Election Coverage tomorrow night

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Tomorrow night I’ll once again host live election coverage on Community Access Television of Silver City.

The show will being at 7:15 p.m., and Grant County Clerk Howie Morales tells me we’ll have most of the results by 7:30. He’s sponsoring the show, because he knows how important it is to get this information out to Grant County’s voters.

We’re going to be watching the battle for Grant County sheriff closely — incumbent Raul Holguin is facing an incredible challenge from James Koons, a local businessman and former Deming and Silver City police officer. Koons has poured a lot of money into this race, and recent ads have appeared in the Daily Press that indicate bankruptcy filings by both candidates in recent years.

When it all shakes out, we may be wondering if Holguin campaigned effectively. Not one to toot his own horn, “Bully” never came out with a clear history of his time in office, or an accounting of his accomplishments.

We’ll also be covering the Public Regulation Commission race, featuring Dem. Sandy Jones and Republican C. Earl Greer. If the talk around town is to be believed, Jones burned a few bridges in Grant County (and possibly the rest of District 5) by going negative against E. Shirley Baca in the June primary.

In addition to the races here in the southwest part of the state, I’ll keep you updated on what’s happening throughout New Mexico, and the rest of the country for that matter. There are a few close races playing out in the Land of Enchantment, including the much-talked-about congressional contest between Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid. The latest polling out of Albuquerque shows Madrid pulling ahead, increasing her lead to five points.

Another tight race is that for land commissioner. While former ABQ mayor and BLM manager Jim Baca once led in the polls, numbers released by the Albuquerque Journal yesterday show incumbent Patrick Lyons up by eight.

Of course, be sure to keep an eye on your blog here tomorrow! Throughout the day I’ll have photos from around the county, turnout figures from select polling places, and updates on what’s happening with the overall scene.

Bill Richardson campaigns in Silver City

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Bill Richardson in Silver City
Gov. Bill Richardson stopped by Penny Park this afternoon for a campaign rally with local Democratic candidates and area supporters.

Richardson urged support for the Democratic ticket, including Jeff Bingaman, James Lewis, Mary Herrera and Hector Balderas. He also highlighted Gary King, Jim Baca and Sandy Jones as candidates in tight, important races.

He then spoke about his goals for a second term as governor. Richardson said three priorities will be a statewide minimum wage increase, a push for greater energy independence and a focus on water issues. Speaking of water, here’s Richardson speaking with Allyson Siwik, executive director of the Gila Resources Information Project:

BIll Richardson and Allyson Siwik

The Guv. was stopping in six counties this afternoon, and said he was heading to Catron County next. For more, be sure to check out tomorrow’s Silver City Daily Press.

Haussamen: Pearce campaigning with taxpayers’ money

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U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has violated the spirit of a federal rule prohibiting mass mailings with public money to constituents in the 90 days before an election.

In doing so, he’s used taxpayer dollars to campaign for re-election.

Pearce’s congressional office recently sent out more than 4,800 letters to constituents about the “scourge” of methamphetamine use, according to the Albuquerque Journal. The letters touted Pearce’s own efforts to deal with the problem.

So, what’s the problem? Read on:

A federal rule prohibits House members from sending out mass mailings of 500 pieces or more in the 90 days before an election. The intent is obviously to keep House members from abusing taxpayer money.

Pearce found a loophole, and he disregarded the intent of the law.

Pearce actually sent 11 different letters, not one, and mailed them out in batches of fewer than 500, his communications director, David Host, told the Journal. The 11 letters were identical through the first five paragraphs. The final paragraph differed from town to town to reflect the date and time Pearce would appear there.

So, Host told the Journal, he sent, for example, 478 letters to Alamogordo, 480 to Silver City and 485 to Artesia. According to the Journal, Republican and Democratic members of the Committee on House Administration, which includes the Franking Commission that oversees this sort of thing, told the Journal that Pearce appears to have complied with the rule.

That’s bad enough, but according to the NY Times Election Guide, Pearce raised $1,338,879 for this race, and has $624,328 cash on hand. Why does a sitting U.S. congressman — who’s leading in the polls and has more than half-a-million dollars in the bank — need to use taxpayer money for campaign purposes?

What Will Wilson Do?

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Pay attention to the debate tonight between Patricia Madrid and Heather Wilson, especially to any questions that come up about Iraq. She may try to advocate a “new” position on the war, because the White House has given embattled Republican incumbents political cover:

But the White House is cutting and running from “stay the course.” A phrase meant to connote steely resolve instead has become a symbol for being out of touch and rigid in the face of a war that seems to grow worse by the week, Republican strategists say. Democrats have now turned “stay the course” into an attack line in campaign commercials, and the Bush team is busy explaining that “stay the course” does not actually mean stay the course.


