Inside the Capitol

Thursday, November 29, 2007

1203 Richardson Again in Ascendancy


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Are the anonymous       U.S. Senate petitions being circulated for Gov. Bill Richardson a dirty trick? He thinks so and has wasted no time disclaiming them.

      Dave Contarino, the Richardson for President campaign manager and Amanda Cooper, the deputy manager, are looking into the matter, as well they should. It's always wise to know what is lurking in the bushes as long as it doesn't detract too much time from the campaign's primary mission.

      There's always the chance it isn't a dirty trick. As the Albuquerque Journal suggests, it could be wishful thinking by a fan hoping the governor will change his mind. And, gosh, it might even be advantageous to the petition gatherer in bargaining for a job.

      Or, as blogger Joe Monahan suggests, it could be a prank by someone with any number of non-hostile motivations.

      But most likely it is a dirty trick similar to many we've seen in campaigns the past 40 years.

      It could have been an effort to discourage Rep. Tom Udall from getting into the Senate race. The anonymous letters and petitions were mailed several days before Udall made his official announcement.

      But most likely it was an effort to weaken Richardson's presidential campaign chances. Casting doubt on his commitment to the presidential race would steer voters in Iowa and New Hampshire away from him.

      Who would most benefit from the dirty trick? John Edwards is the most likely possibility. One poll has Richardson statistically tied with Edwards in New Hampshire. Edwards has 13 percent and Richardson 12 percent, well within the margin of error.

      Richardson and national pundits seem in agreement that he needs third place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire to continue in the race. That analysis puts Edwards in the crosshairs.

      Our governor still is below the radar in national polls but he has been hitting Iowa and New Hampshire hard for almost a year. He was first with television ads in both states and moved into double digits in both states by June.

      But then he began a gentle slide throughout the summer. By October, the pundits were forecasting his demise and citing any number of reasons why.

      That's when Richardson began moving staff out of Nevada, South Carolina and other states into Iowa and New Hampshire. The governor is great at retail politics and that's the game in those two small states. Soon, he will have every hand shaken in both states. And that's where the extra staff help comes in handy.

      Richardson is now climbing back up over 10 percent in Iowa and New Hampshire while the big three are beginning to slip a little as they start attacking each other.

      And the sages are beginning to notice. They now are back to talking about Richardson's strong points, some predicting that Barak Obama will be next in his sights.

      So maybe Obama supporters in New Mexico should receive a little scrutiny from the Richardson camp.

      There still are clouds on the horizon, however. Joe Monahan has a You Tube blooper reel on his Nov. 29 posting that has combined all of Richardson's televised stumbles.

      It won't help. But it may not hurt that much. One poll shows Richardson ranking higher on trust that any other candidate. It may be that people figure he has no secrets because he'll probably blurt out everything he's thinking sooner or later.

      That isn't particularly desirable in a president who is expected to protect our interests with foreign powers. But then Richardson has by far the most stellar record of any candidate in dealing with the enemy. Maybe his style is disarming and despots also figure he's not hiding any secrets.

      Anyway, Richardson is again in ascendancy and doing well in polls ranking candidate characteristics.

   And he's doing well enough that he's becoming a threat to someone.

MON, 12-03-07


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

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



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