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Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor: Coyote Card Played In Land Office Battle, Monica Goes International; Pearce's Monica Statement Scrutinized, And New Mexico's Great Future  

In the final days of Campaign '18 there's plenty of material for a Friday clippings blog. We'll also work the beat this weekend to give you analysis of the ABQ Journal poll results which will be released Saturday and Sunday. Look for that here and on Facebook.  Now on to our clips:

Our quote of the week and if you can top this one we're buying the enchiladas:

While Dem land commissioner candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard has sought to set herself apart as the advocate for animals, Dem contender George Muñoz is blunt that he would not support a ban on coyote-killing contests. “She doesn’t live in rural New Mexico,” he says of Garcia Richard. “She’s never had her chicken eaten by a coyote.”

Hold on. Stephanie grew up in Silver City in Grant County which happens to be home to lots and lots of coyotes. She's staying above the fray and not responding to this allegation George, but we can only imagine the trauma you may have caused her if, for example, she had a pet rabbit or something eaten by a coyote. Really, this negative campaigning must end for the good of all New Mexicans!

Garrett VeneKlasen is the other Dem in the land commission chase and he is traumatized over the possibility of Trump building that great wall on our southern border. He comes with another TV spot about in which he shows a ladder and says:

This is a brilliant device, designed to easily thwart Donald Trump's border wall. It's called a ladder! As Land Commissioner I will stop Trump's hateful border wall.

Come on, Garrett, That rickety old ladder you sport looks as if it couldn't support a hundred pounds. The undocumented trying to get over the great Trump wall with that thing will be flooding the injury lawyers with business. We know you're an environmentalist and like wood and stuff from nature, but please consider giving the border crossers from Mexico something sturdier, like aluminum.

INTERNATIONAL MONICA

The British tabloid Daily Mail has a field day covering the DWI arrest of ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood. Their take is replete with unflattering pics of the rep taken from the 44 minute police lapel camera video of her arrest. Here's their headline:

'I've always stood up for you guys': Cringeworthy moment; tearful state lawmaker tries to charm officers into letting her off a DWI by telling them she doesn't believe police are racist.

Youngblood has been mum on her political plans for re-election since the scandal broke. She will be on the June 5 primary ballot unopposed. She could choose to get out of the race after that and let the GOP appoint a replacement candidate, or she could opt to stay in and be the one to face Dem candidate Karen Bash.

Meantime, the newspaper has called on Youngblood to give up her legislative seat. But NM GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi continues to stay quiet about whether Youngblood ought to leave the legislature as does Gov. Martinez who has been asked for comment by the media several times. And while the state Dem Party called for an attorney general's investigation of the incident, which he will do, no leading Democratic figures have publicly commented on the Youngblood DWI arrest.

And one other note from the Monica clippings, guess who she's hired as her lawyer? You guessed right. It's Paul Kennedy, the lawyer for all things Governor Martinez and her political machine of which Monica is a charter member.

Critics will say the Kennedy hire shows that Youngblood is going to fight the DWI and does not want to take responsibility for her drinking and driving. Others will say she faces a serious charge and should have seasoned legal counsel. For sure this case is now going to be a major test for BernCo DA Raul. Torrez.

PEARCE AND MONICA

Is this a strong enough response to the Youngblood scandal from soon-to-be GOP Guv nominee Steve Pearce?:

DWI is a very serious problem in New Mexico and the law must be enforced without favoritism. Monica Youngblood needs to meet with her constituents, look them in the eye, and together decide what is right.

Why don't you tell her what is right, Steve? You are the titular head of the Republican Party and about to be its candidate for Governor? Shouldn't it be a no-brainer for you to call on her to give up her legislative seat? Where's the firm leadership you are touting in your TV ads? Is there no unifying standard of proper behavior in the Republican Party?

What if "together" they decide that it's right for her to fight tooth and nail to keep her seat in the legislature? You will agree with that?

This is a wishy-washy statement disguised in language designed to infer decisiveness. Pearce preaches moral rectitude but when it comes to one of his own, he slips into situational ethics where everyone sits around a table and decides what's right.

Steve, you're going to have to do better, a whole lot better, if you're going to have any reasonable chance at the New Mexican governorship. Don't say we didn't tell you.

CYFD VACANCIES

Dem Guv candidate Lujan Gisham said in last Sunday's TV debate that CYFD has had a vacancy rate of 26 percent and "have not done anything . . . to ensure they have the staff to respond to these serious issues." In an interview this week she said the vacancy rate at CYFD has gotten to about 12 percent, but "that is still too high when we have one of the worst child well-being issues in the country."

NM'S GREAT FUTURE

Stop the naysaying, cries reader Richard Flores to his fellow New Mexicans. He for one is reinvigorated:

 I attended the graduation ceremonies for the Anderson School of Management where my granddaughter was receiving her Bachelor's degree, and my perspective changed. I saw in that diverse group of UNM graduates the hope for our future. . .Those people that will contribute to the future of our state were on display at Johnson Gym. I worry less about the future because these young graduates restore my faith in all that is good about our state, the energy, the personal discipline, the talent, the commitment, the hard work, and especially, the diversity of our population.

What I witnessed last Saturday is the future of this state. These are the young people who will lead, who will push forth the ideas to improve our economy, change our attitudes, and who will build the infrastructure and resources to sustain our future and our quality of life. I will no longer allow myself to get stuck in the the quagmire of negative publicity about New Mexico! I am a renewed person, because every graduating class at UNM regenerates the kind of hope and energy that will shape our future for the best. Thank you UNM!

Okay, Richard, just don't let the green pastures of Denver or Austin tempt your granddaughter. She has her marching orders.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Blog Poll: Readers Kick In To see Who's Up And Who's Down; Statewide Survey Results For Gov., Lt. Gov, Land Commissioner And State Auditor, Plus ABQ Congress Battle And Southern CD Face-Off 

Several blog readers kicked in to finance a Wednesday night statewide robocall poll of 965 likely Democratic voters in the June 5 primary to see what the trends are in the key races with less than two weeks to go.

Not all 965 responded in all the statewide races. We did not call cell phones and some of the categories of voters (age, gender etc.) may not represent the actual turnout for the election. The ABQ Journal will release poll results Saturday and Sunday for some of the contests so it will be fun to see how this survey matches up. That being said, let's get to the action. . . .

ABQ US HOUSE-- In that too-close-to-call battle for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination, it's still too close to call but former US Attorney Damon Martinez appears to have pulled ahead. He polls at 27 percent to Antoinette Sedillo Lopez's 23 percent. Deb Haaland garners 19 percent.

