Friday, November 04, 2011

Lewis Gets Testy Over Barela's Waiting Game; GOP Congress Race Stalled, Plus: Griego Pushback On Electability, And: Heather Praises Pearce (Really) 

Dan Lewis is getting testy over Jon Barela. The constant speculation in GOP inner circles about Barela joining the race for the GOP US House nomination is making it hard for City Councilor Lewis and Janice Arnold-Jones to loosen the purse strings of big money givers. Barela, the current economic development secretary and the 2010 GOP nominee, told us this week he is still considering a bid for the seat. That was apparently enough to send ABQ City Councilor Lewis over the edge:

The Democrats have fielded three well-funded candidates and it is time for Republicans to focus their effort on the GOP candidate willing to do the work and who has demonstrated both electability and fundraising strength—someone who is already in this race to win.

Lewis and Arnold-Jones will be joined in the race this weekend by retired Army veteran Gary Smith who plans to avoid the GOP money squeeze by seeding his own campaign with as much as a couple of hundred thousand dollars by the end of the year.

Lewis continues to try to free himself from the stranglehold the Barela decision has put on his fund-raising. He came with this:

...All the Republican Albuquerque City Councilors--Brad Winter, Trudy Jones, Don Harris, and Mike Cook, as well as all the Republican Bernalillo County Commissioners--Wayne Johnson and Michael Weiner, have joined together to host a major fundraiser for my campaign on Tuesday, November 29, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, at the Chama River Brewing Company, 4939 Pan American Freeway in Albuquerque...

This week we blogged how we spotted Barela meeting with Allen Weh, a former GOP Chairman who is a financial heavy-hitter. Speculation again mounted that Barela was close to getting in. He told us the possibility is still on the table. One thing we've learned--if Barela does get in the race he will be the front-runner but Lewis isn't going to be pushed aside. Ditto for Janice.


On the Dem side this week, State Senator Eric Griego scored a major endorsement when the Sierra Club backed his candidacy for the ABQ US House nod over that of former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham. But in blogging about that "get" we noted that Griego's campaign continues to draw criticism from critics who claim he is too far to the left to be an effective general election candidate. Griego's campaign came with this push back:

Rep. Martin Heinrich was also known as a progressive City Councilor with an identical voting record as Eric, and he continued to rack up a progressive voting record in Washington. He won in 2008 and was reelected even in the 2010 Republican wave against one of NRCC’s most highly-touted recruits that cycle, Jon Barela....Former Rep. Heather Wilson barely won reelection in 2006 with only 875 votes. Since then, Heinrich has proved that a progressive can win and hold the seat....

Meanwhile, Griego has come with some support from the center of the Dem Party. State Rep. Kiki Saavedra, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, says he is backing Griego:

Eric is a native son of the South Valley who really understands the needs and aspirations of the community and has always stood up for South Valley residents.


Its never been a love fest between Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, but is there some warming up between the two GOP heavyweights who battled intensely for the 2008 US Senate nod with Pearce winning? Pearce is thought to be sympathetic toward Lt. Governor John Sanchez who Heather is running against for the 2012 Senate nod. That's why this bone Wilson threw Pearce drew our attention:

"I think Holloman Air Force Base is at serious risk if we have another round of base realignment and closure...We've lost the F-22s. The F-16s are coming here. The F-16s are a legacy aircraft and will eventually go out of inventory. What is the future of the mission here? And how do we keep it here? I think Pearce has strengthened our delegation in Washington again. We need a U.S. Senator from New Mexico who understands New Mexico's unique contribution to national security and makes sure the Air Force has a place that they want to be here in the long term."

Pearce and his fellow conservatives have much disdain for Wilson's so-called moderate version of Republicanism, but if Sanchez has trouble changing perceptions that his campaign is stalled out, Pearce and the major right wing money groups could accept the bone Heather is throwing. At least she hopes so.


We'll leave you with an end of the week laugher. It's the "mental health hotline" and if you have had a rough week, they know all about it. From YouTube. Enjoy.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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