NM-Sen Roundup: Who’s In, Who’s Out & Who’s Thinkin’ About It

Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s retirement, like Pete Domenici’s two cycles ago, has sent New Mexico’s small political world abuzz, with observers discussing tons of potential candidates on both sides. I’ve been collecting links for the past few days, and as best I can tell, here’s what the current playing field looks like:


Andres Valdez (D), “a longtime anti-police-brutality activist from Albuquerque”

Bill English (R), some nutter who once wrote on his blog that President Obama is “what literally amounts to an African dictator”

Greg Sowards (R), a teabagger who spent several hundred grand of his own money to take in 17% in the NM-02 Republican primary in 2008


Hector Balderas (D), the 37-year-old state Auditor who became the youngest Hispanic statewide elected official in the country in 2006; a source tells Dave Catanese that Balderas, who has scored the “rising star” label, is “95% in”


Janice Arnold-Jones (R), a former state representative, who says she’s “among” those who are interested

Terry Brunner (D), Bingaman’s former state director and current USDA official, who says he will make a decision “in the next few weeks”

Diane Denish (D), the former Lt. Gov. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate, who says she is “fully exploring the contest”

Martin Heinrich (D), the 1st CD Rep., who says he is “actively considering” the race

Tom Mullins (R), the 2010 GOP nominee in NM-03, who says he’s not ruling out a run

Heather Wilson (R), the former 1st CD Rep., who says she is “considering running for the Senate, as well as other opportunities”


Edgar Lopez (D), a wealthy real estate developer who says he is more interested in running for NM-02, depending upong redistricting

Ben Ray Lujan (D), the 3rd CD Rep., who says that his “focus at this time is on representing the people in my district”

Steve Pearce (R), the 2nd CD Rep., who told Politico it was “too soon for him to even consider a race” (their words); Pearce also wants to make sure the party picks a “conservative candidate” (i.e., not Heather Wilson), to avoid a replay of the 2008 GOP primary (where he beat Heather Wilson in a nasty fight but got crushed by Tom Udall in the general)


Gary Johnson (R), the governor before Bill Richardson & current presidential candidate, who is “not at all” interested

Bill Richardson (D), the former governor, who just joined a public relations firm

Susana Martinez (R), the current governor, who through a spokesman says she isn’t interested

Are there any other names you’ve heard about?

SSP Daily Digest: 2/11

AZ-Sen: As the dust settles from Jon Kyl’s retirement, the biggest name on the Dem side may also be the biggest question mark: Rep. Gabby Giffords, who it turns out had been telling her staff that she’d planned to run for Senate in 2012 if an open seat arose, but whose recovery timetable is entirely unclear at this point. Local Dems are saying she has “the right of first refusal,” but it may be a while till we get a decision out of her, so the Dem field is very much up in the air. One other major Dem is publicly expressing his interest, though: Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon, who’s termed-out of his job this year. (The same article also finds former Arizona Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez declining a run; not sure why he was being asked in the first place.) On the GOP side, Gov. Jan Brewer acted quickly to quash any speculation that she might run. However, J.D. Hayworth, last seen getting creamed by John McCain in the 2010 primary, says he’s interested in another run, while another unappetizing leftover, ex-Gov. Fife Symington, says he won’t rule it out (as well as floating the name of former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner). If you want to see all the many potential names in one place, here’s The Hill’s mega-rundown.

FL-Sen: Scratch one more of the state’s myriad GOP House members from the list of possible Senate candidates. FL-16’s sophomore Rep. Tom Rooney says the Senate may be an eventual goal someday, but he’d rather focus on building up his credentials in the House first.

ME-Sen: It seems like his extended period of talking to himself is over, as local tea party leader Andrew Ian Dodge announced (at CPAC, instead of in Maine) that he will in fact challenge Olympia Snowe in the GOP primary. I’m not sure if Snowe is really shaking in her boots, though, if this is the best that the teabaggers can find: Dodge, though able to self-fund, is a bit of an iconoclast (and one might charitably describe his appearance as “scruffy”), and doesn’t really seem to fit in with any of the various subconstituencies within the tea party umbrella. He’s uninterested in social issues (he’s pro-gay and indifferent to abortion) and more of a fiscal hawk, but doesn’t have much common cause with the Paulists either, breaking with them on foreign policy. If he loses social con votes to the other teabagger in the race, little-known Scott D’Amboise, that split basically ensures Snowe another nomination. Further complicating matters, Dodge is allied with Tea Party Patriots, archenemy to the DC-based astroturf-flavored Tea Party Express. For what it’s worth, TPX officially declared that Snowe is one of their top targets for 2012 (um, was there any doubt about that before yesterday?), but there’s no word on who they plan to back in the race, and I can’t imagine it being Doge.

