Albert Kissling for Congress

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I spoke with Albert Kissling, the retired pastor who’s running against Steve Pearce this year, last night. I’ve given some first impressions to Joe, but I thought I would share them with you here as well.

Mr. Kissling is one articulate dude. When a candidate calls the incumbent duplicitous, you know you’re speaking with a well-versed man. He was also very friendly, and just seized on every opportunity to ask questions and get to know you better. Which, in what he’s preparing to do in the coming months, will serve him well.

As far as his campaign, Kissling said he’s got tons of signatures to get on the ballot. I think he’s lagging a bit as far as fundraising is concerned, and though it’s still early, he’ll want to get cracking on that right away. With Steve Pearce able to regularly raise goodly sums of cash, Kissling is already one step behind.

Regarding Pearce, it seems like Kissling will attempt to tar the Congressman with the Jack Abramoff brush. He told me that, with Pearce, “You have to look at his votes, not at his quotes.” He mentioned veterans specifically, saying Pearce had pledged to support vets before he voted to cut funding for them. Kissling also said it was immoral to pass tax cuts for the rich while cutting programs for the poor.

I don’t have any hard numbers, because I haven’t seen any poll on the race yet (if one has, in fact, been done), so I am anxious to see just where Kissling stands with residents in Southern New Mexico. However, after speaking with him, I think he’ll be on good ground in three areas: affordable housing, education, and crime reduction. Those are three issues he’s focused on in the past, in New Mexico and elsewhere. He’ll likely get a lot of support from the affordable housing/sustainable development crowd here in Grant County.

I didn’t ask about his thoughts on immigration, an issue that Pearce will likely trumpet during his campaign. Something to follow up on today.

That’s it for now. First impression: he’ll make a good candidate, if he can raise the money to make the race competitive. He’ll be hard to smear, being a retired pastor, and House Republicans across the country will be on the defensive for their Abramoff connections. Pearce also has close ties to Rep. Pombo, the guy from California who proposed selling off all that national land to mining companies. Still, Rep. Pearce sees a lot of support there in the Southeast part of the state, and in many parts of the Southwest too.

I’ll keep you updated.

Candidates Galore!

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Today is the day to file for candidacy in munipalities in Grant County, and some races are starting to look like they’ll be interesting.

Town Councilor Gary Clauss will face off against Grant County Emergency Manager James Marshall in the contest for Silver City mayor. With Mayor Terry Fortenberry stepping down, for a while it looked like Clauss might have an easy road to City Hall.

But Marshall, while a newcomer to the “elected” political scene, is no lightweight. He knows how to speak with the big boys and girls in Santa Fe, and he’ll likely draw support from the town’s emergency responders and police.

Clauss has his experience on the council going for him, and he’ll find quite a few supporters in the blooming sustainable development community in town. Following a year of high gas prices and harsh criticism when the city and the Southwest Solid Waste Authority stopped recycling glass and plastic, Clauss may have found a message.

In Hurley, mayor David Diaz is stepping down, and so far two residents with considerable experience on that town’s council are vying for the seat. Ray Baca and Manuel Martinez are going after the mayor position. Look for the recent water cutoff situtation to play a role in this one.

I received word last night that Silver City Town Councilor Steve May will not be unopposed in his reelection bid. WNMU senior Serena Murillo has announced her candidacy for May’s seat. Murillo has an uphill battle against May, who has plenty of experience in city government (as one-time mayor and frequent city councilor). If she can turn out the other WNMU students living in that district, and get those discontents to vote against May, she’s got a shot. Turnout will likely be the deciding factor in this race.

Finally, as several people have pointed out, Steve Pearce does have oppostion heading into November. For more on his opponent, Al Kissling, of Las Cruces, check the NM-02 District Blog.

We’ll know more tomorrow and in the coming days, as city clerks give us the goods on who filed for candidacy in their municipalities.

Back Again

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Well, I’ve said it often enough (see the archives), but with the coming elections I think I ought to start blogging again. So much is going on right now that I feel I have to get involved. Since I was called a ‘political junkie‘ by Joe Monahan, I figured I should get with it already. Also, I don’t know how well our part of the state is served as far as blogging is concerned.

I’m not sure how to bring this up with the boss, so I’m going along with the premise that I have been doing this since before I started the job. Actually, that isn’t so much a premise as it is the truth. Still, I worry about what our publisher will say; especially since I don’t think I’m going to be restricting my opinion all that much. However, it seems to me that any Daily Press readers who find their way here will likely appreciate knowing my personal leanings on things, since I plan on staying as objective as possible while writing for the paper. If my publisher has any problems, well, I’ll deal with them later.

So, anyhoo, what is going on? For starters, the folk over at Daily Kos have started a drive to get Sen. Bingaman’s amendment for habeas corpus at Guantanamo Bay. So, do as they say: call your senator.

In other news, two challengers to the Silver City native (Bingaman, that is) recently made campaign stops in Silver City. I’ll get some linkage for my profiles of their visits as soon as I get a chance (I might have to post the stories here). They are definitely different brands of Republicanism. The one, Allen McCulloch, is an engineer-turned-doctor from the Farmington area.

McCulloch’s primary focus seemed to be on education — at least that’s what I gathered from his 30-minute discussion with area Republican supporters. He shocked me by saying he’d agree that “we’re spending billions educating the uneducable.” But, he’s a smart and capable guy, so I think we’ll overlook the rookie moves for now.

His presentation was tailored to rural, southwest New Mexico, and he touched on quite a few things that are important to voters down here: health care, mining, education. He was quick on his feet, providing thoughtful yet concise answers to questions from the audience, and very rarely did he stray from a safe, general message of improved economic, social, and educational opportunity.

David Pfeffer, on the other hand, came off as a more passionate kind of Republican — passionate at least about securing the U.S.-Mexico border, prosecuting the War on Terror, and returning to what he calls “civil discourse.” What struck me as completely strange was how willing he was to disregard that type of discourse. He said Democrats are in “full revolution mode” and wondered when “Christian” became a bad word.

Now, the funniest thing occurred during the Pfeffer meeting. The area Republicans were discussing their young star, Abe Villarael, who is currently editor of The Mustang. The talk turned to the Mustang’s previous editor, his lack of grammar-skills, and in general the poor shape of the newspaper before Villarael took the job.

Of course, that was me they were talking about.

I stuck around for a few more minutes, but I had met with Pfeffer earlier in the day and therefore figured I had enough to write a complete report. After politely excusing myself I headed home.

Regardless of my own personal feelings about the meeting (did they know they were bashing me?), Pfeffer is going to appeal to a different type of person than McCulloch. For somebody who was a Democrat until a year or two ago (note to self: check on that) he seems like a fire-branding neo-conservative.

“The war in Iraq is absolutely the right thing to do,” he said. “Like President Bush said after 9-11: you’re either with us or against us.”

Long story short (you still reading?) I don’t think either of these guys has a shot against Bingaman — he’s untouchable in this state. His approval is up over 60%, and, like Domenici, he’ll probably win until he stops running for office.

Alrighty, plenty late, so I’m outta here. I’ll be back soon — I promise.