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Conversation with a Senior Wilson Advisor

Before I sat down to blog, I decided to go through my snail mail. In that pile of bills and solicitations was a letter from the People for Pete campaign asking me to help organize and collect petition signatures for our Senator. That letter was dated October 1, 2007 – only three days before the Senator announced his plans to retire for medical reasons. A political frenzy has since ensued with prospective candidates on both sides of the aisle trying to determine if they’ve got a shot at representing New Mexicans in Congress as a Senator or Representative.

The usual gang of blogosphere pundits are producing posts at a feverish pitch. There are those emerging from desert swamps with alligator predictions supported by the most unscientific of polls. Others are going straight to the source and getting prospective candidates to think out loud about their plans and rationale.

Personally, I think sometimes it pays to wait a beat or two for the dust to begin to settle a bit before jumping into the fray with predictions and insights. After all, it is impossible to make any sort of reasonable guess as to who is going to win a race until you at least know for sure who is running in it. I guess you could call me old fashioned that way.

Still, we do know that one candidate, Congresswoman Heather Wilson, has stepped in, and stepped in boldly. She did not wait to see what the presidential candidate and occasional state visitor, Governor Bill Richardson, is planning to do. She didn’t call around to her Republican peers to try and figure out what they were going to do before taking the next step.

Nope, she just made a decision and announced her decision to run for the Senate seat – 24 hours after we all learned officially that it would be open. That’s what I believe could be called a healthy dose of moxie.

Well, today I had a phone conversation with a Senior Wilson Advisor to discover the source of that gumption. The Advisor, who shall remain nameless (I learned that from my reporter friends), made some strong arguments as to why the Congresswoman should become New Mexico’s next Junior Senator.

The Advisor pointed out to me, Wilson has won one hard battle after another against odds that most Las Vegas bookmakers wouldn’t take. First, she beat a millionaire (or is it billionaire) native son. She followed that campaign win by not once, but twice defeating a well-funded and highly regarded Senator Pro-tem. Then in this last election cycle, she prevailed over a sitting Attorney General despite the anti-Republican tide that swept the nation and sent many of her colleagues packing. All of this in a district that went to Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

“Yeah,” I said. “But, this is a statewide race.” The Advisor quickly threw out a little known fact… The statewide registration of Average Republican Voting Strength (ARVS) is actually four points higher than that of Heather’s Congressional District.

Since I have no problem at all with basic math, I didn’t even have to start counting on my fingers to figure out that this means Heather Wilson would start this race with a four point head start over all of the previous races. The races she won.

But, the Advisor didn’t stop there. I was asked to consider the amount of money spent on media in the last couple of elections. Since it just so happens I know a thing or two about media buying in our state (part of my day job), I got the message loud and clear. You see, New Mexico’s television networks reach every corner of the state except around Las Cruces, which is part of the El Paso market. This means that the vast majority of New Mexicans know Heather Wilson.

The Advisor didn’t have to state the obvious, but I will. Based on the amount of money she has spent on television in the last couple of elections, the Congresswoman’s name id has got to be close to, if not greater, than 90%, in the vast majority of New Mexico.

And, based on a press release I saw from the campaign today, Wilson is already well on her way to raising the money she needs to get that name id to 100%:

The Heather Wilson for Congress campaign announced today that it will file a third quarter Federal Election Commission (FEC) report showing at least $754,000 cash on hand as of September 30, 2007.

Wilson’s campaign raised $238,000 during the third quarter of 2007 that ended on September 30th and $908,000 for the year to date. The $754,000 her campaign has in cash on hand is nearly $25,000 more than two years ago.

As of September 30, 2007, the Heather Wilson for Congress campaign has received contributions from 2339 New Mexicans – 94.2% of her individual contributions.

“I’m honored to enjoy such strong support from New Mexicans,” Wilson said.

Well, all this is well and good, but I didn’t shy away from asking the question on everyone’s mind. What happens if our occasional Governor, the presidential candidate Bill Richardson, decides to jump into the race, despite his statement to the contrary? The Advisor’s response was simple. The people of New Mexico would expect to see debates in every corner of the Land of Enchantment, and this time the Governor would be hard pressed to find an excuse not to participate.

“Ouch,” I thought. That whole debating thing hasn’t really proven to be one of the Governor’s strengths of late.

Alright, it was time to wrap it up (after all, a guy has to make a living to feed his family). Still, I couldn’t help just throwing out one last question before getting back to work. You see, when push comes to shove, I’m a limited government kind of guy at my core. So, I off-handedly asked the Advisor about the press release put out last week by the Club for Growth that chastised Wilson for being on the left when it comes to fiscal policy.

“You mean the release that came out about the same time that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee published their release attacking Heather Wilson for being too far to the right?” the Advisor asked.

“Yeah, I responded, “that’s the one I’m talking about.”

“Well,” the Advisor responded, “if two East Coast organizations, one on the left and one on the right, accuse the Congresswoman of being too conservative and too liberal in the same day, then I’d say we’re right about where we should be – firmly, in the center.”

And, with that, the conversation came to an end.

Before anyone asks, I would be happy to talk to Senior Advisors for other candidates as they get around to announcing. Just shoot me an email, and I’ll send you back an email with the best number to reach me.

The Disclaimer: I was an active member of Blogs for Heather Wilson this last election cycle, and have enjoyed the privilege of serving as a member of her finance committee.