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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Treats For The Candidates, Final Moves For Susana And Gary, Backlash Over UNM's Guv Kowtow, Maggie's Media Weighed And Udall Puts On A Clinic  

Welcome back as we head into the final weekend of Campaign '14. Those of you seeking to avoid the ongoing barrage of TV ads, feel free to hide under the bed. After all it is Halloween. . .

We're all ready for trick or treating tonight. If Gov. Martinez knocks on our door we have 16 illegal driver's licenses for her that we scarfed up in the neighborhood. If Gary King comes around we have a handful of change for his Halloween bag. That will represent 25% of the money he's raised for the campaign. . .

For Senator Udall we have a framed photo of him and President Obama that he seems to have lost. We forgot to get something for Allen Weh, but he'll probably forgive us by saying "So What!.". . .

No problem if GOP land commission contender Aubrey Dunn drops in. We have a wide selection of delicious apples--the perfect Halloween treat. And for incumbent Dem land commissioner Ray Powell we have a nice new name tag so he can build up his name ID over the weekend. . .

For Dem secretary of state candidate and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver we made a special effort. We have the original registration form filled out by the dog on TV that votes. And if incumbent GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran comes around she'll need some really big Halloween bags. For her, we've rounded up 64,000 fraudulent voter registration cards. . .

Dem state House Speaker Kenny Martinez is known to enjoy Halloween. If he shows up, we have two treats for him--a new gavel he can use at the next session of the Legislature and a new gavel that he can give to the next speaker. Just in case. . .

If Dem state auditor candidate Tim Keller knocks on the door, we'll drop a "Balderas for Governor" campaign pin in his bag. And if Dem attorney general candidate Balderas passes through we have a "Keller for Governor" pin for him.

Steve Pearce is a hard guy to buy a Halloween treat for, but we've come up with one for the southern NM GOP Congressman--a pound of raw red meat that he can either eat himself or throw out when he speaks to Lea County Republicans. We won't forget Pearce's Dem challenger Rocky Lara. We have a wonderful CD for her featuring Frank Sinatra singing, "Let Me Try Again." Pretty cool, huh?

FINAL MOVES

Gov. Martinez will be on the hunt again for ABQ South Valley support this final weekend of Campaign '14. She will hold a Saturday 3 p.m. public rally at Coors and Tower SW with musician Darren Cordova Y Calor. The South Valley is one of the most dominant Dem areas in the state, but with her conservative base nailed down, Martinez is free to roam about the building--the one the Dems built.

For Dem Guv hopeful Gary King the final weekend will see him head to the Spanish North to try to get the Dem base excited. He'll stop in Las Vegas, Mora, and Santa Fe on Saturday. Sunday he'll be in Belen for a GOTV rally and then head to ABQ for a vote canvass put on by AFSCME.

THE MISMATCH

The Governor's race has been marked by a tremendous mismatch in finances and it continued into the final hours:

Martinez outspent King nearly 7-to-1 during a critical stretch of New Mexico's race for governor as early voting got underway, according to finance disclosures filed Thursday. Martinez pumped $2.4 million into her re-election bid during the past three weeks. Of that, $1.6 million was spent on television and radio ads, $311,000 went for mailers sent to voters, and $163,500 paid for polling. 

King reported spending $363,245 during the same period — from Oct. 7 through Tuesday. That included $280,000 for TV and radio ads. The governor reported cash reserves in her re-election account of $708,693 as of Tuesday, and King had $10,103 on hand.

Other campaign money reports are here.

UNM BACKLASH

Frank
Is anyone surprised that there is backlash over UNM's decision to kowtow to the Guv in the final week of Campaign '14? The news:

UNM School of Law Professor and activist attorney Maureen Sanders severed ties with the law school over UNM President Bob Frank’s decision to give Gov. Susana Martinez an award for her “critical contributions to the health and well-being of New Mexicans.” Sanders. . .said she cannot continue financial support, or involvement with, the law school because of Frank’s decision to give Martinez a UNM Presidential Distinction Award one week before the Nov. 4 election. . .

President Frank, no one knows better than us how the Guv's political machine will try to bully you into what they want. In your case they have your big budget they can hold over your head. Most political folks know what's going on and empathize with you, but that doesn't mean they aren't disappointed that you caved. They are. And not that Big Bill didn't also engage in using the hammer. . .

MAGGIE MEDIA

Reader Jeffrey Paul responds to criticism that the TV ad for Dem secretary of state candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver is too "vanilla":

I do love chocolate but many folks love vanilla. Perhaps Maggie's "vanilla" TV ads are trying to appeal to voters sense of politeness and turn off to negative advertising? Certainly if she wanted to chocolate up the airways with negative ads, she'd have plenty of ammunition. Diana Duran has done everything she can think of to single handily disenfranchise as many voters as she can.

And how about that ad Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran accusing Bernalillo County Clerk Oliver of registering a dog. Kinda cute, but you may recall this was a Republican caper from 2012:

The husband of a campaign staffer for a Republican candidate for Senate in New Mexico (Heather Wilson)  is under investigation for allegedly committing a felony by registering the couple's dog to vote as part of a stunt to show how easy it could be to commit voter registration fraud.

Santa Fe attorney Geno Zamora says he likes the Spanish radio ads Oliver is airing:

She's directly reaching out to old Hispanic families for help. My parents, Matias & Emeline Zamora raised in Mora and Las Vegas, respectively, were just some of the "old timers" asked to help with the Spanish scripts.

The down-to-the-wire, all tied-up Secretary of State race will be tracked wall-to-wall Tuesday night on KANW 89.1 FM. And be sure to join us Monday at 5 p.m. on KANW-FM either on the dial or on the net for our traditional pre-game show with top election experts.

IT'S A CLINIC

We thought Sen. Udall was a bit slow out of the gate this campaign, but now he's putting on a clinic for you would-be campaign managers and consultants.

This exhaustive and devastating Udall campaign analysis about the pre-taped public broadcasting debate he had with his opponent Allen Weh Thursday night shows how it's done. And not that Weh, a tenacious Marine Colonel, is a slouch. He kept the pressure on, hoping to force an error but instead Udall responded with a well-executed full court press. And, kids, that's how you keep a seat in the United States Senate (Weh did not issue a statement about the debate).

MIXED REVIEW

Hands down, the most mixed newspaper endorsement Gov. Martinez has received is from the Farmington Daily Times in San Juan County in heavy GOP territory. For a minute, we thought they were going to retract it in the middle and go for King:

The Daily Times is endorsing Susana Martinez for governor, but not without some reservations. . . We are concerned that Martinez is taking northwest New Mexico voters for granted. . . A key for the future of this area is a connection to the nation's main east-west railway. When asked about state support for such a project, Martinez was vague. . .Other recent decisions by Martinez also give us pause. She approved an economic development bill that eliminated the state's "hold harmless" program. That program was intended to reimburse local governments for not taxing food and medicine. . .Although we think King would have a better relationship with the Legislature, a governor's power only goes so far. It takes a strong personality to sway people and that is what is necessary to fulfill a vision.

