Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

8-3 CD 2 Race Already in General Election Mode

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The 2010 general election contest between Rep. Harry Teague and former Rep. Steve Pearce in the 2nd Congressional District has been at full steam for a month.
Forget about the primaries 10 months from now. It is highly unlikely either man will draw opposition. They're going directly to the general election 16 months away. Rep.
Teague was in office only six months when his next campaign started. Teague was busy during those six months, knowing he had to compile as strong a record as possible. Southern district Republicans weren't about to allow a Democrat to take that seat from them permanently.
On June 26, Teague voted for the climate/energy/cap and trade bill. He had received passes from the House Democratic leadership to vote against other party-sponsored bills but this one was shaping up to be a close one and his vote was needed.
But Harry wasn't left hanging out there. He was allowed to negotiate amendments to the bill helping small oil refineries and electric cooperatives. The final vote on the bill was 219-212.
Those amendments, however, did nothing to stop a GOP charge. The following day, the National Republican Congressional Committee began preparing robocalls and radio ads charging Teague had just voted for a massive national energy tax.
A few days later, Pearce announced his decision to challenge Teague rather than run for governor. The announcement was three weeks earlier than Pearce had promised a decision. In the announcement, Pearce said Teague's vote on the cap and trade bill was the deciding factor.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a release saying Pearce was not getting into the 2nd Congressional District race because Teague had voted wrong on a bill. He was getting in because of polling data showing he didn't stand a chance running for governor.
The DCCC further charged that Pearce's reckless fiscal leadership helped the nation's economic collapse. His rhetoric about fighting for New Mexico families doesn't match with reality. His record is dripping with the kind of hypocrisy that New Mexicans rejected in the last election.
This all happened during a week's period in late June and early July. Obviously the race to the November 2010 general election is on. Don't expect to see contested primary elections along the way. The big boys have been chosen and the fight is on.
And also note that the national congressional campaign committees of both parties immediately jumped into this battle, indicating they know who the titans are in this battle and they already are prepared to start fighting the battle.
Pearce charges that Teague's vote for the "cap and trade" bill will directly jeopardize our economy, threaten future generations, kill jobs, devastate jobs and cripple the American economy. The bill will hit families with as much as $1,500 in higher energy costs.
Teague counters that the Congressional Budget Office ha estimated the bill will cost families $175 a year - about the cost of a postage stamp a day.
Teague also notes that had he not been a member of the Democratic majority in the House, he would not have been able to add on the two amendments helpful to New Mexico refineries and electric cooperatives and the bill would have passed anyway, without those amendments.
That means, in Teague's reasoning that he's the candidate to support at the voting booth and he's the guy for special interests to work with because being a member of the majority party, he'll continue to be the one in a position to make deals for constituents.
So Teague starts off with the appreciation, and maybe even support, of New Mexico's small refineries and rural electric cooperatives. But he has a huge battle ahead of him. Pearce has many contacts from the three terms he spent in the House. And the southeast New Mexico oil fields are traditionally more comfortable with a Republican.

MON, 8-03-09

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



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