Monday, June 2, 2008

Nothing Like a Good "No Rules Knife Fight" Between Republicans

From the "Damn Fun Senate Races to Watch" File: In New Mexico, voters are gearing up for the state primaries tomorrow, where Republicans and Democrats will determine their party's candidates to run for Congress. Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) announced last fall that he's retiring from the United States Senate, which means that there is no incumbent in the Senate race. Now, two Republican members of Congress, Representatives Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce, are duking it out with one another to see who will be nominated at tomorrow's state convention to run as a Republican for the United States Senate. Pearce is farther to the right than Wilson, but they're both quite conservative (Wilson, in fact, calls herself a "common-sense conservative" -- as opposed to the troglodyte variety). Pearce insists Wilson isn't right wing enough. He says she doesn't want to cut taxes as aggressively as he does. In fact, Pearce got a big boost from the Club for Growth, which has spent close to $400,000 on attack ads saying that Wilson leaves something to be desired as a tax cutter. Apparently, Domenici was so troubled by the ads that he after straddling the fence as long as possible, he finally endorsed Wilson.

There have been lots of ugly moments in this race -- too many to count. In recent days, the attacks between the two camps have gotten downright dirty. Wilson is trying to turn Pearce into Snidely Whiplash (right) by accusing him of cutting Social Security benefits to "widows and orphans." A Wilson attack ad against Pearce said, "Cut Social Security for widows and orphans? Unbelievable! But Steve Pearce said he'd do it. Pearce said cut them off - no benefits." Pearce says Wilson is weak on foreign policy because she has voiced doubts about the current strategy in Iraq. Pearce insists that America had better be ready to stay in Iraq a mighty long time. As he put it, "I can tell you that after 50 years we're still in Germany and Japan and after 40 years we're still in Korea." One Pearce attack ad insists Wilson is actually a liberal, along with New Mexico's Democratic congressman, Representative Tom Udall. The ad says, ""Heather Wilson - Tom Udall - liberal values - liberal votes! Both voted to waste taxpayer dollars on a lobster institute and a ballet theater in New York City!"

Wilson says Pearce has not been supportive of poor, rural hospitals in New Mexico. Pearce attacks Wilson for supporting embryonic stem cell research. He insists he's "pro-life" and she is not. Wilson contends that Pearce is into "dirty politics." "
He has a tendency to make false statements and hope no one calls him on it," she said. Wilson ripped into Pearce because he voted for the $290 billion Farm Subsidy Bill passed last month in Congress. She insisted the bill subsidizes only dairy producers in the Midwest and Northeast who are competing against New Mexico's decidedly weaker dairy producers.

Who knows which one of these candidates will win? Ugly attack ads seem to work like a charm in American politics, and Pearce's attack-ad arsenal is more heavily stockpiled than Wilson's. The attack ads are having the desired effect, as the polls show. But the race will be close. Both candidates stayed away from President George "Dubya" Bush during the President's visit to Albuquerque last week, which was probably a wise move. Dubya helped raise funds for New Mexico's uber-right-wing congressional candidate Darren White, a man who insisted that New Mexico Democrats are controlled by "radical left-wing special interest groups."

(Above: Old Dubya leaving the White House, May 27, on his way to Albuquerque. He's thinking, "Maybe I shoulda taken that left toin at Albu-koy-kee.")

Can it get any nuttier? Sadly, we only have one more day to watch these two Republicans tear each other limb from limb. As Blogger Joe Monahan put it, "
What I make of this is there's no rules in a knife fight and we have a knife fight to the finish here for this U.S. Senate nomination!" One wishes certain knife fights might drag on a bit longer.

No comments: