Friday, August 01, 2008

Pearce's Good News: A Better Poll & Senator Pete Weighs In, Plus: Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: At The Movies & At An Old Haunt 

Pete & Pearce
July was a pretty lousy month for GOP US Senate candidate Steve Pearce--until the very end. On Thursday Zogby came with an on-line poll that showed Pearce trailing Dem Tom Udall by eight points, not 25 points as he does in the latest Rasmussen. On Wednesday, insiders tell us, Senator Pete Domenici hosted a Washington D.C. fundraiser for Pearce who hopes to replace Pete.

Domenici is also coming with a sorely needed fund-raising letter for Pearce. (Posted below.)

As for that poll, it was taken on the Web from June 11-30 and is going to be shot down as unreliable by those who like their polling done in a more scientific fashion. But take your grain of salt and take a look at what Zogby says:

Independent, moderate and Hispanic voters are putting Democrat Tom Udall in position to take the seat being vacated by Republican Pete Domenici. Udall leads Republican Steve Pearce, 49%-41%.

Moderates favor Udall by more than 2-to-1, while Independents give him a 10% lead. Udall nearly doubles Pearce’s support among Hispanics. The two are even among men, but Udall holds a solid lead among women. Pearce’s strengths are with traditional GOP voters: regular church goers and gun owners. The survey included 464 likely voters in New Mexico and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.

Steve is going to hold tight to any survey that shows Tom below the magic 50% mark. You can imagine his knuckles turning white as he handles this one. His campaign touted the numbers, saying. "New Mexicans are finding out about the real Tom Udall." It's "Tom and the hysterical environmentalists" who are standing in the way of progress, argued Pearce.

After the campaign is over, will someone start a punk-rock group called "Tom & The Hystericals?"


And here's some light summer reading from Senator Pete, as he makes a mail pitch for Pearce (Click image for entire letter).

His record of being careful with your tax dollars will match up well against his opponent who likes to spend your tax dollars and advocates a very liberal philosophy that is far different from yours or mine. Pearce will stand up to the liberals and: Hold the line against taxes, work to create job opportunities in New Mexico, stand up to liberal, activist judges and support our troops.


Here's that negative hit ad on Pearce that hit ABQ this week and comes form the third party group--Patriot Majority West. We blogged it was about military issues, but that was from a glance on the air. The ad actually attacks Pearce for giving tax breaks to Big Oil and not being friendly enough towards renewable energy


One of our movie-going Gators checks in with a review of the just released and New Mexico filmed "Swing Vote."

Thanks to Governor Richardson and the State Investment Office, the Land of Enchantment has once again been invaded by Hollywood. “Swing Vote” stars Kevin Costner as the hapless “swing” voter “Bud" and the precocious Madeline Carroll as his idealistic daughter “Molly.”

This improbable fable confirms New Mexico’s very real status as a presidential “Purple” state. The film’s premise, a voting machine snafu that results in Bud (Costner) being wooed by both the Democratic Party challenger (Dennis Hopper) and incumbent GOP President (Kelsey Grammer) for New Mexico’s five Electoral votes is truly laughable.

Filmed in downtown Belen and in gated Santa Fe, this pleasing effort wants to be the new “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, but alas, it is not! I’d give this flick, 2.5 stars out of 4.

Thanks movie going Gator. Here's the trailer.


From the movies to a food remembrance as we head for another summer weekend. This missive on the closing of the Bennigan's restaurant chain comes from top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland:

Bennigan’s near Coronado Center in ABQ was the haunt of many years for veteran lobbyist Julie Golden and PR man Mickey Toppino. Any politician or young lobbyist wishing to meet Julie would be guided to the Pac Man machine in the bar where he and Mickey would be playing. A haze of smoke from Julies’s Benson & Hedges 100’s encircled the duo as people had to wait until the last little man was dead before the deals of La Politica were cut. Many were.

And so it goes.

E-mail your news, comments, reminiscences and reviews. I'm Joe Monahan, reporting to you from Albuquerque, NM.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bill To Help Hill; Will She Help Him With Barack? Plus: National R's Tell Pearce To Have "Faith," Come On In And Blog With Us 

If Obama takes the White House Big Bill doesn't need anyone blocking the New Mexico exits, so it's no surprise that the Guv has set up two state fundraisers to help Hillary Clinton retire her $25 million campaign debt. Hillary's gang was livid that Bill, the beneficiary of much Clinton munificence over the years, would not endorse Hillary prior to the NM prez caucus. And when he later endorsed Obama, Clinton acolyte James Carville dubbed him a "Judas." If Bill is picked for a big government job--especially one that requires Senate confirmation--he doesn't need the Clinton sword hanging over his head. Making nice with her at the August 17th fundraisers could have her calling off the dogs and making it easier for Obama to promote the Guv.

