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Friday, September 19, 2008

Obama In The North: He Has Their Minds, But He Needs Their Hearts; Day Trippin' In Española, Plus: A State Sen. Race To Watch 

Obama in Española (Bralley)
Democrats don't want another heartbreaker here, so they sent their standard-bearer deep into New Mexico's historic Spanish North Thursday, hoping to rouse the locals where the flags of three nations have flown since their ancestors settled there over four centuries ago. Barack Obama seemed to largely succeed in getting the juices flowing in Española, attracting a large crowd (estimates ranged up to 10,000) and beginning the process of bringing home reluctant Hispanic Democrats who failed to flock to John Kerry four years ago, contributing mightily to George Bush's narrow NM victory. That dour Dem history was not lost on Obama. Perhaps because he was running 90 minutes late, he dropped the following prepared remarks that gave a concise political analysis. (The video.) (Obama NM blog)

...Back in 2004, 40,000 registered Hispanic voters in New Mexico didn’t turn out on Election Day. Senator Kerry lost this state by fewer than 6,000 votes. And today, in 2008, an estimated 170,000 Hispanics in New Mexico aren’t registered to vote. So I’m not taking a single Hispanic vote for granted ...

While he did not voice those lines, the Illinois Senator, under another routinely glorious New Mexican sky, did implore the largely Hispanic crowd “to vote your numbers."

Obama lost the Hispanic vote and the state to Hillary Clinton in the February Dem prez caucus. Some observers said there was reticence by some Hispanics in voting for an African-American. If that's true, Obama had to make progress on that front Thursday by making his case directly to those sceptics.

One of the reasons Rio Arriba (80% Dem) and other Spanish counties did not “vote their numbers” in '04 was because of many voters' deeply held Catholic faith, a faith that clashed with Kerry’s liberal views on abortion and other social issues. Obama has the same views, but he went before the crowd with a severe economic crisis facing the nation. Predictably, he ignored the social issues, arguing for new leadership to resolve the money issues that are causing so much anxiety among rank and file voters.The economy is a big edge for Obama who was making his fifth visit to Battleground New Mexico. The crisis is echoing in the latest polling showing him ahead here.

While the Española plaza throng was enthusiastic, they weren't wildly so. Obama was likely pleased with the welcome, but perhaps mindful of what territorial Governor Lew Wallace once famously uttered: “All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.''

The campaign goes on.

THE MONEY WATCH

That megabucks ABQ North Valley fund-raiser fund-raiser for Obama first reported here delivered. It raised a whopping $1.7 million, above the goal of $1.5 million, Ticks were going for as much as $28,500 with the money helping Obama and the Democratic National Committee. The dough was raised at the home of Downs at ABQ casino heavy Paul Blanchard with Big Bill serving as the main host. Many of the attendees went straight from the Obama event to Yanni's restaurant at ABQ's Nob Hill for a fund-raiser for Dem southern congressional hopeful Harry Teague. Light Guv Diane Denish was one of the main hosts of the Teague party which attracted about 70, including longtime D money raiser Johnny Cope of Hobbs.

TRAIL DUST

Obama put a smile on the face of northern Dem congressional contender Ben Ray Lujan at the start of his 35 minute speech. He called him an “up and comer” and “a hot shot." Lujan was one of the speakers who warmed up the crowd. Speaking of hot, Big Bill Richardson was dressed all in black, despite quite a blazing midday sun. In introducing Obama, the NM Governor reprised a portion of the well-received speech he gave at Denver’s Invesco Stadium during the Democratic National Convention.

Obama picked up the endorsement of Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. in ABQ Thursday morning at the All Indian Pueblo Cultural Center before heading to Española. An Obama insider called it important because of McCain’s tribal ties and his service on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

THE REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF

We now have the answers from the presidential candidates on the official state question: "Red or Green?" Republican McCain let it slip on his recent visit that he was a green aficionado. But Obama has been quiet on this pressing issue--until now. On his way north, he made a stop at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo. Barack ordered his enchiladas “Christmas” style--with both red and green chile. Leave it to a politico find a third answer to a question that is supposed to have only two.

Obama ordered four plates of blue corn enchiladas. Two of the plates were beef, two had chicken. He also ordered two slices of pie--pecan and coconut--and a chocolate chip cookie. We doubt the lean Obama scarfed down much of that chow, but with Big Bill around, we’re sure it did not go to waste.

THE SENATE RACE TO WATCH

The must-watch state Senate race this cycle is the face-off between incumbent Republican Diane Snyder and Democrat Tim Eichenberg. Snyder is going for her third term. Eichenberg was elected Bernalillo County treasurer back in the 70's and in more recent years as a member of the area flood control board. He has money to spend, including some for a poll that he says shows the race is in play. Here's his spin:

Eichenberg holds a 45%-34% lead over Diane Snyder with 20% of voters undecided. The results reported come from a survey of 402 likely voters in New Mexico State Senate District 15. Respondents were interviewed on September 2, 3rd, 4th and 7th. The survey has an overall margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

NM lobbyist and former state House minority leader Joe Thompson, a Snyder backer, tells us she is not taking the race lightly and is working. He agrees the race is probably the most competitive state Senate contest this year. Democrats make up 45% of the district, Republicans are 37% and independents 14%. It is a tough year for R's at the top of the ballot and those near the bottom are forewarned.

HAVE YOU SEEN HER?

From a reader:

Heather (Wilson) is no longer on MSNBC shilling for McCain, they seemed to have replaced her with Rep. Mary Fallon (R-OK). Perhaps it is the Abramoff stuff?

Not so, says another reader who says they spotted Heather on MSNBC Friday. Her absence did coincide with the story mentioning her office’s communications with lobbyist Abramoff, but she was also acting as a McCain surrogate for McCain Thursday in Washington. So if she was gone, she now appears to be back.

THE BOTTOM LINES


The head of the national GOP senate committee will help raise some money for GOP US Senate contender Steve Pearce when he attends an October 3 fundraiser for Pearce at the Santa Teresa Country Club in southern NM. However, we don't think they will be raising over $2 million, the amount that the senate committee initially pledged to help Pearce, but canceled because it ran out of money and other races beckoned...

Southern NM politico Bill McCamley, starting a political action committee for candidates under 35, responds to our somewhat tongue-in-cheek speculation that he would take a salary from the PAC and have himself a nice job after losing the southern congressional Dem primary to Harry Teague. Says the Dona Ana County commissioner:

New Mexico Future Leaders PAC has paid fees to the state for logistical set-up, and a small fee to our web designer for a re-work of our web site. Other than that every dollar will got to candidates. I am taking no salary...

How in the world did the spelling of “chile” come out “chili” in the headline on Thursday’s blog? I won't go into the technical issues, but if it happens again, I will be sentenced to a week long vacation in Dallas....

Thanks for stopping here. E-mail your news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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