MI-Sen: Former state party chair Saul Anuzis may be getting cold feet about a Senate run all of a sudden, if his new comments are any indication: he said he’d rather see someone else run. One name he dropped as a preferred alternative to himself is (no surprise) ex-Rep. Peter Hoekstra, but another is perhaps the one potential candidate with even less name rec than Anuzis (and also the likeliest person to run, it seems): wealthy businessman Tim Leuliette.

NM-Sen: In case Jeff Bingaman does (contrary to current expectations) resign, don’t look for a Bill Richardson run to succeed him. The ex-Gov. leaves office under a cloud according to PPP, with a 34/55 approval, and 50% saying they’d never vote for him for anything again. Everyone else in New Mexico is pretty popular; Tom Udall is at 56/31 and new Gov. Susana Martinez is at 53/29.

UT-Sen: Looks like Orrin Hatch, who’s in full cozy-up-to-the-tea-party mode this week, can’t count on any help from his new colleague Mike Lee; Lee just confirmed that he’ll remain neutral in any primary that Hatch might face. Hatch, for his part, at CPAC today, just said that he’s sorry for his bailout vote, but that the bailout helped prevent a depression. So… he’s sorry about having helped prevent a depression?!? Let me sit and ponder that one for a bit.

VA-Sen: Here’s some good news: ex-Rep. Glenn Nye says he has “absolutely no interest” and has made “zero calls” about the Senate race on the Dem side. (That contradicts yesterday’s reports that he was calling around; the “absolutely no interest” part may be true though, inasmuch as that’s what he got on the other end of the line.) However, Rep. Gerry Connolly isn’t doing anything to downplay his name; he isn’t ruling it in or out, but is pitching himself as “viable.” (Woooooo! Viable!!! The audacity of viability! We have nothing to fear but inviability itself! Mr. Gorbachev, this wall is not viable!) Connolly blanches at the pricetag though, saying this will likely be a $25 million race.

MT-Gov, MT-Sen: Well, this pretty much makes it clear that Denny Rehberg will have a stroll to the Senate nomination. Military/security-complex businessman Neil Livingstone was one of the two initial non-Rehberg names associated with the GOP side of the Senate race; with Steve Daines now in the House race, Livingstone now has decided to announce for the gubernatorial race instead. He doesn’t face anyone of Rehberg size there, although ex-Rep. Rick Hill is still a pretty imposing obstacle.

WV-Gov: With tomorrow’s filing deadline for the gubernatorial special election fast approaching, it’s worth noting how few people (of the many, many possibles) have actually signed up. All we have so far are Natalie Tennant, Earl Ray Tomblin, Rick Thompson, and a Some Dude candidate (Arne Moltis) on the Dem side, and Clark Barnes on the GOP side. Betty Ireland was planning to file today, though, and there will probably be a rush tomorrow.

NY-26: Kathy Konst isn’t the only Dem who seems to be moving forward with seeking the nomination in the upcoming special election; Erie Co. Clerk Kathleen Hochul is interested, too. (She lives slightly outside the district’s boundaries in Hamburg.) Meanwhile, lots of GOPers took their names out of contention: ex-Rep. Tom Reynolds, Assemblyman Jim Hayes, state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, and state Sen. Joe Robach. (With George Maziarz also apparently a no, that’s pretty much all the GOP state Senators who’d been floated, lessening the likelihood of more 31-31 fun.)