Bush used “stay the course” until recent weeks when it became clear that it was becoming a political problem. “The characterization of, you know, ‘it’s stay the course’ is about a quarter right,” Bush complained at an Oct. 11 news conference. ” ‘Stay the course’ means keep doing what you’re doing. My attitude is: Don’t do what you’re doing if it’s not working — change. ‘Stay the course’ also means don’t leave before the job is done.”

By last week, it was no longer a quarter right. “Listen, we’ve never been stay the course, George,” he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. “We have been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting the tactics. Constantly.”

Think Progress has a list of instances when Bush & Co. used the phrase since the beginning of the war. Meanwhile, they’re starting to say “timeline” and “timetable,” which, until recently, was language reserved by us leftist defeatocrats. But, as with all things in the Republican machine, political calculation trumps all:

Republican strategists were glad to see him reject the language, if not the policy. “They’re acknowledging that it’s not sending the message they want to send,” said Steve Hinkson, political director at Luntz Research Cos., a GOP public opinion firm. The phrase suggested “burying your head in the sand,” Hinkson said, adding that it was no longer useful signaling determination. “The problem is that as the number of people who agree with remaining resolute dwindles, that sort of language doesn’t strike a chord as much as it once did.”

And where does that leave Heather Wilson? Well, as the NY Times revealed in its story about Bernalillo and Placitas, Iraq is the No. 1 issue on voters’ minds. With the race up north swinging in Madrid’s direction, and Iraq an increasingly unpopular war, Wilson may be looking to distance herself from it, like other Republican candidates:

So now even some Republican candidates are changing direction, at least in terms of their language. “We can’t continue to keep doing the same things and expect different results,” [Sen. George] Allen said last week. “We must adapt. We must adjust our tactics.” [Bob] Corker now says on his campaign Web site: “We need to fix our strategy in Iraq so we can get the job done and bring our troops home.”

Incidentally, you can submit questions to KOB-TV for tonight’s Madrid-Wilson debate. It begins at 7 p.m. (I’ll be at a city council meeting, d’oh!) and will be uninterrupted by commercials.

UPDATE 11:31: Looks like New Mexico FBIHOP will be liveblogging the debate. Tune in and watch, and check out LP’s up-to-the-minute analysis.

NY Times: In New Mexico, 2006 is a referendum on Iraq and power

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Via Headwaters News comes this NY Times piece on Bernalillo and Placitas, and voters living in the northern New Mexico communities:

In interviews with nearly two dozen people in Bernalillo, a small, mostly Hispanic town on Route 66, and its neighbor, Placitas, which is more affluent and increasingly more Republican, voters expressed their concerns about the state of the nation. Asked what issues will sway their votes in the House race here, almost everyone interviewed said, “The war and …” (fill in the blank).

For some Republicans here, this one-two punch — the war and the federal deficit, the war and corruption, the war and the House page scandal — is enough to catapult some to the other side. Or at least to get them thinking of voting for the other party, something few of them imagined two years ago, they said.

This is interesting news coming into the stretch. The story has other tidbits, including Republicans who plan on sticking with the party and Democrats reluctantly voting the party ticket. Still, this isn’t good for Republicans:

As Bert Miller, a retired chemical engineer, hauled groceries to his car, he said that he would still vote Republican even though he had soured on the party.

Mr. Miller, 67, a fiscal conservative who moved here with his wife in 1998, said he was concerned about the war. But he is no less concerned about Republican spending gone amok.

“Republicans have been a disappointment,” Mr. Miller said. “This president hasn’t vetoed anything except one bill, on a social issue, stem cell research.”

Mr. Miller said he yearned for old-fashioned Republican principles: tighter budgets and smaller government. “Things have gotten crazy,” he said. “Let’s get to work on the deficit and not same-sex marriage.”

With all the negative campaigning, that type of mindset is going to keep a lot of voters home on election day.

A Republican newcomer to the area, Stan Nivault, 52, a married contractor and father of four from Austin, Tex., said he had never voted for a Democrat. But this year, Mr. Nivault, who calls himself a staunch Catholic, said he actually might, mostly because of the revelation that former Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, had sent explicit electronic messages to underage male Congressional pages.

“It’s a bad thing,” Mr. Nivault said. “I’m upset that the guy was there to begin with and that Republicans did not handle it correctly. Democrats have made a big issue of it, but they have a right to.”

“Normally I vote straight Republican, but this year I may not vote that way because I’m a little upset,” Mr. Nivault said. “Every time you open the paper or listen to television, it gets worse and worse.”

New Mexico FBIHOP had a post about this election swinging toward national issues last week. And it comes back to something I’ve heard a lot of recently: people wanting to vote Democrat just to put them in charge of Congress. To a large degree, the election in the 1st District is not about Heather Wilson or Patricia Madrid.