Teague could be in trouble in 2010

Heath Haussamen

Heath Haussamen

The Democrat’s House district is currently fertile ground for Republicans, but anything could happen between now and next November.

Analysts and political operatives are increasingly saying that House Democrats could face significant election losses in 2010. New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District is, in my view, one of the seats most likely to flip.

The GOP couldn’t have a better candidate to take on a Democratic incumbent than former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who is challenging current U.S. Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M., next year.

Pearce served three terms in the House, easily winning re-election in 2004 and 2006. He voluntarily gave up his seat last year to run for U.S. Senate — a race he lost badly because he’s too conservative to win a statewide race.

But Pearce’s politics do match those of many voters in the 2nd District, as evidenced by his easy victories in 2004 and 2006. It’s reasonable to suspect, in a congressional district in which John McCain defeated Barack Obama, that Pearce would have held on to the House seat last year if he and Teague had squared off.

Pearce may also be blessed with what’s shaping up to be an ideal climate in the 2nd District for a Republican candidate. It’s the home of the oil and gas industry that funds New Mexico’s state government and powers the economy. And many are furious with Teague for voting in favor of controversial cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year. He faced crowds of angry constituents after the vote.

That vote only added to the anger that had already started to steam when Teague supported the massive stimulus bill passed shortly after Obama — and Teague — took office.

With the first vote, fiscal conservatives in the district had their eyes on Teague. With the second, all the anger that was being directed at Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid shifted to Teague. In the eyes of many in the district, the Hobbs oilman, who characterizes himself as a small-town guy who’s more like his constituents than Washington politicians, began looking just like everyone else in Washington.

Pearce, meanwhile, is also a Hobbs oilman, and he’s one whose votes in Congress generally pleased the oil and gas industry.

Fertile ground for Republicans

The 2nd District is conservative. Before Teague it was represented by a Republican for 28 years. There has been some shifting to the left in the western side of the district in recent years — particularly in Las Cruces, the largest city in the district.

But, if history is any indication, the newly registered voters who helped Obama win Las Cruces in 2008 are less likely to vote in 2010 without a presidential battle at the top of the ticket. And there is evidence that the tea party movement is growing stronger in Las Cruces.

Teague has worked hard to develop a top-notch constituent services system, with five offices throughout the district. To his credit, he’s held more town-hall meetings this year than any other member of the state’s congressional delegation.

Because of that, he’s winning respect for being willing to listen. And, rather than getting on board with his party’s agenda, he’s taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach to the health-care reform debate that has taken a toll on the president’s approval rating in New Mexico and elsewhere.

But the district is currently fertile ground for Republicans, and the GOP knows it. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) jumped into this race early, with radio ads in July — a full 16 months before the election. Clearly, the GOP plans to spend big money in this district, viewing it as one of the best shots for a pickup in a year in which analysts say the GOP might pick up many seats.

Teague has already had his own big guns coming out to help him, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and T. Boone Pickens. Democrats know Teague is one of their most vulnerable members in Congress.

Will Pearce be willing to spend his money?

One significant factor could help Teague. Though both men are rich, only Teague has shown that he’s willing to spend his own money to win an election. Last year, he pitched in $1.5 million during his primary and general election races.

Though Pearce will have the help of the NRCC, Teague is going to have the help of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. If Pearce is unwilling to spend his own money, Teague might be able to level the playing field with a healthy infusion of cash from his personal coffers.

Anything could happen between now and November 2010 to change the climate in Washington and the 2nd District. Teague has plenty of time to make the case to his constituents that they should choose him over Pearce, and he’s working very hard to do that.

But if the election were held today, I suspect Teague would be in trouble.

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20 thoughts on “Teague could be in trouble in 2010

  1. The reason Harry Teague is in office is because there was a high voter turn out with a very high percentage of progressives and hispanics. If Teague forgets his base then he will be in trouble. You give to much credit to the conservative poputation in the congressional region.

  2. I have read Chu CV and have meet him several times and heard him speak numerous times. I am familiar with him and his experience. I hate to draw distinctions, but government bureacracy and academia are just not on par with other parts of our society wrt management and leadership experience, in my opinion.

  3. DJ claims that Chu has no “relevant management and leadership experience.” Chu was Director of the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley national Lab. He has been active in several different fields, so he is something of a renaisance man.

    While at Stanford he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brought together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine. … etc. Read his CV. He didn’t just fall into the position of Secretary of Energy, he has both intelligence and experience.

