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Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's Over: Behind The Scenes As Wilson Concedes To Pearce, Plus: Election Leftovers; Tasty Political Tidbits From The Races That Made Some Memories 

Pearce & Udall
Bleary eyed staffers for US Reps Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson hooked up in a 6 a.m. election morning-after phone call to arrange one of the more painful phone calls Heather Wilson would ever have to place--a concession to Steve Pearce who beat her out the night before to secure the GOP US Senate nomination and who will now face Democrat Tom Udall in November. Insiders report Wilson reached Pearce at the Denver International Airport at 7:30 a.m. as he prepared to fly back to work in Washington. Wilson told Pearce she would be endorsing Pearce at a news conference at an 8 a.m. news conference and offered her help for the fall campaign. Later Wednesday, insiders confirm, Senator Domenici, who had endorsed Wilson, reached Pearce by phone and offered his congratulations and also offered his support. With those calls, Pearce effectively assumed the leadership of the NM Republican Party, but for how long remains an open question. If he beats Udall, it will be for a long time. If not, his reign will be brief.

Only hours after Pearce had delivered the death-blow to Wilson's 10 year old political career, his lieutenants, well-practiced in the fine art of political power playing, began moving to consolidate power. They set their sights on that GOP National Committeeman post that will be decided June 14th at a state GOP convention. The leading contender for the relatively low-key post is attorney Pat Rogers, a leader of the Domenici-Wilson wing of the GOP. Talk circulated that former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman, who ran second to Ed Tinsley Tuesday night in the race for the southern GOP congressional nod, might just make a fine candidate for the Pearceans. No word from Newman on whether he is interested in challenging Rogers, but with Pearce the US Senate nominee, the top R on the '08 ballot, he can argue that he has the right to a party rowing in his direction. Will Rogers be challenged? Stay tuned.

THE HUMAN TOLL

Wilson stoically threw in the towel at that news conference at the press room of the ABQ airport before boarding a flight to D.C. She was flanked by her husband Jay and 11 year daughter Caitlin. Wilson did nothing to harm her Republican credentials and her shot at a post in a McCain administration or with a Republican oriented lobbying firm. She pledged down-the-line support for Pearce and seemed sincere in doing so. But the very human pressures of the political life were on display.

Heather's defeat was softened somewhat by sympathetic Republicans in D.C. who floated her name as a possibility for the vice-presidential slot with John McCain. The nice thing about being mentioned for Veep is it doesn't cost anyone anything. As far as an elective future in NM politics for Wilson, never say never, but for the foreseeable future do say never.

MARTIN'S SOFT SPOT

The Alligators were on the beat Election Night, looking for clues for what's to come. They pointed out that while ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich easily carried Bernalillo County in securing the nomination, they noted that he came in third in rural Torrance County, pointing out a potential problem the former city councilor may have in attracting conservative Democrats against Republican rival Darren White. Michelle Lujan Grisham carried Torrance with 37.3% of the vote. Rebecca Vigil-Giron took second with
28.7%. Heinrich came in third with 25.3%

Even though White flew by challenger Joe Carraro and took 82% of the primary vote, the Gators pointed out that Carraro and others dissatisfied with White and the current leadership of the state GOP could still cause him trouble. Will White reach out to them? Or head to the bunker?

GONE CAMPING

Ben Ray Lujan will decompress from the long campaign by going camping. He probably won't be bothered that his chief rival for the northern Dem congressional nomination, Don Wiviott, never did call to offer his congratulations to the 35 year old son of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, but it will be noted by the political insiders. What really has Lujan's camp upset are automatic phone calls that sent into the district anonymously on Election Day that again brought up the gay issue. Lujan has denied rumors about his lifestyle. The issue had no apparent impact on the results in which Lujan trounced Wiviott by over 15 points, despite Wiviott spending nearly $1.4 million in personal money. Don't look for Don to have the welcome mat out for him in the NM Democratic Party for a long, long time. Or as long as Ben Lujan Sr. is breathing.

GATOR PRIDE

They told you on the Election Day blog that turnout would be 28% for primary 2008. When they toted up the numbers the turnout among registered Democrats and Republicans was...drum roll, please....28%! They also get kudos for betting that 33% of NM R's would vote. The final number is around 31%. They said Dem turnout would be 25% and it was--you guessed it--25%. OK, they have their problems calling some of the races sometimes, but these Alligators
are worth feeding.

