ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Wilson declares victory; Dems say "Not so fast."
The count goes on … and on. With the latest count posted by the Bernalillo County Clerk's Office as of about 10 last night showing incumbent Republican Rep. Heather Wilson leading Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid by 1,607 votes, Wilson declared victory.
But Democratic state chairman John Wertheim, according to this morning's Albuquerque Journal story, called that announcement "obscenely premature."
And Madrid spokeswoman Heather Brewer said that with "4,000 votes still be counted" — 4,398 provisional, "in lieu of" and early ballots, to be exact — it's still too early to count her candidate out.
The feelings down at the vote-counting warehouse are running so high that Wertheim and GOP lawyer Pat Rogers got into it in front of TV cameras Thursday, with Wertheim calling Rogers a liar and Rogers blasting back, according to a Journal story this morning.
Even when those 4,398 votes are counted as part of the county canvass that could stretch into the weekend, Madrid's people are not likely to go quietly.
But pollster Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., told the Journal that Madrid would have to pick up more than twice Wilson's share of those 4,398 votes to prevail. And if the historical pattern stands where more than half of all provisional ballots are disqualified, Madrid would have to win the remaining vote count by a 3-to-1 margin, Sanderoff said.
(Provisional ballots are given to people who show up to vote but whose names don't appear on the roster of registered voters in that precinct.)
It reminds us of those nasty days following the 2000 presidential election when Democrat Al Gore's people conducted a scorched-earth campaign over Republican George W. Bush's razor-thin lead in Florida and there was a phone call between the candidates in which one of them — we can't remember who — said at one point, "There's no need to get snippy about it."
(6:20am UPDATE: We've tracked down the quote. It was Al Gore who said, "You don't have to get snippy about it" after Bush asked Gore whether he was retracting an earlier concession statement, according to this Jake Tapper piece.)
That just kicked off a poisonous political cycle that continues to this day, with die-hard Democrats still insisting that Bush's win in Florida was illegitimate.
Will the Wilson-Madrid race go the same way? Or will New Mexico's 1st Congressional District race — one of several still undecided House races across the country, according to Chris Cillizza's politics blog in the Washington Post — eventually join in the honeymoon taking shape in Washington, D.C., promising a new era of bipartisan cooperation, respectful disagreement and singing "Kumbaya" around the campfire?
And speaking of Wertheim, his comparison of the yet-uncounted votes to "Al Capone's safe" — a reference to Geraldo Rivera's incredibly hyped opening of the Chicago gangster's long-lost vault 20 years ago — might be a little inapt. On live TV, Geraldo opened the vault, brushed away the dust and cobwebs and found … nothing!