A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 6, 2006
To steal from an old Bill Richardson ad, “That Richardson! His suits don’t fit, but he sure made GQ this month.”
No, that’s comic Will Ferrell, not Richardson, in the bathing suit with the bikini girls on the July cover.
But back on page 100, the governor of the great state of New Mexico is profiled along with several other probable 2008 presidential contenders.
Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, to nobody’s surprise, is named Democratic “front-runner.” Below her are Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Richardson, Sen. John Kerry and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner.
According to the analysis, “Of all the candidates on this list, (Richardson)’s the most likely to end up somewhere on the ticket. ... Richardson’s a natural running mate for a senator who wants to embrace the reform message — especially his old friend Hillary.”
Richardson’s “natural allies,” according to GQ, are “Democrats who want to win. ... He has insider chops but can still campaign as an outsider.”
Keep in mind that GQ is not considered to be as authoritative on politics as it is on men’s casual wear. But at this point, when Richardson’s national numbers are still in the single-digits, his camp probably is happy to see a national magazine taking him this seriously.
Not that everything in the profile is complimentary.
Says GQ: “It’s unclear whether voters will be turned off by some of his personal issues, such as the insinuation by a federal judge that Richardson leaked the name of accused spy Wen Ho Lee to the media in 1999.” (Richardson has denied the accusation.) “It’s also unclear whether it will help or hurt that when the North Koreans wanted to negotiate in 2003, they asked for Richardson.”
And in a section called “How he’d lose,” the profile adds, “In addition to the leak, he has been accused of fabricating an item on his résumé (that he was drafted by a Major League Baseball team) and being a little, uh, ‘touchy’ with the ladies. Often the smartest person in the room, he’s not always the most charming.”
Poll numbers: Remember, before Richardson runs for president or vice president, he’s got to get re-elected governor first.
The first known poll in the 2006 New Mexico gubernatorial race was released last week, and, at least on first glance, the numbers look good for Richardson.
A poll published last Friday by Rasmussen Reports shows Richardson ahead of Republican John Dendahl by a margin of 56 percent to 32 percent. That would leave 12 percent undecided.
The poll was conducted by a telephone survey of 500 likely voters on June 27. The margin of sampling error for the survey is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
That’s a landslide by anyone’s estimation, though not the magic 60 percent that some say is needed to mount a convincing national campaign.
But at least one state GOP pundit says there’s some silver lining in the Rasmussen cloud. “My guess is that no one in the Richardson camp has found the Governor enjoying the support of only 56 percent of likely New Mexican voters a cause for celebration,” conservative Mario Burgos wrote Monday in his blog. “Richardson has spent millions over the last few years touting his record. Yet, 44 percent of New Mexicans remain unwilling to say they would vote for him.”
“As the incumbent, Governor Richardson is only likely to see his support decline from this point.” Burgos wrote. “John Dendahl hasn’t even had time to spend a penny putting his message out there, and the governor who would be president is already being held to 56 percent.”
Richardson began his television-ad campaign in early June. Dendahl, who didn’t become the GOP nominee until mid-June, has not begun advertising.
“This does not bode well for Bill Richardson’s national goals, and explains why the Richardson camp has been so quick to launch negative ads targeting John Dendahl,” Burgos wrote.
Still, Dendahl has a tough road ahead of him. Assuming those Rasmussen numbers are correct, Dendahl has to pry seven points from Richardson and convince all the undecideds to go with him.
And this number has to be troubling for the Republicans: According to Rasmussen, 30 percent of GOP voters back Richardson.
“The governor is viewed favorably by 66 percent of all likely voters, Dendahl by 37 percent,” the polling company said. “Forty-one percent view Dendahl unfavorably and 23 percent don’t know him well enough yet to give an opinion.”
In the U.S. Senate race, Rasmussen has incumbent Democrat Jeff Bingaman ahead of Republican candidate Allen McCulloch 59 percent to 33 percent.
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