Friday, November 7, 2008

Governor Richardson May Get China Post. Palin to Africa?

Specualtion continues to escalate about which New Mexico officials may be tapped by the Obama-Biden administration.

Governor Bill Richardson is reportedly being considered for Secretary of State, Secretary of Commerce, President of the World Bank, and now for Ambassador to China.
Senator Jeff Bingaman is apparently in the running for Energy Secretary, but told me on election night, he doesn't think he'll be asked. The state's soon-to-be Senior Senator say's he's flattered to be considered. It must be noted that Bingaman called the post, "the worst job in Washington."

From the Department of the Ridiculous
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is reaching out to President-elect Obama's transition team to indicate her interest in being named "ambassador to the nation of Africa." Senior Republican campaign staffers have told news outlets, that Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. Palin wants the appointment to Africa because, "it's a darned important country."

Gov. Palin said that although she had planned to continue in her position in Anchorage, she was willing to leave the governorship "because Africa is just such a darned important country."

"I have always been very, very interested in the nation of Africa, partly because of it being located where it is," she said. "If you are standing in Africa and you look real close, you can see South Africa."

She added that she had received phone calls encouraging her to vie for the post, including one from French president Nicholas Sarkozy.

In other news from the Palin family, Bristol Palin's fiancé Levi Johnston said he was "totally stoked" about Tuesday night's election returns, calling the results "definitely a game-changer for me."

"The election of Barack Obama means different things to different people," he said. "To me, it means freedom, dude!"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Does Emanuel's Pick Signify Change ?

A Democratic aide reports Illinois Representative and former member of the Clinton administration, Rahm Emanuel has accepted a position as Barack Obama's Chief of Staff.

We talked to Rep. Emanuel this summer during a campaign stop in New Mexico for newly elected congressmen Martin Heinrich, Harry Teague and Ben Ray Lujan.

Listen to our interview with Emanuel here.

For more coverage on Emanuel's summer visit check out LP's coverage on FBIHOP.

After leaving the Clinton White House, Emanuel was an investment banker on Wall Street and later was elected to the House of Representatives from a heavily Democratic Chicago district. He quickly rose to become the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House.

Stars of the 2008 Elections Recognized in New Mexico.

Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon,
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver,
and young voters,and bloggers like Matthew Reichbach
are celebrating election day success.

As you may have noticed, I didn't post anything on the day after the election. It took half a day to recover from my 18-hour shift on Tuesday.

In the meantime, I've been sorting thru audio and will post some great interviews with NM Attorney General Gary King, State Auditor Hector Balderas, Lt. Governor Diane Denish, and Analyst Joe Monahan in the next few days.

I'm preparing my thoughts and will be a panelist this week on KNME's New Mexico In Focus. The group will be discussing election results in New Mexico, the impact of race and the election of the country's first African American as president, possible cabinet/ambassador positions for key leaders in New Mexico, and what the election results mean for Obama. Will the big wins give Democrats the political clout they need to stir things up in Washington? Plus will update all the down ballot races, and discuss the relatively clean election in our state. Please plan to watch the show on Friday night at 7pm on channel 5.

I've also been thinking about the stars of the election. Certainly NM Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon, who was nearly eaten alive after the problems with the Super Tuesday Caucus, deserves credit for huge election victories across the state. It appears the legislature will pick up three new Democratic senators, and perhaps four new Democratic Representatives. Colon gets our top star for the state going blue, from top to bottom. He also gets our Top Star for upgrading our credentials in Denver and promising us a ticket to the inauguration in Washington this January.

Maggie Toulouse-Oliver, and the NM State Senate, gets our props for their contribution to Election 2008. The vote count delay jinx has finally been lifted. New Mexico will not be the last state to count their votes. The legislature authorized county clerks to start counting absentee ballots five days early, and early voting machines the morning of the election. While some close races still require provisional ballots to be counted, the results were posted early. Toulouse-Oliver told me early in the cycle she wanted to run "free, fair and accurate" elections. She met those expectations and gets another one of our stars awarded to her.

We would be remiss for not awarding a triple gold star to freelance photographer Mark Bralley. He made our blog look great with current and fresh pictures. Heck he's responsible for this blog's creation. His encouragement and advice was both welcomed and cursed.

We also tip our hats to Joe Monahan. We, like thousands of others, read Joe's blog first thing every morning. He's the king of the hill, and was the first to understand the implications, downline, of six-term Senator Pete Domenici resignation. Joe's been like a big brother always willing to share advice, especially when trying to chase down answers to our questions from candidates unwilling to even take questions at their own news conferences.

We also want to award stars, to all those young energized voters, campaign staffers, volunteers and bloggers (like LP at NMFBIHOP, Barbara and Mary Ellen at Democracy for New Mexico, and the entire staff at the NM Independent) who worked so hard during the election. They also get one of our stars. UPDATED: Plus all the bloggers on my recommended links section to the right.

