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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Political Vets Now Predicting Massive Turnout; Early Vote Soars, Plus; Herrell's Happy Talk, Final US Senate Debate And The PNM Merger 

The early vote total is set to go over 400,000 when new numbers are released today. It hit 380,000 Wednesday and some observers are now calling for not just an historic turnout but a gargantuan one.

UNM political science professor Lonna Atkeson says 900,000 is a possibility. Radio Talker Eddie Aragon, who predicted the unusually high primary turnout, believes 950,000 and possibly 1 million New Mexicans will vote. "I am hearing from a lot of first time voters," he says. 

Veteran pollster Brian Sanderoff says a turnout of 70 percent of the 1.329 million registered voters is on his radar. That would translate into 929,000 votes.

The 2008 presidential race between Obama and McCain was the record setter with 833,365 or 61 percent of registered voters casting ballots. We'll almost certainly blow past that. 

HAPPY TALK

The southern congressional campaign has been negative so long that viewers might do a double-take at the new ad from GOP hopeful Yvette Herrell. She smiles a lot and says she wants to be elected to "preserve our way of life" and values. Well, this is about the time when the candidates want to show their softer side and "values" is a come home call to the conservative district. 

And there's something new in this ad--Trump. In the primary Herrell's ads boasted proudly of Trump, but tucked him away for the general election against Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Now in the closing days she resurfaces the president--at least somewhat. Most of the 30 second ad sports a graphic saying, "Endorsed by President Donald Trump." His name is not mentioned out loud. Obviously, the campaign feels it is safer now to put Trump out there as most of the anti-Trumpers have already voted.

FINAL SENATE DEBATE

Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan did his best to pin an "Endorsed By Trump" sticker on Republican Mark Ronchetti's lapel during their third and final debate for the open US Senate seat. For his part Ronchetti pointed to Lujan and repeatedly questioned his ineffectiveness, arguing that's the issue, not Trump. 

Ronchetti, trailing by 10 points in the polling in the three way race, which also features Libertarian Bob Walsh, debated with Lujan for an hour on KOAT-TV (sans Walsh) in a clash that had underdog Ronchetti attacking at every opportunity, trying to shake up Lujan and thus the race. In doing so Ronchetti sacrificed some of the likability he built during a career as a popular TV meteorologist. But what choice did he have? His performance, however, rallied and reinforced his conservative base. Getting past that (and Trump) has been and remains the obstacle. 

Full debate here

Lujan, who has mastered the issues after 12 years on the Hill, was a solid front-runner, taking the hits but not getting off his game. He came to paint Ronchetti in a Trump corner, especially on health care, the strongest polling issue. He succeeded in part although Ronchetti tried to separate himself by saying there will be times when he votes with Trump and other times against. He also cited the congressional failure to pass a second cornaovirus package as a symbol of Lujan's inability to "get things done," even though the House has passed a package and Lujan pointed out it has been stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Ronchetti remarked that people wonder where is the Pete Domenci in the congressional delegation, saying the legendary GOP senator delivered mightily and in a bipartisan fashion. The irony is that Ronchetti may have been looking at the next Domenici in Lujan, at least that's the hope of those who support him and who have watched the once ridiculed blackjack dealer vault to the highest levels of power in the US House. Now he is so very close to joining a very exclusive club.

THE PNM MERGER

So what does it mean for customers? That was one major question in the wake of the high voltage news PNM delivered Wednesday, announcing it will be bought for $4.3 billion by the Connecticut-based energy giant Avangrid

PNM executives say the merger is needed in order to finance the expensive conversion of its grid to handle renewable energy sources in the years ahead. The company says they don't anticipate any layoffs among its 1,700 employees. 

The merger comes nearly two years after New Mexico's Legislature approved the Energy Transition Act (ETA) which mandates 80% renewables by 2040 and 100% carbon-free resources by 2045. PNM formed a strange bedfellows alliance with major enviro groups to win approval of the ETA. Among the few enviro opponents of the deal was Mariel Nanasi of New Energy Economy who comes with this alternative analysis of what the merger could mean for ratepayers: 

This potential merger wouldn't be even possible if PNM couldn't have shed its toxic economic liabilities from coal at the San Juan Generating Station, Four Corners Power Plant, and all its expensive nuclear and gas investments on to ratepayers courtesy of the ETA. Avangrid is willing to offer cash - $1B more than the current worth of PNM because the ETA is forcing ratepayers to pay more than $1 billion to PNM or its successor company. When San Juan, Four Corners and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and all its pre-2015 gas plants close, ratepayers will face, at a minimum, over one billion dollars in “undepreciated investments,” plus interest, that, after securitization, will appear as “non-bypassable charges” on their bills. 
The ETA does not permit any reduction of cost recovery for PNM's abandonment costs claimed by PNM. PNM gets whatever it wants and ratepayers are unprotected. As we move toward more renewable energy we have an opportunity to have it democratically controlled by municipalities and Native American tribes and Pueblos - which is why 8 states have adopted community choice aggregation, introduced in NM as "Local Choice Energy."

ETA supporters say renewable energy will be much cheaper than fossil fuels and be a boon for ratepayers. They say the merger will expedite delivery of renewable to ratepayers.

PNM shareholders will get $50.30 a share for their stock, a19 percent premium over the 30 day average price. Still the Wall Street law firms were on the hunt for shareholders to join them in filing suit to get an even higher price, noting that PNM trade recently at $56 a share. Such suits are not unusual.

After the merger there will be no New Mexico-based companies listed on the NYSE. PNM was the only one. It traces its roots back to 1917 and has been part of the fabric of daily life here since. 

Join us for special Friday election blogging right here tomorrow.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Dwindling Campaign Days As Heavy Voting Continues; Campaign Trail Action In The South, Latest Polling In Senate Race, Ink-Stained Wretches Slammed By Rep. Haaland And A Big To-Do Over Howie Sighting 

"Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few September, November. . ." So sang Willie Nelson in September Song and so it goes for this election, now nearing the doorstep of November and with precious little time to change the course of events. 

Early votes are closing in on 325,000. By week's end well over half of the expected total vote will have been cast because of pandemic-prompted voting. Let's head out to the trail and see how the hopefuls are handling this new political order. . . 

Southern GOP congressional hopeful Yvette Herrell repeated an unfounded claim on Mark Levin's national radio program Tuesday night, alleging that the 2018 election was stolen from her. Levin opined that Herrell's first race against Dem Xochitl Torres Small was stolen and Herrell responded:

We're not going to let them steal it this time, I promise. 

