Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mac Is Back; Seeks NM Support In Busy ABQ Swing, Plus: Udall Gasses Up In New TV Ad, And: Following The Money In ABQ House Race 

McCain in ABQ by Mark
Numbers were still being added up for that ABQ McCain fundraiser held at the Hilton Inn Monday night but Ken Zangara, McCain's NM finance director, pronounced the evening "great," saying about 200 of the state's top R's were in attendance. The cheap seats were going for $1,000 a pop.

When we blogged the upcoming fundraiser last month, we speculated that with a shaky economy and the Republican base generally unenthusiastic, Zangara would have his work cut out for him. He seemed to think he had succeeded. KOAT-TV was reporting the take may have been as high as $400,000, with some of the money going to the state GOP. Apparently high gas and low stock prices aren't yet hurting the GOP upper crust. At the dinner they dined on steak and shrimp.

Among those on hand at the McCain party: GOP US Senate nominee Steve Pearce, ABQ GOP US Rep. Heather Wilson, Northern GOP congressional candidate Dan East and former ABQ GOP US Rep. Manuel Lujan. Also spotted in the crowd was former Colorado GOP US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

McCain arrived at Cutter Flying Service about 4:30 p.m., but he could have been anywhere, glued as he was to his cell phone as he made his way down the plane's steps. Among those greeting the Arizona senator were ABQ attorney Jon Barela, Dorothy Rainosek, co-owner of ABQ's Frontier Restaurant, Ron Toya, GOP candidate for state House district 17 and a Jemez Pueblo native and Paula Papponi, the GOP candidate for the Rio Rancho state House seat (HD 60) being vacated by Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack.

After the greeting McCain boarded his bus and did about 25 minutes with a group of five NM news reporters as he made his way to the Hilton. They were: Barry Massey of the Associated Press, Jeff Jones of the ABQ Journal, Kate Nash of the Santa Fe New Mexican, Heath Haussamen of the NM Independent and Peter St. Cyr of KKOB-AM radio. Policy wonks can hear it here.

McCain will do some meetings this morning and then at 10 a.m. go public with a town hall at the Hotel ABQ near Old Town. The town hall will be streamed on the KOAT site.

Like Obama's recent ABQ stop, McCain's visit received good TV coverage on a slow summer news day. Also like Obama, he doled out interviews to the major network affiliates.

McCain appeared at ease. The Vietnam war vet knows he has appeal to Native Americans and Hispanics not normally associated with the GOP Prez nominee. Perhaps we'll see him make a foray into the Spanish North before this campaign ends.


Just how much fuel is the Republican cry for more oil drilling putting in their campaign tank? More than a little, judging by the latest TV ad from Dem US Senate nominee Tom Udall. In it, he asks whether there's anything that can be done right now to lower gas prices. He then answers his own question by saying we need to "stop hedge fund speculators from driving up the price of oil." He also calls for taking tax breaks away from oil companies that don't build "new clean refineries." Finally, he urges us to "get serious about alternative energy" and says record profits for oil companies while we pay record prices for gasoline "is wrong."

The ad is aimed at getting voter focus off of GOP calls for more oil drilling, a policy that's finding significant support but is a weak suit for the Dems and environmentalist Udall.

Udall's fact sheet for the ad asserts that as much as $40 of the cost of a barrel of oil is caused by speculation. That contention, however, is hotly disputed, even among experts. Building more refineries would bring prices down by creating more supply, but that would take at least several years. Development of alternate energy sources is also a long-term solution, not something we can use to bring prices down "now." That's why the high price of gas remains such a dangerous issue.


The battle for the ABQ congressional seat is going to be hard fought this year, but won't match the intensity we had two years ago when Rep. Heather Wilson narrowly defeated Democrat Patricia Madrid by less than 900 votes. GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White reports he raised $507,000 in the April-June quarter, including money raised from President Bush's May visit. White says that leaves him with $634,000 in cash on hand. At this time in '06, Wilson had a mountain of cash--$1.637 million. White's total fund-raising hasn't reached that mark. So far, he has taken in $1.107.

Democrat Heinrich also lags far behind what the 2006 Dem nominee, Patricia Madrid, had in the bank at this time. At the end of March, Heinrich reported $342, 000 cash. Madrid had $826,000 in cash at the same time two years ago. Heinrich will come with his second quarter fund-raising totals today, as well as a new cash on hand total. As of the end of March, the Dem had pulled off the unusual feat of raising more money overall than the Republican contender, collecting $667,00 to White's $601,000. Heinrich is likely to keep a lead following his report today.

What this tells us is that there is enthusiasm for the Dem candidate, but perhaps not as much as in 2006 when the Dems were fighting for control of the US House. Now that they have control, the importance of the ABQ race has come down a notch. That White is not posting bigger numbers confirms what every poll is showing--enthusiasm for R's even among may R's is in the cellar. Also, the absence of an incumbent in the race is also impacting money flowing to the ABQ contest.


Our Monday tidbit about Santa Fe County Commissioner Mike Anaya being named head of the NM Association of Counties drew some additional news. Anaya will not be eligible to run for another commission term in 2010. He plans on seeking the Dem nod for state land commissioner...

Reader Kevin Reagan reacts to last Wednesday's blog where we ran a critical note from a reader who did not like our favorable review of an ABQ restaurant and wondered whether we had an interest in the eatery. We answered that we didn't, but Reagan maintained we should not have even bothered with an answer.

"Joe, don't be bamboozled by the muffins who demand full disclosure for everything and everyone. You run a blog, for heavens sakes!. It's your opinions up here, not an impartial objective discourse. Anyone who says you need to disclose doesn't understand blogs and the web. And passing along opinions of food goes hand in hand with politics. It's New Mexico! Viva frijoles!

Thanks, Kevin.

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