Monday, August 24, 2009

No ''YouTube'' Moment At Heinrich Town Hall; That's Fine By Him, Plus: Susana's First Time & Harry's Visitor 

Heinrich Listens
There were no “YouTube” moments that came out of the jammed town hall meeting hosted by ABQ Democratic Congressman Martin Heinrich over the weekend, and that was probably the most noteworthy development. Other House members have seen their town halls spin out of control, spiked with angry constituents delivering angry, melodramatic missives that make Shakespearean actors look like pikers. Their antics end up going viral on the Net, often to the everlasting embarrassment of their Congressional host and perhaps to their political careers as well. 

Heinrich's relatively calm affair means there will be no 30 second TV spots a year from now resulting from the event. By then, health care will likely be a moot issue. More in the moment, there was no defining town hall moment that will go viral and that would raise the hopes of the waiting-in-the-wings R's.

Initially, Heinrich seemed to be less than enthusiastic about the most controversial aspect of Obama reform--the public health option that would compete with private insurance companies. But he strongly embraced the concept at the town hall, sending a message to the Dem left that there is no need to field a primary opponent against him next year. There was still a big hole in Heinrich's position. While he is for the public option that would provide government subsidized insurance to those in need, he is sketchy about how he would fund it. He trotted out the old dodge that “waste, fraud and abuse" in the current system would pay the price. In other words, he was not backtracking on his opposition to taxing millionaires to help pay for the plan, a position that is seen as gun-shy by the left and the populists, but puts Heinrich squarely in the center in his centrist district. 

So Heinrich and Northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan will probably both get to vote for a public option that is likely to meet its Waterloo in the Senate. And the pair will weather claims that their town halls were somehow stacked with liberal supporters to elude the aforementioned You Tube Moment. If the R’s go looking for a video trail to use against the duo in next year's election, they will get that depressing Internet message: "This page is no longer available.” 


ABQ GOP Mayoral candidate Richard “RJ” Berry sensed an opportunity to mine some conservative votes and worked the line at the Heinrich town hall Saturday at the UNM Continuing Education center. But where was ABQ GOP congressional candidate Jon Barela, the likely R nominee to face Heinrich in 2010? 


If you are crying out for more town hall action, you can check out Sen. Jeff Bingaman's session from 1 to 5 p.m. at the ABQ Convention Center, portions of which will be streamed by the KNME-TV web site. No need to go down there, tickets are all spoken for. You didn't think Jeff was going to risk one of those "YouTube" moments, did you?


Here's one of the first in-depth news stories on the GOP Guv campaign of Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez. Money lines from the Roswell Record:

Martinez is building her platform on ethics, small business, and education.

"Corruption has taken over the state, and sadly, many people are starting to accept it as a way of life," she said.

Martinez touts her appeal to Democrats and independents by citing her wins for the district attorney slot in heavy Democratic Dona Ana County. But Dems and indys have been more prone to cross over in a DA's race because of the R's traditional strength on the crime issue. They have had little success with other offices. For Martinez, that means taking on the difficult task of keeping ethics and corruption at the top of the voters' agenda when so often their eyes glaze over at the prospect. Making it doubly difficult is the lousy state of the economy and the education system. Ethics alone will probably not get you elected governor; you have to convicingly tie the corruption to what is happening to voter's wallets.

Rep. Teague
Southern NM Dem Congressman Harry Teague is summoning all the powers of the incumbency as he prepares for a match-up next year with Republican Steve Pearce who held the seat before Harry. The end of the month visit scheduled by Energy Secretary Chu to Las Cruces is part of the game-plan for Teague. Campaign experts believe the race will be decided in Dona Ana County, the largest in the sprawling district and one that delivered big for Teague and Obama in 2008. If turn-out there recedes, Pearce's chances increase. Chu will provide Teague with important publicity. Believe it or not, there are many potential voters who are not quite sure who represents them. Teague is only in his first year and needs events like the Chu visit to cement his ties to the district.

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