Martinez has had a heavy TV buy and it is has helped moved him from the single digits in early polling to the lead in this survey. But 19 percent of the likely voters remain undecided giving Sedillo Lopez and perhaps Haaland a chance to close the gap.

Candidates Damian Lara and Paul Moya receive 5 percent and Pat Davis is at 4. Lara and Moya recently started TV so it's still an open question whether they will eat into Martinez. However, the buys are limited.

There were 305 respondents to the poll in the ABQ district. The margin of error is  plus or minus 5.8 percent.

SOUTHERN CD---Las Cruces water lawyer and former Senator Udall staffer Xochitl Torres Small is the leader here. She is commanding 44 percent of the vote, compared to Mad Hildebrandt's 16 percent. A large 40 percent of the respondents remain undecided.
Torres Small has been the favorite of national Democrats who have sent support her way. Hildebrandt argues she is more progressive but she has been slowed by a lack of resources.

GOVERNOR--In the race for the Dem nomination for Governor, there's no big surprises. Michelle Lujan Grisham sports a large lead, getting 54 percent to Jeff Apodaca's 18 and Joe Cervantes with 11 percent. 17 percent remain undecided. The race at this point seems to be whether her two opponents will be able to keep her below 50 percent Election Night. MLG performs strongest in ABQ metro and the North and weakest in the south, although she still leads there with 44 percent. The margin of error in the Guv poll is 3.14 percent.

LT. GOVERNOR--There has been little media in the race for the Dem nomination for lieutenant governor and it shows in this survey. A huge 58 percent of the respondents were undecided. However, Silver City area State Senator Howie Morales has a sizable lead among those who have made up their minds. He gets 22 percent; ABQ's Rick Miera comes with 13 and Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett receives 7 percent. Morales is up with a TV buy and had heavy support at the party's preprimary convention.

STATE AUDITOR--ABQ's Brian Colón may finally be poised to bring home a win but it's not quite over. He polls at 41 percent to 20 percent for Bill McCamley of Las Cruces. Undecided is still a hefty 39 percent. Colón is doing well in the Hispanic north. McCamley has campaigned against Trump's border wall. Colón's TV pursues a more traditional approach.

LAND COMMISSIONER--In this three way face-off environmentalist Garrett VeneKlasen appears to be in the strongest position for the primary. He is winning 34 percent of the vote to 20 percent for Stephanie Garcia Richard. George Muñoz gets 12 percent. Undecided is large at 34 percent. Muñoz recently started a heavy TV buy and hopes that will close the gap with VeneKlasen.

WHAT'S MOST IMPORTANT?

We also asked likely Dem primary voters what they thought is the most important campaign issue. Far and away it was education with 34 percent citing that issue as most important. Crime came in second at 20 percent.

We also asked what would be most important to change New Mexico's downward spiral. 28 percent said better schools and 27 percent said changing the cycle of poverty.

The full poll is here. The questions asked in the poll are here.

Join us for Friday blogging tomorrow as we continue to cover the final stretch of Primary ‘18. Also, we will have analysis of the Albuquerque Journal Poll over the weekend on our Facebook page and right here. Thanks for stopping by. 

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 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Alcohol Mixed With Hypocrisy: Startling Police Video Of Rep. Youngblood DWI Arrest Bares All; Legal Beagle Analysis And More, Plus: Progressive Or Not? ABQ Congress Hopeful Damon Martinez Scrutinized By Left 

Rep. Youngblood on police video
Rarely, if ever, have we seen a sitting New Mexico elected official so publicly humiliated as we did with the release of the police lapel camera video of the DWI arrest of ABQ GOP State Representative Monica Youngblood.

In the 44 minute video Youngblood was not only devastated politically but personally crushed and embarrassed beyond her worst nightmare.

When police stopped Youngblood, who the AP reports was recently divorced, she explained to the officer that she was driving home after visiting her boyfriend and having a fight with him. The political devastation came as Youngblood repeatedly said she had not been drinking and the APD officer repeatedly responding that her contention could easily be proven if she would take the breathalyser test, but again and again she rejected the offer.

Then there was the bargaining with the officer in an effort to get him to back off the arrest as she sat handcuffed in his patrol car:

People tell me that you guys treat people of color like shit, and I always stand up for you guys. I stick up for you guys, and I say, you know what, they wouldn’t treat you like shit  if there wasn’t a reason. . . 

Then this politically deadly exchange: "I literally fight for you guys," Youngblood declared. “Well that doesn’t make it OK to drink and drive,” quickly responds the officer who in his report said he smelled alcohol on her breath.

After her arrest there would come crying, more pleading and the panic and fear that must have been uncomfortable for even her harshest critics to view. It was some of the more mortifying and embarrassing moments ever filmed of a public official in the long history of La Politica.

The state GOP hierarchy was stalled on facing the inevitable--getting Youngblood out of her re-election race to her Westside district as soon as the June 5 primary is over. But GOP attorney general candidate Michael Hendricks wasn't waiting as he called for Youngblood to go:

No one is above the law. Although, everyone is entitled to due process, the fact that Rep. Youngblood refused the breath test would intimate something to hide. As the Attorney General, I will fight crime, no matter who the offender. . . This is a Representative who has championed bills to increase punishment for all criminal activity, including DWI; and, this poor choice shows that the people of New Mexico cannot rely on her judgment. We cannot allow our leaders to flaunt the law in this way and expect all other citizens to abide by the law. . .I call on Monica Youngblood to resign her position as State Representative for District 68.

Top Dems have been mum on Monica, but the Dem Party did wade in a bit:

The Democratic Party is calling on Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate Rep. Youngblood for using her position as an elected member of the legislature to attempt to influence a police investigation. . . In the video. . .Rep. Youngblood continually tells the officers she is a legislator and that she runs bills to protect police, works hard for police, and stands up for them when people say they "treat people of color like (expletive)". Youngblood asks multiple times for special treatment. . .  “Legislators should never use their position to attempt to influence police officers and I am calling on Attorney General Balderas to investigate Rep. Youngblood for her actions," said DPNM Chairwoman Marg Elliston. 

The pressure on Youngblood to get out is enormous. If she doesn't it's hard to see how the seat doesn't go to the Dems, not to mention the prolonged soap opera and additional humiliation she would endure.

Now 41, Youngblood was once considered a rising star in the Republican Party, similar in standing to Susana Martinez when she entered the statewide stage. Ironically, it was alcohol mixed with hypocrisy that undid both. For Martinez, the self-described tough on crime Governor, it was her infamous 2015 holiday pizza party from which she made an under the influence phone call demanding preferential treatment that ended her rise. Now this infamous Youngblood DWI video, from a state representative who parades about with a tough on crime platform.

