Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weh Now Seen Atop GOP Field: Will The Hits Come Next? The Very Latest From The Alligators & Insiders, Plus: Colon Gets Chicharrone Lesson 

Weh & Martinez
Alligators, insiders, operatives and wall-leaners, all obsessed with the crowded GOP race for governor, are again labelling Allen Weh the front-runner to take the prize. This follows a month of TV ads by the former GOP chairman that give Republican primary voters two reasons to give him a listen, reasons that often resonate with the conservative party--his impressive war record and his business success.

With the first absentee ballots for the June 1 primary set to go out in two weeks, Weh's opponents have yet to lay a glove on him, and if they don't--Weh--the Anglo Alpha male in a party filled with those types--is the likely winner, according to top insider R's we interviewed.

They cite the apparent fading of Pete Domenici Jr. as another reason Weh appears to have the leading position. Susana Martinez needs Domenici to eat into Weh's vote in the big Bernalillo County region. If Domenici doesn't, it makes it that much harder for Martinez of the south to pull off the win.

Weh was seen by the ace political handicappers as the GOP front-runner at the end of last year, but he lost the crown in mid-January when Pete Domenici, Jr. entered the contest. The retired Marine has now retaken the lost ground thanks to Pete faltering.

Martinez is seen as the major threat to Weh, with Domenici still in it but in need of some kind of resuscitation. As for Doug Turner, everyone is waiting to see if he is going to pull a $250,000 trigger and get in this thing. Janice Arnold-Jones gamely struggles forward. And it is a struggle.

There is major trepidation among this Republican field to go negative. They fear the person who pulls the trigger first could see it backfire, and any votes that are pried loose go to one of their four rivals--not them.

But Weh's immense money advantage--he has already loaned himself $750,000--has to be confronted. Doesn't it? If no heavy negative comes against him, his money will talk even louder.

At the beginning of the campaign observers checking in here anticipated it would be Weh going negative on Domenici, whose widespread name ID put him atop the polls. But Domenici has failed to raise enough money to compete on TV.

Early on, Weh launched a volley against Domenici in a talk radio interview, disparaging him as an "environmental attorney." But since then he has backed off and stayed positive. And with good reason. Weh backers see Pete Junior as less of a threat as his campaign seeks to find its footing and more financing.

The race, as they say, is subject to change. Weh has not closed the deal and there is plenty of time to change the course of this campaign. And Weh could screw up. But history, demographics, cash balances and the messaging thus far are all telling us that at this juncture, Weh is the man to stop. Who will try?


Talk to a dozen Republicans and at least a couple of them will tell you how they are freaked out about Weh becoming the GOP nominee. They think he has little or no appeal to Hispanic New Mexicans, and without it will be easy pickings for Dem contender Diane Denish.

Weh may scare insider R's as a reincarnation of John Dendahl, who suffered the worst whipping in GOP Guv nominee history in 2006, but over the years rank and file R's have shown themselves to be oblivious to such process arguments. Why should it be different this time?


That closely watched race for the GOP nod for Bernalillo County Sheriff draws the attention of outgoing GOP State Rep. Kathy McCoy who has endorsed retired APD commander William Kurth over retired sheriff's commander Dan Houston.

“Will brings a strong commitment to service and common sense to the race for Sheriff and as a concealed carry license holder, I support Will’s commitment to protecting our right to defend ourselves and our families,” said McCoy.

The race is closely watched because the R's have a stellar record in capturing this office. McCoy represents much of the East Mountains. Houston worked that area as a sheriff's deputy.

Houston has about $40,000 in cash on hand as of April 5. Kurth had about $46,000. He loaned himself $40,000. Houston loaned himself $10,000.

There are seven Dem candidates seeking their party's sheriff nomination. Dem insiders see Sheriff Manny Gonzalez, appointed to the position by the Bernalillo County Commission in December, and retired ABQ police department commander Marie Sisi Miranda as the top contenders. Gonzales had about $19,000 in cash on April 5; Miranda had about $6,000.


Leonard and Rael
We caught up with Dem Light Guv contender Lawrence Rael and Sandoval County Commission Chairman Donnie Leonard who doubles as Rael's campaign treasurer at a recent fundraiser at the new Amici restaurant. Rael quit his job as head of the Mid-Region Council of Governments to pursue his dream of being lieutenant governor. But insiders expect Rael to be in government service no matter what happens in the race for #2. He is often mentioned as a possible chief of staff for Diane Denish, if she is successful in capturing the governor's office. Leonard and his family operate the long-established Leonard Tire locations in ABQ.


We knew there had to be a catch with that photo we ran Tuesday of Dem Light Guv hopeful Brian Colon stirring a tasty batch of chicharrones at his recent South Valley matanza. And leave it to the Senior Alligators to find fault. From the email and from deep in the storied Valley of La Politica:

Forget about Colon's stirring technique. No purist would ever allow metal into a hot batch of chicharrones. Chicharrones properly stirred during cooking are stirred with a wooden paddle shaped for that purpose. Many chicharrone paddles are handed down from generation to generation.

Of course, we will entertain any contrary chicharrone argument from the Colon campaign, but we think the candidate is best advised to put that photo under lock and key and buy himself a wooden paddle.


Lambert's is a well-established restaurant that changed hands a few years ago, with no harm to its quality. It has to be the best dining spot in Taos. You won't be disappointed by executive chef Ky Quintanilla and the superb staff. (Here's a video of the chef.) They are firing on all cylinders here, making it one of the best destination dining places in the state. On a recent visit, they offered two seafood specials--scallops and salmon. Both were nearly as fresh as the ocean--way up there in high country and on the main drag. Enjoy.

In Santa Fe, Tiny's is a local institution, but the food peaked years ago while the atmosphere remains true New Mexican. The green chile stew was serviceable, but nowhere near hot enough for us. (The kitchen added some chopped jalapeno to assuage our craving). Ditto for the roast beef burrito. What happened to fiery chile at Tiny's? The bar, as always, has a welcome mat out for all takers, and where else in Santa Fe can you dance to the house band if you're of a certain age?

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