Friday, November 03, 2006

Better Late Than Never. And Boy, Was He Late; The Clinton Visit, Plus: A Ton More La Politica As We Bring Home Campaign 06' 

Madrid & Clinton
Bill Clinton warmed up a crowd of Democrats on behalf of congressional hopeful Patricia Madrid late last night, but many thousands more monitoring their TV sets for a live snippet of the ex-President's speech went to bed disappointed. The perennially late Prez arrived at 10:24 p.m. but did not disembark until 10:35, just in time to miss the news broadcasts of all three network affiliates. (Can you imagine the Madrid staffers watching the precious minutes tick away? I could almost hear cries of, "Storm the Plane" from my downtown perch miles away.)

Two of the three stations teased viewers at the top of the 10 p.m. hour with live reports and advice for the audience to stay tuned as Clinton's arrival was expected any minute. But it never happened. KOAT-TV managed to air a very brief shot of Clinton and Madrid walking from his jet at 10:35, but the money shot of Clinton on stage and hoisting Madrid's arm in the sign of victory--a possible emotional high point for her campaign--was, to put it mildly, a missed opportunity.

Spontaneous TV has been Madrid's curse this campaign. She fought tooth and nail to avoid more than one televised debate with GOP ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson, and the one she did resulted in errors that led to two hard-hitting TV spots Wilson is using against the attorney general to close out the campaign.

Some may argue that it doesn't matter; that Clinton's visit, televised live or not, will energize the Democratic base and let them know Patsy has the blessing of the Prez so dear to them; that the morning TV shows and the newspapers will pick up the slack. But that would be spin. The fact is that this campaign has been all about TV; millions have been spent on canned and negative spots. A prompt 10 p.m. appearance by Clinton would have put a long-overdue and positive tone on
this most negative of campaigns.


Gary King for Attorney GeneralPhotographer Mark Bralley manned the event for your blog. The retired ABQ policeman said he did a "cop count" to arrive at his estimate of a crowd of 2,000, and that was a good turnout for the hour. (The Journal sid 500 attended the event.)

He reports that Clinton told the party faithful, Governor Richardson and all the statewide Dem candidates that many voters here are "diving board voters" and afraid to jump. He said they know "things are wrong" but need some coaxing to change their habit of always voting for the R and urged those at the rally to persuade their neighbors to make the leap.

Heather will try to offset Clinton's appearance today as First Lady Laura Bush rallies the GOP base at a 3 p.m event at Journal Center in ABQ. The highly structured schedule of Laura will guarantee a timely arrival and heavy coverage on the early evening news shows. That tape will be contrasted with Clinton's visit, which to Heather's benefit will be cast in a much more partisan light.

In the battle of the big guns, score it for Heather.


Dems may have been a bit downhearted that the Clinton event did not deliver all the punch it could have---maybe they should have told him it was at eight and he would have made it by ten--but they are not at all crestfallen about Patsy's chances of upsetting Heather. They point to political guru Larry Sabato's final ranking of the race in which he predicts Heather is a goner. And MSNBC Thursday was also calling the race a likely Dem takeover. The political community anxiously awaits the final ABQ Journal poll Sunday which will include surveys of folks who have already voted and provide the final snapshot before the final round of voting Tuesday.


Now it's $13 million. That is the incredulous sum raised by Big Bill since the start of his re-election effort and as reported by the AP's Barry Massey. $13 million!? The Governor will likely get over 60% of the vote Tuesday, but with that kind of money he may be raising the bar on those all-important expectations. After all, R Guv nominee John Dendahl has raised a mere $300,000. With that kind of difference, it will now be a shocker if the Guv doesn't poll comfortably past the 60% mark.

Sen. Ryan
GOP ABQ State Senator John Ryan is one of the more pragmatic political observers you will find, and when I chatted him up recently in preparation for his appearance on my KANW Election Eve Special at 5 p.m. Monday on KANW 89.1 FM, he was down-to-earth about the R's chances in the big races, but said he sees a glimmer of hope for a couple of Legislative races that have him thinking that if the stars align just right, his party might be able to pick up more than the one or two seats that observers are forecasting, maybe even three or four.

He said to keep an eye on Dem Rep. Don Whitaker in SE NM who has been hit hard by his opponent for voting to approve drivers licenses' for undocumented workers. He also pointed to Dona Ana county where D Andy Nunez is in another close contest to hold his seat. Andy always seems to pull out, but it is usually close.