SETTING THE TABLE

I sat down with KRQE-TV the Day After and helped set the table for the November election. It seemed semi-lucid after only a few hours sleep.

BILL'S PLEA

Young Bill McCamley isn't worried about politics today. "I need a job. I don't want to go hungry," the 30 year old told me from Las Cruces Wednesday. The Dona Ana County Commissioner turned in an impressive performance against oilman Harry Teague who beat McCamley 53% to 47% for the southern Dem congressional nod.. McCamley, who has a masters degree from Harvard, might want to call on Governor Big Bill or Light Guv Denish for some job help. They both endorsed winner Teague but praised McCamley when doing so. Praise is nice, but it doesn't put food on the table.

MAGGIE'S NIGHT
County Clerk Counting
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver had a pretty good primary election night. She released the absentee vote before 8 p.m., the first time in years that has happened. And she had most of the votes counted by 11 p.m., another rare event. If she can replicate the feat in the big November election, will we be on our way to reversing the Election Night counting curse that has plagued the state's largest county since the 1980's? Or do we need to sacrifice something on an altar to do the trick?

E-mail it in and thanks for tuning in.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Prize Goes To Pearce; Fells Wilson For Senate Nod; Ben Ray Smiles; Tinsley & Teague Make It; Heinrich Scores; Incumbent Legislators Surprised 

ABQ Journal photo
Steve Pearce carried his home county of Lea in southeastern NM with an astounding 91.4% of the vote. And that said it all. Heather Wilson simply could not overcome Pearce's outsized strength in the out of Albuquerque counties and he narrowly won the GOP US Senate nomination and the right to face off with Tom Udall in the November election. It was roughly 51.4% to 48.6% in the GOP duel between two US House members that headlined the 2008 primary election and ended on a divisive note when retiring US Senator Pete Domenici endorsed Wilson in the final hours of the campaign. It was not enough and the ten year congressional career of Wilson will end at the end of the year.

The AP called the race for Wilson shortly before 2 a.m. Pearce told me and our KANW-FM listening audience close to midnight that Wilson and he had not yet spoken. Both of the lawmakers were up early for flights back to Washington where you wonder if someone there can hold peace talks to heal the rift that their primary race created in the state GOP.

WILSON ENDORSED PEARCE WEDNESDAY MORNING. HERE'S THE VIDEO.

Wilson performed well in Bernalillo County, garnering over 66% of the vote. It would have been enough to offset Pearce's rural strength if only turnout was better. It appears only about 31% of state R's went to the polls. Democratic turnout was about 27%.

Pearce, 60, refused to declare victory as he held a 3,000 vote lead. "I'm a businessman. I let the numbers speak."

COUNTY BY COUNTY RESULTS AT
THE SECRETARY OF STATE'S SITE. COMPLETE BERNALILLO COUNTY RESULTS HERE.

BEN RAY'S LIGHT
New Mexican photo
Ben Ray Lujan did not see light at the end of the tunnel until late into the evening. TV station numbers were showing him nearly tied and at one point three points in back of his main rival for the Northern Dem congressional nomination, Don Wiviott. "We were confused because we could not reconcile those numbers with what we were gathering, " he told me late last night. "Finally, when Santa Fe County reported, the numbers took off."

Lujan felled Wiviott 42% to 25%. It was a decisive victory that was somewhat unexpected because of pre-election polling that indicated a closer battle. But the young Lujan had to know it was going to be a good night when he edged out Wiviott 38% to 35% in heavily Anglo and conservative Quay County. All it took then was a landslide in the old Spanish counties. He got it. San Miguel gave him 52% of the vote in this six way race for the nomination. And that is how you spell C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S-M-A-N.

Lujan will face Republican Dan East who upset Santa Fe's Marco Gonzales, another Domenici endorsed candidate, to take the GOP nomination. Independent Carol Miller says she will run as an independent. But Lujan's impressive win in the primary puts in motion a victory for the fall.
Dems are happy about it, too. They think he will help bring out Hispanic votes not just for himself but also for Barack Obama.

