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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout Has Steve & Tom In Lip Lock, But Wannabe Congressmen Play It Low-Key, Plus: US Attorney Scandal Explodes Anew; Indictments? And: Job For Bill 

Udall & Pearce
The people speak. Tom Udall and Steve Pearce get the message loud and clear, but every other NM congressional contender seemed to go tone deaf, perhaps losing a huge opportunity on what could be the turnaround issue of Campaign 2008.

With phone calls, e-mail and polls running overwhelmingly against the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, one of the oddest alliances was born. Pearce, the hard-core conservative US Rep from the south, and Tom Udall, lifetime liberal and US House member from the north, both hoping to become the state's next US Senator, found themselves forced into a political embrace. Both damned the bailout, effectively removing any political advantage either has with the issue in the final five weeks of their campaign. That works best for Tom who leads and does not need any game-changers in this battle.

But what of the others who aim to serve in the halls of Congress, especially southern NM GOP hopeful Ed Tinsley and ABQ GOP US House contender Darren White? Where were they? Well, they were hard to find. But if they had been serving in the US House Monday they would have voted for the bailout, along with outgoing ABQ GOP US Congresswoman Heather Wilson. This, in the face of a populist wildfire that would seem tailor made for a fiscal conservative. But like Wilson, Tinsley and White are tied to the Bush bone. And therein lies their problem. They are getting clocked in the polls for that association, but have done little to lose it. Did they pass on a golden opportunity to prove to voters that they are their own men? We'll know soon enough.

As for southern Dem House hopeful Harry Teague and ABQ Dem contender Martin Heinrich, the stakes were much lower for them. The economic crisis is already strengthening their polling numbers. They don't need to prove anything other than that they are opposed to the current regime in Washington and promise change. Still, with the nation facing a severe challenge, observers wondered where was the strong leadership among those who hope to represent NM in Washington? Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca had a pragmatic, if somewhat disillusioning answer. "The first job of these candidates is to win, then they can lead."

PEARCE AND UDALL

Are Pearce and Udall opportunists of the highest order, casting votes based on politics and not the good of the nation? Pearce's conservative and free market credentials are well-established and he announced his opposition days ago. Udall, who Hill Rats said consulted with Dem US Sen. Jeff Bingaman before voting no, had indicated he would vote for the bail-out if it had significant changes. But it did not meet his standard.

Udall and Pearce are both 60. They have seen a lot in their lives and are not prone to panic. Their votes against the current bailout plan can allow cooler heads to prevail and insure the voice of the average voter is heard. Stock prices may take a hit, but it is not the job of the United States government to determine the value of our stock holdings. Its primary task is to nurture and regulate a free market, capitalistic system. Now, that may be a system in need of major repair or one that some may even want to discard, but the votes of Pearce and Udall put them on the side of repairing the economy, not undermining the fundamental principles the nation is organized around.

To be sure, their votes were good short-term politics, but they were also, we believe, cast with the long-term interests of the nation in mind. Their votes won't win them kudos in the editorial pages of the mainstream media or in the salons of Washington and New York where they snicker at the notion of the "little guy" having a say in economic policy. They may even be blamed for causing economic pain. But pain, loss and recovery are as much of a part of an economy as they are of individual life. Udall and Pearce have the maturity to recognize that. It will serve New Mexico well in the United States Senate.

IT'S BACK: US ATTORNEY SCANDAL


Could you imagine if Heather Wilson was the GOP US Senate nominee today? We ask that in light of the new explosion in the US attorney scandal that again pounds away at the role of Wilson and other top New Mexican Republicans. The news being that the Justice Department has appointed a prosecutor to look into the firing of NM US Attorney David Iglesias. Wilson and Senator Domenici complained about the lack of prosecution of voter fraud cases which led to the firing of Iglesias. The congressional duo also made questionable phone calls to Iglesias inquiring about the status of a federal investigation into former Dem State Senator Manny Aragon and the Metro Court corruption case.

On Monday Justice released a lengthy report on the firings of Iglesias and other US attorneys. New information revealed includes the role of NM lawyer-lobbyist and former NM GOP national committeeman Mickey Barnett. That's covered by Talking Points Memo. The AP has this report. There's this from the Washington Post and then there is the Justice report itself. Chapter 6 is all about NM. You could start a cottage industry tracking this complex and important story.

WHITE'S ROLE

White & Heinrich
Wilson and Domenici could be trailed by the special prosecutor even when they leave office at the end of the year. We'll see. But for right now, ABQ GOP congressional candidate Darren White has the most to lose. White's role in the Iglesias scandal was also covered in Monday's report. The AP:

Darren White, whose name turned up Monday in a U.S. Justice Department report on the dismissal of federal prosecutors, said his involvement with former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was limited on voter fraud cases. "I don't think I ever talked to David," about potential voter fraud, White said. "I just sent him a letter.

But Democrat Martin Heinrich, looking as strong as any Dem ever has in their chances to take the seat, slashed away:

This scandal clearly demonstrates Darren White is anything but an independent voice for New Mexico and the voters of he voters of central New Mexico will see him for the partisan hack that he is.

The only break the R's received on this story is that it came amid a crushing news load brought about by the economic crisis, but it still made for plenty of TV news reports.

Will anyone be indicted for the dismissal of Iglesias? The thought had to send shivers through the bones of those in the NM GOP hierarchy and those involved on Capitol Hill.


BILL'S OUTLOOK

We must look like an employment agency for Big Bill, passing along the latest speculation on what job he might end, up with, if any, in an Obama administration. But the guessing game is so fun, who can resist? The latest job for the NM Guv? How about head of the World Bank? The spin on this one says John Kerry looks strong for Secretary of State under Obama and that the World Bank slot would keep Richardson on the international stage with a powerful post. But what about having enough financial experience? Well, that is a little detail, isn't it? But we're told the job doesn't require Senate confirmation so there wouldn't be too many pesky questions. Obama does have one question right now for Bill: "How am I doing in New Mexico and are you going to deliver Election Day?"


THE BOTTOM LINES

We reversed the registration numbers for State Senator Lee Rawson's district when blogging his race Monday. The district has more Dems than R's and the correct numbers are now posted.


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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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