One of the fundraisers will be hosted by Dave Contarino, Bill's former chief of staff and manager of his ill-fated bid for the Dem prez nomination. The ABQ event will be hosted by longtime friend of Bill, Paul Blanchard, owner of the Downs at ABQ, and soon to be operator of a new Moriarty racino. Light Guv Denish, an original Clinton supporter, will be a co-host for the fundraisers.

If Obama should lose in November, Hillary could again be a major presidential player, another good reason for Bill to dull the sharp edges of the political knives that her crowd has been throwing his way.


While he is raising money for Hillary, Bill still has a bit of a debt of his own to pay back from his days on the prez trail. The latest total is about $292,000.


How bad is the cash situation for national R's? Well, so bad that John Ensign, head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, says in a news release that his pledge to match the spending of the Dem national senate committee is based on "faith," not cold, hard cash in the bank.

The DSCC recently announced it will make a $15 million TV buy in key Senate states, including NM. How much they will spend on behalf of Dem Tom Udall has not been announced. In fact, if Udall stays way ahead, that spending could be diverted. If it is, the national R pledge to spend as much as the Dems here isn't going to help Republican Steve Pearce much. The Senate Dem committee has nearly $49 million banked; the R committee has just $24.6 million. Pearce reported only $531,000 cash on hand at the end of June. He needs all the independent expenditures he can get. Udall has nearly $3 million banked.

Much of this talk is so much poppycock. If oil multimillionaire Pearce is going to spend all his time grubbing for money in the next 90 days, Udall is going to have few problems. On the other hand, if Pearce wrote a check to himself for $1 million or so, it would solve a lot of problems. But conservative Pearce is not prone to do so, which is why his campaign is also looking like a leap of faith, even for the true believers.


Pearce has just been beaten to the punch in another important campaign category--going negative. No, Udall has not unleashed attack ads, but a third party group--Patriot Majority West--hit the screens in the big ABQ market Wednesday night, ripping Pearce's record on Iraq and military issues. (The ad is not posted on the Web). Pearce supporters were hoping that Steve would be the first out of the gate with negative, catching Udall off guard. But now it's Pearce on the defensive before he even airs his first ad which insiders expect to come next week. For Pearce's people, it can't get here fast enough.


Talk that two Republicans on the Bernalillo County Commission could join with Dem Art De La Cruz and form a coalition has died a quick death. De La Cruz defeated Commissioner Teresa Cordova in the June primary. The GOP candidate for the South Valley area seat is Cecilia Ce de Baca but the area hasn't gone R in decades, so De La Cruz is expected to take office at the end of the year. He has worked for the city of ABQ and has ties to ABQ Mayor Chavez who has tangled with the commission and chairman Alan Armijo. Insiders say entreaties to De La Cruz to caucus with the two R commissioners and become chairman have hit the wall. "Art does not want to be in the position of being branded a turncoat by Democrats," said one downtown insider.


More storm clouds gather over Big Bill calling the Legislature into special session August 15. Terrell in the New Mexican:

The Senate (adjourned) several times last year when Richardson attempted to call a special session right after the regular session. Rumblings in the Senate indicate it could happen again when the new special session convenes Aug. 15.


How about this? Satan's skull found in our enchanted land! Near the Roundhouse?

Yep, We're the home of New Mexico Politics. Keep us in the loop. E-mail your latest news and comments.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jimenez Exits; Condit New Guv Staff Chief; Gators Vindicated, Plus: The Hidden Campaign & AG King, Also: Teague's New Manager 

Brian Condit
Vindicated Alligators splashed in delight in their summer pools Tuesday as the Guv's office finally confirmed their reports that Brian Condit would replace James Jimenez as Big Bill's chief of staff. The Gators, especially one Senior Gator, now only await confirmation that Jimenez will go to work as city manager for Rio Rancho under new mayor Tom Swisstack. The Guv's office only said that Jimenez would leave at the end of August to take another job.

We first blogged that Jimenez was headed for the exits in early July, but the Guv's office told the press no such move was afoot. The ABQ Journal said "Internet reports" had been struck down. But the Alligators are not in the rumor business--they are in the reality business--tracking the changing power structure of the state and what it means. Their 99% accuracy rate remains intact, and we're darn glad or else we would be out of business.

