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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Campaign '18: Small Ball On The Guv Trail; APO Still Venting Over MLG While She And Pearce Nick Each Other, And: The Polling Rise And Fall Of Susana Martinez  

Today's blog is R rated or at least this first piece. . .

Unsuccessful Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca is pushing back on Facebook against those who say he should get in line and endorse Dem nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham. Not going to happen. Take a look at this heated response Apodaca posted on Facebook:

. . . Sorry but I will not just fall in line when I have seen the corruption from our nominee. . . It’s not about the party anymore, it’s about what’s best for New Mexicans. I’m tired of our elected officials creating fourth degree felonies while making millions off taxpayers. . .You all can continue to call me sour grapes. . . The facts are, I met with Michelle and congratulated her and. . . offered to work together to get her elected. . .At our meeting she had her corruption business partner. . .  in the meeting and told me to “Fuck off, you cost me $2 million in the primary. I don’t need your help and the 35 percent of the Dems that didn’t vote for me, who are they going to vote for, Pearce? I don’t think so."

The alleged corruption Apodaca is referring to is MLG's role in Delta Consulting which has become a centerpiece of the Pearce campaign and which Apodaca used against her in the June primary. The "business partner" he references is ABQ Dem State Rep. Deborah Armstrong, who co-founded Delta with MLG and until recently served as her campaign treasurer.

In addition to Delta another ethics issues, albeit of the minor variety, could enter the Guv race. From Roll Call:

The Justice Department has issued an indictment of former non-profit head Kevin Oksuz for his role in a plot to hide the fact that a 2013 congressional delegation trip to Azerbaijan was funded by that country’s government.

Among the ten US House members taking the trip was Rep. Lujan Grisham. She and her colleagues were cleared to take it by the House Ethics Committee and are not accused of any wrongdoing. Nonprofits are allowed to sponsor education trips for members of Congress but this one turns out to have been secretly financed by the state-owned oil company in Azerbaijan. But there is this:

Lujan Grisham and some of her colleagues received Azerbaijani rugs and other valuables as gifts but didn’t report them when they got home. House ethics rules prohibit members of Congress from accepting gifts from “an agent or a foreign principal” but appear to allow gifts valued up to $350 from a foreign government “as a souvenir or mark of courtesy.” The rules say any gifts worth more than $350 must be disclosed. The rugs were valued at $2,500 to $10,000.

MLG said at the time she did not report the rug gift because she did not think they were "particularly valuable" and also called them "unattractive."

Although the dust-up over the trip has been settled don't be surprised to see Pearce come with something about MLG’s magic carpet ride.

PITCHING SMALL BALL

There does seem to be quite a bit of small ball on the Guv campaign trail. For example, the Pearce campaign launched a heated attack against MLG's camp for listing GOP Socorro County Commissioner Glen Duggins on a list of 100 Republicans she says are backing her. Duggins says not so. The MLG camp says Duggins told her at a social event he was supporting her. The Pearce people say she is "lying."

That tempest in a teacup comes on the heels of the MLG campaign raising Cain over an error in one of Pearce's TV ads in which he erroneously quotes a news organization to support one of the ad's contentions. The campaign later fixed the spot.

And then there's the Dems scorching Pearce over his admission that he has yet to read the full District Court ruling finding that the state's public education system is under-funded--especially for at risk students--and therefore in violation of the state Constitution. State Dems blasted:

If Steve Pearce is too busy to read, learn about, or get a briefing about the landmark public education ruling in New Mexico, he has no business running for governor while New Mexico’s public school system is at the bottom of all the wrong lists.

Pearce said it's no big deal because he has argued all along that the schools are underfunded and he will work to get more funds into the classrooms.

Well, all of the above is a lot of campaign dust that will soon be gone with the wind.

SUSANA APPROVAL

It was close but by only two points GOP Governor Susana Martinez narrowly escaped falling to the in-the-cellar approval rating sported by Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson when he finished his two terms in office in 2010.

The final ABQ Journal poll of Martinez has her scoring an anemic 35% approval rating, two points above the 33% where Big Bill ended his eight year run.

The poll, conducted Sept. 7-13, lists her disapproval number at 46 percent and 17 percent as having "mixed feelings." Other public polling confirms her descent into the low to mid 30's, far from the heady days of 2012 when she sported approval of 69 percent. Things started to go down fast after her infamous holiday pizza party in Santa Fe in December 2015. In October 2016 she was down to 42 percent approval and now this final descent.

It's true that every Governor who has served two terms failed to leave office with a majority of the voters expressing their approval. But Republican Gary Johnson came close, ending with approval of 45% in the September 2002 Journal poll.

The lousy economy, the bitter wrangling with the Legislature, her personally vindictive style that she shared with her influential political consultant and that pizza party that unmasked her worst personality traits, all contributed to her undoing. But as Richardson said of his own poor final rating: "People get tired of you."

Martinez, 58, a longtime government employee, appears to be eligible for a state pension in the area of $100,000 a year, assuming she did not tap her retirement plan these past 25 years. Whether the once rising star of national and local politics will land another job remains an open question. She has announced no job plans for when her tenure ends on December 31.

THE BOTTOM LINES 

Today is National Voter Registration day so. . .

Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover is hosting the Second Annual Be the Vote Voter Registration Drive today at Civic Plaza, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Staff members will be on hand to answer any questions.

CHI St. Joseph's Children, who we work with, sends this update:

CHI St. Joseph's Children announces the first biannual International Study Tour to educate interested parties about the benefits of Home Visiting as well as how to implement and operate a program. On Sept 24th – 27th CHI St. Joseph’s will present a comprehensive review of Home Visiting for first-time parents from prenatal to three years old. New Mexico ranks 50th in children’s wellbeing, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. We have a beacon of hope in Home Visiting, attracting people from other parts of the world to learn about this effective program. Highlighted will be a UNM study about how the state’s largest Home Visiting program was implemented, how it operates and how it evaluates its outcomes. The participants will walk away with a turnkey process for establishing and operating Home Visiting programs.

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

Polling Sets Up Possible Squeaker In Land Commissioner Contest; Polar Opposites Lyons And Garcia Richard Get Set For Statewide Stage, Plus: Analysis Of Polling And Where Contests Stand For Auditor, AG, Treasurer And SOS  

The politicos poring over polling results for the statewide races over the weekend had to stifle yawns until they came to the contest for state land commissioner. Yawns turned to smiles as a nail biter appears to be in store in the battle for state land commissioner.

