Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Run For Cover: The Super PACS Are Coming, Plus: A Whole Lot About Marty Chavez As Congress Race Gets Heated, And: Our Restaurant Watch; Praise And Pans 

So when will the "super PAC's" descend on New Mexico and plaster the airwaves with hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads financed by God knows who? Well, we don't know exactly when but we do know they are coming. Here's the first sighting:

Suzanne Terrell, co-chair of ShePAC, a new super PAC supporting Republican women: "I think there is a good chance that we'll elect four new women [to the Senate]. I think that we will be electing new women to the House."

Those Senate hopefuls, Terrell says, are Linda Lingle of Hawaii, Heather Wilson from New Mexico, Sarah Steelman from Missouri and Deb Fischer from Nebraska.

If ShePAC meets its $25 million fundraising target, it could play a major role in influencing many of these elections.

A WaPo poll shows seven in ten voters would like to see the super PAC's made illegal. Sign us up for that.

New Mexico is especially fertile ground for the super PAC's or any other kind of "independent" TV expenditure. You can reach just about the entire state by buying the relatively cheap ABQ TV market. No doubt that will be the case for the presidential contest as well as outside groups trying to influence our Senate contest. A big problem with the super PAC's? You can't figure out who exactly finances them.

So get ready, the super PAC's are coming, The good news? There's still time to hide under your bed.


It isn't a "super PAC" but it is having an impact on the Dem race for the ABQ congressional seat. Veteran political analyst Stu Rothenberg, writing in Roll Call, brings us up to date:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has declared war on former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chávez. Chávez...emphasizing his approach as a problem-solver rather than an ideologue, presents himself as someone who has tried to work with the business community whenever possible. The former mayor has been endorsed by President Bill Clinton, actor Robert Redford and women’s equality advocate Lilly Ledbetter..Chávez’s relative moderation and decisions to eschew divisive rhetoric has the PCCC apoplectic, calling the former mayor a closet Republican. Griego...ran unsuccessfully against Chávez in the 2005 Albuquerque mayor’s race...Griego was one of seven liberal Democratic House candidates who delivered “We Stand with the 99 percent” petitions to the Speaker in October.


ABQ gay rights activist Jesse Lopez, on hand for Saturday's Democratic Party preprimary convention, says the party has room for improvement:

I was attending my first party convention..and walked into a room full of familiar faces, many I met while trying to get domestic partnership and anti-bullying laws passed. ABQ congressional candidate Marty Chavez invited the GLBT community to stand with him. Without hesitation I said "yes." As Mayor, he was one of the first politicians in New Mexico to issue an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation...His policies made it easier for me as a teen to be gay...Marty has always been on the right side of history. When he spoke, I raised my rainbow flag...

As I stood holding my flag, I looked around and realized the Democratic Party has to embrace the GLBT community much more. For example, many Democrats will not support marriage equality much less a domestic partnership bill...The GLBT community has a strong voice. It's time we hold all of our elected officials accountable including our own...The time has come to ask my fellow Democrats: When history looks at your vote, will it be the wrong side?


It was a pretty crummy day all around for Marty at the Saturday preprimary. Not only did Eric Griego beat him out for first place in the delegate race, he complains that he was also anonymousy smeared. He indicates the attacks came from progressives based out of state:

This weekend’s Democratic Convention was marred by illegal, anonymous and false attacks on my campaign. As delegates and their families arrived, they were greeted with Karl Rove-style smear fliers...My opponents’ claims of championing campaign finance reform ring hollow when their own supporters are making illegal attacks while they look the other way. These underhanded GOP tactics used by my opponents third-party allies to smear my candidacy are shameful.  That’s exactly why I issued the Elizabeth Warren Challenge--because no one should be able to come to New Mexico and buy our elections. Both Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham refused to even discuss eliminating unchecked anonymous third party spending in this primary--and now we know why.

Is Marty laying the ground work for more forceful and higher profile attacks on his foes? Could be. It was just Tuesday on this blog that one of our GOP analysts said Chavez has dropped the ball by not defining Griego early.


If Hector Balderas picks up his fund-raising pace because of his 45% showing at Saturday's preprimary we probably won't know it for another month. That's when federal fund-raising reports are due for the first quarter of the year. The campaigns are usually tight-lipped about their cash count until the end of the quarter--in this case March 31--or until the reports actually become public in mid-April. Balderas scored with a solid report during his first quarter of the race but came up short in the second. The third time should tell the tale. If he isn't flush with enough cash to make an effective TV buy, the race will tilt heavily toward Heinrich. On the ground organization is vital but TV and media are even more so.

More on that battle for the Dem US Senate nomination. A Santa Fe reader writes:

Joe, Don't you think it might be possible that Balderas is really running for Governor in two years?  A Senate run will garner a lot of name recognition and a network of financial backing for the future...

The Senate run could set up Balderas up for a run for the Dem Guv nomination in 2014, but a loss here is not without risk. Does he lose it ugly?

As hard as it may be Balderas should not be thinking about the future. In order to win the power of the US Senate, he needs to be all in--just as his opponent--Martin Heinrich--is.


Positive thinking can't hurt, but when ABQ GOP State House candidate Johnny Luevano calls his race against ABQ westside Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas "a top five race," we think he may have been over doing the glass is half-full approach. Maestas looks pretty safe in the heavy Dem district--except perhaps for a stiff primary challenge which has yet to develop. But don't be too hard on Johnny, A UNM poly sci grad. He's a 20 year veteran of the Marine Corps--those guys are used to fighting long odds. Maestas, an attorney, is seeking a fourth term in the state House.


On our recent visit to Washington, D.C. to scout out the political climate for you, a longtime GOP lobbyist with ties to New Mexico wondered aloud:

New Mexico receives more Federal funding overall than practically any other state, but yet not one of the five members of the state's congressional delegation is on the House or Senate appropriations committee. The delegation needs better coordination of its committee assignments as the feds look to cut budgets in the years ahead.

Of course, it takes seniority to get on those appropriations committees, something that New Mexico is going to be in short supply of when Senator Bingaman retires at the end of the year.


The Steaksmith in Santa Fe out on the Old Las Vegas Highway is an old reliable. We recall going there as far back as the early 80's. A recent stop there on a trip back from Colorado had us there on a Saturday night sampling their prime rib and seafood. The meat was more than passable, but the trout? Well, the place is called "Steaksmith" for a reason....What happened to the cool little restaurant in the back of Duran's Pharmacy outside of downtown ABQ? It's still there, but the flavor is nothing like it used to be--and that includes the tepid chile....Need a place to hatch a movida? The Copper Lounge on Central Ave. near UNM is dark and moody just like the 1950's. Lunchtime sandwiches are good and ample. Just bring a flashlight if you need to see...

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