Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eichenberg 'stirred up emotions'

Sen. Tim Eichenberg
Freshman Sen. Tim Eichenberg, D-Albuquerque, is admitting that remarks he made about Lt. Gov. Diane Denish’s chances of winning the governor’s race in 2010 “stirred up emotions on both side(s) of the aisle.”

On Saturday he reportedly told a political conversation group, hosted by Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones (a Republican candidate for governor herself) , that Denish’s ‘complacency or complicity’ with the ‘pay-to-play’ activities involving the Richardson administration would cost her New Mexico’s 2010 gubernatorial election.

On Monday night, Eichenberg released a written statement. While he does not question the accuracy of the report by blogger Mark Bralley or retract his earlier comments, he did say he thinks his comments will provoke continued discussions on “ethics reform, transparency and accountability.”

“I find it unfortunate that my comments were used to create division among Democrats and the Democratic Party, I will continue to support both,” Eichenberg said in the statement. “I will proudly vote for (Denish’s) proposals to make government more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers. She can lead New Mexico into the future and there is no doubt in my mind who I will vote for in November.”

Other's quickly jump on senator's remarks

Denish's campaign manager Oren Shur did not respond to our request for a comment on Eichenberg’s remarks, but he did talk to the ABQ Journal. He told Sean Olson that the comments attributed to Eichenberg were "the same, wrong-headed attempts to tarnish Denish's reputation."

Shur told Olson that Denish has led the way for Democrats by proposing ethics reform legislation.

"We're not putting much stock into comments that were caught by a blogger at a Republican candidate's event, but Lt. Gov. Denish has a record that speaks for itself, and she's the only candidate in this race who has outlined a meaningful ethics reform agenda," Shur said.

GOP Chairman Harvey Yates is also taking advantage of Eichenberg's comments to criticize Denish's leadership in the Richardson administration.

“Recent comments attributed to Senator Eichenberg are not surprising,” Yates said. “Ms. Denish has had the opportunity to stand up for New Mexicans for the last six-and-a-half years and has failed to do so. Now that she is on the campaign trail, Denish is posturing herself as a champion of reform. Unfortunately, the current economic condition and tarnished reputation of this state reveal that there is very little substantive evidence to back up this claim.”

On Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez made sure her supporters knew about Eichenberg’s comments in an e-mail headlined “They Said It,” referring to Democrats talking about fellow Democrats.

One man who does think Denish will win, and wants to be on the ticket with her next fall, is former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colón. On Sunday, he said Eichenberg is entitled to his opinion.

“But I have been traveling the state non-stop for several weeks and have a much different perspective,” Colón 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.”

Last week, Eichenberg confirmed that he had decided against campaigning for the No. 2 spot on the ticket that will likely be led be Denish next year. Denish, the current lieutenant governor, is the only Democrat campaigning for governor.

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