Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dateline Des Moines: What Bill Needs: Tie At The Top Would Help; Our Preview Of His Chances, Plus: Trib Still Breathes, And: Sizing Up Santa Fe Crime 

Road Runners in Iowa
Rooted on by three hundred New Mexico "Road Runners," Big Bill embarked New Year's day on a two day 13 stop barnstorming tour of the Hawkeye State, hoping against hope that the polls are more witchcraft than science and that he can muster enough strength to push his quixotic presidential bid East to New Hampshire.

The toll the campaign has taken on the New Mexico Governor was evident in TV appearances in which he looked all his 60 years and maybe a few more. In these final hours he will rely on inner passion, adrenaline and strong coffee to carry him across the finish line. If it all ends on the snowy plains of Iowa Thursday night, years from now Richardson may have regrets, but not working hard is not going to be one of them.

The Governor, scrappy until the end, maintained to CNN Tuesday that he is "going to shock the world" with his early primary showings. Hey, as the Prez says, "Bring it on!"

For caucus day, the only event on his schedule circulated Tuesday night was an evening party at a Des Moines Quality Inn, but keeping the gregarious Guv off the campaign trail with even just one hour to go before the voting is as likely as folks keeping their New Year's resolutions past January 5th.


Can it all end for him tomorrow night? It could if he unexpectedly finished in fifth place. Delaware Senator Joe Biden occupies that slot now, but has been gaining on Richardson. Bill's latest RCP polling average is 6.0%; Biden's is 5%, But Richardson has a better organization than Biden so a fifth place disaster should be avoided. If it isn't, it would be humiliating, would probably mean the end of his campaign before Super Tuesday on February 5 and encourage his opponents at the upcoming legislative session.

Fourth is where for months every poll has had the Governor. He has been unable to crack into the promised land of the top three where he has said he needs to finish, although he has downplayed that in recent days. Fourth place would shred any remaining Pollyannaish hope that Richardson could actually win the Democratic nomination, but at least a fourth place finish is important because it will be the top four finishers in Iowa and those polling at 5% who are invited to the nationally televised Saturday New Hampshire debate whose primary is next Tuesday. That debate would give the Guv one more chance to get in the race.

Top political pros and insiders checking in here say the best Iowa outcome for the Governor--excluding a third place shocker--would be a three way near-tie at the top between Obama, Edwards and Clinton. The theory being that if no frontrunner emerges it keeps second-tier candidates like Richardson in play as the media bills the post-Iowa race as wide open. If Senator Obama takes the Iowa prize decisively, independent voters in New Hampshire are expected to rush to his side, a group of voters that Richardson appeals to and with whom he needs to make a showing. A Clinton or Edwards win is more favorable to the Guv as we head to New Hampshire because their appeal to independents is not seen as strong as Obama's. In New Hampshire, independents can vote in either the Republican or Democratic presidential primaries.

What if the extraordinary happened and Bill came in third in Iowa? Well, is there a bandwagon big enough to carry all the new Road Runners who would want to hop on it? And is there any blogger discounts for those flights to New Hampshire?


Pictured at the top are some intrepid "Road Runners" at Bill's Des Moines headquarters. They are Santa Fe attorney and former Big Bill legal counsel, Geno Zamora, Bryon Paez, lobbyist and former director of cabinet affairs for the Governor and Ramona Martinez, a former constituent services representative for Bill. Zamora ran and lost a bid for the Dem nod for NM attorney general in '06. Paez briefly sought the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat this year. Maybe they will pick up some tricks in Iowa that they can use in a future NM campaign, but if they start talking about how great ethanol is, we'll know they've gone too far.


Big Bill campaign manager Dave Contarino, working it hard in the climatic hours of the Iowa campaign, has issued this memo touting the Guv's "momentum." The longtime Richardson confidant aims to keep on board Richardson supporters who may be discouraged by the recent polls.

INTO 2008

The struggling ABQ Tribune managed to make it into the new year of 2008, but the executioners axe still hangs over the 85 year old afternoon daily which announced in August that it would close if no buyer was found. Ever since, we've been following this story that could make ABQ a one newspaper town. Here's the latest from one of our top media Alligators:

...Buyout agreements were being distributed at The Tribune Monday (Dec.31). The 33-35 staffers still on board was likely to shrink to below 20, and the remaining employees, hoping against hope that a buyer will come to the rescue, will stay on at 1 1/2 times pay to keep the paper going until a deal with (PR firm) D.W. Turner either consummates or craters. Diehards expected to go down with the ship are likely to number about 15 or so.

Will the Trib, circulation 9,900, be bought and survive in its present form? Stay tuned.


We blogged of the Santa Fe crime wave in 2007 and after a calm period, it seems to be back with us for the new year. I notice Benjie Moñtano is Santa Fe deputy police chief. I recall covering him when he was Santa Fe County Sheriff in the early 80's. He knows the area well and surely does not want to retire seeing crime spiraling. Our readers have given us a variety of reasons for the spike in capital city crime, including an influx of undocumented workers and drug dealers. Can Moñtano, the police chief and Mayor Coss give City Different citizens a safe new year? New Mexico is waiting...and watching.


It's a special trip to Iowa for Jim Baca, former NM Land Commissioner and current acting state Natural Resources Trustee. He tells me his mother is buried in Iowa and he has never visited her grave. He says that should change before he leaves the state Friday after campaigning for his boss...There's yet another candidate for the Dem nod for the Northern congressional seat. He is political newcomer Rudy Martin, who has an axe to grind with Dem frontrunner Ben Ray Lujan. And grind away, he does.

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