Condit, a former union president who has handled legislative affairs, has served as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff since 2004. Capitol wall-leaners say he will need to work to smooth over some ruffled feathers with certain state legislators.


Some would say it is one of the great ironies of this election cycle. A group claiming to advocate ethics reform appears to be in violation of federal rules and is basically thumbing its nose at Attorney General Gary King. The AG has advised the secretary of state to treat the group, NM Youth Organized, like any political candidate and require full disclosure of who gives them their money. However, no action has been taken and King has said nothing more.

Whether you're on the right, the middle or the left, the activity of NM Youth Organized and its parent group--Center for Civic Policy--is of concern. The group, run by veteran political operative Eli Lee, has secured coveted non-profit IRS status which means they can conduct limited political activity without disclosing contributions. Also, the donations are tax-deductible. After nuking two Dem state Senators in the June primary, who both lost their seats, the group is back at it in Las Cruces, targeting GOP State Senator and minority whip Lee Rawson. The critics say the group's activity is anything but "limited" and crosses the line for a non-profit.

Without blushing, the group claims its recent campaign flyer has nothing to do with Rawson's re-election race in which he is opposed by enviornmentalist Dem Steve Fischmann. They claim the flier, hitting Rawson for not being in favor of imposing campaign contributions limits, is aimed at the August 15 special session. But that issue isn't expected to be on the special agenda. Candidate Fischmann maintains he is not in cahoots with NM Youth Organized, which would be a violation of campaign law.


King is getting an earful about political advocates on both the left and right disguising themselves as non-profits and letting their supporters hide from the disinfecting light of day. Insiders wonder if the AG is in a political fix because the Center for Civic Policy is left-leaning and has influence in Democratic primaries. King is a Democrat who will either seek re-election in 2010 or make a run for the Dem nomination for Governor. Rawson told us: "I have talked to AG King regarding this issue. To my understanding, he believes it (the group's activity) is a violation of our current campaign laws."

We are getting wind that the ABQ Journal may be looking to do an investigative piece on the sprouting of these political non-profits (including those run by oil companies?) It would appear long overdue as would action by the attorney general and secretary of state.


Here's a YouTube PSA for NM Youth Orgnized.


It's this kind of psychology that GOP US Senate nominee has to worry about.

Things are rolling for the Democrats," said Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report. "I don't laugh anymore at eight or nine. A few races have to fall into play but they are close. They have Virginia gone, New Mexico is also gone, and six races are toss ups, including Minnesota..

But stop the presses. We asked Jennifer if she really though our Senate race was history. She replied via e-mail from D.C.:

"I am not happy with the Huffington Post piece. I was misquoted on NM. What I said was that NM was ALMOST gone. (and I’ve probably said to 50 reporters and in a dozen speeches). I haven’t completely written Pearce off, I’m just having a hard time seeing how he catches up to Udall...

Southern Dem congressional contender Harry Teague has a new campaign manager. He is veteran political operative Frank Costanzo, who served as a senior advisor to Big Bill's presidential bid, Arizona state director for Howard Dean's 2004 run for the White House and manager of several congressional campaigns. Teague also unveiled a new Web site to go with the new manager,

Costanzo is also described as a corporate turnaround artist. Not that Teague needs turning around, but the Dem is the definite underdog in the conservative south where he faces Republican Ed Tinsley in November.

Costanzo replaces Brad Foster who managed Teague during the primary, but was let go for the general. Tinsley also has a new manager, having demoted his primary manager and naming Domenici and Heather Wilson operative Chris Collins to the post.

Costanzo joins fellow progressive Dem organizer Neri Holguin in working for Teague. Watchful Dems in Santa Fe say the progressives he has on board have plentiful organizational experience, but to win the race Teague, who has close ties to Big Bill and Light Guv Denish, is gong to have to run as a somewhat conservative Democrat. Tinsley is already charging that Teague, an oilman from Hobbs and a former twoterm county commissioner, is too liberal for the district. Neither Teague or Tinsley have yet been pressed hard on the issues of the day, but Teague has fair warning. Veering to the left is a sure-fire recipe to keep him out of the US House.


ABQ GOP congressional candidate Darren White spent Tuesday night in the hospital suffering from back pain. His campaign says he fell while exercising Monday. They say he is expected to return to his sheriff's duties and the campaign trail soon. We guess Dem Martin Heinrich will have to send that get-well card to Darren's home...Steve Pearce is proud to be an oilman, he tells the Los Angeles Times...