The race to succeed R Ed Boykin is another to keep on the radar, opined Ryan. He says D Jeff Steinborn has not yet closed the deal against R Scott Witt. And two Valencia county seats, especially the one being vacated by Fred Luna, has a good chance to go R with Jackie Farnsworth carrying the GOP banner.

Ryan says he sees Rep. Teresa Zanetti holding her seat, despite a tough challenge by Traci Jo Cadigan, and many Dem observers are now agreeing with that assessment. The Joe Stell seat in the SE is destined to go R, agree analysts on both sides of the aisle.

You may have to go all the way down the ballot to spot Ryan's possible ray of Republican light, but as a former executive director of the GOP, the lawmaker has a lot of NM experience and we'll be keeping close tabs Election Night on the races he has pinpointed.


Dem state auditor candidate and State Rep. Hector Balderas has had a media free ride as his opponent, R Lorenzo Garcia, has been dark. But Garcia has come up with enough money now to make a small statewide cable TV buy and will go on the air today with this spot which hits Hector for not having a CPA, while Garcia does. Garcia received the endorsements of all the state's major newspapers because of his lengthy experience and that CPA certificate. Hector has TV spots up introducing himself to the public and if the polls have it right, they have been well-received.


The margin of victory of some of the Dem statewide races might surprise some causal observers. But remember, there are no incumbents running for treasurer, auditor, attorney general or secretary of state. That hasn't been the case for eight years and some folks may be misreading the closeness of some of the contests coming through in various media, tracking and party polls. The public does not know these candidates well and in the polls the Dem contenders are not heading north of the 50% mark. But historically these races break strongly on party identification, unless a candidate has spent a ton of money.

The R's have targeted the AG's and secretary of state's race and say they have shaved the leads of their Dem rivals. But election after election we have seen the North report late with just huge margins for the Dem candidates. It doesn't mean it is going to happen again, but something to keep in mind as we watch the early returns come in.


We'll close out Campaign 06' in a variety of media forums in the coming days. Today (Friday) we'll stop by 770 KKOB-AM and visit on the air for an hour with Jim Villanucci at 4 p.m. Jim's been covering this one wall-to-wall for a month so it should be fun...Over the weekend, we'll be on all the other ABQ Citadel Broadcasting stations including KRST 92.3 FM at 10:30 p.m. Saturday and KKOB 93.FM and KMGA 99.5 FM at 6 a.m. Sunday.

On Monday, our KANW 89.1 FM Election Eve Special kicks off at 5 p.m. We'll analyze the key races with top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, Dem State Rep. Al Park, R State Senator John Ryan and veteran NM journalist Sherry Robinson. Also Monday, we'll sit down with KRQE-TV anchorman and political junkie Dick Knipfing at around 4:20 p.m. for a final look at Campaign 06.'


Election Night will find us back before the KANW 89.1 FM microphones for our 19th year of coverage there. Scanland will join GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga and Dem Rep. Park. They'll be joined by Sandy Buffett of the Conservation Voters of NM and lifelong Democrat Lenton Malry who will bring in early results as he has for 19 years. Dem Chris Catcheis will be reporting from his party's party and veteran radio man Jay Howard Deme is back with us to report from GOP headquarters.

A new twist for us this year is streaming the program on the World Wide Web. If you are in Washington D.C. or anyplace else outside of our signal range, the latest on what is happening will be available from your computer. Just come to this blog Election Night and press on the logo directing you to the coverage and then sit back and enjoy. (We'll do a dry run Monday with the pre-game show.)

It's going to be a very exciting and very long evening. We hope to get an early glimpse of the results from our spotters at key precincts in the ABQ metro area. State Senator James Taylor will have an early take on the South Valley. R Bruce Donisthorpe will man the computers and TV screens and help us track the important national action. At Midnight or 1 a.m. I will pause to cover the Madrid-Wilson race nationally for National Public Radio in Washington. I wonder if we will have a winner by then.

Our sponsors for the KANW public radio coverage are NM public relations firm DW Turner--"strategies and ideas that win"--Enterprise rent-a-car, the Bill Campbell Agency, Real Estate and Ladera Golf in ABQ, offering great golf and meeting facilities. Thanks to all of them for their support, and to you, my readers and listeners.

And the fun isn't over yet. We'll stay with you throughout the weekend, blogging Saturday and Sunday, so make sure to stop by.

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