Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monahan’s 300th

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

This is Joe Monahan outside of Yanni’s restaurant this spring while waiting for a couple of his blog contributors to join him for dinner. He is in his natural state; phone to his ear talking politics.

I’ve provided photographs to New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan for two years, two weeks and two days and had my 300th original picture published on his site today. More than 80 of those images have been posted more than once.

I’ve referenced him a dozen times on this site:

Aug. 21, 2006, Madrid, Pelosi… Scalia?

Oct. 13, 2006, Governor’s Image

Nov. 5, 2006, Road Runner’s Confusion

Dec. 5, 2006, Can We See Laura?

Jan. 24, 2007, Goodbye ABQPAC. Hello, What Do You Call Yourself?

Feb. 19, 2007, Just Getting Older

April 16, 2007, Perp Walk? Not Quite!

Oct. 9, 2007, Busy Busy Busy…

Oct. 16, 2007, Round ‘em Up, Put ‘em in the Political Corral

Nov. 7, 2007, Political Corral Getting Crowded

Dec. 20, 2007, Shades of ‘My Weekly Reader’

Jan. 30, 2008, Let it Spin, Crash and Burn, or There Are No Rules...

April 30, 2008, Thanks Marjorie

May 15, 2008, For Pete’s Sake!

May 24, 2008, Ethical Public Service Act? Part 1

July 13, 2008, Trouble in Lobo Land. It’s “NOT” Irrelevant

July 28, 2008, Big Red: Ed Pennybacker

Aug. 23, 2008, National NEWS Flash; It’s Biden!

We have a symbiotic relationship; he deals with politics from a personal level, rather than from the policy commentary. I, put a face on the political names.

I consider what Monahan does to being the provider of “Water-Cooler” fodder. He's been blogging for almost five years.

He has four levels of expertise that he displays. Among others, he understands: campaign financing, media placement, polling, and he knows just about everybody involved in politics.

He has an extensive roll-a-dex and an even wider range of people with whom he talks. He's known throughout New Mexico and has good contacts in Washington, D.C.

Monahan often times does not name his sources for a variety of reasons, but he does not publish anonymous tips. He will, like any good journalist, work from anonymous tips, verifying them and assuring the validity of his stories.

Monahan calls his unnamed sources, “Alligators” after the old line that, “It’s hard to remember that your goal is to drain the swamp, when you’re up to your ass in alligators.” In politics, or as he likes to phrase it in Spanish, “La Politica;” someone’s always biting at your butt.

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Monahan is a University of New Mexico Journalism school graduate. He started in radio on the campus station, KUNM FM, then worked for KRKE AM. He was news director at KRZY AM. Those were the days before deregulation, when radio news had four or five person staffs doing local news. He was nicknamed “Joe on the Go,” for his field reporting.

Monahan knows the other side of news. From 1979 to 1984, he was press secretary to Republican New Mexico Congressman Manuel Lujan Jr. on Capitol Hill. Seen here, with Lujan, left and Bob Gurule, right, at Sen. Pete Domenici's announcement that he would seek a seventh term only months before he withdrew due to health concerns.

In 1984, Sen. Pete Domenici recruited his top aide, Lou Gallegos, to run against then-freshman US Congressman Bill Richardson. Monahan was press secretary for Gallegos‘ campaign, which Richardson won.

Monahan returned to New Mexico and worked in the Santa Fe radio market before he was assignment editor at KGGM TV.

Monahan helped Martin Chávez, during his 1993 mayoral transition.

He now owns a public relations company with private clients and does pro bono work for some non-profit organization. Through his public relations company, Monahan has been a spokesman for the Committee to Protect Dona Ana County. His association with the committee was criticized because controversial owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, Stan Fulton was a member of the committee. Fulton was also the single largest individual contributor to Patricia Madrid's Justice for America; a New Mexico state non-congressional political action committee. Justice for America was formed by the former Attorney General, prior to her unsuccessful 2006 run for U.S. House against Rep Heather Wilson.

Monahan has hosted election night coverage radio show on KANW FM since 1988. Lobbyist Scott Scanland has been a regular guest for a number of years.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

I have been providing political portraits for Monahan’s blog for a couple of years now.

Business could always be better. However, like any publication, photographers want more and bigger pictures run while editors are always worried about space. No difference here. I mutter and spit when Monahan writes a harsh piece and does not use a picture from my archives to illustrate the topic of his writing.

The first images I sent to him was this triptych of former State Senator and twice Democratic US Congressional candidate and now lobbyist Richard Romero. Monahan and I were discussing working together at a sidewalk café near Romero’s office in the spring of 2006. As he walked by Monahan asked Romero, what advice he would offer Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who was the Democratic candidate running against Rep. Heather Wilson. Romero’s advice was to hit Wilson early and hard and not let up, because it is exactly what she would do and if Wilson’s opponent had to back up she controlled the debate. Romero didn’t say he didn’t want his picture taken, but he playfully held up his notebook to block my view. It was to be my first “Mutter-mutter, spit-spit moment with Monahan, as he did not include the prophetic comment or run the photographs.

Romero knew Wilson well, as she had shown in her first 2006 TV ad and she comes out negative, asking why has her primary Senate opponent, Rep. Steve Pearce gone negative? Pearce had at least run an introduction ad before he went after her.

So for over two years we have been brining political junkies a unique view of what Monahan calls, La Politica.

This week and next are simply a clutch as the Democrats and Republicans hold their respective conventions. After Labor Day, the politics will take a step up. The press pool has already been crowded in the Presidential race. Yet, I suspect that because there is an unprecedented amount of money in the process the coverage and advertising will even be more intense.

“Monahan writes rumors,” said State Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colón, above, during the vote count of the February caucus, “so why do we always read him first?”

It’s not all rumors; oft times it’s a unique viewpoint that is brought forward or a trial balloon that some political operative wishes to test. He uses a journalistic style, but is a blogger. He doesn't attend too many political events, but through his sources he has incredible details to relate.

Monahan’s take: enlightens many, confuses some, and angers others. He is accused by the full political spectrum of being favorable towards various camps’ opponents when he discloses some embarrassing fact. I know some conservative bloggers who laid the term “Dem blogger” on him while some progressives say he a Republican attack dog.

However, I can assure you that the best test of the accuracy of Monahan’s point of view is when both sides seem equally displeased, or more accurately “pissed off” with him.

I’m going to stick around as Monahan and I have some plans of our own to take his blog to another dimension.

So, stand by for Joe.

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