TINSLEY TOWN

The polls we were being fed by the operatives had this one nailed all along. Lincoln County restaurant chain owner and rancher Ed Tinsley led all night and easily won. It was a sweet victory for him. He had lost the GOP southern congressional nomination in 2002 when Joe Skeen retired from the seat. But this was his night for redemption. He carried Dona Ana County and topped it off with a Chaves County win. Throw in a first place in Lincoln County and it was champagne sipping time. Second place was nearly tied up, with Monty Newman claiming it for himself over Aubrey Dunn. Both polled around 21% to Tinsley's 31%.

TEAGUE TIRES

Anytime you win, it's a good night, but it could have been better for Harry Teague. He secured the Democratic southern congressional nomination by beating Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, but the margin of victory--53% to 47%--was not overwhelming. This after Teague put over $750,000 of his own money into the race. Teague won 15 of the 18 counties, but McCamley blew the doors off in his home county and that kept the race in play. Teague will have some work to do to give the Dems a fighting chance. Republican Ed Tinsley was already saying of Teague: "A leopard can't change its spots," meaning if Harry tries to move to the center after being to the left in the primary Tinsley will be waiting. Still, Harry is a candidate with a nice home base in Lea County, and the last Dem to win the seat--back in the 70's---was also a Lea County Democrat.

MARTIN'S MOVE
Heinrich (Journal)
The contest for the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat wasn't going to keep anyone up past their bedtime. It was over out of the gate. Former ABQ City Councilor trounced his three opponents, getting about 43% of the vote and setting up a good start for the November election. He'll need it. Republican Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White took home 82% of the vote in his GOP primary with State Sen. Joe Carraro. White will start as the heavy favorite against Henrich because of his name ID, but Heinrich says White has Bush baggage to tote that should quickly get him in the game. White gave his victory speech so early the kindergarten crowd was still up. We were unable to reach him for our radio show, depriving the audience of the scintillating details of his cliffhanger. Or maybe Heather was crying on his shoulder.

PROGRESSIVE PARADE
Griego (Journal)
Some of the wildest action came really early in the evening when the absentee votes were released and showed incumbent State Senators James Taylor, Shannon Robinson and Linda Lopez all losing. Only Lopez would survive the night, and only narrowly. Taylor and Robinson fell in 60% plus landslides--Taylor to former ABQ City Councilor Eric Griego; veteran Robinson to 30 year old newcomer Tim Keller. Even "progressive" Dem Heather Brewer pronounced herself stunned. Then the chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Dan Silva, in the Legislature since the 80's, fell to union organizer Eleanor Chavez. And another shoe dropped as news followed that Roswell GOP State Rep. and House Minority Whip was sent packing by Dennis Kintigh.

It was a stellar showing by a wing of the Dems that has learned to organize and turn out the vote. Mike Santullo was caught predicting incumbent victories this year, but he was far from alone. Governor Big Bill took a hit as well. He endorsed Silva, Robinson and Taylor. These new faces could change the tone of the Legislature some. Foley's defeat is the biggie. He enraged many R's for crossing the aisle to work with Dems, but he was a thorn in the side of House Speaker Lujan. A lot of folks wanted him gone, and he is.

Lenton Malry told us at KANW that he thought the downfall of the incumbents could be a prelude to what voters may do to both parties come November. "Change is the order of the day." He declared. It was certainly the order of Election Night.

Thanks to all of our radio participants. It was another fun night of La Politica we will long remember.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Primary Election 2008 Reaches Finish Line; Voters Decide Historic Number Of Open Congress Battles; KANW 89.1 FM Coverage Starts At 6:30 P.M. 

Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico will do what they do best today--end the noise. Not that they will turn out in droves to do so. The consensus turnout numbers from our experts is about 25% of the 544,000 registered Democrats, or 136,000 voters. They predict Republican turnout at about 33% of the 354,000 registered or 116,820. That would mean about 28% of the 898,000 total eligible registered voters would have cast ballots in the primary. Not that this presages a low turnout for the main event in November. No way. With 80% of the electorate saying the country is headed in the wrong direction, they're just getting warmed up. Voters are waiting to pounce and when they do, it could be all incumbents feeling their wrath.

TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT

Our Election Night coverage begins at 6:30 p.m on KANW 89.1 FM. Here's the station's Web site where the program will be streamed. We have a great lineup for you, so please make a point of joining us. Our 20th year of public radio coverage is made possible by grants from Serrano and Sons--Construction; Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors, and ABQ's Ladera Golf and DW Turner, Public Relations.

