Thursday, March 04, 2004


As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexicans who hate political advertising on TV should consider buying a TiVo or taking John Prine's advice and "blow up the TV." Otherwise, it's going to be a long, long eight months.

Television commercials by the George W. Bush campaign as well as the anti-Bush Voter Fund are expected to start today in New Mexico.

Bush regional spokesman Danny Diaz said Wednesday that the president's re-election campaign has purchased ad time on national cable networks and in local markets. He wouldn't confirm whether New Mexico is one of those.

However, national political columnist Charlie Cook, in his "Off to the Races" column this week, reported that the local stations where Bush will advertise are in nine states that Al Gore narrowly carried in 2000 -- including New Mexico -- and eight close states that Bush won.

The ads will air in 17 states, including ours.

Campaign strategists and pundits from all over the political map have identified this Enchanted Land as one of 17 "battleground" states in the presidential race, based on the 2000 election results.

Cook, in a recent column, narrowed it down further, referring to the "Big 10" states in the "toss-up category." These are New Mexico, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin.

"The amount of money, candidate time and media attention that these 10 states will get knows no bounds," Cook warns.

The vast right-wing conspiracy: Local radio station KTRC-1260 AM took a sharp turn to the right this week. Left-wing talk-show host Mike Malloy was replaced with conservative Michael Reagan at night, while New Age-y Maryanne Williamson has been replaced with Clinton/Kerry-bashing, Bush-loving "Worldnet Daily Radio Active." Other liberal programs once heard on KTRC have been replaced by right-wing shows.

The station has received dozens of calls -- some of them downright nasty and some of them claiming the station is the victim of some kind of Republican coup.

Truth is, employees say, the I.E. America network -- the home for Malloy, Thom Hartmann and other liberal talkers -- went belly up and stopped broadcasting last week. Hartmann, who is on the air weekday afternoons, hopped onto another network, so he's still on KTRC. Malloy and others, however, are in limbo. It's possible that they could return to KTRC in a month or so if they join a network the station can get.

But KTRC remains the refuge for former judges. Former Municipal Judge Tom Fiorina still does his late-afternoon talk show on the weekends. And now retired District Judge Art Encinias does an oldies-music show Sunday afternoons.

Speaking of left-wing radio, former I.E. America host Peter Werbe, who got canned last year when the network's financial problems started snowballing, is scheduled to be interviewed on the Camp Lovewave show, 9 a.m. Saturday on KSFR-90.7 FM.

More veep chatter: The Bulletin, a Washington, D.C., political publication, recently polled 100 members of the Democratic National Committee about who would make the best running mate for John Kerry. The first choice was North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, with 36 percent. In second place was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson,
who got 22 percent. In a distant third-place tie with 1 percent each were Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, Bob Graham of Florida and Evan Bayh of Indiana.

However, this week, political pundit Larry Sabato of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia said, "Bayh is one of only two or three Democrats in the country with the political strength to turn a Bush red state into a Democratic blue state (though, granted, it won't be easy)."

According to Sabato, Richardson is now the third-best choice for veep, behind Bayh and former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland. Just a few weeks ago, when Howard Dean was the front-runner, Sabato rated our governor the No. 1 contender.


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