Well, with that wishy-washy support no wonder the Guv closed out her Farmington campaign Thursday by bringing in big name Guv Chris Christie to wow the crowds. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Only Five Days To Go; Let's Blog This Thing! How Close The Senate Race? Who's That Saying King Wins? More Heat In Keller-Aragon Clash, Powell Pounds Dunn And Indian Country Action And Lots Of It 

Blogging Campaign '14
Just five days to go so let's saddle up and head out to the crowded campaign trail. . .

The R's continue to push the narrative that Dem US Senator Tom Udall could fall prey to a national environment that is hostile to Democrats, but none of the major DC publications has changed its rating on the race from "Safe Democrat." Udall appears poised for the win.

What might surprise Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico is that it could be quite tight with only a couple of points separating Udall and Republican rival Allen Weh. . .

Around here we're maintaining our safe Democratic ranking for the US Senate race. The Governor's race is likely Republican. The secretary of state's race is rated a toss-up. The land commissioner race is lean Republican. The attorney general contest and state auditor race are likely Democrat. The state treasurer's race is lean Democrat. Battle for control of the NM House of Representatives is rated a toss-up. The R's need to pick up three seats. . . .

The battle for control of the legislature rages on not just in New Mexico but across America:

Republicans have the opportunity to take control of a record number of state legislative chambers across the country this year, as Democrats play defense in unfavorable terrain. The Republican landslide in 2010 and the subsequent redistricting process in 2012 gave the GOP control of a nearly unprecedented number of legislative chambers. Today, the party controls 59 of the 98 partisan chambers in 49 states, while Democrats control only 39 chambers. . . 

Once election results are tabulated in the 6,049 legislative races on the ballot in 46 states this year, Republicans could find themselves running even more.

KING CORNER

Is anyone predicting an upset Guv win for Gary King? We looked high and low and did come up with a leading politico who says Gary will pull it off. Drum roll, please. . . Big Bill speaks:

I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that Attorney General Gary King will beat Susana Martinez.

So there you have it, Dems. Stock up on the Dom Pérignon for Election Night. Bill says this one is in the bag. . .

And we also searched high and low for a daily newspaper that has endorsed King. Alas, for the Dems, there are none. But there is one from a weekly paper--the Santa Fe Reporter:

Gary King’s dad was a well-liked governor, his mother was an advocate for kids, and his cousin was a good legislator. We expect King to use his public-service genes and his mental map of the Roundhouse to the advantage of all New Mexicans. Debra Haaland is a promising leader and a smart choice in a running mate.

Meanwhile Martinez continues to pummel King. One of her latest TV attack ads uses King's comment that Martinez does not have "a  Latino heart." King is "dividing people," says the ad. But Susana is doing some dividing, too. No?

A few minutes after her Latino heart ad aired, we saw the Guv calling for the repeal of driver's licenses for undocumented workers.

KELLER VS. ARAGON

A reader email Wednesday that attacked Dem state auditor candidate Tim Keller for playing racial politics by going negative on TV on Republican contender Robert Aragon brought in the email. Teresa Trujeque writes:

Robert Aragon, the former Democrat and Governor Martinez, inside,  is claiming that Tim Keller is a liar. I have seen the document that the Keller campaign used as a basis for their ad and all the information is factual. It seems to me that Martinez insiders such as Robert Aragon think it is okay that she runs one negative ad after another against Gary King but they don't expect the same to happen to them. Of course, they would claim that their ads are factual but not the Keller ad. It is naive for him to think that the Keller campaign would not find and bring out those issues covered in the ad.

Charlotte Roybal came with this:

I was surprised to read the criticism of the Tim Keller ad. The facts on Robert Aragon whether a voter is Hispanic or Anglo are facts. Check on the facts about Robert Aragon here and here. I would like to think that people will vote for the person who tells the truth. To turn it into a racial issue rather than about who is qualified and experienced is unjustified.

Meanwhile, Aragon comes with this negative radio ad. In it he calls Keller "a career politician" who is telling "lies." The spot says Aragon paid his back taxes and lawsuits against his legal office have been settled---both of which are mentioned in Keller's TV ad. Keller's campaign retorts:

As an attorney, Aragon should certainly be able to understand standard documents related to his own tax liens and court cases. To reiterate the facts, Aragon was served with 12 tax liens totaling over $285,000 between 2001 and 2009. He was also the subject of multiple lawsuits - resulting in Aragon paying over $30,000 in settlements - for fraud and negligence related to putting his own financial interests ahead of his clients'.

Aragon needs some good news to pull off the upset, but he isn't getting any. Take a look:

The biggest contributors to Aragon’s campaign as of early October had been convicted of embezzlement, and lawyer Aragon had represented one of them in court. Antoinette Greenlee and her husband, James Greenlee, pleaded guilty in December 2013 to one count of embezzlement and two counts of tax evasion. The state Taxation and Revenue Department said they were accused of stealing from her father’s construction materials business in Albuquerque. They were sentenced to five years of supervised probation last week in state District Court. They each contributed $2,500 to Aragon’s campaign on June 13. . . Keller’s campaign said the contributions “raised serious concerns.”

You might say for Robert the news is "breaking bad.". . . 

POWELL POUNDS

Here's a radio ad from Dem Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. shooting back at Republican Aubrey Dunn who has mounted a stiff challenge. The spot deals with Dunn's attack of Powell over the Dixon apple orchard. . .

WHERE'S MAGGIE?

Where the heck is Maggie Toulouse Oliver's last days media appealing to Hispanic voters who are warming to incumbent GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran? So ask numerous Alligators as the same vanilla TV ad of Oliver, the Bernalillo County Clerk, continues to air even though Duran is tied with Oliver in the polls. Maybe someone should send Maggie a Rolex so she can see that the clock is ticking. . .

INDIAN COUNTRY ACTION

Clahchischilliage
New Mexico politics is often downright fascinating. Here's a radio ad from Dem State Rep. Eliseo Alcon in which he makes his case and then a translator states it in Navajo. Where else are you going to hear that?

By the way, Alcon doesn't shy away from the Guv campaign in the spot. He urges his constituents in Cibola and McKinley counties to vote for Gary King.

Meanwhile, more developments in Indian Country in that hot-as-a-pistol state House race featuring GOP Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage and Dem challenger Harrison Todacheene.