WHAT THEY'LL REMEMBER

As for Primary '08 it will be remembered in the history books for three events--the retirement of GOP US Senator Pete Domenici and his last minute intervention to save his protégée Heather Wilson. Whichever way her race against Steve Pearce goes, it will have a lasting impact on the legacy of the state's longest ever serving US Senator.

The attempted outing of Dem northern congressional hopeful Ben Ray Lujan by challenger Benny Shendo broke new political ground. The Santa Fe New Mexican went with the story, whereas in past years the media might have held back on a sexscapade like this. But this is a new century and society is even more open to hearing everything about everything. And it is hearing it. Finally, New Mexico historians will note those TV ads placed in ABQ for the candidates opposing Roswell area legislators Rod Adair and Dan Foley. That's never happened before, but with big money in these campaigns, it may happen again.

THE PREDICTORS

In need of a down to the decimal point prediction on today's GOP US Senate race between Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson? Travel to Farmington and meet Daddy Donisthorpe, husband of former GOP State Senator Christine Donisthorpe and father of two politically active sons. Daddy D predicted in 2006 that Heather Wilson would beat Dem Patsy Madrid in the ABQ congressional race by 300 votes. Heather won by less than 900. We couldn't resist asking him for a prediction on Heather's latest race, with the caveat that he is a Pearce supporter. This one, Daddy D says, goes to Pearce who will get 53.6% of the vote. Now before you yell bias, we have to let you know that this was the exact prediction Daddy D made months ago. Will he build on his record of 2006? We're just hours away from knowing.

Longtime Democratic pollster Harry Pavlides can't let an election go by without taking a bite out of the apple. The longtime consultant calls this one for Pearce, predicting he will win tonight with 54.5%. The final SurveyUSA poll, conducted Sunday and Monday, isn't so sure. It says Pearce is up by only one point.

PANEL PUNDITRY

We gathered the gang at the studios of KANW radio Monday afternoon and heard top lobbyist Scott Scanland, former NM Dem party chair John Wertheim and Dem strategist Heather Brewer call the GOP Senate race for Pearce. There's quite a few politicos climbing out on the Pearce limb. Heather will get a smile out of watching them fall if she can somehow manage an upset tonight.

Senator Domenici did not cut a last-minute TV spot for Heather, but her campaign did take his voice from a recorded "robo-call" and match it to some slides to make this Web video.

As for that six man duel for the northern Dem congressional nomination, Pavlides calls it for Ben Ray Lujan by three to five points. "Some of the sleaze attacks have stuck," He said.

Those "sleaze attacks," if that's what they are, come from Santa Fe millionaire Don Wiviott who has pounded Public Regulation Commissoner Lujan, especially for missing some state meetings. But Pavlides thinks Wiviott may have missed an opportunity by not coming with a more moderate Dem message for conservatives on the East side of the state. He will carry those counties and San Juan in the northwest, but undecided voters could stay home there because Wiviott's main message seemed to be aimed at liberals residing near the Rio Grande and especially in Santa Fe. Monday night Wiviott let up some on his negative hits on Lujan, running some positive ads to close out his campaign which will long be remembered--win or lose--for the $1.4 million he pumped into it.

ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga says he believes the polling circulating that shows restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley taking the GOP southern congressional nomination tonight. Like a lot of R's, he wants to stay out of the line of fire and passed on making a prediction in the Steve-Heather feud.

WHAT IF...

The Alligators are already gaming the futures of Pearce and Wilson. Heather will be interested to hear that if she loses tonight they have her taking a high paying Washington lobbying job, even though under congressional rules she could not directly lobby Congress for a couple of years. Also, she gets to keep leftover campaign money and give it to charity or other political candidates. As for Pearce, if he succumbs to Heather the Alligators say he might as well go swimming with the fishes. His political career would probably be over. Yes, even a run for the GOP nod for the Guv's chair in 2010 could go by the wayside if he can't put away his House colleague tonight.

BIG BILL'S PLANS

Governor Bill has a speech scheduled at noon in L.A. today and his office was not sure where he would be as the election returns rolled in. That figures. The Guv has endorsed a lot of contenders in tonight's Dem primaries and if many of them fall, he won't want to be around to be associated with the defeats. On the other hand, if his slate scores a clean sweep, you can figure on seeing quite a bit of the big guy tonight. Heck, you might even hear him on our radio broadcast.

