Friday, February 01, 2008

Now It's Obama's Turn; In City Today, Plus: The Bill & Ted Visits, Also: Exclusive GOP US Senate Poll, And: Candidate Money Reports; It's A Big Blog 

Kennedy in ABQ
He's a phenom and Democratic hearts are fluttering over his imminent arrival. Barack Obama continues the parade of Dem luminaries to our Enchanted Land today with a 1:15 p.m. visit to ABQ's downtown Kiva Auditorium. You can bet the 2300 seats will be filled. Other rooms at the Convention Center complex will handle any overflow. The campaign is calling it an "Economic Summit;" the political junkies are calling it a rock concert. And like a concert, you will need a ticket to get in. Not that you had to pay. You simply signed up on the Net. The page where you did that is already defunct, so apparently they reached their audience goal.

Obama's visit is essential to capitalize on his national momentum. Gallup has him closing fast. Obama says this campaign is about the fierce urgency of now. He can say that again. The Illinois Senator must make all his New Mexico moments count. He does not want to get blown out by Hillary in a key presidential swing state like ours. He needs to show doubting Dems he can compete, especially for Hispanic votes.

Obama today will follow the path laid Thursday by Senator Kennedy and head to Santa Fe after ABQ. He has a 6:30 p.m. event scheduled for the Santa Fe Community College. Some of our experts wanted Obama and Kennedy to take it even deeper into the North. For example:

"He is running into the rumor mill north of Santa Fe. There is word coming out of the churches that he is a Muslim and can't be trusted. Remember, in 2004 many Catholics abandoned Kerry because of his pro-choice position." Relayed one of our political watchers.

But Obama, who is not Muslim, has 22 states to cover for "Super Duper Tuesday" and a two city NM visit is almost a luxury. He hopes Kennedy softened the ground for him with Hispanics and that he can come in today and win many of them over.

In ABQ, the Volvo drivers, the UNM Ivory Tower crowd and the self-described "progressives" are already in Obama ecstasy. Today he must broaden his message to all New Mexicans.


Some political hearts skipped a beat late Thursday when the Clinton campaign put out a news release saying Hillary would be visiting Las Cruces Saturday, but not Albuquerque. Wrong move, cried the Alligators, pointing out that ABQ and the Spanish North is the battleground in this race. Clinton is expected to easily carry the Southern congressional district in which Las Cruces resides. Well, a few hours later the Clintonistas said "never mind." Hill would be coming to ABQ, not Las Cruces, after all. The visit will be Saturday evening, with details to follow.


The 26 NM delegates that will be decided from the results of Tuesday's Democratic caucus will be awarded by performance in each of the state's three congressional districts, plus the overall statewide results. A candidate must get 15% of the popular vote in a congressional district in order to win delegates. They also get delegates for going over 15% statewide. Experts consulted over the years by "NM Politics with Joe Monahan" say the 1st Congressional District which includes most of Albuquerque is "lean Obama." They say the Southern 2nd CD and the Northern 3rd CD are both "lean Clinton." Delegates are awarded proportionally, meaning Obama and Clinton will both score delegates in each of the CD's as long as they go over the 15% mark. A total of 38 NM delegates, including 12 unpledged, will go the Dem national convention this summer.


Clinton in ABQ
Bill Clinton drew a couple of thousand to Johnson Center on the UNM campus Thursday. He was flanked by NM Lt. Guv Diane Denish, former NM Guv Toney Anaya, ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, State Auditor Hector Balderas and United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta. Before he helped Hill in ABQ he attended a $2300 a pop fundraiser at the Santa Fe home of attorney Steven Moise and wife Beth. Our insiders say about 50 to 60 attended. Among those on hand were former NM first lady Clara Apodaca whose husband, former Guv Jerry Apodaca, is supporting Obama. Also enjoying the reception were former NM House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, former NM Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim, Auditor Balderas and Dem heavy Ed Romero.

After raising the campaign dough, President Bill wandered over to the Roundhouse where a brief frenzy ensued. The ex-Prez met with lawmakers in the House lounge. By the way, Lady Di has cut radio ads urging NM Dems to vote in the caucus. The ads do not endorse any candidate. Talk radio giant KKOB-AM is one of the stations airing the spots.

Ted Kennedy spoke on behalf of Obama at the ABQ National Hispanic Cultural Center before heading north. Our photog, Mark Bralley, said about 250 were on hand in ABQ to see the 75 year old Dem legend. His speech went well and was peppered with that old time liberal religion. Teddy later went on to Santa Fe to woo more Hispanic voters for Obama.


We have details on the Kennedy-Clinton visits from the WaPo's Jose Antonio Vargas who is working the NM Prez beat this week. KNME-TV has complete video of the Clinton and Kennedy visits. The station will post Obama's speech this afternoon.


