Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pearce Pulls The Trigger; Can He Hit The Teague Target? Plus: Romero Shakes Up Staff As Mayoral Clock Ticks, And: Waiting On Political Nonprofits 

Steve Pearce pulled an itchy campaign trigger Monday, apparently egged on by national R's to take on Southern NM Dem Congressman Harry Teague in the aftermath of Teague's vote for a climate control bill that may or may not be a major issue when the campaign begins in earnest over a year from now. (Our July 2 analysis of that vote is here.)

We say itchy finger because Pearce first told Roll Call he would make a decision on his political future by June 30. He then revised that for the Politico, saying D-Day would fall from July 20 to July 27. He ended up issuing a news release on Monday, amid one of the the lowest rated news consuming weeks of the year--the July Fourth holiday. But he did end the uncertainty over a possible 2010 race for Governor and gave the R's a first-tier candidate to take on Teague who scored a handsome victory over Republican Ed Tinsley in 2008, returning the seat to the Dems for the first time since 1980. (Roll Call coverage with former New Mexican Josh Kurtz is here. CQ weighs in here and the Politico comes with this take.)

Pearce's presence on the GOP ticket could help the R's in other races in the south such as the aforementioned Guv run as well as lower tier contests for posts such as Land Commissioner. If Pearce does anything well, it is galvanizing the conservative southern GOP base. That should help get R's to the polls, but taking out Teague will take a 15 round heavyweight brawl in which organization and money will rule the day. Right now, that advantage is firmly in Teague's corner. Obama put in place an organization Teague can tap and money will be no problem for Teague who will get national Dem support and also has his own oil fortune to tap. Teague has already shown he is not shy with a pen, writing out big checks for his '08 campaign.

Pearce will be competing for dollars with other out-of-power R's. To raise the dough, he will need credible polling that gives him a shot, and he may have to do something that he has always resisted--tap his own oil fortune just like his Lea County neighbor Harry Teague.


While the congressional races are a light year away, there is no time to idle for those seeking to become mayor of ABQ. The election is October 6. The sense of urgency for those hoping to take out three term Democrat Mayor Martin Chavez was driven home Monday as Democrat Richard Romero moved to shake things up by bringing in a new campaign manager. He apparently hopes a new face can help solve the political puzzle that has blocked him from gaining significant traction.

Gone from the campaign is manager Neri Holguin. The rumor mill had her heading for the exits as soon as Romero lost the endorsement of AFSCME--the union that represents 3,500 city workers and who for the first time endorsed Chavez. Some of the Alligators saw it as a death blow to the Romero effort and they blamed...who else?...the campaign manager.

Holguin had not played at this level before. She managed successful legislative campaigns, but not a citywide or statewide contest. She brought valuable connections with Obama progressives, but Romero, a former Republican who once became state Senate leader by forming a coalition with Republicans, has had trouble generating enthusiasm among them. His new choice for 'lead strategist" is Murray Fishel, an Ohio-based consultant, who has close ties to ABQ Dem State Rep. Mimi Stewart who headed up the state Dem legislative campaign effort in 2008. One of our insiders said Fischel has for a number of years helped train Dem legislative candidates and said he has considerable experience with direct mail. Fischel is in his 60's and was described by a consultant who knows him as a "McGovern liberal." (For those of a certain age, McGovern ran for President in '72.)

Not to be mistaken with McGovern is Tim McGivern, the former editor of the alternative Weekly Alibi who has now joined the Romero campaign to handle communications.

Whoever Romero has on board faces face a daunting challenge--generating passion for a political change at City Hall.


The ABQ political community continues to buzz over whether Eli Lee, ringmaster of the political nonprofits, will somehow--despite new city campaign finance laws--find a way to get progressive nonprofit money into this race for mayor to help Romero. Holguin has worked with Lee who had a consulting firm heavily involved in several previous ABQ election cycles. Lee and the federally tax-exempt nonprofits have come under the microscope for not disclosing their campaign contributions or contributors in '08 legislative races. Romero has advocated public financing and ethics reform. He may be on the hot seat if groups come with unreported money and he looks the other way.

Lee has a reputation as a talented consultant who had no troubles with the press and public when he was running campaigns where all business was conducted in the open. But he and his supporters have gone to war with the ABQ Journal and some bloggers over the matter of nonprofit disclosure. It's a battle that could heat up along with the summer temperatures.

Cody Unser
Off the political beat, we chatted with Cody Unser recently who was excited about the New Mexico premiere of the documentary "CODY, The First Step." It was produced in association with the Cody Unser First Step Foundation. The film, narrated by actress Glen Close, premiers Wednesday at 5 p.m. at ABQ's downtown Kimo Theater. Tickets are $10. Cody is one resilient young woman who has inspired a lot of people. She might even make a good politician. On second thought, let's not corrupt our youth....

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