THE GREAT CONTINUUM
Calling an Election
That our political system endures decade after decade while the world around us gets crazier and crazier is one of the great lures for politics lovers. This semblance of certainty and continuity is bigger than our individual selves and is affirmed each time we have an important election. Tonight our oldest contributor on KANW will be Frank Gilmer, who will turn 80 next month and will phone in early results from downtown ABQ precincts. Frank worked at the ABQ Journal performing office duties in 1942 when he was a high school student. He recalls that during WWII the Journal often only published four pages in an edition because paper was rationed. He worked under Journal owner Tom Pepperday again in the late 40's.

It's the connection with elections past that we somehow find comforting in today's strife ridden world. That free elections were here long before us gives us hope that they will be here long after we've made our contribution. There's a mystical element to it all and on Election Day we embrace this political life of ours, flaws and all.

BATTING FOR PETE

A couple of our readers got pretty rough on Saint Pete here Monday as they analyzed his eleventh hour endorsement of Heather Wilson over Steve Pearce in the GOP US Senate race. Michelle Miller of Portales called us out for not presenting more balanced comments.

I've always thought of your blog as a relatively fair and honest look into the complex world of New Mexico politics. However, the two comments you posted regarding Senator Domenici's endorsement of Wilson were very disappointing. Domenici has done more for this state than even imaginable. To post comments that speak poorly of his unfortunate situation and especially mentioning a nursing home in his last few days is very disrespectful. As a young member of Roosevelt County Republicans I would also like to mention that Steve Pearce has only visited our county once that I'm aware of. Heather Wilson has been on numerous visits to our area...

In retrospect, we might have used our editing pencil on that reader's nursing home line. Rough is alright, but cruel is not.

See you on the radio tonight. E-mail your latest news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, June 02, 2008

Final Hours On Campaign Trail For Pearce & Wilson, Plus: Key Races Across State Updated, And: Our KANW 89.1 FM Election Special Today at 5 P.M. 

In one of those wonderfully weird New Mexico moments, the campaign trail led Steve Pearce into the heart of liberalism Sunday, as the very conservative Hobbs congressman shook hands with patrons at the legendary Frontier Restaurant directly across from the University of New Mexico. Pearce could probably count on his toes the number of Republicans hanging out there, but it made for a good photo op for the TV stations now constantly trailing Pearce and Heather Wilson as they battle for the GOP US Senate nomination. The Frontier is owned by Republicans, so maybe Pearce picked up a couple of votes after all.

It is the foundation of modern American liberalism--the Social Security program--that is giving front-running Pearce heartburn in the final hours of Primary '08. Heather has been hammering him in TV ads and in TV debates over the less than reassuring statements he has made about the venerable program. He has not come back with reassuring answers. It has hurt him among seniors and stalled his movement in the North, according to late polling. Retiring Senator Domenici's endorsement has also given Wilson a mild boost.

The best that the 60 year old Pearce could come with on Social Security was a rebuttal ad that said Wilson was distorting his record, but tellingly he does not rip apart the specifics of her charges. He appears to be able to weather this storm in a GOP primary--his numbers in the South Sunday were still off the charts--but in the fall election, they could cause one mighty big pothole to open up. When they tell you party primaries don't cause lasting damage, always take a second look.

HEATHER'S HOUSE CALLS

Watching Wilson on the late Sunday news making phone calls to targeted R voters and knocking on doors in the ABQ NE Heights reminds you of how she got the job done two years ago when she beat Patricia Madrid by less than 1,000 votes. She has a tougher job this time, given that it is a statewide race, but talking to people who are very likely to vote for you is never a waste of time.

LATE BREAKING POLLING

SurveyUSA hit with an Election Eve poll Monday afernoon showing Pearce holding a one point lead over Wilson--48% to 47& with 2% saying "other" even though no one else is on the ballot. Three percent were undecided. Other polling shows Pearce with a larger lead, probably because they see a more conservative electorate turnng out on Tuesday.

