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GOP Shoots It Out While Dems Reload on Gov. Race (NM-Bill Richardson)
Albuquerque Journal (subscription required) ^ | Sunday, April 21, 2002 | Loie Fecteau

Posted on 04/21/2002 1:18:59 PM PDT by CedarDave

By Loie Fecteau Journal Politics Writer
    While the three Republican candidates for governor joust into June, the bigger battle with Democratic powerhouse Bill Richardson looms down the road.
    The problem is that the Republicans need to distinguish themselves from one another this spring, despite the demands of the main event with Richardson in the fall.
    Richardson has no ballot opposition for the June 4 primary election and is free to fatten his war chest for the fall campaign.
    Richardson, the former New Mexico congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Department of Energy secretary, blew away his competition at the Democratic pre-primary nominating convention in March, winning nearly 76 percent of the delegate vote. Would-be contenders Ray Powell and Gary King soon dropped by the wayside.
    This means New Mexico's gubernatorial campaign, so far, is mostly a GOP affair.
    Rep. John Sanchez of Albuquerque keeps attacking fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley on taxes. Sanchez criticizes Bradley for suggesting, at one point, that the state might want to raise corporate income taxes, among other things, to compensate for getting rid of gross- receipts taxes on food and businesses.
    Bradley, arguing that he has always fought to cut taxes, contends Sanchez has taken his comments out of context. Bradley said he is forming a task force of business leaders to come up with a specific plan for cutting taxes.
    Rep. Rob Burpo, R-Albuquerque, is trying to slam Sanchez for missing floor votes on House bills. Sanchez counters that Burpo's overall voting record, when Senate bills and memorials are included, is slightly worse than Sanchez's.
    Both Burpo and Bradley have denounced Sanchez for his characterization of New Mexico as "a banana republic" during a recent candidate forum.
    Sanchez subsequently apologized for his "choice of words," but said he stands by his contention that New Mexico's political system needs to be reformed.
    And so goes a blustery spring in New Mexico gubernatorial politics.
    The Republican candidates might be headed into troublesome territory if their political rhetoric gets too poisonous during the primary election, said Gilbert St. Clair, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico.
    Richardson is sitting pretty on the other side of the aisle as the sole Democratic gubernatorial candidate on the primary ballot, St. Clair said.
    "What the Republican candidates will do is just provide ammunition for Richardson and the Democrats," St. Clair said of the GOP infighting. "So that is a concern for Republicans."
    Richardson also "can save a lot of money" during the primary, which he will have available to spend on the general election, St. Clair said.
    Money also is a factor in the primary election race for the GOP nomination.
    Burpo said he expects to spend about $300,000, including more than $50,000 of his own money. Bradley said he will probably spend between $400,000 and $500,000. Sanchez said he is planning to spend $800,000 to $1 million, including $50,000 of his own money.
    With Richardson in mind, state GOP chairman John Dendahl acknowledged that he would "rather be running against a divided Democratic Party than a unified Democratic Party."
    "But, on the other hand, Richardson has lots of baggage," Dendahl said, referring to the candidate's more than 14 years as a New Mexico congressman and subsequent tenure in the Clinton administration.
    "We're going to have a real knock-down-and-drag-out campaign with Bill Richardson," said Dendahl.
    And each of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates is trying to make it clear that he would be the party's best bet to take on Richardson.
    Sanchez, an Albuquerque roofing contractor, points out he has defeated a powerful Democrat before: He upset former House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, a longtime GOP target, in House District 15 in 2000. His only previous political experience had been serving three years as a Village of Los Ranchos trustee.
    Bradley touts his eight years as lieutenant governor and four years as a state senator from Clovis. He said that experience gives him an edge to "stand eye to eye and toe to toe" with Richardson.
    Burpo, a financial adviser and two-term legislator, contends he's got what it takes to "beat that carpetbagger that the Democrats are going to throw at us."
    Richardson shrugs off the early GOP assaults.
    "These kinds of negative attacks and bickering have only led to inaction and stalemate" in state government, Richardson said. "My campaign will focus on ending the gridlock and getting things done for New Mexicans."
    Dendahl said he's not overly concerned about the GOP gubernatorial candidates going at each other during the primary election campaign. "They're not going to create wounds that won't heal after June 4," Dendahl said.
    And, at a recent GOP forum in Santa Fe, there did not appear to be wide differences between the three GOP contenders on the issues.
    As Burpo put it, all three Republicans "stand for lower taxes, better education, more jobs and less crime."
    The three also have made it clear that they all disagree with Republican Gov. Gary Johnson's well-publicized national crusade to reform drug laws.
    Dendahl said Sanchez probably has a leg up for the Republican nomination, given his nearly 2-to-1 victory over Bradley at the GOP pre-primary nominating convention. That win earned Sanchez the top position on the June 4 ballot.
    "John Sanchez does have some momentum," Dendahl said.
    However, Bradley has substantial name recognition as lieutenant governor and is well-regarded in Republican circles, Dendahl said.
    "Walt Bradley is a loyal, hard-working member of a popular Republican administration, so, when he says, 'Let's keep it going,' that appeal has some traction," Dendahl said.
    Burpo is the longest shot in the three-way race, Dendahl said. "He's really going to have to scramble."
    Another Republican gubernatorial candidate, retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Gilbert S. Baca of Santa Fe, dropped out of the GOP contest earlier this month. But, because Baca waited until after the April 2 deadline to withdraw, his name will still appear on the June 4 primary election ballot.
    Albuquerque radio personality Larry Ahrens had previously quit the GOP gubernatorial race. Ahrens plans to return to his morning show on KKOB-AM.