Mayors: There are mayoral polls in both Chicago and Philadelphia, neither one offering a surprise. In the Windy City, Rahm Emanuel finds himself just shy of clearing the runoff hurdle in a poll from Chicago Tribune/WGN; he’s at 49, with 19 for Gery Chico, 10 for Carol Mosely Braun, and 8 for Miguel del Valle. (Last month’s Tribune poll had Emanuel at 44 and CMB at 21.) In the Hey, Up Yours City, incumbent Michael Nutter wins easily despite some ambivalent approvals, according to Franklin & Marshall. His approval is 50/32 (60/24 among whites but only 42/41 among African-Americans, who, despite the fact that he’s African-American himself, tend to be his weakest constituency); despite that, 53% say he doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. Nutter beats Tom Knox 46-28 in a general election matchup (which is odd because Knox isn’t a Republican, although I guess he could become one to avoid another primary loss to Nutter, which is what happened in 2007). Nutter’s only announced opponent so far is former state legislator Milton Street, the brother of ex-mayor John Street; Street has a bit of a liability, though, in that he’s currently on supervised release after spending 20 months in federal prison for tax evasion.

Dark money: The billionaire Koch brothers have, over the last year, suddenly gone from anonymous rich guys who like to fund right-wing think tanks to, with their efforts to move more into funding activism and advertising, public enemies #1 on the dark money front. They’ve set a new target for the 2012 cycle that shows just what we’re up against money-wise: they plan to contribute and raise $88 million for funding micro-targeting efforts as well as ads. It’s not clear whether that would all happen under the aegis of their Americans for Prosperity, or if that money would get spread around the dark money universe, but Politico’s article makes it sound that the secretive Kochs aren’t closely allied with, if not directly in competition with, other groups like American Crossroads.

SSP Daily Digest: 4/21 (Afternoon Edition)

FL-Sen: The big rumor, all over the Interwebs today (courtesy of Southern Political Report/Insider Advantage’s Matt Towery), is that Charlie Crist has fully resolved to run as an independent for Senate. The announcement will be “sooner rather than later,” and he’s drafting the speech for the announcement. There’s no confirmation from anyone else, though. Crist’s camp has denied they’ve been scrubbing all references to “Republican” from Crist’s websites in preparation for the big switch. Meanwhile, GOP establishment support within Florida for Crist seems to be cratering, as current state House speaker Larry Cretul threw his lot in with Rubio today. John McCain also said today that he can’t support Crist’s independent candidacy. (Wow, that’s really going out on a limb there, Mr. Maverick.)

AK-Sen: Lisa Murkowski may be one of the least endangered Senate incumbents out there, with no Democrats of note stepping forward to challenge her. Her GOP primary may turn out to require at least a little effort, though, as a challenger of at least something-of-note has stepped forward: former judge Joe Miller, whose only elective experience is losing a Fairbanks-area state House race. Miller is sounding teabaggy themes about the Constitution and socialism, but has endorsements from three state legislators, all from the socially conservative side of the GOP.

IN-Sen: Hey, big spender! John Hostettler reports raising $37K in the first quarter, spending $27K, and ending with $10K CoH.

NC-Sen: Cal Cunningham’s fundraising haul for Q1 was a weak $345K, leaving him $478K CoH. That’s still more than Elaine Marshall, who has $181K. Pundits are left wondering if the DSCC (who seem to prefer Cunningham) will intervene on Cunningham’s behalf to get him out of the primary, where polls have shown the former state Senator lagging behind Marshall, who as SoS is known statewide.

NV-Sen: Sue Lowden would do well to heed the old expression about finding oneself in a hole and stopping digging. After her disastrous comments about bartering chickens to doctors in exchange for surgeries and MRIs, she was given ample opportunity to back down, but she doubled down yesterday, saying no, she was serious, and now her spokesperson is tripling down today, saying, no, she was still serious, and presenting a quote from one doctor who says that, yes, he does accept payment in alfalfa and bathtub form. Meanwhile, over in the other Senate seat, badly-damaged John Ensign is also on the receiving end of a lot of derision after reporting $50 in receipts in Q1. TPM actually tracked Ensign’s one donor down, who shrugged off Ensign’s problems, saying “All men are dogs.”

UT-Sen: Mitt Romney will be at the Utah Republican convention next month to lend his support to faltering incumbent Bob Bennett. I’m not sure if Romney will be able to vote for Bennett, though, as Utah may not be one of the approximately 14 states in which he has residency.

WA-Sen: Dino Rossi seems content to pad out his waiting game all the way up to Washington’s June 11 filing deadline (seemingly blissfully unaware that he needs to raise a metric ton of money ASAP if he’s going to run). That’s not sitting well with John Cornyn, who’s amping up the public statements telling Rossi to get his ass in gear.

