New Mexico Congressional Primaries Finalized

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The New Mexico Sec. of State has announced the final ballot for the June congressional primary elections. It doesn’t look like there are any surprises: everybody who prequalified at the party nominating conventions is aready on the ballot. However, I guess everybody else running for the three seats being vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce, Rep. Heather Wilson, and Rep. Tom Udall will appear on the ballot as well.

That Heath Haussamen guy also get a mention in the CQ piece:

Although the petitioning candidates will now be on the ballot, their chances of winning appear to be slim. No candidate who failed to qualify in the pre-primary convention has ever won their party’s primary, said New Mexico political analyst Heath Haussamen: “I think candidates have a hard time arguing they’re credible if they don’t get 20 percent in the pre-primary convention.”

Like I said, no big surprises, but at least everything is finalized now. I’ll keep you posted on any crazy developments, and be sure to keep an eye on the fundraising numbers over on the sidebar.

MapLight fundraising updates

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It looks like MapLight has finally added a slew of candidates from New Mexico to their database. I’ve got four MapLight widgets on the sidebar, broken down by the Senate race and congressional district, and you can see that Rep. Heather Wilson is beating both Rep. Tom Udall and Rep. Steve Pearce in the money game:

However, while Wilson and Pearce are spending cash fighting for the Republican nomination, Udall can relax a bit and save his dough for the general election.

Meanwhile, Martin Heinrich, Harry Teague and Don Wiviott are leading in fundraising for the first, second, and third congressional districts, respectfully.

The widgets will remain there on the right throughout the 2008 election cycle, so you can always check to see how much money the candidates have raised.

Fundraising push for True Blue New Mexico

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Today, the GOP heavy hitters are fundraising to improve their chances in New Mexico: Dick Cheney is holding a D.C. event for Rep. Steve Pearce (similar to one he already headlined for Rep. Heather Wilson) and Karl Rove will be in Artesia helping raise cash for the state Republican Party.

As regular readers know, this year is a rare situation: four of New Mexico’s five Congressional seats are open, while the fifth is held by Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman. The seat being vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici is a likely pick-up opportunity with Rep. Tom Udall leading the charge, and Martin Heinrich and Bill McCamley have excellent chances in the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts, respectively. In addition, a good crop of candidates is in the field for the probably Democratic-safe 3rd Congressional District.

Some cohorts in the netroots, NewMexico FBIHOP and Democracy for New Mexico, have organized an ActBlue page to help counter the GOP fundraising efforts. Today is the kickoff for True Blue New Mexico. You can help by giving some cash to some great progressive candidates. Early money is more important than cash that comes late in the campaign, and every dollar you give now will help blunt the thousands of dollars that Rove and Cheney hope to raise today.

US Attorney scandal continues to make headlines

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As this article in The Hill makes clear, the firing of nine US attorneys in 2006-07 has disappeared from the front pages since Alberto Gonzales resigned as US Attorney General last year. The article asserts that investigations into the firings will bring a renewed focus on the scandal, and, of course, New Mexico plays front-and-center:

Iglesias’s case is in the crosshairs of all three investigations. Testifying before Congress, he alleged last year that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) pressured him to accelerate an investigation of a Democratic politician in New Mexico ahead of Wilson’s tight reelection bid. Iglesias said he did not plan to bring charges before the November elections, and was fired in December 2006. The administration says it was not satisfied with his pursuit of voter-fraud cases.

Public records show that the Senate ethics committee spent nearly $5,000 to send three staff members to Albuquerque in March and July last year.

I’m sure Rep. Steve Pearce welcomes the news.

The Sure Thing

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I think Jim is right: a month ago, the New Mexico GOP was assured they would have at least one representative in Congress, if not three, following the next election. Now, with Sen. Pete Domenici retiring and Rep. Steve Pearce and Rep. Heather Wilson scrambling to replace him, they don’t have a single incumbent running for office.

My early morning reasoning thinks it would have been easier for Dems to grab Wilson’s seat with her still in it: she’s had to fight more and more to appear independent of Bush, but the Iraq War is still one heckuva monkey on her back.

However, I welcome the idea of an open seat in Pearce’s southern district. I think Dem chances are good throughout the country this year, but it would have taken some mean mojo to upset Pearce in the district. This is a great opportunity for the Democratic party now, especially if the DCCC puts some focus on the area.

Of course, Pearce’s strength in his district is also one in a primary battle with Wilson, and conservative voters in New Mexico will find him a much easier sell. Whether he can take a strong Democrat in a statewide race remains to be seen. New Mexico has been pretty purple during the past two presidential elections, and Pete’s recent polling (remember that 41% approval rating?) indicates that New Mexicans may be tired of politics as usual in Washington. And if the Iraq War is a monkey on Wilson’s back, then George Bush is the one clinging to Pearce. So, the die-hard Republicans might come out of the primary with the candidate they want, only to find out next November that the rest of the state isn’t ready to play along.

Looking forward, I think that Pearce’s camp is going to have to do a much better job of defending the Congressman from allegations of ethics violations than it did last month (you can read more about that at Heath’s place). Wilson, too, was called out by CREW, and it looks like the only thing keeping New Mexico’s Republican House delegation from being investigated is the House Ethics Committee’s truce.

That’s all for now, I’m off to fight a traffic ticket (apparently, turning left during the morning commute is frowned upon in certain areas of the D.C. Metropolitan area).

Quote of the Day

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Since Karen asked, I guess I should comment a bit more thoroughly on what Pete Domenici’s retirement means for the 2008 Senate race in New Mexico. Overheard in Arlington last night:

I think Democrats have a good chance to pick up some seats everywhere, not just in New Mexico.

I think that sums up the situation pretty well.

There’s no way Heather Wilson wins, regardless of who the Dems choose. She had a rough battle against Madrid last year (barely scraping out a win), and the war in Iraq is an even bigger stone around her neck. If she has to compete against Tom Udall (or, in her worst nightmares, Bill Richardson) there’s no way she can distance herself enough from Bush.

Steve Pearce has an even bigger problem: he’s never tried to distance himself from Bush or the Iraq War, and he’s toed the right-wing line in every House vote (see S-CHIP). That might play well for voters in his district, but he’ll be a hard sell in a statewide race.

To be perfectly honest, I’d love nothing more than to see Pearce and Wilson duke it out in a primary battle. But my ideal scenario would see the DCCC shifting the resources they’ve dedicated to defeating Wilson toward supplanting Pearce. It seems unimaginable that the Dems can’t find somebody (and by somebody, I mean there are already some great names being thrown around) to run for Wilson’s seat, and the same is true for Udall’s seat should he enter the race (Democracy for New Mexico says that’s not going to happen). Wilson is more vulnerable now than she has ever been, and Udall’s seat is a secure one for the Democrats.

Those of us living in the south have long felt that Pearce could be vulnerable. The unfortunate media situation (Heath is always talking about this) that feeds Las Cruces residents and others in the southeast news from west Texas rather than New Mexico has always been an obstacle, but it’s one that could be overcome.

Of course, Domenici’s departure from the Senate will have some tangible impacts on New Mexicans. We’ll lose his seniority on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he and Jeff Bingaman have traded the chairmanship for years (depending on which party controlled the Senate, of course).