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenberg, seeking a third four year term, is counting on Hispanic Dems to help put her over the top. To that end, she has her Web site available in Spanish and English. She is opposed by GOP attorney Lisa Torraco...For fans of newsman Ed Pennybacker, who passed away last week, blogger and photog Mark Bralley offers an in-depth look back...

This is the home of New Mexico politics. E-mail your news and comments, and stop by again soon.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Special Session Suspense; New Money Estimates Awaited, Plus: White Poll Has Him Below 50%, But Ahead, And: Most Watched State Senate Races 

More suspense surrounding that special session of the NM Legislature that Big Bill has called for August 15. The big projected state cash surplus that Bill is relying on to finance taxpayer rebates is not set in stone. Legislative Finance Committee staff heavy David Abbey told your blog Monday, that the recent decline in oil and natural gas prices means a revised estimate is needed on just how much extra cash is available.

A traditional rule of thumb during the regular session is that if a staff economist review indicates that the estimates have changed by one half of a percent to one percent, they should be officially revised. Looks like we're in that situation," said Abbey.

The Guv may not want to see any new revenue estimates, given the recent fall in oil and natural gas prices, but it would seem irresponsible not to get one since the projected surplus is based on $134 barrel an oil and $13 natural gas, prices that have not stuck. The LFC could go ahead and do an estimate without Bill signing on, but insiders consider that unlikely.

If a new estimate is significantly lower, more sparks could fly. The Guv's office remains confident the money is there and that lawmakers are using the recent correction in energy prices as an excuse to kill Bill's plan for universal health care. Still, those with long memories will recall the very real impact lower oil and gas prices had in the mid-80's. That's when the Legislature had to repeal tax cuts based on high oil and gas prices.

Day-to-day energy prices are going to drive the psychology behind the special session. Your guess on where they'll be August 15 is as good as any.

Guv in Ruidoso
While Bill is pushing the envelope with that special, he was doing what he does best when he landed in Ruidoso to survey extreme damage left by raging flood waters. The Richardson administration is rarely caught flat-footed in responding to natural disasters. In fact, we have a solid long-term record when it comes to aiding our neighbors wherever they live in the state. GOP Governor Gary Johnson also had a good eight year record in getting government moving when disaster struck. The 2000 Los Alamos fires being one example. The men and women responding to the Ruidoso disaster deserve special mention.

And the video from Ruidoso is pretty incredible. You can see it on YouTube.


You might get a kick out of some of the hot-button rhetoric the campaigns are using to raise money this cycle. Here's a Monday missive from GOP US Senate nominee Steve Pearce as he seeks financial support from his conservative base in his battle against Dem hopeful Tom Udall:

As the hysterical environmentalists and Tom Udall hold America's energy hostage, working families are suffering. America needs energy security NOW--not obstructionists! Tom Udall has voted more than a dozen times to prevent drilling and six times against new refineries...Steve Pearce is challenging the Washington status quo, the hysterical environmentalists and Tom Udall to drill domestically and NOW!

Maybe some enviros are hysterical, but Tom Udall? He seems as calm as a monk.

White & Heinrich
The interesting thing about the new poll GOP ABQ congressional hopeful Darren White released Monday is that it has him below the magic 50% level. That is a sigh of relief for the Dems who feared the well-known two term Bernalillo County sheriff may have been poised to run away with the ABQ race, which has been in the GOP column since its 1968 creation. But the White poll, conducted by his campaign Tuesday and Wednesday among 500 likely voters and with a margin of error of 4%, puts him at 47% to Democrat Martin Heinrich's 41%.

Heinrich released a poll in early July that gave him 47% to White's 44%. However, as we pointed out then, that poll identified to respondents the party of each candidate. White's campaign is not releasing the question that was asked, but judging by the results it appears to not have mentioned political party. An insider poll taken just before July 4th had White garnering 50% and Henrich coming in at 32%. And a poll White released last October had him at 51% and Heinrich at 33%. With the margin of error in his poll, theoretically White could still be at 50%, but it's unlikely.

While White's team can take heart that they are six points ahead in their survey, which shows White has name ID of 78% and Heinrich 65%, the race remains within reach of the Dems. In fact, we're mildly surprised by former ABQ city councilor Heinrich's 65% name ID, given the relatively light media buy he did for the June primary. We think White's 78% ID is a bit below what you would expect because he has done no paid media since announcing last October.

So some good news for both candidates in this survey. White reinforces the notion that he is the frontrunner, but Democrats have good reason to believe their man stands to benefit from a Democratic wave should one materialize.