CA-Gov: Meg Whitman’s out with an internal poll via McLaughlin, giving her a 53-22 edge over Steve Poizner in the GOP primary. Some of you may also have noticed a Rasmussen poll out today showing the needle zooming back in Jerry Brown’s direction in the general. I’m very puzzled about this one… why is Rasmussen, of all people, putting up better California results for Dems than the Field Poll? I’m wondering if California is intensely blue enough that Rasmussen’s LV model works in Dems’ favor somehow.

MI-Gov: I suppose it was only a matter of time before someone went after Republican AG Mike Cox over the alleged coverup of a party-gone-very-awry at then-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s place in 2002. The ad (a small buy on Lansing-area radio stations) attacking Cox is from Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, who, if the name sounds familiar, is the handiwork of Rick Reed, auteur of the Swift Boat Vets ads. Fingers are being pointed at primary rival Rick Snyder, but he says he didn’t have anything to do with it.

NY-19: This ought to ease the risk of a NY-23 type situation in the 19th: Nan Hayworth, from the county club wing of the GOP and facing some teabagging opposition in the primary, managed to nail down the endorsement of the Putnam County Conservative Party. Of course, exurban Putnam County is only a small minority of the district, so we’ll have to see what happens in the other more populous counties.

NY-29: Speaking of New York and teabaggers, it looks like Corning mayor Tom Reed  — a moderate who managed to deter bigger GOP names from jumping into the race following Eric Massa’s implosion — is now drawing some teabagging opposition in the GOP primary from small businessman Angelo Campini.

NY-St. Sen.: It’s kind of sad that I had to debate over whether a New York state Senate majority leader’s office getting raided by the FBI and the state AG’s office even qualifies as newsworthy because it’s so totally expected. At any rate, Pedro Espada, who mere months ago held the linchpin of power in New York, now seems on his way to an ignominious end, as the scandal over Soundview Health Center heats up.

NY-St. Ass.: This feels more like “Where Are They Now?” than an actual state Assembly story, but Dede Scozzafava, who went in a few short weeks from likely U.S. Representative to historical footnote, has decided that she’s through with the Assembly (having gotten sacked from her deputy leadership position). She’ll be retiring at the end of her term.

Governors: Here’s a fun conversation piece: CREW has released its list of the 10 worst governors, in terms of corruption, unethical behavior, and general malfeasance. In a surprise to me, Jim Gibbons didn’t top the list. (I’ll give you a hint of who did: he’s thinking of running for President in 2012, and he seems to be made partly of Foghorn Leghorn DNA.) Only two Dems made the cut: David Paterson and Bill Richardson.

SSP Daily Digest: 8/27

FL-Sen: Is ex-Rep. Mike Bilirakis, under official consideration from Gov. Charlie Crist to serve as an interim placeholder in the Senate, taking the appointment process seriously? The St. Petersberg times digs up Bilirakis’ submitted questionnaire (.pdf) and says that the hand-scribbled document looks “like he filled it out while driving”. He also left some key questions, like “Have you ever been party to a lawsuit?”, blank.

IL-Sen: Alexi Giannoulias may claim to be Barack Obama’s BFF, but look who just signed up Obama ’08 guru David Axelrod’s consulting firm to work for his campaign: newly-announced candidate David Hoffman, who yesterday resigned as Chicago’s Inspector General.

LA-Sen: Now that Charlie Melancon has made his Senate bid official, state Sen. Eric LaFleur, who was previously courted as a potential Democratic candidate for the race, says that he’ll be supporting Melancon for the race.

GA-Gov: Strategic Vision has dipped its barometer back into the Georgia gubernatorial primaries, and finds little meaningful change since last month’s poll. For the Republicans, Oxendine leads with 39%, followed by 13% for Nathan Deal and 12% for Karen Handel. In the Democratic primary, ex-Gov. Roy Barnes leads the pack with 45%, followed by AG Thurbert Baker with 29%. Poythress and Porter are still mired in the low-single digits.

