Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Big Push For Vickie Perea: What's That All About? Plus: The Armijo Aftermath; Bloggers Will Miss Him, But Not The D's 

Vickie Perea
What's the deal with Vickie Perea? We're hearing that question a lot on the campaign trail and it's going to be heard more as word arrives that the Republican candidate for secretary of state is going to be the beneficiary of a high profile Washington D.C. event tonight featuring Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman and NM Senator Domenici.

This will be Chairman Mehlman's second appearance on behalf of Vickie and will be held at the famous Monocle restaurant on the Senate side of Capitol Hill. On top of that, Presidential nephew George P. Bush will hold an ABQ fundraiser for Perea's down-ballot race September 22. By far, Vickie is getting more attention from the party heavies than the top of the ticket where Guv contender John Dendahl is trying to raise enough money to keep the lights on and where senate hopeful Allen McCulloch has been quietly treading water. But not Vickie. So, what's up?

Even though the R's have not won the secretary's office since 1928 and even though the betting line heavily favors Dem candidate and Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera, the Gators say the R's have been pumping up Vickie because the national party wants a foothold in the election process in our key presidential swing state. Never mind that their chances of success are unlikely, or the argument that they would be better off concentrating their efforts on more winnable races like auditor and treasurer. No, there seems to be a mild Vickie obsession.


Not that she didn't earn some attention. In the spring of 04' the lifelong Democrat and Los Lunas native and ex-ABQ city councilor very publicly switched parties and endorsed President Bush. If she was promised support in this year's race for doing so, it's been a promise kept.

Her campaign coffers are the heaviest of any of the down-ballot R's, (except for Land Commissioner Lyons) maybe even surpassing Dendahl's. While tonight's D.C. reception is billed as "free,"(according to a Dem fundraiser) insiders know that a Domenici-Mehlman appearance means they will be coughing up a thousand bucks or so for the evening's pleasure. That should take Perea over the $200,000 mark and enable her to run a pretty decent media campaign in October. The Herrera camp reports she has about fifty grand on hand with more coming in.

Perea's association with the evangelical Christian movement is well-known and is blessed by most R's while turning some Dems squeamish. She sits on the board of a university centered on biblical teachings. Evangelical Hispanics were a big power group for Bush in 04' but recent polls show his support dropping with them. Perhaps Perea could make some inroads with them in the Hispanic north. And perhaps pushing a Hispanic female Republican has some positive fallout for GOP Rep. Heather Wilson who faces Dem Patricia Madrid in the ABQ congressional race.

Still, the focus on Perea has caused quiet grumbling by some within the GOP who see opportunities down-ballot being frittered away. That won't bother Vickie who obviously knows a good deal when she sees one. At the pace she's going, John Dendahl might want to call her for a loan.

Wertheim, Armijo, Lujan
The party's over, at least for the bloggers and the political press. Jeff Armijo, as first reported here, dropped out of the Dem state auditor race Wednesday clearing the way for Big Bill to work to get more Dems to vote straight Democratic in November. Armijo is battling charges of sexual misconduct and his was the one dark spot for the D's in the down-ballot races.

The Armijo withdrawal, engineered by NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, is seen as most beneficial to Dem land commissioner hopeful Jim Baca who is locked in a tight battle with incumbent R Pat Lyons.

"A couple of thousand more straight Democratic votes could make the difference in the race," offered one Dem operative.

As for Armijo, as soon as he bailed Wednesday morning the speculation began on what kind of "deal" he may have been offered, including that Jeff could get help to pay off legal fees he accumulated in his fight to stay on the ballot; a state government job or business for his travel agency. None of that could really happen, could it?

D's expressed confidence that with State Rep. Hector Balderas taking Jeff's place their party was again positioned to take the post, despite the financial scandals that have been in the headlines. They believe, and not without evidence, that party affiliation will play a large role as the voters go further down the ballot. It usually does, unless a candidate has a big shadow lurking over him, as Armijo would have.

Big Bill and company will help load up the Balderas bank account and hope that R's let CPA Lorenzo Garcia do his own thing which means doing it with not much financial help from his party. Hey, maybe Lorenzo can piggyback on Vickie Perea's big D.C. party with Pete. Man, that place could end up jammed.


The Armijo candidacy had disaster written all over it, but the candidate may end up doing New Mexico one favor by clearing up just what constitutes a legal withdrawal from the ballot. The secretary of state argued that his news release faxed around by a PR company was the real deal and that Jeff was out. But Jeff argued that written notification was needed. The law is unclear. Whoever is elected secretary of state, Herrera or Perea, should tackle the question and clear up this particular mystery of La Politica. Aren't things confused enough around here?


Let's squeeze one more in--Wednesday's Wall Street Journal {PDF} spotlighting the Madrid-Wilson congressional race. Is that thing getting a lot of national ink, or what? And the whispering circuit is also busy with talk of even stronger ethics attacks coming soon against Madrid.

And you thought you had nothing to look forward to.

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