Thursday, April 24, 2008

First Major Senate Debate Goes On Net; Not The Tube, Plus: A Big Get For Pearce? And: What's In A Name? Michelle Grisham Knows 

In a sign of the times, the first major face to face confrontation between the NM GOP US Senate hopefuls will not be broadcast on television, but on the Internet. A Los Alamos Monitor sponsored debate Friday night between Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson will be streamed on the KRQE-TV Web site which is taking part in the debate. There will be plenty of time to get the candidates' views. The debate is scheduled for two hours starting at 7 p.m. at the Duane Smith Auditorium.

There will be two live televised GOP Senate debates; KOAT-TV will come with one May 27th at 9 p.m. and the NM Broadcasters Association has one set for Friday, May 30th at 7 p.m. that will be aired on KOB-TV, KRQE-TV, KLUZ-TV and KNME-TV.

Meanwhile, more than a few politics watchers are bemoaning the sparse news coverage of Campaign '08. Television news has yet to lift a finger and newspaper coverage is only hitting the highlights. Some argue that it is still too early; that a barrage of coverage will start in May, but others point out absentee voting begins May 6, followed May 17th by early in-person voting. Over half the votes in the primary are expected to be cast before the actual election day, June 3.

TV insiders are not going to say it on the record, but off the record they confess that low viewer interest for political coverage has relegated much of it to the stations' Web sites. "It is a financial decision because politics does not draw the viewers, and this is a totally bottom line oriented business," said one TV maven in a depressing refrain.

So far, none of the ABQ commercial TV stations has offered to host prime time debates for the ABQ congressional seat, both of which have contested primaries. And we've heard of no plans to have debates for the primary contests in the two other open congressional seats. (KNME-TV is said to be making plans for debates, but they will have far less reach and impact than those hosted by the the network affiliates.)

Can't just one of these federally licensed stations which stand to make millions of dollars in campaign advertising this year step up and give the people of New Mexico some good ol' fashioned public service and host a couple of prime time debates? Does not the power to help shape and inform public opinion, to advance the democratic cause, not hold a candle to the lure of fattening the bottom line? For the general managers and the news managers, the time is now to ask why you do what you do.


Our Downtown ABQ Alligators are asking if Steve Pearce is about to unveil a major endorsement from the union that represents ABQ police officers. If he does, it will be a major deal for him in the ABQ NE Heights--stronghold of the GOP and Wilson's base. Pearce has an endorsement news conference scheduled for Monday. Pearce has secured the South. He appears to be doing well in the North. Now he will position his army on the doorstep of the state's largest city as he works to close the deal. His new TV spot (see it here) is airing regularly along with radio. Wilson says she will be up on TV soon, but she has now given two prime time nights unanswered to Pearce. That's precious time with early voting nearing and election day now just 40 days out.


The showdown came Wednesday night on CNN.


Independent congressional candidate Carol Miller apparently isn't impressed with the TV ads of Ben Ray Lujan and Don Wiviott, the two major players in the race for the Dem nod for the Northern congressional seat, Miller, a former Green Party candidate, says she is going ahead with her plans for a Northern third party candidacy for the fall and chastises us for our sceptical attitude.

I have read on your blog that you think that my run for Congress is not relevant, but we are finding a very different response from the grassroots. Our volunteers are getting very positive responses as we collect 10,000 signatures...We are forging a new coalition , led by a Democrat Treasurer, Green campaign manager, and volunteers of all political preferences. This gives us a very strong base. There are 55,000 registered Independents in the district..add Greens, Democrats. Libertarians and Republicans. and who knows what might happen by November.

Miller is the Democrats nightmare. She helped hand the seat to the Republicans back in '97 during a special election. As she indicates, we doubt she has the relevance she had then, but if she gets the signatures to make the ballot, her candidacy will bear watching.


Blog readers are watching the TV ad wars closely. Today's e-mailed comment comes from a reader in the south who takes on the ad of Dem Southern US House hopeful Harry Teague.

I'm puzzled by the emphasis on education in Harry Teague's new television ad. I visited Harry's Web site which touts his eighth grade education, while (Teague rival) Bill McCamley has a Master's Degree from Harvard. Is this a classic example of "do as I say, not as I do" that may backfire on the Teague campaign?"

Maybe Teague values education more than most because he realizes the challenges an incomplete one poses. As for McCamley's Harvard degree, that's a solid qualification. But formal education is no requirement for entry into the school of La Politica; only the burning desire to convince your neighbors. May it ever be so.

ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham confirmed late Wednesday that ABQ district court judge Geraldine Rivera has ruled that Grisham's full name will be listed on the June primary ballot, not Michelle L. Grisham, the name under which she is registered to vote.

Grisham attorney John Wertheim says Grisham "signed her registration as Michelle Lujan Grisham" so the secretary of state was ordered by Judge Rivera to list that name on the ballot. It is important because Grisham is working to consolidate the large Hispanic vote. Her other court challenge is to have former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron removed from the ballot for not submitting enough valid petition signatures. Her first try was rejected at the district court level. A NM Supreme Court decision is expected within a week, given the pressure of getting the ballots printed.

As for the ABQ race, there hasn't been much action. Much of that is due to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's decision to support former ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich. That move has made raising money challenging for Grisham and the other contenders. Grisham says she is determined to make a race of it and has on board campaign and finance managers as well as a field director. Heinrich is set to outspend her three to one on media in the closing weeks.

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