Thursday, May 07, 2009

Harry Teague's Delicate Balancing Act Shows Up In Votes, Plus: First Polling Numbers Float In Guv Race, Also: Guv's Through The Ages And Their Ages 

Rep. Teague
Southern NM Congressman Harry Teague continues his delicate balancing act, remaining a loyal Democrat while doing his best not to alienate a large conservative voting base that could cause him real problems. Recent votes reveal his continuing efforts to deprive any Republican challenger of powerful ammunition. In two major votes he broke with his two NM Democratic House colleagues.

On the recent federal budget vote, Teague voted no while Congressmen Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan cast "yes" votes. The budget measure passed 233 to 144. The budget projects $3.4 trillion in spending and a $1.2 trillion deficit. A conservative running against Teague could have had a field day with those numbers, but no so much now.

On the hate crimes legislation, Teague also showed conservative stripes. The Hobbs oilman did not vote against expanding federal laws against hate crimes that would give gay victims of violence increased federal protection. Instead, he did not vote. The hate crimes measure passed in the Democratic-controlled House by 249 to 175. Teague's office said he had a speaking engagement in Michigan with the NM Amigos and was unable to make the vote. While Dems on the left are not going to be pleased, a no-show is still an improvement for them over the no vote that would have been cast if the R's controlled the seat.

Teague is the first Democrat to represent the sprawling second district since Harold Runnels was elected there in 1970. Harold was also an oilman from Lea County who often voted conservative. With Teague, history is repeating itself.

Republican Steve Pearce, who gave up the southern seat to make an unsuccessful bid for the US Senate, is the most prominent possible foe being mentioned for Teague next year, but Pearce is also said to be weighing a run for governor. Pearce or no Pearce, Teague is carving out a voting record that will minimize conservative angst.


Somebody call Gary Johnson. Governor Arnold is talking about legalizing pot in


State Auditor Balderas--he of the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party, and Attorney General King--he of the middle of the road wing, continue an odd clash over investigating each other. Rumors abound about a possible "progressive" 2010 Dem primary challenge of King, but no takers yet and Balderas is widely expected to seek another four year term as auditor. However, friends of the Auditor say someday the lawyer would like to be AG. Can't we all get along?

We are getting in here some polling tidbits from a survey conducted in NM by a national group out of D.C. regarding the Governor's race. Among Republicans, former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson is said to have an approval rating of 80 percent. Wilson has said she is entertaining a run for the 2010 GOP Guv nod. If that survey has it right, she would be a potent primary contender. However, we're told the same poll shows Wilson is damaged among independents and what are called "soft Democrats" who might be persuaded to vote for a Republican. So the debate will go on not just on who would be the strongest GOP primary candidate, but who would be strongest in the general election. We'll try to get more info on this survey in the days ahead, but the inital numbers come from a reliable insider.


One of our Senior Alligators had some good analysis of NM history when it comes to corruption scandals and what it has meant at the ballot box. He thought we were too generous in recently saying the state now appears to be deep blue:

This is a state where lots of blues (Dems) vote red. If New Mexico were so blue how did Gary Johnson win two four year terms as Governor? Ever hear of Garrey Carruthers? R's do well immediately after D's are mired in scandal.

In 1986, Carruthers became the first Republican governor in 20 years in the aftermath of the Guv term of Dem Toney Anaya whose administration was sidetracked by policy and ethics controversies. Johnson beat Gov. Bruce King in 1994 making the legislative leadership of Raymond Sanchez and Manny Aragon a key point.

With the administration of Governor Richardson now mired in ethical morasses, even a weak Republican Party could be boosted by disaffected Democrats and independents. So, yes, we're pretty blue these days, but as our Gator ably points out, shades of red have a way of making their way on to the state's political palette, especially when corruption flourishes.


We mused Wednesday that if Allen Weh, 66, managed to win the 2010 GOP Guv nod he would be 67 and the oldest R in memory to win the nod. We are on firm ground with that (We await any correction from the historians). But we also mused that if Diane Denish, who would be 61 if she won the Dem Guv nod next year, would also set an age record for her party. But syndicated columnist and publisher Harold Morgan hasn't let age catch up with him. He sets the record straight with this:

(Democrat) Bruce King (born April 6, 1924, according to Bruce's Wikipedia entry, which made him 66 when he began what proved to be his final term in 1991. I still feel a factor in Bruce losing to Gary Johnson in 1994 was Bruce making a big deal of his 70th birthday, providing a contrast to the youth and vigor of Gary Johnson.

Well remembered and well said, Harold. Gary Johnson was born on Jan. 1, 1953 and sworn in as Guv Jan. 1, 1994 as he turned 41. There was a real contrast in that campaign.

We'll throw another one out there. We think Republican Dave Cargo, at 37, may have been the youngest man ever elected Governor, in 1966. Dave celebrated his 80th birthday in January and is alive and well and living in ABQ.


Former NM workers compensation judge Chris Berkheimer has to know he has a long way to go to get back in the game. He was forced to resign his post in 2007 after charges that he solicited sex from an injured woman who was appearing before him and while a video camera was running. He not only lost his job, but also his right to practice law. But Democrat Berkheimer, who ran for an ABQ state senate seat in 2004, says he is giving serious thought to seeking the ABQ City Council seat held by Republican Sally Mayer. Voters are open to stories of redemption, but this is heavy suitcase of baggage. Mayer has indicated she is running for a third term. Republican Michael Cook says he is also in this race for this district which is in the middle of the city.


Joe, For many years, my morning begins with you, followed by RealClearPolitics. Although I am now a local government attorney, I did my time in a PBS newsroom and I know that sources cannot always be identified. The point is that a journalist lives and dies by his/her accuracy and credibility and you have never steered me wrong. Your “Gators” are worth more than all the identified sources in most of the rags that are left in the print media. Keep up the good work!

David Mathews

Thanks, David. We enjoy doing it for you.

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