Tuesday, September 02, 2008

GOP Week: Can R's Rebound? Gators At The Track Handicap Big Races As Candidates Gather At Starting Gate, Plus: More About Those Political Nonprofits 

Four GOP Horsemen (Bralley)
After a week of Obamamania, the R's own this week and will use their national convention to try to spread goodwill for their entire ticket. Here in NM that means (pictured left to right) US Senate contender Steve Pearce, ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Darren White, southern congressional contender Ed Tinsley and northern hopeful Dan East. Can these four GOP horsemen outpace their rivals in the final stretch of Campaign '08? Let's head out to the track.


Pearce is about ten polling points behind Dem Tom Udall. The northern Democratic US Rep is a 7 to 5 favorite, as set by the Alligator pool. That means a $2 bet on Pearce would pay $4.80 if he comes in. Those odds are tighter than some, but Pearce is showing moxie and enough money to keep Udall on the run. A key assumption is that he ends up motivating the GOP base and other conservatives. Pearce still has to get a better ground game. Udall has made a minor error or two, but nothing serious and the big trend favors him. Udall needs to get off the run and hide gambit he is doing with regard to the public forums. Just do it, Tom. You are not that wary of a verbal screw-up, are you?


Darren White is the favorite to beat Dem Martin Heinrich for the ABQ House seat. Our Gator pool (based on late-night cell phone conversations and gut checks) says if you take Heinrich you deserve 3 to 2 odds, meaning your $2 bet gets you $5.00 (including your original wager), if Heinrich overtakes White. He could. There's sixty days left, but the Heinrich horse was hardly seen at the track this summer. The ABQ West Side and NE Heights remain problems for Heinrich. He has much to do to get those odds down in the ABQ district which has always come thru for the R's. White's bad back is a wild card, but only if it keeps him off the campaign trail. More likely to impact this race is the TV debates and other face-offs where Heinrich needs to force an error.


Ed Tinsley started as the clear favorite following the June primary, but the Dems have Harry Teague running hard and with fire in the belly. He is the first congressional hopeful up with TV ads, and they aren't bad. He also hails from SE NM, where congressmen from this district traditionally come from. And the former Lea County commissioner has shown he isn't afraid to write a check from his personal oil wealth. The Alligator odds on this race, somewhat surprisingly, are currently even money for either Ed or Harry. Polling is showing no one is yet close to closing the deal down there. Again, the even money odds are as of today. Tinsley supporters in disagreement say they would bet their house on Ed at those odds. Okay, just don't let Fannie Mae hold the mortgage.

Tinsley came with no summer media and made a verbal error that made national news. There are worries over his money-raising abilities as well as his campaign staff shakeups. Teague can't go off as the favorite because the D's haven't taken the seat since the 1980 election. Also, Tinsley should be able to pull ahead in this reliably conservative district if he becomes a more steady jockey. Still, we start the final stretch in the unusual position of this being the congressional race to watch, not the big run in ABQ.


Dan East would be a 50 to 1 underdog if he was facing Dem Ben Ray Lujan alone, but there are two independent candidates--including the well-known Carol Miller--in this race and that muddies the track a bit. But Dem Lujan still goes off as a 15 to 1 favorite to end up in the winner's circle. Only if his horse takes a spill because of a major error will the Dems be denied in this heavy D district.

So say our Gators at the track, and we don't usually see them tearing up their betting tickets in frustration. We'll recheck the odds often as the race continues.


No sooner had we finished blogging Monday that GOP VP pick Sarah Palin could give the McCain campaign some legs in conservative counties like Otero and Chaves, then the news breaks that the 17 year old unmarried daughter of the Alaska governor--an abortion foe and evangelical Christian--is five months pregnant. That's not exactly following the teachings of the churches. Whether it helps or hurts Palin, it again illustrates the dangers of politicians preaching morality. Palin has not established herself as a moral watchdog on the national scene, so she probably escapes the hypocrisy charge, but those holding her up as America's moral watchdog, may want to stop their barking. By the way, Palin will maker her first NM campaign stop when she visits ABQ Saturday with John and Cindy McCain.


Insiders are now coming with a money total for the US Chamber of Commerce ABQ TV buy against Dem Tom Udall. They say it is $100,000. Combined with Club for Growth ads for Pearce, that is $250,000 in TV, keeping pace with the well-monied Udall who has condemned the Chamber ads. The question is how much more will these two independent interest groups buy for Pearce?


What continues to fascinate readers about the NM political nonprofits who are arguing that they should not have to disclose their finances is their utter and unrepentant hypocrisy, a position shared by some Internet writers on the payroll of the nonprofits--directly or indirectly. Here, succinctly stated, is the huge advantage nonprofit status provides:

Nonprofit organizations are not bound by the federal election laws which govern the behavior of political parties and candidates. Nonprofits are not required to disclose their donors to the public, and there are no legal limits on the amount of money they can accept from any given source. And while political parties and individual candidates are barred from taking money from particular sources - such as unions or corporations - non profits face no such restrictions

Aren't NM ethics advocates--including the political nonprofits--advocating a limit on NM campaign contributions? Aren't they also advocating full and complete disclosure to the public of campaign money? Indeed they are. But not for them. No wonder Attorney General King is throwing the law book at them and demanding that they come clean. Now he is being accused of threatening "free speech" because he is not providing specific guidelines for the nonprofits. Come on, folks. If you have a campaign flyer out there basically calling a politician an SOB, it's campaign time. You can call them an SOB, just tell us who is paying the bill.

As for providing standards for nonprofits, they have federal nonprofit status--there is stuff all over the Internet on what they are allowed to do and innumerable court cases, too. The political nonprofits and their financially subsidized advocates need to stop acting like the politicians they abhor and practice what they preach. If they can't or won't, Attorney General King needs to make them.


And the nonprofits also seem to be running amok on the national scene. Obama is getting nailed by one of them over his relationship with a 1960's radical. Those financing this are protected from having their contributions revealed? It seems campaign laws have more holes than Swiss cheese.


I am really serious about this campaign. Here I am fresh from the body piercing shop in the background where they successfully implanted a cell phone in my ear. They say it will fall out after sixty days. Wish me luck, Gators.

Keep us posted. E-mail your latest news and comments.

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