Friday, November 02, 2007

Come On In Tom, The Senate Water Is Fine, But Watch For Alligators, Plus: Diane Says No To Senate Bid, And: Pearce's Radio Buy; Let's Blog This Place! 

Rep. Udall
After a brief lull events are again cascading like a waterfall, sending the New Mexican political community into a frenzy and burning cell phone minutes faster than Al Unser racing at the Indy 500. On Thursday alone, Dem US Congressman Tom Udall said he has renewed his interest in seeking the Dem nomination for US Senate, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish said she will not go for the Senate and Republican Steve Pearce released a radio commercial indirectly jabbing his opponent for the GOP Senate nod, ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Also, businessman Ed Tinsley was preparing to become on Monday the first declared Republican candidate for Pearce’s House seat. Let’s go to the action...

The headliner was Udall "reconsidering" a run for the Senate nomination, as the "Anybody but Chavez" movement continued unabated, but the camp of ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez made clear Udall or no Udall he is in the race to stay, setting up a potentially bloody intra-party contest.

Udall has not yet pulled the trigger, but he is close. "New Mexicans have urged Tom Udall to reconsider running for the United States Senate, and he's doing just that," spokeswoman Marissa Padilla said. (We analyzed the developments with KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson.)

In Washington, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, all but endorsed Udall or any other Dem over Chavez, saying the committee is not ruling out the possibility of endorsing a Democrat in a contested Senate race. That is rarely done and the possibility drew a sharp rebuke from Chavez's campaign. The race, the campaign said, would "be decided by New Mexicans, not New Yorkers."

Folks, we just checked Ticketmaster and the Udall-Chavez bout is a sell-out.


Udall would be a very strong candidate for the nomination but victory, if it comes, would not be obtained without a price.

Udall knows he has only so long to toy with the notion. Only minutes after word spread of his renewed interest, the names of at least a dozen northern Dem names were floating as possible successors to the 59 year old congressman. Santa Fe's Don Wiviott was one of them. The current Senate candidate was seen folding his hand if fellow northern liberal Udall gets in and perhaps going for Udall's House seat.

If Tom does go, New Mexico, in 2008, for the first time in its history would have three open US House seats and and open Senate seat. Political junkies were having orgasms over the prospect and TV station managers were drooling over the millions to be spent.

Those not involved in the heat of battle, however, worried that our state now faces the prospect of having all freshman lawmakers in the US House as well as a freshman US Senator. For a state that receives more federal government money per capita than any other, it was not a comforting thought. Udall would be giving up a coveted seat on the House Appropriations Committee to run. Senator Bingaman would be alone in having significant seniority in the state's delegation.

Udall has $800,000 in the bank he could use for a Senate run, plus internal polling showing he could beat Chavez and win the general election over either Wilson or Pearce. The public SurveyyUSA poll shows him trouncing either of them by 18 points, but that is before the inevitable attacks.

The top insiders say he is leaning towards the run, but he must look deep to see if he has the fire in the belly. Running against Chavez and coming out winning but wounded is the key consideration. He can't dally for long, perhaps a week or so, because the Alligators are lining up in the north ready to start feasting on an open seat. If he keeps them waiting too long, they could start feasting on him.


Big Bill is still the great hope for the Dems to secure the Senate seat. Udall's daughter, Amanda Cooper, is in the middle of this one as she serves as a deputy campaign manager for Bill and is called on to advise Dad. If Udall goes, a Big Bill entry becomes extremely unlikely. The nagging will finally stop and he can get on with his Prez campaign, but if Udall turns out to have made a false start, Bill is again dragged back into the guessing game. Is Udall throwing off false signals to deflect the Senate buzz surrounding Bill and which is choking the Guv's Prez effort? Unlikely, but in this atmosphere crazier theories are being heard.


While Udall was waltzing onto the dance floor, Light Guv Diane Denish was dancing off, clearing the path for him if he chooses to jump. She will formally announce today that she will not seek the Senate seat, staying squarely focused on the 2010 race for Governor. It was one of the most expected announcements of the season, but with everyone on tippy-toes over everything, the news was greeted with relief that at least one scenario of a thousand was being retired. Di's dance card has been filled by national Dems trying to get her into a potentially ugly race against Mayor Chavez. She was last seen walking into her massage appointment softly muttering, "He's all yours, Tom."


Steve Pearce is wasting no time trying to frame his primary battle with Heather Wilson. He released a radio commercial even before he formally announced his run in Hobbs at noon today and at 4 p.m. in ABQ. It's the first paid electronic media of the 2008 US Senate race, coming seven months before the June primary. (Download the spot here.)

Predictably, the southern NM rep portrays himself as the "Consistent Conservative," a jab at Wilson and a play for the more conservative GOP voters expected to be likely primary voters. Here's an excerpt of the 60 second spot voiced by Pearce.

"In Congress I fought to eliminate wasteful spending and worked to lower taxes to help families. I’ve supported reforms to restore trust in America and to make healthcare affordable while opposing big government schemes which promised socialized medicine, even for illegal aliens, at taxpayer expense.

I’ve worked to secure our borders, defend America from terrorists, and have been proud to stand up for our traditional New Mexico values. We need consistent conservative leadership in Washington . Leadership guided not by the latest opinion polls, but by core conservative New Mexico values."

The tag line is "consistent conservative leadership we can trust," hammering home the contrast with self-described "moderate" Republican Wilson.


Restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley has made his final decision, but will milk it for all it is worth and announce Monday that he will soon formally announce for the GOP nomination for the Pearce House seat, say supporters. The Lincoln County rancher isn't going to be alone for long. Also planning to get in the race is 28 year old Bob Cornelius, the executive director of the Bernalillo County GOP. He is from Lea County and says he will be moving back there soon to launch his candidacy. Cornelius says he will announce over the weekend. He does not have the personal wealth Tinsley does, but says he will be able to raise seed money to launch his effort.


As our world turns...

Will Tom Run? (You tell us.)

Will we ever stop talking about Richardson running for Senate? (Only if Tom formally announces.)

Will D.C Dems ever stop panicking over Marty Chavez? (No.)

Will New Mexico continue to be a bloggers' paradise? (It's the political Garden of Eden.)

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