Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Will Pearce Write The Check? Does He Have To? Plus: Heinrich Outraises White, But Sheriff Has More Cash, And: McCain in ABQ; Meets Our Political Past 

Pearce & Udall
How bad does he want it? Bad enough to tap his personal fortune and write a check for $1 million? That question arose in political circles Tuesday when GOP US Senate nominee Steve Pearce reported he has only $531,000 in cash, a shocking disparity with his Democratic rival Tom Udall who has stockpiled $2.88 million with early in-person voting set to start in around 90 days.

It is a troubling week for the feisty four term congressman from Hobbs. It started with the news here that freshly hired campaign manager Tom Carroll was out the door after only two weeks on the job, and now the news, released Tuesday, that Pearce raised $1.2 million in the second quarter, but had to use much of it to fend off a primary challenge from Heather Wilson. That left his cash coffers in perilous condition. Udall took in $2.13 million in the April-June period. He had no primary opposition.

Can Pearce come with a strong flight of TV ads and start to change the polling numbers that have him badly trailing Udall? That would attract donors. Or does he tap his personal oil fortune for a million bucks and try to change the dynamics of this race now?

Pearce could easily afford to write the check. His financial disclosure shows he is worth up to $33 million, with insiders saying the number is probably around $20 million. Pearce dropping the money bomb would be decried by the Democrats as an act of desperation. They would charge Pearce is trying to buy the seat. But those concerns are way down the list for the Pearce camp. Pearce could easily argue that he won't be as beholden to special interests if he finances a large portion of his effort. Whatever he decides, he better decide soon.

Another Republican congressional candidate also has some money issues. Not as bad as Pearce's but a bit worrisome. ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich announced Tuesday he raised $578,000 in the April-June quarter, outraising GOP hopeful Darren White who took in $507,000. That is an unusual occurrence for a Dem in the always hard-fought battle for the ABQ congressional seat. However, while Heinrich has been outraising White, he's spending more. The sheriff had cash of $634,000 at the end of June, compared to Heinrich's $354,000. Neither of these candidates appear to have enough money to start TV ads in the next several weeks. We may not see any until the end of August.

There's another angle. The national Dems have said they are ready to buy Heinrich $1.3 million in TV time, and they usually come through in this race. The GOP congressional committee is running low on cash and has not yet made a TV commitment for White. Maybe he will ask the Republican National Committee to pick up the slack. And then there's those "third-party" groups that advocate for a candidate. Who will get the most media support from them?


Southern Dem congressional hopeful Harry Teague reports his campaign raised $377,000 in the April-June quarter. Republican Ed Tinsley raised $314,485.00 in the quarter. The DCCC says it will come with $1.2 million in TV for Harry of Hobbs, but that commitment may be more dependent on the polls than the national money for Heinrich's effort.

Northern Dem US House nominee Ben Ray Luján will report $330,000 in receipts for the most recent filing period and almost $100,000 cash on hand. Lujan had a stiff challenge in the Dem primary, mainly from wealthy Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott. He is the heavy favorite to take the seat over Republican Dan East and two independent candidates.


The money-raising goes on, sometimes quietly. Friday morning Heinrich will host a breakfast at the downtown Flying Star restaurant where attendance is limited to ten. Insiders report it features US House majority whip James Clyburn (D-SC), the third ranking House member. The eggs are going for $1,000 a plate. You get an hour to bend Clyburn's ear.


He's a little blurry, but the guy in the center in back of Senator McCain at his Tuesday ABQ town hall meeting is a pretty famous fellow, or at least he used to be. Clapping away is former northern NM GOP US Congressman Bill Redmond. He won in a fluke in a special election in the heavy Dem district in '97. Redmond hasn't been on the circuit much since getting defeated by Tom Udall in'98, but the big events still bring 'em out. Town hall audio here.

One of the Alligators attending the event reports:

"..McCain was on his game cracking jokes, etc. The most newsworthy thing of the whole event was the beginning when they announced former Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan as Secretary Ben Lujan...that caused a lot of gasps and laughs....

Our Gator also poked around for news on who might be brought aboard to serve as Pearce's campaign manager in light of our Monday exclusive reporting that after two weeks veteran Tom Carroll was out the door.

Seems (NY media consultant Arthur) Finklestein and Bob Carter (Pearce's Chief of Staff) will be steering the boat from here on out..I haven't heard that they are looking for anyone.


Several e-mailers opine that the R's aren't any better than the D's when it comes to finding solutions to bring down sky-high gas prices. Tom Udall came with a TV ad this week that outlined steps to lower gas prices now, but we pointed out his solutions--not without merit--would not influence gas prices today. Reader Isaac Martinez came with this rejoinder:

While you are absolutely right that these are all long-term solutions, you fail to mention that the Republicans' solution (at least that supported by George Bush, John McCain, and Steve Pearce), of lifting the ban on exploring the Outer Continental Shelf and ANWR for oil deposits is, in some ways, an even longer-term proposal, and would only lower the price of gas negligibly. The basic truth is there is no short-term 'silver bullet' that will bring oil and gas prices down.

The USA's situation today reminds us of the Watergate years of 1973-74 when we first had an oil crisis. That we have not solved the energy dilemma is one of the great failures in the history of American government and politics. The nation cries out for leadership. Will we get it?


ABQ talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo wants in on the little discussion we've had here lately on blogs. It broke out when last week a reader was distressed over our favorable review of a local restaurant. Says Santullo:

This person needs to know that a blog is not a straight newspaper or reporting service per se. In fact, a blog is the musings of an individual...And for him/her to come across as though you are committing some mortal sin is ridiculous. You have NO obligation whatsoever to be impartial in a blog. Rather, you do so out of sheer preference, but it is certainly NOT obligatory. Let's have some blog education here.

You're right, Mike. It is this blogger's preference to try to be impartial on political matters --or at least fair--but as you say, a blog is what each blogger makes it.

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