Thursday, August 03, 2006

Dendahl Reemerges After Lengthy Silence; He Rips Big Bill School Record As Mayor Marty Calls On Heather To Repudiate The GOP Guv Candidate 

John Dendahl
The media busy bodies were subjected to a tongue lashing by the state GOP for dubbing R Guv candidate John Dendahl a "pit bull" and your blog for tagging him as a "sacrificial wolf." Maybe they were right. Since then the candidacy has been more akin to a sheepdog than any attack breed. But there were finally renewed signs of life on the cold-as-ice gubernatorial campaign trail this week as Big John dashed off a news release ripping Big Bill for that poor school performance report. But even if John wanted to stay incognito, he's too juicy a target for some, like ABQ Mayor Martin Chavez who called him out as he endorsed Dem congressional contender Patricia Madrid over her rival, GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson.

The bombastic Dendahl burst onto the scene in mid-June, being named the new GOP standard bearer after Santa Fe's J.R. Damron was moved aside for the putative reason of not being "aggressive" enough. Dendahl delivered a couple of verbal whippings against the Guv, but then took to the airwaves of KKOB-AM in mid-July where he suffered that old political malady known as foot-in-mouth disease and promptly disappeared for the rest of the month.

The media types freaked out. Didn't Dendahl realize he has a responsibility? How was newspaper circulation going to be increased without him? What about those crucial TV news ratings, not to mention additional blog hits? The reemergence of the former GOP chair was disappointingly low key to them, but the bean-counters were heard breathing sighs of relief as Dendahl's first release in weeks finally clacked over the news wires.

John, please don't leave us again. Those of us left to write about this thing have been passed over by Big Bill for one of the dozens of media jobs he has handed out in state government. You're all we've got. We need you. Our advertisers need you. Now get out there and do that thing of yours.

Mayor Chavez
If Dendahl did not slip back onto the trail himself, ABQ Dem Mayor Chavez might have smoked him out. How about that news conference Wednesday where he endorsed Patsy Madrid? Not that the endorsement was big news. It was the subtle playing of the race card that had the eyebrows arched and the Alligators feeding. Here's the news release money graph.

"Mayor Chavez also called on Republican nominee Heather Wilson to repudiate the gubernatorial candidacy of John Dendahl, saying, “If Heather Wilson doesn’t share the radical, divisive views of John Dendahl, she needs to be up front and say so.”

This was no subtle reference to the radio mishap where Dendahl said it is well known that most repeat DWI offenders are Hispanics "and the Legislature will not enact legislation, on the basis (that) `Gee, that would be racist."

If you hang out around here, you know the score. The Dendahl candidacy can break two ways for Heather. He helps energize the Republican base, thereby boosting turnout for her, or his candidacy generates a backlash among Hispanics, pushing them into Patsy's corner and heightening her chances for the upset. Obviously, Mayor Marty is encouraging the second outcome.

But why is the Dem mayor, who carried the Republican vote in last year's city election, so intent on upsetting Heather's apple cart? According to insiders, Chavez felt Wilson's sting when she went high-profile in helping his GOP mayoral opponent, City Councilor Brand Winter, raise campaign funds. In short, it's payback time. It's even more interesting because Chavez, to the chagrin and bemusement of top state Dems, recently endorsed GOP NM heavyweight U.S. Senator Pete Domenici for re-election in 2008.

The Chavez endorsement is not going to hurt him with hard-core Dems, long upset with the mayor's continuos flirtations with conservative R's. If he someday seeks the Dem nomination for Governor he will need them in his corner.


Don't expect any Dendahl-like breaks in the campaigns of Wilson or Madrid. The campaign watchers say the duo will stay on TV continuously until Election Day. Heather went up in mid-July; Patsy shortly after. Heather unveiled a new ad this week touting her service to seniors, a group that has been key to her re-election bids. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also backing Wilson here with a 100 Grand TV buy. Patsy is getting third party TV and radio support from the national Dems.

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