The important post has turned into a swing seat this century and the ABQ Journal survey showing Dem nominee Stephanie Garcia Richard leading Republican Pat Lyons by only two points--39%-37% with 9% for Libertarian Michael Lucero--confirms that again we are in for a down to the wire contest.

(The poll was taken September 7-13 and has a margin of error of 4.8 percent)

Lyons is a former two term commissioner, winning in 2002 in a 51-48 contest over Dem Art Trujillo. He was re-elected in 2006, beating former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca 52 to 48. Both Dems were unpopular. Trujillo was mired in ethics issues and Baca was in the cellar after his service as Mayor, paving the way for the unusual two term GOP takeover.

Garcia Richard, a three term state House member representing a north central district that includes Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties, is chair of the House Education Committee. She does not carry the baggage those defeated Dems did, but in 2014 incumbent Dem Land Commissioner Ray Powell didn't either, yet he was narrowly beaten--51-49--by Republican Aubrey Dunn who is not seeking re-election this year.

The land office oversees 9 million acres of surface land and 13 million acres of subsurface mineral rights. Effective negotiating of oil and gas leases, which produce millions in revenue to fund public education and other beneficiaries, is critical. There is little oversight of the office and the commissioner is akin to a czar over all that acreage.

Lyons had amassed $188,00 in cash on hand as of September 3 to Garcia Richard's $33,000. Her coffers were spent down because of a competitive June primary but the lopsided cash balances also reflect oil and gas industry favoritism toward Lyons and their fear of Garcia Richard. She has said she would work to raise the royalties the state gets from oil and gas by a whopping 35 percent--from 18.75% to at least 25%--in line with Texas. She is also a strong supporter of increasing renewable energy leasing, hoping to use wind and solar to lessen the state's reliance on the volatile oil and gas sector.

Lyons, a working rancher from Quay County, is termed out as a Public Regulation Commissioner where he has served two terms. He touts his experience in the land office, inferring that Garcia Richard, a school teacher, is out of her element. He also stresses the mission of the office to maximize income for education. While sympathetic to wind and solar development--he signed the first wind power lease--he notes that New Mexico oil is in the midst of an historic boom--perhaps unprecedented in state history--and competent management is essential to ensure the state gets that maximum income.

Big PAC money from energy and environmental interests will come in and that should help Garcia Richard narrow the cash gap. But the political pros will tell you that a candidate's own campaign cash is highly important because it lets them directly control their message. The PAC money is on its own and sometimes misses the mark. Also, the PACS have to pay a higher rate for TV ads than the campaigns.

SUM IT UP, JOE

Lyons, who is also a former three term state senator, has never lost since going into politics in the 90's. Garcia Richard has shown her stuff by winning a swing legislative district three times. And she would be the first female land commissioner in state history in a year when women candidates have been preforming especially well. Libertarian Lucero has no significant campaign presence and his 9 percent could easily be reduced. How many Hispanic men stick with him and those who stay do they come out of the Lyons column or that of Garcia Richard? That could influence the outcome. Put it all together and you have all the elements for a race too close to call.

(Elizabeth Miller of NM In Depth goes long and deep on where the candidates stand on the key issues in the land office contest.)

Now it's on to the polling in the other statewide races and our analysis of where the races stand.

STATE AUDITOR

Besides the land commission battle, this is the only other statewide race that comes anywhere close to being competitive in the Journal polling released over the weekend. However, former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colón still holds an ample lead over appointed GOP Auditor Wayne Johnson, a former BernCo Commissioner who along with Colón made an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of ABQ last year,

Colón, nicknamed the "Happy Warrior" for his upbeat campaign style, leads 45% to 39% with 15 percent undecided. That Colón is not over the 50 percent mark heartens the Johnson camp. On the other hand the last Republican to be elected auditor was in 1968. That's a fifty year Dem run and Johnson needs a lot of the green stuff--and negative ads against Colón--to get it in play. Johnson only had $105,000 in cash on hand as of September 3 and Colón about the same. It will take more than that to dent the Dem.

Johnson has made the most of his incumbency courtesy of Gov. Martinez who appointed him to fill the vacancy created when Dem Tim Keller became ABQ mayor. He has scored widespread coverage for inquiries and audits. His recent forays was against none other than Colón who has a long association with the Robles, Rael, Anaya law firm that does considerable business with government entities and where Colón works "of counsel" but no longer a shareholder. A news article raised the question of the high legal fees the firm has charged the village of Questa but Colón says he never represented the village. Johnson is seeking to subpoena village documents.

His supporters say Colón, who is making his third run for elective office, has a demonstrated thirst for public service and point out that not only does he have a law degree, but a Bachelor's in Finance that make him more than qualified for the position.

The auditor's race is ranked likely Democrat.

ATTORNEY GENERAL 

In his quest for a second term as attorney general Hector Balderas has barely had to fire a shot. It's not that Republican ABQ attorney Michael Hendricks and Libertarian A. Blair Dunn are legal dummies. Far from it. They just haven't raised enough money to take on the heavily favored Balderas who has nearly $1 million in his campaign account.

Balderas leads the race with 53%. Hendricks manages only 32%. Dunn gets 7. Undecided is at 8 percent.

His opponents complain that his office produces more puffed up news releases than significant legal results but Balderas shrugs it off. He has earned points for watching over NM's children and for securing corruption convictions against Dianna Duran, the ex-GOP Secretary of State and former Dem State Senator Phil Griego. Republican Hendricks has won bipartisan kudos for calling for the resignation of ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood following her aggravated DWI arrest.

The race for attorney general is rated Safe Democratic.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Maggie Toulouse Oliver won the confidence of the electorate during her stint as Bernalillo County Clerk clerk by running smooth elections that contrasted sharply with the chaos that came before her.

As a reformist Secretary of State she has strengthened her position and leads in the Journal survey. Toulouse Oliver scores 46 percent. Republican Gavin Clarkson gets 32% and Libertarian Ginger Grider's garners 6 percent.

The SOS received some paper cuts from the NM Supreme Court when she attempted to reinstate straight party voting in the state. But the Rs have been hard-pressed to indict her job performance and she is on her way to re-election.

The SOS race is ranked Safe Dem.

STATE TREASURER

Tim Eichenberg has been quiet, too quiet say the R's who would like to see Arthur Castillo oust Eichenberg who is seeking a second four year term. But as with Auditor it has been a mighty long time since an R was elected Treasurer. Eichenberg leads the Journal poll of likely mid-term voters 44% to 34% with 21% undecided.