  4. Not that it matters- I use my Ph.D. on this blog to differentiate me from another Michael Swickard here in Las Cruces. Poor guy moved here a few years ago – he is a chile researcher from California – and the confusion began. Two bothers came to America from Germany in 1765 – his ancestor was Daniel and mine was Martin. In real life though I am in academic settings almost every day (was in a Sante Fe school yesterday morning and a Los Alamos school yesterday afternoon training teachers) and I do not use my title, to them I am just Michael Swickard.

  5. I’ve got a fair amount of education myself but my perspective is derived from over twenty years of working in industry affected by environmental laws and regulations. This includes Title V permitting, RCRA permitting, as well as working with EPA and states (to include California and New York) on developing new regulations.

    Its pretty easy to start with and stay with the theorectical but ultimately you have to blend in with reality. Emission control technolgies (for example), in actual practice, are more expensive, and less efficient than the rulemaking process assumes initially.

    The consequences of bad rulemaking are never borne by the rulemakers but by the consumers, as costs always get passed to them. Classroom science is a good start but it’s not a persuasive argument in the real world.

  6. Very good Ms. Wedum. Yes, since your CV has been on the site before I knew of your Ph.D. and your preference not to use your “Dr.” title. I completely understand, I use mine rarely as well. Considring your education, you should be quoting yourself (if you have the relevant resarch and teaching experience in AGW) instead of Chu, you are also much more qualified to speak to that science than he. I agree Thinker, I would never be considered for Energy Sec. As a typical appointed political bureaucrat position it is much more dependent on political preferences and world view than on experience in the relevant science and industry areas. The interesting thing is that normally the Energy Sec. at least has some relevant management and leadership experience, but Chu doesn’t, a bit like when Bill was selected, purely on politics.

  7. Well! Dr. J has four university degrees.

    So do I. B.A. Chemistry, from UC Berkeley; M.A. Chemical Physics, U. Oregon, M.S. Physics (emphasis on atmospheric physics), U. Nevada Reno, Ph.D. Physical Chemistry, Purdue U.

    But you can go on calling me Ms. Wedum, I don’t use the title much. And most of you probably have heard the joke that Ph.D. stands for “Piled Higher and Deeper!”

  8. “I would gladly put my educational and research credentials up against Chu anytime.”

    So would I, but then, we’d both still lose out on being Energy Secretary, now, wouldn’t we?

  9. Ahhhhh, Dr. J. Always the conspiracy theorist. Whatever makes you feel better.

    Just don’t ask the reality based world to buy in. We’re too busy trying to actually FIX the problems in our communities.

  10. Fret not Thinker, I am sure plans are underway as we speak about census manipulation, redistricting, and putting LC in with Marty’s district so you all feel at home. I suspect ACORN will be helping do it as well, if they are not too busy offering tax, immigration, and business advice that is.

  11. If we didn’t have the stooopidist Congressional Districting lines, Harry Teague might never have gotten into office in the first place, all the Texas Republicans in Eastern New Mexico could have their Stevie Pearce back, and we here in REAL New Mexico would have gotten Bill McCamley, or someone who at least represents the identity of this community.

    Seems like we should all be working together to redraw our districts, or maybe after the 2101 Census, add a new one.

  12. I would gladly put my educational and research credentials up against Chu anytime. I have 4 university degrees covering the range of the earth’s history and sciences and have done paleoclimatic research using stable isotope geochemistry. Chu is a theoretical physicist who won the Nobel for elementary particle physics (development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light) , not the earth’s systems and climate, so he is ignorant of the earth and its processes. When questioned in his confirmation hearings about where oil comes from he was clueless, that shows you how much he knows about the earth and her systems.

    The study you link to from the WashPost is fine, but is totally non-definitive in fingering man’s CO2 as the main climate change culprit. It is yet another case of sensationalist political science published to grab headlines (with unsubstantiated claims about AGW) and citations for a tenure case I suspect. It uses the flawed logic of single factor correlation proving causation. As we scientists know, the earth’s climate is much more complex with thousands of factors causing changes, not one. Lake sediment core studies are not precise enough to conclude man’s CO2 is causing climate changes.

