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Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Names To Raise Big Money For Darren & Ben Ray, Plus: Big Bill's Numbers, Pearce's Otero Problem & NM Delegates Check In From Denver Confab 

White & Lujan
As the campaign days grow shorter we're going higher up the food chain when it comes to those national surrogates coming to NM to pump up their favorite congressional contenders. And the politics of the visits is also getting more interesting. For example, on Wednesday former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes to ABQ for GOP congressional hopeful Darren White. Rudy will hold a "Roundtable Discussion." It won't be cheap talk, either. Ticks go for $2300 a pop. A photo with Rudy is on sale for $1000.00. Darren should not run into trouble over that, as he did in July when Lobo basketball Coach Alford busted White's campaign for promoting photo ops with him--without his knowledge. Rudy will fete Darren at the spacious digs of contractor John Sanchez. Remember him? Sure you do. He fell to Big Bill while carrying the '02 GOP Guv banner. The affable Sanchez, now more tested, may yet have another run left in him.

White was one of the few prominent NM politicos to publicly endorse Rudy when he sought the GOP presidential nomination. He said he did so because of his affinity for Rudy's stance on terrorism. That sidestepped questions on Rudy's liberal record on abortion and gay rights--two sore points with GOP cultural conservatives. Now that he is in the general election, his association with Rudy might be more helpful. White is going to be hit hard for being in bed with Bush, whose campaign he chaired in Bernalillo County in 2004. He also has a hard-right image among many swing Democrats, some of whom remember when he ran for the Legislature years ago fashioning himself as a "conservative Christian."

When it comes to running in the hard-to-peg ABQ congressional district, repackaging and refashioning politicos has been the order of the day, and now on the menu for White.

DEM HEAVY HERE


And then there's the NM march of the big name Dems. Add US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to the list. He'll hit the hustings in ABQ September 3, not for ABQ Dem House hopeful Martin Heinrich, but for northern congressional hopeful Ben Ray Lujan. Big Bill, who served with Steny in the House in the 90's, will co-host the high-dollar event ($4600 for a host). It will be held at the home of businesswoman Nerissa Whittington, a major contributor to Bill.

There are a few Bernalillo County precincts in the sprawling northern congressional district, but Steny may want to add a Heinrich event--if he hasn't already--to smooth over any bumps for giving his attentions to Ben Ray. Then again, there will be plenty of surrogates left for Heinrich to tap. (By the way, we are hearing plenty of grumbling about the lackluster campaigns run thus far by both White and Heinrich. Come on fellas, step on the gas.)

Lujan, son of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, should handily win the northern seat, becoming the state's first Hispanic congressional member since Big Bill left the House in '97. At this point, Ben Ray is the only sure thing for the Dems. The rap on him is that he lacks intellectual firepower, a charge we tried and failed to document by grilling the 36 year old for nearly an hour in a caffeinated session during the primary. We walked away scrapping our plans for a "Ben Ray for Dummies" book. No, his problem isn't knowing what's going on; it is the expectations that are going to be placed on him to build power for us in D.C. and not let the Alligators suck him into the swamp of northern NM politics. Bill shepherding Ben Ray toward Leader Hoyer is good politics. More important, it could mean good policy if Lujan the Younger proves to have the stuff it takes to play this game of ours.

BILL BY THE NUMBERS


The recent special session of the NM Legislature apparently did little to help or hurt Big Bill politically. He is still below 50% in the latest Rasmussen survey taken August 20, right after the session ended. Says the polling firm: "Richardson's given good or excellent marks for his job performance by 49% of voters...Twenty-four percent (24%) say he is doing a poor job. These numbers have been relatively stable for the past two months."

The remaining 27% of those rate Bill's performance as fair or have no opinion.

We've talked about why the governor--who owns the record for the most sweeping election victory in state history---in 2006 he carried 32 of 33 counties--finds himself below majority support. Part of it is the difficult climate for all incumbents. Bill also continues to pay the price for much out-of-state prez campaigning. There is also a sense that the state scene is stagnating, after several years of peripatetic activity led by our hard-charging chief executive. The recent round of massive layoffs at Eclipse Aviation, a company embraced wholeheartedly by the state's political elite, emphasizes the general malaise that NM has come under.

