Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heather's First Jab At Steve: He's Too Old, Plus: Carraro Says He's All In Congress Race, And: Even More New Mexico Politics 

Get out the rocker, Steve Pearce. That's what his opponent for the GOP US Senate nomination apparently thinks he needs to do. ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson took her first public jab at Pearce at a Roswell appearance this week, saying the age of the 60 year old southern NM congressman is an issue.

Referring to her competitor, fellow U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce as a friend, Wilson said her colleague will be as old as Domenici when he finally achieves seniority. "New Mexico needs to think of the future," Wilson said later in an interview. (Roswell Record.)

Senator Domenici is now 75. After two six year Senate terms Pearce would be 73; Heather, now 46, would be 59.

Building seniority is an issue that may resonate, even if the way Heather is framing it for Pearce may not. It sure doesn't make Pete sound very spright. Senator Domenici and Senator Bingaman rank high in seniority among the 50 state delegations in the US Senate (Pete elected in '72; Bingaman in '82). It has brought us millions in funding. How to continue the federal gravy train (or diversify away from it) will be a key issue for many voters impacted by such funding. (Think the national labs and military bases.) But we are going to have to face this prospect with an all freshmen House delegation and a freshman US Senator. Looking 12 years ahead is not something voters will be especially focused on. Casting Pearce as plain old may also be at play here for Heather.

If 60 is the new 50, Pearce could easily do a 20 year Senate run. 46 year old Heather drives Dems berserk by indicating she would be good for a 30 year stint. But the Dems won't focus on Steve's rocker or Heather's cradle. They will point out that the R nominee, whoever it is, is in the party that is currently out of power in the Senate, and that electing another Democrat would serve the state best, no matter their age.


ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro is not pleased with us. He says we are costing him money. How? By questioning how committed he is to seeking the GOP nomination for the ABQ congressional seat. We reported scepticism Tuesday that Carraro would give up his state Senate seat to make the run, but he checked in to say emphatically that, "I am running for the Congress. I am not running or the state Senate. Period." Speculation to the contrary could keep campaign funds from flowing to the Westside Senator who faces an uphill battle to take the 1st CD nomination away from early front runner and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. I pressed Carraro as hard as I would pizza dough, and he insisted he would not backtrack and run for the Senate if his congressional bid fizzled.

The voluble Carraro, in the Senate since '92, says he is ready to leave the Legislature because of the pressing nature of the issues on the federal level--the Iraq War and immigration being two of them.

ABQ GOP State Rep. Tom Anderson would like to succeed Carraro in the Senate. He said this week he is uncertain about Carraro's plans and would collect petition signatures for both his House seat and the Carraro Senate seat. I asked Carraro about that. "I am not Tom's mother," he replied. He did praise the performance of the lawmaker.

Carraro can be expected to give White some headaches and perhaps make him spend more money for the primary than he planned. Carraro will try to galvanize disaffected Republicans, many who supported Earl Greer's unsuccessful candidacy to remove Allen Weh as GOP chairman this year. Carraro was unable to turn party discontent into a primary win in 2006 when he was defeated for the GOP US Senate nomination by Farmington's Allen McCulloch. He says Sheriff White "ought to run for the Legislature" to get some experience before running for the Congress.

A key test for Carraro will be garnering 20% of the vote at the March preprimary convention so he can win a place on the June primary ballot. If he doesn't, it will be a short-lived symbolic candidacy. If he makes it, it could turn into something that would likely not endanger White's chances for the nomination, but could hurt him in the general election against the Democratic nominee. Stay tuned.


Top D's inform that it appears many members of the Democratic Party State Central Committee received a mysterious envelope over the weekend containing a form to gather petition signatures for a US Senate run for Governor Richardson. What was the point? Was it meant to dissuade Rep. Tom Udall from getting in the race? Or Marty Chavez from staying in? It left them scratching their heads. "It looked really amateurish and was obvious it did not come from the Richardson campaign," said one who received it.


Udall will come into the race with a formal announcement on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in ABQ. Chavez is pinning his hopes on Hispanic votes. Udall's decision to announce at the cultural center is his own play for the key Dem constituency.


The wide open race for the NM US Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici continues to attract the interest of the national media. Tuesday we interviewed with National Public Radio's "Day by Day" broadcast which is posted here.

Even without the three open US House seats and the Senate slot, New Mexico would be in the limelight as Big Bill continues to hang in there in the Dem Presidential race. Here's his latest TV ad focused on education.

In Santa Fe, the talk is how many top-ranking administration officials will travel to Iowa the day after Christmas to help in the Governor's campaign. We hear it will be more than a few.


The legal beagles were barking at us yesterday for our description of the sexual harassment case involving GOP NM Public Regulation Commissioner David King. Here's one of them:

"In civil law, we don't use the word "guilty." That's a criminal word. The jury "found" that he sexually harassed. It was not a $800K "settlement." It was an $800k award. " Settlement is what is agreed on by the parties prior to a judgment or verdict. Also, he wasn't "charged" earlier. "Accusations" would work or "claims." Another of the beagles put it succinctly: "You can't be found guilty of sexual harassment, because it's not a crime. You can be found liable for damages in a civil case, which is what happened."

Thanks for the corrections, Legal Beagles, but please don't send us a bill. We do know what pro bono means.

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