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A Homecoming of Sorts

There are three major Democratic elected officials in New Mexico — Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Tom Udall, and Gov. Bill Richardson.

Tony Martinez has worked for all three of them.

A month ago, Martinez was hired by Richardson to open the state’s first Washington, D.C., lobbying office. Most recently, he worked as Udall’s legislative director. Previously, he held a variety of jobs for Bingaman.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in the New Mexico circle,” Martinez said.

And it’s always good, for these elected officials, to hire a local boy made good. Martinez, 31, is a native of Santa Fe. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University.

Martinez will be paid $60,000 a year in his new post, and New Mexico has allocated $200,000 for its lobbying operations — which, like most states, will be headquartered in the Hall of States on North Capitol Street. Of course, Richardson, who spent 15 years in the House, is still a regular in D.C. — not to mention a staple of national TV talk shows.

Martinez said that, so far, his job has been similar to his old ones — following legislation and federal policy as it relates to the Land of Enchantment, and fighting for more federal funding when appropriate.

“It’s good to have the experience in both chambers,” he said.

A Bolt from Zolt. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has opened its first field office of the cycle, in Illinois, where Democrats consider the seat of retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R) their top pickup opportunity of 2004. Heading that Chicago office is Stacey Zolt, an Illinois native who worked most recently for Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — first on his Senate staff, then during his re-election campaign last year.

Zolt is also a former journalist, for Scripps Howard News Service and this illustrious publication.

No sooner did Zolt start her DSCC gig when the Republicans’ top potential candidate for the Fitzgerald seat, former Gov. Jim Edgar, announced that he would remain in political retirement. Coincidence?

As many as a half-dozen Democrats could wind up competing in next March’s Senate primary. In the meantime, Zolt is expected to conduct opposition research on possible GOP candidates and craft a

communications strategy for the Democrats.

Brad Woodhouse, DSCC communications director, said Zolt will provide “a service function for all the candidates in the Democratic primary, should they choose to use it.” He called Illinois “a unique situation” and said it was too early to say whether the committee would open satellite offices elsewhere.

Proud as a Peacock. NBC News President Neal Shapiro this week announced the network’s new top-level team of “Decision 2004” producers. The new team will coordinate all of NBC News’ political programming on broadcast TV, cable, radio and the Internet.

Shapiro named Mark Lukasiewicz as the executive producer of NBC news specials and special projects, Philip Alongi as the executive director of NBC News specials planning, and Elizabeth Wilner as NBC News’ political director. Beth O’Connell will work closely with this group and will take on added responsibilities as executive producer for NBC News Radio. All have substantial broadcasting and political experience.

Pollster Hits the Road. Carol Arscott, a prominent independent Maryland pollster, is leaving the polling world for now. She has just taken a job as assistant secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation for legislative affairs and communications.

Arscott’s Annapolis-based company, Gonzales/Arscott Research and Communications, has supplied polls to Maryland businesses and media outlets for the past several years. Arscott is also a former pollster for Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, and a former Republican political operative in Maryland and on Capitol Hill, as a former aide to then-Rep. John Erlenborn (R-Ill.).

Arscott’s company will continue to exist as Gonzales Research and Communications, and will be headed by Patrick Gonzales, a Democrat.

“I’ve been the face of the company, but Patrick has always been the brains,” Arscott said.

On the Rise. It has been a busy week for EMILY’s List, the organization that promotes Democratic women who support abortion rights to run for Congress and statewide offices.

On the very public side, the organization sponsored a forum for Democratic presidential candidates Tuesday morning, and drew several prominent elected officials to its two-day conference in Washington.

Equally important, EMILY’s List welcomed another two dozen people into its Campaign Corps political training program. Formerly known as Participation 2000, the program trains political operatives in the basics of campaigning and farms them out targeted campaigns. Since its inception in 1988, the program has placed hundreds of people into an array of successful campaigns.

Here’s the Deal. Last week, we told you about the Greenpeace playing cards that whimsically chronicle the nuclear threat around the world (if such a thing is possible). We’ve since been informed of another such effort, this one sponsored by Americans for Democratic Action.

These cards — known as The Race Cards — trace the Republican Party’s record and rhetoric on race. The deck contains everything from White House intervention in the University of Michigan affirmative action case, to Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) paean to then-Sen. Strom Thurmond’s (R-S.C.) segregationist 1948 presidential campaign, to Rep. Howard Coble’s (R-N.C.) controversial views on foreigners living in the U.S.

“The GOP,” says ADA spokesman Don Kusler, “has gone out of its way to play the race card.

See the Best. You can now view the winners of the American Association of Political Consultants’ annual Pollie Awards for political advertising on the association’s Web site — www.theaapc.org.

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