Dem super PACs have been hounding Clahchischilliage on the radio over a legislative junket she took to Taiwan. The ads put the pressure on and forced an error from Sharon. She was caught on video at a GOP event joking about the trip, saying:

I want you to know that when I did go to Taiwan I did have fun. I did think about you when I was there and also want you to know that is the way we do state business...

Todacheene
Todacheene is now up on the radio using Sharon's own words against her. The narrator concludes the ad with: "Just one more example of an out of touch politician." The ad is also running in Navajo.

The Dems think they have a shot against the freshman legislator in the Dem leaning district, but R's continue to say she is safe. We'll find out when we take to the airwaves on KANW 89.1 FM on Election Night.

And a postscript: We're still waiting for definitive word on whether there will be a Navajo presidential election on the same day as the state election. Without that presidential election and the Dem Native American voters it would drive to the polls, upsetting Clahchischilliage becomes that much harder for the D's.

Here's a newspaper profile of the Clahchischilliage-Todacheene contest.

RED AND BLACK 

They may vote alike on most issues but when it comes to their personal finances the difference between NM Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall is night and day--or we should say red and black.

The WaPo says Udall has a net worth of $2.4 million while according to Roll Call Heinrich has a negative net worth of minus $772,000, mainly because of mortgage debt. That's enough debt for Heinrich to be the only senator to make the newspaper's top ten list of poorest members of congress. Well, Heinrich has an awful lot of poor company in economically challenged New Mexico. . .

And while Udall doesn't have to worry about where his next meal will come from, the report says his net worth is down five percent since 2004. That's why he needs a job. . .

THE BOTTOM LINES

You know things are getting stacked to the ceiling around here when you forget that Steve Pearce defeated Dem U.S. Rep. Harry Teague in 2010. In our first draft Wednesday we said there had been only one incumbent congressman defeated in the state in the last 40 years. But we don't hear anyone calling Teague "Congressman."

Sorry for that error and thanks to all who pointed it out. . .

And we blogged that it was possible Gary King would not spend Election Night at the Dem Party bash at the Doubletree in downtown ABQ. The campaign says he will attend the ABQ party.

To make up for that one, we're planning on sending the party staff a dozen tamales from El Modelo. However, if they lose the state House, the tamales go over to the Marriott and the GOP party. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Down The Stretch We Go: Now It's All About Turnout, The Down Ballot Derby Heats Up With More TV Ads, Aragon Slaps Back At Keller, Rocky In For A Rocky Election Night, The Question They Didn't Ask Nate And Is Heinrich TV Act Wearing Thin? 

All of Senator Udall's late TV ads are aimed squarely at the Democratic base--a majority of whom are women. It's where the Dems need to go to bolster turnout in the face of an apathetic electorate. . .

R's are divided on the chance of a Hail Mary being completed by Republican challenger Allen Weh, but all agree if there is a turnout collapse--say a vote total of around 550,000--Election Night starts to look like Halloween night for the Dems. . .

BWD pollster Bruce Donisthorpe does not expect a turnout collapse even as Dems fret over somewhat sluggish early voting. His turnout model is set at 595,000--a 2% decline from the 608,000 who voted in 2010. . .

And it's not all roses and lollipops for the R's They are easier to get to the polls than Dems but the attention being paid to this election could be likened to a fella taking a siesta with one eye open. . .

So, assume the Dems and the R's manage to get more of their voters to the polls (insiders say the Udall turnout operation will spend $1.8 million) then what? From our email:

Joe, I voted early at the Los Ranchos location and took maybe 10 or 12 minutes to fill out my ballot. People who arrived after me sat down, filled out theirs and left before I was done. I'm betting most didn't fill out the back page. I don't know what this means for down ballot contests, but the length of this ballot is going to make for some long lines and angry people on election day.

We think early voting and a lighter turnout than a presidential election will probably mean we avoid really long lines, but we are looking for many, many voters to vote for the top races and get out of there. In other words, while Donisthorpe expects 595,000 total voters, what will the drop off be down  ballot? In Bernalillo County we say, "Look Out Below!"

By the count of one of our Alligators there are over 80 decisions to be made on the Bernalillo County ballot, including all those judicial retentions. Is this really the way to run a railroad? Should we do something about it? If so, what?. . .

DOWN BALLOT DERBY

The latest in the down ballot action. More of the hopefuls are putting up late ads on the tube. GOP state treasurer candidate Rick Lopez has reportedly booked a $14,000 buy. Dem contender Tim Eichenberg's campaign says he is going up with a $17,000 buy. In his ad Eichenberg touts the endorsements of Dem US Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham as he works for important Hispanic support. . .

KELLER VS. ARAGON

Aragon
Republican Robert Aragon slaps back at Dem state auditor candidate Tim Keller in his late media. We are told by his supporters he is buying both radio and TV.

In his ad Keller faults Aragon for not paying his taxes and for malpractice suits against his law practice--issues Aragon says have been resolved. In his ad Aragon calls Keller a "liar." No word on how much he is spending.

Not surprisingly, Keller is getting some pushback from Hispanics--both D and R--for his attack on Aragon. Reader Camille Cordova writes:
Keller

As a loyal, lifelong Democrat and a Hispanic woman, I am extremely disappointed in the “Breaking Bad” ad aired by Tim Keller. The ad implies that Robert Aragon is a criminal. The ad uses a black and white photograph of Mr. Aragon, in contrast to the color images of everyone else. This makes Mr. Aragon look dark and sinister and the content of the ad implies that he is a criminal and has some association with drugs. The implication is that the White candidate is the only clean candidate. There is no evidence that Mr. Aragon has any association with drugs, and Mr. Keller clearly knows of none. The Democratic Party has traditionally been the party of Hispanics in New Mexico, advocating for equality among the races. Obviously, this is not the case when the Democrat candidate is Anglo and the Republican is Hispanic. Hispanics of all political parties should be outraged by this portrayal of a man who has demonstrated his commitment to public service.

Keller's supporters point out that it is traditional to show your opponent in black and white in a negative ad--no matter their race. Keller's ad has over 24,000 views on YouTube.

Keller, an ABQ state senator, was leading Aragon in the Oct. 21 BWD Global poll for NM Politics with Joe Monahan by a margin of  51% to 42%.

PARTY POOPERS

State Dems will host an election night "Victory Party" at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown ABQ but Dem attorney general candidate Hector Balderas says he will be at the Hotel ABQ Fireplace Room, celebrating what appears to be a forthcoming victory. Hector and Gary King have been as far apart as any two Dem politicians in the state the last four years so why change now?

ROCKY NIGHT?

