Tom Udall Could Force a Pete Domenici Retirement
New Mexico: The Albuquerque Tribune just came out with an article on Pajamas Pete Domenici's Q1 fundraising. Domenici raised a seemingly meager $393,000 for Q1. It looks meager given that Domenici is a long-time incumbent and former Chair of a powerful committee. The article elucidates:
Domenici's total is dwarfed by what was spent on most Senate races in 2006 but is comparable to what Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a Silver City Democrat, raised and spent on the way to an easy victory over Allen McCulloch of Farmington last year.Bingaman spent $3.3 million to beat his opponent 71-29 last year. In 2002, Domenici spent $4.6 million and only beat his opponent 65-35, a drubbing to be sure, but a smaller margin than Bingaman's victory and at a 40% higher price.
Bingaman raised about $230,000 in the first quarter of 2005 and had $556,000 in cash on hand at the end of the period. He wound up spending about $3.3 million. Domenici spent about $4.6 million on his last re-election race in 2002.
So, Domenici is on a correct fundraising pace, if he just wants to raise the same $3 to $5 million for a cake-walk run.
Keep in mind that his physical health, and some have suggested his mental health, are giving away. And he has that pesky Senate Ethics investigation looming over his head.
If a top-tier challenger ran against Domenici, he would have to raise maybe $8 to $10 million, probably double what he originally expected. And he'd have to debate and hustle and endure the rigors of a tough campaign. And, all this, again, while the Senate Ethics investigation loomed over him. With all that to consider, if a top-tier candidate entered the race, I think Domenici, who turns 75 next month, would opt for retirement.
But that candidate would have to enter the race soon, to force Domenici to a decision. As I've suggested before, Democratic Congressman Tom Udall is probably the strongest option, with Lt. Gov. Diane Denish keeping her eye on the Governor's office and former state AG Patricia Madrid having just narrowly lost to Heather Wilson and (however unfairly) being tangentially connected to the scandal that plagues Domenici.
If Tom Udall entered the race now, he could force Domenici to retire and have a not-too-difficult run against far-right-winger Steve Pearce or an even less-prominent Republican opponent. But Udall would have to get in soon. With all of the draft movements cropping up, I'd sure like to see one get started for Tom Udall.