Herrell lost the '18 race by 3,500 votes. She was declared the winner election night but uncounted absentee ballots later gave the victory to XTS. Herrell's campaign investigated the outcome but decided not to contest the election, yet she persists in claiming election fraud even though it would have taken voter fraud on a massive and unprecedented scale to alter the results. 

Herrell also told conservative powerhouse Levin that she is now being outspent 4 to 1 by Torres Small. That shows in the TV ads where Herrell is clearly outmatched, even with national PAC support. None of the major DC ratings pundits have moved the race from the "toss up" column and the torrent of ads continue.

The early September ABQ Journal poll gave Torres Small a 47 to 45 lead. A later GOP poll had Herrell up two. One ominous sign for Herrell in the Journal survey was Trump's slim four point lead in the district, much less than the 10 points he won by there in '16. 

Herrell's interview with Levin can be heard on his Oct. 19 stream starting at the 1:39 mark. 

SENATOR LUJAN?

Polling in the US Senate race has remained stable for nearly two months, with Dem Rep. Ben Ray Lujan consistently holding about a ten point lead over Republican Mark Ronchetti. Lujan has released a GBAO survey taken for his campaign that has him at 51.5%, Ronchetti at 41.2% and Libertarian Bob Walsh at 5%. The poll was conducted Oct. 14-17 among 600 likely voters and used both landlines and cellphones. It has a margin of error of 4 percent. 

In the Dem-oriented PPP poll conducted Sept. 30-Oct.1 it was Lujan leading 51-41-3. In the ABQ Journal early September survey Lujan had 49%, Ronchetti 40% and 4% for Walsh.

Ronchetti has been on the attack for better than a month trying to bring Lujan down. Partisans hope if he can't pull off a huge upset that he is able to trim the margin of any loss to the low single digits. They believe that might give him future political viability.

Tonight's 7 p.m. US Senate debate on KOAT-TV will be different than the other two TV debates held. It will not include Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh, leaving Lujan and Ronchetti to clash for the hour. The station says:

A third candidate does appear on the ballot, Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh, whom KOAT determined lacked the campaign funding and polling positions to be granted an invitation to the debate.

SLAMMING THE INK-STAINED

Progressive ABQ US Rep. Deb Haaland never had much of a chance of securing the endorsement of the conservative editorial pages of the ABQ Journal but it still upset her when her GOP opponent Michelle Garcia Holmes got their nod:

 Of course they didn’t endorse our campaign. I’m too progressive, too bold. . . I speak up for working people. . . . We need a healthcare system that works for all of us, not just the lucky few. We must stop being so reliant on an oil and gas based economy but diversify our economy and push forward a renewable energy revolution, while tackling climate change. . . We need a $15 min wage, because single parents shouldn’t have to work 3 jobs to keep a roof over their kids’ heads. The truth is — I see a New Mexico that is different from them. I see a bright future for all of us. 

On the other hand Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small was pleased with the editorial backing from the ink-stained wretches, with her campaign saying: 

The ABQ Journal editorial board endorsed Rep. Torres Small’s re-election, calling her “a rising star in Congress” and making clear “she deserves to be re-elected.” The editorial board, which has not endorsed a Democrat for this seat in over 20 years, highlighted Torres Small’s commitment to bipartisan solutions and her effectiveness in her first term as reasons voters should elect her to another term. 

THERE'S HOWIE!

The Alligators blew up the iPhones (no Samsungs for them) during MLG's Covid briefing Tuesday. Not because of the new restrictions she placed on businesses but because of a rare and unexpected appearance at the zoom briefing by Lt. Gov. Howie Morales. 

Howie & MLG
In case you've been sleeping in one of those caves in the Sandia's, MLG is job hunting in DC and if she gets the Biden go ahead, she's outta here and Howie takes the helm. So when MLG gave her #2 some kudos and airtime, the Gators were shouting "game on." (Morales appears at 28:00 in this video.)

Howie read a brief two minute cheerleading message from a teleprompter and came across calm and collected. It was like he could smell the steak on the grill, but couldn't yet take a bite. 

By the way the Guv did not think much of the theory heard here and elsewhere that the severe virus outbreaks at the state's jails and prisons deserve more attention because they could be the source of spreading the virus. She and her health experts maintained the community spread is coming from the general public, not from those locked up and later released. 

And another by the way. The Guv's office could not get her Facebook feed to work for the briefing and sent the audience to one of the TV stations for the live stream. Now she knows how thousands of school kids have felt this year as they wrestled at home with computer and broadband issues. Frustrated.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Record Voter Turnout Expected, Predictions Begin To Emerge, Plus: Ronchetti's Cash And Our Howie Watch 

Two weeks to go and already more than 268,000 early votes have been cast in New Mexico. Peg the final turnout at a record high 850,000 and this election is already over for 32 percent of the electorate. Last minute attacks or surprises can still deliver a jolt but to alter the course of a race they have to be major.

Checking in with consultants, Alligators and insiders the trajectory of the election seems unchanged here. Biden is expected to post a statewide victory in the area of 55 to 58 percent. The cornerstones of the win will not be unusual. Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties alone are expected to to give him a cushion of around 85,000 votes. 

With Biden set to landslide those two blue counties some of our Gators are willing to start predicting. One with long years of experience says that he now puts the odds "at over 50 percent" that three Republican state Senate seats held in big Bernalillo County will be washed away in the blue tsunami. Those seats belong to Senators Rue, Gould and Senator Payne who is not seeing re-election. "You're going to have to see a lot of ticket splitting to save them and I don't think you will see it," he offered.

The tightest race in the Senate derby is seen as the contest between Republican Crystal Diamond and Democrat Neomi Martinez Parra in SW NM. That race to replace Dem Sen. John Arthur Smith, who Parrra beat in the June primary, has turned in to the most expensive Senate battle this cycle. The race is being labeled a toss up. 

The Senate race between the two Bacas in Valencia County is seen favoring the incumbent GOP Senator Greg Baca. Some Dems worry about 80 year old Sen. Bill Tallman in the ABQ NE Heights but not enough to call in the troops. 

With the election essentially nationalized, Dems think that will help them keep the Sandoval County seat being vacated by John Sapien as well as squash any threat to Pam Cordova, the Dem candidate seeking to replace conservative Clemente Sanchez who she beat in the primary.