Eichenberg, a longtime fixture in NM politics, may be quiet and a behind the scenes guy, but he has not been shadowed by scandal as have so many past treasurers--two of whom ended up behind bars in this young century. The public seems content with Eichenberg as long as he keeps his nose clean and invests their money safely.

The Treasurer's race is ranked Safe Dem.

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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Debate Analysis: Pearce Shrinks From MLG Corruption Charge And She Takes The Win, Plus: Yvette Vs. Xochitl Has Pollsters Parting Ways  

It's not what Steve Pearce said, it was what he didn't say that cost him a win to Michelle Lujan Grisham. That was the consensus of our political experts avidly watching last night's first televised gubernatorial debate on Fox New Mexico.

(Complete video here.)

And what Pearce wouldn't say is what his primary TV spot says: That Democrat Lujan Grisham is a corrupt politician who will be an unethical leader and who will reward her cronies from the state treasury.

Veteran political analyst and attorney Greg Payne, a Dem, sums it up this way:

Pearce did not step up and press his negative attacks against Lujan Grisham over Delta Consulting. If you can't say it in a debate when your opponent is sitting across the table from you, no one is going to think your negative ad is credible--no matter how much money you spend on it.

A longtime GOP consultant said it appeared Pearce's handlers do not want to risk unwinding the positive, friendly image he built over the summer with TV ads that showcased a friendly uncle-like figure who gets along with just about everyone. His take:

Pearce didn't do badly on the issues. Dems watching would agree with Michelle and R's watching would go with Pearce and everyone runs to their corner. But he did not dent her on the character/corruption issue that could cause second guessing among her supporters. And with only 7 percent of the electorate undecided and him trailing 50-43 (in the ABQ Journal poll) he needs to dent her. By not taking that risk, he handed her the victory.

Many of those chiming in agree with this Pearce sympathizer on what went wrong:

MLG was the more articulate and nimble debater--a result of having gone through a contentious primary, which Pearce did not. . . She was prepared to use Pearce’s record in the Legislature and in Congress against him with specifics. She seemed prepared for everything Pearce said. Pearce wasn’t quite so nimble — perhaps because he hasn’t had to debate anyone in ages. He seemed to avoid attacking her on some of her most controversial votes or statements. He was too nice and didn’t try to throw her off her base. 

SHORT TAKE STEVE

Another veteran politico, independent Steve Cabiedes, scored it for MLG with this reasoning:

There was no knockdown or knockout by Steve which he needed.

BOYD'S BARBED ATTACKS

The tone of the debate was what caught the attention of the Journal's Dan Boyd:

In a remarkable change in tone, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce seized on their first televised debate Wednesday as a chance to sharply question each other and trade barbed attacks over whose vision is right for New Mexico.

NEXT TIME

There will be two more TV debates and this GOP Alligator has some advice on how Pearce can recover:

Next time, Pearce needs to aim more directly at her. If he’s going to charge her with corruption in his ads, he needs to say it in debates and forums and prosecute her on the spot. He also needs to challenge her policy positions, specifically on CYFD and crime. 

Furthermore, by using her own words against her, he should create a split between progressive Democrats and conservative Democrats--things that might cause progressives to stay home and conservative Dems to support him. Pearce’s number one goal: convince everyone that MLG is corrupt and unworthy of the office of governor. Second to this, he should also portray MLG as an unreasonable and far left liberal with no record of reaching across the aisle.

NO, STEVE WON

The political experts may have thought Pearce lost the debate because he failed to carry his corruption message about MLG to the public, but his campaign touted a flash poll that KRQE-TV conducted after the face-off that showed him winning 54% to 46% among over 700 respondents. So take that, Brian Sanderoff.

EVEN MORE ANALYSIS

Back to our stable of analysts and this Dem Senior Alligator:

Lujan Grisham  needed to “stay the course” and she did. Pearce didn’t really do much to weaken Grisham with direct attacks, and probably could have done better to differentiate himself from his opponent.

Both talk like pedantic, Potomac River politicos reciting whatever is popular these days in DC. With Grisham 58 and Pearce now 70, they are both doing very little to capture the energetic, new style we see around the country in this year’s election. How about some new ideas? Some alternative takes on the topics du jour? A little inspiration, perhaps, please? Their unimaginative approach on the tremendous issues we face doesn’t bode well for what’s to come in Santa Fe. Someone needs to light a fire under these people.

That Gator wasn't the only one who thought the debate discussion flew right over the heads of most voters:

If the public was turned off or lost quick interest in this debate, one of the reasons is that neither of the candidates were speaking to real people. They were using the phrases and short-hand of the political, consulting and media class. I mean, what on earth was Lujan Grisham talking about when she kept going on about the CLIFF effect? And then there was Pearce wanting his hypothetical addict who also hypothetically stole his car to be on heroin, instead of meth. If someone steals your car, who cares what they're on? Neither one of these candidates seem to live in the same world the rest of us do.

YVETTE VS. XOCHITL 

Yvette & Xochitl
Things just keep getting more interesting in the race for the open southern congressional seat. Now the New York Times pollsters have weighed in and unlike the ABQ Journal, which had GOP State Rep. Yvette Herrell beating Democrat Xochitl Torres Small by a margin of 48 to 41, the Times survey has Torres small favored by one point--46-45. It was apparently enough for the noted Cook Political Report to move the race from "lean Republican to "toss up." That's after we moved it from "lean Republican" to likely Republican based on Herrell's strength in the survey of likely voters. Here's what the Times said:

NM-2, final: D+1, Torres-Small (D) 46, Herrell (R) 45 This is the first Democratic lead we've found in a district rated as "lean Republican" Torres-Small has a strong 33/17 fav rating, and she's running well ahead of the R+7 generic ballot here.

The difference in the polls is the turnout assumption. The Journal and pollster Brian Sanderoff do not see new Dem voters surging in the southern CD and the Times does. For example, the Times survey agrees with the Journal's that Herrell has a healthy lead among people calling themselves "certain voters" but says among voters who did not vote in both the '16 and '18 elections Torres Small has a lead of 15 points.

We think we may be ahead of the crowd and we're sticking by our "likely Republican" rating for the race because for decades turnout in Las Cruces--the home base of Torres Small--has been notoriously difficult to spike in a mid term elections. In the past we've seen Democratic efforts to take this seat turn into a head fake come October. That means we think the electorate will mostly be those certain voters. But we could be wrong--that because of Trump newbie voters this year will flood the polls. All of this makes for an interesting race--for now. We look forward to the debates.