Martinez never did reclaim her popularity after the pizza party. For a distraught Youngblood it's not about reclaiming her political standing, but her life.

LEGAL BEAGLE ANALYSIS 

More on Monica's case now from one of our Legal Beagles:

Joe, it seems to me that Monica’s “I regret” statement regarding her refusal to take a breath test is geared toward setting up a defense, whether at trial or outright dismissal. By making that statement, she is implying that she is not guilty. She’s saying she regrets not taking it because it would have shown she was not drinking. That’s what she is telling the public, which includes prospective jurors. 

From the video, she knew that the officer was accusing her of drinking, and she could have easily ended it right there by simply taking the test. She’s a legislator who worked on this matter, she knows. But, she knew the results would show otherwise, and that is why she refused. And her statement about bringing this matter to a “swift and just conclusion” means she’s expecting the case to go away quickly. But, not by pleading straight up to the charges, she means dismissal or a sweet plea deal. 

In my experience with thousands of DWI cases, a refusal to do a breath test was just as good to prosecutors as a case with a test result above the limit, especially when you have evidence of impaired driving and drinking like you did in the case of former Martinez cabinet secretary Ryan Flynn. That’s why there is no doubt about special privilege and connections in the Flynn case. We will see what District Attorney Torrez does with Monica. 

BernCo DA Torrez will be under even more scrutiny if  he has to deal with a fighting Youngblood. Possible Dem primary challengers to Torrez in 2020 are especially watching.

PROGRESSIVE OR NOT?

Damon Martinez 
The tight as a tick race for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination has been increasingly focused on the progressive credentials of former US Attorney Damon Martinez who has emerged as one of the front-runners despite garnering only 11 percent of the March preprimary convention support where progressives held sway.

First they hit him for not being in favor of Medicare for all, but his campaign rejected that claim, saying he fully supports it and added that if given the chance he would vote for the Medicare bill sponsored by progressive Senator Bernie Sanders.

Then there's the assault weapons ban. Is Martinez for it? In making their editorial endorsement of Martinez, the ABQ Journal noted he was for banning bump stocks but did not mention assault weapons. His campaign says he is "certainly" in favor of banning
assault weapons. As for a specific piece of legislation, the campaign says when the new Congress is seated next January there will be renewed efforts to ban the weapons and he will look at the bills introduced and may even introduce one of his own.

Supporters of Martinez say the strikes against him from progressives come because he is a former prosecutor--a US Attorney--and the progressives see prosecutors as using the law against citizens. But his backers see him as a criminal justice reformer who, for example, forced change at UNM in regard to its sexual assault policies.

But the distrust lingers and his critics point to a controversial federal sting operation to thwart drug dealing in the ABQ SE Heights that ended up targeting the poorest of the poor and minorities, not heavyweight drug kingpins. They also score him over the many fatal ABQ police shootings that led to the Justice Department taking control of APD, saying he did not flex his muscle over the errant shootings when he was US Attorney. Martinez backers say he was quick to implement the Justice consent decree but add that much of the responsibility for that rests in DC not locally.

KISS OF DEATH

As for the conservative newspaper endorsing Martinez--also known jokingly as "the kiss of death"--progressives immediately decried the backing, charging yet again that it showed Martinez to be a conservative in progressive clothing. This time candidate Pat Davis did the honors:

No surprise that (they) endorsed the most conservative Democrat in our race; the same Democrat getting help from a million-dollar SuperPAC funded by Wall Street bankers and Republicans. I’ll put my endorsements from our progressive Weekly Alibi, labor, and gun violence victims, against the Journal any day. They’ll never support a gay former police officer who decriminalized marijuana, protected immigrants and - most importantly - has shown he can take on the NRA and Fox News on a national stage.

We're covering the ABQ Dem congressional primary like it's the be-all-end all because, well, it is. With all due respect to our old friend and the more than capable Janice Arnold-Jones, who will be the GOP nominee, and Libertarian Party hopeful Lloyd Princeton, the Dems have a lock on this seat that can't be picked.

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 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Herrell Vs. Newman Turns Into A Battle For The Love Of Trump, Plus: Silence Over Monica, Muñoz Fights Back In Land Office Battle And Keller's Questions 

Rep. Herrell
Monty Newman
The race for the southern GOP congressional nomination is being described by insiders as "tight" but with State Rep. Yvette Herrell having an edge over her chief rival Monty Newman, the former mayor of Hobbs.

The final two week stretch starts today and Herrell will kick it off with a new TV ad that highlights her endorsement by the NRA, but spends most of the time reinforcing her theme that she is the only true blue conservative in the race, a jab at Newman who is nowhere near as enthusiastic about Trump as she. Some of the script:

Tired of dirty politicians lying about being conservative?. . . Yvette is a proven Trump conservative, the only candidate to support President Trump from day one of his campaign.

Liberal jaws in ABQ are dropping as they hear someone so adamantly embracing Trump, but the 40,000 or so GOP voters who will cast primary ballots in the district are among his biggest fans.

Meanwhile, Newman is staying away from hot button social issues like guns and abortion which Herrell is pounding hard. In his latest ad he works to get closer to Trump on illegal immigration, saying he opposes amnesty and sanctuary cities.

Immigration polls very high in the district so Newman has picked the right target to keep pace with Herrell, but her red meat themes may drive more turnout her way.

SILENCE OVER MONICA

The talk is how there is no talk from any politico about the aggravated DWI arrest of ABQ GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood. To our knowledge not one lawmaker--either R or D--has made a public pronouncement regarding the weekend incident in which Youngblood, a fave of Gov. Martinez, refused to take a breath test, failed field sobriety tests and was booked and released from the BernCo jail.

Not even the new chair of the NM Dem Party, Marg Elliston, seems interested in going there. Imagine if this were Texas or California. The politicos would be all over it. But New Mexico likes to keep its dysfunction quiet, part of the reason it is so dysfunctional.

Democrats are probably savoring the moment and don't want to say anything in the hope that Youngblood will not abandon her Westside legislative seat, setting it up for a Dem pick up.

Still, no comment from anyone on Youngblood's refusal to take a breath test when she sponsored legislation that would have forced anyone who refused the test to post bail or else wait and see a judge before they were let out of jail? Lucky for her it didn't pass and she was out of the pokey a mere thirty minutes after being booked.