All in all, the pros say the optimistic scenario for the Dems is a pickup of two to four state Senate seats and the pessimistic view has no gain or the loss of a seat. The D's have a current 26 to 16 majority and with new faces coming in from primary wins the body is expected to move more toward the center from the center-right. The state House is overwhelmingly Dem and not many upsets seem in the making which means the D's will continue with their majority of 46-24 or something similar in 2021. 

RONCHETTI'S CASH

Republican US Senate candidate Mark Ronchetti has done a respectable job raising money for his underdog campaign. As of September 30 his total take was $3.2 million. That compares to $8 million raised by Dem Ben Ray Lujan. But what really grabs the attention of the insiders is the amount of cash that Ronchetti had on hand September 30---$1.528 million. Is most of that money committed or will the former TV meteorologist end up with a significant cash balance at the end of the campaign? 

The question is pressing for Republicans who wonder aloud if Ronchetti is setting himself up for a run for Governor in 2022 or Mayor of ABQ in 2021. Under federal law Ronchetti could transfer any cash balances left over from his his Senate campaign to a gubernatorial account. For Mayor, he could turn any cash pile over to a political action committee. 

Half a million or more would go a long way in a GOP primary race for governor or in a mayoral run which may be the least likely of the two races for Ronchetti. But first Ronchetti must avoid a landslide at the hands of Lujan that could taint him for any future run. For potential GOP Guv candidates how much cash Ronchetti ends up with after the election will be watched as closely as the results he posts.

HOWIE WATCH

Meantime, Howie Morales, the man who would become Governor if MLG were to secure a job in DC with the Biden administration, has yet to crank up his fund-raising. In the October filing he reports just $78,000 in cash. However, an appointment to the Governor's chair could be expected to jump start his fund-raising. A potential rival for Morales for the 2022 Dem Guv nomination would be Attorney General Hector Balderas. He has $659,000 banked, plenty to kick start a campaign. Then there's Dem Senator Martin Heinrich, another name getting mentioned as a possible Morales challenger. At the September 30 federal filing he reported $481,000 in cash, also more than enough to launch an initial effort. 

AFTER THE PANDEMIC


There will be an end to these trying times and with that in mind. . . 

The City of Albuquerque has recommended a formal analysis and feasibility study, funded by capital funds from the State, for a new multi-purpose soccer stadium. “While we remain focused on dealing with the pandemic and increasing public safety, we also know that it is important to think about the future. It is important that even during tough times, we think about what our city can look like in the years to come,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

Why build a stand alone soccer stadium when the long-standing need to demolish Tingley Coliseum at the State Fairgrounds awaits action? Build a new centerpiece for all of New Mexico for concerts, soccer, football, baseball, conventions etc. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Monday, October 19, 2020

NM Congress Delegation Set For Ethnic Remake, Plus: A Virus Lesson, Endorsing No One And Nasty In Santa Fe 

It's a given that following the November election for all three New Mexico US House members will be women, a first. But there is another major change that could occur---four of the five members of the congressional delegation could also be minorities--the most since we went to five members in 1982. 

The election of Dem Ben Ray Lujan would give the state its first Hispanic US Senator since 1976; a victory by Dem Teresa Leger Fernandez or Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson in the northern congressional district will be the first there for a Hispanic woman; the re-election of Xochitl Torres Small in the southern district or the election of her GOP challenger Yvette Herrell--a citizen of the Cherokee Nation--will see minority representation there and the re-election of Native American Deb Haaland to the ABQ area congressional district or the election of her Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes would keep that seat in the minority column. Only if Republican Mark Ronchetti upset Lujan for the Senate seat would Senator Martin Heinrich not become the lone Anglo in the delegation. 

The use of the term minority may be misleading. In 2000, New Mexico was officially designated a “minority majority” state--a state in which the number of “minorities” (Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, and African Americans) exceeds the number of non-Hispanic Whites. That percentage in 2019, says the US Census, was about 65 percent of the state's population. The state's congressional delegation is catching up with that reality. 

THE MOST SERIOUS

And some more history this Monday, Gov. Lujan Grisham, commenting on the recent spike in coronavirus cases, said: 

This is the most serious emergency New Mexico has ever had. The health risks are extreme for every single New Mexican.

No doubt it's serious but not yet the "most serious" in state history. That would be the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 when an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 New Mexicans lost their lives. That in a state of only about 350,000 people. Today 934 lives have been claimed by coronavirus but the state population has ballooned to 2.096 million. The per capita difference is significant. And the Spanish flu took lives of all ages--not primarily the elderly as has been the case in this pandemic. 

The death estimates of the flu vary because of unreliable record keeping then. Worldwide the Spanish Flu may have claimed as many as 50 million lives. The world death toll in this 21st century pandemic stands at 1,117,000.

For more on the 1918 pandemic in New Mexico we dug up this in-depth piece from the New Mexico Historical Review. Much of it will ring familiar. 

ENDORSING NO ONE

They did it again. For the second presidential election in a row the ABQ Journal will not make an endorsement in the presidential contest. What? Not much difference between those two guys? If the ink-stained wretches can't make a decision in one of the most divisive elections in generations, maybe its time to drop the practice of endorsements altogether. Many have

PASSING POT
 
With a more liberal state Senate taking shape for 2021 and the state House already on board, the legalization of recreational marijuana may have its best chance ever when the Legislature convenes in January. A fresh poll from the Drug Policy Alliance says: 

The poll was conducted by Change Research from September 22nd-24th, 2020 with 1,193 voters in New Mexico. The margin of error was 3%. Key findings include: 72% of all voters support legalizing cannabis to adults 21 and over, with provisions in place to ensure tax revenue is reinvested back into communities. Fully 94% of Democrats, 93% of Independents, and 46% of Republicans support this proposal. 80% of all voters support requiring licensing fees to be scaled based on the size of the business to protect very small businesses, including 79% of Independent voters. 

That's overwhelming public support. When combined with the backing of MLG, more liberal faces in the Senate and the need for more state revenue--even the relatively minor amount marijuana taxes would generate--opponents of legal pot may soon be weeded out at the Merry Roundhouse. 

