Inside the Capitol

Saturday, November 17, 2007

11-23 Does Bill Still Have a Chance?


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Does Bill Richardson still have a chance to become President Richardson? Well, as they say, "Hope springs eternalÂ…" There are some hopeful signs but they aren't sparkling very brightly.

      Howard Dean still was out in front at this time four years ago when his campaign went into a screaming flame out. John Kerry suddenly emerged from the middle of the pack to win Iowa and become the overwhelming favorite.

      After dropping back from his early summer surge, Richardson is again moving into double digits in Iowa polls as Sen. Hillary Clinton slips amid mounting criticism from her closest rivals.

      Sen. Barak Obama and former Sen. John Edwards also are having their problems. Obama's decision not to always put his hand over his heart when the national anthem is played completely baffles me.

   As I understand, protocol doesn't require it, but when your father is Muslim and your middle name is Hussein, I don't care how patriotic you are, you don't give detractors the opportunity to question your loyalty.

   Another encouraging sign for underdogs is the emergence of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee from the Republican pack in Iowa. Rev. Huckabee should be the favorite of Christian conservatives throughout the country but has been ignored up to now because they don't see him winning.

   Richardson hasn't been short of ideas to move his campaign along. His Mi Familia organization, targeting Hispanic families seems like an especially good way to tap into a system that can multiply his effort.

   And getting himself nominated again for a Nobel Peace Prize further emphasizes his reputation as a diplomat. But somehow none of his efforts have caught him on fire yet.

   One recent good sign for his campaign is Rep. Tom Udall's announced intention to run for the Senate seat that many of us felt Richardson would decide to seek.

   Udall's entry into that race makes Richardson's intent to stay out of it as definite as I can imagine. Amanda Cooper, Richardson's assistant presidential campaign manager, is Tom Udall's daughter.

   Cooper has managed past campaigns for both Richardson and Udall. And now Udall has put out the word that applicants for staff jobs with his campaign should apply to Cooper.  You can't get much more tie-in than that.

   Maybe with the state gearing up for four congressional campaigns there aren't enough people for all the skill positions and we're going to see some doubling up.

What we do know is that the intensity we saw last year in the 1st

Congressional District battle between Rep. Heather Wilson and Attorney General Patricia Madrid can be multiplied by at least four.

   That's probably a low estimate because U.S. Senate campaigns involve much higher stakes than House races.  There won't be enough television time in a 24-hour day to run all the negative political ads the candidates will want to buy.

   People in my business are salivating at the thought of New Mexico becoming the center of the political universe for the next year. But if I were you, I would first investigate the possibility of investing any loose change in a local TV station and then never watching one of those stations for the next year. Stock up on DVDs and plan to see every movie ever made.

   I mentioned during last year's nasty 1st Congressional District fracas that half-hour interviews of Heather Wilson and Patricia Madrid conducted by KOB-TV anchor Carla Aragon convinced me that Aragon was the only one of the three for whom I would want to vote.

   That comment got a fair amount of play around the Albuquerque area. Aragon, of course, did not jump into the race. But now she has announced her retirement from the news business and I'm wondering about the timing of that announcement.

   Do you suppose Carla might have something else in mind? After all, KKOB's Larry Ahrens went that route a few years ago.

FRI, 11-23-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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