    We do know from millions of years of lake and ocean core sediments in the northern hemisphere that the Arctic Ocean has been ice free numerous times over the last few thousand years, and a recently as 1905 (and almost in the 1940’s) when Raold Amundsen made a trip through the Northwest Passage with his wooden ship. These occurrences also never correlated with high CO2 and of course were not connected to man’s evil CO2, as he didn’t exist. They typically are associated with large scale changes in ocean circulation patterns and thus Milankovitch cycles, not CO2 or man. Here are a few references to this:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071113200545.htm
    And: http://tinyurl.com/lhs2kn
    And: http://www.physorg.com/news101566538.html

    If you like the WashPost as a source, perhaps you should see what their degreed meteorologist thinks of that argument and others here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/09/a_skeptical_perspective_on_glo.html

  13. stever wrote: “There is no comparison between “cap and trade” for sulfur dioxide and that for carbon dioxide, SO2 most often being a by product of an unnecessary part of a process (e.g. emissions from a coal fired power plant, the coal having a sulfur content unrelated to its BTU value). CO2 is a direct product of of using fossil fuels.”

    The source of the gas does not have anything to do with how to sequester the gas.

    SO2 + H2O (sure wish we had subscript capability) combine to form H2SO3, a weak acid.
    CO2 + H2O combine to form H2CO3, a much weaker acid, by roughly two orders of magnitude.

    There will certainly be significant differences in whatever turns out to be the best process for removing CO2, vs SO2, from the emissions, and I leave this to the engineers. Coal is considered dirty if its SO2 content is above about 3%, as I recall from when I taught environmental chemistry. CO2 represents more like 15% of emissions from coal plants, according to my more recent reading. This is why I mentioned the roughly 5x scaling process.
    Dr. J confidently asserts that CO2 is not a pollutant. I trust Nobel prize winner Cho more than DJ!
    True, SO2 is a chemical pollutant, “acid rain” chemically destroys foliage and kills fish, etc, while the interaction of the energy levels of CO2 with outgoing low-energy radiation is a physical process (think microwave oven– the energy that is absorbed by the water in your food that causes it to heat up in the microwave is close in wavelength to the energy absorbed by the CO2 in the atmosphere that causes the CO2 to heat up).

    The other important point is that the clean energy technologies, and “clean-up” technologies, are being developed, and either the US is going to be a technological leader in these fields, or be left behind. I do not like the idea of my country being second-rate in technology. Recently it seems the only thing we are good at is producing weapons of mass destruction and rude talk show hosts.

    Below is a link to an interesting article:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/03/AR2009090302199.html (Emissions Linked to End of 2,000-Year Arctic Trend)

  14. Oops, forgot to add this quote on how well the Waxman-Markey bill protects rural co-ops’ customers (if Harry actually did this amendment) : http://www.stpns.net/view_article.html?articleId=107521776153897612759

    “Jim Van Someren, communications manager for Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., which supplies power to the Socorro Electric Cooperative, wrote in an e-mail to the Mountain Mail ”
    “In its present form, the specific impact of the proposed Waxman-Markey legislation … on Tri-State’s rates to Socorro Electric Cooperative and the other 43 electric co-ops to which we provide wholesale power is not fully known at this time,” Van Someren wrote. ”

    So, in it’s present form the impact of Waxman-Markey is “NOT FULLY KNOWN”. That should be reassuring for those 170,000 customers that Harry actually saved them from drastic rate increases.

  15. There is no comparison between “cap and trade” for sulfur dioxide and that for carbon dioxide, SO2 most often being a by product of an unnecessary part of a process (e.g. emissions from a coal fired power plant, the coal having a sulfur content unrelated to its BTU value). CO2 is a direct product of of using fossil fuels. Not apples and oranges different but apples and granite difference.

    And lets be clear CLEAN is expensive, not widely avaliable anytime soon if ever, and of of very little economic benefit to the 2nd Congressional District of NM or NM as a whole vs DIRTY which is relatively inexpensive, widely avaliable and of huge importance to NM economically and in particular money to pay for health care, schools etc.

    The fact that Cap and Trade will have no impact of global climate is a big deal also, but who cares about science?

  16. My, my Ms. Wedum, you must have been reading Teague’s press releases. You really should research it more in depth. Here is a chance: http://www.rules.house.gov/amendment_details.aspx?NewsID=4341

    You will note that Mr. Teague’s name is not listed as the primary sponsor of any amendments to HR 2454. So when did he make these deals and where are they listed as “his”? I am curious about his involvement as none can be found in the records.

    And as for the carbon tax being like the SO2 cap and trade, they are nothng at all alike. Here is a good summary by the people who invented the SO2 system: http://masterresource.org/?p=4214
    One other thing that is different, SO2 is an actual, scientifically proved pollutant, CO2 is not. Big difference.