National Dems could be in for a rocky night come Election Night in southern NM. Insider polling shows southern GOP U.S. Rep Steve Pearce easily handling a challenge from Carlsbad attorney Rocky Lara. The D's have poured a lot of money and resources into that race, arguing that the large Hispanic population could give Pearce real trouble. But Lara's campaign has not taken off and it is highly problematic whether she can eek out a moral victory and keep Pearce in single digits--below 55%.

The question is if Lara lags badly will she lose her chance for a rematch in 2016 when higher turnout will improve Dem chances? Maybe not. We don't see Dems lined up to take on Pearce. They would rather wait until the 67 year old retires (how's your heart, Steve?) and they can run for an open seat.

THE MISSING QUESTION

Rep. Gentry
A TV news report covered a litany of past sins being brought up in the campaign against ABQ GOP State Rep Nate Gentry--aggravated DWI, criminal assault and illegal hunting. But strangely, when the under siege lawmaker was interviewed he was not asked about the freshest and latest development: Why did Gentry use an assumed name when he checked into a hotel room in April of 2013 when he was representing his constituents at a national legislators meeting? He was to be reimbursed the price of the room by taxpayers and later had trouble doing so because of his use of the assumed name. The matter has become an issue in the race as the Dem favored super PACS continue to hammer Gentry over it in their mailers. So why didn't TV news ask him?

As for Gentry, he says of the PAC attacks:

I was warned by my Democrat friends that if you dare to take on the entrenched establishment up in Santa Fe, there's going to be a price to pay.

The Gentry seat is key in the battle for control of the state House. R's need to pick up three seats to take control for the first time in over 60 years.

A DIFFERENT TAKE

The view from this corner is that all five proposed Constitutional Amendments on the ballot are inconsequential and should be voted down. That includes the one that would allow the giant $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to increase its exposure to foreign stock markets. Nearly half the profits of US companies in the S&P 500 already come from foreign operations. Charles Wollman of the State Investment Council comes with a differing view:

Not one of our peer permanent funds around the country has this restriction on international investment.  There is a good possibility that the language currently in the Constitution violates the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, the fiduciary standard for more than 40 states . . . This amendment will actually remove an existing conflict between statute and the Constitution, while increasing the safeguards on the LGPF, and standards under which the Council must operate (from "ordinary prudence" to the much higher UPIA standard). So, it adds accountability and safeguards to the fund, and brings us more into line with "best practices" of other Funds and pensions like ours across the country--most of which have between 18-23 percent international allocations. . .

GETTING OLD?

Is the U.S. Senators on a deserted island already wearing thin? Dem NM Senator Heinrich and Arizona GOP Sen. Flake appeared on Letterman this week to talk about the reality TV show they are featured in and that was filmed in the Marshall Islands. It goes on the air tonight on the Discovery Channel. The comic mostly ridiculed the senators and drew hearty laughs in the process.

Heinrich, elected in 2012, has been sailing a course as a lawmaker with serious purpose--watchdogging NSA surveillance, wilderness protection, declaring support for early childhood investment in NM and successfully promoting alternative energy for economic growth. Why rock the boat? Martin, we're voting you off the island. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Week To Go And Tight Races Continue Down Ballot, Plus: UNM's Political Present For Susana Prompts Alligator Strike, Christie To NM And Why Weh is Further Behind Than It Looks 

Democrats have major work ahead of them if they are to prevent a down ballot debacle. The latest polling shows the race for secretary of state tighter than a fresh facelift and the land commissioner contest hotter than a honeymoon hotel.

With incumbent GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Dem challenger Maggie Toulouse Oliver tied at 42% each in the ABQ Journal poll conducted Oct. 21-23, turnout warnings are flashing bright enough to wake the blind. Ditto for the land commission race where Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn has actually opened up a one point lead--40% to 39% over incumbent Dem commissioner Ray Powell, Jr.

These are very low numbers for the Dems at this point in the game and veteran Dem consultant Harry Pavlides is heeding the turnout warnings:

The Democratic candidates should be pulling above 45% this close to the election. The high undecided is telling us that many of them may not vote. The vote for Dunn and Duran is in the bank with that 42%. If Dem turnout slides it may be easier for each of them to reach 50% than their Dem opponents.

Pavlides says election day voting will be key to pull these races through for his party because more Dems than R's cast ballots on that final day.

As for the media game, Duran needs to pound Oliver and she is. As an Anglo woman, Oliver can't hit Duran and shouldn't. She needs to beef up her Hispanic vote. Duran is getting too much of it.

In the land commission race, Ray Powell has not been able to afford much broadcast TV while Dunn has hammered away. Obviously, Powell needs to somehow find a way to communicate more broadly with the voters.

The race for attorney general is the sleeper--meaning Hector Balderas is sleeping well. The Journal survey has it 51% for Balderas and 35% for Republican Susan Riedel. Nighty night, Hector.

THE POLLS

In an Oct. 21 poll for NM Politics with Joe Monahan BWD Global had the secretary of state race at 47.6% for Duran and 45.0% for Oliver. Why were the numbers lower for the contenders in the Journal survey? The short answer is that voters are more prone to answer questions via automatic phone calls like those used by BWD Global than the in-person surveys used by the Journal. Both polls did their job--showing the SOS contest to be a razor tight race.

STILL SWINGING


Dems say Gov. Martinez is swinging at a corpse when she waxes Dem rival Gary King, but King has enough life left to swing back with this:

For those of you tired of seeing this state at the bottom, that's what's between us and a new start. This isn't simply a choice between a Republican vs. a Democrat. Rather, this is a choice between the death spiral Martinez has meant for our economy, education system, and the environment vs. hope for our state.

Some politicking at UNM as Gov. Martinez leads the polls. Here's the pre-election present for Susana from UNM Prez Robert Frank and VP David Harris:

UNM President Bob Frank has chosen two recipients for this year’s UNM Presidential Awards of Distinction: Gov. Martinez and Dr. Howard Yonas, chair of the school’s Department of Neurosurgery. “Both Gov. Martinez and Dr. Yonas have made critical contributions to the health and well-being of New Mexicans; one through policy, the other through practice,” Frank said “I am pleased to recognize their outstanding accomplishments and to express the high regard we have for the impact they have made on the lives of so many in our state.”

The preceding announcement was paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Susana Martinez. And now an Alligator strike on Frank:

Frank acknowledges Martinez taking Medicaid funds but somehow has amnesia about her destruction of the behavioral health system in NM, defunding of programs that deter teen pregnancy, defunding sex-education and returning to abstinence only approach, forcing people off SNAP program, cutting public health budgets -- how does this translate to improving the health of New Mexicans? This combined with the huge increase in Lobo coach Craig Neal's salary announced in September but kept secret for months should make UNM community wonder what this guy is thinking and if he "gets" what health improvement is all about.

