Friday, August 29, 2008


  • McCain VP pick is a surprise--Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska
Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the USA at an overflowing stadium in Denver Thursday, putting the importance of the Rocky Mountain West in the 2008 election squarely before the American nation as it was introduced to the new standard bearer, the first African-American to secure the presidential nomination of a major political party. (AP report here. Transcript here. Complete video here.)

The Illinois Senator, 47, is a largely unfamiliar figure in the American West, including New Mexico, but his campaign believes Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada could supply the key electoral votes to capture the White House. He is expected to commit considerable time here in the two months remaining before the election.

Obama will assiduously court NM Hispanics who polls indicate are on the Obama bandwagon, but with local observers still analyzing how much a role race will play in the balloting. Obama's liberalism is also a question in a largely middle-of-the-road to conservative state that has voted for the popular vote winner in every presidential election, save one, since achieving statehood in 1912.

Obama's candidacy in NM will focus on the urban centers of ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. He will try to cut down his margins of defeat in rural areas where President Bush landslided John Kerry four years ago and narrowly won the state.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton, who won the NM Feb. Prez caucus, need to be brought aboard Obama's campaign. NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish chaired the New York Senator's NM effort.

The Obama campaign is counting on NM Governor Richardson, himself an '08 presidential candidate, to help them carry this state and its five electoral votes, a task he was also called on for in 2004 but disappointed when Bush narrowly won. This time the Governor has more at stake--a possible job in an Obama administration.

Recent polling shows NM still in play and expected to remain a battleground state until the end. Millions of dollars are being pumped into local TV and radio stations. Experts consulted here expect a heavy turnout for the election. The low guess being about 70% of registered voters and 80% on the high side. A 70% turnout would be 725,000.


If the Bill Richardson who showed up in Denver last night had put in a couple of appearances during his presidential campaign, who knows where it may have led. The New Mexico Governor picked up the bat at Mile High Stadium and scored an impressive inside-the-park home run, rousing the crowd of over 80,000 and vindicating himself of a year of uneven performances on the national stage.

If Big Bill's disastrous appearance on Meet the Press earlier in the year was the first bookend of his presidential campaign, last night the second bookend--solid and satisfying--was put into place.

By getting bumped to the final night of the convention after Bill Clinton spoke too long Wednesday, Richardson was able to deliver a new speech, rather than a somewhat dry foreign policy missive that he had planned for Wednesday. The second talk, in which he played to the hilt the role of attack dog, melded nicely with his love of the political game.

The speech itself was pretty much standard boilerplate, but it was delivered with passion, relish and joy. Big Bill grabbed the crowd early in the nearly 9-minute talk and led them in rapturous condemnation of Republican John McCain. If only momentarily, he was the high priest of American Democratic politics. Richardson will now take to the road for Obama for two months. The Bill Richardson who showed up in Denver last night needs to go along.


GOP US Senate candidate Steve Pearce is again on the march with the help of a heavyweight interest group. The US Chamber of Commerce, which endorsed Pearce this month, has hit the ABQ market with TV ads knocking Dem Senate candidate Tom Udall's energy policy and supporting Pearce. No word on the size of the buy yet, but the ads are on the big network affiliates.

Already on the air for Pearce with a $150,000 buy is the conservative Club for Growth, also hitting Udall over energy issues.

Combined with Pearce's own campaign spending, the interest groups may mean Pearce is currently getting as much TV exposure as the well-financed Udall, if not more. This is crucial because Pearce lags Udall by ten points in the most current non-biased public polling. He will have to spend to get closer.

Some have emphasized that the GOP national Senate committee is low on funds and won't come for Pearce, but the big money in these federal races also comes from the interest groups. Pearce is off to a good early start in attracting their support. Will they and others be with him in October?


Talk about questionable timing. The trial of ex-Democratic State Senator Manny Aragon and other defendants in the ABQ Metro Courthouse corruption scandal has been set for Oct.28, just days before Election Day. US District Court Judge William "Chip" Johnson, who set the trial date.

It was in 2006 that the pending indictments of Aragon and the others became a major political issue when it was alleged that Republican Senator Domenici and Congresswoman Wilson made intimidating phone calls to US Attorney Iglesias to get him to speed up the indictments so they would hit the front pages in the middle of Wilson's difficult re-election campaign against Patricia Madrid. Domenici was "admonished" buy the Senate Ethics Committee for his action.

Judge Johnson would probably argue that external political factors were the very problem in the US attorney scandal and by letting the election interfere with his decision on when to set the trial date, he would be guilty of the same ethical lapse as Domenici and Wilson. But the defendants in the case have already argued before Johnson that they believe it is a political prosecution. Couldn't the judge use that reasoning to schedule the trial after the final emotional days of a bruising campaign? Whatever the legal nuances, the decision to hold the trial so close to the election could give the perception--especially to Democrats-- that politics, not jurisprudence, is holding sway in the halls of justice.

We're the home of New Mexico politics. E-mail your news and comments.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign