Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Southern Arms Race Slowed; Dunn Says "No Más!, Plus: White & Heinrich With First Body Blows, And: Big Bill's Lousy Luck; It's Your Tuesday Blog 

Don't look for an escalation in the personal money wars in the battle for the Southern NM GOP congressional nod. An Alligator in the know reports that rancher Aubrey Dunn, who has given himself $300,000, is not going back to his own bank account.

"Whatever additional funds Dunn needs, he is committed to raising," says our Gator.

Rancher Dunn, who recently unleashed negative attacks on fellow Lincoln County rancher Ed Tinsley, would trigger the federal "Millionaires' Amendment" if he gave his campaign over $350,000. That was the case last week with Northern Dem congressional candidate Don Wiviott who triggered the rule when he upped his personal spending to nearly $600,000. When the rule is triggered the amount your opponents can collect from individual donors goes from $2300 per person to $6900 a pop.

Tinsley says he has spent $200,000 of his own cash on the race. He has $150,000 to go before the triggers the amendment. Dunn's decision to decline an arms race with Tinsley could put Dunn at a disadvantage. None of the Southern candidates is well-known to Republicans in the sprawling district. Expensive TV, say my experts, will be key in this hotly contested battle.. Tinsley has raised over $500,000; Dunn is in the low $300,000 range. He has not yet raised much beyond what he has personally donated.


There will probably be hundreds of charges and counter charges between the congressional candidates in the months ahead. Most of them will get scant attention. But we like to note when some of the the first shots are fired in a race. We've just heard them in the contest for the ABQ US House seat. They come from the two candidates seen as likely general election contestants--Democrat Martin Heinrich vs. Republican Darren White. First from White from his Monday fund-raising letter in which he isn't quite ready to say Heinrich's name:

My likely Democrat opponent...is opposed to the Terrorist Surveillance Program and has used the issue to drum up support for his candidacy among extreme left-wing groups. He believes that we should not immediately intercept calls from known terrorists and has even gone so far as to attack middle-of-the-road Democrats who support this bipartisan bill. I believe his position on the Terrorist Surveillance Program clearly demonstrates that his views are out-of-step with common-sense New Mexico values.


"...I stand with the American people who say fear mongering is not acceptable. Not acceptable from George Bush, not acceptable from Karl Rove and not acceptable from Darren White. I agree with Bill Richardson that we can keep our country safe without resorting to unconstitutional, warrantless wiretaps. I support a strong FISA that authorizes our intelligence community to intercept the communications of foreign terrorists, not American citizens minding their own business.

White's "common-sense values" may sound familiar. GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson, who White is trying to succeed in the House, is now calling herself the "common-sense conservative." The White and Wilson campaigns seemed joined at the hip with both getting the backing of operatives from the camp of retiring Senator Pete Domenici. State Sen. Joe Carraro is also seeking the US House GOP nod. Steve Pearce is Heather's opponent for the GOP senate nomination.

Heinrich wrapping himself around Big Bill seems aimed at positioning himself with a popular Democrat seen as centrist. Heinrich's supporters (those who have been in the game awhile) fear he will be unable to grow out of his liberal base and White will take the prize in the moderate district. White's first strike is on territory--foreign intelligence--that is friendly to the Bernalillo County Sheriff. It will be on issues like the economy and health care where the D's will be more on the offensive and where White may be vulnerable. Heinrich has four opponents for the Dem nomination.

Also, the political pros are writing the early line on possible character vulnerabilities that could be used against the two contenders. Dems see White as weak in issue knowledge and needy for TV cameras. R's see Heinrich and his acolytes as thin-skinned and ready to lose their cool. That ought to wake up the operatives :).


Talk about lousy luck. As soon as the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal story broke Monday, Matt Drudge posted this picture on his Web site. It shows Spitzer close-up, but if you look carefully, you see our very own Big Bill in the background. It appears to have been taken at a recent national governors meeting. The Drudge site was getting a huge number of hits yesterday and this photo was emailed to use by a number of our readers. Bill has nothing to do with the Spitzer story, but he might want to shave his beard now.


Politics is filled with guys who like drinking, gambling and loose women. It's been that way since time immemorial. Spitzer's problem is the usual one in these cases--hypocrisy. He preached against what he practiced. It's a story played over and over again in the history of La Politica. It will be so after you and I are long gone...

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