    And if you don’t think Waxman-Markey is a carbon tax, then just wait and see what happens to all industries and consumers than burn fossil fuels. It is a carbon tax, just a dishonest, stealthy one that is indirect and hidden so people can’t see it stealing away GDP, job growth, and causing inflation with increased costs for most everything manufactured and consumed.

    I will agree Pearce was unwise to have given up the seat, and the people are sorry he did when they got Harry.

  17. Harry Teague has done a lot for this district in the short time he has been in office.

    He fought for protections in the cap and trade bill (HR 2454). Obviously, he could not get those concessions and then turn around and not vote for it.

    He successfully fought for protection for small petroleum refiners: Rural New Mexico, like much of rural America, is served by small business refiners, which were vulnerable under the proposed bill, HR 2454. And if refiners close in rural areas, gas prices there would have to skyrocket in order to attract supplies from the coasts. Thousands of job losses from refinery closings would also result. In order to prevent hikes in gas prices for rural consumers and save jobs in rural areas, Congressman Teague proposed that small refiners should receive all of their emissions allowances for free. His amendment was included in the bill and passed the House.

    He successfully fought for protection for rural electric cooperatives and their consumers: The 2nd CD contains 170,000 rural electric members who were going to be hurt by the legislation, so the Congressman proposed an amendment to reduce the electric rates for rural coops. The proposal, which would ensure more credits for rural coops, was included in the bill and passed the House.

    Many folks I have talked to seem to be very ignorant about just what ‘cap and trade’ means. In the first place, it is market regulation, which is very different from a carbon tax. CLEAN energy companies (wind, solar, geothermal) SELL (TRADE) their carbon credits to DIRTY energy companies (coal and gas), and their profits mean they can sell their energy at lower cost. They expand—MORE Jobs for New Mexico. AND MORE available CLEAN energy credits. This drives the cost DOWN.

    DIRTY Energy companies (coal and gas) invest in CLEAN technology to cut their carbon emissions, so they need to buy fewer credits from CLEAN energy companies. The result for SO2 has been that the cost turned out to be LESS THAN HALF of the fear mongers’ predictions. See http://www.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1085.

    Furthermore, market regulation (cap and trade) is much better than government regulation. Jeff Sterba of PNM Resources pointed out that government regulation would affect his coal power plant, but not the competing Navajo power plant near his but on the soil of an independent nation.

    Bottom line–Cap and Trade worked well for SO2 (remember acid rain?), and will probably work well for CO2. (The amount of CO2 emitted is roughly 5x more than the SO2–but engineers are good at scaling up operations AND we will be able to sell any technology we develop to other nations.)

    Steve Pearce was very foolish to discard his safe incumbency to run against Udall, especially since he refused to commit his own money to the race. There were polls in the early spring that put him (and Wilson) both 20 points behind Udall. Wilson had good reason to run, as she was barely hanging on to the CD 1 seat, so she had less to lose. I predict that it will be a hard-fought race, but Teague’s dedication and hard work will carry the day.

  18. How true Dr. Swickard. Teague is running commercials on TV promoting windmills and “green jobs” tied to his carbon tax vote. But his constituents are not ignorant enough to think any of those “green jobs” (promoted by the Czar who was forced to resign in disgrace and skipped the NMSU energy conference) will be anywhere close to the pay or number of the jobs they will lose thanks to Teague’s carbon taxes. His district will be especially hurt by carbon taxes, in jobs and energy costs. He seems oblivious to it all, and just doesn’t get it. That neglect and ignorance of his constituents will cost him come Nov. 2010. And allying himself with the progressive political scientist Chu, who said he was ignoring nuclear and nat gas as energy sources, will do no good for him in Hobbs or Roswell. Maybe he should move to San Francisco, his ideas and world view fit those constituents much better. After all he has all the money he needs already, what the problem with his constituents?

  19. Teague is puzzled by how he has been treated. For pity’s sake, he thinks to himself, I am a US Congressman, why are they shouting? The did not shout at Pearce (much) or at Skeen (much) or at Runnels (much) so why me?

    The Teague money will not make a difference since money cannot overcome real passion. I say this because in 1980, as publisher and editor of the Lincoln County News I was front and center for Skeen’s write-in victory where the best financed candidate was the only one on the ticket in the race and he came in THIRD!!!!

    Skeen won and coming in second was another write-in, the wife of the well-like Congressman who died suddenly while in office. It is not about spending money, all Teague can really do is listen to his district and stop supporting an agenda that the majority of the district does not support.

    Harry Teague backed into his problems with his votes in Congress.