Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wilson Hit Again; Winning Strategy Remains Elusive, Plus: Tinsley Joins Dunn On Tube, And: Grisham Back In Court Fighting Vigil-Giron 

A pause in momentum in the battle for the GOP US Senate nomination came with the late April winds, putting Heather Wilson on notice that the prize of a Senate seat will now only be won by spotless execution as the campaign prepares to move to its critical electronic phase.

With her back pinned against the wall by frontrunner and GOP Congressman Steve Pearce, Wilson had no choice but to miss over 20 votes in the US House last week as she campaigned in out of the way places like Playas, desperately trying to make a badly needed dent in Pearce's Solid South. Her calculation came with a steep price. One of the votes she missed was on the emotional issue of "sanctuary cities." Busted by Pearce for not voting, she compounded the error when her spokesman told the ABQ Journal he could not say which way she would have voted on the bill that would punish sanctuary cities. Finally, on Saturday, she was in the Journal saying she would have voted the same as Pearce, but qualified her answer.

Pearce has now become the easy choice for conservative Republican primary voters. With him you get ideological red meat, grilled simply and thrown out for consumption. No confusion, no shades of gray. With Wilson, the choice has become complicated for these voters who, unlike their general election counterparts, tend to see things in black and white.

Wilson's fumbling and that of both her official and campaign staffs looks like a ship leaking, listing and in need of major repair. Pearce fired a bullet, but Wilson's clumsy response made it seem like a cannonball.

Wilson has the month of May for a turnaround. The good news for her is that Pearce, still untested on the main stage of La Politica, has shown himself capable of a misstep (remember all those terrorists in London?) but Pearce collapsing on his own is a hope and a prayer, not the campaign strategy Wilson needs.

As May prepares to overtake April, the spring winds are not at Heather Wilson's back.


It's heating up down south. Only hours after we broke the news that GOP congressional candidate Aubrey Dunn would be first up with TV in the hotly contested race, Ed Tinsley announced he would match Dunn and go up on KBIM-TV in Roswell, before he puts $300k to work in the big ABQ market.

Like Dunn's first ad, Tinsley goes with a bio piece. It is solid, but at the end makes much of his association with the oil and gas industry. That might appeal to select Republican oilmen, but with gasoline prices setting yet another record Monday, why he mentioned it is open to question. The industry provides jobs, but that isn't making up for the pain at the pump, nor dampening the increasingly hostile political atmosphere toward an industry that is making huge profits from gas prices that are becoming an economy killer. Tinsley is obviously paranoid about getting beat in the oil counties of Eddy, Chavez and Lea. That's how he lost the nomination in 2002, but isn't there a better way to get a message to them without alienating other voters? Just asking.

In our Dunn piece Monday, we omitted the name of candidate and former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman. By the way, his campaign says Newman has raised the largest percentage of his campaign budget--about 46%--from within the southern district. They say that's a bigger percentage than money leaders Tinsley and Dunn.


In the Northern congressional district everyone is waiting for wealthy Santa Fe "green" developer Don Wiviott to pull the negative TV trigger on Ben Ray Lujan, the frontrunner for the Dem nomination there. Meantime, Lujan comes with another of those endorsements that normally would go into our circular file, but didn't. That's because it comes from the Sierra Club, a leading environmental organization, that says Lujan is the man. A centerpiece of Wiviott's campaign has been his views on the environment, but one of the oldest and most well-known enviro groups goes for his foe. After that setback, expect Wiviott to go negative sooner rather than later.

Lujan unveiled his latest TV ad Monday. The horse he rides in it appears to almost get the best of him. Lucky he's running up north, not in Cowboy Country.


Sometimes political predictions are easy. Like predicting that Bob Schwartz would somehow, some way try to get himself in the newspaper now that he has been appointed ABQ district court judge and faces Metro Court Judge Ben Chavez in a hot Democratic primary race to mke the seat his own. Well, Schwartz did it. He graced the top section of the Schwartz-friendly ABQ Journal Metro Section last week after charging the DA's office with screwing up the handling of a murder case. Not that it wasn't news, just that it's always interesting to see Schwartz run a campaign off the fat of the land. On the other hand, Chavez will be well-financed and not prone to getting newspaper stories which continues to make this a race to watch.


Wake up from that nap, Martin Heinrich. Michelle Lujan Grisham is taking her bid to kick former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron off the ballot to the NM Supreme Court. That word from Vigil-Giron, who calls it "ego prevailing over logic." That's what Grisham supporters say of Vigil-Giron's candidacy. They believe Rebecca could cost Grisham the ABQ Dem congressional nomination by splitting women and Hispanic votes. That brings in Heinrich, the frontrunner in the race and the man who stands to beneift most if Vigil-Giron remains on the ballot. A district court judge has already ruled Vigil-Giron submittted enough valid signatures to stay on. A supreme reversal on Grisham's appeal would be unusual.


Finally a word from rejected wanna-be Alligator Mark Barabak, the intrepid national correspondent for the LA Times. If you've been following along here you know that Mark has come to enjoy our La Politica, coming here as often as possible. He likes it so much he applied for "Honorary Alligator-hood." Alas, it was not to be. His nomination was torn into shreds by the overly protective and inbred Alligators who populate the political pools in these parts. Here's Mark's reaction via his Crackberry:

...I choose to respond with the grace displayed by the great Duke Ellington (not to be confused with the Albuquerque Dukes.) Upon being passed over for a Pulitzer, the great Ellington famously said, "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young..."

I'm still a young man. (48; it's relative) And while the Duke got his Pulitzer posthumously, I hope to achieve greatness while I'm still around to enjoy it. By that I mean honorary Alligator-hood. Forget the Pulitzer.

Hope indeed springs eternal. Maybe someday, Mark. Perhaps when the Isotopes change their name back to those ABQ Dukes you referenced.

That's it for today. Other blogs are now free to rewrite this stuff and spread the joy. I'm Joe Monahan, with you from The Duke City.

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