Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eichenberg says Denish 'can't win' in 2010

Did freshman State Sen. Tim Eichenberg, D-Albuquerque, commit 'political harakiri' this weekend when he told a group that incumbent Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish can't win the 2010 gubernatorial race in New Mexico?

Last week he opted out of running for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 Democratic primary. On Saturday, he told a bi-partisan group why he decided not to campaign for the 2nd spot on the ticket that will likely be led be Denish next year.

Photojournalist and blogger Mark Bralley attended a "Conspiracy Brews" meeting hosted on Saturday mornings by a Republican candidate for governor State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones.

This morning, Bralley posted a shocking report on his blog, What's Wrong with This Picture?

He wrote that Eichenberg told the crowd at the Southwest Learning Center in Albuquerque that due to Denish's "complacency or complicity" with the ‘pay-to-play’ atmosphere surrounding the administration of Governor Bill Richardson, and standing quietly behind him," that he was unwilling to invest a half million dollars in a 'losing campaign.'

Bralley writes Eichenberg said, "I looked her square in the eye when I said that. I told her I didn’t think she was going to win.”

Eichenberg may have made his own calculations on Denish's chances in 2010, but his statements will clearly get a harsh response from fellow Democrats.

Perhaps Eichenberg is considering changing to the Republican party after a long history of success and support in the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

He did not immediately return our call to clairfy his weekend remarks.

He may have overlooked an ethics plan that Denish unveiled this summer. She wants the legislature to consider ethics reform in January. But, Denish has recently relented it may not get attention during a 30-day session which will be focusing on a nearly 1 billion dollar budget deficit.

In July, when Denish introduced her ethics plan, said she believed “the people of New Mexico deserve a state government that is as open and honest as the people of this state.”

Her proposals are to create an independent state ethics commission and strengthen lobbyist and campaign reporting requirements. The lieutenant governor also proposed the creation of a new “sunshine portal” -- a one-stop shop on the Internet for access to government spending data and other information.

“I am committed to making the changes necessary to ensure that New Mexico’s government and elected officials enjoy the trust of New Mexico’s people,” said Denish.

The Richardson-Denish administration has been under attack by the NM State Republican Party Chairman Harvey Yates, and by all four candidates running for the 2010 GOP nomination for governor, including former party chairman Allen Weh, State Rep. Arnold-Jones, Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, and Albuquerque public relations firm owner Doug Turner.

Denish, the current lieutenant governor, is the only Democrat campaigning for Governor.

Denish photo: Mark Bralley

Update 915p

Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colon, who is running to be on the ticket with Denish, is speaking out on the senator's comments.

"Sen. Eichenberg is entitled to his opinion, but I have been traveling the state non-stop for several weeks and have a much different perspective," Colon Said. "Democrats from each of our 33 counties are excited about Lt. Gov. Denish being on the top of the ticket and I would be honored to be on that winning ticket with her. New Mexicans are ready for Diane Denish’s leadership and agenda, which includes ethics reform and a continued emphasis on education and our economy."

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