Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Round ‘em Up, Put ‘em in the Political Corral

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Tuesday, Oct. 9
Mayor Announces for Senate.

Mayor Martin Chávez announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici. Using the backdrop of Eclipse Aviation’s showroom, Chávez threw his hat in the ring, joining Santa Fe political newcomers: developer Don Wiviott, Finance Director of the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust Jim Hannan, and alternative newspaper Mother Media Publisher Leland Lehrman, who are already in the race.

Wiviott, left, said he is solidly in the race, while Hannan is viewed as reconsidering his position because he said he would drop out in favor of Rep. Tom Udall. Udall has since announced he would not run.

"Mayor Martin Chavez pledges he can still be the mayor while trying to become a U.S. senator," according to an Albuquerque Tribune article written by City Hall Reporter Erik Siemers on Oct. 10.

"That is challenging," Chavez said Tuesday, moments after announcing his bid to replace retiring Sen. Pete Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican. "One of the facets I really seriously considered was to be assured I could still do a great job for the city."

On the Republican side, Rep Heather Wilson announced she was seeking the senate seat last week. Political newcomer, oil industry investor, part-owner and Chief Executive Officer of Port Westward LNG, Spiro Vassilopoulos, left, announced his bid at a Republican Pig Roast Saturday at the Mesa Verde Ranch near Alamogordo according to Alamogordo Daily News Staff Writer Karl Anderson.

I did not cover the Chávez event. It was not because I didn’t want to, but because I had a prior appointment.

It seems that the far-right wing of the Republican Party sent operatives to the event and issued counter Chávez press releases and had their mobile billboard parked in front of the Eclipse Aviation factory headquarters.

My take is that before Wilson could even get a sign printed, announcing her candidacy, party operatives would be going negative. I find it inappropriate to try to trash the opponent at his announcement. However, it may be foretelling the level of nastiness we have in store for the next 13 months. I doubt that the Republican Party would allow Democrat Party operatives to attend their events, let alone hand out anti candidate materials anywhere near their location. It will make covering the campaigns all that more difficult.

Wednesday, Oct, 10
White wants to go to Washington

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, standing before his family and a group of supporters, announced his intention to run for the New Mexico Congressional District 1 seat being vacated by Rep. Wilson, who is seeking the senate seat from which Domenici is retiring.

Thursday, Oct. 11
Lujan Grisham also wants to go to Washington

Former Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham stepped up to the podium and announced that she wanted to be the next congresswoman from New Mexico’s district 1. Lujan Grisham is running for the Democratic nomination.

The diminutive Lujan Grisham made a point that she was standing on a step stool to be seen behind the tall podium, She invoked the names of members of her family who had served N.M. in the past. They included her grandfather, Eugene Lujan, who served 20 years on the State Supreme Court and her cousin, former Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr., a Republican who was a 10-term congressman in the seat to which she now aspires.

Manuel Lujan’s brother, Edward, a former State Republican Party chairman, who also made a failed bid for the seat when brother Manny left congress, showed his support, above right, by sitting with her family.

She served during Gov. Gary Johnson, then Gov. Bill Richardson’s administrations as director of the Agency on Aging, which changed its name to the Aging and Long-Term Services. Richardson elevated her to his cabinet as Health Secretary.

Albuquerque City Councillor Martin Heinrich, above, announced in May his intentions to run on the Democratic side.

Tuesday, Oct. 15
Representative wants to be a Senator

Republican Congressman Steve Pierce, who represents the southern district of New Mexico apparently, is going to run for the senate seat vacated by Domenici.

Though he has not officially announced, Associated Press broke the story this morning that Pierce was sending out letters later this week soliciting campaign contributions. His formal announcement will occur at a later date.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

There is a possibility that not all candidates are in these races yet. Political buzz is running rampant as potential candidates try to assess the level of financial support and how they would match up against others in the races. There are almost as many political trial balloons floated as last weeks Balloon Fiesta’s mass ascensions, and just about as much hot air.

Each announcement brought issues with them.

Chávez’ run raises questions of conflict with the city charter over his duties, powers and performance in office. This will be the topic of another posting.

“Unfortunately, mistakes have been made by those in Washington, and the Iraqi government has not stepped up,” White said. “We all want to bring the troops home, and I will do just that, but our troops must return in victory because al Qaida must be denied a safe haven in Iraq.”

Political foes and even some friends are jumping on the quote. Though it appears that he is trying to establish himself as independent, White used the word, “victory” that is undefined and is perceived by many as code for a protracted war “on terrorism,” with under-manned forces, with no clear goals and a questionable ability to extract troops. He takes a vets’ view of how the military works, not the view of a congressman in understanding foreign policy at the level of oversight.

White holds up his opposition to his former boss Gov. Johnson’s efforts to change the “War on Drugs” as showing his independence. However, some saw White as being ideologically out of touch with the reality that the “law enforcement only” approach to the drug problem without attempting to break the psychological and physical dependence cycle, not as being independent, but intransigent.

Lujan Grisham brings baggage from her days as director of Aging and Long-Term Services, at which time several scandals broke, including the failure to follow up on patients who left state hospitals at Fort Stanton and Los Lunas when they were closed. Several former mental patients were sexually abused and the whereabouts of others could not be established.

Lujan Grisham’s claim that her grandfather’s term on the Supreme Court was 20 years is disputed as his having served from 1945 to 1959, or 14 years.

Pierce’s entry opens his House seat. The third federal level position held by Republicans will now be up for grabs.

As my blogging colleague Joe Monahan asks, “Are we having fun yet?” The answer is, you bet!

1 comment:

joe schmedlap said...

Great history refresher; things like the Lujan family legacy are forgotten by so many of us over the years. You notice that no one can really get much of a handle on Darren White except for that "victory" quote, which is one that will draw as much support as not. But it is early in the season, I'm sure everyone will get their share of negatives in the months to come.