Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Primary Election 2008 Reaches Finish Line; Voters Decide Historic Number Of Open Congress Battles; KANW 89.1 FM Coverage Starts At 6:30 P.M. 

Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico will do what they do best today--end the noise. Not that they will turn out in droves to do so. The consensus turnout numbers from our experts is about 25% of the 544,000 registered Democrats, or 136,000 voters. They predict Republican turnout at about 33% of the 354,000 registered or 116,820. That would mean about 28% of the 898,000 total eligible registered voters would have cast ballots in the primary. Not that this presages a low turnout for the main event in November. No way. With 80% of the electorate saying the country is headed in the wrong direction, they're just getting warmed up. Voters are waiting to pounce and when they do, it could be all incumbents feeling their wrath.


Our Election Night coverage begins at 6:30 p.m on KANW 89.1 FM. Here's the station's Web site where the program will be streamed. We have a great lineup for you, so please make a point of joining us. Our 20th year of public radio coverage is made possible by grants from Serrano and Sons--Construction; Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors, and ABQ's Ladera Golf and DW Turner, Public Relations.


As for Primary '08 it will be remembered in the history books for three events--the retirement of GOP US Senator Pete Domenici and his last minute intervention to save his protégée Heather Wilson. Whichever way her race against Steve Pearce goes, it will have a lasting impact on the legacy of the state's longest ever serving US Senator.

The attempted outing of Dem northern congressional hopeful Ben Ray Lujan by challenger Benny Shendo broke new political ground. The Santa Fe New Mexican went with the story, whereas in past years the media might have held back on a sexscapade like this. But this is a new century and society is even more open to hearing everything about everything. And it is hearing it. Finally, New Mexico historians will note those TV ads placed in ABQ for the candidates opposing Roswell area legislators Rod Adair and Dan Foley. That's never happened before, but with big money in these campaigns, it may happen again.


In need of a down to the decimal point prediction on today's GOP US Senate race between Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson? Travel to Farmington and meet Daddy Donisthorpe, husband of former GOP State Senator Christine Donisthorpe and father of two politically active sons. Daddy D predicted in 2006 that Heather Wilson would beat Dem Patsy Madrid in the ABQ congressional race by 300 votes. Heather won by less than 900. We couldn't resist asking him for a prediction on Heather's latest race, with the caveat that he is a Pearce supporter. This one, Daddy D says, goes to Pearce who will get 53.6% of the vote. Now before you yell bias, we have to let you know that this was the exact prediction Daddy D made months ago. Will he build on his record of 2006? We're just hours away from knowing.

Longtime Democratic pollster Harry Pavlides can't let an election go by without taking a bite out of the apple. The longtime consultant calls this one for Pearce, predicting he will win tonight with 54.5%. The final SurveyUSA poll, conducted Sunday and Monday, isn't so sure. It says Pearce is up by only one point.


We gathered the gang at the studios of KANW radio Monday afternoon and heard top lobbyist Scott Scanland, former NM Dem party chair John Wertheim and Dem strategist Heather Brewer call the GOP Senate race for Pearce. There's quite a few politicos climbing out on the Pearce limb. Heather will get a smile out of watching them fall if she can somehow manage an upset tonight.

Senator Domenici did not cut a last-minute TV spot for Heather, but her campaign did take his voice from a recorded "robo-call" and match it to some slides to make this Web video.

As for that six man duel for the northern Dem congressional nomination, Pavlides calls it for Ben Ray Lujan by three to five points. "Some of the sleaze attacks have stuck," He said.

Those "sleaze attacks," if that's what they are, come from Santa Fe millionaire Don Wiviott who has pounded Public Regulation Commissoner Lujan, especially for missing some state meetings. But Pavlides thinks Wiviott may have missed an opportunity by not coming with a more moderate Dem message for conservatives on the East side of the state. He will carry those counties and San Juan in the northwest, but undecided voters could stay home there because Wiviott's main message seemed to be aimed at liberals residing near the Rio Grande and especially in Santa Fe. Monday night Wiviott let up some on his negative hits on Lujan, running some positive ads to close out his campaign which will long be remembered--win or lose--for the $1.4 million he pumped into it.

ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga says he believes the polling circulating that shows restaurant chain owner Ed Tinsley taking the GOP southern congressional nomination tonight. Like a lot of R's, he wants to stay out of the line of fire and passed on making a prediction in the Steve-Heather feud.


The Alligators are already gaming the futures of Pearce and Wilson. Heather will be interested to hear that if she loses tonight they have her taking a high paying Washington lobbying job, even though under congressional rules she could not directly lobby Congress for a couple of years. Also, she gets to keep leftover campaign money and give it to charity or other political candidates. As for Pearce, if he succumbs to Heather the Alligators say he might as well go swimming with the fishes. His political career would probably be over. Yes, even a run for the GOP nod for the Guv's chair in 2010 could go by the wayside if he can't put away his House colleague tonight.


Governor Bill has a speech scheduled at noon in L.A. today and his office was not sure where he would be as the election returns rolled in. That figures. The Guv has endorsed a lot of contenders in tonight's Dem primaries and if many of them fall, he won't want to be around to be associated with the defeats. On the other hand, if his slate scores a clean sweep, you can figure on seeing quite a bit of the big guy tonight. Heck, you might even hear him on our radio broadcast.

Calling an Election
That our political system endures decade after decade while the world around us gets crazier and crazier is one of the great lures for politics lovers. This semblance of certainty and continuity is bigger than our individual selves and is affirmed each time we have an important election. Tonight our oldest contributor on KANW will be Frank Gilmer, who will turn 80 next month and will phone in early results from downtown ABQ precincts. Frank worked at the ABQ Journal performing office duties in 1942 when he was a high school student. He recalls that during WWII the Journal often only published four pages in an edition because paper was rationed. He worked under Journal owner Tom Pepperday again in the late 40's.

It's the connection with elections past that we somehow find comforting in today's strife ridden world. That free elections were here long before us gives us hope that they will be here long after we've made our contribution. There's a mystical element to it all and on Election Day we embrace this political life of ours, flaws and all.


A couple of our readers got pretty rough on Saint Pete here Monday as they analyzed his eleventh hour endorsement of Heather Wilson over Steve Pearce in the GOP US Senate race. Michelle Miller of Portales called us out for not presenting more balanced comments.

I've always thought of your blog as a relatively fair and honest look into the complex world of New Mexico politics. However, the two comments you posted regarding Senator Domenici's endorsement of Wilson were very disappointing. Domenici has done more for this state than even imaginable. To post comments that speak poorly of his unfortunate situation and especially mentioning a nursing home in his last few days is very disrespectful. As a young member of Roosevelt County Republicans I would also like to mention that Steve Pearce has only visited our county once that I'm aware of. Heather Wilson has been on numerous visits to our area...

In retrospect, we might have used our editing pencil on that reader's nursing home line. Rough is alright, but cruel is not.

See you on the radio tonight. E-mail your latest news and comments.

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