Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Heather's First Strike; Her TV Ads Are Earliest Ever, Plus: Nat'l Dems Hit For Patsy On Radio; And: More News On The New Mexico Battle For Congress 

Leaving nothing to chance, incumbent GOP ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson will launch her 2006 TV advertising campaign Wednesday as she moves to protect her seat against Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid. That word coming late Monday from top media and political sources who say the ad buy, the earliest ever in a campaign by the four term representative, appears to total between $150,000 and $200,000, will air on the major broadcast stations as well as cable and will run through the end of the month. The Alligators also report that the decision to pull the TV trigger comes after Wilson polled the 1st congressional district in late June. No word on what the poll disclosed, but the nature of the ads will tell us much about where she believes this campaign stands.

Traditionally, early TV ads are soft bio spots or issue-coded ones aimed at solidifying a candidate's base vote. Whatever the case, Wilson’s decision caught the attention of Democrats late Monday, with one spinning that the early ad buy is actually good news for Madrid as it reveals that Heather is more than a little concerned about her feisty challenger and that her strategists say she must go on early. On the other hand, these campaigns seem to be starting earlier than ever and the unprecedented July TV could be a reflection of that. Again, the content of the ads will tell much of the tale.

The Madrid camapign has no immediate TV plans, but the campaign against Heather has gone electronic as you will read next.


Some local Dems have been whining that the closely watched and much hyped battle for the ABQ congressional seat has so far been a dud, with a full month passing since the June primary and still no action. If you are going to give incumbent R Heather Wilson a run for her money, they argue, you better get busy early. Maybe someone in Washington is listening because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has unveiled a 60 second radio spot that is the the first paid media hit on Heather.

The spot is one of those sarcastic, jokey numbers that pokes at Wilson for missing a House vote on an Iraq war resolution so she could attend an ABQ fundraiser featuring President Bush.

The D's spoiling for a fight are glad to see the action, even while some expressed disappointment with the tone of the ad which they think was too lighthearted. Still, the critical Dems breathed a sigh of relief that the DCCC did not come with an "ethics" ad against Wilson, an issue that has given Attorney General Madrid nothing but trouble and shows signs of hurting her more than the incumbent. Not that there isn't as much, if not more, recent political squalor on the banks of the Potomac as there is in our Enchanted Land.

The vote Heather missed was a symbolic mid-June resolution rejecting a firm timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq. It passed on a 256-153 vote. While she missed the vote, I did see Wilson on C-SPAN take to the House floor and strongly condemn setting any timetable before departing for her ABQ fundraiser with Bush at which she raised $375,000.

Interestingly, the Dem attack ad does not go into the merits of the war and any troop withdrawal. Madrid is already on record for establishing a timetable. Late last year Wilson expressed hope that American troops could soon begin to withdraw if the Iraqi government strengthens, but her floor speech was all Heather Hawk.

In an accompanying news release [PDF] the national Dems did provide a detailed record of Heather's Iraq position, including her initial reluctance about going in there.

"In late 2002, Wilson told the Albuquerque Journal, 'I have not yet gotten to the point where I can support a large-scale U.S. military action against Iraq.' At the same time, Wilson opined to the Journal that the U.S. should not use force except in response to armed attack against the United States or its allies," said the DCCC.

The DCCC goes on to charge Wilson with "fence sitting" and "straddling" the issue now that she is firmly in the stay-in-Iraq camp. They also charge that her reasoning for changing her mind--weapons of mass destruction in Iraq--has been discredited.

The bottom line is that Madrid, through her national allies, has laid out the first serious parameters for debate on the war and the incumbent's record. Heather is sure to have her own version and we will likely hear it soon.


One of Madrid's other key issues will be those stubbornly high gas prices. She highlights it on her Web site and faults Wilson for supporting the 2005 energy bill which Madrid calls a giveaway to the big oil companies. But Patsy might not want to talk about it when she appears with Dem U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. He voted for the measure, which passed the senate overwhelmingly, 74-26, and he proudly received accolades from President Bush for his vote when the Prez last year signed the measure into law in ABQ.

Bingaman says he had mixed feelings about the bill, but went for it because it will encourage renewable energy sources. Energy Committee chair Pete Domenici has since backed away from the $2 billion in tax beaks for big oil contained in the measure.


Madrid hit the mailboxes just before the weekend with a piece that looked suspiciously like campaign lit, but turned out to be be a color flyer warning of "online predators" and urging parents to "Be Afraid." The attorney general asks us to get a copy of her "Internet Safety Guide" to help her protect the state's children.

The NM GOP charges that it is a campaign piece and crosses the line. They are asking for details on the funding and who received the glossy spread. But the AG's camp says no taxpayer dollars were used on the mailing. "When the AG wins a major court settlement, a portion of the money is required to be spent on consumer education. This mailing was paid for entirely from that money." They said.

You can see how that "Be Afraid" headline could easily be mistaken for campaign literature. That's how most New Mexicans probably feel about the coming election season.

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