At the end of the election cycle, we also want to say "thank you" to all the candidates who gave us access, including Sen. John McCain, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (albeit for :32 seconds), both U.S. Senate candidates, Tom Udall and Steve Pearce, all the congressional candidates, and each of their media handlers. We know most of you staffers will be leaving the state, seeking new jobs (on the Hill), and we just wanted to take this opportunity to say, what we heard so often during the campaign, "thank you...move along."

Tune back to our blog posts on Friday, and over the weekend, for great audio interviews, and make sure to watch KNME this weekend for my appearance with Gene, Marco, Jim, Margaret and David.

Photo Credits: MG Bralley

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

GOP women's board resigns after remarks on Muslims

The head of the Republican Women of Otero County refused to resign after calling Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama a "Muslim socialist."

Otero County GOP chairwoman Sassy Tinling says that when Marcia Stirman refused to quit, the rest of the board of the Republican Women's group gave Stirman their resignations.

Tinling also says the county GOP executive committee disassociated itself from the GOP women's group.

Stirman wrote a letter published October 21st in the Alamogordo Daily News in which she also said she believes Muslims are our enemies.

The New Mexico Republican Party says Stirman doesn't speak for them and her comments don't reflect GOP values and beliefs.

Tart Election Day Political Analysis on New Mexico's CW!

Sharp, Crisp, detailed analysis... probably not.

Our colleagues down the hall at the Citadel Broadcasting, John & The Pop Tarts, who's show airs weekday mornings on 93.3 KOB FM, will be keeping you updated and informed on the latest polling results tonight on New Mexico's CW. Get a preview here.

Leah Black and Katie Fitter just told us, "We won't be in suits and no, we won't be ramblin' on and on about our views...just letting you know what's happenin' in a fun, upbeat, non-stuffy sorta way...hehehe...we think that no one else could do it so we were their last resort."

PORTER'S PEE POLL - 100% Accurate

John Forsythe, the show's long time morning host, tells us the doggie pee poll has been accurately predicting outcomes on and off for the last 20 years.

This morning, the Tart's show mascot doggie Porter, initially sniffed the McCain sign, but finally settled on the Obama sign... thus, they're predicting the winning candidate might be Obama...

Leah Black, who's was one of ABQ the Magazines' Hot Singles in October, is also rockin hard. She's one of the cities top vocalists. Check out her music on her MySpace page here today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Breaking News: Governor Richardson Shaves His Beard.

Just as news broke that voters in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire voted 15-6 for Barack Obama, Governor Richardson appeared on CNN's Larry King clean shaven. No more beard.

Richardson has been hinting he'd shave it before the end of the year, and at last, it is gone.

For more stories on the beard, grown shortly after dropping out of the presidential race, here's a ton of posts on Google.

Also note: It was the first time the New Hampshire villagers have given the Democratic Presidential Candidate the nod since 1968.

Bernalillo County Clerk Dismisses Allegations of Voter Disenfranchisement.

Despite slow mail service, officials in Bernalillo County are taking measures to make sure anyone who wants to vote can vote. In this interview Toulouse-Oliver disputes claims she's disenfranchising Republican voters by not mailing them absentee ballots, and told us in some instances her office will accept ballots via email and fax.

Deputy Clerk Robert Adams told me at least 800 absentee ballots were sent overnight beginning on Thursday, at county taxpayer expense, to voters who claim they had not received their ballots in the mail.

Adams also clarified the clerk's statement about accepting ballots via fax and email, and said it only applies to members of the military stationed overseas.

Adams also said in rare cases, and under certain circumstances the county will pick up the return tab for voters who need to send their ballots back using an overnight service.

During a morning press briefing, County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver said her staff is so committed to getting every one's vote counted that some employees have hand-delivered ballots to hospital patients.

Meanwhile, Toulouse-Oliver told reporters that volunteers have already counted 66,000 of the 92,000 ballots mailed. She said the warehouse had received another 5,200 ballots this morning, and she expected them to be counted by the end of the day.

Listen to the complete press briefing here:

The clerk reported only 26 absentee ballots have been set aside for a hand count and there are between 20 to 40 challengers, made up of volunteers from both parties, prepared to observe that process and any provisional ballot review from early voting sites.

By 10 am this morning, all the early voting machines had been delivered to the warehouse and it is expected that they will be tabulated beginning Tuesday morning.

Toulouse-Oliver said there are 187 voting locations set up for tomorrow. She reminded voters not to wear any campaign clothing and encouraged anyone with questions to visit her website here.

UPDATED - 4:06 PM.

In a related item, the NY Times political blog, The Caucus, is reporting this item from Florida.
In a portend of what could be coming if the election is close, the McCain campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court in Virginia, demanding that the State Board of Elections accept absentee ballots from members of the military stationed overseas sent by Nov. 4 and received as late as Nov. 14, charging that the state sent out its absentee ballots late.

