Monday, November 20, 2006

The Poignancy Of Patricia; So Close, Yet So Far; Who's Next For Heather? Plus: Pearce Power Play Falls Short, And: More NM Politics On The Monday Blog 

Patricia Madrid
Politics being the ultimate "what's next?" game, no sooner had the unofficial final results been posted in the Wilson-Madrid congressional battle showing Heather taking it by 879 votes than the guessing game began over who would take her on two years from now. Trouble for the Dems is that there are not that many prospects, despite the Republican incumbent barely hanging on to take a fifth term.

Inner sanctum D's think ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez would be an ideal 08' foe for Wilson now that she has been softened up like never before, but Chavez insiders say His Honor is not prone to seeking a job that keeps him running every two years and on the phone for interminable hours of fundraising. Besides, he has lately made moves toward a Guv run in 2010 and will keep his eye on the Domenici seat for any movement there.

Another run by Madrid is not seen as viable by top D's, as she will forever be associated with what could have been. No one will have to kick Patricia Madrid for her fateful errors in the lone televised debate. As a political pro, she will be her toughest critic when she looks back on the moment. The attorney general will be out of power effective January 1. At 60, her political career may not be over, but options seem limited.

Over the years Madrid has dug deep to come up with three statewide victories. Rarely have we seen a politician more underestimated. But when it mattered most, she dug deep and came up empty. It was Heather Wilson who perhaps best explained what happened to her worthy opponent. Insiders report that in a casual conversation with campaign volunteers a few days before the election, Wilson said she felt Madrid faltered in the debate because Madrid's staff kept telling their candidate such an event would be fraught with danger and that Patsy got spooked when the bright lights came on.

It's a point well-taken. In the fight for the power and the glory, offense is the best defense.


Ray Powell
One name that surfaced as a possible Heather challenger during my hours of prodding was that of Ray Powell Jr., the former land commissioner who lost the Dem nomination for that job to Jim Baca this year. Powell sought the Guv's chair at one point so ambition is not anathema to the veterinarian and son of veteran NM politico Ray Powell, Sr. And no, Powell is not floating his name, we are.

Fact is, the names to take it to Heather are few and far between, and that has got to be soothing her tattered nerves as she looks to the future.

Whether or not the future includes another run by GOP Senator Pete Domenici is front and center on the minds of NM politicos. He answered speculation from the national press corp and this Web site that he may not seek another term in 08' by telling the ABQ Journal he still plans to go for six more years, although to the delight of bloggers and pundits everywhere, he did leave himself some wiggle room as he weighs his position as a member of the senate minority, not majority.

Speaking of the senate, southern NM GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce who, like Heather Wilson, would someday like to get a promotion to the upper chamber of Congress, was turned back last week in his bid for a leadership role in the House. But his supporters are spinning that a defeat is not a big deal and point to Domenici's unsuccessful run for senate majority leader many years back. They say Pearce going public with his ambition shows he is a serious contender for future power. Yeah, but how did Heather Wilson vote on the intra-party contest feauturing her potential U.S. Senate rival?

Sorry, it was a secret ballot.


I've received a batch of email asking who will be the new Bernalillo county clerk since Mary Herrera will leave that job in January to become secretary of state. Putting aside that it's you Alligators out there who are supposed to tell me these things, one name bouncing around a lot is that of Agnes Maldanado, executive director of the NM Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Others are also in the mix to be named by the Bernalillo county commission, including Herrera's deputy clerk. If you have an inside track on this one, drop us an email and share.


No sweeping changes are expected in the Big Bill cabinet, but observers expect a few chairs to change names as the Guv embarks on a second term. Look at the energy department as one top possibility, according to Capitol corridor chatter.

The Guv will party hearty to celebrate his re-election win, including a mid-December bash for high-dollar campaign donors at the ABQ home of Downs of Santa Fe owner Paul Blanchard. The good news for the attendees: they don’t have to give any more money to enjoy the Blanchard hospitality.


I did some election postmortem analysis with two of the state's top newspaper editors Sunday morning at ABQ'S Congregation Albert. GOP Guv nominee John Dendahl would have been an interested fly on the wall as both the ABQ Journal's Kent Walz and the ABQ Tribune's Phil Casaus said their pages were ready to give Dendahl plenty of the free publicity he has a reputation for generating, but the candidate never gave them a chance.

Walz pointed out that when flooding hit southern NM and Big Bill was out of state, Dendahl could have grabbed the headlines by being Johnny on the spot. Why he never took advantage of such opportunities remans a mystery and another reason for the Guv's historic 69% win.

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