Monday, October 30, 2006

Big Bill Predicts Sweep Of 32 of 33 Counties As Juggernaut Builds, Plus: Heather's Lame Duck And Patsy's Brain Freeze; It's All On Your Monday Blog 

On the trail
He does things in big ways and his coming re-election as Governor may be done in the biggest way in state history. According to insider tracking polls, Big Bill is positioned for an historic victory in the 62% range, and the Guv himself told supporters in Roswell he expects the "Democratic Party"--meaning him--to carry 32 of the state's 33 counties next week.

Which county is the lone hold out? The Guv pointed west to Catron, the biggest county in land area but one of the smallest in population--just 3,500. "I think that's a goner, but I'm going to go there. I'm going to try to get two votes out of there," he joked, reported the Roswell Record.

A 32 county 60% plus victory would apparently be unprecedented in a state with more than its fair share of conservatives. It may have been done in a U.S. Senate race (Email me if you know.) but for Governor where after four years of decision making enemies can pile up like dirty laundry in a corner?

For the record, Dem Jack Campbell crossed the finish line in the landslide year 64' with 60.2% of the vote to forge the biggest Guv win ever. If Big Bill surpasses that and also comes in with the 32 counties, it will be a once in a lifetime event to behold and put some additional wind at his back as he tests the waters for a run at the White House.


Big Bill is akin to Bruce King on steroids; he not only steals the thunder in any room he occupies; his political celebrity seeps out through the media in a way that enhances the cult of personality that King, the longest serving NM governor, was the first to cultivate.

But there is more here than personality. Big Bill is not an empty suit; he has mastered the details and pinpointed the institutional weaknesses of the New Mexican government and made it his own unlike any other executive in memory.

History will duly note that the State Supreme Court, the attorney general and the Legislature folded their hands at critical junctures to let Big Bill get even bigger. But the charge that he is a "dictator" or somehow abuses his fellow politicians rings hollow. The power goes to those who have the moxy to stand up and take it.

It also goes to those who have a knack for raising money. In that regard, the Guv has shown his flaws are sometimes equal to his strengths. Raising $12 million for a re-election effort in a state of 1.9 million reveals an appetite in need of restraint.

Campaign abuses are national, but our peculiar acceptance of politicos pushing the envelope on "pay to play" is a cultural barrier to attracting business and to keeping our best and brightest here. Raising and spending this kind of cash does not send a signal that reform is on its way.

Richardson's critics are most off mark when they criticize his ambition and argue it's all about him. What's wrong with wanting to succeed and be the best at what you do? Isn't that how we make life better for each other?

New Mexico has seen Big Bill up close and in action for four years. The collective judgment is that there is plenty of smoke and mirrors and political hanky-panky, but that they are asterisks to a record that has given hope to the next generation and their families that this can be their permanent home, not a way station to a better life elsewhere. It is this big idea that Bill Richardson has come to embody and which may very well be reflected in 32 of our 33 counties Election Night.


You don't need to know the latest insider tracking polls to know that ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson is having trouble closing out her race with Dem rival Patricia Madrid. You just have to know about the duck.

Wilson's campaign sent a gal dressed in a duck suit to a Madrid event Saturday to protest her "ducking debates," only to cause a skirmish that made the 10 p.m. news and reinforced the notion that Heather has yet to make the correct quacking sounds to persuade a war-weary electorate.

The duck had its foot stepped on by a Madrid supporter and showed up Sunday on crutches. "Is Heather trying to get used to being a lame duck?" quipped, or maybe quacked, one Dem Alligator.

As Joe Klein, writing in Time Magazine, puts it: "...The prospect of a hanging doesn't always concentrate the mind. Sometimes it leads to feral, piss-pants desperation."

Those insider polls basically show the race tied, but Wilson is still polling well below 50% with much of the undecided vote naturally bent towards the challenger. That's trouble in River City and the duck, along with the Gators chasing the tasty delicacy, know it.


Heather was thrown a bone when Madrid misfired on Tuesday night's KOB-TV debate. Friday night she hit with a spot highlighting Patsy's brain freeze in which she went silent for seven seconds when asked about taxes. Could this finally be the spot that turns the race?

Wilson campaign manager Enrique Knell seemed to think so, going as far as saying that the twice elected Attorney General Madrid was "incompetent."

Those were fighting words over at the Madrid Quack Shack, where a spokeswoman asked: "Who is this guy?" Well, he is a guy with his back against the wall and trying not to be known as Enrique "Death Knell." It ain't easy either as the Alligators whiffed the tracking polls from Wednesday and Thursday and yelled, "no score." However, a track I have covering the entire weekend shows a couple of good nights apiece for Heather and Patsy, basically keeping this thing within the margin of error.

Wilson is light with Hispanics, thus her Sunday event where musician of note Al Hurricane endorsed her candidacy. Our Hurricane is not to be confused with Katrina, one of the reasons that at this late date Heather is still trying to close the deal with working class voters.

But back to Enrique's world where the Gators pointedly asked why, if it was so meaningful, it took the campaign three days to get the anti-Madrid debate ad on the air? (Were they waiting for the polling?) And who came up with the duck gimmick, which had Wilson's carefully crafted cool-as-a-cucumber "dignified" image getting all wet? Was that the same guy who let her go on the front pages bemoaning the fact that she could not ride in the State Fair parade?

Not that Madrid can sit back and gloat over this "incompetence." Dems are aching over her debate performance and hoping that there is not some kind of tape-delayed reaction. Her campaign is more sanguine than some who have seen victory snatched from the jaws of defeat too many times. They were pleased to see Patsy voice the end of her latest Iraq spot, showing that she can actually talk out loud, unlike the portrayal in Heather's brain freeze ad.

Since this is likely a one to three point race for whoever wins, everyone is going to stay jumpy for the next eight days, and no one is feeling ducky about that.


KOB-TV complained with ferocity about the use of "their" debate footage in Wilson's latest campaign ad saying they did not want to have the impression left that they were endorsing any candidate and asked Wilson not to use it. But we've been to this play before. The Dems used KOAT footage back in 98' that the station objected to. There is no law against it and Wilson has every right to use it. The public ultimately owns the airwaves which are federally licensed to the broadcasters and they are required to take the ads of federal candidates. That trumps any argument over an ad possibly damaging the credibility of a station's news department.

The public is fully aware of what a political ad is. The station's concern is understandable, but misplaced. We hope it does not dissuade them having future debates as they did a good job this year.

But let's not take anything too seriously. Certainly longtime New Mexico newspaperman Ned Cantwell doesn't. Ned effectively roasts several of us who chronicle our beloved La Politica. We're honored to be included in Ned's satire of TV attack ads with Belshaw, Terrell and Calloway. I just wonder what those guys think of being included on a list with me.

Not that we wanted any more of them, but we wondered last week where were GOP Land Commissioner's Pat Lyons negative TV spots against Dem challenger Jim Baca? Well, they are now up, along with Baca's. Just what you needed to start your week, right?

Get ready for the KANW-89.1 FM pre-game show Monday, November 6 at 5 p.m. For a full hour we will run down the key races with predictions and analysis from my guests. This year it's GOP Rep. Larry Larranaga, Dem Rep. Al Park and veteran journalist Sherry Robinson doing the honors. Lobbyist Scott Scanland has been kicking the can around with me at this gig for many of my 19 years of KANW "pre-game" shows and he'll be back again. Election Night we start at 6:30 p.m. on KANW. But look at the time right now...gotta go. Back tomorrow. Same time, same station.

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