We think the portion of the White poll testing his strength against Heinrich was neutral, but since they will not release the question, we can't be sure. Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca, writing on his blog, says he was polled on the ABQ race Wednesday night and the poll sounded legitimate until near the end:

"The 'push poll' sounds legitimate for the first ten minutes and then the zinger comes. All sorts of negative statements about Democrat Martin Heinrich." Said Baca.

There's always an Alligator around when you need one.


What would the R's do if they did not have the drilling issue? Just about every other matter on the table cuts against them. But high gas prices are so in the face of the everyday consumer that the polls have moved in favor of drilling faster than an oil slick. Here's the latest.


When his son was busted by the press for not revealing an arrest involving boozing and driving, Jerome Block, Sr. asked about the record of the Green Party candidate who is opposing his son, Jerome Block, Jr., for the Northern seat on the NM Public Regulation Commission. Turns out Rick Lass has had a run-in with the law as well as noted recently by the Santa Fe Reporter.


She says it's because she and the Guv agreed the issue is too complex for a special session; others will say Di is being dissed by Bill. Whatever the case, the lieutenant guv's request to have a predatory lending measure taken up at the August special is dead. Meantime, the Clovis News Journal did a solid interview with the state's #2, in which she was asked publicly for the first time about becoming Guv if Bill leaves to take a job with an Obama administration. "I'm fully prepared..I'm prepared to step in," She said.

Sen. Snyder
The most watched state Senate race in New Mexico this cycle will be the ABQ NE Heights battle between GOP Senator Diane Snyder and Dem Tim Eichenberg. In fact, insiders are hard pressed to name any other races where they think the incumbent is genuinely endangered. They are keeping an eye on Senators Clint Harden on the East side and Lee Rawson in Las Cruces, but not ready to put them in the toss-up column.

The lack of competitiveness shows how important the 2010 Guv election will be. The Legislature will redistrict all state House and Senate seats in 2011. If the R's could snag the governorship, they would have tremendous leverage over the process. If not, the Dems could tighten their stranglehold on the Roundhouse even more.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Bill Cornered? Oil Price Plunge Threatens Special Session, Plus: Latest NM Poll Numbers, And: Teague, Tinsley & Heather, Too; All On Your Monday Blog 

Attention K-Mart shoppers: Don't plan on spending those state cash rebates just yet. The generosity of Big Bill and like-minded legislators could be upended by the sudden price decline for oil and natural gas. That has Bill's August 15 special session of the Legislature looking as thin as November ice. If the correction in energy prices morphs into a full-blown bear market, one can only wonder what hat trick the Guv comes with to salvage the $163 million rebate plan, the other goodies he has planned and the special session itself.

Just how big a gamble the Guv and his allies are taking became clear over the weekend when it was reported the $392 million projected state surplus depends on oil staying at around $134 a barrel and natural gas staying priced in the $11 area. But oil is now below $125 and gas has dropped below $10. Spending millions on rebates, road repair and maybe health care reform before you have the money in the bank is like spending that raise you were promised before it hits your checking account. But this is Santa Fe, where they've been singing refrains of "Happy Days Are Here Again" for better than five years. The epic energy bull market has rolled on and on. Learning a new tune to go with leaner times is not yet on the program, but the musicians are warming up.

The state House, usually a citadel of solidity for Bill, started to crack with the new cash flow worries. Santa Fe Dem State Rep. and Legislative Finance Committee honcho Lucky Varela joined with Senate money heavy John Arthur Smith in wondering aloud about the wisdom of the rebates. These guys probably have the first dollar they ever made. But on the Fourth Floor, where they light cigars with $100 bills, they were having none of it.

"I've been dealing with pessimists in the Legislature..I've been bold," declared Big Bill, arguably the luckiest Guv in state history as he presided over gargantuan oil and gas surpluses every year since taking office.

The special already seems cursed. First, the Guv said it's primary goal would be health-care reform but when support fizzled, he added the rebates. Now, if the energy markets continue to fade, the rebates are endangered, along with the rest of the special agenda. All this puts the Guv in the strange position of needing higher gas prices, while Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico need the opposite. Could the Guv cancel the session? It would be out of character, but any gambler will tell you the first rule of success is to cut your losses. Stay tuned.

Here's the Guv's favorite Web site between now and August 15. And Bill's new favorite thing to do is this. If it works, he won't have to worry about that pesky Legislature much longer.

