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Friday, March 02, 2012

First Big Gaffe in Senate Race Belongs to Heather, Plus: Blog Names In The News: Cervantes, Martinez, Padilla & Romero 

The Wades & Their Voting Dog
You mean the highly disciplined Heather Wilson allows a rookie error that would make a campaign intern blush? Hard to believe but the leading GOP US Senate contender is getting busted because the husband of her finance director, Heather Wade, played wise guy and registered the couple's dog "Buddy" at a voter registration booth at UNM. He said he did it to prove that it is easy to commit voter fraud. But when he was interviewed by KOB-TV he was given anonymity and his connection to the Wilson campaign went unmentioned. That deception has since been disclosed and the Bernalillo county clerk says Thomas Tolbert, Wade's husband, could be prosecuted for the illegal registration.

Say what? This from Wilson who was nearly brought down by the US Attorney scandal when she and then-Senator Domenici tried to persuade the then-GOP US attorney to bring corruption prosecutions against Democrats? This from Heather who has unsuccessfully tagged team with hard-right Republicans to try to show that there is rampant voter fraud here when that same GOP US attorney said there wasn't?

And wasn't it only recently that GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran had to engage in a full scale retreat when her allegations of massive voter fraud blew up in her face? Yes.

Hasn't she put all that lunacy behind her as she prepares for the most important race of her life and one of the most important NM Senate races ever? No wonder some R's muttered when they heard of this gaffe, "Where's John Sanchez when you need him?"

The campaign may have been dumb enough to let this stunt out, but smart enough to do some damage control. The quotes:

"This was very poor judgement by a family member of an employee,” Wilson campaign manager Bryce Dustman said. “He has apologized and this matter is between him and the county clerk.”

And Tolbert himself said:

I made a mistake and I want to apologize to Bernalillo County Clerk, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, my wife, who was not aware of my actions, and the public. I will take full responsibility for my actions.

You mean wife Heather was "unaware?"

Come on, you can practically hear them snickering during the pillow talk.

But it's Big Heather, not little heather, that is of concern here. It could be argued that the incident reveals a mind-set at Wilson headquarters that continues to be infected with the out of the mainstream thinking that could block her from being elected in a moderate state like ours.

With Sanchez out and Greg Sowards no real threat for the June nomination, Wilson ought to be positioning herself squarely in the center of the political spectrum, not on the fringe where dogs are registered to vote and black helicopters are humming over head.

(By the way, that Buddy is one good looking dog. Maybe Heather can use him in one of her campaign commercials--just leave him out of the voting booth).

MUSICAL CHAIRS (CONT)

Does the departure of State Rep. Joe Cervantes from the House make the path to the speakership a bit smoother for Rep. Kenny Martinez? Insiders think so. In the 2011 legislative session Dem Cervantes of Las Cruces was put forth as a coalition speaker, backed by conservative Dems and Republicans, but dropped his bid at the last minute when GOP support fizzled. Speaker Ben Lujan was re-elected. He has since announced he has cancer and will retire.

Martinez of Grants, whose father was House Speaker back in the 70's, is seen as the front-runner to replace Lujan, but other reps are murmuring their interest. Talk of a GOP takeover of the narrowly divided House in 2012 has quieted now that a new House redistricting plan a bit more favorable to the Dems than an earlier one has been approved. Also, turnout models for a presidential election year do not favor the R's. A coalition of R's and D's may still be a longshot possibility, but there's no obvious leader of it with Cervantes gone.

Cervantes says he will seek the state Senate seat held by Cynthia Nava who announced her retirement this week. And while Kenny Martinez and Cervantes are old friends, the move is probably good for both of them--for Martinez's path to the speakership and Cervantes' future political ambitions.

ONE HANDED

We want you to know that we're typing this with one hand because we're suffering from Alligator bites to the other. And, frankly, we think these Gators pounced too forcefully. Yes, we screwed up when we said that Valencia County GOP State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado defeated Dem State Rep. Elias Barela in the 2010 election. What happened is that Barela was defeated in the Dem primary by Julian Luna and Baldonado went on to beat Luna in November. So why such severe Alligator bites? Because we and some nonbiting Alligators questioned why the Dems would want to put up Barela in this district after he did so lousy last time. Okay, so he lost in the primary to Luna who was a strong Dem rival not in the general election. Still, it's a problem. Although we will give the biting Alligators their due and say Barela's chances of a comeback are better than those of former Valenica County Dem State Rep. Andrew Barreras who is also trying to come back after losing his seat to the R's in 2010.

Now we are off to put some salve on our bitten fingers. Man, those Valencia County Gators are tough!

KICKING IT OFF

From the campaign email:

Democratic Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins will kick off her 2012 Election Campaign at O’Niell’s Irish Pub in Nob Hill, 4310 Central SE, 2-4 p.m., this Sunday, March 4. The public is invited to join her. Hart Stebbins represents District 3 of the Bernalillo County Commission, which includes the University of New Mexico and Uptown/Winrock...Hart Stebbins was appointed to the commission in 2009 to fill a vacant seat and was later elected in the 2010 Election. She was elected Chairwoman of the Commission in 2011.

Fellow Dem Art De La Cruz ousted Hart Stebbins when she sought another term as chairwoman this year, but her re-election is looking good so far. No high profile opponents have surfaced yet.

VALLEY ACTION

Dem ABQ Senate candidate Michael Padilla hopes the heat is rising some Saturday morning as he hosts a campaign kick-off and Matanza in the South Valley area he seeks to represent. It starts at 10 AM at 7241 Isleta SW (Chicharrones at 10 in the morning? Maybe they're making breakfast burritos with them?)

Anyway, Padilla, you may recall, ran for the Dem nomination against State Sen. Linda Lopez four years ago and lost. He is now running for an open Senate seat created when Eric Griego announced he would leave it to run for the ABQ congressional seat. But this is another tough battle. State Rep. Eleanor Chavez, our insiders report, is also in the contest as is former State Senator James Taylor. This seat is all Dem all the time. No R's need apply.

Among the hosts for the Matanza is former Ambassador Ed Romero. We saw him the other day and it appeared he had lost a bit of weight. Good job, Ed, but don't fall into the chicharrone pot on Saturday...

Thanks for making us part of your day this week. We appreciate the company.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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