NJ-Gov: Chris Christie’s once-vaunted rep as a Corruption Fighter™ has taken a pounding this month. Yesterday came another roundhouse kick to the jaw: Back in 2005, Christie was pulled over for speeding and (it turns out) driving an uninsured and unregistered sail barge automobile. Despite the officer writing “NO DEAL” on the ticket, Christie was allowed to drive home and later got some of the charges dropped – it seems he may have scuzzily tried to pull rank as US Attorney. And guess who was with him at the time? None other than former aide Michele Brown, who resigned two days ago. (D)

NM-Gov: Bill Richardson is breathing a sigh of relief with the news that the investigation into allegations of pay-to-play politics under his watch at the governor’s office is now officially over with no indictments. Meanwhile, actor Val Kilmer’s flirtation with the open seat gubernatorial race is now officially over.

VA-Gov: Creigh Deeds is out with a new radio ad in which one of the narrators anoints him as “that underdog guy”, while the Republican Governors Association’s Common Sense Virginia PAC is launching TV and radio ads hitting Deeds on wasteful spending. Of course, as Steve Singiser points out, the RGA only a month ago attacked Deeds and the DGA when they formed a similar PAC, calling it a “shadow organization”.

CA-02: GOP Rep. Wally Herger, at a recent town hall meeting, praised an attendee who called himself a “proud right-wing terrorist”. “There is a great American,” Herger said of the man, named Bert Stead. Now Herger is doubling-down, refusing to apologize for praising the man and taking the opportunity to trash liberals for calling their political opponents “political terrorists”. The only problem, though, is that HuffPo has the video of Stead identifying himself as a proud terrorist!

CA-45: Riverside County Supervisor Roy Wilson resigned over the weekend due to health reasons, and last night passed away. After Wilson’s resignation but before his passing, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, running as a Dem against GOP Rep. Mary Bono Back, recommitted his focus to the congressional bid, saying that a run for the supervisor seat is “not at all” being considered.

IL-08: The NRCC is hoping to wrangle Maria Rodriguez, the Village President of Long Grove (pop. 6,735), into a run against now-established Dem Rep. Melissa Bean. Rodriguez says that “it’s an interesting proposition” that she’s taking under consideration, but Bean is still riding high off a 60-40 win over briefly-touted GOP businessman Steve Greenberg in 2008.

IL-10: The NRCC may be happy to have moderate state Rep. Beth Coulson in the race to replace Mark Kirk, but she’ll have company in the GOP primary. Businessman Dick Green, the CEO of Briefing.com, made his candidacy official today, and took the opportunity to lash out at “career politicians”.

KS-02: Frosh Rep. Lynn Jenkins, to fellow travelers at a town hall event: “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.” Jenkins’ spokesbot shoved foot in mouth even further with this “apology”: “There may be some misunderstanding there when she talked about the great white hope. What she meant by it is they have a bright future. They’re bright lights within the party.” Good luck with that. (D)

MT-AL: Here’s something that somehow slipped our notice. Research 2000, dipping its toes into Montana for Daily Kos, tested GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg’s approvals and re-elects. Rehberg’s sitting on a 46-45 approval rating — lower than either of the state’s Democratic Senators — and has a 39% re-elect rating (27% say they will definitely vote to replace him, and another 34% say they will consider voting for another candidate). Those aren’t particularly formidable numbers.

NM-Gov: Richardson Withdraws as Commerce Sec’y Nominee


Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, one of the country’s most prominent Hispanic politicians and President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to be commerce secretary, on Sunday dropped out of consideration for that post. He attributed his decision to the ongoing investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico.

Mr. Richardson said that he would continue as governor, and he added, “Let me say unequivocally that I and my administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact.”

If Richardson does stay on as governor (something I’m not convinced of, despite his statement), then  of course Lt. Gov. (and likely successor) Diane Denish won’t get bumped up to the statehouse right away. This doesn’t change the calculus a whole lot, though, as Richardson is term-limited and we’re likely to see a serious race for this seat no matter what.

Iowa caucus memories open thread

A year ago tonight, nearly 240,000 Iowans spent a couple of hours in overcrowded rooms during the Democratic precinct caucuses.

Thousands of others came to freezing cold Iowa to knock on doors or make phone calls for their presidential candidate in late December and early January.

Share any memories you have about caucusing or volunteering in this thread.

After the jump I re-posted my account of what happened at my own caucus. I was a precinct captain for Edwards.

As if I weren’t already feeling enough pressure, Jerome Armstrong, his friend Trei the videographer, Ben Smith of Politico, and a college buddy of John Edwards were all observers at my precinct caucus. Jerome gave the short version of the evening’s events here, and posted the multi-media recap here. (You can’t see me in any of the photos, but Mr. desmoinesdem is in one–I won’t say which!)

