Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Heinrich's First TV Goes Up, Plus: Noel Backs Off Election Job, Also: The Soto Saga & Oprah's Favorite New Mexican 

There's a lot going on in Martin Heinrich's first TV ad for the up-for-grabs ABQ congressional seat. The issue is whether any of it will stick. Heinrich mentions an array of issues--energy, the Iraq war, the slow economy, Bush's unpopularity, veterans and taxes--all in a 30 second spot. The strongest line is when he says he is running because "I believe in a new start for New Mexico." The soft-edged ad seems aimed more at women than men. The many themes in the spot could have been culled from a focus group. The ad puts points on the board for the former ABQ city councilor as he attempts to overtake early favorite, Republican Darren White.

The Bernalillo County sheriff has not yet gone up on TV, but has stronger name ID than Heinrich. Those hoping Heinrich would come out swinging early will be disappointed, but then he is not yet well-known enough to start swinging the bat at the other guy.

The Heinrich "something for everyone" ad reflects his low-key and get-along personality. However, by the time the campaign is over, he will have to shed that skin and show that not only is he a reasonable candidate, but a tough one.

Media insiders say Heinrich has booked broadcast time at the major network affiliates for the duration of the campaign. This first ad began airing this week.


We wondered aloud recently whether US House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer would do anything for the Heinrich campaign after we broke the news of the big fund-raiser Hoyer was having for northern congressional candidate Ben Ray Lujan today in Heinrich's ABQ backyard. Well, Heinrich's campaign says Hoyer is also doing a fund-raiser for Heinrich and will also tour Sandia National Labs with Heinrich. But it seems the big money for Hoyer's visit is going to go into the Ben Ray kitty. Big Bill is one of the Lujan party hosts.


In setting the early odds on the ABQ congressional race Tuesday, we said the Alligators Heinrich goes off as the underdog with 3 to 2 odds and that you would get $5 on a two dollar bet. Tom Rutherford is one of several e-mailers who said something was amiss with that calculation:

"I think 3 to 2 odds pay $3 for a $2 bet. To get $5 you need 5 to 2 odds. You're not spending enough time at the track."

Tom is right, of course. In our first draft, we did not mention that the $5 you got back with your 3 to 2 odds includes your original $2 bet. Not that anyone around here is betting real money, but here is an odds payout chart for those interested.


Jim Noel
La Politica claims another victim. After a spate of controversy, Jim Noel says he will not accept the position of elections bureau boss under Secretary of State Mary Herrera. Noel is the son-in-law of Tom Udall who is engaged in a hot US Senate race with Republican Steve Pearce. Noel is married to Amanda Cooper, stepdaughter to Udall who is also her father's campaign manager. Republicans raised a ruckus over the appointment, filing a request for documents pertaining to his hiring. The insinuation was that Big Bill engineered the Noel appointment and that Noel could not be fair supervising the election because of his relationship to Udall.

Couldn't Noel, an attorney and head of the Judicial Standards Commission, withstand the heat? Well, Big Bill has enough problems to deal with and Udall doesn't need questions arising about the legitimacy of any Senate victory he scores. The clash does raise the question of judgment. Neither Herrera, Big Bill, Udall, Cooper or Noel saw this storm coming. Why not?


Was he or wasn't he? Fired that is. Roy Soto, Big Bill's cabinet secretary for Information Technology, announced recently he was leaving the post and will return to work at a family business, which includes IT management. One of the Alligators on the inside claims there is more to the story:

"Soto was fired by the governor. Soto took the Office of Information Technology and parlayed it into a cabinet post, and then hamstrung every single NM agency by requiring any and all IT purchases and contracts to be approved and possibly challenged for a better deal by his office. His own kingdom...A consortium of large national IT providers approached the Governor with a statement that Soto was unfriendly to business and wanted only to send contracts to politicals. Essentially, they told the governor either him or us. Guess who won? They did, and so do the NM agencies who no longer have to go through hoops to get contracts approved.

Soto, 64, reached in Texas, insisted he was not fired by Big Bill. "The Governor asked me to reconsider leaving. He thought it was a mistake." Soto said. He added: "We tightened up contracts...and standardized practices. Some people were not happy..."

Soto, a longtime New Mexico government and political operative who has supported Richardson politically, spent five years with the administration. He became a cabinet secretary when the IT agency was established last year. Marlin Mackey of Tax and Revenue has been named acting secretary.