P.S. The GOP National Congressional Committee has now joined the race with attack ads on Torres Small. The Dem Congressional Committee has been on the tube pounding Herrell.

THE BOTTOM LINES

One thing ABQ can agree on in these often politically polarized times is that we have a great airport--convenient to all, exceptionally clean, efficient, good parking and a terrific maintenance staff that keeps it humming. The news:

Albuquerque International Sunport came in eighth among medium-sized North America airports, notching up a few slots from last year, in a new passenger satisfaction study by J.D. Power. Based on a 1,000-point scale, J.D. Power ranked Albuquerque’s airport at 797 in a grouping of 21 medium-hub airports. Buffalo Niagara International Airport took the No. 1 spot in the segment, with a score of 814.

We're surprised it doesn't rank even higher.

And on that positive note and as the negative campaigns prepare to rain down, we thank you for joining us today.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Keller Likes The Polls--His Own, Plus: Guv Debate Is Tonight, GOP Wants Gary To Quit Senate Race And Some Dusty Nuggets From The Campaign Trail  

Like the rest of the political community ABQ City Hall insiders are tracking the latest campaign polling like bloodhounds on a scent, but they're also looking at some polling of their own and are pretty pleased with what they are seeing.

One of the insiders with a reliable track record says Mayor Tim Keller has weathered the first ten months of his mayoralty in good shape with his approval rating in the vicinity of the 62 percent that he was elected with last November.

Another interesting point in the Keller polling, according to our insider, is that more than a majority of city residents finally believe the city under the leadership of Democrat Keller is headed in the right direction. However, those polled believe the state, led by Republican Governor Martinez, is still headed down the wrong path.

The explanation? It's not that ABQ has suddenly been transformed into a crime free zone with high paying jobs. It's that people are now hopeful that the city under new leadership has a shot at improving.

The final years of Republican Mayor Berry were dreadful with soaring crime rates, a sour economy and a woeful public transit project known as ART. It's not that city residents believe happy days are here again; it's that they are pleased to see a new face at the helm. Now it's up to that new face to  perform and put smiles on the faces of his constituents.

(We caution that we have not seen the actual poll and are relying one one of our reliable sources--known around here as an "Alligator" if you are new to the blog. If we get burned that Gator faces the fearsome punishment of 20 lashes with a wet noodle, a ban on consuming red or green chile for one year and 7 days in solitary confinement in a morada in Mora County. That will keep them honest).

One plan Mayor Keller is winning praise over--after being scorned for not acting quickly--is the establishment of a Downtown Public Safety District. It's quite comprehensive and is raising hopes that the death spiral the center of the city has been enduring is finally ending. New jobs coming to the area are also boosting hopes. Keller has also come with a plan to alleviate homelessness in the city.

DEBATE NIGHT

It's time for the first televised gubernatorial debate of the '18 campaign. The face-off starts tonight at 6 p.m. on KASA FOX 2 in ABQ and a live stream at krqe.com. For those outside the ABQ media market, the debate will also be broadcast on KTSM-TV Channel 9 in El Paso which covers Las Cruces and environs.

The debate runs for one hour. The format is pretty loose with a lone moderator keeping an eye on things while the two contenders are free to go into detail--or on the attack--on the issues raised. They will be allowed to question one another.

With a seven point lead over Republican Steve Pearce in the ABQ Journal poll--50-43--Michelle Lujan Grisham will work to avoid any major gaffe that could reset the race. Pearce can be expected to try to jar her loose with an aggressive performance. A key question: Will he bring anything new about his opponent to the table? Well, his campaign is revving up the pre-debate rhetoric:

Tomorrow evening Steve Pearce will go head to head with our far left opponent in a live televised debate on FOX NM and KTSM. . . 

Meantime, the Pearce campaign had to recut its hit ad on MLG and Delta Consulting because the spot attributed info in the ad to a news organization that actually came from a blog authored by former State Sen. Rod Adair.

As for Delta, MLG Dem primary rival Jeff Apodaca is still on the case. The group NM Democrats for Democracy, which he is involved with, sent out a timetable on Delta and the high risk insurance pool it runs that goes back to the 90's. It's well-produced and uncomplicates a complicated subject. While raising questions about the politics involved in the Delta contract there is no smoking gun revealing any criminal acts or intent.

Both campaigns will have debate watch parties tonight. Pearce supporters will the at the Marble Heights Taproom on Montgomery NE and of MLG's ABQ watch party will be at Democratic offices at 1605 Juan Tabo Blvd NE, Suite G.

Reader Richard Flores is one of the 7 percent who are said to be undecided in the newspaper poll. He says he will be watching tonight:

I'm not excited about either candidate. I think MLG's poll numbers reflect more of a Democratic backlash against Trump and his supporters, including the congressional leadership. I think (Dem Lt. Governor candidate) Howie Morales will help the Democratic cause for the upcoming election, but I have lots of questions about MLG's leadership style and her authenticity. Perhaps the debate on Wednesday evening will help to better define her character. I hope so.

ANOTHER TV DEBATE

The candidates for ABQ's U.S. House seat will have their first televised debate this Thursday. Democrat Deb Haaland, Republican Janice Arnold-Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton will go at it beginning at 7 p.m. tomorrow night on KNME-TV in ABQ. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Lujan Grisham who is running for governor. The seat has been in Dem hands since 2009.

GET OUT GARY

How about this for bad timing? With less than 50 days to go before the election Ryan Cangiolosi, chairman of the NM Republican Party, is calling on former NM GOP Governor and current Libertarian Party US Senate nominee to get out of the race:

Chairman Cangiolosi called on Johnson to withdraw his candidacy from New Mexico’s U.S. Senate race: Johnson has a long legacy of service to New Mexico, but our shared beliefs in smaller, more fiscally responsible government would be best served if he withdrew his candidacy. Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal poll painted a stark picture of the state of this race: in a head to head matchup, Republican nominee Mick Rich would be within just a few points of Democrat Martin Heinrich. We call on Gary Johnson to put New Mexico first and clear a path for Mick Rich to become New Mexico’s next Senator.

Poor Mick Rich. The GOP treated him like a rented mule for two years while he wandered in the wilderness seeking support from his party brethren but getting none. Now that the handwriting is on the wall and the R's face a humiliating Senate defeat they are trying to throw Mick a bone--or save themselves from the embarrassment of a major party nominee perhaps not getting even 30 percent of the vote. Even if Gary did get out (which he tells the Journal is “laughable”) Rich would have little chance of winning. Despite that great last name, at last report Mick had less than $200,000 banked.

