Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here They Come: Candidate Filing Day For Roundhouse Hopefuls; Some Key Races Already Going, Plus: My "Historic" Boo-Boo, And: More US Senate Spin 

The eight hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. today will be among the most closely watched of Campaign 2008. That's when candidates for 112 legislative seats will file their nominating petitions and we find out if there will be any surprise primary match-ups for the 70 state House and 42 Senate seats. Contenders for legislative seats that contain more than one county will file with the Secretary of State's office in Santa Fe. For the House and Senate seats located within one county, candidates will file with their county clerks.

You can track the action from the SOS's Web site where filings will be posted as they come in. And here is the Bernalillo County clerk's Web site for the local offices and single-county legislative seats.

Also filing today are candidates for two Public Regulation Commission seats, one primarily in the North, the other mainly in ABQ. District attorney and judge candidates also file today, as do those seeking county offices throughout the state.


We already have some closely watched primary match-ups. They include Michael Padilla challenging Senator Linda Lopez in the ABQ South Valley area. Democratic Senator James Taylor of the South Valley is running against Eric Griego, a former ABQ city councilor. Veteran Senator Shannon Robinson faces newcomer Tim Keller in an ABQ SE Heights primary. GOP State Rep. Kathy McCoy is expected to draw a primary challenger as are ABQ area GOP State Senators Komadina and Ryan. Senator Mary Jane Garcia of Dona Ana is expected to have a Democratic primary match-up with Dona Ana County Commissioner Oscar Butler. The big three Democrats in the Senate--Sanchez, Jennings and Smith--are not expected to have primary challengers. But we won't know anything for sure until 5 p.m. today.


Do we have a new trend in fund-raising? Yesterday we told you about Southern Dem Congressional candidate Bill McCamley's plan to raise $30,000 to celebrate his April 1st 30th birthday. Now, we hear Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White will have a Monday, March 24th fundraiser at Capo's in ABQ to mark his 45th birthday. Ticket prices are--you guessed it--$45.00.

ABQ GOP State Senator Joe Carraro isn't celebrating his birthday, but he will be around to play party-pooper to Darren. He failed to get 20% of the delegates at Saturday's pre-primary convention, but says he will file the required extra nominating signatures to be placed on the June 3rd primary ballot. White won 85% of delegate support and barring a cataclysmic event is expected to skate to the GOP nomination. But Carraro will be around to keep him honest, and as Martha Stewart would say, "That's a good thing."


Michelle Lujan Grisham, the second place finisher at the Saturday pre-primary for the ABQ Congressional seat, is going to try to pull a rabbit out of her hat. Insiders say she will meet with former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron in an effort to persuade Rebecca to leave the race.

Vigil-Giron, who did not get the required 20% of delegate support at the pre-primary, is indicating she will file petition signatures March 25th to get on the June 3rd ballot. Grisham won 28% of the delegates to Vigil-Giron's 11% and has raised much more money than her rival. Analysts think the two could end up splitting the Hispanic vote, leaving Heinrich on easy street. Even if Rebecca left the contest, it will be a formidable challenge for Grisham to overcome Heinrich's early lead. When it comes to that Becky-Michelle meeting, it looks like a case of whatever Becky wants, Becky gets. What does Michelle have to give?

Heather & Me
In our original posting Monday on Heather Wilson's loss to Steve Pearce at the weekend GOP pre-primary convention, we called it her first-ever political loss. It was indeed her first loss since she took the seat in June 1998. But as longtime syndicated columnist Jay Miller and TV news legend and political junkie Dick Knipfing helpfully phoned and e-mailed, Heather's first political loss was at a pre-primary convention held after the March 1998 death of Congressman Steve Schiff.

Miller recalls that then-State Senator Bill Davis triumphed at the pre-primary. After that, he says, Senator Domenici came with his endorsement of Heather. That paved the way for Heather's win in the June 1998 primary for a two year US House term. She beat Democrat Phil Maloof in a special election, also held in June '98, to fill the unexpired portion of Schiff's term. The two faced off again for the full two year term in November '98 with Heather again winning.

We fouled this one up despite having played around in the '98 contest. We briefly worked doing PR for ABQ attorney Alan Wilson, one of those seeking the GOP nomination. As soon as Domenici endorsed Heather, his campaign was essentially over. Such was the power of Pete during that period. Heather won that June '98 primary with 62% of the vote. Alan never did pursue a political career, even though many urged him to do so.

Do go easy on me on this one. We had one of the most complicated series of events in state history when Schiff died in March of '98. GOP and Democratic Central Committees meetings were held to name a candidate for the special June election to fill the unexpired portion of Schiff's term; a pre-primary convention was held to select candidates for a June primary to compete for a full two year House term to begin in 1999; then there was the June primary election itself and that June 23rd special election.

Apologies to Heather for the error. She gets a free Starbucks, if she likes. And thanks to Miller, Knipfing and company for their work. The blog is a collaborative effort, not top-down journalism, so keep the lessons coming.


Meanwhile, our analysis of the GOP Pearce-Wilson pre-primary contest drew opposing views. For example, from Corrales, NM:

Your obvious dislike of Heather Wilson just keeps on coming. Saturday was not an outstanding victory for Steve Pearce as you (and his campaign) would like people to believe. Some of his workers were clearly disappointed since they predicted such a huge victory. They quickly scampered out the door at the end of the voting and you could see it on their faces. Heather and her campaign staff were very pleased.

Hey, we're inviting her to coffee, so don't take it personal. Others attending inform there was no scampering by the Pearce supporters, although we're told several of them did adjourn to the bar after the vote.


And Heather's campaign continued to spin the pre-primary:

"We picked up more support than anyone had predicted. The momentum has shifted our way...We were definitely happy with the results," said Chris Collins, campaign manager for Wilson. "Our opponent clearly thought he was going to score a huge victory but it didn't turn out that way."

And the Pearce campaign was still at it:

"Pearce launched his Convention Victory Tour to announce this weekend's success at the New Mexico Republican State Convention. On Saturday, Pearce won an upset victory over Rep. Heather Wilson giving him a momentum boost toward the primary in June."

If Wilson's campaign had predicted they were going to lose by 20 points, their nine point pre-primary loss could be spun as a momentum builder. But they didn't. They did not get any momentum from the convention. And it is a stretch for Pearce to call his victory an upset. He is the true-blue conservative in a party dominated by conservatives.

The Alligators' verdict stands and it's not based on anyone liking or disliking anyone. It is the cold calculation of veteran NM politicos. With a win at the pre-primary and a three point lead in the only public polling on the race, Pearce has established an edge over Wilson. An "edge" means just that. This is a close race with either candidate capable of victory. You won't hear that from them. That's why there's us.

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