Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pete & Jeff Scored By National Scribes On Energy As Heather Goes National On Iraq, Plus: Some Bouncy Bottom Lines On Your Home For New Mexico Politics 

Pete & Jeff
The gripes of the day are those high gas prices and the no-end-in-sight Iraq war. And New Mexico's Congressional delegation, usually not the focus of much national press, is coming under increased scrutiny as it deals with these thorny matters. Much of the coverage is probably stuff they would prefer the folks back home didn't hear about.

Take this one on the energy front. GOP Senator Pete Domenici, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, felt the heat this week when NBC news unloaded on a former key Pete committee staffer, Alex Flint. Here's the heart of the scoop:

"In a move that appears to flout the U.S. Senate’s Ethics Manual, a former Senate staff member has repeatedly passed through Capitol Hill’s so-called “revolving door,” moving between public jobs intended to help oversee and regulate U.S. nuclear firms and lobbying posts in which he pushes the industry’s interests." So leads off the lengthy piece that examines Pete's nonstop boosterism for nuclear energy and his relationship with Flint.


And Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman, the ranking D on Energy, is not immune to the hits. Ron Brownstein, writing in the Los Angeles Times, slams him for being too cozy with Pete and the R's as they move to approve offshore oil and gas drilling along the Florida coast:

"Jeff Bingaman is a personable, hardworking and very smart senator. But the New Mexico Democrat doesn't appear to be much of a poker player.

"Bingaman is now helping Senate Republicans and the energy industry advance one of their top goals: a bill to expand drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast. He's doing so even though Republicans are blocking the energy priorities of Bingaman and most other Democrats: more focus on conservation and renewable energy." So stung Brownstein.

The criticism is not surprising. When gasoline prices are nice and low the senators get a pass, but with household budgets being chewed up by $2.50 a gallon gas, their important role in national energy policy comes under the microscope.

Over in the U.S. House, ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson might be becoming the go to gal when the press goes looking for Republicans who might be willing to part company with the White House. The Washington Post highlighted the four term lawmaker and recent critic of the Prez's domestic eavesdropping program in this piece on VP Cheney's rosy outlook on the Iraq war. Here are the money quotes:

"Rep. Heather A. Wilson said in an interview that Cheney was wrong about the insurgency being in its last throes and that she sent word to the White House recently to level with the American people about the challenges. "We need to assume that things are going to be very hard because when you do, you plan accordingly," said Wilson. "I am always cautious about always seeing things in the best light because war is not like that and the public knows it." So penned the Post.

While Heather may be expressing some concern about Iraq war policy, she is not yet joining her Dem opponent Patricia Madrid in calling for a timetable to get our troops out of Iraq.


It has been a jammed week around here with the weekend preprimary conventions and then the state House filings. The e-mail piled in too. Isaac Chavez of Dona Ana county had good reason to write. The 34 year old Republican is challenging Dem State Rep. Andy Nunez, but we blogged another name. Chavez tells me he is a salsa processor and owns an laundromat. I guess he gets them coming and going; spill the red salsa on the white shirt and then go to his laundromat. Chavez, 33, is a NM State grad. We wish him and Andy good luck and regret the error....

And oldtimer E. B. Baca had a correction with some cool info. In a Midnight blogging haze yesterday, fueled only by caffeine free diet coke and a soggy cigar, I said there were 40 members of the NM Senate. Of course, there are 42. E-Mailed E.B.:

"The last time I checked the NM Senate was composed of 42 members not 40. I think it has been that way since one man one vote forced the change from one county, one Senator and they added 10 members."

He's right. Until the 1960's each NM county was awarded one senator. Redistricting law took hold and the rest is history....

And Josh Geise from lobbyist Butch Maki's new campaign consulting arm, "The Victory Group," chimed in on my statement that the ABQ North Valley and Heights district of GOP State Rep. Teresa Zanetti is a "solid R bastion." Josh points out: "The district has a Dem registration advantage of 44% to 38% with 15% declined to state. That’s far from a “solid R bastion."

The consultant for Dem challenger Traci Cadigan is right. However, while not an R bastion, it is a "Zanetti bastion." After all, she has won there twice. Before her, R John Sanchez took the prize....

Thanks for the e-mail. I do my best to answer everyone and blog the stories requested and the solid tips received. Keep em' coming, and keep coming back here for more New Mexico politics.

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