Monday, July 23, 2007

Dollars Trump Polls As Pete Sets Duke City Prez Visit, Plus: Where The Senate Race Stands Today, Also: Udall's Ambition; Up Next On A Cool Summer Blog 

The desperation for big dollars in today's politics is written all over the invitation featuring an appearance by President Bush at a high-dollar late August fund-raiser for the re-election effort of NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici. In olden days a President as unpopular as Bush would have been shunned like an Aggie fan at the Pit. Back then greenbacks were important, not the be-all-end-all. Not now. And that explains the August 27th Bush visit to the Big Duke City. The plan is simple--even if distasteful to those not already cynical--shake down the dollars now and keep Bush on ice next year when Domenici and his fellow R's will give Judas a run for his thirty pieces of silver in demonstrating how to disown the boss.

It will be a "private" fundraiser, and according to a July 14th e-mail from a Senior Alligator that I just found under the summer hammock, "People for Pete" will be asking each of you to pony up $5,000 apiece to have your photo taken with the Prez. If that's too steep, you can kick in a grand for one lunch ticket with Bush 43. One thing is clear--those who still support Bush (65% of NM R's) are rich and like rich food.

While the advance wizards will do their best to keep those pesky anti-war protesters out of Bush's line of sight, there is still political fallout for Pete for scheduling a fund-raiser with the President whose war policy he recently rebuked, an announcement foreshadowed by his plunge to a 51% approval rating. The timing of the visit, to say the least, could have been better. How about before the big war "switch?" But there is no June Congressional recess and there is one in August so it's Hail to the Chief around here next month. Also, best to bring in the Prez a year and half before the balloting. The more time Dems and independents have to forget the pair hugging each other, the better for Domenici.

Pete is pulling a Heather and hoping it to pull it off like the ABQ GOP Congresswoman did. She had an unpopular Bush visit ABQ in June of '06, months in advance of the November election. She raised a hefty $375,000 from an afternoon love fest replete with the Five Grand Kodak moments that have become the leitmotif of the political class. Pete will probably haul in even more Presidential cash than Heather, maybe $500,000. If he doesn't that will raise a whole new round of questions about his standing. In case you're counting, a half million represents nearly 10% of Pete's 2008 re-elect budget.


Call it sad. Call it funny. But it's better than even money that Democrats are going to go into the campaign against Domenici without a first- tier candidate. They have three unknowns on the field, and that has the national pundits who love to pick apart an incumbent's chances, questioning just how vulnerable is our 75 year old longest ever serving NM senator. The WaPo's political blog, "The Fix" has had Pete on it's top ten "Line" for '08, but he's off now and here's why:

"New Mexico has made the Line in months past but I just didn't feel like it belonged this time. Domenici has taken a hit thanks to his involvement in the firing of New Mexico's U.S. Attorney but as of yet no serious Democrat has stepped into the void. And, we all know you can't beat something with nothing.

As for Domenici's health, everything I hear out of Republicans is that he is absolutely committed to running for re-election. Could that change if his health went south? Of course. Richardson allies reject out of hand the idea that he would drop from the presidential race to make a Senate bid."


It's that part about Big Bill getting into the Senate race at the last minute that still has deep insider Dems resisting accepting the long odds on beating Pete. In fact, they say the Domenici drama could be with us as close as two months before the November election.

"The Governor is running for President, and can't give any hint that the senate or the vice-presidency is in the back of his mind. But that doesn't mean the possibility goes away. Richardson could get in the race as late as August of next year because whoever the Dems nominate in the June primary would probably step aside in his favor. That could happen right up until the deadline for a candidate to get his name removed from the ballot, or just a couple of months before the general election."

That's one description we received of the Hail Mary pass that Dems are tossing around as they kick their Donkeys in frustration over a senator embroiled in a US attorney scandal, suffering from historically low popularity rankings, threatened by speculation of a possible GOP primary opponent and whose on-again, off-again health is the talk of the political parlors.


In Domenici's camp there is a "combination of cockiness and paranoia," or so we are told by those who spend their summers monitoring such events, rather than
sucking back icy Margaritas and studying the latest in American bikini design.

They are cocky because Big Bill is not in the race. They are paranoid because they have never been where they are today--surrounded by uncertainty.

But uncertainty is the sword all politicians are supposed to live under. It's more commonly known as competitive elections. But let them worry about it. You are hereby ordered back in the pool and commanded to enjoy the beverage of your choice. Bikinis are optional.


US Rep. Tom Udall doesn't have to worry how his controversial vote last week to slash the budget of Los Alamos labs plays statewide because he doesn't have any statewide ambitions. So blogs reader Jade Andrews.

"Udall does not have statewide ambitions. You have to remember it took him three times just to get to the House: defeated in 1982 primary race by Richardson, defeated by GOP Congressman Steve Schiff in 1988, and finally elected to the House in 1998. The other thing that people forget about Udall is his age. He's nearly 60 years old. Why would he vacate the safest of safe seats? It doesn't make sense. He can stay in the House and enjoy a seat on Appropriations. My prediction is that Udall will become more liberally outspoken."

Thanks for the heads up, Jade. But will you tell Tom to start his new act in September. We've got monsoons to watch.

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