Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Reaction Pours In To Big Bill's Pre-Emptive Strike For Heinrich; Not Everyone Pleased, Plus: GOP Chair Weh Weighs In On His Re-elect Bid 

Our news that Big Bill is moving to clear the field for Dem congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich raced across the state Monday, causing the political buzz to go up a decibel and delivering to our e-mail box a variety of reactions. Not a few questioned why the Governor should be involved in the Democratic primary to choose a candidate to face off against ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. This one was typical.

"It sounds crazy to me that the Governor would step into the fray on this. He has nothing to gain by being seen as undermining the Democratic primary process. Could it actually backfire on Heinrich if the Democratic base feels like they were disregarded. Your thoughts?"

Well, The Guv may not have a whole lot to gain, but he doesn't have much to lose. Remember, he is trying to clear the field before anyone officially announces. That's different from '98 when GOP Senator Domenici cleared the path for Wilson who he endorsed even though there were other officially announced GOP candidates. Still, Bill is flexing muscle here and that's going to turn off some activtists. However, the congressional campaign will be so intense that the Guv moving to favor Heinrich, 35, will likely be long forgotten, except by the insiders.

From deep in the heart of La Politica in ABQ's South Valley: "There are too many who will reject Billy's candidate..Heinrich has no chance and his candidacy is hopeless. Perhaps he has a fairy godmother who can change him into a viable candidate. I have a name who is interested and who would excite the voters to rise up against Heather: Lemuel Martinez." Declared our wound-up emailer.

Lem Martinez, Sandoval county district attorney who ran for attorney general last year and was defeated by Gary King, would have a tough time raising money for a congressional race. Not impossible, but that's where the Guv's favoring of Heinrich will have most impact--on raising money.

We said Monday not to rule out a Hispanic candidacy and the e-mail reinforced that Heinrich, if he does secure the nomination, has much work to do with that critical constituency.

Rep. Wilson
This from an aspiring Alligator:

"The first thing I do each morning is read your web page along with the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. I read with interest your suggestions that Louis Caldera is considering a run for Congress. I am registered to take two courses with him next semester at the UNM Law school. I am willing to act as your informant if he reveals any information."

We can always use reliable Alligators, so thanks. As for Caldera, he could be formidable, but the Richardson play will likely be enough to keep him out. His name has also been mentioned as a possible senate candidate against the GOP's Domenici, but we are told he is not interested.

An e-mail from Steven Rogers is not on the congressional topic, but we found it too entertaining to pass up. It was in reaction to our Monday take on whether Richardson's pay should be cut because he is out of the state most of the time campaigning for the presidency:

"Wow, it's pretty special that Governor Richardson can always count on your support, even when every other politico you write about gets at least a small shave of the sword. My recent favorite is, "But even if the peripatetic Guv cut in half the amount of time he devotes to his NM duties, he would still be spending more time on them than that of our recent Governors..." I don't think I've ever seen you show as much open support as you do for him. That said, why don't you just be candid with us as to your all-too-human tendency to pick sides rather than pander to the "fair and balanced" image?"

Really, Steven? Go through our archives for the past four years and see if we haven't given the Guv a "small shave of the sword." When both R's and D's disagree with some of our conclusions, as they do, we know we are somewhere in the vicinity of "fair and balanced."


Also on the heels of our Monday blog, Heinrich announced he is preparing for his US House run by taking an unpaid leave of absence from his job as the state's Natural Resources Trustee and setting up an exploratory committee. He says he will have an announcement in May. Former trustee and NM land commissioner Jim Baca is being called out of his retirement rocker to temporarily fill Heinrich's shoes. Baca and many of his fellow liberal Dems are strongly supporting Martin whose challenge will be to court conservative Dems who have often sided with Wilson.

As for his ABQ council seat, Henrich says he "probably won't" seek a second term in the October city election. If he did, he would open the door to severe criticism for being an opportunist. Who will run in the ABQ SE Heights district if Heinrich doesn't? Email any names you are hearing.


NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh, working to secure another two year term as chair at this weekend's GOP central committee meeting, claims that our source reporting on his Los Alamos appearance with rival Earl Greer had it wrong. That source told us the chairman said his fundraising ability was the main reason he should be re-elected.

"I discussed voter registration, our efforts to prevent voter fraud, our efforts to expand Hispanic Republicans, and our communications activities….that’s it!!...I never tell people fundraising is the reason I should be reelected. My fund-raising experience is proven and I don’t dwell on that. I will frequently comment on how much money is needed to meet this requirement or that requirement in talking to folks, but that’s simply part of an informative discussion as to what it takes to win elections," explained Weh.

Our source responds: "I remember the context. It was in response to a question concerning why any chairman candidate should get a delegate's vote and how, if (re)elected, they would regain Republican dominance in the state. Weh answered by saying he had raised over $1 million dollars for the party."

Now that may have been a partial answer Weh gave to the question, but our insider also pointed to an April 9 letter in which he said Weh sought support by writing: "We raised over $1.8 million during the recent cycle, which I was actively involved with." If elected, he went on to claim he would "Raise the estimated $2 million needed over the next 18 months if we are to accomplish these priorties and assist our targeted candidates win their elections."

Weh's point that he is not emphasizing fund-raising as his main theme in his re-elect bid is well-taken, but so is our source's report on what is being said and written during this campaign for chair.


Meantime, we received and blogged conflicting reports from GOP insiders on just how many members are on their central committee, which will select the chair, and how those members are chosen. I checked for a definitive answer.

Currently, there are 317 committee members. The majority of the membership is determined by the number of votes for the GOP Governor candidate--a committee member for each thousand votes cast. In 2005, state GOP central had 470 members, now it has 317 because of the GOP's big loss to Big Bill in 2006. Other committee members are selected using different criteria. Got that? Good. We'll have a quiz tomorrow.

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