CLOSING THE DEAL


He’s 35, the son of famous NM House Speaker Ben Lujan and a one-term Public Regulation Commissioner. Ben Ray Lujan just doesn't have the established political identity that would chase away Don Wiviott with certainty. That's causing some consternation in his camp, but the young Lujan worked the Spanish North feverishly over the weekend as he battled wealthy Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott for the Dem nod for the northern congressional seat.

Late polling has Lujan ahead by a handful. The pros predict a light turnout and believe that should work to Lujan's benefit. They say older Hispanic Dems are reliable voters and will vote for Lujan big. The problem for Lujan has been the $1.4 million that Wiviott has thrown at this thing. His negative ads have been like a kid who pulls on a cat's tail as it tries to make a run for it. Also, Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya is polling in the mid to high single digits, taking critical Hispanic support away from Lujan. There are three other candidates splitting some of the pie.

Lujan was headed for easy street when this campaign started, but a seat in the United States Congress is rarely served up on a silver platter. If Lujan prevails tomorrow, as is likely, the Wiviott challenge may have helped forge a stronger leader.

SOUTHERN SOJOURN

Former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman appears to have surged into second place in the intense battle for the Southern GOP congressional nomination, but restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley is still your frontrunner. Rancher Aubrey Dunn has flatlined and Earl Greer and Craig Sowards bring up the rear. Newman has had a million bucks put into this race on his behalf by the National Association of Realtors. He came with a bevy of endorsements out of Eddy and other SE counties over the weekend that probably helped move his numbers. Still, Tinsley commands Dona Ana and is running strong in the oil counties. Newman has to keep moving every hour until the polls open to have a chance.

ENDORSEMENT REACTION


The blog readers were hitting send on the e-mail as news circulated late Friday that Senator Pete Domenici had endorsed Heather Wilson for the GOP Senate nomination. Here's a sample:

Once again we are seeing desperation from Domenici and (chief of staff) Steve Bell to make sure that Heather wins...We all remember Heather's last election, in 2006, when Bell and Domenici inappropriately called then U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to inquire about "corruption matters" just so they could use that information to help guarantee another razor thin victory for Heather. Now here we are again at another 11th hour and Domenici is desperate yet again... Another desperate act to help his protege...Sad ending for such a long and otherwise notable career
.

Fred Sisneros adds his two cents worth:

I just can't get the image out of my head of a child visiting their elderly parent at a nursing home trying to get a signature cutting another sibling out of the will. I have to believe the battle for the state GOP is now on. The GOPer's outside of Bernallillo have felt the party has put the interest of the state's largest county first. The fight started last year and this should escalate it.

REBECCA'S RIDE

She did not have money to put up expensive TV ads, so ABQ Dem congressional hopeful has produced ads for her Web site. In one of them, she speaks mainly in Spanish, the first we have seen that in this campaign. It connects.

ED'S HIGH HORSE

When southern GOP congressional candidate Ed Tinsley blogged in about the horse featured in one of his TV commercials he gave a colorful description of life on his Lincoln County ranch, which brought some advice for the wannabe congressman from an astute reader:

Ed Tinsley’s quote, “Nothing like being on him when the thunder rolls, clouds come in, and rain hits in the trees and on the rocks. About the closest I can get to heaven on earth."
Sitting on top of a horse during a lightning storm might be bringing Mr. Tinsley closer to the REAL heaven that he is aware.

BILL'S WORLD

Bill Richardson's endorsement of Ben Ray Lujan in the northern Dem congressional primary is not unprecedented for a governor, but he may be the only Guv who has ever done it. A politico reminds us it wasn't Bill's first swim in the primary endorsement pond:

Richardson did endorse Richard Romero in his Dem primary in 2004 for the ABQ congressional seat. He hosted a fundraiser for him in December, 2003 at and put out a letter in support that was circulated at the pre-primary convention. Granted, that race was not as contested as this one, though in the end Miles Nelson got over 40% of the vote against
Romero.

NATIONAL EYES ON NM

Here is Sunday Washington Post coverage of all of NM's Senate and congressional action.

KAY CUTS
Sometimes a few words are better than many. Take this stinging letter to the editor of the Roswell Daily Record from Kay McMillan, wife of the late Colin McMillan, a prominent rancher and GOP politico whose name has been dragged into the fierce GOP state Senate primary featuring Sen. "Lightning" Rod Adair and challenger Rory McMinn. Writes Kay:

"My late husband, Colin McMillan, was a staunch Republican who never endorsed anyone in a primary contest. I assure you, past or present, dead or alive, Colin would never endorse (GOP State Senator) Rod Adair."