Talking with a range of business folk, we find many of them unable to post numbers comparable to last year. Throw in scary energy prices and you have voters with plenty to worry about. While NM is usually protected from severe downturns by its huge base of government employment, the economy has become more diversified and vulnerable in recent years. Also, we did not escape the housing bubble and subsequent crash. New Mexico feels the economic pain of the nation more these days and it is showing in the approval ratings of even high-level political players like Bill Richardson.

CANDIDATES BEWARE


How many times do the candidates have to be told not to mess with the ABQ Journal questionnaire? Year after year they are nabbed for not disclosing, disclosing incorrectly or simply not telling the story. Even an old pro like Dem state Senate candidate and former Bernalillo County Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has been caught in the questionnaire web. Says the paper:

"Eichenberg was charged with a misdemeanor for illegally carrying a firearm in Austin in 1994, according to Travis County Clerk's Office officials. The charge was dropped a year later for insufficient evidence. Eichenberg said that he didn't know the incident qualified as being charged with a crime."

That's an omission that earned him front page of the paper's Metro section. Bad for Tim, but a boost for ABQ GOP State Senator Diane Snyder who Eichenberg is trying to unseat. "I should have disclosed the incident on the Journal questionnaire. It was my mistake to have not done so," Eichenberg said. If history is any guide, the Journal questionnaire could trip up a couple of more politicos between now and Election Day.

PEARCE PATRON

We didn't realize it was that much, but this ABQ Journal report says the conservative Club for Growth, a D.C. based third party group, spent over $800,000 to help Steve Pearce beat Heather Wilson in the GOP US Senate primary. Over $560,000 was for TV ads. As we've blogged, they are back for the general with a recent $150,000 TV buy for Pearce. They are expected to come with more.

FOLLOWING FOLEY

Foley
The Roswell Daily Record hits with a piece asking just where State Rep. Dan Foley is living and if he is not living in his district, as required by the NM Constitution, just what is being done about it?

The House Minority Whip, according to the AP and other reliable sources, has relocated to Rio Rancho and is selling insurance. However, the paper says his Roswell insurance business is still open. A state rep is required to live in the district in which he represents, but the requirement has been rarely enforced. Foley says he will resign his position after the November election. He was defeated for re-election by Dennis Kintigh in the GOP primary. Foley won't answer the paper's questions.

The rumor mill continues to swirl around Foley. For example, will he try to get back in the Legislature by running for a Rio Rancho area legislative seat? Is he trying to line up a lobbying gig? The Roswell county clerk says she is not required to check to see if Foley's current address is correct, and with Foley set to quit in November, there is little incentive for Foley's foes to follow-up.

DEMS IN DENVER

The party is underway in Denver. Hillary says she won't spoil it. NM Dems say they will enjoy it. Here's a report from one of them as they settled into the Mile High City for the festivities to come.

...We checked into our hotel right next to the convention site. We share it with the Virginia delegation, highlighting our importance as a delegation...Security is tight, but a carnival like atmosphere with advocacy groups roaming the pedestrian mall...Souvenior vendors hawking everything Obama prevail. The first night, the delegation was whisked to the old train station where Union Pacific railroad schmoozed us with two luxury trains, free finger food and most importantly, free booze! Lt. Gov Denish, Ben Ray Lujan and former NM House speaker Sanchez made the rounds. The lonliest New Mexicans were (newspaper reporter) Steve Terrell and others in the New Mexico press relegated to the bar car, avoided by everyone. We are now making our way to the chairman's cigar reception. Everyone is upbeat and excited about he week to come.

Thanks for that update, delegate. But Terrell and company lonely in the bar car? Not when old pals Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker are sitting next to them.

PEARCE PROBLEM

In one of the most conservative NM cities in one of its most conservative counties, GOP US Senate nominee and southern NM congressman Steve Pearce has run into trouble--with the mayor of Alamogordo.

Introducing Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall at the restaurant he owns, Alamogordo Mayor Steve Brockett said this is "no country for Republican bald men."

We're told Brockett is a Republican. What did Steve do to get his goat?

THE BOTTOM LINES

From D.C and out of the blue we hear from a reader at the National Association of Manufacturers. Why? A link we put up regarding the American Energy Alliance and their political ads in NM said NAM was involved with the nonprofit group. The NAM says it has not connection to the alliance...

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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