Friday, September 26, 2008
The Safety Of The Roundhouse Life; Few Heated Races, Plus: Fernando's Farewell; Insider Details, Also: The Populism Of Steve Pearce
Sen. Sanchez & Roman Maes
Only 38 of New Mexico's 112 legislative seats have a contest this election year, but even many of the incumbent lawmakers with opposition are smiling because their races are not very competitive. That's the case with ABQ Dem West Side State Sen. Bernadette Sanchez who we caught up with recently at a fund-raiser she threw and which attracted lobbyist and former Santa Fe State Senator Roman Maes.
Bernadette is opposed by Republican Spiro Vassilopoulos but her path to a third, four year term looks smooth.
Why are there so few hot and heavy legislative battles? Observers point to how the districts are drawn by the Legislature--with an eye toward protecting those already in power. Longtime analyst Jay Miller points out that we seem to get more of the action now in the primaries where the majority party Dems sometimes go at each other. Legislators are also unpaid--receiving only a daily allowance for expenses--another reason Jay and others use to explain the lack of competition.
But we'll wait awhile to tackle the issue. With three open congressional seats, an open US Senate seat, two hotly contested Public Regulation Commission battles, and another battle underway for NM's five presidential electoral votes, there's plenty on the table for even the most famished political diner.
He's gone. Fernando C de Baca now retreats into the mists and the GOP campaign now gets a chance to return to normal. The 70 year old resisted pressure to resign as chair of the Bernalillo County GOP after making racially insensitive remarks, but Thursday, with the story threatening to stay in the local headlines and even go national, Fernando threw in the towel. Once again, the Alligators provide us with the insider drama. Here's how it came to us.
"The end started to come down at a meeting with Fernando and Modrall attorney and GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers. Another Modrall attorney, Sam Winder, was also there. Fernando said he would resign if he received recognition from GOP Chairman Allen Weh for the work he has done. He also wanted a statement of support for new county chairman Ryan Cangiolosi . Weh rejected the support of the new county chair, but the GOP did agree to issue a statement generous towards C de Baca. With that, the deal was done."
The statement from Weh read: "Mr. C de Baca has worked hard on behalf of the party, and his contributions should be appropriately recognized. We are glad this matter has been resolved and wish him well..."
The new county chairman is Ryan Cangiolosi who has been party treasurer. He is a recruiting manager and a naval officer in the US Navy Reserve. He was chosen by the county GOP executive committee when Fernando resigned. An election for the post will be held early next year. Cangiolosi supported Steve Pearce over Heather Wilson in the GOP US Senate primary. He keeps control of the county party in the hands of those who oppose Weh who says he will be leaving at the end of the year.
By staying several days after Senator Domenici and Weh asked Fernando to resign, the GOP took a hit. As we told KRQE-TV: "They dodged a bullet, but still suffered a flesh wound."
It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last that a politico's tongue gets ahead of his brain, all chronicled for present and future reference in the never-ending book of La Politica.
HEINRICH VS. WHITE: STATE OF THE RACE
Everything old is new again, or so it seems in the TV wars between ABQ congressional hopefuls Darren White and Martin Heinrich. Republican White and his third party allies are accusing the former city councilor of skirting ethics laws by not registering as a lobbyist or registering his consulting business with the city. Meanwhile, Heinrich's campaign says of White: "Too much like Bush, too big a risk.
Sound familiar? Harken back to '06 when GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson accused Dem Patricia Madrid of being ethically deficient and Dem Madrid scored Heather for being in the pocket of Bush. In that campaign, the Dem charges resonated most, getting Madrid within a handful of votes of victory. She lost only when she froze during the one and only TV debate.
Fast forward to today. Are the ethical charges enough to take down Heinrich? They are much less serious than those leveled against Patsy. Also, they risk getting lost in the clutter. On the other hand, Bush is even more unpopular than he was two years ago, when the Dems nearly upset Wilson.