In Roswell the fighting between Adair and challenger Rory McMinn and State Rep. Dan Foley and his challenger, Dennis Kintigh, has gotten so rough, we wouldn't be surprised to see Old west style posters of these guys saying, "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

MORE FROM RAUCOUS ROSWELL

Roswell oilman Mark Murphy has been the leader of the reform wing of the Chaves County GOP, working for several years to oust Foley and Adair. With oil at $130 a barrel, he and his family have plowed over $340,000 into the effort this time. Foley, whose mug shot for his arrest last year at his son's basketball game, is now airing on statewide TV, says he doesn't think Murphy will succeed: "I believe the people will see through this and agree with me that the Republican Party is not for sale." Foley told us.

But Murphy is all in and polling shows Foley is on the ropes and Adair is teetering, too. One or both could go down Election Night. Here is the Roswell Record from Sunday with a statement from Murphy on his latest sparring with Foley. Folks, this one is personal.

TV TURMOIL

And just why are you seeing these Roswell state legislative races on your TV screen when you don't even live in the Roswell area? Well, it seems many of the folks in the Adair-Foley legislative districts get their TV off of satellite dishes. Roswell network affiliates KBIM and KOBR are not on the bird, so to reach those voters Kintigh and McMinn bought the expensive ABQ airtime. The ads are emotional. We might even see ABQ voters wanting in on the action and asking to vote in the races, having no idea that the contests are not here.

WHITEFIELD'S PLEA

ABQ District Court Judge Elizabeth Whitefield has an unusual worry. Even though her opponent in the Dem primary--Metro Court Judge Frank Sedillo--has dropped out of the race and endorsed Whitefield, his name will still be on the Tuesday ballot. These judge races are really low-key and many voters may not be aware that Sedillo hs already cashed out. Whitefield is urging Dems to vote for her and ignore Sedillo's name. But if Sedillo were somehow to win, he would be the nominee. And you thought you had political problems...

LATE DECIDERS

If you are just getting around to thinking about voting, or are just curious about some of the races on the primary ballot, here's the ABQ Journal voter guide which has all the stories they have written on all the races and more.

TODAY IS PRE-GAME DAY


We'll take to the radio airwaves of KANW 89.1 FM at 5 p.m. today for our Election Eve Special where we'll cover late breaking developments and have some predictions and analysis on the key races of this primary. I'll be joined by top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga, former NM Dem Chair John Wertheim, Dem strategist Heather Brewer and journalist Trip Jennings. This should be a fun-filled hour so make plans to join us.

Our Election Night coverage on KANW starts at 6:30 p.m on 89.1 FM ABQ?Santa Fe. There is a live stream of the program at the station's Web site. It's our 20th year of coverage there and this will be one of the more exciting nights ever because of all the congressional action. Hope you can make us part of your Election Night party.

Election coverage on public radio KANW is made possible by grants from Ladera Golf, Serrano and Sons--Construction and Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors.

E-mail your news, comments, political gossip and whatever else you like.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Poll: Pearce By 6 Over Wilson; Pete On The Phones For Heather; Voters End Melodrama in 48 Hours, Plus: More Breaking News On Your Special Sunday Blog 

Pearce & Wilson
Steve Pearce is closing in on the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate, holding a six point lead--45% to 39%--over rival Heather Wilson in an ABQ Journal poll released Sunday. Still, the race has not been closed out. Wilson, a traditionally strong closer, is pulling out all the stops in the final hours of Primary '08, including that eleventh hour endorsement from retiring US Senator Pete Domenici who Saturday was working the phones for Wilson. (Details below.)

But the story this Sunday is Pearce and his unapologetic conservative message. "Pearce's message of being the consistent conservative appears to have worked," said Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, in the game since the 70's.

If Pearce wins this thing, and it will now be a Wilson upset if he doesn't, it will be on the strength of the southern congressional district he has represented since 2002, and in particular
the "Little Texas" counties straddling the Texas border. Pearce is trouncing Wilson 64% to 23% there. As expected, Heather holds a commanding lead in the ABQ area, beating Pearce 57% to 27%. But my experts say with Pearce's expected power in the south, a 60-40 win in the ABQ area may not be enough for Wilson. She may need to hit over 65% here, a tall order indeed. In the northern district the two contenders are more competitive, with Pearce leading 46% to 37%. The poll was taken May 27-29 and has a margin of error of 4%.