Heather Wilson scored a sorely needed psychological victory Thursday in her battle with Steve Pearce for the GOP US Senate nomination. The ABQ Congresswoman edged out the southern NM congressman in fundraising in the fourth quarter of 2007. Heather raised nearly $517,000 and now has a healthy $1.1 million in the bank, while Steve raised about $426,000 in the final three months of '07 and has $820,000 on hand for the battle ahead. But Democrat Tom Udall blew the doors off and sent a message to America that New Mexico is leaning Dem on this race to replace Republican legend Pete Domenici. Udall raised a whopping $1 million dollars and begins the epic battle for the power and glory of the US Senate with $1.7 million in the bank.

Wilson has struggled on the early campaign trail, attracting miniscule audiences and not projecting the energy of rival Pearce. Insiders keep harping that voter patterns favor conservative Pearce in the primary. The Pearce spinners say she raised more money in the fourth quarter because she had a couple of more weeks as a candidate than Pearce. But Wilson has always been an adept money raiser. This report reinforces that reputation.


Heather is going to need every dime she raises and then some if an insider poll has the race right. The survey, apparently commissioned by the state GOP and taken among 500 likely NM GOP voters on January 13th, shows Wilson trailing Pearce 38% to 33% with the rest undecided. The poll was taken just before Pearce went up with his big TV buy which is still airing in the key ABQ market.

Folks, If I get you any more inside these campaigns, you'll be doing the candidates' laundry.


The number of Dem ABQ Congressional contenders has now hit five, meaning early favorite Martin Heinrich is going to have his hands full fielding barbs from the other four hopefuls. Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron will make her run official this Saturday at 2:30 at the ABQ Hilton. Meantime, political unknown Jessica Wolfe, a former cabinet aide to Big Bill, is also running. Insiders say Wolfe has personal wealth that could be a factor.

Filing day for the federal offices is February 12th. Candidates are falling like snow flakes. All we can do is wait for the 12th and see if everyone saying they are running is for real and then start handicapping the outlook.


Darren White
What a day Thursday was. All of the NM Prez campaign activity, plus the money reports in all the congressional races. The reports for the ABQ seat were particularly interesting. Bernalillo County Sheriff and GOP US House hopeful Darren White reported he raised $213,000 and had cash on hand on Dec. 31 of $173,000. The leading Dem contender, former ABQ councilor Heinrich, said he raised about $145,000 in the last quarter of '07 and that his campaign has now raised a total of $465,000 since starting last summer. He has cash on hand of $277,000. Earlier, Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham reported she has about $95,000 in cash.

Among those giving Darren $2300, the maximum for the primary, was ABQ Frontier Restaurant owners Larry and Dorothy Rainosek who gave a total of $4600; auto dealer Don Chalmers gave $4600--$2300 each for the primary and general elections; attorney Mickey Barnett kicked in $2,000 and ABQ PR heavy Doug Turner gave $2300. Heinrich's individual contributors were not yet posted on the FEC site last night. ABQ State Sen. Joe Carraro is also seeking the GOP nod

Political experts are now saying the energy seen in the Dem Prez race may be changing the complexion of US House races, including the one in ABQ. White is well-known, but if a Dem Tsunami develops, even a second-rate Dem candidate could have a chance at finally taking the seat for their party. White's money report was not bad, but neither was it outstanding. Based on Dem turnout in the early primary states and the initial money reports we rate the ABQ congressional race a "toss up," meaning right now there is no clear favorite.


Now some Dem money action for the northern Congressional seat. First, we hear from Ben Ray Lujan: "Lujan announced his candidacy on December 14, 2007, raised $103,500 during a 17-day period. His campaign currently has $92,246.69 cash on hand, which includes a $50,000 personal loan to his campaign."

Now to Don Wiviott's campaign: "Wiviott reported a strong showing of nearly $300,000 cash-on-hand at the end of the fourth quarter. Wiviott had $299,465 cash-on-hand on December 31, 2007 after fundraising for 19 days in his bid to replace the seat currently held by Rep. Tom Udall." (Wiviott has loaned himself significant money.)

The rest of the crowded Dem field for the northern seat is not yet raising significant cash. We'll keep you posted and will also soon have exclusive analysis of the southern congressional money race.


This photo is what it's all about--to be six years old and playing with a President. Megan Montoya is the tyke being doted on by Bill Clinton as smiling grandmother Liz, mother of ABQ biz consultant Dave Montoya, joins the fun. The pic was snapped at the high-dollar Santa Fe fundraiser attended by President Bill Thursday morning. It will be a lifetime memory for Megan who makes her debut in the never ending book of our beloved La Politica.

Kennedy, Clinton and White photos by Bralley. Megan Montoya by the Gators.

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