Monday, August 23, 2010

How They're Hurting Harry; Boycott Of Rep's Biz Is Confirmed, And: Can Martin Phone Home? Also: Reader Blogging On Guv Debate 

Rep. Teague
Usually if they don't like you they just vote against you. But it has gone way beyond that for southern Dem Congressman Harry Teague. He confirms the rumors that his Hobbs-based energy businesses are being boycotted by fellow oil and gas types upset with his vote for cap and trade legislation. The boycott has been one of the major reasons Teague's personal wealth has plunged a startling 87 percent--from $40 million when he took office two years ago to now only $5 million, according to Teague's congressional disclosure forms.

Once again Politico leads the coverage on Teague's travails, coming with the fresh info as the paper spent time in the south for an in-depth look at Teague's uphill climb for re-election against Republican Steve Pearce. They report the boycott began in earnest last year with Teague's vote for cap and trade legislation that was despised by the oil and gas industry.

“Immediately, everybody quit using his businesses,” said Lance Wilbanks, the CEO of Wilbanks Trucking in Artesia, who said he thought it was “sleazy” that Teague’s company changed its name after the climate vote in attempt to hedge some of its losses.

Teague insisted that business has been slow around the region and wouldn’t say how much money he has lost at his company because of the climate vote. Nonetheless, he confirmed the threats from locals.

“There was a few individuals scattered around, tried to make a bigger issue out of it, to try to quit using us,” he said. “But we still pretty much worked for all the people that we work for.”

Teague is trying to play down the boycott, rumors of which have circulated for months but now only officially confirmed. It's true that the bear market in oil and gas contributed heavily to Teague's losses, but it's obvious the now out-in-the-open boycott played into Teague's financial misery in a big way. (Cap and trade passed the House but never got out of the Senate.)

What's stunning about the boycott of Teague's companies is the willingness of those doing it to go on the record. It really is quite unheard of. Even one prominent Republican businessman told Politico they thought it was over the top:

Don Kidd, a former Republican state senator and the CEO of the Western Commerce Bank in Carlsbad, disagreed with Teague’s vote on the climate bill. But he said that doesn’t excuse locals for cutting their business ties with Teague, which he estimates have cost the congressman about $15 million.“I think it’s one of the most low-rent things I’ve ever heard of,” Kidd said.

Going after a fella's livelihood because of a vote he took in DC doesn't reflect the neighborliness that southern New Mexico prides itself on. But today's hardball, take-no-prisoners-politics knows no boundaries.


Our Senior Alligators have argued that Teague's vote on cap and trade--aka "climate change" was not in and of itself disastrous. They argued he would take the biggest hit for it in the SE oil counties but could actually benefit from it in the district's largest county--Dona Ana. They say the election will be decided by two factors. How big of a beating will Teague take in counties like Eddy, Chaves, Lea and Lincoln? And how much will he win in Dona Ana which he needs to make up for the SE losses?


Former Congressman Steve Pearce sold his energy related company for millions several years ago so the Dems can't respond with a boycott of their own, but they can stop Steve from dancing in the streets over Harry's woes and remind him of some of his own. For example, it seems Steve just can't bring himself to admit that he once was in favor of partially privatizing Social Security.

It's all over the record and we covered the flip-flop in March when his campaign came with a statement against privatizing, but now Pearce is apparently back at it again--telling KKOB radio August 20 that he was never for privatization. There is also this video from Alamogordo where Pearce tries to get around his privatization stance but is challenged by an audience member.

Pearce now joins GOP Guv candidate Susana Martinez in refusing to admit they have switched positions even when confronted with forensic evidence. In Martinez's case, her past stance for traditional school vouchers--she calls them tax credits--is documented on video and by the Associated Press which called her out on it in last week's coverage of the first Guv debate.

That candidates are now simply ignoring the record and attempting to create an alternative reality has an Alice in Wonderland feel. In the old days, you just admitted you had a change of heart or had some spin on why things had changed. In that respect, they really were the good old days.


Will the constant chatter emanating from GOP circles that Republican Susana Martinez is significantly ahead in the 2010 Guv race be verified when the ABQ Journal comes with its first poll of the contest this Sunday?

That's the question uppermost on the minds of the politicos as Brian Sanderoff, the paper's veteran pollster, prepares to go into the field this Tuesday. We could get a Rasmussen or other survey this week as well, but the Journal's surveys--which really get into the state's political DNA--are most closely watched.The paper will also poll the state's congressional races and major issues.

Media insiders say it appears the Journal will come with a total of three polls on the Guv's race this cycle. That's one more than they have been doing in recent elections.

Meanwhile, as coverage of the campaign by the state's largest newspaper gets meatier, Dems remain suspicious. They see the Journal as taking a hard swing to the right in recent years, and they know how much the editors have been down on Big Bill and the corruption that infiltrated his administration. They took heart that Republican Martinez was put through the wringer on the paper's news and editorial pages for a sweetheart contract deal she handed out at the Dona Ana County district attorney's office.

The paranoid types say that the paper can now say it did tough coverage of Susana and will now take it easy on her in the stretch. We'll see, but we're more concerned that the New Mexico public has been given very limited personal information about these candidates--especially Martinez who is being touted as possibly the first female Hispanic governor in American history. Will the forthcoming profiles be comparable to ones done in the past? They need to be.


