Thursday, August 31, 2006

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: RICHARDSON FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 31, 2006


We all know Gov. Bill Richardson is becoming quite fond of New Hampshire, home of the nation’s first presidential primary. But could he like it enough to be running for governor of the Granite State?

A strange document popped up Wednesday on a blog called New Mexico Matters, published by Gideon Elliot, a past deputy executive director of the state Democratic Party.

It’s a New Hampshire political committee registration form dated Aug. 7, 2006, for a political committee called Richardson for Governor.

The chairman is one David Contarino, who is chairing the governor’s re-election effort in this state.

And no, the governor of New Mexico isn’t really trying to govern two states, said Richard Bouley of Concord, N.H., who is listed as treasurer of the committee.

“It’s the (political action committee) he’s established in New Hampshire,” Bouley said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “It was set up if he wants to give to candidate committees here.”

So far, Richardson for Governor has contributed $2,500 to the New Hampshire Senate Democratic Caucus, said Bouley, who said he’s a longtime friend of Richardson’s.

Bouley also said the committee isn’t a precursor to a Richardson for President committee. “He has not announced he’s running for president,” Bouley said.

A Thousand Percent: Those of us old enough to remember the brutal 1972 presidential election know what “1,000 percent” means.

Only days after ’72 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern nominated Sen. Tom Eagleton of Missouri as his running mate, news broke that Eagleton had received electro-shock therapy for depression and exhaustion.

Initially, McGovern stood by his man, declaring in front of television cameras that he was behind Eagleton “1,000 percent.”

Days later, Eagleton was dumped from the ticket. From that point on, supporters of President Nixon’s re-election used the phrase to mock McGovern.

Last week, New Mexico Democratic chairman John Wertheim had a “1,000 percent” moment.

When political blogger Joe Monahan published rumors that something was about to break that could drive Democratic state auditor candidate Jeff Armijo off the ticket, Wertheim sent an e-mail to reporters declaring the party “does not comment on unsubstantiated and unattributed rumors in the blogosphere.”

Fair enough. And probably a good idea.

But the chairman took it a step further: We affirm what we know to be true: that Jeff Armijo will be the next Auditor of the State of New Mexico.”

When the Albuquerque Tribune on Saturday published a story about police reports by two women who claimed Armijo made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances toward them, Wertheim, of course, had to backpedal.

And of course by Tuesday, following a meeting with Richardson, Armijo had hit the Eagleton Highway.

So why did Wertheim make such a bold statement about Armijo being the next treasurer?

I can’t believe Wertheim knew about the damaging allegations and hoped nobody would find out.

So that leaves two choices.

Either Wertheim had asked Armijo about the “unsubstantiated and unattributed rumors in the blogosphere” and Armijo lied and said there was nothing.

Or perhaps Wertheim had so much faith in his candidate that he couldn’t conceive of any possible problem, and that faith was so strong, he didn’t bother to check it out.

Unfortunately for him and Armijo — who after all, hasn’t been charged with any crime — newspaper reporters did check it out.

Another AG flier: Once again, there’s a full-color flier from Attorney General Patricia Madrid landing in New Mexico mailboxes.

Once again Republicans are saying the mailer — this one dealing with how to avoid scams — amounts to nothing more than campaign literature paid for by the public for Madrid’s Congressional race against Republican incumbent Heather Wilson.

Like the previous Madrid mailers — which concerned prescription drugs and Internet sex predators — the flier titled Don’t Get Burned has a prominent photo of the attorney general.

In the new one, she’s wearing the same outfit and pearl necklace she wears on the photo of her campaign Web site.

Like the fliers that came before, the new one advertises a new publication by the AG’s office, this one called, Don’t Get Burned: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off.

However the new flier is just a single double-sided sheet, unlike the previous four-page mailers.

And the previous ones indeed were more like campaign brochures, featuring glowing comments about Madrid from news media.

On the previous mailer, Madrid’s name appeared 11 times. On the new one, only four times.

And on the bottom of the back page is a disclaimer: “Taxpayer money was not used for the printing or distribution of this flier. "

Like the others, the anti-scam flier was paid for with money from a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Microsoft.

Once again, the AG’s office argues that the settlement money isn’t “taxpayer” money because it didn’t come directly from taxes — though others argued it’s public money that was won by tax-paid lawyers for the benefit of the citizens of the state.

“As someone who had shares in Microsoft, it was my money,” joked Sam Thompson, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

The anti-scam book can be downloaded HERE. For a hard copy, call (505) 222-9000.

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