What does Gov. Martinez think of the arrest? GOP Guv candidate Steve Pearce? House Minority Leader Gentry? Their party is fond of taking the moral high ground but not so much in this case--at least not yet.

MUNOZ PERKS UP 

State senator and Dem land commissioner hopeful George Muñoz has been taking a clubbing on the airwaves thanks to third party environmental money. In addition, his main foe--Garrett VeneKlasen--has been up with TV ads for weeks with one of them featuring an endorsement from Senator Martin Heinrich. But Muñoz has now hit the airwaves with a clever spot.

Instead of pounding on Trump, as VeneKlasen and many other Dem hopefuls are, Muñoz opts to aim his firepower at someone who is equally unpopular in Democratic circles but has flown under the radar until now. His spot says:

He stood up for our kids and took on Gov, Martinez when she tried to cut school funding. 

That's the only reference to the outgoing Governor we've seen on the primary airwaves but it could work for Muñoz. He is the more conservative of the three Dems in the race and has appeal in the rural areas of the state where Trump's support is strongest. He does not want to alienate those rural voters. But Martinez is unpopular across the board with Democrats, sporting an approval rating in the low 30's so he uses her as his foil.

By sparing Trump but emphasizing the Republican Governor Muñoz is able to show his Dem loyalty. And he needs to. At the party's March preprimary convention he managed only 17 percent delegate support, losing big to VeneKlasen and Stephanie Garcia Richard.

However, the businessman senator has put over $200,000 of personal money into the race and will have a hefty TV buy. And if he chooses he can have a sharp comeback to those attacks on him for being anti-enviro and a pal of the oil and gas industry. It's not lost on him that VeneKlasen was a Republican until June of 2015 when he registered as a Democrat. Will VeneKlasen's newfound Dem loyalty prove his undoing or will Muñoz fall to the progressive fever? Look for a close contest for this one June 5.

LIGHT GUV CHASE

State Senator and Dem Lt. Governor candidate Howie Morales is out with a bio  TV ad which will get a light buy given the modest amount of cash in his campaign coffers. Former ABQ Dem State Rep. Rick Miera and Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett are the other two contenders.

SIX MONTH UPDATE

Mayor Keller has been in office almost half a year and he gave this update to a local biz group. He cited the challenges the city faces, including crime, poverty and drug addiction. However, the speech was given prior to the scandal over a 7 year old ABQ girl being peddled for prostitution by her parents.

Interim APD Chief Mike Geier was seen as a shoo-in for the permanent position prior to the revelation that APD did not take into custody underwear of the 7 year old that could have been a key piece of evidence. Now the national search that Keller has launched for a chief takes on more meaning.

The questions for Keller is whether Geier's credibility has been irreparably damaged and whether appointing him would simply mean a continuation of the damaged culture that brought APD under the thumb of the Justice Department.

 THE BOTTOM LINES 

Two weeks to go in Primary ‘18 in what is commonly known as the “final stretch.” You might say it’s not what it used to be but it’s still pretty darn exciting. We will increase our blogging here and on Facebook to keep you up-to-date with late breaking news. And on Election Night, June 5, we will bring all the election results to you on public radio KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

As usual, I have a bunch of great people helping me and making me look smarter than I really am. To alleviate my guilt over that, I will examine obscure campaign-finance reports into the wee morning hours accompanied by copious amounts of Starbucks and a Sinatra soundtrack. Hey, it’s the life we chose. Thanks for being with us for another final stretch.

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 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Debate Action: TV Clash For ABQ Congress Nod Becomes Two Man Show; Lara Pounds Martinez To Shake Up Race, Dem Guv Candidates Also Go At It, And: Guv Martinez Machine Melting; Rep. Youngblood Busted For DWI  

Two big TV debates and the DWI arrest of an ABQ state rep tops the headlines of La Politica this busy Monday. And we're off. . .

The fast changing dynamic in that tight as a drum race for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination was on full display Sunday as the six hopefuls made their cases and sprayed criticism at one another in a 90 minute debate broadcast on KOAT.

It was the new boy on the block, Damian Lara, the ABQ immigration attorney who is himself an immigrant from Mexico, who did the most to shake things up. Repeatedly he aimed his firepower at Damon Martinez, one of the top three contenders in the six person field, threatening to peel progressive and Hispanic votes away from the former US attorney and stall what has been his impressive momentum.

Lara, who has worked for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the state Legislative Council Service and is president of the NM Hispanic Bar Association, has been campaigning for months but only after unveiling his first TV ad that aimed squarely at progressives with a heartfelt pitch on immigration is he garnering mainstream attention.

He was last polling in the low single digits, raising the question whether the attacks on Martinez would be enough to make him a contender in his own right or important only because he could keep Martinez from getting the nomination.

Regardless of the end game, Lara bore down on the cornerstone of Martinez's candidacy--that Martinez was "fired" by President Trump for standing up for New Mexico. Lara pointed out that the president asked for the resignations of 45 US attorneys, including Martinez's. And he sternly lectured his opponent, saying, "You make it sound like you were singled out."

Martinez responded that "when you're resignation is forced by midnight, you're being fired."

But that dismissal--made famous in Martinez's TV campaign--is the soft underbelly of the Martinez candidacy because a new president asking for the resignations of high level federal appointees, including US attorneys, is routine. And unlike the 2006 firing of former NM US Attorney David Iglesias and several others, Martinez's dismissal was not enveloped in scandal and congressional investigations.

Lara also hammered Martinez over $500,000 in what he called "dark money" that has come into the race via paid media for Martinez. He asked whether Martinez "could be trusted" because the donors to the PACS are unknown. Martinez, who was a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserve and then transferred to the NM National Guard, responded that he is honored to have the support of veterans' groups who are sponsoring the out-of-state super PACs.

In his closing statement Lara got in his final jab, pointing out that ABQ is enduring a record crime wave, despite Martinez's contention that as US attorney he was a bona fide crime fighter.

Martinez only scored 11 percent of the delegates at the Dem March pre-primary convention, signaling that his support among hard-core progressive Democrats is weak. Since then he has vigorously represented himself as a "progressive." It is the uncertainty of that identity that Lara pounded away at, and if he does it in TV spots it could have a significant impact on this race.

The third party TV support for Martinez is nearly overwhelming and could keep Martinez afloat but Lara, who was joined in his jabbing of Martinez by Paul Moya, laid bare just how much this race remains up in the air.