I got to my precinct a little after 6 pm. Quite a few voters had already signed in. I walked in the room and immediately saw a woman who had never caucused before sitting in the Hillary corner. I had failed to turn her out to the 2004 caucus despite multiple contacts. At that moment I thought it might be a big night for Hillary.

I saw the Richardson precinct captain setting up chairs and asked him about the reported deal to send support to Obama. (We have known each other since we both volunteered for Kerry four years ago.) At first he smiled and said he couldn’t reveal internal communications from the campaign, but then he confirmed that he had been instructed to steer voters to Obama if Richardson was not viable.

I saw the Biden precinct captain and asked him if he had been told to send support to Obama. He denied getting any instructions like that from the campaign.

I started checking Edwards supporters off my list as they came in the room. I had a list of about 50 firm supporters, plus a few dozen people we thought might be leaning our way. I was supposed to start making calls to supporters who were not there yet, but it was hard to find time, because so many Edwards supporters, including many I’d never met or spoken with, were coming to our area of the room.

I decided on the spur of the moment to focus on talking with the Biden, Dodd and Richardson supporters I recognized. I figured it was a safe bet that most of them had not heard any reports about a deal with Obama. Many of them had told me before the caucuses that Edwards was their second choice, and I wanted to get them to confirm that to me before they heard any instructions from their precinct captains.

One elderly woman apologized to me, because she’d signed a supporter card for Edwards earlier in the fall, and I’d given her a ride to an Edwards town hall meeting in November. In the last two weeks she decided to caucus for Biden, and she told me she almost didn’t show up because she was worried I’d be angry with her. I told her that of course I wasn’t angry, everyone has the right to change her mind, and Biden was a strong candidate. I asked her to keep us in mind if she needed to make a second choice, and she promised that she would be there for us.

So I shuttled back and forth between different groups, greeting new arrivals to the Edwards area and trying to touch base with people who were undecided last time I heard from them. I also handed out the bottled water I brought along, because it was getting stuffy in the room.

In theory, the caucus was to be called to order at 6:30, but so many people were still arriving that our temporary precinct chair waited until almost 7:00 to call us to order. The first items on the agenda were the election of a precinct secretary and permament precinct chair (this is basically a formality–the temporary chair is almost never challenged for this position). The precinct chair was backing Clinton, but the secretary was a rock-solid Edwards supporter.

A few minutes after 7:00, the last voters had been signed in, and they announced the total turnout for our precinct. Four years ago, we had a pretty good turnout of 175. I scoffed at the Des Moines Register poll’s prediction that 60 percent of caucus-goers would be first-timers. In that comment, I calculated that we’d need more than 300 people attending our caucus in order to have 60 percent of them be first-timers. Well, the joke was on me, because the turnout at our caucus this year was 293.

We had people in the Edwards and Clinton groups who had never caucused before, but there’s no question that the Obama corner had the largest number of first-timers. It was stunning. The chart I got from my field organizer, showing how many supporters we’d need for 1, 2, 3 or more delegates depending on how many people attended the caucus, didn’t even go past the 260s.

After the first division into preference groups, the totals were: Obama 86, Edwards 83, Clinton 63, Richardson 28, Biden 24, Dodd 9, uncommitted 2, and Kucinich 1. To be viable, candidates needed 44 supporters.

I asked people in the Edwards group to help me by approaching their own friends in other groups. At first the Richardson and Biden groups were not budging. They were trying to get people to come over from Clinton, using the logic that Clinton was way below the level needed for two delegates but could spare some supporters while remaining viable. However, the Clinton volunteers kept everyone in their corner.

Realizing they had no chance to get to the 44 people needed for viability, Richardson’s precinct captain told his group about the campaign’s strategy to go to Obama, adding that they could make up their own minds. I didn’t get an exact count, but I’m pretty sure Edwards got at least as many of the Richardson supporters, if not more. We also got a large number of the Biden supporters (including his precinct captain), part of the Dodd group, and the Kucinich supporter, who was planning to come over to us all along.