TRAIL DUST

Sen. Heinrich has released a round radio ads targeted at seven regions in the state. . .

Four judges on the ABQ Metro Court are getting the thumbs down from the New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission which is urging voters to vote not to retain them in November. A judge up for retention must get 57 percent of the vote to stay on the bench. Four is one of the highest number of judges ever to be found wanting by the commission. . .

How about a president from our neighboring state of Colorado? Dem Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is preparing to join the growing list of possible Dem nominees to take on Trump in 2020. Not only is he a long shot but if he were to win wouldn't he have the longest last name in presidential history?

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 2

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Brazen Dems Say Pearce Is Dead But R's Fight To Keep Him Alive, Plus: NM GOP Split Over Trump Goes Public, Also: Debating Xochitl's Chances, And: Remembering Jay Miller Of "Inside The Capitol" 

With more brazen Democrats starting to assert that the '18 Governor's race is closed out in the wake of the ABQ Journal poll showing Republican Steve Pearce trailing Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham 50 to 43, the R's are working overtime to halt that narrative. Here's a GOP operative with the counter punch:

There’s still time for Team Pearce to get points on the board with negative ads on MLG, but Team MLG will of course return fire. Let’s see what sticks to each.

Pearce needs more support from registered Democrats. The key to success for Republicans in NM used to be getting at least 25 percent, but he might be successful with just 15 to 20 percent with high turnout from his base on the Eastside. There are lots of gettable conservative Democrats in the ABQ Metro — places like Valencia and Sandoval counties and even Santa Fe County. He also needs to run up the numbers in San Juan County and register a solid lead in the northwest.

Bottom line: MLG has in no way closed this deal and she could still make a significant mistake that could cause her to dip below 50 percent. It’s still a very competitive race. If I were on Team MLG, I would be very nervous about turnout. 

MLG is at 50 percent in that Journal survey but in the average of the three public polls released since after the June primary she falls short of that critical mark. The Real Clear Politics average of those polls has her with 47.7% and Pearce at 40.3. Pearce still desperately needs a survey that shows him moving past the base conservative GOP vote of 43 percent and MLG stalling out.

R'S SPLIT OVER SWAMP

The R's have their hands full this cycle. They have to deal with what appears to be a unified Democratic Party in a major Democratic state as well as continue to try to patch up their own internal divisions that often pop into public view.

The latest example is the dissing that former GOP Governor Garrey Carruthers administered to GOP southern congressional nominee and State Rep. Yvette Herrell. It took place at the annual Domenici conference in Las Cruces named after former NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici. Carruthers, the former chancellor of NMSU, openly showed his annoyance with Herrell:

Conference host Garrey Carruthers, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, told attendees Herrell had been invited but was in Washington, D.C. on Thursday visiting "consultants and the Republican party or whatever."

Herrell is an unabashed Trump Republican representing the new grassroots of the GOP Carruthers--and Domenici before him--are from the establishment country club wing of the GOP. but it's a wing that no longer flies. To Herrell's supporters DC is the swamp. To Garrey and Pete it was a joyful  political playground.

Really bad news for Carruthers and company may be ahead if Herrell wins the US House seat over Dem Xochitl Torres Small and Pearce loses the governor's race. That would in effect make new Congresswoman Herrell the de facto leader of the NM GOP and in charge of making it more competitive for the future. And you can bet your Domenci conference tickets that Carruthers would not be part of that future.

THE SOUTHERN TRAIL

In case anyone doubted her Trump credentials Herrell recently visited Midland, TX for a fund-raiser hosted by none other than Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, the conservative who is seeking to become the next speaker of the House and who believes the Congress isn't doing enough to back President Trump.

Meantime, Herrell's Democratic opponent, water rights attorney Torres Small, will come to ABQ for a fund-raiser Saturday. Among the hosts is well-known criminal defense attorney Ahmad Assad. The campaign says the event will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at 829 Adams SE. More info at brittany@xochforcongress.com.

Torres Small has also come with a new TV spot focusing on immigration. 

In contrast to the ABQ Journal poll which shows Torres Small trailing Herrell, 48 to 41, the NYT interactive poll has the race neck and neck. The Times says the difference is that it is including respondents who say they are going to vote this year who did not cast ballots in 2014 and 2016. The Journal poll was of "proven, likely voters" who cast ballots in both '14 and '16.

We asked Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff for further analysis:

It's true that if there is an amazing turnout in places like Las Cruces, this race could really narrow. But, usually places like Las Cruces have low turnout in non-presidential elections.

DEBATING TORRES SMALL

We now see the southern CD race as "likely Republican" whereas other pundits maintain a "lean R" ranking which we previously agreed with. Some readers disagree with us citing the ample funds Torres Small is raising and the anti-Trump wave that could develop. But Torres Small is not mentioning Trump in her media--not at all. How is that supposed to motivate all those Dems who have not voted in previous elections?

And we're also not seeing the energy that we saw in the Dem primary in the ABQ area in the south in this general election. Look at this report from the Carlsbad Current Argus on a recent appearance there by Sen. Martin Heinrich who leads the ticket. "A sparse crowd" showed up. And while she drew some healthy audiences at some stops audience participation for Michelle Lujan Grisham's recent statewide jobs tour was underwhelming. Add to that the ho-hum reaction to the southern campaigns on social media such as Facebook.

Of course, turnout will be dramatically higher from the near historic lows of 2014, but these are not signs of a significant statewide turnout spike. That could very well change and we will wait and see.

And then there is Pearce who will drive GOP turnout in the southern district. That should help Herrell. We're not saying it won't be close or the race isn't in play. Yes to both statements. However, in the end we see the district "likely" but not definitely staying in the R camp.

JAY MILLER

Word arrives of the death of Jay Miller, the NEA lobbyist turned political columnist who was the final--and longest serving--author of the legendary Inside the Capitol column that for decades was distributed to newspapers across the state.

Miller, a native of Lordsburg, had an innate sense of the state's politics that is hard to come by if you were not born and raised here. Starting in 1987 and until 2013 Miller penned his insights on La Politica with the knowledge of an insider and a love for the state. His sense of humor was always within easy reach--a necessity when covering the many follies of this state's politicos.

 "Inside the Capitol" became a fixture in New Mexico newspapers beginning in the 1940's when it was started by New Mexican editor Will Harrison. After Harrison came  Charlie Cullen, Fred Buckles, Bob Huber, Carroll Cagle and Fred McCaffrey, who sold the rights to Miller.

The Internet and the decline of newspapers spelled the end of Inside the Capitol. There were no buyers when Jay retired with his wife to Arizona but he had made his mark.

