Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nightmare On Wall Street: Will Silly Season Finally Turn Serious? Plus: Obama Schedules Española, And: A Bunch Of Bottom Lines 

Wall Street Pain
Tired of lipstick on a pig and the "Bridge to Nowhere?" How about a real issue, like a financial calamity on Wall street that is scaring the bejesus out of Main Street? The vacation from history that has been the Campaign of 2008 was rudely interrupted Monday. The Dow plummeted in reaction to major financial institutions buckling under the weight of a run amok mortgage market, raising the question of whether a financial crisis can make this silly season a serious season. And if the candidates start telling us, "it's the economy, stupid," who is stupid? The Democrats? The R's? The greedy investment bankers? The Fed? The gullible consumer? The answer seems to be all of the above.

While Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico stuff their mattresses with greenbacks and stash cash in coffee cans in the backyard, they also are digesting the news that oil has plunged below $100 a barrel and natural gas prices are now in the $7 area. That's still high, but way below what the Santa Fe bean counters are basing the next state budget on. What happens to that budget if the decline sticks? And, is anyone being called to account for forecasting oil and gas prices at an unrealistically high level? Just asking.

One of the few good things to come out of the mortgage disaster is the restoration of at least some accountability. Treasury Secretary Paulson's refusal to bail out Lehman Brothers was the right call. Capitalism is a game with risk, but with a bailout or subsidy available around every corner--courtesy of the taxpayers--it has become anything but.

Back here in River City, we have somewhat limited exposure to the wild swings of a free enterprise economy as government is responsible for most of the important spending. Sure, we need to diversify our economy, but the news that Sandia Labs is not going to be cutting any of its nearly 11,000 member work force or its over $2 billion budget, was timely indeed as we were showered with dreaded Wall Street developments.

Sandia's management deserve a tip of the hat for the innovations that keep the Labs' economic engine powering the ABQ metro as do longtime US Senators Domenici and Bingaman who have watch dogged Sandia's funding. Los Alamos Labs is another story, but then you can't have it all.


Northern Hispanics, not entirely sold on Obama, will get their first close-up look of the Dem presidential contender Thursday when he stops in Española in Rio Arriba County for a 12:30 P.M. rally. With the news backdrop all-economy all the time, Barack could have an easier time downplaying the social issues like abortion and gay rights that landed John Kerry in hot water there four years ago. Some experts believe that led to a tepid turnout in the Democratic bastion (Tickets for the rally are required and available here.)

Rio Arriba is the second most Dem county in the state. (Guadalupe at 84% is first). Eighty-one percent, or 19,554 of the county's 24,236 are Dem. In 2004, Kerry beat Bush there 65% to 34%, garnering 9,753 votes to Bush's 5,148. Obama needs to energize this county and get a bigger turnout and a bigger percentage of the vote. The same can be said for other Hispanic dominated counties like San Miguel and Mora.


We've covered ad nauseum the possible obstacles for Obama in the North--conservative Catholics, race-based voting and a general unfamiliarity with the newcomer. Obama will rally at Plaza de Española in a well-targeted visit that should give him a needed boost. As we blogged Sept. 11, our insiders inform that Obama will hold a high-dollar fund-raiser in ABQ following the Española visit. It was set up by Big Bill and will be at the North Valley home of Downs at ABQ operator Paul Blanchard.

Governor Richardson is trying to tamp down speculation that Obama is having trouble nailing down the Hispanic vote. "All this talk that there's problems in the Hispanic community, there isn't," he said in announcing the Obama visit. Maybe Bill is right. But with the latest Rasmussen poll showing McCain with a two point lead here, nothing can be left to chance. The Guv opened an office for Barack in Santa Fe Monday. For what it's worth, in the TV coverage the old warrior seemed energized. It's probably not fair to put the fate of Obama in NM on his shoulders, but who said this game was fair? Get those shoulder pads out, Guv.


Do you want to know why Bill Richardson may have a tough time getting to be Secretary of State if Obama wins the White House? Check out this party and see who's the host. And, yes, as was noted at this gathering, it would be nice to have an American foreign policy in which bipartisanship, not bellowing, was the rule of the day. What happened to conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans?


Rasmussen had Obama getting about 47% of the Hispanic vote in NM and Dem US Senate hopeful Tom Udall about 53%. But Udall backers point out he represents the northern district. Shouldn't his Hispanic numbers be higher? They probably are which is why his race against Republican Steve Pearce is probably more like 54% or 55% for Udall, not 51%. Remember, right after the primaries the Alligators set the "over under" on the Senate race at 53% for Udall. We're still tracking in that direction, but watching vigilantly.


Dan East
Are Republicans changing their name to "independent?" ABQ congressional hopeful Darren White dubs himself the "independent" voice in his first TV spot of the campaign. And now, GOP Northern congressional contender Dan East also invokes the independent label in radio spots he started airing Monday. East is running in the most Democratic of the state's three congressional districts. Dem Ben Ray Lujan is expected to take the seat. There is a real independent in the contest. Carol Miller is also running.


Tom Udall and Steve Pearce are no slouches when it comes to swinging the negative bat, but in the Minnesota Senate race it has become fine art. Last week we showed you one of the blasts slamming incumbent GOP Senator Coleman. Here's another --a Coleman ad going after Dem challenger Al Franken.


In reviewing Steve Pearce's anti-abortion ad Monday we said it contained a photo of a fetus. On a second viewing, we see it was actually a baby apparently resting on what appears to be its mother's stomach. Either way, the image is powerful...From the campaign of Dem US Senate contender Tom Udall: "Udall accepted the endorsement of the New Mexico Professional Firefighters Association and the International Association of Firefighters at The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque."...John McCain is doing some Spanish TV in NM...

ABQ Attorney Doug Antoon has been tracking the controversy over nonprofits playing in political campaigns in NM. He sends news of a federal ruling that will be of interest to those also following this ongoing story... Former Dem southern NM congressional candidate Bill McCamley, 30, has started a PAC that he says will raise money for candidates under the age of 35. If McCamley, a part-time Dona Ana County commissioner whose term expires at year's end, takes a salary from the PAC, he'll be helping at least one potential candidate in that age group....

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