LUJAN VS. RONCHETTI

US Senate candidates Ben Ray Lujan and Mark Ronchetti (and Libertarian Bob Walsh) filled an hour on PBS last night. They'll have their final debate on KOAT-TV this Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

NASTY SANTA FE 

Mayor Webber
What will likely be one of the nastiest and ethnically divisive mayoral elections ever in Santa Fe is well on that path. The latest

A group of residents. . .is exploring an effort to recall Mayor Alan Webber. The mayor, who has been at odds with Union Protectíva de Santa Fé over his decision. . . to remove a statue of Spanish conquistador Don Diego de Vargas from Cathedral Park, is facing fresh criticism — and a potential recall — over the city’s handling of a protest that led to the toppling of the historic obelisk in the middle of the Santa Fe Plaza. . . Webber in June called for the removal of the controversial war monument. . . but efforts to remove the obelisk stalled, prompting protesters to. . . tear the monument down. . .“This guy is incompetent,” said Union Protectíva de Santa Fé President Virgil Vigil. “A lot of people think he’s inept, but he’s definitely incompetent.” 

There are a number of technical reasons why a recall won't happen but the Nov. 2021 election will and Webber is facing the unpleasant music this way

I am committed to learning from these hard times and when I make a mistake or move too slowly to address the problem, I own that. That’s on me. The buck stops here when you’re the mayor. At the same time, I need to reach out to people, which is what I’m doing now to reach out across the community and ask people to come together. We are the city of faith. Let’s have faith in each other and come together to face the pain and then move toward peace and reconciliation.

Peace and reconciliation? Anything but will be the theme of 2021 in the City Different. Don't say we didn't tell you. . . .

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E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Friday, October 16, 2020

Virus Spike Could Spur More Absentee Voting And State Questioned Over Covid Outbreaks At Jails, Prisons And Homeless Facilities 

With Covid cases spiraling to a new high in New Mexico there could be increased hesitance by voters to participate in early in-person voting or go to the polls Election Day. That makes the October 20 deadline for requesting an absentee ballot all the more urgent. Voters can do that here. It's really the easy way to go and nearly 400,000 New Mexicans have already done so. There's room for plenty more. 

Meanwhile, the Governor briefed the state on the fresh coronavirus outbreak, saying "we are in uncharted waters" and warning increased restrictions could come soon if the virus is not contained. 

While MLG was chastising the public for not following steps to contain the virus, social media was questioning her administration's inability to stop major Covid outbreaks at jails, prisons and homeless facilities.

Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase noted during Friday's briefing that he was aware of outbreaks at homeless shelters around the nation in the spring, yet New Mexico is now suffering those same outbreaks which could spread easily to the general population. Ditto for released prisoners. So why no early, effective action to prevent today's outbreaks?

The state government and nursing home industry has been successful in containing the virus since the spring outbreaks that claimed many elderly lives, but there are holes in managing the virus in Santa Fe and ABQ when it comes to jails and prisons (some of which are federal) and homeless facilities. They need to be filled pronto. 

Large swaths of the state's economy continue to be crippled by the virus restrictions. Another round of them would drop more businesses and employees to the canvas. Deaths are fewer during this current outbreak and hospitals, while getting more cases, are not overwhelmed. There is room to pause here before again slamming on the breaks on an already shaky economy and weary population. Meanwhile, it is up to all of us to wear our masks when needed, practice social distancing and wash our hands. 

TOO MUCH EXPOSURE

And you think you have computer problems? Look at this from Dem state senate candidate Siah Correa Hemphill:

Thursday night, I participated in a zoom meeting organized by the Democratic Party of Grant County. Trump supporters hijacked the meeting with racist profanity and lewd behavior. To the shock of everyone, they shut down the entire meeting, and one of the men pulled down his pants and exposed himself.

Correa Hemphill is running against Republican Jimbo Williams for a SW NM seat and we guess now running away from zoom meetings. 

WRAP IT UP 

Wrap up another wacky week in La Politica if you please, reader Jim McClure:

 Joe, as a new resident of Los Lunas I’m enjoying the spaghetti-western campaign for the southern congressional district. Democrat Xochitl Torres-Small is positioning herself as a moderate by toting guns in her campaign commercials like a woke Annie Oakley. Republican Yvette Herrell is shooting guns, too, because she's a Republican. It’s great to see our politicians upholding the New Mexico tradition of Billy the Kid. 

 THE BOTTOM LINES

So what's on the weekend agenda? Some home cooking? A reader helps out with How To Cook Pasta Perfectly. Bon Appétit. . . 

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Key ABQ Senate Races Poised To Go Dem? Plus: Move To Abolish PRC Draws Opposition And Your Rulebook For Absentee Voting 

Harold Pope isn't shy about his chances of ousting ABQ GOP Westside State Senator Sander Rue. He believes the seat is ready to "flip" to the Dems. The retired Air Force veteran, who would be the first African-American to serve in the Senate, has a point, according to insiders, Alligators and wall-leaners tracking Campaign '20.

The Rue seat (District 23) is now seen as the most vulnerable held by the R's. Campaign polling, changing demographics, the unique nature of Pope's candidacy and his heftier campaign chest all weigh in his favor. 

In 2016 Rue only narrowly won re-election 52-48. Now he has Trump's ABQ weakness to contend with. He has tried to style himself a moderate Republican, a near extinct species, but the working class Dem  families that have come to dominate the district may not be listening. This is more of a bread and butter election about healthcare and jobs and, of course, Trump.

Two other GOP seats in the metro are also now seen leaning to the Dems as the early votes flow in. The ABQ North Valley seat held by first term Senator Candace Gould is set to tip if a BernCo blue wave against Trump forms, as it appears to be. Gould only narrowly own the district 51 to 49 four years ago when Dem Hillary Clinton carried it 46 to Trump's 41. Like Rue, Gould has reached out to moderate voters but Dem challenger Katy Duhigg has a well-known political name, has outraised her and has the Dems motivated.

In the NE Heights the GOP senate candidacy of retired Air Force intelligence officer John Morton suffered a blow when the ABQ Journal endorsed Democratic Dr. Martin Hickey. It was an unexpected rebuke of Morton who is hoping to replace R Sen Bill Payne who is vacating the seat. But Hickey's status as a medical doctor in a time of pandemic and his robust fundraising, which has far outpaced that of Morton, appears to be putting him in the driver's seat in the final days. 

Democrats are also upbeat about the chances of Brenda McKenna, a staffer for Dem US Rep. Deb Haaland who is trying to succeed Dem Sen. John Sapien who is vacating a largely Sandoval County swing senate seat. She is opposed by business owner John Clark. Dem analysts say this district is set to go to McKenna if Trump runs weak. How close is District 9? Well, in 2016 Clinton beat Trump there by the tiny margin of 48.93% to 47.93%.

ABOLISH PRC?