MOYA MOVES

We blogged late last week that Moya, a 30 year old making his first run for political office, has not been on TV but his campaign reports he started his TV buy May 11. Here is his ad. Moya is a Valencia County native who grew up on an alfalfa farm and went on to Notre Dame and Harvard and today is a business consultant. He also poked at Martinez over his assertion that he had been fired by Trump.

DEM GUV DEBATE

The optics were surely interesting and accurate. Frontrunner Michelle Lujan Grisham sat in the middle and on each side of her sat one of her underdog foes for the Dem Guv nomination--Jeff Apodaca and Joe Cervantes. They repeatedly fired charges at her--and we mean repeatedly--which is covered here. The foes did their homework. But she survived without losing her cool and causing a viral moment, about the only thing in her path from securing the nod. Not that she didn't have to work on it. Her frustration was palpable if not audible. The full debate is here. There will be no more TV debates before the June 5 primary.

And what’s with some of the media calling Lujan Grisham the “perceived front runner.” She had a landslide at the pre-primary convention and every internal poll shows her way ahead and her opponents are attacking her vociferously, confirming she is in the lead by a wide margin. That’s not a  “perception” that’s reality. Anyway, that’s why we’re here, to deliver the unvarnished reality so let’s get back to it.

Now, analysis of the debate action from a Senior Alligator of the Dem variety:

Michelle is looking more and more confident and practiced. She showed she is difficult to rattle and knows her stuff. We saw some indication of the attacks Lujan Grisham might see in the general election--her business activities, votes in Congress, etc. Cervantes' new TV ad attacks mirror those lines. '

Cervantes did a good job and made me wonder, where has this guy been hiding for 20 years? If he's as aggressive as he says he is in holding the Legislature accountable for the last 20 years, how come we haven't heard of it? 

Apodaca was a disappointment. He seemed over his head and too reliant on platitudes and vague impressions of how government works. He was easily dismantled by his opponents. At this point, Cervantes may pass by Apodaca on election day. Grisham is in pole position and it's a shame Cervantes isn't running for Lieutenant Governor.

THE THREE ON CYFD

On the issues front, what caught our attention was the discussion of the spate of abuse and high-profile murders of children, as well as the recent case of an ABQ 7 year old girl being used as a prostitute by her drug addled parents. Here's how the candidates handled one of the most pressing issues of the day:

Apodaca said Gov. Martinez has "cut budgets" saying the state has "clawed back money" to the General Fund it should have been using for CYFD. He said he won't "appoint political favorites or corporate favorites," an apparent reference to current CYFD director Monique Jacobson who was a marketing executive for Pepsi, but has no experience in social work.

Lujan Grisham said the deaths and abuse are "absolutely unacceptable" and said CYFD has had a "26 percent vacancy rate and have not done anything . . . to ensure they have the staff to respond to these serious issues." She said she wants to bring back the "Children's Cabinet" so all cabinet secretaries will "actively engage in identifying programs that reduce risk" to children.

Cervantes said that properly budgeting the CYFD is important but what is more important is holding the leadership of the agency accountable. "Some of this is about funding, positions have not been filled, but we need to bring legislative accountability to the Governor and secretary." He said a pattern has emerged of continued critical failures by CYFD because of a lack of accountability.

All the while, the newspaper editorializes that "under the current administration, CYFD’s budget has been beefed up and workforce expanded."

As Cervantes said until we hold accountable the public officials who are responsible for child well-being, we are going to have more horrifying crimes against. As for the newspaper, what town are they living in? Come on, man.

YOUNGBLOOD BLOOD LEVEL

Rep. Youngblood mug shot
The Governor's political machine is melting before our eyes. . .

We don't know the blood alcohol level of ABQ State Rep, Monica Youngblood when she was arrested at 1:00 a.m. Sunday on an aggravated drunk driving charge because she refused the breath test. But we do know she failed field sobriety tests and, according to the arresting officer, had slurred speech.

We also know from a Senior Republican Alligator that a plan is already in the works to have Youngblood give up her seat so the GOP can get another candidate and prevent what could be a loss in November of a GOP leaning seat. It's too late to remove her name from the June primary ballot, but Republican central committee members would name a general election replacement, if Youngblood announced her withdrawal after the primary.

The D's have recruited Karen Bash, who describes herself as a "retired faith leader, a wife, a mother and concerned citizen." Party insiders say she is a quality contender. Because this is a single county district the BernCo Commission, controlled by the Dems, would get to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Youngblood's term, if she were to resign. So the GOP may fight resignation calls and work to keep Youngblood on for her final months and pursue the scenario outlined above.

A Dem Alligator ran the numbers for us and while the district leans R for the legislative contest, it could be put in play:

Joe, Clinton beat Trump by less than 100 votes in District 68 in 2016 (43.6% to 42.9%, with Johnson at 11.2%) but, midterm voting drop-off here is bad. For example, Udall lost the 2014 Senate race by 5 points (47.3% - 52.7%). Dems have a slight registration advantage (39%-38%), but Republicans have a solid turnout advantage. From recent election results, it would appear that independent voters tend to lean more Democratic.

Youngblood, who works in real estate and was first elected to the Westside district in 2012, has been one of the most ardent supporters of Gov. Martinez and her political machine led by her consultant Jay McCleskey. Here's the statement she released about her arrest:

While I regret the situation altogether, I most definitely regret not taking the breathalyzer test. I look forward to bringing this matter to a swift and just conclusion.

And why does she "regret" not taking the test? She doesn't say. And that is not going to stand under intense political scrutiny from a politician who has prided herself for being tough on crime and an anti- DWI advocate.

Youngblood has been a legislative player in making life easier for Uber and Lyft, ride companies that if she had used would have prevented her current embarrassment.

RAUL ALLIGATOR WATCH

The Alligators of La Politica are on high alert on the Youngblood drunk driving case after Dem BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez took major heat for what appeared to be his fix in the DWI case of Ryan Flynn, a former cabinet secretary under Gov. Martinez who now heads the NM Oil and Gas Association. 

Torrez was accused of making a plea deal for Flynn in exchange for the Guv supporting a huge increase for his DA budget which she did. Any hanky-panky by Raul on Youngblood’s case and he might even be scorched by the mainstream Martinez media which has treated him as a darling. 

(Uh, that would be KOAT, the Journal and KOB, just in case you're wondering).

Also being watched is how promptly APD responds in releasing the lapel camera videos of Youngblood's arrest and getting out more information about the arrest.

Finally, there's Youngblood's tattered relationship with current GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi. In fact, in January the pair got into a profanity laced shouting match outside the famous Bull Ring watering hole in Santa Fe. Don't expect Ryan or GOP National Committeeman Harvey Yates, an outspoken foe of Martinez, to help Monica hang on. Heck, look for them to hang her.