Speaking of a pesky Legislature, its Web site has been down a bunch lately. Are they running out of money already?


Besides the price of oil and natural gas, the other number Big Bill is obsessed with is his popularity rating. Like a barrel of oil, it too has been heading south. Last month Rasmussen had the Guv plummeting below 50% approval for the first time in memory. When he hit 47% the Fourth Floor's attendants said not to worry. After all, it's one of those automatic phone surveys and just not scientific enough. Fast forward a month and Bill has now inched up to 51%. They can call that a fluke, too, but don't tell us, tell it to Messrs. Smith and Varela who watch that number like hawks eyeing mice.

You can continue your summer reading or dip in the pool. The US Senate race is still a sleeper, and it's going to stay that way until Republican Steve Pearce starts answering Dem Tom Udall who has probably already spent a half million bucks on tube time. The Rasmussen poll just out has Tom continuing to lead the Hobbs congressman by a healthy 25 points--59% to 34%. Pearce has made up some ground from last month, but voters have been seeing all-Tom-all-the-time for two months. Most pros think Udall will likely sink quickly back to the 53% to 55% area once Pearce starts firing away. But getting the Dem frontrunner below the magic 50% is going to be the challenge. Did Pearce give Udall too much a of a head start?

In the NM Prez race, Rasmussen has it for Obama by five--46% to 41%. McCain was eight back last month. The Rasmussen polls were taken July 24 and have a margin of error of + or -4 percent.


We weren't of a mind to take on the latest happenings of Heather Wilson. After all, the ABQ congresswoman had her travel bags packed for her by Steve Pearce when he defeated her for the GOP US Senate nomination. But now she is popping up almost daily on national cable shows and other venues touting the success of the Iraq "surge" and warning that Obama is "frighteningly inexperienced." It may help her get a comfy job if McCain pulls off the upset, but Heather's footing on this one is shakier than cafeteria Jello. Take a look at how she felt about the famous surge in January 2007 as quoted by the ABQ Tribune:

"No one I have talked to can explain to me why we should expect increasing U.S. forces in Baghdad at the levels being discussed would have a different outcome now than it had last summer and fall."

Now was Heather "frighteningly inexperienced" for not being able to forecast that the surge would work? Well, you be the judge.

Harry Teague
GOP southern congressional candidate Ed Tinsley is bashing the daylights out of Dem contender Harry Teague for not agreeing to what seems to be a debate a day. Harry of Hobbs is not the slickest talker in the world, while Ed could sell you water rights to the Mojave. Teague won't turn down any of the big TV debates and will make the joint appearances, but he is not going to let Ed show off at his expense. That's smart because the media and the voters are not going to take notice as long as Harry shows for the main events.

What voters do care about these days is the state of their wallets and purses. To that end, the Dems slammed Tinsley, former head of the National Restaurant Association, over his opposition to increasing the minimum wage. It went up to $6.55 last week, Here's the money quote from 2006:

"The people who want to raise minimum wage must have never written a check to cover labor," said Ed Tinsley, chairman of the NRA.

The challenge for Teague is to energize minimum wage and other low income voters who are traditionally difficult to get to the polls.


Another gambit that insiders say could help oilman Teague in this race which is "lean Republican," according to top NM analysts and the closely followed Cook Political Report, is to write a check. That's right. A big, fat ol' check. He came with one for $800,000 in the primary. Tinsley, owner of the K-Bobs's restaurant chain, seemed as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs when he had to get his checkbook out for the GOP primary. He finally did and loaned himself $200,000.

The national Dems say they will pump $1.2 million into TV for underdog Teague. (The first round of insider polling has Tinsley leading, but not near the magic 50%.) The R's are cash-strapped and have not announced a buy for Ed. If Teague piles on with his own money, the question could quickly become: Raise or call, Ed?


Our Thursday blog pinpointing state auditor Hector Balderas as Lt. Governor Diane Denish's likely pick for Lt. Gov if she takes the Guv chair in the event Bill gets a job with a President Obama, started some name dropping. How about Santa Fe State Rep. Lucky Varela? To the mail:

He's a well-respected 21 year legislator; vice-chairman of the LFC; popular among state and public employees, well versed in state government, finance and the personnel system; former state comptroller; college graduate and holds a law diploma and is a US Army veteran;

Other names that surfaced included former Santa Fe County Commissioner Javier Gonzales, an ex-president of the National Association of Counties. Another reader asked: How about Española Mayor Joe Maestas? Fine with us. Send them to Di. We think you can find her at an Obama rally near you.

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