And with the election fast approaching corporate giant Comcast was also throwing the Guv a bone.  She joined the company in announcing a big batch of new call center jobs:

Comcast announced on Monday that it will bring 450 new jobs to a new call center in the Renaissance corridor of Albuquerque."This new facility represents our latest investment in the tools, technologies and people that will help improve our customers' experiences with us," said Chris Dunkeson, area vice president for Comcast in New Mexico. 

Glad to see one of the corporate giants adding to its payroll here, but what do you think we're going to hear about jobs from Intel after the election?

CHRISTIE FOR SUSANA

It's another big GOP name dropping by for Susana. Following on the heels of Mitt Romney last week, New Jersey Guv Chris Christie will campaign Thursday with Martinez in Farmington for a Martinez For Governor noon bus tour stop in at Los Hermanitos Restaurant. Martinez is starting a statewide bus tour on Wednesday. No word on any fund-raising by the duo. As for "Why Farmington?" Well, this is a base election and the GOP base in San Juan County is hefty and Martinez wants to bring that vote out.

Reader Thomas Buckner doesn't like Martinez's recent TV ads:

I see that Governor Martinez is running again for either Attorney General or perhaps to be District Attorney. Her recent ads have gone back to touting her activities as District Attorney in the Las Cruces area and claiming accomplishments from a previous position. Such actions point out her miserable failure as Governor. After having been Governor for the past four years, you would think that she  would have some more recent accomplishments to her credit such as education, job growth, and even an increased minimum wage. However, Governor Martinez and her administration don’t have any such accomplishments to their credit. Can’t we do better the next four years? 

And another reader piles on:

I am incensed with Governor Martinez’s recent continued exploitation of Baby Brianna and her "promise" to protect the children in New Mexico. Do you know that under the Martinez administration  New Mexico is the second worst state in child fatalities at the hands of their parents? All of the children's deaths could have been prevented if the children and their families had appropriate prevention treatments, and oversight by CYFD. Much to our demise, this administration’s CYFD departments have proven to be incompetent with not enough staff and then to add insult to injury, HSD dismantled any behavioral health services available to prevent these tragedies. . .This administration only cares about her political agenda and God help us if she gets to Washington.

NO WEH IN?

GOP US Senate candidate Allen Weh is polling 7 points behind Dem Sen. Udall--50% to 43% in the Journal survey. But it's not as close as it looks. A conservative National Review columnist in DC explains why:

While I’d love to say Weh has a… “way” to victory, what we’re seeing here is Weh, a dramatically under-funded challenger, reaching the usual level of support for a Republican in a New Mexico U.S. Senate race. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. Back in 2008, as Obama was winning the state in the presidential election, Udall beat GOP congressman Steve Pearce, 61 percent to 38 percent. You can find additional factors that may make this one even closer — midterm year turnout instead of presidential year turnout, the gloomy national mood, the low motivation of Democrats this cycle, and perhaps even coattails of Gov. Susana Martinez, set for a big win — but history tells us that candidates trailing by 7 or more percentage points this close to Election Day almost never win.

So Allen Weh's motto for the last week of the campaign is "never say never." He's dropped his first motto of: "So What!"

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Battle For The House: GOP Leader Gentry Pummelled By PACS As Dems Seek Game-Changer, Plus: Latest Polls On Guv And Senate Race, Also: Spinning Out Of APD 

Democrats have thrown a stink bomb at the GOP's carefully crafted plan to take control of the NM House of Representatives. Now the question is whether voters will hold their noses and vote for ABQ NE Heights GOP State Rep. Nate Gentry or eject him and perhaps change the entire dynamic of the campaign.

The relentless attacks on Gentry, an ABQ attorney and the House Republican Whip who is seeking a third two-year term, seemingly came out of nowhere. His seat was seen as safe Republican in an off- year election and he was not on any of the target lists circulated by the political parties.

Gentry has been serving as a consultant for other Republican House hopefuls as they labor to pick up the three seats they need to take control of the Legislature's lower chamber for the first time in over 60 years. The House is currently divided between 37 Dems and 33 R's. But Gentry has to tend to major trouble in his own backyard as Dem-favored super PACS Patriot Majority and ProgressNowNM throw the proverbial kitchen sink at him via incessant mailers and radio ads.

The attacks are on Gentry's character, citing his past arrest for aggravated DWI, criminal assault involving an altercation in Washington DC and a citation for illegal hunting. The pounding has been so intense Gentry called on his former boss--retired US Senator Pete Domenici--to cut a radio ad attesting to Gentry's character, But that drew snickers from the Dems who note that Domenci was disgraced when after he retired it was revealed that he had fathered a secret love child with a lobbyist who was the daughter of another US Senator. Whether Gentry's Republican base will share that Dem derision  is the question awaiting answering.

Rep. Gentry
Gentry hasn't hidden from the past, owning up to the aforementioned charges in the ABQ Journal questionnaire. Also, most of them were highlighted several years ago by the now defunct Independent Source PAC. But  having them highlighted publicly with tens of thousands of attack pieces is not something he counted on.

And even bigger guns were aimed late last week at Gentry who has been mentioned a possible Speaker of the House if the R's were to oust the Dems. ProgressNow came with this eyebrow raiser:

What would someone be hiding by checking into a hotel under an assumed name? That’s a great question to ask embattled Republican House Rep. Nate Gentry. While representing his constituents at a national conference for state legislators, Nate Gentry registered and stayed at a high-class hotel under an assumed name. . . Legislators from around the country attend National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) events every year. . . Registration records and hotel bills from NCSL’s 2013 Spring Conference show who attended and how much organizers paid for each hotel room. . .Registration records show that Gentry registered on April 11, 2013, along with fellow Rep. Monica Youngblood. Legislators we’ve talked to tell us that hotel rooms were booked separately from the conference registration. But when the conference rolled around next month, Nate Gentry never had a hotel room to stay in. Instead, a mystery hotel guest surfaced on the bill for New Mexico’s legislators. 

Gentry appears to have some 'splainin to do as the fake registration is about to come to a mailbox near you. . .

STRONG COFFEY?

Bob Coffey
So does Gentry opponent Bob Coffey Jr., a Highland High school teacher and first time candidate, actually have a shot of upsetting Gentry and giving the Dems a seat that could keep them in power in the House? Gentry's win in 2012 was not overwhelming--53.9% to 46.1%. With fewer Dem voters this year that winning percentage could have been expected to rise. That's now in question. Dozens of Dem walkers flooded into District 30 over the weekend in an effort to turn the tide.

