Thursday, June 29, 2006

Holiday Beckons, But They Keep Breaking News; Big Bill's Radio Attack, Plus: Clerk Herrera's Big News, And: A Manny Headline; Where's My Iced Tea? 

Come on politicos. For goodness sake, it's the Fourth of July holiday! But you don't care, do you? You're going to keep us trapped in tattered blogging pajamas until the last minute, aren't you? What did we do to deserve it? Well, never mind. I'm sure your list is hefty with slights, real or perceived. The politicos win this time, but if they do this on Labor Day weekend, the gloves are coming off, or at least the pajamas. Now let's go to the videotape.


Or in the case of Big Bill, the audio tape. That's right, he is already on the attack against GOP challenger John Dendahl, coming with the first paid negative media of Campaign 06', a 60 second radio hit airing on conservative talk radio giant 770 KKOB-AM.

The ad claims Dendahl forced the dumping of J.R. Damron and got himself named the replacement by the GOP Central Committee. "Forget about the voters, forget about elections," the ad says.

Big Bill's spot also likens the appointed Dendahl candidacy to the politics of a "Third World" country and says he has "made false attacks against both Democrats and Republicans alike." Guv campaign chair Contarino piled on separately, asserting that the Denahl candidacy was born in a "backroom deal."

"This time don't let him get away with it," instructs the dire-toned announcer.

The ad is airing on conservative radio, perhaps an effort to prevent Dendahl from unifying the Republican base, which Dendahl has said is fractured because of past intraparty warfare. (I did not have details at blog press time on where else, if anywhere, the ad was running.)

The GOP responded to the attack saying it reveals "Richardson is more vulnerable and afraid than we expected. Going negative early in a campaign is never a sign of confidence." No, but it is a sign that the Guv has $6 million in the bank and John D. has little, if any.


Watching all this with interest is Kelly Ward, Dendahl's new campaign manager, who had the same role in 1994 when Gary Johnson was the R nominee and went on to win. Ward's job is much tougher this time, with Dendahl the decided underdog. (That's underdog, John. Not pitbull.)

Insider R's say Ward is a competent "mechanic" who will give a professional sheen to the Dendahl organization. Ward was rewarded for his work for Gary, going on to head the NM Regulation & Licensing Department. He has been involved with Dendahl in the conservative think-tank, the Rio Grande Foundation.

Ward is probably chomping at the bit to get in the game now that Big Bill has launched his first negative volley, but the campaign will have to raise funds before it gets to return fire.


Late Wednesday word came that NM Highlands University Prez and former state senate powerhouse Manny Aragon has been placed on administrative leave. An Alligtor comment put it this way:

"Manny Aragon has been put on administrative leave. It's been in the works for weeks but the word finally came down. Interesting to see how all this will play out, with Governor Richardson appointing him, we shall see how things unfold." emailed the Gator.

Well, Big Bill did not formally appoint Manny. That was done by the school's regents, but the point is that it was done with the tacit approval of the Guv. Aragon has been mentioned in connection with an ongoing federal investigation of the construction of Bernalillo county courthouses. Does this have anything to do with that? There have been problems at the Las Vegas campus for Aragon, but I have to move on to other stuff or I will never escape....

Blog Lunch Bunch
I was relishing my lunch Wednesday at the fabled ABQ Barelas Coffee House with South Valley political firebrand and unsuccessful Dem Public Regulation Commission candidate Andrew Leo Lopez because he had to buy. You see, the gringo from Pennsylvania actually outguessed the New Mexico native on a race or two in the June primary. But I barely had time to stick the needle in Lopez and throw a moist chicarrone in his lap when he introduced surprise guest, Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera.

Indulging in a bowl of red chile as bright as Santa's suit, Mary sent me into blogging overtime as she relayed that she will not, repeat, will not, be using only optical scanned all-paper ballots for the November election.

"We need to tread carefully. The law does not require that every vote be cast with a paper ballot until after this election. I will have at least one paper ballot machine at each precinct, but I will also continue to use the electronic (Shouptronic) machines. It's the prudent thing to do because of the short time we have to train people in the new system and also because of continuing issues with the paper ballot vendor." Informed clerk Mary.

She may take some more heat from fellow Dems who want that all-paper ballot system to ensure that each vote is accompanied by a "verifiable paper trail." It was mandated by the Legislature and pushed by Big Bill, but Herrera, initially opposed to all-paper, but now in favor, appears to have the law on her side and will phase in the system. Stay tuned for more on this one.


Herrera, of course, is also the Dem nominee for Secretary of State, and she had a message for Republican nominee Vickie Perea. "I am taking nothing for granted. I have a deep respect for Vickie and I am going to campaign nonstop," relayed the perky Albuquerque native who handily beat three other contenders in the June D primary.

There has been no GOP secretary of state since the 20's, and Herrera is the odds-on favorite to keep it that way. But Perea is a pro who we will soon chat up and bring to you her campaign plans. But we aren't going to do it on the eve of a holiday. We want outta here to celebrate our country's birthday, not to mention playing sloth in the sun and setting new standards for American hedonism.

So on that note, let me wish you and yours a fine Fourth. We will be mainly "dark" next week, but back after that with more from the wonderful world of New Mexico politics. It ought to be fun, but when isn't it?

Hasta la Vista New Mexico!

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