I explored taking over the column because it had a great influence on me. As a kid I ran across it in the ABQ Tribune and became hooked on it and on political reporting. I got a kick when Miller, a great authority on state politics and history, called me shortly after I had started this blog in 2003 and asked for advice in starting his own blog. I must be doing something right, I chuckled.

Miller's obituary said he died of liver cancer. Jay Miller was 80.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Pearce Knocked Down And Must Get Up Fast; Negative Campaign Against MLG Now Essential And It's Here; Dem Unity Key To Her Polling Win Over Pearce, Plus: Senate Contest Could Sizzle But So Far Fizzles, And: Congress Poll: Haaland And Herrell Open Up Big Leads 

We covered a few angles on the latest polling in the state on a Sunday blog that can be found below, but there is much more to discuss so off we go.

Steve Pearce was knocked to the canvas in that Sunday ABQ Journal poll that showed him trailing Dem gubernatorial nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham 50% to 43%. Now he must rise quickly on wobbly legs and find a way to reverse the trends the poll revealed and that are potentially deadly for the 70 year old southern GOP congressman.

The most threatening of those trends is the 87 percent support MLG is getting from Democrats. That is extremely high in a big tent party that is so often factionalized. Look back to 2010 when a late September poll showed Dem contender Diane Denish garnering only 68 percent and went on to lose to Susana Martinez. Obviously, Dems are united this year in their disdain for President Trump and weary of an 8 year Republican run under Governor Martinez. There may be plenty of disagreement among the D's on the issues but not on that.

It's been argued that through clever advertising the conservative Pearce has been successful in repositioning himself as a moderate and appealing to Dem voters. But Dem reader Barry Simon has been among those who have rejected that notion:

Like his president, I don't believe a thing Pearce says. His record tells me who he is, what he believes and what he stands for. I don't need TV ads to inform me of his record. I know his record. And the Democrats I talk to also know who he is. So I'd say stop wringing your hands over the lack of ads against Pearce. I assume the Democratic Party will finally get their act together and put them on the air. But even if they don't, we are onto Pearce.

With 87 percent of Dems rejecting Pearce, Simon's argument seems to be carrying the day. Pearce, as hard as he may try, can't convince the D's that he has shed his old skin and are also exceedingly aware of his friendliness toward Trump. That there is only a tiny slice of voters undecided--7 percent--only buttresses the argument.

There's really only one way for Pearce to get in the game and that's by making MLG unacceptable to some of those Dems and that means running a negative campaign which is filled with its own risks. Former ABQ city councilor, attorney and veteran campaign analyst Greg Payne, an R turned Democrat, shows where we go from here:

The good news for Michelle Lujan Grisham is that she's at the 50% mark and maintains her front-runner status with a little over seven weeks until Election Day. The bad news is that 50% in a Democratic state like New Mexico doesn't mean her election is a done deal. The margin of error in the Sanderoff poll is 3.1%. There's no question the Congresswoman would have preferred to be in the mid to high 50% range.

That's the good news for Steve Pearce. He's only behind by seven points, is winning Independents 55-37% and has over $600,000 more in his war chest than his opponent. The bad news is the Congressman is getting trounced in Albuquerque 53-41% and is only getting 8% of Democrats, even with the endorsement of former Dem Governor Jerry Apodaca.

The race definitely leans toward a victory by Lujan Grisham, barring any sort of debate or campaign gaffe. Pearce's path to victory, if there is one, is to get out the GOP vote in Republican strongholds and depress Democratic turnout--especially in Albuquerque. Which means what it usually does: Pearce has to go negative. But if he does it too late, as we saw in the Democratic primary, it could backfire and push Lujan Grisham into the Governor's Mansion not just with a win, but a mandate.

AND SO IT BEGINS

Pearce started that negative campaign Friday when he hit the airwaves with a spot that is a sore spot for MLG--her role in Delta Consulting. The Pearce ad unloads both barrels but it's not a clean shot. The ad and narration are high end but the script is cluttered, trying to tell too much of a complicated story in 30 seconds. That script:

Michelle Lujan Grisham--exposed by news reports for shady self-dealing--a pattern of corruption so deep, leading Democrats called Grisham's greed morally repugnant. 

Using her connections with the Richardson administration to land exclusive state insurance contracts, Grisham's Delta Consulting group raked in millions, overcharging vulnerable New Mexicans, fleecing poor patients with higher premiums. Now Grisham's top cronies caught red-handed trying to bury evidence. 

Dishonest and Dirty. Shamelessly corrupt. 

Pearce hopes Delta is the dynamite that blows open the race but consultants we spoke with say he will need more than one ad as well as some help from the free media to push the story. He also may need something new on Delta. This first outing repeats the charges heard in the June primary advertising which had no discernible impact on the results. Can he still make it stick?

Those of us in the media have already presented the story (as known so far) with Politico leading the way. Again, it appears it's going to take new angles to move the story back into the headlines.

The Pearce attack was predictable. In response the MLG camp, insiders report, had several ad possibilities ready to go. Hours after Pearce aired his hit, they came with this powerful testimonial ad from Diego Zamora, a Santa Fe pancreatic cancer patient who praised Delta for making sure he was able to acquire health insurance.

INSIDER DEMOS

Some polling cross tabs were not published by the Journal but we appreciate them giving them to us. MLG is winning women 52 to 42 and among men she is winning 49 to 44 over Pearce. In the Senate race Martin Heinrich wins women with 48 percent. Republican Mick Rich has 27 and Gary Johnson has 14. Among men, Heinrich wins 46% to Rich's 26 and Johnson's 19. We cover the Senate poll in more detail below.

WHAT WAR?

It was amusing to see the gubernatorial combatants at a Friday night NAACP forum. They bent over backwards to be civil to one another only hours after broadcast warfare had broken out. It reminded you of two generals atop opposing hills watching the field of battle through binoculars.

CHARACTER COUNTS

This campaign started with predictions that the Guv race would finally come down to a question of character. And so it has. A summer of playing nice guy "Uncle Steve" got him good reviews but he ended with 43 percent--which is where he basically began--and which is the base GOP and conservative vote in any statewide race. Now he must somehow force a major mistake from his rival and/or disclose previously unknown information about her that makes voters pause over their decision. If he can't, the road to the governorship will be closed.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY 

Analyst Payne noted that as of September 3 Pearce had a cash advantage over MLG of about $600k. However, the Journal survey showing her at 50 percent could keep third party money for Pearce firmly on the sidelines. MLG has already seen over $700,000 in TV time bought by liberal interest groups to keep Pearce in his place. Pearce has had no outside help from big conservative money--an important distinction.