Besides the Dem super PACS Gentry has had trouble on his right. Both the National Rifle Association and right-to-life groups see him as too moderate on their issues and signaled they are working to hold him back,

Even if Gentry emerges victorious and the R's take over the House, Democrats believe they have delivered a fatal blow to any aspirations Gentry had to become House Speaker. Certainly Gentry, who has been delivering political punches on behalf of Gov. Martinez, is now learning what it's like to take them.

WHY DEMS?

The Dems are hitting the statewide TV airwaves in their effort to hold the House. Patriot Majority came with this TV ad giving reasons why New Mexicans should keep the Dems in power. It scores the Rs for opposing an increase in the minimum wage, not supporting robust education funding and for advocating tax cuts for "wealthy out-of-state corporations." There is a problem with that one--it was Dems joining with Republicans who approved a controversial 2013 corporate tax cut.

The battle for control of the House is rated a toss-up. Frankly, our Alligators and analysts are a bit befuddled by the immense amount of money flowing into the handful of competitive races that will determine the outcome. Polling is out there but it is not decisive. The battle goes on. . .

COALITION CASE

It's not idle talk you are hearing about the possibility of a conservative led coalition to rule the House if the GOP fails to take it over next Tuesday. Even the loss of one Dem seat would put the R's one Democratic vote away from a tie and just two votes away from a governing coalition. What Dems might jump ship? Take a look at this:

. . . State Rep. George Dodge is a Democrat in the closely divided New Mexico House. Asked if he would cast his ballot for Martinez on Nov. 4, he replies: “I haven’t decided yet, but you know what, I’m definitely leaning that way.”

State Democrats are so rudderless and their leadership so anemic, it's easy to imagine Gov. Martinez Democrats sprouting up in the House as they have in the Senate where a conservative coalition currently rules. More to come. . . .

MARTINEZ  VS. KING

The Governor continues on track for re-election but how robust of a victory? The ABQ Journal poll taken Oct. 21-23 and released Sunday shows Martinez with 53% and Dem rival Gary King at 38%. Undecided was at 10%.

A poll conducted by BWD Global for NM Politics with Joe Monahan October 21 had it 56% for Martinez and 37% for King. A key difference in our survey from that of the Journal's is Hispanic support. Our poll has Martinez garnering 45% Hispanic support. The Journal has it at 40%.

The margin of error in the Journal poll is 4% and 3% in the BWD Global poll.

These numbers indicate that Martinez has reached what has been considered the upper limit for a Republican gubernatorial candidate in a Democratic state--55%. That's the level reached by GOP Governor Gary Johnson when he won re-election in 1998. But there is a major caveat.

King's media presence has been so minimal that he may not benefit as much as he should from the usual late Democratic surge and gets stuck, allowing Martinez to push toward the 60% mark.

The answer is important to down ballot Dem candidates because if King stays stuck it will mean Democratic turnout has dropped and that could make the difference in the closely watched races for secretary of state and state land commissioner as well as judicial races far down the ballot.

UDALL VS. WEH 

It's no walk in the park for Dem US Senator Tom Udall who has been battling Republican foe in this environment unfavorable toward the Dems. But Udall does lead 50% to 43% in the ABQ Journal poll. Udall will not let his foot off the gas for a minute during the last week. Weh can be encouraged to keep pounding away as the upset may not be likely but not completely out of sight.

BACKING OFF

In the face of Martinez's impending win, the forces of opposition are backing off. The Santa Fe New Mexican joins the Taos News in endorsing Martinez over King. And bizarrely, the editorial cites Martinez's corporate tax cut--a tax policy the paper has opposed--as a major "accomplishment."

It has been axiomatic that the paper endorse the liberal candidate and earlier in the year we predicted it would. But then came the King campaign--flaccid and lacking in identity and the polls showing a Martinez win as nearly inevitable. One wonders if NM Democrats have finally hit bottom when they can't hold onto the paper right in the heart of their Northern base.

SPINNING WITH APD

The chaos continues at the ABQ Police Department with its newly hired spin doctor already spinning out of the place. Veteran PR operative Janet Blair was coining $95,000 a year. Even that was not enough to persuade her to stay in a post that was slowly eroding her reputation as APD continues to operate in the shadows. Blair's nadir came when she was forced to flee TV cameras. Not good.

The city has set up a series of public meetings to discuss APD, but discussion is not action. There still has been no major personnel changes to alter the culture of the department which has led to the current crisis. Meanwhile, the trial lawyers are lined up and the lawsuits continue over the numerous police shootings. It's going to be unlike anything you've ever seen in this town. And before it's all over it won't only be the taxpayers paying a price--so will the politicians who led us into this abyss and refuse to lead us out. Don't say we didn't tell you. . .

THE BOTTOM LINES

Robin Thymes
We were saddened to hear of the passing of Robin Thymes, a fixture at the NM Legislature where she lobbied on behalf of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She was well-known in political circles for working for a variety of Republican candidates and for holding party office. We had a number of fun-filled conversations with her about La Politica and they always ended with a note of humor and a smile.

She was a loyal Republican but was proud to have broken ranks to vote for the first African-American president. Robin was 53. . .

And we lost former Secretary of State Shirley Hooper last week. She was 78 and served as secretary from '79-'83. Back then the SOS could only serve for one term, but Hooper made another try for the Dem nomination in 1990 as well as in 2006 and lost. We remember her fondly. . .

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Friday, October 24, 2014

An Unusual Newspaper Endorsement, Dona Ana Vote Problems Explained, More On Ben Hall's Haul And Debating The "Latino Heart" 

The liberal Taos News endorsing the Republican candidate for Governor? It's that kind of year for the D's:

Gov. Susana Martinez has helped Taos County in crisis, such as during the natural gas outage in February 2013. During fires and floods in other parts of the state, her office has come to the aid of affected citizens. New Mexicans can count on help from her during times of natural disasters, including a health crisis. We wish, however, she had shown more concern when Questa’s molybdenum mine closed, and we urge her to give more assistance to our local miners looking for work or wanting to start their own businesses.

Taos County is heavily Dem and Martinez scored only 30 percent of the vote there in 2010.

More news that the Dems aren't going to like. It appears that the Navajo presidential election--scheduled for the same day as the NM election--is not going to happen. The Navajo Nation Supreme Court called it off. Dems were counting on that election to attract Native Americans to the polls--most of whom are Dems---and casting ballots for Dem state candidates. . .

New Mexico born human rights activist Dolores Huerta, 84, --a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom--will campaign with Dem Guv hopeful Gary King this weekend. A schedule of stops is here. Maybe that will help him shore up some support. . .

And here's a report on Mitt Romney's Thursday appearance on behalf of Gov. Martinez. . .

