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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pearce Fires Shot Across Heather's Bow; Calls for "Conservative" Senate Candidate And A Seat At The Table For The Tea Party, Plus: Reader Blogging 

Wilson & Pearce
Steve Pearce may not be the next United States Senator from New Mexico, but he seems determined to be the kingmaker and that is potentially devastating news for his arch political rival Heather Wilson.

In what could later be judged by history as a significant development in the 2012 GOP Senate race, the southern Republican congressman Wednesday put his head fully into the tent. He sent a letter to supporters saying the GOP needs to search for a "Conservative" candidate and should give the Tea Party a seat at the table when they do. The full letter is here.

The Tea Party is a strong force in Conservative politics that must be considered. They succeeded in defeating many incumbent Republican candidates during this last election cycle. With such a strong showing, my friends in the Tea Party should be included in the process to select a Conservative candidate who can pull that valuable block of voters to the polls.

Wilson, a former five term congresswoman, who sports "moderate" as her middle name, is the clear target of Pearce who beat Wilson for the 2008 GOP Senate nomination and in the process made her name mud with the hard-core conservatives who increasingly control the nominating wing of the state party and whom huddle under the Tea Party brand.

Pearce says he is trying to avoid a repeat of 2008 when he and Wilson both left their congressional seats to face-off for a Senate nomination. He seems to be saying both of them should retreat to the sidelines and find a new face to unite behind:

The prevailing opinion is that party leaders throughout the state need to come together and evaluate the race and take steps to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Senate race where both the candidates and the party were bruised and out of money at the end of the primary and we had no national Republican representatives.

It needs to be a full and open process to represent New Mexico. Although my name has been suggested as being on a short list of Republicans with statewide name ID, it is quite possible that a completely new face would be suggested in such a process. I have agreed to the discussion and hope all other potential Republican candidates will do the same.

WHO IS A "NEW FACE?"
Matt Chandler
And who would be that "completely new face?" Would Lt. Governor Sanchez qualify? Or do they mean someone like Matt Chandler, 37, the Clovis area district attorney who was the GOP nominee for attorney general in '08 and who scored high marks for his efforts?

And if the conservative wing can't line up a strong contender, Pearce can still hold the threat over Wilson that he will again run against her.

Whatever the outcome, the Pearce play is aimed at slowing down Wilson who insiders say has appeared to be on the verge of announcing her candidacy. She has contacted party heavyweights and told them she is all in, say several of our sources.

Wilson has the support of the old GOP establishment but Pearce is a member of the new GOP House majority in D.C. and tapped into their conservative energy. They may know that a hard-core conservative candidate may have a tough time winning in November, but winning is not everything to them--ideological purity is first and foremost.

Wilson can count on an aging former Senator Domenici, her longtime mentor, and his supporters to back her, but raising the money and engaging in another all out brawl for the nomination against a conservative contender will be punishing, to say the least. And remember, Domenici helped her last time when he was still Senator and it still wasn't enough against the hyperactive conservatives of the south.

Wilson could say "who needs it" and get out of the race and continue with a lucrative consulting career. Or she could ignore Pearce and the Tea Party and go ahead with an early announcement. Or she could even throw a curve ball and look at running for her old ABQ House seat, currently held by Dem Martin Heinrich but who may very well leave it to pursue the Dem Senate nomination.

For New Mexico and Washington Republicans it is all a giant sized migraine. The trend has been their friend in recent elections and they have a shot at this seat, but bringing all the stakeholders together is like trying to negotiate Middle East peace.

Democrats finally have something to smile about.

BIG BILL'S JOB


You may have heard about Big Bill's new job, but it doesn't sound as if it will be taking up all his time. He will still be in Santa Fe watching Susana do his old job.

Gov. Richardson will continue his speech-making activities and plans to serve on nonprofit and for profit boards. The Governor will keep his home base in New Mexico but will also have an office at APCO's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Richardson was named chairman of APCO Worldwide's executive advisory service Global Political Strategies (GPS). It provides counsel to companies and institutions as they globalize their activities.

THE TOP TIER

Reader and former ABQ Dem City Councilor Miguel Gomez writes of the US Senate race:

I think you may be mistaken by not placing State
Auditor Balderas in the top tier of Dem candidates to replace Sen. Bingaman.

Hector Balderas has won two statewide races, by very healthy margins. In 2006 he won with 54% of the vote and in 2010, when the political environment for Democrats in the state was extremely difficult, he won by 55% of the vote - the second-largest margin for Dems (second only to State Treasurer James Lewis). Hector has wide appeal among different geographic regions, winning 21 counties in 2006 and 20 counties in 2010 – including some in the most conservative regions of the state. Neither of the “top tier” candidates has even competed in a statewide race.


The top tier candidates we designated for the '12 Dem Senate nod are Congressmen Heinrich and Lujan. We also had email from supporters of Diane Denish who also felt Di belonged in the top tier.

Okay, let's put them all in the top tier and let 'em fight it out.

And another reader writes:

Joe, You just created a new political term - "the anti-Heather." That's a hoot.

Former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson is considering a run for the GOP US Senate nod. Lt. Governor John Sanchez is one of the presumed "Anti-Heathers" but has not yet made any announcements regarding his intentions.

ROUGHING HIM UP

National Republicans aren't wasting any time roughing up Heinrich in anticipation of a Senate run. They came with this robo call criticizing his recent vote against a short-term budget bill approved by House R's. That bill would cut spending, including funding for the state's national labs, one reason Heinrich says he voted against the measure which is now being considered by the US Senate.

GOP Congressman Steve Pearce voted for the R's budget measure. We asked his office if he isn't concerned that the bill cuts funding for Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs. He responded:

I am familiar with both Sandia and Los Alamos Labs and their importance to the state and nation. I do not think there is a mood to cut defense, security or the National Labs but I and my staff will be in contact with the Labs as the appropriations bills work their way through the process.

THE ROBLES BUST

On blog coverage of the DWI bust of NM Court of Appeals Judge Robert Robles, reader and onetime TV news reporter Edward Calabaza writes:

I couldn't agree more with the lawyer in your blog who wrote, "...he should place himself into Drug Court ...I am all for second chances-but you have to pay your dues first. Then you ask forgiveness. Then you work to get your life in real order."

I am a past DWI offender and graduate of Metro Drug Court. Getting my DWI is the best thing that ever happened to me. It was the "wake-up call" I needed. It got me into Drug Court and finally got me sober after 28 years of heavy drinking.

It hasn't been easy and I am still working to gain people's trust and lose the negative stigma that is attached with my DWI. But now that I am sober I have more energy, I'm more focused and I'm doing quality work in my p.r./media consulting business. I pray that the Judge Robles can find the solace I have by accepting responsibility for what he's done.

Judge Robles has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the DWI investigation. There has been media and public pressure for him to resign.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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