Thursday, May 28, 2009

Roundhouse Roundup: The Campaign Never Ends

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 28, 2009

Wait a minute, didn't we just have an election?

Maybe so, But when you're a member of the House of Representatives and you have to face re-election every two years, the campaign never really stops. Especially the fundraising aspect of it.

That's true even with congressmen such as Rep. Ben Ray Luján in what are considered "safe" districts, as New Mexico's 3rd, which includes Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico.

How do we know it's a safe district? Besides the lopsided Democratic registration numbers, you can tell it's safe by the fact that almost every day I get an e-mail from the national Republicans telling me some terrible thing that Rep. Martin Heinrich voted for, quickly followed by an e-mail that's identical except Rep. Harry Teague's name is substituted for Heinrich's. They don't even bother with the 3rd's Luján.

(For the record, Republican Dan East, who lost to Luján in November and is considering a 2010 run, and Adam Kokesh, who is looking at challenging Luján, possibly as an independent, are hoping everyone else is wrong about the 3rd being a "safe" district for Luján.)
Ben Ray Lujan, Dem
But like any incumbent congressman, Luján's busy raising money for the 2010 race.

"We're going to make sure we have the resources to run a competent campaign next time around," said Luján spokesman Mark Nicastre.

Next month House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, is hosting a $1,000 per person fundraiser in Washington, D.C. for Luján.

But Luján's fundraising for 2010 began well before now.

According to his most recent campaign finance report, filed this month, Luján raised $138,370 and spent $131,876. At the end of the quarter (April 30), Luján's campaign committee had $60,288 in the bank.

Luján's biggest supporters this election cycle are labor unions. The Operating Engineers Union gave $10,000, while the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers gave $9,000 and the Teamster's Union contributed $5,000. Other $5,000 donors include Public Service Company of New Mexico and Ardent Health Services.

Luján is taking money from PACs. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he's collected $31,000 from labor PACs and $12,000 from $12,500 from health care PACs.

But no thanks, K Street. Among Luján's expenditures was a total of $11,250 in campaign contribution refunds. These were all to congressional lobbyists, Nicastre said.

Real Time with Heather: While former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson of Albuquerque no longer holds political office, this week she'll have a national platform on which to speak — HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.
That's not Bill Maher, that's Manuel Lujan, Jr.
Wilson, who's considering running for the Republican nomination as governor, on Friday will make her "third or fourth" appearance on the Los Angeles-based show, hosted by the irreverent comedian whose political views are considerably to the left of Republican Wilson's.

"I think the reason he invites me back is because I laugh at his jokes — even though he sometimes gets a little edgy and crosses the line for this soccer mom," Wilson said in a telephone interview this week.

Maher's show features a panel consisting of various politicians, entertainers, journalists and others discussing current events.

Wilson said the first time Maher asked her to be a guest on the show, she was "an emergency backup" guest, filling in for another congress member who had to cancel because of a hurricane.

The only reason she agreed to go on, she said, was so she could meet another guest — comedian Dana Carvey, formerly of Saturday Night Live.

Wilson didn't seek re-election to her House seat last year in order to run for the Senate seat vacated by her mentor, Pete Domenici. Wilson lost in the Republican primary to fellow U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who went on to lose the general election to U.S. Rep. Tom Udall.

Although Wilson still hasn't announced whether she will run for governor next year, former state GOP chairman Allen Weh and Greg Zanetti, a brigadier general with the New Mexico Army National Guard, have said they will seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Is the fact Wilson is appearing on a national talk show a sign she's trying to keep a high political profile for some office? "I think it's a sign that I'm crazy enough to appear on the Bill Maher show," Wilson said.

Real Time with Bill Maher is scheduled to be shown at 8 p.m. Friday on HBO.

Missing person alert: On Wednesday afternoon I received an e-mail from the office of Lt. Gov. Denish with the subject line. "Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish Hears Missing Person Work Group Recommendations."

I checked it and it had nothing to do with Val Kilmer.

When Petty was grand: As all students of rock 'n' roll history should know, one of the major epicenters of rock in the '50s and early '60s, was Norman Petty Recording Studios in beautiful downtown Clovis. This was where Buddy Holly & The Crickets recorded most of their major hits. Petty Studios also was where Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings made some of their early recordings.

Petty Studios also was the spawning ground for records from The Fireballs, a band from Raton best known for its early '60s hit "Sugar Shack."

Next week PBS stations in the state will air a new documentary — produced by The New Mexico Music Commission and an Albuquerque company called You and Me Productions — about Petty Studios and the music that came out of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. During the show, Nancy Laflin, commission director, will interview members of the Fireballs.

The documentary, New Mexico Music Legends: The Norman Petty Studios, will air at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4, simulcast on New Mexico's three PBS stations, including KNME, Channel 5, which can be seen in Santa Fe.