BIG MONEY ATTACK (PART 2)

Forward Not Back, the super PAC financed by heavyweight Wall Street types, including billionaires, and who apparently want a "moderate voice" in the ABQ congressional seat, is back.

They're back with this hit piece on Deb Haaland. It follows on the heels of another mailer against progressive Dem congressional hopeful Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

Haaland's campaign did not comment on the specific charges the mailer made, including that she undermined the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders while serving as NM Dem Party chair, but a spokesman came with this statement:

Here is what you need to know about them from the Chicago Sun-TimesThey are a bi-partisan group that helps elect moderate Democrats and Republicans. Their donors are the ultra-rich that include many Republicans. Forward not Back, Vote Vets, and With Honor Super PAC's are trying to buy the race for the moderate Damon Martinez. It is unfortunate they want to call a woman's character, personal life, and concern for women's rights into question, They are no better than the corrupt conservatives in Washington and ultra-rich supporting Damon. 

About two weeks to go, kids.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Pat Davis turned in a polished and effective debate performance, with his experience as an ABQ city councilor showing, but he is far back in the pack and low on cash.

If Martinez should falter under the attacks of Lara and Moya, it could be Haaland or Sedillo Lopez who benefit while the men go at it. However, neither had a debate performance that would clearly signal which would benefit from an upending of the race but Sedillo Lopez is running ahead of Haaland in the polls.

Right now this is looking like the contest that could take us into the late evening hours when we call the Election Night action on KANW 89.1 FM June 5. . .

MORE BOTTOM LINES

Readers and campaign reps had questions about the poll done by the VoteVets group which is supporting Damon Martinez and conducted by Lake Research in DC. It shows Martinez at 23; Antoinette Sedillo Lopez at 25; Martinez at 23 and and Haaland at 20 and undecided at 27.

Celinda Lake clarifies that cellphone users were personally interviewed but that land line users were polled by robo calls. Voters we're only asked about the top three candidates.

Here is the question asked in the May 13-14 survey of 390 likely Dem primary voters:

If the June 2019 Democratic primary for Congress were held today and the candidates were Deb Haaland. Damon Martinez, and Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez for whom would you vote? Press 1 for Deb Haaland, press 2. For Damon Martinez, press 3 for Antoinette‎ Sedillo-Lopez, press 4 for someone else, or press 5 for undecided.

"Someone else" drew just 5 percent of the respondents. 

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cervantes Starts Pitching Negative On MLG In Guv Chase, NRA Dissed In ABQ Is Welcome In South; Herrell Nabs Its Endorsement, And A Kennedy Surfaces In Guv Campaign 

He's got a long way to go and a short time to get there. So Joe Cervantes finally took his first step to take Michelle Lujan Grisham down a notch. Actually, it's about 30 notches if the polls in the Dem chase for the '18 gubernatorial nomination have it right.

Cervantes negative TV ad on MLG was not a given. His supporters were nervous that the low-key state senator would take his lumps and hope for the best. But then there's that $2 million he loaned his campaign. What good does that do him in the First National Bank of Joe? So out came the cash and onto the TV screens came this:

Who's Michelle Lujan Grisham working for? Not us. Since going to DC Grisham has made a bundle off government contacts. Her campaigns have been bankrolled by $2.7 million in out of state contributions. Michelle Lujan Grisham even voted with Republicans to repeal part of Obamacare and benefit the wealthy. And now she wants to come back to be our Governor? That definitely doesn't work for us. 

The ad was on point but not harsh by today's standards, reflecting the personality of Cervantes who has never been one to go for the jugular, but favors the slow kill.

But slow is an issue here. His problem is not money but time. He was goaded by supporters to start his campaign much earlier and not let MLG build the lead she nurses today. He now will try to tear down in three weeks what she has spent over a year building. The moment did not go unnoticed at her campaign:

This ad is ridiculous and full of falsehoods. Congresswoman Lujan Grisham ran a patient advocacy company designed to help people get affordable care. Her small business didn’t make a “bundle” on state or federal contracts. This business saves peoples lives by helping vulnerable patients get health care after being denied coverage by insurance companies. . . 

Additionally, Congresswoman Lujan Grisham has voted over 30 times to save Obamacare from Republicans like Steve Pearce who voted for the Trump/GOP health care bill to take health insurance away from hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans. Michelle has fought to save people’s health care and will fight to expand affordable care for all New Mexicans. False attacks from her opponents won't change that fact.

The third player, Jeff Apodaca, doesn't have the money to join the hit parade. He is left to hope that voters the Cervantes' ad plies loose from MLG might fall his way.

The low cash count hasn’t stopped him from working the beat. He and his wife Jackie seem unfazed by the daunting task facing them and are campaigning seemingly nonstop and with vigor. If they could show that passion for the state in a significant way on TV in the final weeks, who knows?

But the happiest guy over this ad was one Steve Pearce. You could picture the soon-to-be GOP nominee cracking a gleeful smile when he saw the 30 second hit. And you could almost hear him saying, "Good stuff, Joe. I can use that one."

KENNEDYESQUE

Also in the Dem race for Governor, a member of the famous Kennedy clan has made an appearance via the airwaves. Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, whose family legacy lingers in the Catholic and Hispanic counties of Northern New Mexico, cut this Spanish radio spot on behalf of Lujan Grisham. Kennedy is a fluent Spanish speaker and her campaign says in the spot he:

 . . . Talks about his family legacy of public service and how Lujan Grisham’s work to investigate nursing home abuse, double the number of school-based health centers for children and families, and to lower drug overdoses through better treatment reflects that same dedication.

F WORD BAD; NRA GOOD

Rep. Herrell
State Rep. Yvette Herrell won't be saying "Fuck the NRA" as ABQ Dem congressional candidate Pat Davis did in his TV ad. Herrell has announced she's received the endorsement of the NRA in her battle for the GOP southern congressional nomination.

Unlike the ABQ area, the endorsement in the south is a feather in her cap and a blow to her rival Monty Newman and his political consultant Jay McCleskey. Her campaign says:

Because of Rep. Yvette Herrell’s A-rating and Pro-Gun leadership in NM's Legislature, she is the NRA's choice for the NM 2nd Congressional district. “I am honored to have the support of the National Rifle Association,” said Rep. Herrell. “I am proud of my record defending the 2nd Amendment and will continue working to protect our gun rights."

The night and day approach to the NRA shows how New Mexico politically is often two or three states in one.

