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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

First Volley Fired in GOP Guv Contest: Weh Announces; Susana Strikes, Plus: The GOP Outlook: My Analysis, And: Why Rep. Ed Sandoval Is Smiling 

Allen & Rebecca Ann Weh
It didn't take long at all for the first volley to be fired in the race for the 2010 GOP Guv nomination. Only moments after retired Marine Corp Reserve Colonel and former NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh formally announced his entry into the contest Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez was taking aim:

“Allen Weh has political experience as Republican party chairman for the last 4 years, but I believe we must nominate a different kind of candidate with a proven record of taking on corruption if we are going to beat Diane Denish next fall.” Fired Martinez.

Weh, 66, has a long military record laced with combat duty. He is inclined toward political combat as well. His supporters deflected the Martinez volley, ribbing her as "Susana Who?"

At Weh's announcement, his wife was featured prominently at his side as he perhaps sent a message to female Republican voters possibly being charmed by Susana. And he packaged the key vulnerabilities of the incumbent Dems:

Weh said that as Governor, he will eliminate corruption at every level of state government, fix the state’s ailing education system, balance the budget and bring real jobs to New Mexico...

And then he goes home, takes off the Superman outfit and his wife pours him a stiff drink. Well, it is the season and if Weh and Martinez don't brag of their prowess, who will?

By the way, balancing the budget is a state constitutional requirement. It is done regardless of who holds political power.

DEMS WELCOME WEH

Weh has long been a favorite foil of the state Dems and the party couldn't resist piling on as he made his Guv debut:

Weh's tenure as head of the Republican Party was a catastrophic failure. He presided over the most stunning defeats in New Mexico Republican Party history...Under his watch the party saw intense infighting and contested, nasty primaries. If he couldn't stop the fighting inside his own party, why would New Mexicans think he would be a bipartisan leader in Santa Fe?

And we thought 2010 might not generate the kind of copy that would keep this race lively. But we just got a call from another relieved blogger. They said: "Joe, they're back! It's Christmas in September!"

THE REPUBLICAN OUTLOOK

While Democrats seem to be headed toward an unopposed Democratic primary by choosing Lt. Governor Denish as their nominee, the R's may be in for a nasty and divisive fight. We've been focused on whether Heather Wilson would get in the race. With the news of no indictments in the Richardson administration, insiders are saying the odds are getting longer that Heather takes the plunge. We shall see. But if she does stay on the sidelines, we can see both Weh and Martinez going negative quickly and furiously (As noted above, we got a little preview Tuesday). The consultants for both camps are known for such tactics. Candidate Janice Arnold-Jones and potential candidate Doug Turner seem more tame.

Republicans have cause to worry over the matter. In 2002, Republican John Sanchez went nuclear on Lt. Governor Walter Bradley. Sanchez won the nomination but Bradley and his supporters never forgave Sanchez for trying to link Walter to then-State Senate leader Manny Aragon. Richardson won in a walk.

There is not much left to the New Mexico Republican Party after two devastating election cycles. An internecine fight over the carcass isn't going to help capture the governor's office, but it may be inevitable if Wilson does not come aboard.

If the R's come with a nominee who is too extreme, it could lead to yet another Democratic landslide. Those who feel the party still needs to purge itself of the demons of the past are saying one final decapitating election might be ugly but necessary. They argue it would finally clear the field of the old players and let the party rebuild in a more moderate direction that would make it a player in state politics.

Despite the historic wipe out R's have suffered, we await more signs that a more inclusive party--one that poses a threat to the dominating Dems--is in the cards.

UNDER THE RADAR

Leader Hoyer
This one flew under the radar. Steny Hoyer, the majority leader of the US House, made what appeared to be an impromptu visit
with southern Dem US Rep. Harry Teague to Holloman Air Force Base last Wednesday:

Hoyer said he and Teague were visiting medical facilities in El Paso when Teague urged him to come to Holloman, which was Hoyer's only stop in New Mexico during his visit to the region. After the briefing, the congressmen went back to El Paso.

"I liked the brief, and Congressman Teague thought it was very important," Hoyer said. "And I agree with him."

Hoyer has close ties to moderate and conservative House Dems. The camp of former southern GOP Rep Steve Pearce has been trying to tie Teague to the more liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Pearce prepares his effort to take back the seat. But as the Hoyer visit demonstrated, Teague is not without his defenses. He will have to use all of them. With fewer votes cast in a mid-term election than a presidential year, turnout is going to tilt more conservative next year, giving Pearce a realistic chance.

TEAGUE'S TIGHTROPE

One thing Teague doesn't need is a Democratic primary challenger. Is that why Harry
has yet to come out against the controversial "public option" plank in the President's health care reform plan? That plank will have Harry walking the plank if he votes for it. But a vote against the public option could prompt a primary challenge from the Dem left-wing, the kind Harry had in 2008 and narrowly defeated (Teague beat Bill McCamley 52% to 48%). So while Teague is chumming it up with moderate Steny Hoyer, liberal Nancy Pelosi and company lurk in the background. Teague can delay only so long before he starts looking indecisive.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS

Dem Light Guv candidate Brian Colon is fully embracing the money race. He put out a missive to friends announcing that he raised about $50,000 at his first fund-raiser, the same amount that rival lt. gov. candidate Lawrence Rael raised at his first event.

Colon also says he has raised over $14,000 on ActBlue a Democratic fund-raising site where candidates get donations from across the nation. Rael has raised about $3,000 on the site. Another Light Guv contender, Jerry Oritz y Pino, has raised about $2,000 on ActBlue. The first state fund-raising reports come in mid-October.

FASTER THAN LIGHTNING

118 mph in a 65 mph zone? That's how fast Roswell State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair was traveling in the Santa Rosa area August 19, according to a state court record (Citation C-2412410138907) sent to us by one of our Alligators. He has been ordered to appear in court by Sept. 30. And you thought Big Bill was a speed freak.

NEVER MIND

Mayor Chavez claims to be the most "accessible" mayor in ABQ history--not its most "successful." Even though we listened three times to the Web video we quoted from, we thought we heard him say most "successful. That sent us off on a blogging rant on how some historians might place former Mayor Clyde Tingley above Chavez. The mayor's campaign checked the script and it says "accessible" and on a closer listen we agree. Our ears--obviously damaged by decades of high volume radio headsets--misheard the mayor.

Remember that catch-phrase used by the hearing-impaired character Emily Litella (video posted here) in the early years of Saturday Night Live? After going on a rant, but then discovering she had misheard the statement that prompted her outburst, she meekly said: "Never Mind."

Never Mind.

A REASON TO SMILE


ABQ State Rep. Ed Sandoval is finding plenty to smile about in this pic, surrounded as he is by beauty and brains. Sandoval, 62, chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee and first elected in 1982, was on hand to celebrate the recent 40th anniversary of the
Graduate and Professional Student Association at the University of New Mexico. He's basking in the glow of Angela Chavez-Adkins, GPSA Lobby Committee Co-Chair, Lissa Knudsen, GPSA President 2009/10 and Katie Richardson-McDaniel, the GPSA Grants Co-Chair. Sandoval's resume says he attended UNM as an undergrad, but was not a member of GPSA. However, he does seem to be enjoying the benefits of membership.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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