Thursday, July 02, 2009
GOP Calls For Teague Political Funeral Over Energy Vote, But Harry Still Breathes Deeply; The Inside Story On Where He Stands, Plus: On The Econ Beat
The political death of southern NM Congressman Harry Teague is greatly exaggerated. Let's explain. Within hours of Teague voting for the energy and climate change bill, Republicans began touting the vote as a deal-breaker with his mostly conservative district. They asserted the measure, which passed the House by a narrow 219-212 vote, would hurt the oil and gas industry and cause utility bills to go up, all making Teague hyper-vulnerable to a Republican challenge now considered likely to come from former Congressman Steve Pearce. But there was a hitch on the way to Harry's political funeral. True, the bill is not causing small town parades in "Little Texas" in the southeast where the oil and gas industry holds sway. Also, 44 Democrats, perhaps fearful of the political consequences, voted with the Republicans. But Teague did offer amendments to soften the blow the measure had on the state's independent oil and gas producers and refineries. And don't forget. Teague is himself an oilman--a successful one. It's hard to see Teague's vote causing massive hemorrhaging within the industry ranks he calls his own. Even if Teague's energy vote does hurt him some with voters in the SE portion of the district, there is still a major problem with the GOP Teague death wish. It's called Dona Ana County.
DOTING ON DONA ANA
For the most part Dona Ana, a Democratic county with a not insignificant environmental community, is going to be pleased that Teague voted for the bill. By the way, Teague crushed his Republican foe in this key county in 2008 by a stunning 15,000 votes. My experts say it is nearly impossible for a Republican to take back the southern seat without at least running close to Teague in Doan Ana--home to the city of Las Cruces and the district's most populated county. In that regard, the R's have a mountain to climb. And don't forget that the GOP also needs a huge margin in Harry's home county of Lea. Do they think an incumbent US Congressman is not going to get at least 40 percent of the vote there, and probably more? Where do they make up the votes they don't get in Lea and especially Dona Ana? They don't. They must crack those areas, and the energy bill vote--unless utility bills skyrocket--doesn't get it done in Dona Ana.
R's are pushing hard, however, to get traction on what they see as the first majro vote that gives them an opening in the district. They put up this radio ad hitting Teague.
Teague has obviously done his political homework. He offered those amendments, hoping to stop any bleeding in the SE, but voted for the bill to hold his general election base in Dona Ana and also to not incite a possible liberal Dem primary opponent. But there is a chance the House bill will die in the Senate and there will be no final law. The R's would then be talking about a vote that really didn't matter. Not that the R's don't have a chance to re-take the seat, but it's not going to be as easy as they might wish. So call off the funeral. Teague breathes.
ON THE ECON BEAT
We wanted to find out if that 7 percent unemployment rate for the ABQ metro for the month of May was some kind of record. It seems so. From the state Dept. of Workforce Solutions:
The data we have in house only dates back to 1990...The Albuquerque MSA’s previous high was 6.8 percent in June 1993.
Add in folks working only part-time and you have a lot of job hunters out there.
The statewide official jobless rate is 6.5 percent, but probably considerably higher say economic experts. The pain is spreading to previously exempt areas--like Carlsbad. The SE NM city lost a call center this week that employed 100. Finding replacement jobs is the challenge. The center had been in the city for nearly 10 years.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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