Wilson now needs a light turnout in the south and a heavy one in ABQ, but southern Republicans have a competitive congressional primary to vote on, whereas in ABQ the congressional race is a dud and not pulling in the crowds.

The first round fight for the power and glory of the US Senate is now down to mere hours. Pearce has got to keep his head down, plow ahead and hang tough. Wilson must ignore the polling and try to pull more last minute surprises out of her hat. But at this point a conservative party, not surprisingly, is gearing up to annoint a true-blue conservative as its standard-bearer for the state's first open US Senate seat since 1972.

DOMENICI IMPACT

While the Journal poll was flashing across the Web Alligators in Washington were assessing the initial impact of Senator Domenci's Friday night endorsement of Wilson. They say polling indicates the endorsement had a positive effect in the northern congressional district, where Republicans are sparse. They say there seemed to be a bump in Republican vote-heavy Bernalillo on the order of three to five points, but there was no collapse in Pearce's numbers or a huge surge for Wilson. However, the south held solid for Pearce, and he may even pick up a few votes from southerners resentful of Pete's play. There are still some remaining hours for the endorsement to be put to work which could give Wilson a bigger boost. Judging by those Journal poll numbers she is going to need all she can get.

USING DOMENICI
Pete Domenici
Now that retiring GOP US Senator Pete Domenici has endorsed Heather Wilson for the US Senate nomination in her contest with fellow US Rep. Steve Pearce, how will Domenici be put to work to drum up support for Wilson? (Check our Saturday blog for the fascinating insider details on how the late endorsement came about. Here is Domenici's interview with the ABQ Journal on the subject.) Saturday, Domenici voiced a "robo-call" message that was phoned to Republicans across the state in which he urged a vote on Tuesday for Wilson. Wilson also did an automatic phone call touting the eleventh hour backing. In the automatic phone call, heard here courtesy of KKOB-AM radio's Peter St. Cyr, a frail sounding Domenici says Wilson's record is being "unfairly distorted" by out-of-state interests.

"Heather Wilson is exceedingly qualified to fill my shoes in the US Senate...I ask you to vote for her on Tuesday." Domenici says in the 30 second phone call.

Will there be more? Like a news conference or rally Sunday or Monday showing Domenici with Wilson? Will Wilson's campaign stamp her Monday TV with "endorsed by Domenici?"

There is much that could be done with an endorsement from Domenici. The good news for Steve Pearce is there is not much time to do it.

WHITE VS. CARRARO POLLING

No one will be surprised by the huge lead GOP Bernallilo County Sheriff Darren White has established in the Journal poll over ABQ state Senator Joe Carraro. White has had such a big lead all year that his was the only major congressional campaign not to put up TV ads. The question on Election Night will be whether White, the chosen one of the current powers-that-be in the state and national GOP, can reach the 70% mark. The Journal has him garnering 72% to Carraro's 13%. Carraro had a small budget and bought some billboards and minimal TV.

MICHELLE NUKES REBECCA

ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham came with negative TV against rival Rebecca Vigil-Giron over the weekend. She brings up that federal audit that criticized former Secretary of State Vigii-Giron's handling of federal Help America Vote Act money.

Grisham's problem from the get-go has been the splitting of the hefty Hispanic Dem vote with Vigil-Giron. It has allowed Martin Heinrich to break free of both of them. Attorney Robert Pidcock is also in the race. Lujan's negative TV on Rebecca, combined with the positive TV she is running, will likely take her past Vigil-Giron who has been running second to Heinrich. However, displacing Heinrich at this late stage in the game is her main goal, and that remains highly problematic.

MONDAY ELECTION SPECIAL

Join me and top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland Monday at 5 p.m for a live, one hour election special on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ/Santa Fe. We'll run down the key races with expert analysis from our guest panel. Tuesday night join us again on KANW for Election Night coverage starting at 6:30 p.m.

Election Night coverage is made possible on KANW by grants from Ladera Golf, Serrano and Sons--Construction and Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors.

E-mail your latest campaign news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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