Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

8-14 Waiting for Heather

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- How long can former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson wait before jumping into the Republican gubernatorial race? Unfortunately for other hopefuls, the answer is quite awhile.
Eight years ago, former Rep. Bill Richardson waited until the end of the year to announce his candidacy. It was Richardson's first statewide race. Wilson already has a statewide GOP primary contest under her belt already.
Wilson lost that race to former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who pounded her for not being conservative enough. That would not be a problem if she were make next year's general election. And Wilson already has a statewide system of contacts from last year's U.S. Senate race.
When Richardson played coy about running in 2001, Diane Denish, Martin Chavez, Patricia Madrid and Gloria Tristani diverted to other races. Gary King got in the contest early and worked it hard. Ray Powell, Jr. entered during the fall
By the time the June 2002 primary rolled around, Richardson was the only Democrat left on the ballot. There were some hard feelings about his strong arm tactics.
Wilson likely can't wait as long as Richardson. He had increased his name recognition through being United Nations ambassador and Energy secretary. But Wilson has managed to stay in the news through some globe-hopping gigs. She's not quite rescuing hostages, but then neither is Richardson right now.
If the GOP governor's race holds true to form, the candidates already in the contest will have difficulty raising money while the big donors await Wilson's decision.
The GOP hopeful in the best position right now is former state party chairman Allen Weh, who stepped down from his party post to run for governor. During his four years, Weh was in contact with every county and all the big party donors. He has augmented that with visits to almost every county in the state during the past few months.
Lest you forget, Diane Denish was state Democratic Party chair eight years ago before resigning in order to run. And this year's Democratic chair Brian Colon has just stepped aside to explore a run for lieutenant governor. It's not a bad steppingstone toward securing at least a party nomination.
Other GOP possibilities are Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque, Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez of Las Cruces, former Gary Johnson campaign manager Doug Turner of Albuquerque and Nathan Krekula, a University of the Southwest assistant professor from Hobbs.
The Republican lieutenant governor race is as dull as the Democratic governor's race. Dr. J.R. Damron of Santa Fe says he's 75 percent sure. Republicans and Democrats alike are still scratching their heads over his withdrawal from the 2002 governor's race after getting the GOP nomination.
The Democratic lieutenant governor race is the one with all the action. We've already mentioned state Democratic Chairman Brian Colon, of Albuquerque,
Another recent addition to the race is Lawrence Rael, executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments. Rael got the Rail Runner off to a great start. He has tons of administrative experience for a job that doesn't require any, unless the governor departs. Rael says he's only 85 percent sure but he's already raising big money.
State Rep. Jose Campos, who also is Santa Rosa mayor, has formally announced. He may pick up some votes because he is not from Albuquerque or Santa Fe. His cousin, Sen. Pete Campos, of Las Vegas, also has talked about a run. Jose's announcement likely means Pete is out.
Also looking at the race is Matthew Padilla a former Navy officer and current law student. Others, we've already mentioned, are Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano, and Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Linda Lopez of Albuquerque.
And there will be more. Have you noticed every one of these names is Hispanic? That won't last.

FRI, 8-14-09

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



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