Could there be an upset at the polls and the constitutional amendment that would abolish the elected Public Regulation Commission (PRC) in favor of one appointed by the Governor go down to defeat? That's hard to see given the big enviro money backing the amendment as well as the support of MLG. But New Mexicans do like to elect their public officials. And that's the message the chairman of the Commission, Steve Fischmann, says he has been picking up. In fact, he says it has made him switch his position from favoring the proposed Governor appointed three member commission to keeping the elected five member panel. 

As a sitting commissioner, I supported the legislature’s decision. Appointing commissioners appeared to be a plausible step towards addressing the expertise gap we often see at the commission. Constituent discussions and recent developments have caused me to have a change of heart. Newly adopted statutes specify that six of the seven people who identify “qualified nominees” from which PRC Commission appointments will be made will be selected by legislative leadership and the Governor’s cabinet members. The Governor and our legislative leaders run political action committees (PACs) that often take large contributions from big utilities. While they have made admirable strides in speeding New Mexico’s transition to renewable energy, there have been widespread complaints about big giveaways to power companies in the process. 

Northern PRC Dem candidate Joe Maestas is also voting agains the PRC amendment, saying: 

Don’t be swayed by mail propaganda and distorted TV ads from the Committee to Protect New Mexico Consumers PAC that is pushing for the passage of this amendment under the guise of “voter education.” This PAC was recently caught violating campaign finance laws and has already funneled over $250K of dark money from anonymous, out-of-state donors into this campaign. As a publicly-financed candidate, I know that I won’t be bought by dark PAC money and neither will New Mexico voters. My hope is that voters will send a powerful and overwhelming message to industry insiders and special interests that hide behind PACs by rejecting Constitutional Amendment 1. 

The New York-based Environmental Defense Fund is the group that has been spending the money to advance the amendment and without any paid opposition many observers believe it will pass. 

Pros and cons on the amendment here.

INDIAN COUNTRY PLAN

The Biden-Harris ticket has released a 15 page Plan for Tribal Nations. Among other things, it calls for partnering. . . 

. . . with tribes and women’s advocates by providing support for tribal justice systems, increasing data collection methods, and directing the Department of Justice to investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, of New Mexico added her support for the Biden-Harris campaign’s plan, saying it “lays out a strong path forward for Indian Country.” She added: “I am also especially appreciative of Joe Biden’s commitment to the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women which has plagued our communities for far too long.”

Much of the plan centers on impacting health outcomes. The Navajo Reservation has been among the hardest hit areas for coronavirus. About 11 percent of New Mexico's population is classified as Native American.

JAWDROPPER

Meanwhile, Haaland comes with a jaw dropping financial report. She says she raised $546,000 in the third quarter and has $525,000 in cash on hand. Her Republican opponent Michelle Garcia Holmes ended September with $150,000 in cash. She also lists a personal loan debt of $118,000.

Haaland has a commanding lead in the polls and is not expected to spend anywhere near what cash she has in the bank. Democratic candidates around the nation have been reporting similar startling fund-raising numbers. It raises the question of whether they should consider donating some of the excess to charities that help the many people suffering economically from the coronavirus? What say you, Deb?

ABSENTEE  RULES

This will be the first election in the lifetime of many voters when they vote absentee due to the coronavirus. The Secretary of State says so far over 358,000 absentee ballot requests have been made and over 100,000 New Mexicans have already voted absentee or in person.

Because of the novelty of absentee voting for thousands of New Mexicans Common Cause NM comes with an in-depth question and answer guide on everything you want and need to know about absentee voting. 

Voters have until Oct. 20 to request an absentee and can do so here. It's best to mail the ballot back by Oct. 27 so the postal service gets it to the county clerk by election day Nov. 3. Absentees received after 7 p.m. Nov. 3 will not be counted. You can also track the status of your absentee ballot at the above link.

THE BOTTOM LINES 

Back by popular demand or maybe Catholic guilt, we resume Friday blogging tomorrow and for the duration of the campaign, so be sure to stop by for your political fix. 

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Record Setting Number of Openly Gay And Lesbian Candidates In Legislative Contests, Plus: Southern Nail-Biter Watched In DC And Playing For Senate Pro Tem Continues 

Sen. Candelaria
It's a small number but the most ever, according to ABQ Dem State Senator Jacob Candelaria. He checks in with the news that there are six openly gay and lesbian candidates, including himself, seeking legislative seats in November. If they all win, as expected, that would be 5 percent of the seats in the Legislature. All 70 House and 42 Senate seats are up for election this year. 

There was a flurry of controversy when it was revealed that northern state House candidate Roger Montoya, a respected community organizer and artist, had acted in two gay pornographic films during his college years. But the NM GOP's call for him to withdraw from the race landed with a thud. Republican Justin Salazar-Torres, an Española city councilor, is opposing Montoya. He has not made the gay films a campaign issue. The Governor, the NM Dem Party and House Speaker have doubled down on their support of Montoya. 

Still, Candelaria worries that there are still murmurs of opposition to a conversion therapy bill he sponsored in 2017 and which became law. The measure banned the practice of attempting to get gay minors to change their sexual identity from gay to straight. "There is still much work to do in advancing equal rights," he said.

Candelaria, elected in 2012 and the state's first gay male state Senator, is organizing an Oct. 20 zoom fundraiser for the gay and lesbian legislative candidates. Besides himself and Montoya, they include Carrie Hamblen, the Dem candidate for the Las Cruces senate seat held by Mary Kay Papen who Hamblen defeated in the primary; Brittney Barreras, an independent candidate (who leans Dem) for an ABQ Valley state House seat; Dem. Sen. Liz Stefanics of Santa Fe, who became the first openly LGBQT member of the Legislature in 1993 and Leo Jaramillo, who defeated longtime Dem Sen. Richard Martinez in the June primary for District 5 in the north. The GOP candidate challenging Jaramillo is Diamantina Prado Storment. Stefanics is opposed by Republican Joey Tiano

Candelaria is opposed by Republican Manuel Lardizabal and is favored for re-election in the Dem heavy district. Barreras is opposed for the ABQ District 12 seat by write-in hopeful and former Dem BernCo Commissioner Art De La Cruz.

Candelaria says the election of gay and lesbian candidates has a particular impact on gay youth "who can be inspired and see that their dreams can come true" in today's society. 

And NBC News comes with this

More lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer candidates will appear on ballots across the country this November than ever before, according to a new report from the LGBTQ Victory Fund, a group that trains, supports and advocates for queer candidates. These candidates are also more racially diverse than in past election cycles, according to the findings.

