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Monday, October 13, 2008

R's Circle Wagons; Fear Obama Power Could Cost Roundhouse Seats; Which Ones? We Look Statewide, Plus: Darren Sings Trolley Song To Martin 

How deep will it go? That's the question on the lips of top New Mexico Republicans as they contemplate a possible Obama blowout that they fear could endanger GOP legislators. Population center Bernalillo County is of paramount importance to them. Many voters here treat ticket-splitting as a nearly sacred tradition, but if a landslide develops legislative races previously thought as done deals could be put in play. Straight ticket voting in a year when R's are being treated like they have an infectious disease is what GOP lawmakers dread.

Races now surfacing on the watch lists of top state R's include State Rep. Eric Youngberg who represents northwest ABQ and who has run several close races. Straight ticket voting and heavy Dem turnout could make this year's edition closer for him or even make for an upset.

ABQ North Valley area GOP State Senator John Ryan is seen securing a second four year term, but an Obama power move, not to mention one by Dem US Senate candidate Tom Udall who will out poll Obama, could make Ryan, a lobbyist, nervous as he awaits Election Night results.

ABQ GOP NE Heights State Sen. Diane Snyder is already seen in dire straits in a district she carried with 53% of the vote four years ago. Dem Tim Eichenberg is now considered the favorite by insiders monitoring that contest. Corrales area GOP State Sen. Steve Komadina is another incumbent R now being watched closely. Expert R's think Komadina is positioned to take it, but are telling the two term incumbent to watch his back.

If a Dem trend develops and extends into Rio Rancho, the hopes of the R's to take back the legislative seat held by Tom Swisstack who has given it up to serve as mayor of Rio Rancho may be crushed. The D's have a strong candidate in Sandoval County Commissioner Jack Thomas. The R's have retired educator Paula Papponi, a name that resonates with many NY transplants in the area.

HEADING NORTHEAST
Craig Cosner
Insider Dems are expressing increasing confidence that they will pick up the NE NM state House seat held by Clayton Republican Brian Moore who is retiring. They say NM native and retired Wells Fargo banker Craig Cosner is now heavily favored over Dennis Roch, a former aide to Senator Domenici who is an assistant superintendent at Tucumcari public schools.

Like Roch, Cosner is from Tucumcari. The district is a swinger. It has 47% Dems, 41% R's and 10% independent. The Dems had it before Moore took it over and they think Cosner, with deep ties in the NE region, is well-positioned to take it back.

CRUCES IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Some Dems say they are less worried about Las Cruces State Rep. Jeff Steinborn running into trouble. They say the Democratic trend in Dona Ana County should help freshman Steinborn hold off a challenge from GOP Dona Ana County Commissioner Kent Evans. The district is 48% Dem and 35% R and 16% independent. Another factor: Evans is coming off a loss two years ago for the NM Public Regulation Commission. Also, Steinborn has won the endorsement of the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Dona Ana State Rep. Andy Nunez is always the subject of speculation. The chairman of the House Ag Committee always wins, but narrowly. He has another strong GOP challenger in businessman Mike Tellez, but the Dona Ana Dem trend should help put him over the top for a fifth two year term. He also won the endorsement of the Sun-News, important in these lower ballot races.

TINSLEY TIME

A nice break for southern GOP congressional hopeful Ed Tinsley. He scored the endorsement Sunday of the Las Cruces Sun-News over Democrat Harry Teague in critical Dona Ana County.

"(Teague) has not articulated a clear vision for our district or for how he would address the pressing issues facing our nation. Tinsley better understands Congress and is better prepared for the steep learning curve ahead." Said the newspaper.

Tinsley and Teague are locked in a close race. Dona Ana is the largest county in the sprawling southern district. It is a swing county in congressional races. Tinsley's job is to tie Teague there or keep his margin of victory down by a couple of thousand. The newspaper endorsement can't hurt. But Obama is active on the ground and getting the Cruces area Dem vote aroused. The campaign has opened four offices in Doña Ana County, including in Anthony and Hatch. That will help Harry. Also, Teague is positioned to do well in Lea County in the SE where he served a a Dem county commissioner and which usually votes heavy R. Teague is from Hobbs.

BILL AND BILL

Here's the audio of Big Bill talking about how Bill Clinton still holds a grudge toward him for supporting Obama over Hillary in the Dem prez primary season. Our Bill says he's getting along with Hill. But good enough for her to tell her friends not to thwart Richardson's efforts to get a high-powered job with Obama?

THE PROFESSOR SAYS....

A tax increase in this environment? How about a real little one, like that one-eighth of a cent regional transit tax they are asking Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Santa Fe County voters to approve? It may not happen, says University of New Mexico political science professor Gabriel Sanchez. Even though the tax would help cover the operating costs of the Belen to Santa Fe Rail Runner, which has proven popular, Sanchez says the economic crash of the past several weeks may have doomed the tax hike. That would mean Big Bill would have to go looking for funding elsewhere to keep the rail going, but where? Washington? Santa Fe? "The Legislature has been generous," Declared Bill. But if projected state revenues continue their precipitous decline, Santa Fe could get as tight as a vise.

PETE FOR STEVE

His dreams were crushed when Steve Pearce beat Heather Wilson for the GOP US Senate nomination, but outgoing Senator Pete Domenici is doing what he has to do to go out as a loyal solider. He cut this TV ad for Pearce which could help Southern Steve pick up moderate GOP votes in the ABQ area. Steve needs a game-changer to turn around his race with Dem Tom Udall, but Domenici's presence on the airwaves could get some more R's to the polls. That would not only help Pearce but John McCain and ABQ congress hopeful Darren White.

CLANG, CLANG, CLANG WENT THE TROLLEY
Darren & Judy
Darren White's campaign for the ABQ US House seat was sent reeling last week with the news that the national R's had slashed their TV ad buy for the Republican sheriff by $500,000, but late Friday White tried to recoup some momentum by coming with a new TV ad. He slams Dem congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich, a former ABQ city councilor, for supporting the extension of a transit tax without voter approval and to use it to pay for an expensive streetcar on Central Ave., or as Darren calls it, "a trolley car." Heinrich and Mayor Chavez were met with a storm of protests over the move and the political hot potato was put on ice.

Heinrich says he had a "blockbuster" fund-raising quarter and will report approximately $750,000 raised from July thru September. His campaign took the opportunity to put the needle in Darren:

In contrast to Heinrich's strong fundraising numbers, it was reported that the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) has cancelled over $500,000 in ads previously reserved on White's behalf..

With the $750,000, Heinrich has now raised about $2 million. As of June 30, White had raised about $953,000. Complete third quarter reports are due Wednesday. Insiders will want to see the cash on hand both camps had going into October.

Both White and Heinrich are getting TV support from third party groups, but now that the R's have pulled the TV plug, Heinrich should have a decided tube advantage. It would seem an open invite for Dems across the country to release the dogs of war on White and bury him in a blizzard of third party ads.

Heinrich is swimming with the tide, but his name ID is still a problem. Saturation and expensive TV is the answer, according to several top consultants weighing in here. The Dems have found novel ways to lose the ABQ seat the past 40 years. Will they find yet another, or finally find their way?

First we post Darren's trolley ad, and in honor of the occasion, we give you Judy Garland and "The Trolley Song." Take it away Darren and Judy....Yeah, now we're bloggin....



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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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