Inside the Capitol

Thursday, January 31, 2008

2-4 NM Dems Attract Last-Minute Heavyweights

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- New Mexico Democrats have ended up doing fairly well attracting candidates and celebrities to the state prior to our presidential primary.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy all showing up in the past few days ain't bad.
How did little New Mexico with its 26 delegates manage that? Part of the secret was that local supporters of both candidates were immediately on the phone after Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew telling campaign staff that if their candidate personally visited the state, they could win it.
Also having an effect was a possible endorsement by Gov. Bill Richardson. Paying a personal visit to the state couldn't hurt those chances.
Richardson had said he might or he might not make an endorsement before the Feb. 5 New Mexico Democratic primary. "It's going to be a gut feeling and not based on statistics or past ties," he has been quoted as saying.
Part of that gut feeling likely involves the effect his endorsement might have on future employment opportunities in Washington. Some sort of assurance from either candidate could produce a significant effect on his gut.
Since all the four-corners states, plus California are holding Super Tuesday Democratic primaries, visits to New Mexico are not out of anyone's way.
With Richardson's exit from the race, he doesn't have the interest in the turnout to New Mexico's caucuses that he had four years ago or one month ago. Turnout this year may be only about a quarter of the 102,000 tallied in 2004.
The possibilities of getting on a ticket as a vice-presidential candidate don't appear strong for Richardson. Both Clinton and Obama likely will feel the need for a white, Southern male, although John Edwards couldn't deliver a single Southern state for John Kerry four years ago.
Although Obama has taken most of the black vote away from Clinton, he is doing very poorly with Hispanics. Richardson could help solidify those votes, except that his presidential bid never seemed to catch on with Hispanics nationally.
Many fantasies about dream tickets have surfaced recently. Obama recently told comedian Dave Letterman, with a straight face, "Get used to saying Vice President Oprah."
Suggestions of former President Bill Clinton as Hillary's running mate have been made. It sounds ridiculous but the guy will be into everything anyway. Might as well give him a job.
On the Republican side, many pairings are suggested for John McCain. Most recently, Mike Huckabee has been advanced as the Southern influence McCain must have. But isn't any Republican ticket likely to carry the South? McCain needs his help from Huckabee now.
Rudy Giuliani has been suggested for McCain's ticket. Evidently he has good organizations in several large states. But, as with Huckabee, his help is needed now in order to beat Mitt Romney's money and staying power.
For the past month I have been hearing GOP dreams of a McCain- Joe Lieberman ticket. That one would be guaranteed to pick up independents, as well as some Democrats. But would conservatives not even bother to vote?
The Lieberman idea isn't too far fetched. He's now an independent. He supports McCain on the war. And it would get back at the Democrats for all the times they tried to convince McCain to be on their ticket with Kerry in 2004.
Media dreams of a primary season extending all the way to the late summer national party conventions are fading fast. The famous brokered conventions of the past, in which party bosses huddled in back rooms to put together a ticket would again produce the intrigue that talking heads could analyze 24 hours a day.
But Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and John Edwards had to win an early primary to make that happen.
My guess is that the days of brokered conventions are over.
MON, 2-04-08

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



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