“Ben Ray Luján is an out-of-touch liberal lackey of the un-American, far-left radical monster Nancy Pelosi and her extreme socialist agenda …”
No, that’s not my own voice. It’s just a voice in my head from a future Republican attack ad if Luján — who last week received the official endorsement of House Speaker Pelosi — becomes the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. So far, he’s the only Democrat who has announced he’s running to replace the retiring Tom Udall, though Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is thinking about it.
In an interview last week, ace Albuquerque pollster Brian Sanderoff told me that while Pelosi’s endorsement will only help Luján in a Democratic primary, Republicans almost certainly would try to use it against him if he makes it to the general election. And he’s right. Republicans across this great land of ours, for the last decade or so have tried to turn Pelosi into a boogeyman — or, I guess, boogey woman. These attacks were so successful last year that Democrats were only able to gain 40 congressional seats.
And yes, the Pelosi-as-devil attacks against Dems were plentiful in New Mexico last year. A quick scan of old emails (what can I say? I’m an electronic hoarder) quickly confirms that.
An August fundraising letter from the state GOP said, “Today Nancy Pelosi is in Albuquerque raising money for Deb Haaland’s flailing campaign. The last time we saw Pelosi was in Puerto Rico, with Michelle Lujan Grisham, as they used hard-earned taxpayer money for their posh party at an exclusive hotel for the elite and ate dinner at a $90-a-steak chic restaurant.
“Now Pelosi is making a stop in New Mexico, coming to town to raise money and campaign for tax hikes supported by candidates like Michelle Lujan Grisham and Deb Haaland. …”
A few months later, Haaland’s campaign flailed all the way to a 23 percent margin over her Republican opponent. Lujan Grisham won her race by more than 14 percentage points.
Earlier in the year, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mick Rich called on his Democratic opponent, Sen. Martin Heinrich, “to condemn House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for repeatedly denigrating the GOP tax cuts and resulting worker bonuses as ‘crumbs.’
“… Martin Heinrich must make a choice,” Rich said. “He either must admit he was wrong to vote against the tax cut, or he must continue to cow to his party’s leader, Nancy Pelosi, as he has done consistently throughout his career in Congress.”
I don’t know how one would “cow” to Pelosi or anyone. I suspect Rich meant “bow” or “kowtow.” But, speaking of crumbs, Rich only got about 30 percent of the vote in the three-way race, losing to Heinrich by nearly 24 percentage points, despite the Pelosi puppetry charges.
And in the Southern New Mexico congressional race, Yvette Herrell in early October sent a news release saying, “No matter how hard she tries, Xochitl Torres Small cannot pull the wool over the eyes of New Mexico. New Mexico deserves a member of Congress that not only shares their values but will be a vocal advocate for those values in Washington. The only values that Xochitl will advocate for are the ones that Nancy Pelosi tells her to advocate for.”
And in the same month, the National Rifle Association tried to fire up the base in a news release that said, “… Xochitl Torres Small, supports gun control measures backed by Nancy Pelosi and extreme-anti-gun elites like former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.”
Today Torres Small is in Congress, after beating Herrell in the state’s most conservative district by about 2 percentage points.
Don’t get me wrong. There are several potential lines of attack against Luján, Pelosi or any other Democrat (or any politician for that matter). And I happen to believe it’s ridiculous that, in recent days, Luján’s fundraising emails are trying to portray Gavin Clarkson, currently the only announced Republican Senate candidate, who worked a few months in President Donald Trump’s Interior Department, as being part of “Trump’s inner circle.”
But if I were a Republican strategist, I might think about retiring the recurring Pelosi-as-supervillain trope.