A TAXING ISSUE

Pearce did himself a favor late Friday when he announced that he would finally release his tax return for 2017, but it won't be until mid-October because of incomplete info. Pearce said months ago that if MLG released her returns he would release his. She released five years of returns. Pearce is gong to release just one year. That led Dem Party Chair Marg Elliston to declare the Pearce's move was "too little, too late." But it will be enough to prevent any TV ad campaign on the issue from taking hold, as long as he comes with a complete return.

CONGRESS POLLS

Yvette Herrell
We're moving the battle for the southern congressional district seat to "Likely Republican" from "Lean Republican" based on the findings of the ABQ Journal poll. State Rep. Yvette Herrell leads Dem challenger Xochitl Torres Small by a margin of 48 to 41 percent. That's a healthy lead in the traditionally conservative district and while Torres Small has been touted as a fresh face who could pull off the upset, her initial round of advertising did not make a sufficient dent. While the Dem congressional committee in DC has put up some hit ads against Herrell, these poll results could lead them to pull out of the contest before long.

In ABQ, the Journal survey found Dem Deb Haaland with a commanding lead over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the race to succeed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham who is running for Governor. Haaland scored 49 percent to 41 for Arnold-Jones and 3 percent for Libertarian Lloyd Princeton. The race is ranked "Safe Dem" and these numbers give no reason to change that rating. Haaland has not yet gone up on TV but still is only one point away from the critical 50 percent mark. The R's have not won this seat in a decade as the ABQ district gets more Blue so the numbers are not surprising. Haaland would be the first Native American woman to serve in the US House.

SENATE FIZZLE

When Gary Johnson got into the Senate race in mid-August the tongues of La Politica started to wag that the race could be enlivened/ But so far it has been a dud. Heinrich is the only one of the three contenders on TV and Libertarian nominee Johnson and Republican contender Mick Rich have been off the radar. The Journal's Senate survey had Heinrich at 47% in his bid for re-election. Rich came with 26 percent and Johnson lagged with 16 percent.

There's still plenty of time for Gary to liven up the proceedings but he just doesn't seem his old amusing self. The latest:

“Lexington later put it to Mr Johnson that he seemed to dislike campaigning. He nodded. ‘The bad part is you find yourself with people that have really bad breath,” he said. “What comes out of their mouth is just as bad. You cannot make heads or tails out of what the person talking to you is even saying.’”

Gary's fund-raising is coming nowhere near the millions that some of his optimists were predicting. In fact, he loaned himself $100,000 to get things going. Well, at least that's enough to buy breath mints that he can dole out to potential voters.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Poll Disappoints Pearce; Lujan Grisham gets 50% to his 43%; Heinrich Way Ahead Of Two Challengers; Some Takeaways: 

Steve Pearce was close but it was no cigar. In the first ABQ Journal poll, important for campaign momentum in the final weeks, the GOP Governor nominee faltered. Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham managed to get to the critical 50 percent level, compared to his 43 percent. Just one point lower and the poll would have been a psychological boon to the underdog Pearce who in earlier polls had kept MLG below that 50 percent mark. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent and Pearce may have actually held her below 50, but still. . .

The ABQ Journal poll conducted this past week surveys likely, proven voters. It shows a commanding ABQ lead for MLG of 53% to 41% for Pearce. That basically tells most of the story--if Pearce can't crack the populous Blue BernCo region he will have no chance.

Pearce has no choice but to launch a negative campaign and he started Friday with campaign commercials accusing MLG of corruption. She promptly answered with an ad of her own.

Pearce must now hope that his negative ads will pull support from her and into his camp, or at least into the undecided column.

The 43 percent that Pearce polls is about the average performance for a statewide GOP candidate in blue New Mexico. He has run a good campaign but the unpopularity of Trump and Pearce's long-established conservative record are holding him back. So for Pearce it's back to the drawing board. For Lujan Grisham, its no time to rest on her laurels. In a year heavily favoring Dems she beat Pearce in the first major poll, but she did not blow him out.

In the US Senate race, no surprise. Dem Senator Martin Heinrich polled 47%, Republican Mick Rich garnered 26% and Libertarian nominee and former NM GOP Governor Gary Johnson was third with 16 percent. The race has not been targeted by the national GOP and it shows. The current pundit ranking of "Safe Democrat" is sure to be retained in the wake of this survey.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Heads Up: ABQ Journal Poll To Be Released This Sunday, Supremes Shoot Down SOS, Herrell Hit But It's Not New And Pearce's Pivot On Education Has Dems Seeing Red 

The first ABQ Journal poll of Campaign '18 is coming a bit earlier than expected. It will hit the driveways and digital screens this Sunday morning.

In an era when a wide variety of surveys are released with a multitude of methodologies the Journal survey conduced by Brian Sanderoff is relied on by both parties as an arbitrator of what's really happening with the electorate. The methodology is key. Unlike other public polls released this cycle, the Journal uses live interviewers, the majority of the calls are placed to cellphone users and the voter lists are fresh. And then there's their over 30 year history of polling the state. Some points to keep in mind as we wait for the numbers:

--This first poll could benefit Republican Governor contender Steve Pearce who is widely thought to have kept Dem front-runner Michelle Lujan Grisham from closing out this race early. If MLG is indeed below the critical 50 percent mark, as widely expected, underdog Pearce can continue to argue to donors that he has a chance--even if other early favorable polling to his cause didn't seem to have much success in garnering more cash.

--The survey will come before any TV ads are aired in ABQ congressional district race. Democrat Deb Haaland is widely favored to take the seat but the undecided could loom large, giving some moral support to the uphill candidacy of Republican Janice Arnold- Jones. The problem? Arnold-Jones doesn't have enough money to get on TV in a significant way.

--The poll will arrive when the southern congressional district media campaign has only just started to kick in. The district is "lean Republican" but the early polling could show the race unsettled, helping Dem Xochitl Torres Small keep alive her quest to beat GOP nominee and State Rep. Yvette Herrell.

--The survey will also look at all the down ballot races but, again, we have had no media in any of them. History says Dems will sweep all but one of them. The contest for state land commissioner is in play. The poll could give a boost to Republican Pat Lyons because he is a former two term GOP Land Commissioner with statewide name ID. Dem hopeful Stephanie Garcia Richard scored an impressive primary win but remains largely unknown and will stay that way until she gets going on the tube.