And what's this? Big Bill on his way to Havana for a week and with a Washington Post op-ed published Sunday to kick things off? Nothing like a little international travel from the onetime diplomat to buff that public image. And with the Journal polling his approval rating this Tuesday, it's right on time. But Bill didn't know that, did he?

In his op-ed piece the Guv calls for improved USA relations with all of Latin America which he says have been damaged by the argument over that tough anti-immigrant law passed by Arizona. The Guv also mentions the disaster that is Mexico:

We need a hemispheric accord on crime and violence. In New Mexico, we are working with law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels and on both sides of our border with Mexico to share intelligence and stop the illicit trade of narcotics, illegal guns and human trafficking. These are transnational issues that involve a coordinated effort to protect the safety of law-abiding citizens of the United States and Mexico.

Richardson is not going to get much credit in the history books for how he handled Mexico during his eight years as Guv. He started out with fanfare in 2003, before the country was taken over by the narco-terrorists, but there has been little said from the state's Fourth Floor since then about the out of control nation. The promise that Bill held out for improved trade and relations with Mexico has been overpowered by the narcocracy.

As for Cuba, Bill calls for lifting most of the travel ban to the island nation. Remember the speculation last August when he also visited Cuba? It was thought he might get named by Obama as a special Cuban envoy which would have had him leaving here and making Diane Denish governor without an election.

Hey, with Bill gone this week, it means Lt. Gov. Denish is Acting Governor. Maybe she'll issue an executive order banning the issuance of driver's licenses to illegals? Well, maybe next time.


After more than a month of positive stuff, the TV ads for the Guv candidates are back on the negative. Late last week Martinez started blasting Denish and what she said was the state's 49th ranking in education. Now Denish is up with a new ad labeling Martinez a "Republican politician" and nailing her for supporting school vouchers which Denish says would benefit the wealth at the expense of the middle class.


Can you get cell reception in the Jemez Mountains? That became a burning question among some of our readers friendly to ABQ US Rep. Martin Heinrich. A Heinrich staffer told us last week that Martin could not give immediate comment to the newspaper on the controversial Mosque near Ground Zero question because he "was camping with his son" in the Jemez.

Talk radio accused Heinrich of ducking comment, even though he did issue a statement several days later saying he thought the R's were trying to stir up fear. Reader Juan Carlos Holmes says Heinrich deserves the benefit of the doubt because cell service is not available in some of the Jemez:

Honestly, I've never had any luck; I get zero reception up there. I'm on T-Mobile, and I've known people on other networks with the same issues. I know some folks on AllTel that can get reception as far as Jemez Springs, but that's about it. Once you hit all the campgrounds, which are mostly past the Hot Springs and up around the La Cueva/Fenton area, you get nothing.

And Inez Russell from the New Mexican writes:

I was just up there doing a story for Indian Market magazine; and guess what, they don't, in many places, have cell phone coverage. And that's on the road. I can only imagine how awful it is back in the woods..That's the beauty of New Mexico --we still have places not accessible 24/7...

Well, those are some good excuses for the congressman, but they didn't prevent him from taking multiple hits on the radio and among newspaper readers who wonder why he alone among the state's delegation was not available for comment.It sure seemed like he may have made a decision to try to avoid addressing the sticky matter.

Whatever the case, we have a feeling future camping trips will involve a new communications plan.


A note to all you aspiring politicos in your 20's and 30's--make sure you vote---and in every election:

Democrat Diane Denish claimed Republican Susana Martinez's...said that Martinez did not vote in 2003 in a statewide special election in which voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment to allow the state to take more money from its permanent fund to pay for education.

Checking Martinez's voting history at the secretary of state's website appears to verify that there is no record of Martinez voting in that election. Martinez did not respond to that charge in the debate...


Blog reader Raul Fierro weighs in on last week's first Guv debate with more than one provocative thought. Here he comes:

Joe, Felt like fight night! Like you, I'm an independent...My take is Martinez wins by a majority decision. No one got knocked down or out but I think human nature (and the judges) tends to favor the scrappier fighter (at least in boxing, but then politics is a full contact sport, right?).

Was Martinez angry? You bet. But so are a lot of voters (Obama understood that well)...

Denish's wonkiness on school vouchers was "red meat" to her constituency but wasn't matched with enough "toma" (in your face) to make much of a difference. I personally know a lot of parents that aren't happy with their public schools and are scraping to send their kids to private schools...

...The insiders and early campaign watchers in this one are mostly of the political class and seem to be missing what the mainstream public (that don't have a megaphone) are saying...

The GOP is screwing itself with extremist politics but Martinez has put distance between herself and that wing of the party. All politics is local. Like you guys are saying, both candidates have moved to the center.

Immigration you say? Born and raised here dood and I'm telling you NM Hispanics (registered voters that is) aren't that kindly to our Southern primos, especially when they're not behaving and the economy sucks...

A lot of Dems (Hispanic and white social conservatives) I know are fed up with the arrogance (as Martinez aptly put it in the debate) and corruption of the state Dem elites. They're either not gonna vote or they're gonna vote Martinez to shake things up. And a lot of NM Latinas (and Latinos)...can't wait to vote for America's first Latina Governor.

Thanks, Raul. We'll catch you after the next debate.

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