After the second division into preference groups, Edwards had 115, Obama had 104, and Clinton had 72. At first we thought we would get 3 delegates, with 2 for Obama and 1 for Clinton. However, the delegates are apportioned according to the following formula: number of supporters in group times number of delegates assigned by precinct (6), divided by total number of caucus-goers (293). That worked out to 2.35 for Edwards, 2.13 for Obama, and 1.47 for Clinton. We all got rounded down: 2 Edwards, 2 Obama, 1 Clinton.

But our precinct has to assign 6 county delegates. The precinct chair consulted the Democratic Party’s rule book while I looked over her shoulder. The precinct secretary re-did the math on her calculator as I watched. The book said that in our situation, the last delegate goes to the candidate with the decimal point closest to 0.5. Clinton was that little bit closer to 2 delegates than we were to 3 delegates.

It’s similar to what happened in my precinct in 1988. The delegates split 2-2-2 despite a fairly large difference in size between the largest and the smallest preference groups. That’s the caucus system for you.

In retrospect, the Edwards and Obama groups would have been better off helping Richardson to be viable. Then the delegates would have been split 2 Edwards, 2 Obama, 1 Clinton and 1 Richardson. But there was no way to know that, and during the realignment of course the Edwards and Obama groups were focused on attracting enough supporters to win that third delegate.

I sat down with a calculator the next day. To change the math in our favor, we needed 4 people from the Clinton group, 7 people from the Obama group or 10 people who didn’t show up to turn out and stand in the Edwards corner. I am still frustrated that I could not get Edwards that third delegate we were seeking. We exceeded the campaign’s “vote goal” for the precinct, but because of the overwhelming turnout, it wasn’t enough to win the precinct.

Every day I walk the dog by the homes of people who failed to show up last Thursday, despite telling me at some point that they supported Edwards. Several of those people either signed supporter cards or put up yard signs. Would it have helped to knock on those doors one more time, or call them again at the last minute? I was concentrating on people I considered to be less reliable voters.

Although the results in my precinct and in Iowa as a whole disappointed me, I did enjoy the caucus experience. The energy in a room packed with committed Democrats is amazing, and the competition was friendly and fair in my precinct (which, sadly, was not the case in some precincts). I don’t expect Iowa to start the presidential nominating process in the future, but I will continue to appreciate the friends and neighbors I met during my work as a precinct captain.

[NOTE from desmoinesdem, January 3, 2009: Now that Obama won the presidential election, Iowa has a much better chance of staying first in the nominating process.]

NM-Gov: Richardson for Commerce

So sayeth MSNBC:

Also expected Monday — an announcement that former U.N. Ambassador and Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, will be Commerce Secretary.

This would bump up Lt. Gov. Diane Denish to the top office in New Mexico, giving her a leg up over all other comers — including, perhaps, Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez, who is currently raising money for another run, but is mum on what exactly he’ll be running for.

In the diaries, Chad has more.

NM-Sen: Does Being Native Born Matter in New Mexico Elections?

(From the diaries. Crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP. – promoted by James L.)

Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez has been touting his roots to New Mexico.  Just take a look at his bio on his campaign site:

A native son of New Mexico, Martin Chávez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His family’s roots in New Mexico have been traced to the 1500s.

Many New Mexicans who have had family in the state for generations are proud of their “native roots”.  These are the people who can name their family back to the Spanish settlers.  But the Albuquerque Tribune asked an interesting question: What role will being the only “native son” play in the Senate election?

After doing a bit of research, probably not much.

“When given a choice, New Mexicans usually prefer a native son.”
-Mark Fleisher, Martin Chavez Campaign Manager

It sounds great.  Sounds completely plausible; after all, even Stephen Colbert planned on running for President (but only in South Carolina) as a “favorite son.”

But in New Mexico, where you were born or grew up does not seem to make much of a difference in whether or not New Mexicans will vote for you.  After all, as the Tribune article wrote:

[A]ll three of the other leading contenders for the Senate – Reps. Tom Udall, a Santa Fe Democrat, Heather Wilson, an Albuquerque Republican, and Steve Pearce, a Hobbs Republican – were born outside New Mexico.

They are all Representatives with multiple elections under their belt — and have defeated “native sons” along the way.

Most recently, Heather Wilson defeated Patricia Madrid in the 2006 election by less than a thousand votes.  While Madrid was born in Las Cruces, NM, Wilson only moved to Albuquerque in 1991. 

