Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Hottest Of The Hot Legislative Races; We Preview, Plus: Pete Back Playing For Heather, And: Wild In Roswell; Publisher Jailed; Foley Reacts 

There's so much action at the top of the New Mexico ballot this year that the down ballot races have been orphans when it comes to media and public attention, but the hot ones are starting to come into focus as we head for the final stretch of Primary 2008. We're off to the races...


ABQ South Valley Dem Senator James Taylor is out door-knocking as he works to knock down a stiff challenge from former ABQ City Councilor Eric Griego who has raised nearly $60,000. Taylor is favored, but Griego's' money report pushed this race to the top of the watch list. Taylor got a boost from an ABQ Journal endorsement and is mailing it around the district. Griego will take on Taylor's record in the mail in the closing days. NM trial lawyers, unhappy with a Taylor vote on tort reform, support Griego. The Dem takes the prize. No R's are running.


In the SE Heights of ABQ Dem State Senator Shannon Robinson has held forth since 1989. The liberal wing of his party has put up 30 year old business consultant Tim Keller who has been working it hard. He has raised nearly $60,000, much of it family money. Robinson has been the subject of some unfavorable newspaper pieces in recent weeks, but friends say he is off the couch and on the sidewalks to keep the seat. Big Bill and big labor is helping. Keller did not register as a Democrat until 2006, a fact Robinson is not ignoring. No R's applied. The Dem winner takes it all.


State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, 71, is fighting it out for the Dem nod with Dona Ana County Commissioner Oscar Butler. Garcia, Senate Majority Whip, is favored to win, but Butler, 67, a native of Los Angeles, is an articulate opponent who has made the race interesting. This is a battle of the old-timers, and Garcia is one of the originals. She has the edge.


The campaign between State Sen. Linda Lopez and her challenger for the Dem nod, businessman Michael Padilla, has generated mixed reports. Padilla has said he could spend up to $100,000 to oust Linda. She is said to be working harder in recent weeks. Padilla has won the endorsement of the ABQ Journal and the NEA teachers union. Throughout her career, Lopez has done a poor job communicating. If it is going to catch up with her, this will be the year. This is a no R zone. Winner of the primary takes it all.


We just added this ABQ Westgate Heights and Valley state House contest to the watch list. The Alligators say State Rep and House Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Silva is getting a run for his money from Eleanor Chavez, the director of the National Union of Hospital Health Care Employees 1199 in NM. There are many new residents in the district and Chavez is working. Silva's friends are urging him to turn it on in the final stretch. They say Chavez is too liberal for the district which Silva has represented since 1987. Silva with the edge, but the non-natives may be restless.

Kintigh and Foley
Roswell and environs were shell shocked again Monday by the state's wildest and craziest legislative primary. Just hours after scorching GOP State Rep. and House minority whip Dan Foley on her editorial page (see Monday blog) for questionable public conduct, the publisher of the Record, Dana Beck, was arrested at the home of her boyfriend and jailed on a charge of obstructing a police officer. Here is how KOB-TV reports the story.

Police arrested the publisher of the Roswell Daily Record early Monday morning because they say she was giving them a hard time during a routine investigation. Police say it was around 5:30 a.m. when the Daily Record publisher, Dana Beck, pulled up to her boyfriend's home in a taxi and asked the driver to wait for her while she ran inside. Soon after, the driver says she heard what sounded like a loud bang coming from the house and called police.

When the police arrived, they say Beck appeared to be drunk and wouldn't listen as they tried to get to the bottom of what was going on. "They went in to investigate to see if there was anything violent going on or any criminal activities. At which time she decided not to cooperate fully with what officers were trying to do, so she was placed under arrest at that time," said Sgt. Levy Moody of the Roswell Police Department. Beck is charged with obstructing an officer and resisting arrest. She bonded out of jail around 10:00 Monday morning.

Foley, who was lambasted by Beck's newspaper in a scathing foot-long Sunday editorial calling for his ouster, could not help but note the irony: "Apparently she has a problem. I hope she gets help. I don't take joy in other people's misery, but people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," He said.

Foley was arrested last year on a charge of obstructing a police officer when he interfered at a basketball game involving his son. The charge was later dismissed, but it made him vulnerable to a GOP primary challenger. He faces retired FBI agent Dennis Kintigh who has not been shy about attacking Foley on TV and in the mail. Foley, first elected in '98 has raised over $70,000. Kintigh has topped the $30,000 mark. Foley is starting to turn the heat up on Kintigh with radio spots and direct mail.

This race is already hotter than a Times Square Rolex. If they keep it up, we're opening a Roswell Blogging Bureau.


In a classic case of trying to have your cake and eat it too, NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici is complaining about a third party ad that ran on behalf of GOP US Senate candidate Steve Pearce. This, even as Pete claims he is not making an endorsement in the spirited senate primary contest between Pearce and Pete protege, ABQ GOP US Rep. Heather Wilson. Pete ruled out an endorsement in the race last Friday, but by griping about the ad being run by the conservative Club for Growth and demanding that Pearce have it stopped, Domenici appears to be making a back-door endorsement.

Adding to the suspicion is that the ad stopped airing Friday. Pete says he is "disturbed" that the ad described SCHIP, a children's health insurance program, as "one of the largest take hikes...in history."

Insiders say Domenici was steered from endorsing Heather, in part, by family members who fear for his legacy and do not want to see him go out on a divisive note. One can imagine the hell Wilson has raised to get Domenici's influence in ABQ on her side. But by saying one thing and doing another Pete again opens himself to criticism that his last years have been a series of political missteps. The US attorney scandal, his down-the-line support of the unpopular Bush presidency and his inability or lack of desire to unify the small, but strife ridden NM GOP are some examples the Alligators toss out.

The Senator, 76, now could risk further tearing the GOP apart by making Pearce supporters livid and unwilling to get behind a Wilson candidacy in the fall. But Domenici's advisers are apparently betting there won't be any Wilson candidacy unless Pete, whether by hook or crook, lets it be known she is his choice. That's the stuff of politics, but maybe not of positive political legacies.


It didn't take long for Northern Dem congressional contender Ben Ray Lujan to counterattack. He came with a new TV ad Monday night that spotlighted the past business practices of Santa Fe real estate developer Don Wiviott. That follows Wiviott's negative hit on Lujan which started on TV Saturday night and has also been put into the mailboxes. In case you forgot, there are four other candidates also seeking the Northern Dem nomination. Here's a transcript of the Lujan ad:

Multimillionaire developer Don Wiviott's untrue attack ads can't hide his real record. Wiviott's Texas trailer parts company was prohibited by the FTC from price fixing. When Santa Fe community and government leaders opposed his proposed developments he sued the city and contributed thousands to council members to try and change their minds. Don Wiviott. The Wrong Choice for New Mexico.

The AFL-CIO will come for Lujan today, protesting Wiviott's hit on Lujan. They are sure to ramp up their get-out-the-vote machine as well. Lujan has practically the entire Dem establishment behind his candidacy. Heck, even the blackjack dealers might get in on this one.


Just the kind of La Politica stuff that we luv comes from former NM Secretary of State Shirley Hooper:

Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza says her friends are calling her complaining they have received a call from a man posing as a drunk asking for their vote for Valerie and saying that she paid him to make the call. Valerie serves on a county committee to get drunks off the road.

Which reminds us of how they used to sweep into the bars in the North on Election Day and vote the drunks. The bars have long been closed on voting day. You must now feel the pain of voting for some of your choices.

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