NEW MEXICO NAIL-BITER

It's New Mexico's big election nail-biter and here's the latest from the DC pundits:

Top Democratic operatives appear. . . worried about holding a rural seat in southern New Mexico held by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, another vulnerable freshman. Recent polling shows a virtually tied race, and Republicans are dumping money on ads casting her as an acolyte of Speaker Nancy Pelosi who won't support the state's oil and gas industry. But. . . Torres Small is also facing a rematch against Yvette Herrell, the woman she beat in 2018 — and Democrats are hammering Herrell over the same ethics issues they litigated two years ago. And Herrell is also leaning heavily on outside help: Torres Small is outspending her opponent by a nearly five-to-one margin on TV ads. 

The latest ad from XTS focuses on her support of fracking and distances her from AOC and other Dems seeking a ban. The strategy being that Republican Yvette Herrell needs a landslide in the oil counties of Eddy, Chavez and Lea to take the win. Cutting her margins there could be key to the re-election of XTS.

PLAYING FOR PRO TEM 

We had the latest speculation last week on the Democratic state senators angling for the important position of Senate President Pro Tem that will be named following the November election, but we left out one potential competitor. Former Sec. of Environment Judy Espinoza weighs in on that: 

ABQ Senator Linda Lopez’ name should certainly be on the list. Linda is second in seniority in the Democratic Caucus. I started working with her on environmental justice and sustainable communities when she first arrived in the Senate in 1996. For years she has sponsored legislation against institutional racism, a vital policy issue finally getting the attention it deserves. As Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, she instituted criminal and financial background checks for appointees subject to Senate confirmation. . .In 2019 Linda worked with the Governor to sponsor legislation to repeal our outdated criminal bans on abortion. She was tough and unrelenting despite very hateful attacks. . .Linda is strong in her unpretentious way. 

The President Pro Tem decides committee assignments for state senators and is chosen by the entire Senate. Dems have a majority. As a result of the June primary when several conservative Dem Senators were defeated by liberal challengers, the coalition of Republican Senators who voted with a handful of conservative Dems to appoint a Pro Tem appears destined to dissolve. The new Pro Tem will likely be determined in the Dem caucus and elected on the floor with no coalition with the R's.

COLON VS. TORREZ

Can't the Alligators wait until at least this election is over before splashing around for 2022 action? Nope. One of the restless pond dwellers comes with the news that in the latest state finance reports State Auditor Brian Colón reports $301,000 in cash on hand and his fellow Dem and BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez has $144,000. Both are seen as leading Dem candidates for attorney general in 2022. But there's more. If southern Dem Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small were to lose her seat in November she might join the Dem race for attorney general. Come on Gators, isn't watching Trump enough entertainment for you? Apparently not. 

THE BOTTOM LINES 

In a first draft Tuesday we described Santa Fe City Councilor Rene Villarreal as Mayor Alan Webber's chief opponent in the 2021 election. Right now that chief opponent is Councilor Joanne Vigil Coppler who is weighing a mayoral run. Villarreal has not yet mentioned any mayoral intentions.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Trump Pops Up In Southern Congress Race But Can He Make A Pop There Election Night? Plus: Obelisk Politics, Defending Harry Teague And Latest US Senate Action  

President Trump popped up in that hotly contested southern NM congressional race the other day, doing a brief telephone rally for Republican hopeful Yvette Herrell and reminding one and all how his popularity in the district is key to the outcome. (Complete 6 minute call here).

Donald Trump won the (southern) district by 10 percentage points in 2016. But the ABQ Journal Poll in early September showed Trump with just a 4-point edge in the district this time.

Four points is not going to get the job done and would likely lead to Herrell's second defeat in a row at the hands of Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. But in his often entertaining call to Herrell loyalists Trump was hearing none of it as he spoke from the Oval Office: 

We're going to win the state of New Mexico I'm hearing it from everybody. You're (Yvette) going to win the race and then I am going to win the whole state. I am hearing it from everybody!

Everybody! Fun stuff even if some of the pros are now calling the contest lean Democrat and it appears Herrell is being outspent. 

You have to give the President credit for nailing the pronunciation of the often mispronounced first name of Xochitl. But that just set up his attack lines: 

Xochitl Torres Small is a total puppet for Nancy Pelosi, a radical left puppet. I know personally because she tried to impeach me twice. . . She was saying these wonderful things about me and then she raises her hand all the time, let's impeach him.. I am popular in your district--like record numbers. . . Torres Small wants to open up your borders. She wants to have people pouring into New Mexico, even people during a pandemic. She voted to block my emergency declaration on border security but I got it passed anyway and got the wall built despite tremendous opposition from her. 

Herrell can only hope that Trump's boast of having "record numbers" in the southern CD comes to fruition on Election Night and helps push her into the Congress. But, hey, no problem. "Everybody" knows there won't be a problem. 

OBELISK WRECKERS

And there goes over 150 years of Santa Fe Plaza history in just seconds of irrational anger. A damn shame and it will help set up one of the most divisive and ugly Santa Fe mayor races ever in 2021. Mayor Webber condemned the obelisk destruction but the radical and racially charged politics now emerging in the City Different will challenge everyone. And like ABQ Mayor Keller, whose police force stood down when protesters dismantled an Onate statue near Old Town this summer, Webber's cops apparently did the same. Here's his video reacting to the destruction but he does not address the police going AWOL.  Councilor Villarreal is already blaming him for the police absence. Be certain there is much more to come on all of this. 

DEFENDING HARRY 

Former Dem Lt. Gov Diane Denish lashed out here over former southern Dem US Rep. Harry Teague's endorsing Republican Yvette Herrell over Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.  Reader Mike Davis returns the fire:

Diane, Per your opining of when Teague lost his seat--"He didn't know the district in 2010--you got the snot kicked out of you in 2010 by a no-name district attorney from Dona Ana County after you served as Lieutenant Governor for 8 years, were a former state chair of the Democratic Party and came from a well-known family of wealth and with roots in state politics. Sounds like you might not have been very good at evaluating where, how, and why the Democratic voters in the Land of Enchantment felt about you in 2010.

SENATE ACTION

Giving a helping hand to a veteran in need of surgery is the topic of one of the latest ad offerings from Dem US Senate candidate Ben Ray Lujan, The vet gives a personal tesimtonal about how Lujan helped. 

When the US Senate campaign TV ads started Republican and accomplished TV performer Mark Ronchetti's smooth persona contrasted starkly with the more unpolished presentation of the lawmaker from Nambe. But Lujan has improved greatly during the campaign and that contrast is no longer noticeable. He has grown into this campaign for Senate. At first he seemed to be trying too hard. Confidence may have something to do with it. The northern Congresman leads Ronchetti by ten points in the latest polling.

