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Monday, February 16, 2004

Outsiders Running NM GOP Efforts (Into the Ground, Hopefully)

Posted by DavidNYC

Reader Jeremy M. sends in the following on-the-ground observations about politicking in all-important New Mexico this season:

Apparently the Bush campaign has basically shut the state GOP out of the 2004 election. The Bush-Cheney coordinator is from out-of-state, and so is the Victory 2004 (RNC) coordinator. They are even "offering" to help with the statewide races, which is usually the state chairman's job - though none of the money raised by Bush and Cheney in the state will go to the state party. Basically, the whole Republican effort will be run and coordinated from out-of-state.

Now this leaves egg on the face of Ramsay Gorham, the new party chair. In December, she played up a compromise that would allow some role for the state party, but in the end, there really isn't one. The chair she ousted, John Dendahl, played the game a little better: this may endanger her position farther down the road. And compared to Richardson, who parlayed New Mexico's swing status (and probably his party connections and ethnic background) into a convention chairmanship, she looks a bit like the redheaded stepchild.

So from a party standpoint, the New Mexico Republicans are in sorry shape. The question is whether having so many "foreigners" running the show will hurt the GOP candidates there. Given Richardson's role in the presidential race, I could easily see that card being played in that arena. But I'm not sure whether or not that will, for example, do much farther down the ballot, such as in Heather Wilson's race to hold the 1st District. Maybe, maybe not.

Lots of people have speculated that one reason for the Dean campaign's collapse in Iowa was the mass importation of the infamous orange-hatted out-of-state volunteers. Of course, it's a little hard to test this thesis, and the GOP may smart enough to employ outsiders only at the top of its NM campaign, rather than on the ground.

But no matter what, if Jeremy's observations are right, Karl Rove is choosing to starve the state party in the hopes of squeaking out a narrow victory in the presidential race. This means that Rove views NM as a fairly desperate situation, and I agree: Like many other political prognositcators, I think NM is firmly trending our way. Rove's evisceration of the state Republican party can only help accelerate that process.

Also, down-ticket candidates may well suffer, if the lion's share of the money raised goes to the candidates at the top of the ballot (ie, Bush and Cheney/Player to be Named Later). Stephen Yellin lists NM's Second District as one of the top 30 Congressional races in the nation, and a prime chance for a D pickup. (The seat is currently held by a Republican.) Brian Watkins also thinks that NM-1 (held by the aforementioned Heather Wilson) could be competitive.

Posted at 11:45 AM in New Mexico | Technorati


For reference,two names it might be good to know in NM are: Colin Riley McMillan and Kenneth Zangara. They are the largest contributors to the Bush campaign in the state. Both were "Pioneers" in the 2000 campaign and Mr. Zangara has reached that level again in 2004 (to be a Pioneer, you need to raise at least $100,000 for the Bush campaign).

This kind of information (on who the biggest contributors are) can be found at www.whitehouseforsale.org.

Posted by: Mitch Scaff at February 17, 2004 02:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Those are two *very* good names to keep track of.

The big ball-and-chain around Zangara's ankle, though, is Gorham: she and he were the ones who publicly staked their names on the December Compromise that fell apart. Granted, the GOP might savage her and hand the top post to Zangara, but on the other hand, they may both end up on the wrong end of the stick. Basically, by bringing in the outside talent, the Bush re-election campaign left Zangara twisting in the wind too.

(Fun facts: Ken Zangara is one of three prominent Republicans in New Mexico who share the same first name and are now or used to be used car dealers. In addition to the Kens, at least one or two other used car dealers rose to GOP prominence. It seems to be a trend in NM.)

Colin McMillan.... Well, it's interesting to see he's back out of hiding after failing to unseat Jeff BIngaman. At least he's not playing kingmaker for Wilson: better all that money gets sucked up by the Bush-Cheney vacuum than going to the House elections.

Posted by: Jeremy Mallory at February 20, 2004 01:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Joe Monahan (D, I think) has a story today on the NM-2 race. Evidently, it's not as competitive as Yellin thinks, although the polls smell pretty funky.

Posted by: Ralph at April 29, 2004 01:27 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment