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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wilson Vs. Sanchez: There's A Long Way To Go; We Tell You Why, Plus: Lujans In The News; Ben Sr. Moves on Block; Ben Ray Jolted By Drug Charge 

If the Republican Party is steeped in even more anger and is even more conservative than it was in 2008, doesn't that mean the 2012 GOP US Senate race between Heather Wilson and John Sanchez is eventually going to be a bloody donnybrook, not a quiet lay-up for Heather?

Yes.

Sanchez is now going all in with the tea party conservatives as they continue to rebel against Wilson, the former ABQ congresswoman who sports a big polling and money lead. The latest example of her troubles on the right come from the UNM Conservative Republicans who have invited Sanchez to their campus event this week, but not Wilson:

On Thursday...The candidates will be at UNM Conservative Republicans' table near the Duck Pond from 12 to 2 PM...Lt Governor John Sanchez (candidate for U.S. Senate) has been invited and may appear. UNM Conservative Republicans...promotes conservative principles and conservative Republican officeholders and candidates.

This illustrates just how much spade work Wilson still has to do with conservatives in order to be embraced as their candidate, but some doors are closed too tightly. In a recent conversation an organizer of the East Mountain tea party touted Sanchez. Lurking in the background is conservative Senate hopeful Greg Sowards of Las Cruces, but he was also not mentioned by the UNM Republicans and has had trouble in the past going the distance. Still, he needs to be closely watched to see if he becomes a factor in splitting conservative votes and easing the path for Wilson.

Despite warning signs, Wilson still seems to be looking beyond Sanchez and the tea party and to the general election. She recently brought in Bush political architect Karl Rove, who is a tea party critic and Senator John McCain, who recently attacked the tea party, is having an ABQ fund-raiser for Heather today.That's good for the wallet, but what about those UNM conservative Republican votes. What are you doing to bring them on board?

There is a school of thought that says because the R's want to win the Senate seat so badly, they will not make the mistake of going to the more conservative candidate as they did in 2008. But that's a process argument. Voters--especially ideologically motivated primary voters--do not vote on process. You have to win their hearts--not only their minds.

Sanchez's supporters see a fluid GOP electorate that Wilson has not yet nailed down and will not break his way until late in the campaign. Sanchez does not have the stature that Rep. Steve Pearce had when Wilson lost the GOP Senate nomination to him four years ago, but the bar is lower for Sanchez because of the aforementioned intense anger and conservatism that has taken hold in the NM GOP.

The bottom line is this: The GOP US Senate race is far from over. In fact, it has hardly begun.

MORE SENATE ACTION

DC reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics goes long and deep on the US Senate race here, checking both the Dem and GOP primary action:

“Historically, it’s a lean-Democrat state, but certainly this is going to be a seat Republicans will fight tooth and nail for, and they should,” says Joe Monahan, a state political analyst. “Republicans have every reason to expect they can perform well.”

FOOT DRAGGING ENDS

House Speaker Ben Lujan's initial reaction to impeaching troubled NM Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. was hesitancy and we blogged about it Monday. Now he is ending the foot dragging:


Lawmakers will consider whether to impeach Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. over alleged misuse of taxpayer money, House Speaker Ben Lujan announced.

In a letter to House Democratic and Republican leaders, Lujan, D-Santa Fe, outlined plans to form a subcommittee during next month’s special legislative session to investigate allegations against Block and recommend whether the full House should consider impeachment..

The Dems need Block to go away--badly.

There's been some concern expressed about the cost of impeachment, but most agree it can be done at a reasonable expense. The problem is getting it done during the limited special session. Lujan forming a subcommittee on the matter could force Jerome to finally see the light and throw in the towel. After all, does he want to go down in state history as the first public official to ever be impeached?

JOLTING BEN RAY

Speaker Lujan's son--Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan--was given a political jolt as powerful as that East Coast earthquake that struck Tuesday. Testimony at an arbitration hearing for an ousted Santa Fe police detective had Lujan and former City Manager Robert Romero allegedly being investigated by the FBI for cocaine use. The younger Lujan called the charges "an outright lie" and "slanderous." From the wires:

Lujan, a New Mexico Democrat, described the accusations in a telephone interview with The Associated Press as unfounded, untrue, reckless, slanderous and “absolutely ridiculous.” Lujan is in his second term representing New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss came with this reaction:

Sadly, we have the Santa Fe Police Officer’s Association and a former officer fired for a DWI conviction saying anything they can to distract from Mr. Vigil’s personal problems. Ex-detective Vigil’s wild accusations were not supported by any evidence or by any other law enforcement officers who testified under oath. I hope that Mr. Vigil gets the help he needs and takes personal responsibility for the consequences of his DWI conviction...

It seems ABQ Mayor Berry isn't the only mayor having trouble with his police department.

The FBI says it can neither confirm or deny the existence of any investigation.

THE BEN RAY FILE

This young congressman--Ben Ray Lujan--has endured major hits in his short political life. He endured rumors about his sexual preferences when he first ran, has been pressured because of his famous father and now the bizarre coke rumors. Through it all the two term representative has held his head high and garnered a reputation as one of the harder working lawmakers.

The political game is tougher than it has ever been--too tough because it is scaring away good people. But for Ben Ray the upside is going to be a hardened political skin--just the kind this state is going to need in the decades ahead to protect its federal funding and assert itself as Lujan builds his seniority.

WHERE ARE THE JOBS?

Reader Paul Chris Garcia says he is getting impatient with the administration when it comes to jobs:

Joe, in regards to your Monday post, "Veep Talk:"

With all due respect to Gov. Martinez and her DC Operatives, but If she spent half the time concentrating on jobs in NM as she does on a potential run for Vice President, we wouldn't be in half this mess. In eight months this administration...still has yet to introduce a jobs plan...


The Martinez Administration has been given a free pass way to long! Granted we are in tough times, but it’s time to stop blaming others for the lack of jobs, put a plan on the table and get down to business for the people on New Mexico. It is time for her administration to address the jobs issue and stop worrying if she has a shot at VP. After all, who can vote for a vice-president candidate such as Martinez when she has nothing to show for it?

The Governor has said she is not interested in the GOP vice-presidential nomination.

US HOUSE RACE

Early action in the Dem race for the ABQ US House nomination:

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