It's no surprise but it never hurts to get the endorsement of your hometown paper. Lujan secured his when the Santa Fe New Mexican came with this editorial

For his part, Ronchetti continues to come with TV ads as well as "Ronchetti on the Road" videos for social media. The latest one features him with his wife and his two young daughters--who have become staples in his TV ads. The family is shown sledding down the gleaming hills of White Sands near Alamogordo with sand so white it looks like a perfect ski slope. But it will soon be time for Ronchetti to come home to ABQ and stay put. He can only pull off an upset if he trims Lujan's sails in the big city, 

Meanwhile, it was Ronchetti's often controversial political consultant Jay McCleskey getting front page Sunday coverage in the ABQ Journal, not Ronchetti. McCleskey, who headed up Gov. Martinez's political machine, is entangled in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by legislative candidate Scott Chandler. 

Chandler has won hefty lawsuit settlements (nearly $1 million) from the state over actions taken by the Martinez administration against a ranch he ran for troubled youth near Deming. The mailers in question in the defamation suit are about alleged abuses at the ranch that were never proven. Those charges were used by McCleskey in mailers against Chandler when he ran for the legislature in 2016. McCleskey says they are protected by the First Amendment. 

No word on how much in damages Chandler is seeking but apparently the legal wrangling has already been a financial hit for the consultant. McCleskey has filed a lawsuit against his insurance company for refusing to pay his legal fees. The attorney for Chandler is Pete Domenici Jr., son of the late Senator, who we presume is having no trouble collecting his fees.  

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Monday, October 12, 2020

MLG's Test: Pandemic Protests Not Only In Red Counties; Blue BernCo Sees Parents, Students Take To Streets, Plus: Haaland Debates Garcia Holmes  

(Thompson, Journal)
For the first time protests against coronavirus restrictions have emerged in a Democratic bastion--in Bernalillo County--the heart of Governor Lujan Grisham's political base. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back was her cancellation of all youth sports, a decision that sent hundreds of students and their parents onto the streets of the city. 

At a first glance you may have thought it was Roswell or Alamogordo, where opposition to virus restrictions has been ongoing since the start of the pandemic. But this was in the state's largest metro and raised political questions about the Governor and the restrictions. One of our Senior Alligators framed it this way: 

Many voters don't see the logic of MLG’s decisions and have trouble connecting the cause and effect behind her decisions. Are kids playing sports running in masks outdoors really the problem? I think this is the tipping point for many parents in their support for the Governor. 

The people making these decisions don’t have kids in school—MLG, Health Secretary Scrase, Education Secretary Stewart as well as most of the Governor's closest staff. They aren’t living this nightmare. Other states are not doing what we are doing. Her approach will contribute to our state’s kids falling even further behind.

That’s shocking considering this Governor and her party claim to care about children and their education. But this is what happens when self-interested boomers put their needs over those of our youngest generation. And, because the Governor has no relationship with school boards or leaders outside Albuquerque and Santa Fe, she is unable to come up with creative, consensus solutions. Instead it’s her calling all the shots and making decisions in the Roundhouse bubble. 

This is where we could see the Democratic gains in Rio Rancho, ABQ's West Side and NE Heights start to erode—not this election, but the next one. All the GOP has to do is talk about rising crime and compare this state’s approach to kids' education to other states and you have an argument against the Dems and MLG.

Making decisions even more difficult for the Fourth Floor is the expected rise in coronavirus cases this fall and winter that are already occuring. That's hard to balance with the lost year the state's youth are enduring and with unknown consequences for their long-term well-being. 

The polling is mixed on the Governor who has been prominently mentioned as a possible cabinet pick should Joe Biden win the presidency next month. 

The PPP poll taken Sept. 30 and Oct.1 is a red flag, showing her disapproval rating at a new high of 42 percent, climbing from 33 percent in the June PPP poll. Her approval rating was 50 percent, down from 52 in June. That seems to indicate that the state's conservative base has now consolidated in opposition to her administration (she won the '18 Guv race 57 to 43 percent).

Interestingly, the PPP poll said voters approve of her handling of the virus at a 58 to 36 percent rate, so if her opposition has grown it seems it isn't solely because of her pandemic performance. 

The ABQ Journal survey taken mostly in late August pegged her disapproval at a still low 33 percent and her approval at a high 59 percent. The difference in the polls may be explained by methodology or by the fact that the political campaigns have heated up in the past month, increasing partisanship and therefore her opposition. 

There is no questioning the blow to morale that the prohibition on youth sports--even golf and volleyball--is having on the students and the Governor's numbers. You can see that in the streets of ABQ. 

HAALAND VS GARCIA HOLMES

Haaland & Garcia Holmes
Why is just about every TV debate for Congress  broadcast on C-SPAN this year done in the studio with social distancing but New Mexicans get stuck with inferior zoom debates that suck the energy out of the room and have the production value of a public access channel? 

Well, having gotten that off our chest, there was another of those hour long remote encounters Sunday afternoon on KOAT-TV. This clash was between ABQ Dem US Rep. Deb Haaland and her Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes. It will be the only debate between the pair. (Full video here.) Zoom is a downer but the questions were solid. Off we go. 
 
Underdog Garcia Holmes came prepared to prosecute her case. Among her best moments was when she dumped on the entire NM Congressional delegation for the failure to extend badly needed broadband in the state. There is hardly a day that goes by without a DC news release about more funding for broadband but there is still no coordinated plan and during the pandemic it shows. "It's horrific that this is happening in this day and age," Garcia Holmes argued. 

Haaland's best moment were actually moments. She simply could not be shaken or dragged into an emotional confrontation no matter how hard Garcia Holmes attacked. That restraint is how you run when you are the polling leader and it worked. She also was effective in repeatedly scoring the congressional Republicans--and by inference her opponent--for not agreeing to a second coronavirus package that is now stalled.

Garcia Holmes, a former APD detective, scored on Haaland's vote to defund Operation Legend--at least with her political base and maybe more as  progressives appear to be losing the ABQ crime debate. Haaland voted to defund the Operation and Garcia seized upon that repeatedly. Haaland said her defunding vote was based on what was happening at protests in Portland this summer where she said the feds "violated human rights." She said she worried the same could happen in ABQ. 

Trump was occasionally mentioned but was not a dominating presence. Haaland linked Garcia Holmes to him, but mildly. The president's weakness in Bernalillo County is obvious and will help Haaland. 

