Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Women Power: Will It Reshape The ABQ House Race? Plus: Waiting For R's In Race For Pearce Seat, And: Fabian Chavez: Still Kicking Butt & Taking Names 

Celinda Lake
A reshaping of the race for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ congressional seat could be in the works. Freshly minted candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham says national pollster Celinda Lake, who worked for Dem nominee Patricia Madrid in the '06 election and who has deep ties to the politically powerful women's group, Emily's List, has been signed for Grisham's '08 effort. (Lake Research has also inked a polling deal for the US senate run of ABQ Dem Mayor Chavez. More on that below.)

The signing of Lake could be significant for Grisham not only because it is a well-regarded polling outfit, but Lake's connection could help get the candidate closer to wining credibility with Emily's List, the grassroots political network that has played a crucial role in electing women to Congress by pushing major money their way.

Lake's Web site says of her: "Lake is one of the nation's foremost experts on electing women candidates and on framing issues to women voters. American Politics calls Lake a "super-strategist"...

Madrid lost to GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson last year by less than 900 votes. Grisham hopes to pick up where Patsy left off. Maybe Lake and company have some fresh ideas after that meat grinder of a campaign.

Emily's list does not often get involved in Democratic primaries, but it is not a rarity. For example, they recently endorsed Ann Kirkpatrick in her primary race for the northern Arizona congressional seat.

Grisham, 47, is facing off with ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich and former assistant attorney general Jon Adams. The June primary winner will advance to the November election. To get on that ballot a candidate will have to score 20% of the delegates at a mid-March pre-primary convention.

Heinrich jumped into the race this summer before GOP Senator Domenici retired and before Wilson announced she would leave her seat to run to replace Domenici. The councilor has raised about $300,000 for his campaign. He last reported about $180,000 on hand.

But what was once seen as an easy romp for Heinrich is now looking like a spirited battle. Insiders say if Grisham, the sole Hispanic and woman in the race thus far, can raise over $100,000 in the next several months, she could impress Emily's List enough to win their endorsement and attract major league dollars from their supporters. Having Lake as an ally in that quest can't hurt.


Lake Research is going to do double-duty in NM. ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez says the D.C. firm will handle the polling for his Dem US senate run. Mark Fleisher who has worked with Santa Fe's Butch Maki & Associates will be campaign manager. The D.C. firm of McMahon Squier Lapp and Associates has been hired to do the TV. Armando Gutierrez of ABQ has signed up to do Hispanic outreach and Chris Brown, who has been associated with past Chavez campaigns, will consult the senate run as well.

For you adventurous types, Marty has an opening for a campaign press secretary.


ABQ State Sen. Joe Carraro will continue to take a look at the GOP race for the ABQ congressional seat, but he is not going to give up his senate seat to do so. He will form an exploratory committee so he can raise some money and do polling.

Newly reelected ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter is also floating his name for the R congressional race. ABQ State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is also making noise, but no one is coming with news of money or saying they will leave the Legislature and go all in. That leaves the GOP field clear for Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White.

Just where are all the Republicans aching for Pearce's seat? Can you believe no one has yet formally announced a candidacy? Name floating does not constitute a serious candidacy.

What are they waiting for. Polls? (Yes) A check from their grandmothers'? (Maybe) Who would have thought we would have seen such a delay in getting even one announced GOP candidate for an open congressional seat in a district friendly to the R's? As one Alligator is fond of saying: "No one gives you the power, you have to take it." They better hurry up.

Restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley and Dona Ana State Senator Lee Rawson are prominently mentioned but they have yet to jump. (Tinsley says he is "strongly considering," will decide in "a couple of weeks" and sounds like he wants to go). Meanwhile, the Dems have three announced and serious candidates.

The enthusiasm of the Dems is as noticeable as the caution of the R's. The R's better be quicker on the jump during next year's general election campaign or for the first time since 1980 the seat could go to the Dems. Don't say we didn't tell you.


We are hearing all kinds of names for the two open US House seats and still some senate candidates lurk. We blogged more of them today. Most will be nonstarters, but all will enjoy having their names listed in the blogs and papers. It's natural, but the wheat will have to be separated form the chaff, and you can count on us to do just that.

Fabian Chavez of the NM House of Representatives 1951-1952, the State Senate 1955-1964 and Senate Majority Leader 1961-1964, is now an Old Lion enjoying his winter years, but he still knows how to administer a butt kicking. The 1968 Dem guv nominee, now a lobbyist, recently turned back an effort by the government labor union AFSCME to pack the board of directors of the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) resulting in howls and scowls from AFSCME political director Carter Bundy.

Chavez, now 83 and a lobbyist for PERA, felt letting union members dominate the 12 member board would mean investment of $13 billion in PERA state employee retirement money could be invested by political whim and urged defeat of the AFSCME slate.

Despite spending over $50,000 on the campaign all three of AFSCME's candidates were defeated by state workers. That led Bundy to publicly accuse Chavez of being "unethical" and to blame the media for giving "credence to rumors."

The Bundy outburst had heads turning at the Roundhouse where wall-leaners wondered if the political director was digging his own political grave.

It wasn't a joke that Chavez came in at #4 on our list of the most powerful NM legislators since WWII compiled in July by our esteemed panel of Alligators. The PERA victory will only add to his reputation for being a master political power player. As for that outburst from caustic Carter, the Old Lion had no comment. Maybe he was busy dining on his kill.


That new Bill Richardson Presidential TV ad unveiled Monday sure looks familiar. And it is, as was pointed out by KOAT-TV political reporter Matt Grubs, among others. Much of it is a rehash of an ad Big Bill ran in his 2002 race for NM Governor against R John Sanchez. The emotional 60 second spot tells how he freed hostages from Iraq in '95. Hey, if it worked here, why not up there in Iowa?...

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