In the Second District, Steve Pearce defeated native son Gary King (Stanley, NM) in 2004.  And King even has the pedigree of a father (three-time governor Bruce King) who was also born in New Mexico.  Pearce did, however, move to Hobbs at the age of two.

Udall has easily defeated all comers in the Third Congressional District in recent years, but his closest call came against then-incumbent Bill Redmond; a Chicago native.  Before Redmond, the seat was held by now Gov. Bill Richardson.

Richardson was born in Pasadena, CA, and did not move to Santa Fe, NM until 1978.  He ran for Congress against longtime incumbent Manuel Lujan in 1980 and lost.  He succeeded in 1982.  Richardson defeated John Sanchez (55-39) in 2002; Sanchez was a native of Albuquerque.  He then easily defeated Santa Fe-born John Dendahl in 2006, with a record margin.

The last time Chavez ran for statewide office, for governor in 1998, he lost to Gary Johnson.  Johnson was born in South Dakota.  I could not find, however, when exactly Johnson moved to New Mexico.

While Chavez will continue to tout his nativeness to the state, in the grand scheme of things… it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of a difference.

NM-Sen: Is Richardson Angling to Run?

Last week, New Mexico reporter/blogger Heath Haussamen had the inside word that allies of Richardson were discouraging potential donors from cutting checks for the Senate candidacy of Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez:

Some of Gov. Bill Richardson's closest supporters have quietly told a handful of his biggest financial backers considering who they should support in the U.S. Senate race to “keep your powder dry for awhile.” […]

Though no Democrat would speak for the record about the governor's words, sources are speculating on three scenarios:

  • Richardson, though he has repeatedly insisted publicly that he isn't going to run for Senate even if he loses the presidential race, may be quietly leaving the door open.
  • Richardson doesn't want his supporters giving their money or time to a Senate candidate at this crucial stage in the presidential election, when he needs their help.
  • Richardson doesn't want them backing Chávez, the only top-tier Democrat in the Senate race, at a time when Denish is considering the race and Washington insiders and grassroots supporters in New Mexico are trying to get U.S. Rep. Tom Udall to enter the race.
  • It's no secret that local and national Democrats would prefer an alternative to Chavez — and everything that I've been hearing indicates that strong alternatives are giving the race a hard look.  I had assumed that Richardson's advice that donors should “keep their powder dry” was meant to give Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Rep. Tom Udall some more time to consider (and reconsider) the race.  But could Richardson actually be angling to get into the race himself?  Mark Murray over at First Read has the scoop:

    By the way, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli — who's covering Richardson filing his paperwork today for the New Hampshire primary — reports that Richardson said he would not accept matching funds “because it's unilateral disarmament.” It's worth noting that not accepting matching funds makes it MUCH easier to transfer one's presidential money into a Senate account. Just some food for thought…

    Richardson's presidential campaign coffers haven't exactly been on par with Hillary's or Obama's.  (He raised $7 million in the third quarter and had less than that on-hand at the start of the month.)  It seems that the extra boost provided by matching funds would be a pretty crucial component of a come-from-behind victory for Richardson's team.  And while the move not to accept funds makes perfectly good strategic sense for someone aiming to succeed in the general election, it must be noted that Richardson faces far longer odds of making it there than even John Edwards has today.  Could something else be at work here?

    If Richardson were to run, the polls suggest it would be a slam dunk for Democrats.  Should we hold out hope that Richardson might decide to pursue a Senate bid after his Presidential campaign flames out?  Or are we going to end up looking like the poor souls who are still hoping for Al Gore to enter the Presidential race and save all of humanity?

    Update (Trent, 10/31):

    Chuck Todd, appearing on Tucker last night prior to the debate, offered some predictions about Bill Richardson:

    Richardson, though, I think you're going to see Richardson really stop being an aggressive candidate.  I think he has got his one eye on that Senate race.  he probably at some point is going to end up running for the U.S. Senate, probably is going to want Bill Clinton raising money for him in New Mexico.  So Richardson is the guy I'm wondering, will he end up being a helpful surrogate on the stage for Clinton if people stop—start beating up on her too much, where you suddenly see Richardson saying, hey, hey, this isn't what this is all about, and he starts trying to be the nice guy and end up helping Clinton.

    Todd sounds particularly prescient considering that many viewed Richardson's debate performance as being particularly protective of Clinton.

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