CONGRESS OR BUST

In the ABQ congressional race we've been talking about a three way battle at the top and a poll commissioned by VoteVets, a group that has endorsed Damon Martinez, shows just how tight is. The survey done May 13 and 14 by Lake Research in DC has Antoinette Sedillo with 25 percent, Damon Martinez with 23 and Deb Haaland at 20 percent. The other three candidates get only 5 percent of the vote and there were still 27 percent undecided.

The margin of error in the survey of 390 like Dem primary voters is plus or minus five percent so it's still a jump ball for the nomination. The firm has a long track record in the state and while this work was done for a pro-Martinez group they are not known for spinning.

Lake Research says the poll was conducted using professional phone interviews for cell phones and rob calls for landlines. Only three candidates were listed by name--Sedillo Lopez. Haaland and Martinez. Other insider polling in the race shows the other three candidates--Pat Davis, Damian Lara and Paul Moya in the single digits. However, Lara has gone up on TV since the poll.

NEW TUBE 

New TV ads are being released. This one from Antoinette Sedillo Lopez highlights her legal expertise. This one from Damon Martinez focuses on sexual assault. Deb Haaland continues to garner national attention. The latest is from Nation magazine.

DEEP TV DIVE

In looking over the TV ads by the candidates in the ABQ market this year, we find that KRQE is getting more ad dollars than KOB or KOAT. Media maven Chris Brown explains:

KRQE has the strongest early evening and prime time line up reaching viewers age 35+. They also command higher prices per spot for a typical schedule: 27% more expensive than KOAT, 11% more than KOB. So candidates on balance are buying more spots on KRQE, and paying more for each one, than on KOB and especially KOAT.

Although fading with the younger set, TV ads continue to be the top way to reach voters over 50 who will dominate the June 5 primary.

THE BOTTOM LINES 

We referenced former ABQ GOP Congressman Manuel Lujan, Jr. this week as an uncle to Rep. Lujan Grisham. They are cousins.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sedillo Lopez Surges And Is Greeted With First Negative Hit In The ABQ Congress Contest; Out Of State Super PAC Slams Her; Who Do They Want? Plus: Look Out Damon; Damian Lara Joins TV Ad Club 

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has come on strong of late in that crowded contest for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ area US House seat and with that newfound status come the attacks. The first one has already hit the mailboxes.

A super PAC funded by heavyweight financial types, including uber-wealthy hedge fund managers, slammed Sedillo Lopez with this mailer that scorches her on two fronts--for supporting Medicare for all which the "Forward Not Back" PAC says would cost families $7700 a year and for failing to paying her taxes on time seven times.

Sedillo Lopez campaign struck back calling the charges a "baseless smear by an out of state group with close ties to the Republicans."

The PAC says on its one page website that it supports "progressive leadership" but that's a front, says the Sedillo Lopez campaign, who believe her progressive policies have inflamed the group and they want her gone.

Reader "Westside Alligator" comes with this research from CNN Money:

What is Forward Not Back? Apparently, they are part of a larger PAC called No Labels which has the stated purpose of supporting "moderate" candidates in primaries including present office holders both Democratic and Republican.

Sedillo Lopez is an ardent advocate of Medicare for all and the cost of that is highly debatable. As for failing to pay her taxes, her campaign spokesman says she was indeed late paying property taxes seven times on rental properties. But adds:

BernCo taxpayers are asked to pay their property tax bills in two payments five months apart or pay them in full upon receipt of the bill. For several years (Sedillo Lopez and her husband Victor) did not pay their tax until the final deadline in April when they paid all that was owed. They were fined small penalties for not making any first half payments. The taxes have been and are completely paid.

Blog readers were on red alert over the first negative campaigning in the so far slow moving ABQ race. They noted that the national super PAC attackers had about $1 million in cash on hand at the end of March and that one of its donors has a big NM connection. He is Louis Moore Bacon, the billionaire hedge fund manager who in 2013 bought Taos Ski Valley.

Sedillo-Lopez's campaign says they did a data check and matched the super PAC donors with donations made to Republican candidates and causes.

WHO DO THEY WANT?

So what is this out of state apparently conservative PAC doing putting their noses under the ABQ US House tent? Obviously they don't like Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all plan that Sedillo Lopez has endorsed so they are trying to take her out. But who they want in is an even more important question.

Maybe contender Damon Martinez who is seen as the more moderate of the frontrunners, even though like Sedillo Lopez, Deb Haaland and Pat Davis he says he supports Medicare for all. We double checked with him:

Health care is a human right, which is why I will support Medicare for All and single-payer health care.


Another third party group is already up on TV with a heavy buy for the former US Attorney. In any event, the leading theory among the Alligators is that Martinez may be the intended beneficiary of the super PAC hit--if they have one in mind.

RACE WATCH

As for where the race stands, it appears very tight. The news is that Damon Martinez appears to be displacing Deb Haaland in second and some polling indicates he could even narrowly be in first. Sedillio Lopez is perched right at the top with him or a notch ahead, depending on which poll you're reading.

As we said, Martinez is on TV in a big way and dominating the air. Sedillo Lopez has heavy TV as well, but she has also dropped at least a half dozen mail pieces to likely Dem voters. Haaland is stalled out and appears to need a new angle to prevent a fade. Pat Davis is in single digits and the kerfuffle over his controversial NRA ad may have hurt more than it helped.

DAMON MEET DAMIAN

Lara
Everyone and their brother has forgotten about candidates Paul Moya and Damian Lara but get this--one or both of them could spoil this race for hard-charging Damon Martinez.

As of March 31 Moya had $156,000 in cash on hand and Lara had $139,000  Neither has spent barely a dime since then. That kind of money could give them a more than healthy TV presence for the final ten days of the campaign.

And this just in: Damian Lara, 40, is going up on TV today with this spot highlighting his immigrant background and how he worked in the agricultural fields before realizing his dream of becoming an attorney. He also takes a bite out of Trump's immigration policies. The campaign says it has up "a six figure buy" for the June 5 primary.

We're still waiting on any TV from Moya who lent his campaign most of the cash he has.

Will Lara (and possibly Moya) now start to peel enough votes away from Martinez, leaving the battle to Sedillo Lopez and Haaland? They could. Yet another angle in this six way race.

TUCKER VS. DAVIS

Conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson ripped into ABQ Dem congressional candidate Pat Davis during an interview Tuesday about Davis' anti-NRA ad in which he says "Fuck the NRA." Carlson holds nothing back. The not-so-pretty scalding is here.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Herrell Heat: Congress Hopeful Plays For The Hearts Of The GOP Base And The Votes May Follow, Plus: Follow The Money: Latest Reports Offer Clues On Key Races, And: Manuel Lujan Turns 90 

State Rep. Herrell
The GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce appears to be slipping into the corner of State Rep. Yvette Herrell.