Wilson started her ethical attacks on Madrid in July of the election year. This time the R's have waited until late September. Even with the early start, the ethics issue did not have much legs against Madrid, and with a late start, Heinrich's chances of surviving them are even better.
White's situation is more problematic because we know from '06 that the Bush baggage hurts the Republicans at the congressional level. The sheriff asserted his independence in a TV ad that cites how he resigned from Governor Johnson's cabinet when Republican Johnson advocated drug legalization. But Johnson is not White's problem; Bush is. He may have to show more distance between himself and the unpopular Prez before early voting gets underway in earnest in mid-October.
PANIC AND BAILOUTS AND SUCH
Can you believe the Washington political classes--spreading panic on behalf of the Wall Street crowd and looking into your wallet for the answer? No wonder everyone is fed up with them. Among NM's congressional delegation, it is conservative Republican Steve Pearce alone who is being tough, opposing the bailout bill and in doing so perhaps getting a better deal for America's put upon taxpayers. Pearce will even pick up support from those on the left who oppose corporate welfare. Northern Independent congressional candidate Carol Miller is urging the White House and Congress to keep their "greedy hands" out of people's pockets.
The stuff we are seeing and hearing about the country coming to an end is just plain hogwash. If we have to have a recession to clean out the house, so be it. The outlandish bailout does not mean we will avoid one. To let the national treasury be subjected to what is borderline looting is outrageous. The people know it and are turning thumbs down on the gargantuan bailout. Pearce's US Senate opponent, Tom Udall, is also making the right kind of noise. We'd like to see him be louder about it.
The scrappy Pearce who grew up on the dirt farms of Texas and SE NM is closing his ears to the whining. By doing so, he is slowing down the runaway bailout train and getting better ideas on the table. Maybe that's because Pearce is the only member of our five member congressional delegation who has any signficant experience in the real business world. The Hobbs oilman knows that the free enterprise system comes with both pleasure and pain. The Wall Street and Potomac gangs need to put away their bailing buckets and panic buttons and start acting like men.
CHENEY CANCELS HOBBS VISIT
We wrote this before Cheney canceled because of the financial bailout talks in D.C.
The VP will be in Hobbs today, working to raise money from the in-the-money oil crowd for the campaign of southern GOP congressional hopeful and K-Bob's restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley. The Dems are having some fun with it, holding a counter fund-raiser.
The Democratic Party will be holding a "Change for Change" Lunch Friday (in Las Cruces) to benefit Ed Tinsley's employees at K-Bob's Steakhouse. We'll be serving K-Bob's food and donating the money raised in tips for the hardworking men and women who work at K-Bob's...for low wages without benefits.
The D's may be stretching here. Ed's Dem foe, Harry Teague of Hobbs, is not working class anymore. He's an oil gazillionaire, but when we had coffee at Starbucks Harry did tip generously.
THE BOTTOM LINES
It appears there will be at least one event where Caroline Kennedy will appear during her NM visit that will not require a high-dollar contribution. The Obama campaign comes with this:
Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, will kick off a debate watch party and volunteer training in Santa Fe--Friday, September 26, 2008 from 4:30 to 5:45 pm, PC's Restaurant, 4220 Airport Rd, Santa Fe
Complaints were voiced here when we blogged the high-dollar fundraising schedule Caroline has for her NM visit. She and her family remain popular among Hispanic New Mexicans. The Obama event featuring former US Rep. Joe Kennedy in Belen that we recently blogged about has been canceled because of scheduling issues....
Can't the Rio Grande Sun, the feisty newspaper in Rio Arriba County, get its stuff back on line sometime soon? We miss it....Sorry about the Tinsley video on Thursday's blog not working right for part of the day. It is working now...Can't the local TV stations post their entire 6 p.m. newscasts on their Web sites? The networks do it...
Please indulge a rare use of the blog for some personal stuff. I am late with my birthday card to my niece in Pennsylvania. Happy Birthday, Abbey. Hope you catch this...
Keep us posted. E-mail your news and comments.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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