Inside the Capitol

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dems Might Take All Statewide Races

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Democrat candidates have a good shot at taking all the statewide races on the ballot.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Gov. Bill Richardson, who head the ticket, appear on their way to at least 60-40 routs of their challengers. Couple that with the tendency of Democrats to continue straight down the ballot through the little-known candidates for minor state offices and we have the possibility that Democrats will run the table.
The down-ballot race getting the most publicity currently is the contest for state treasurer between Democrat James Lewis and Republican Demesia Padilla.
One might expect that race to receive significant ink because of scandals involving the previous two Democrat treasurers. It presents Republicans with the perfect opportunity to vow to get in there and clean up the mess left by Democrats.
The GOP is making some effort along those lines but it has been drowned out by a misguided attempt to tie Lewis to Gov. Richardson. A mailer showing Richardson as a puppeteer maneuvering strings tied to Lewis, who is Black, has punched all the expected hot buttons.
Lewis says it reminds him of someone being lynched. Black community leaders are crying "Jim Crow" and demanding an apology or else they won't vote for Padilla.
Not voting for Padilla isn't much of a threat, considering the loyalty of Blacks to the Democratic Party. But Black ministers say they are organizing other Black churches throughout the state to turn out members of their congregations who don't normally vote.
The real harm done here is that it requires Padilla to go on the defensive and assert that she isn't a racist. From all accounts, Padilla is not a racist. In fact, a racist might have been less likely to approve the cartoon for fear of revealing her true self.
The state GOP came to Padilla's defense, contending that accusing a Hispanic woman of being a racist is ridiculous. Actually, it isn't so ridiculous. White males do not have the corner on racism.
And while the GOP was defending Hispanic females, someone reportedly went after another one, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, a few days later, depicting her as a puppet on the strings of House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi. That cartoon would seem to carry the double message that America is in danger of having its first female speaker of the House.
Lewis could have done better in his response to the cartoon. He could have let others make the racist charges while noting that during the six years he served as treasurer in the 1980s, he proved himself to be independent and above reproach.
The puppet charge is mainly the result of Richardson contributing $10,000 to Lewis' campaign. That was the lowest amount Richardson contributed to any of the Democrat statewide candidates.
The closest statewide race is the one between Republican Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons and his Democrat opponent, former Land Commissioner Jim Baca. Lyons has a big lead in fundraising. Richardson has contributed $40,000 to Baca, who in the most recent poll had a four-point lead with a margin of error almost the same size.
The state auditor race seems as though it should be another major GOP target after Democrats dumped their primary election winner. But instead, the money and assistance seems to be going to secretary of state candidate Vickie Perea, whom polls show trailing Democrat Mary Herrera by a good margin, and to attorney general candidate Jim Bibb, who trails Democrat Gary King by an even wider margin.
Oct. 10 campaign reports indicate Gov. Richardson contributed $25,000 to attorney general candidate Gary King, land commissioner candidate Jim Baca and auditor candidate Hector Balderas.
The only Democrat not listed as receiving money was secretary of state candidate Mary Herrera. The two clashed last spring over Richardson's successful effort to return the state to paper ballots. Herrera has since changed her position. Richardson hosted a major fundraiser for her on Oct. 13.
MON, 10-23-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



Post a Comment

<< Home