And how negative is Campaign '14 getting? Well, we just saw a mailer accusing Nate Gentry of killing Jasper the Tasmanian devil. Now that's negative :). . .

TABULATOR TROUBLE

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins reports on problems with voting tabulators that made some of our readers nervous:

Joe, the cause of the problem with the two voting tabulators is that the ink in the pens that were used did not dry quickly enough, thereby obstructing the ability of the tabulator to read the ballot – resulting in ballot rejection and re-insertment of the ballots by voters until the votes finally registered. In an attempt to remedy the problem by cleaning the lenses on the two tabulators, it inadvertently activated them to go into a different mode, causing the tabulators to count and record each insertion. Thinking that the problem was solved and unaware of the inadvertent activation, the tabulators were put back in service. It was at that point that two voters inserted and reinserted their ballots in the two separate machines, having the ballots counted each time.

Accordingly, the tabulator was not at fault. The problem was human error which will not be repeated. Also, we received new pens from the Secretary of State which should prevent a repetition of the problem for the remainder of the election. A new tabulator was brought in and the ballots were fed into it, resulting in the number of ballots counted equal to the number of ballots issued.

MORE ON HALL'S HAUL

The newspaper comes with a follow-up to a story broken here recently--how southern NM GOP Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Hall is using his public financing in his race against Dem Sandy Jones::

Public Regulation Commissioner Ben Hall is using public financing for his candidacy to pay himself and his fiancee to campaign for his re-election. Hall paid himself and his fiancee, Maria Cottom, nearly $7,000 for “campaign work” over a month-long period, according to his campaign-finance reports. Hall said he pays himself and Cottom $25 per hour, but that he pays himself only for campaign work after 5 p.m. on Fridays and on weekends. Hall earns $90,000 a year as a PRC member.“If I didn’t hire and pay myself, I would have to hire someone else,” Hall said. “What is the big damn deal?” The commissioner said he also paid himself when he campaigned for election to the PRC in 2010 and that the Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees public financing of PRC campaigns, has approved the arrangement. “Everything I have done is legal and aboveboard,” Hall said. “I’m not trying to hide anything.”

 It isn’t unusual for a public official to pay a family member for campaign work, but it is for a candidate to pay himself.

If nothing else the Hall example calls for a rewrite of the regulations regarding how a candidate can spend public financing. It is not meant to be a salary.

TAX VOTE

More push back for our "no" vote on the advisory questions on the Bernalillo County ballot. One proposes decriminalizing marijuana and another calls for a property tax increase to finance mental health programs. BernCo Dem Commissioner Debbie O'Malley writes:

I also consider you to be very conscientious, however, I disagree with your assessment of the County advisory questions. The County advisory questions before the voters this November are reflective of relevant public issues and concerns that affect the day to day lives of the people in Bernalillo County. These questions don’t just ask a few people their opinion, but all people and in the most public way possible, an election. Should we begin a process to decriminalize marijuana for those in possession
of an ounce or less? Should the County enact 1/8 of a cent GRT (12 cents for every $100 spent) to address the mental and behavioral health crisis affecting our community? We’re asking the good citizens in our community to honestly respond to these questions. Their vote will count, and it will inform us on how to move forward on these highly important issues.

We blogged previously that we don't believe "advisory" questions belong on the election ballot.

LATINO HEART

Reader and Ambassador James Sweeney, a native New Mexican who served in the Clinton Administration as a Senior Advisor to the President on nuclear technology and nuclear nonproliferation, brings us back to the discussion over Gary King saying Martinez does not have a  "Latino heart."

Susana's response was that she "knows what is in her heart." I think any fair minded New Mexican and in particular Hispanics know full well what is in her heart, and that is certainly not a concern for Hispanic needs and aspirations. Her actions speak louder than words and those actions consist of favorite treatment to her wealthy contributors in the oil and gas industry at the expense of programs for the middle class and the poor. Her inability to secure new and high-paying jobs in New Mexico has been a dismal failure and affected all New Mexicans and especially Hispanics. Her economic development initiatives have been totally ineffective, and that is why New Mexico is at the bottom in recovering from the recession. Why is it that all the states bordering New Mexico have better recovery rates than New Mexico?

A true Hispanic would not continue year after year to push for the elimination of drivers license's for Hispanics that are not legal citizens. The vast majority of these people are hard working and honest individuals that work to provide for their families and incidentally do work that most Americans would not do. 

A senior member of the Martinez Administration was harshly critical of the English speaking ability of the late state House Speaker Ben Lujan. Governor Martinez did not advise him that she was a Hispanic and would not tolerate that kind of talk. Speaker Lujan was a loyal and dedicated advocate for Hispanic causes, and if Governor Martinez has a Latina Heart, she would have stood up for Speaker Lujan, but she did not. So Hispanics have a right to question her support of Hispanics.

BEST RADIO SPOT 

What's the best radio spot of the 2014 cycle? Hands down, it's this rib-tickler from the conservative GoalWest PAC. It goes after ABQ Dem State Rep. Emily Kane who is locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Sarah Maestas Barnes. Key line: "JLO"--Just Like Obama. The ad is here

Interesting to note that the brother of southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce is the treasurer of the GoalWest PAC registered out of Texas. . .

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mitt Has A NM Moment Today, Maggie Urged To "Go North," Susana's "Espionage," And Reader Pushback On Ballot Measures 

Early in the campaign we thought we might see some big Democratic names campaign in the state, but only a visit by US Senator Elizabeth Warren came close. Today the R's pick up the slack and bring to town Mitt Romney to campaign for Gov. Martinez and the GOP ticket. He will do a high-dollar fund-raiser but also have a free public rally with Martinez. The duo will appear at 2 p.m. at Martinez headquarters located at 12000 Constitution NE.

Martinez had some mild criticism for Romney following the 20102 election which he lost to Obama, but national R's continue to embrace Martinez for her fund-raising ability and status as the nation's first female Hispanic Governor. Will Mitt run in '16? It's visits like today's that keep the tongues wagging. . .

The Romney visit is not going unnoticed by state Dems who slashed away with this:

Like Mitt Romney, Governor Martinez continues to show her contempt for poor and middle class New Mexicans by failing to create jobs, failing to solve the education crisis she promised to fix and now using Mr. Romney to solicit contributors at $2600+ per couple.

IT'S THE NORTH

Go North, Maggie. So say the pundits, wall-leaners and Alligators closely watching the close race for NM secretary of state. Following our Tuesday night poll that showed Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver narrowly trailing GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran 47.6% to 45.0%, we heard a Gator crack:

The poll showed that Duran is getting way too much Hispanic support--over 45%. Oliver needs to do a swing through the Hispanic North, come with a TV spot that is more compelling than she has on the air and buy more TV time. And, of course, do some Spanish media.