The Dems may try to make a big deal out of this, but we don't think it is that big of a deal. The National GOP Senatorial Committee says it is canceling ads planned for GOP US Senate contender Steve Pearce. First, we never thought they were going to do ads for Pearce. Second, we just blogged this week that our media mavens report third party interest groups--the US Chamber of Commerce and the conservative Club for Growth have together bought $250,000 in TV time that is currently airing. The question is will that third party money continue to come. If it does, the national GOP decision not to buy ads here for Pearce will be incidental. Also, we need to keep in mind Pearce's last resort option--spending money from his own personal oil fortune which he is reluctant to do.


Reader Gary Simpson says we are drinking the liberal Kool-Aid, and cites our comments on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter in Tuesday's blog when we noted the pre-marital pregnancy was not "exactly following the teachings of the churches."

..Regardless of their religion, teenagers make dumb decisions every single day. Teenage girls get pregnant. Just like Al Gore's son got arrested! Just like John Edwards has been screwing a woman while his wife has cancer. And just like Clinton was getting BJ's in the Oval Office. One of the things that originally attracted me to your blog was an attempt on your part to remain nonpartisan...Unfortunately, in recent months it feels like you have drifted to the liberal motherland."

Aah, the liberal motherland. So soothing. Thanks, Gary. But we get equal heat from both sides. That's because when it comes to the foibles of our beloved politicos, we are decidedly nonpartisan.

But there's more. They are really on the war path over VP nominee to be Palin. Here's another charge of "bias" from Michael Fisher:

"Even OBAMA! said family should be "off-limits," and yet you just couldn't resist your dig regarding Sarah Palin's seventeen -year-old daughter, could you? By the way, I did a cursory search of your site for any mention of John Edwards' sordid little affair (and possible out-of-wedlock child) ... did I miss it? Or did you ...?" Your partisanship is starting to show even more than usual, Joe..."

What you call partisanship, Michael, is what we call "news" around here. As for Edwards, the last I checked he wasn't the veep nominee. Maybe we should blog about all the wayward politicos who are out of power? Don't think so.

For sure, Campaign '08 is on and the heat is rising.


We saw that $200 million for NM road repair approved in the recent special session of the NM Legislature reported several different ways. The final word on where the money is coming from came from Big Bill Tuesday as he signed the measure into law. "The bill calls for using $50 million in surplus monies and $150 million in severance tax bonds for 13 highway projects.."

It's good it is not all coming from the projected surplus because oil and gas prices continue to decline and with them the state's potential surplus.


Matt Kennicott is the acting executive director of the NM GOP, according to GOP Chair Allen Weh. "I borrowed Matt from his legislative job. He's on a leave of absence until after Election Day to serve as Acting ED. I've got everyone working in election related assignments and needed someone with some experience to cover the HQ." Explained the chairman.

Kennicott most recently worked with Heather Wilson's US Senate campaign as her Santa Fe County chairman. He replaces Adam Feldman who was removed as ED by GOP Chair Weh, but kept on as a field operative. Kennicott is a 2004 UNM poly sci grad who that year worked with NM Bush-Cheney on their absentee program.

Kennicott comes in at a challenging time for Republicans who face the unlikely, but still nightmarish prospect of losing all three US House seats, a Senate seat and a couple of legislative ones to boot. And there's that little thing called the presidency of the USA and NM's swing state status.


The McCain campaign says VP nominee-to-be Sarah Palin will indeed be in ABQ with McCain Saturday at the ABQ Convention Center, this after much confusion and several blog rewrites based on information coming from the McCain Web site. But now they say it's for real--Palin will be here.


How do you attract the attention of Oprah Winfrey? How about being nearly two years old, cute as a button and sporting a T-shirt that urges: "Tell Your Mama to Vote for Obama."

It worked for the daughter of Terry and Leigh Brunner of ABQ. Watching the Obama acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium last week, Terry, NM director of Senator Bingaman's office and a senior advisor to the NM Obama campaign, held Marlo aloft with her witty T-shirt. That's when Oprah spotted the NM tyke from her skybox, pointed and cried out, "I love that."

This is Marlo's second appearance on the blog. We also ran a photo of her when she came into the world in October '06. Will she be demanding royalties or will she settle for Blog Mascot?

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