“This lawsuit,” said Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign, “seeks to protect the right of U.S. servicemen and women to cast their vote and have them counted.”


Lujan Not Letting Up Despite Huge Lead!

Democrat Ben Ray Lujan, Jr., who has a 28 percent lead in public opinion polls, according to this ABQ JOURNAL report, says the way he sees it, "things are looking good."

We spoke to him about his plans for the next few days, and what his three top priorities will be as a new congressman in Washington in January. Lujan said if he prevails on Tuesday he'll focus on creating jobs in the alternative energy sector, healthcare access for all Americans, and veterans benefits.

Listen to the complete audio interview here:

After our interview we received this letter from Ben Ray:
The polls show that our lead is widening. I've met with thousands of voters in the last few days in trips to Roy, Clovis, Gallup, Las Vegas, Springer, Clayton and Santa Fe. And we've gotten a great response at every stop.

But now is not the time to become complacent. We need to keep working hard, knocking on doors and making phone calls to remind people to vote. This election is too important not to finish strong and give it everything we have in the next 30 hours.

On Wednesday, we want to wake up and say that we talked to as many voters as we could, knocked on as many doors as possible and gave 100 percent to send a strong team to Washington who will get our country back on track. Too much depends on this election and too many families are struggling because of the failed policies of the last eight years.

Over the last eleven months, I have met with New Mexicans from Clovis to
Farmington and from San Felipe Pueblo to Questa. Their hopes are my hopes, their dreams are my dreams. I'm running to stand up for the single mother in Taos who works two jobs to put food on the table. I'm running for the students who have to turn away the opportunity to attend college because they can't afford the high cost of tuition. I'm running for the small business owner who is struggling to make payroll.

Lujan plans to watch the results and celebrate with volunteer at an Election Night Watch Party at the Hotel Santa Fe beginning at 7:00 pm.
Photo Credit: MG Bralley (check out his latest post here).

Note: If you look carefully in Lujan's eyes, you can see this blogger intently listening to the candidate.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

White Still Grinding It Out Door to Door.

On Sunday afternoon, with the sun dropping below the western horizon one hour earlier, Republican CD1 Candidate Darren White is still pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, and asking residents to vote for him on Election Day.

White is upbeat after receiving an important community endorsement from the ABQ Journal on Saturday, and reading polls showing him still within striking distance of his Democratic opponent, albeit it down another two percentage points, but within the margin of error.

"We knew last year this race was going to come down to the wire," said White. "We feel good that we"ll pick up most of the undecided and independent voters."

Meanwhile, Democrat Martin Heinrich told KOAT, "We're going to be campaigning until right up to 7 o'clock on Tuesday night. We're going from place to place all day today, all day tomorrow and on Tuesday as well. We're just going to keep pushing until 7 o'clock on Tuesday," Heinrich said.

White is giving is staff credit for keeping the race close.

"They've worked hard to keep this race essentially neck and neck. Martin hasn't been able to put us away despite all the money he's raised," said White.

"Heinrich has outspent us in this race," said White. "Last week the DCCC bought another $500,000 in television advertising time, because Heinrich, can't close the deal with the voters. The more they find out about him the less comfortable they are voting for him. People just don't like the positions my opponent has taken," said White.

Heinrich's campaign believes their own organization will put them over the top on Tuesday.

From the Democrat's blog:
We're within the margin of error and it's our ground game that is going to decide this election...
If you weren't an early voter, or if you're still undecided, here's an online voter's guide from the non partisan League of Women's Voters; plus, take a few minutes to listen to all of our 5-minute Q&A's with each of the congressional and senate candidates here.

Here's a shortcut to our interview with Martin Heinrich.

And a shortcut to our interview with Darren White.

UPDATE - 8:45pm

Plan to visit the blog tomorrow for our final interview with CD3 Candidate Ben Ray Lujan.

Voting Problems Are Beginning to Surface.

Early voting records are being set across the country and even more records are expected on Tuesday. ABC Radio's Jim Avila reports there are lots of pitfalls facing voters including a misleading pamphlet being handed out in Virginia.

These fliers tell voters that because of high turnout, Republicans will vote on Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday. There's ballot confusion in North Carolina. Apparently a straight party vote, does not include the presidential race, so voters must punch McCain or Obama separately even if they've already voted for the whole Republican or Democratic ticket. And, electronic voting machine snafus are starting to surface. In West Virginia, some machines picked their own candidates not matter which button you pushed.

We've heard from a New Mexcian man caring for his mother in Phoenix for a few months. He requested an absentee ballot early and never received it. He says its unacceptable and tells us he feels "disenfranchised." He can't fly home, even for one day, and leave his mother behind without assistance. He believes its because he's a registered Republican and the county clerk is a Democrat.

The punch cards and hanging chads are all gone, but there are still the normal sneaky tricks.

I hope at the end of Tuesday we're able to report the election was fair and accurate.