.' Ever since I've come into office ... we've had substantial progress despite their dire predictions, which continue unabated every year."

Bill took us back to 1962 with that "Dr. No" reference. That's the title of the first James Bond spy movie. Wonder why he chose that moniker for Smith and Company? Maybe the Guv was studying briefing papers on how to become secretary of state and the reference was subliminal? Or maybe he is copying McCain who sometimes refers to Obama as Dr. No.

But back to that still to be scheduled September special. Rebating money is, of course, good politics, but it can also be argued that it's darn good policy. The state has wracked up huge surpluses just about every year Bill has held office and we've had only one round of rebate checks. With gas and food prices headed as high as Wheeler Peak, relief is in order. Hey, if they rebate enough cash, maybe we'll use some to rent that "Dr. No" DVD.


The state Democratic Party is out with a news release trumpeting the voter registration totals for the first half of the year, saying, "Democratic New Voter Registrations More Than Double Republicans in First Six Months of 2008." But how big a deal is that? First the numbers.

Since January of this year, 51,938 New Mexicans registered to vote. 27,207 of those individuals have registered as Democrats, more than double the number of voters that registered as Republicans. 12,926 voters registered as Republicans, while 11,805 registered as Independents according to the office of the Secretary of the State.

Dems can take comfort that they are indeed out registering the R's, but independents have most reason to celebrate. Currently, 50% of all NM registered voters are Democrats. In the first half of 2008, 52% of the newly registered did so as Dems, an improvement of two percent. Nice, but not that big of a deal. The R's did take a beating among the newly registered, garnering only 25%, compared to the 33% they currently have on the rolls. But it was the independents who made the big leap. Currently, 15% of registered voters in the state are independents, but among the newly registered that number jumped to 22%--a much better performance than either major party, and the true sign of the times.


Let's go deeper into that poll ABQ congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich released last week showing him beating Republican Darren White 47 to 44%. We pointed out that the survey identified Heinrich as the Dem and White as the R, which very likely bumped up Heinrich's number. Reader Fred Sisneros adds an angle worth noting.

Joe, interesting poll...I think it shows how bad it could be for anyone with an R next to their name...The November ballot will list party affiliation, which should be a big positive for Martin. Considering how little of a fight Martin has put up, he should be feeling good...

Tying White firmly to Bush and the GOP is Heinrich's obvious path to success. Insider polling shows White garnering 50% of the independent vote. That is way too high for Heinrich's camp. As Bernallio County Sheriff White has been able to project a nonpartisan image. As for those many Dems who cross over to the R's, Heinrich will try to ride the wave that is expected to form for Obama in Bernallio county. He could do that by coordinating his campaign with that of Obama's.


Insiders report there's been a hold-up in the expected endorsement of Republican White by National Right to Life. They say the sheriff is reluctant to fill out the questionnaire from the anti-abortion group. The right to life position can be tricky in the ABQ area where many voters are pro-choice. ABQ GOP Rep. Heather Wilson broke with the group when she voted to override President Bush's veto of a bill supporting stem cell research. When he sought the GOP nod for a state legislative seat a number of years ago, White announced himself a right-to-life candidate. But that was then. The stakes are higher now, and the questions await answering. Stay tuned.

Mike Anaya
We thought Mike Anaya might be related to the famous Anaya clan in Moriarty--the one that produced Governor Toney Anaya.
But we're informed he isn't. Still, Mike Anaya has politics in his blood. The Santa Fe county commissioner has been named president of the NM Association of counties for the coming year. His dad, the late Joe Anaya, served on the old state highway commission and Governor King named a building in his honor...Here's a long overdue correction. Months ago we blogged that ABQ police spokesman John Walsh had once been a reporter for the ABQ Tribune. Turns out that was another John Walsh...Speaking of the Trib, the last editor of the now defunct afternoon paper, Phil Casaus, has taken a job in Denver with the Rocky Mountain News....Also, on the ink-stained front, Arthur Alpert, who was a columnist for the Trib, is now doing it on-line for the NM Independent...

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