She comes with a bold and unapologetic debut TV ad backing President Trump and in which she is proudly labeled a "conservative" five times in 30 seconds.

The phrase "game-changer" is overworked but this seems like one.

Herrell of Alamogordo aced Monty Newman, her chief rival, at the March GOP preprimary convention when she landslided him 58 to 26 percent. But Newman, a successful realtor and former Hobbs Mayor, was still seen as a potential threat because of his large campaign war chest and name ID. Now not as much.

Newman's first TV spot was mild compared to Herrell's, focusing heavily on his son's service in Iraq but offered no real emotional connection for the audience. Newman offered little red meat to the Trump base that commands southern Republicans. Herrell has now stepped in to throw that red meat and by doing so she may have shut this race down.

She flings it all out there--that she is a "pro-life Christian" "a Trump conservative" and "despises" big government. All of it is music to the ears of the base GOP vote.

Herrell critics are raising questions about her claim in the ad that "she fought to cut taxes" and her legislative record on the matter is a matter of debate.

Newman insisted on hiring Jay McCleskey, the media wizard for Governor Martinez who earned himself the title "Shadow Governor" for his outsized influence in her administration. But McCleskey has made so many enemies within the GOP that Newman was abandoned by many who would normally support him. Now he faces a decision on whether to unleash McCleskey to let him wage one of his well-known slash and burn campaigns against Herrell in an effort to turn the tide. The task is made more difficult by this Herrell spot. An attack on her at this point could be seen as an attack on the President who she is giving her full backing while Newman hesitates on that score.

As for the November election, it appears it will be Herrell vs Las Cruces water attorney  and rising Democratic star Xochitl Torres Small, but Herrell's able handling of her TV debut is giving pause to some Dem analysts. They still see Torres Small as a strong candidate, but Herrell's unabashed embrace of conservatives in a district with plenty of them and a large bible belt to boot, remind them of how difficult it will be for the Dems to pull off the upset.

FOLLOWING THE MONEY 

The candidates came with their latest finance reports for Primary '18 Monday. It covered the period April 3 thru May 7. All reports are here and here's the analysis:

GUV---Michelle Lujan Grisham raised more money during the period but also bought TV and her cash balance ended at $1.6 million down from $1.8 million in her last report. For now that's way more than enough.

Joe Cervantes loaned himself another $500,000 for a total of $2 million for the campaign. He has $1.6 million in cash but probably not enough time to spend it all. Jeff Apodaca has $263,000 in cash. Lujan Grisham remains the front-runner for the Dem nod. Something--something big--is going to have to happen to change that.

On the R side, wily Steve Pearce got on TV but also raised more money. He now tops the Guv field with $1.9 million in cash on hand.

More analysis from political veteran and former city councilor, state legislator and ABQ attorney Greg Payne:

Did something happen here? Wake me if it does.

LT. GOVERNOR--Dem State Senator Howie Morales reports $63,000 in cash on hand. He established himself as the frontrunner for the Dem nod and remains so. The other contenders lag. Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes is unopposed for the GOP Light Guv slot.

Payne-- It's Howie's to lose.

AG---The Balderas money train slowed some with him now reporting $903,000 in cash compared to $891,000 last time. He is unopposed for the Dem attorney general nod and a heavy favorite for re-election over  Republican Michael Hendricks. If he does win, he will sit around and think about what to run for next with all that cash. Or not.

Payne: Maybe Sen. Udall doesn't run for re-election in 2020, but I wouldn't bet $903,000 on it. 

LAND COMMISSIONER--The news on this one is that appears Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard has been effectively knocked out of the Dem nomination chase. She had one more shot to raise the dough but came with just $31,000 in cash on hand. She won't have a statewide presence, leaving the race to environmentalist Garret VeneKlasen and State Senator George Munoz. VeneKlasen reports $73,000 on hand but has had a healthy media presence before spending that money and a third party group is nuking Munoz. The Senator reports $210,000 in cash, most of which he lent himself. This one is only going to get more interesting.

Pat Lyons is the lone R seeking the nomination.

Payne: The enviros and Sen. Heinrich are pushing hard for VeneKlasen. That may be enough for him.

STATE AUDITOR--Bill McCamley lent himself $45,000 and started his campaign for the Dem state auditor nomination earlier than ABQ's Brian Colón. McCamley, a Las Cruces are state rep has already made a decent TV buy and Colón did not bury him in a cash pile.

McCamley reported only $17,000 in cash on hand but he has purchased TV time and production of $120,000. Colón reports $123,000 in cash but had not yet reported his TV buy. A friend says he bought a buy similar to McCamley so his cash is probably in the 20's now.

If McCamley's ad against the Trump wall brings out the progressives in a big way, he has a shot. If the race breaks with an ethnic advantage for Colón, he will win.

Payne: Joe, you said the McCamley TV ad was a bit off the wall, but it connects with progressives and Hispanics. He could crash Brian's party in BernCo and the north. Keep an eye on this one. 

Point taken, Greg, And we just looked at some insider polling that shows more likely Dem primary voters identify as progressives or liberals this cycle than in the past.

On another note, we're pleased to report Greg will join us on Primary Election Night June 5 on KANW 89.1 FM radio and kanw.com to analyze the results as they roll in.

CARL AND ANDREA-- Santa Fe County State Rep. Carl Trujillo is going to outspend Andrea Trujillo in the final stretch but not by very much. Will that make the difference in this Dem primary race that has captured statewide attention, with Trujillo being accused of sex harassment and Romero charged with unethically handling public funds? Romero has $28,000 in cash. Trujillo has $35,000 and spent the same amount in the reporting period. As they say on the playground, they are about to nuke the snot out of each other. Voters, hide if you can.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Our onetime boss, former ABQ GOP Congressman and Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan Jr., turned 90 this week. Here's a pic of him on his special day, sporting his usual smile and exuding optimism. Those were qualities that helped him keep the ABQ congressional seat in the Republican column for 20 years. In 1989 he began a four year run as Secretary of Interior under the first President Bush.

After leaving government Lujan concentrated on business interests and lobbying. He and his wife Jeanne live in ABQ and stay busy today with their large family. We assume he is closely following the race for Governor in which his cousin, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, is playing a prominent role. But that doesn't mean he'll vote Democratic. You'll have to ask him. Happy Birthday, Congressman.

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