Oliver's campaign points out that most of the undecided vote is Democratic and Independent and in the end that could put her over the top.

Duran is shy of the critical 50% mark, but the poll buoyed her supporters, some of whom pointed out she could benefit from the big lead Martinez has in the governor's race in more ways than one. One R came with this:

Ballot position could work for us. The secretary of state's race is right below the race for Governor. Some of those crossover voters supporting Martinez could stick with Duran. In a tight race--like this one appears to be--that could make a difference.

The secretary of state's race is rated "toss-up" or as Dan Rather might say, "This thing is as tight as the rusted lugnuts on a '55 Ford."

A BIT UNNERVING

This is making some of our readers nervous:

Two ballot-tabulating machines malfunctioned Tuesday during early voting at the Doña Ana County Government Center. . . However, county election officials assured the problem--which is still under review--won't harm the integrity of the election. That's because paper ballots counted by the affected machines can be fed into different, functional machines, they said. Doña Ana County elections supervisor Scott Krahling said election workers at the site noticed Tuesday morning that ballots weren't being accepted by the machines as readily as in past days of early voting. Voters often would insert a valid ballot, only for the machines to reject it. Then, one voter whose ballot was rejected more than once noticed that a counting device on the machine he was using increased by one each time he attempted to insert the paper ballot. In the case of a rejected ballot, the machine's tally isn't supposed to increase.

The Sun-News also reports that "the county's series of ballot tabulators are relatively new. Purchased by the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office, they were used for the first time in the county's primary election in June. They've worked well up until now, said the Dona Ana County elections supervisor."

ESPIONAGE WATCH

You have to wonder if Gov. Martinez is re-elected if these sticky allegations of illegal political espionage in her 2010 campaign are going to haunt her. A witness has now emerged;

In a recent interview with a former staff member, the Santa Fe Reporter exposed alleged evidence of Martinez’s unlawful political espionage in an article published Tuesday. Anissa Ford, the former staffer, told the Reporter that Martinez asked her take a picture of an anti-Martinez bumper sticker on a car and send it to an investigator in Martinez’s Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The bumper sticker read, “Say No To Susana la Tejana,” a phrase used by Democrats at the time as a dig against Martinez. The investigator used law enforcement databases to trace the vehicle’s owner using its license plate number in the photo, Ford told the Santa Fe Reporter.

And the response from the Martinez camp:

"It is simply reckless and bad journalism to try to breathe life into baseless smear by a disgruntled hack whose home was raided by the FBI for her involvement in federal crimes and from a politician whose campaign benefited from the federal crimes for which his operative is now going to prison," a spokesman said.

Baseless smear or not? Attorney General King says he is investigating the disappearance of emails from the Dona Ana County DA's office. Now we have a person on the record who says Martinez appears to have ordered a license plate check on an opponent.

Current Dona Ana DA Mark D'Antonio may be the man to watch here if this stuff is going to get legs and find its way before a grand jury or other legal venue. Still, it does seem as if alleged abuse of federal databases would also be of concern to the feds.

READER PUSHBACK

This week we came out against all five of the constitutional amendments on the ballot as well as an advisory proposal in Bernalillo County that calls for raising property taxes to finance mental health programs. Not everyone agreed. Here's Jeff Greene on Amendment #2:

Dear Joe and readers, I was the 2011-12 Student Senate President at Northern New Mexico College. Our student government worked very hard to get a constitutional amendment passed through the Legislature and on the 2014 ballot, which would create a student regent position on the college's Board of Regents for the first time. Currently, NNMC is the only 4-year public college or university in New Mexico that is exempt from the constitutional law requiring each public institutional of higher education to include a student representative, appointed by the Governor, serving on the Board of Regents. This  amendment would empower NNMC students by giving them a voice and a vote in the shared governance of the college, on par with every other public college in New Mexico.

For the students and community of Northern New Mexico, this measure is incredibly urgent and important. We feel strongly that student representation on NNMC's governing body will create increased accountability and transparency. In recent years, NNMC's Board of Regents has come under intense criticism for its role in creating an atmosphere of financial crisis, raising tuition beyond what many students can afford, cutting academic programs, driving students away from the college en masse. . . NNMC is the only college in the area, but hundreds of students in the last few years have been dropping out or transferring to more distant schools, thanks to the mismanagement and incompetence of the current Board of Regents and administration.

Passing this constitutional amendment for a student regent is a small but very significant step toward reclaiming NNMC for the interests of the students whom the college is supposed to serve. 

And on the BernCo advisory measure proposing a property tax hike for mental health programs, reader Tom Gagliano pushes back with this:

This is not just an advisory question--it is a vote showing the County Commission the public supports solutions for much needed services for mental health (12.5 cents gross receipts per $100 spent). Those afflicted with behavioral health issues, an affliction they do not invite, are worth at very least that. It does not slam lower income people disproportionately, but will help communities invest proportionately in services that will benefit all populations. I would guess that both high and low income families would be willing to support 6 cents for every $50.00 they spend for this moral purpose.

A positive outcome on this vote will create a deeper awareness of the problem because it will show the good will of the voters—voting is a public opinion poll, and I believe the FOR vote will be the beginning of a movement for badly needed social change. On top of its original purpose, the polling at this election will also send a message to the state legislature that informed voters care highly about making changes in mental health services, so it’s time they do too. The mentally ill and homeless have been long neglected, ignored, misunderstood and abused, or killed for sport by teenagers--while they wait for decisive action.

CHURCH AND STATE

Did you catch this one?

A local church is blurring the lines between religion and politics after it handed out sample ballots to members with specific candidates highlighted. Parishioners at Legacy Church in Albuquerque said they were given the highlighted sample ballot after service on Sunday. The church is a nonprofit.

“Churches have a 501 c3 status with the IRS, so they are actually prevented from taking any political positions one way or another,” Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said.

Some names on the sample ballot have been highlighted, including Sheriff candidate James Scott Baird. Baird is a member of the church and beat out current Sheriff Dan Houston in the primary. Legacy pastor Steve Smothermon once endorsed Houston from the pulpit, but Houston left the church after a rift between the two. That led to Smothermon supporting Baird.

Republican Scott Baird is opposed by Dem Manny Gonzales in the race for Bernalillo County sheriff.

MEATY ISSUE

The ABQ Free Press--which we write a column for--has a beefy issue now on the newsstands.

Valerie Plame speaks out on the Guv race and other matters. There's articles on APD's advance weaponry and whether they need it and another on whether the new police oversight board is already toothless. We come with a column on some of the negative ads of the election cycle. Available at ABQ newsstands.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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