Garcia Holmes has bought over $100,000 in TV ads while Haaland has bought none yet. She did release a $50,000 digital media buy following the debate. 

With her spirited challenge to Haaland, Garcia Holmes stands to consolidate the GOP vote, peel off some Dem Hispanics and conservative independents and outperform Haaland's 2018 challenger. For her part, Haaland did nothing to shake the pride that New Mexico took in her for climbing the hill to become a Native American member of Congress. Her steady debate performance set the course for her probable re-election. 

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Thursday, October 08, 2020

Blue Wave Developing? If It Does Here's What It Means To NM, Plus: Dodging Debates, Haranguing Harry And Susana Surfaces 

National surveys showing a strengthening in the position of Joe Biden has prompted talk of a Blue Wave that puts him in the White House and perhaps Dem control of the Senate. But what would a wave mean for New Mexico? 

We’re no stranger to them, having had a giant one in 2008 when Obama claimed the presidency and in the 2018 off-year election when the Dems bolstered their control of the state House and put Dems in all of the statewide executive offices. 

If there is a 2020 wave it would mean GOP BernCo Senate seats belonging to Senators Gould and Rue would fall. And Republican John Morton, seeking the open NE Heights seat of GOP Sen. Payne, would lose. It would also mean that the R’s would pick up no state House seats in BernCo, continuing to leave the state’s largest county with only one Republican House member. 

A wave would mean the R’s would not pick up the seat of John Arthur Smith in the SW. It would also mean the Sandoval County Senate seat being vacated by conservative and outgoing Dem Senator John Sapien would fall to liberal Dem Brenda McKenna instead of R John Clark.

A three seat Dem pick up would mean a Senate of 29 Dems and only 13 R's, down from the current 26-16 breakdown. 

In terms of policy a wave could mean a higher likelihood of legalizing recreational marijuana, approving a constitutional amendment to tap the $20 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education and probably fiscal stimulus programs that are more liberal.

For example, the state’s $400 million loan program for businesses impacted by the pandemic has been strangled to death by onerous rules that have roadblocked all but $20 million going to businesses suffering because of the virus-caused economic decline. 

One of the bill's sponsors came with an odd quote about the collapse of the loan program, saying: "Implications about the program that it missed its mark are in bad faith." He further said the unrealistic  standards for the loans was a necessary compromise with Senate conservatives. 

The addition of the more liberal senators could loosen the pursestrings and we could also see less support for keeping budget reserves at extraordinary high levels of 20 percent or more. 

So a blue wave is not only a political development, it likely would have major policy implications as the Senate gave  less resistance to the more liberal House. As for the Governor, she would want to take some surfing lessons to figure out how to ride that Blue Wave.

DODGING DEBATES

ABQ Dem Rep. Deb Haaland is taking hits for only agreeing to one TV debate with GOP opponent Michelle Garcia Holmes. That debate will take place this Sunday, Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. But Haaland refused to debate on KOB. That brought this from GOP Chair Steve Pearce:

Is this who we want representing us in Washington—someone who wants our vote yet doesn’t have the courtesy and decency to discuss important issues like rising crime and the ailing economy affecting our state? This is a historic election with so much at stake. Perhaps she’s aware of her left-leaning views and knows they don’t fall in line with traditional New Mexico values. She failed in her obligations as an incumbent to address her constituents. This is disrespectful to the voters, and Haaland doesn’t deserve another term. 

Garcia Holmes was given five minutes of free air time by KOB-TV because Haaland refused to debate.

There was a stir when Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan raised questions about whether he would debate his GOP Senate foe Mark Ronchetti on KOB-TV but he ended up going. The debate back and forth and nothing else--including a month-long run of TV ads--seems to be jolting the contest. 

The latest poll is similar to the ABQ Journal survey from early September in which Lujan led 49 to 40. In a new poll conducted by the Dem-leaning PPP Sept. 30 and Oct.1 Lujan was at 51 percent and Ronchetti at 41. Libertarian Bob Walsh had 3 percent in the survey which had a margin of error of 3.3 percent. Lujan topping the magic number of 50 will not go unnoticed.  

HARANGUING HARRY

Only one of the three US House races is competitive this cycle and continues to draw heat. That 15 second TV ad endorsing Republican Yvette Herrell by former one term southern Dem Congressman Harry Teague is rubbing some supporters of Dem US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small the wrong way. Former Dem Lt. Governor Diane Denish, a native of Hobbs, says:

This ad is a lie. His endorsement has nothing to do with education, healthcare etc.  It's the old story of follow the money. After Harry voted for cap and trade (opposed by the oil industry) during his term, NM Republicans essentially worked to bankrupt him by pulling their servicing contracts from his Hobbs oil firm. Today his business is still on the ropes. His payoff for the endorsement of Herrell is Republican help to bring his business back. Unlike Xochitl, Harry failed to represent his own industry during his term. He didn't know the district in 2010 and he clearly doesn't know it in 2020. Hope the 15 seconds is worth it for him. 

The southern race is pretty much frozen with very few undecided. The two contenders did a 30 minute debate Wednesday night on KOB-TV (no bombs were dropped) but their main job now is getting their vote out. Massive numbers of absentee ballots are set to be returned as soon as next week.

SUSANA SURFACES

Former NM GOP Gov. Susana Martinez (remember her?) has surfaced on the campaign trail, with the former two term executive urging BernCo voters to support Republican District Judge Daniel Gallegos, one of her judicial appointments. 

I appointed Judge Gallegos just before leaving office because he is a man of honor and integrity. He comes from a family that believes in public service and helping others – his dad was a firefighter and his mom worked in the public schools. Judge Gallegos is tough and principled. 

Dem Metro Court Judge Courtney Weaks is trying to advance to District Court and is opposing Gallegos. The note from the ex-Guv got the attention of her campaign with operatives writing in email:

You need to use this (endorsement) to bring in some money. Should forward this to folks and say Susana is pulling out all the stops. We need your help. . . we need to get up MLG and Deb (Haaland) ads ASAP for Courtney.

THE BOTTOM LINES

The two hopefuls for the open northern congressional seat--Dem Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson--conducted a TV debate Wednesday afternoon. Video here. . . In blogging of northern Dem state House candidate Roger Montoya this week we said he is seeking the District 50 seat. Montoya is running in District 40 . . .And we said that Sandoval County Commissioner John Block was eyeing a possible GOP run for Guv in 2022. His first name is Jay, not John.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

 

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