Copyright 2002 Albuquerque Journal


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: New Mexico
KEYWORDS: billrichardson; democrats; newmexico; politics; richardson
Richardson also "can save a lot of money" during the primary, which he will have available to spend on the general election, St. Clair said.
"But, on the other hand, Richardson has lots of baggage," Dendahl said, referring to the candidate's more than 14 years as a New Mexico congressman and subsequent tenure in the Clinton administration. "We're going to have a real knock-down-and-drag-out campaign with Bill Richardson," said Dendahl.

NM, stay tuned for a lively summer and fall political season.

1 posted on 04/21/2002 1:18:59 PM PDT by CedarDave
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To: CedarDave
Here's my file on the little weasel:

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2 posted on 04/21/2002 1:24:23 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe
Lots and lots of baggage...
3 posted on 04/21/2002 1:33:32 PM PDT by CedarDave
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To: CedarDave
I think of them as the Keystone Kops®, only more corrupt & criminal, and not as funny.....
4 posted on 04/21/2002 1:57:35 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: CedarDave
Well, another thing Bill has going for him is the endorsement I am sure he'll get from Monica Lewinski. After all, when he was at the UN, he offered ger a job after assessing her "obvious talents." I'm sure Monica will return the favor. And, if she doesn't I certainly hope the Republicans will demand to know what is bad about Bill that even his old and dear friend Monica won't rally to him,
5 posted on 04/21/2002 2:09:54 PM PDT by Tacis
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To: CedarDave
While I know, like, and admire Walter Bradley, I don't think that he has the "right stuff" to knock off Richardson.

I think that John Sanchez will conduct a no-holds-barred, take-it-to-the-enemy campaign that might just topple the Dems favorite son. At least that is what I am counting on.

6 posted on 04/22/2002 11:25:59 AM PDT by Jerry_M
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To: CedarDave
Also, I think that John Sanchez, teamed up with Judy Vanderstar-Russell, will provide good solid leadership, and might possibly be able to get along with the Legislature.
7 posted on 04/22/2002 11:27:37 AM PDT by Jerry_M
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: D Joyce; backhoe
Do you know any of the Republicans running for New Mexico Governor or Lt. Governor? Do you know anything about any of them?

If so, which of them fit your description as "recycled Globalist, socialist slugs"? None that I know.

9 posted on 04/24/2002 2:51:52 PM PDT by Jerry_M
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