Sunday, March 23, 2008

Backward Lobbying and Big Bill's Big Endorsement

The Nut:
Instead of politicians receiving plush treatment from lobbyists, both Republicans and Democrats have been accused of trying to buy votes at primary conventions. The newest development is accusations against Don Wiviott and Ben Ray Lujan – candidates for congress in northern New Mexico – that they purchased hotel rooms and food for their delegates. Not nearly as serious as the allegations by former governor, Dave Cargo, that Heather Wilson and Darren White paid delegates $35 per hour and covered their $30 registration fee. Bill Richardson tried to bury his endorsement of Barack Obama over Easter Weekend. He echoes the call for Clinton to end her campaign for the sake of party unity. Clinton supporter and politico James Carville remembered the holiday season as he attacked the move comparing Richardson’s support to Judas selling out. . . hooray for James’ clever attempt at smearing Big Bill. There’s no negative campaigning going on here.

Lobbying gone backwards

First, Heather Wilson and Darren White’s campaigns were accused of paying delegates to the Republican Bernalillo County Pre-Primary convention. Now, after the Democrats have held their statewide Pre-Primary Convention, congressional candidates are again being accused of being a little overly kind to its supporting delegates.

Don Wiviott and Ben Ray Lujan – the two leading candidates for Northern New Mexico’s congressional seat – are both taking hits for being too overly funded and for dispersing their campaigns’ funds in possibly illegal manners. Lujan was blasted for purchasing delegates food at the convention, as well as utilizing fancy headsets to communicate with staffers at the convention. Wiviott has admitted to paying for hotel rooms in Rio Rancho for delegates who came in from around the state.

This story has not attracted much attention yet because it very routine to provide food to convention delegates. This year’s convention was actually slightly unusual in that the Santa Ana Star Center did not allow campaigns to bring in the normal lavish spreads that they traditionally lay out. It is a normal tradition for campaigns to bring bottles of water and any other kind of food or comforting item for delegates to help them survive the afternoon of speeches.

Purchasing hotel rooms is not as traditional, nor as nominal. When campaigns shower delegates with food, they may give them up to $10 worth of grub. . . its doubtful they got such a good deal on the hotel rooms. Go have your own debate on how much money a delegate’s vote is worth. Consider this though. If a campaign is going to pay for a person to stay the night in a hotel so they can attend a convention the next day, do you think they would purchase a room for just anyone or would they only foot the bill for guaranteed supporters?

All of these allegations pale in comparison to the charges against Wilson and White that they paid delegates $35 per hour and covered the $30 registration fee for them to attend the Bernalillo Pre-Primary Convention. While the hotel rooms are of the same monetary value, the direct payment to a person for their vote is nothing similar to identifying a supporter and then providing them with a means to attend the convention. . . none of the Republicans at the Bernalillo convention incurred $70 in expenses as they attended.

If you’re upset about this story, you’d better get on the phone to Gary King. The Attorney General’s office has already said it would not investigate any of the allegations.

Big Bill’s big support of Obama

How do you make big news, quieter news? Religious holidays! In the first hours of Good Friday Bill Richardson sent his supporters his endorsement of Barack Obama. As a holiday weekend campaigns normally avoid working on approached, Richardson attempted to make the normal rounds that such a big endorsement brings in as quiet a manner as possible.

Barack Out With My Cock Out has discussed how Richardson was stuck between endorsing the family that made his career – the Clintons – or being accused of betraying them and endorsing the man that will have a job to offer him at the end of it all. Richardson recognized that the primary race is decided and that there is no longer any risk in publicly stating his support so he did just that. He still didn’t want to make it any bigger of a deal than necessary. So on Friday of a week that campaigns forbid their staffs from annoying voters, Richardson came out with his opinion.

He tried to bury the reports of his support because he knew he would become the punching bag for attacks against Obama. He also saw the charges of traitor coming. As soon as he weighed in, James Carville, another surrogate supporter of Hillary Clinton retorted by comparing Richardson’s support of Obama to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Expect CNN and MSNBC to spend the next day fighting over which side wins this trade of blows. Also expect them to say that it goes Obama’s way.

Richardson’s support has been labeled as a way to curry support with Hispanics, but you should not expect too many people to come aboard simply because of the endorsement. However, if played properly, the back and forth during the announcement should win Obama a point or two. The shift in support isn’t from Richardson’s endorsement, its from voters seeing people like Carville making heartless attacks against Richardson. Bill is also helped to shift the focus from Rev. Wright and onto Richardson’s decision to leave behind the pattern of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton in favor of that intangible sparkle of hope. With it being a weekend that normally takes people away from the news, it will significantly help Obama avoid losing support.

If there are people that will support Obama directly because of Richardson’s endorsement, expect anti-war advocates, moderates and very active Democrats that are still on the fence to follow Big Bill’s lead. Richardson caught voters’ attention by taking the most aggressive stance on ending the war. He also won his support from moderate Democrats and many Republicans, as well.

His presidential bid fizzled when voters showed that they wanted a new leader that did not come from the traditional circles of power. His supporters saw his unmatched foreign policy experience, record of cutting taxes and creating jobs and came to his side because of his ability to site accomplishments for any constituency. While they may be few and far between, there are plenty of well-read politickers that know of New Mexico’s Governor and his long career of public service.

More articles to read:

Obama has reclaimed lead in national preference poll:

How to conduct a proper political scandal:

Obama fighting back:

NYTimes highlights McCain’s political infidelities:

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