Does Tom Udall put families before fish? NO!

 

The race for New Mexico's open Senate seat - which the soon-to-retire Pete Domenici (R) has held since 1973 - is heating up.  Today, Republican candidate Steve Pearce released a full page newspaper ad that draws not-so-subtle connections between Democratic candidate Tom Udall and his "hysterical left-wing environmental allies."

Front and center are two peace-seeking, fish-loving, tax-hiking, tree-hugging, jewelry-wearing, long haired hippies.  The brains behind the Pearce campaign seem to think that connecting Udall to 1960's and 70's-style environmentalism will be enough to discredit him.

Whether or not this will be a successful strategy amid the West's shifting political winds remains to be seen.  As Ray Ring recently reported, "In a growing number of places in the West since 2000, voters have reacted to the oil and gas rush in the Rockies, and to other threats posed by development, population growth and climate change, by taking on a greenish hue."  And environmental politics could be the wedge that fractures the Republican Party.

Prior to running for the Senate, Pearce was the representative for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District, which covers a large swath in the southern part of the state. It's possible that Pearce's ad could be successful in his conservative-leaning home district, but the state as a whole - known as a battleground state (George W. Bush eked out a 2004 victory by less than 1.0%) - has seen some recent bipartisan environmental victories and might not be swayed by this argument.

Ring points out that the Republican Party as a whole is greening, but there is little evidence (at least in this ad) that Pearce is part of that trend.  Conflating environmentalism with hippies and a "hysterical left-wing" environmental movement, Pearce may be missing an opportunity to win over independents and moderate Republicans - the very demographic that could be the key to winning in November.