The poll, to be rolled out over a week, will also cover the top issues on the minds of New Mexicans. That will give election watchers a better idea of why they are seeing certain themes from the campaigns.

Unless the paper does a second poll, say a month from now, it will be the lesser known public polls and those from the campaigns that will be filling the gap and setting perceptions. If the Journal's second and final poll is in very late October the major races may have already been put to bed because of large early in-person voting which begins Oct. 20. All of that calls for three polls, but they are not cheap to produce.

BEAGLES AND SUPREMES

Our legal beagles kept their credentials intact. As they predicted on the Wednesday blog, the NM Supreme Court ruled that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver does not have the authority to reinstate straight party ticket voting. The Beagles scored another coup by correctly predicting the decision would be unanimous--5 to 0.

The SOS's decision to reinstate the straight ticket caused an outcry from professional operatives of all stripes. Those asking the court to overturn her decision were the Republican and Libertarian parties, Unite New Mexico, a nonprofit that advocates for independent candidates; Elect Liberty PAC, which is supporting former Gov. Gary Johnson’s Senate bid and Dem write-in candidates Heather Nordquist of Santa Fe who is challenging Democrat Andrea Romero.

The Justices said determining such matters as straight ticket voting belong to the Legislature--not the SOS--and it's hard to argue with their bipartisan logic.

In reaction to the defeat, Toulouse Oliver did not mention appealing the decision to federal court so straight ticket voting is indeed dead:

The (Court) decision is a disappointing blow to voter access in New Mexico. We should be expanding voting rights and accessibility but, instead, this decision limits the options voters have when casting their ballots and makes voting less convenient. While I stand by my position that straight-party voting is a reasonable option, I respect the judges’ decision and will abide by it. . . “In light of this decision, I am recommitting myself to working toward expanding voter access to the ballot box and advocating for policies such as same-day voter registration, open primaries, and - potentially - vote at home initiatives, in order to better serve New Mexican voters down the road. I hope that those who have opposed the straight-party option, but at the same time claim to support increased voter accessibility, will work with me to enact these important policies. . . 

It's unlikely the court decision will have much impact on the election but it did reveal the growing strength of independents and third parties in the state as the two major parties struggle to attract new members.

As for Toulouse Oliver, who was excoriated from all corners over her attempt to bring back straight ticket voting, she remains a heavy favorite to win re-election against Republican Gavin Clarkson and Libertarian Ginger Grider. While she took a hit in statewide public opinion, it wasn't much. On the other hand, die-hard Dems who praised her for trying won't forget and could provide her support someday if she seeks nomination to another office.

THAT HERRELL HIT

Here's that attack ad on southern GOP congressional contender Yvette Herrell that we mentioned yesterday and that was launched by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The script:

How can we trust Yvette Herrell? Her record filled with controversy. Her ethics questioned. While serving in the state House, Herrell landed nearly half a million dollars in taxpayer funded contracts for her own company, and failed to disclose it to the public.
The Albuquerque Journal called Herrell’s actions egregious. Even fellow Republicans say she can’t be trusted and call her an insider who puts her own self-interest first. We just can’t trust Yvette Herrell.

This is not a new attack. In fact, one of Herrell's GOP foes cut a negative TV ad about it in the June primary. The charges originated with this AP report:

A New Mexico GOP state lawmaker and congressional candidate failed to disclose that her real estate company earned nearly a half-million dollars in contracts with two state agencies over five years, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosure records,

After that report Herrell filed an updated financial disclosure form, listing a family business that leases office space to state.

In response to the new ad, Herrell's campaign said:

Prior to updating her filing earlier this year, Yvette Herrell was never required by the Secretary of State to disclose income received by the company for properties leased to the State. Still, she filed amended financial disclosure documents even though she is simply a partner in the company but has never been paid or collected money from it. Following the update to her disclosure paperwork, Yvette Herrell received written notice from the Secretary of State's Elections Director stating that "no further action is needed.

Herrell's campaign also called for the TV stations to pull down the ad, saying it was a "smear" on her character and misleading. Well, the ad is based on facts and far from the standards of a "smear." But the political punch it delivers is questionable because the controversy was previously disclosed and still she won the nomination. The D-Trip needs to go back to the research books for fresh stuff if they're going to get Dem challenger Xochitl Torres-Small in this thing.

HERRELL'S FIRST

We have that first ad now from the Herrell campaign. It says Washington needs a "reality check" but there is no mention of Trump and there is no use of the word "conservative" that she leaned on so heavily in winning the GOP nomination. Instead she is said to have "courage and conviction." Nothing fancy but no weaknesses either.

EDUCATION CLASH

That education ad from Steve Pearce continues to get under the skin of MLG's camp. Pearce is encroaching on traditionally Democratic turf so you get this . . .

Michelle Lujan Grisham Announces Educators for Michelle, more than 200 Strong Supporting Michelle for Governor

(Her) comprehensive plan for New Mexico public education has earned her the early support of the New Mexico American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Educators Association New Mexico (NEA), and families across the state.


And MLG's latest TV effort is all about education. The script:

Michelle Lujan Grisham (Voiceover): “This is Joshua. He lives in northern New Mexico. What kind of schools will he go to? As he grows older, what will his dreams become? Will he go to college or technical school? Or in a different direction, with an uncertain future.”  “I’m Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico can choose the right path. As governor, I’ll use our permanent fund to invest in our schools, apprenticeships, infrastructure, and small business. It all starts here."

The education ads from both campaign are solid but it is Republican Pearce's pivot to the compassionate center where he frets about the pressure being put on school teachers that is the news. It's all too much for the Dems and you wonder why they aren't yet up with rebuttal ads. In any event Bernalillo County Dem Chair Bill Peifer can't take it anymore:

Are you seriously trying to convince people that a member of Congress who has opposed federal funding for school lunch and breakfast programs suddenly cares about how hungry kids are when they're trying to learn? Do you really think that people will believe that a man who has, for years, supported the failed "test-test-test" educational philosophy of Susana Martinez has finally seen the light and now calls it a "broken test system"? Are you naive enough to think that you can woo teachers with platitudes when you've got a 0% rating from the NEA and have supported the concept of privatizing public schools? You may be able to fool some of the people, but I believe that most New Mexicans are too smart to fall for hypocritical pandering and lies.

Well, Bill, maybe New Mexicans are "too smart" to fall for the "new" Steve Pearce, but when all your team has up on the air are ads trying to bring him down over his ties to the oil industry and environmental issues, you're giving him plenty of room to make his case. Just sayin'. . .

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