<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Monday, May 23, 2022

Big Ronchetti Lead Confirmed In GOP Guv Contest; Dow Distant Second In Latest Poll, Plus: Candidate TV Debate Fizzles, And: Affairs Of The Heart; MLG Wedding Update 

The ABQ Journal poll Sunday showing Mark Ronchetti running away with the '22 GOP gubernatorial nomination proved anti-climatic, confirming the commanding lead that the former TV weatherman demonstrated in the early May SurveyUSA poll. 

However the authoritative Journal poll did remedy an apparent misread from SurveyUSA. State Rep. Rebecca Dow placed second in the Journal poll, while SurveyUSA had her in fourth, even though she is the only candidate besides Ronchetti spending heavily on statewide TV ads.

The Journal poll had Ronchetti at 45 percent and Dow running second at 17 percent. Greg Zanetti received 9; Jay Block garnered 8 percent and Ethel Maharg one percent. 
 
The poll was conducted May 15-19 among 560 likely GOP voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percent.

SurveyUSA had Ronchetti at 44 percent and Dow at 9 percent. Dow nearly doubled her support in the Journal survey.

SurveyUSA methodology gets the big picture right but the Journal had Dow with a healthy lead in the Las Cruces/SW section of the state in her home territory. That was the major difference.

The Journal uses in-person interviews with tightly screened voters and over 80 percent of responses are from cell phone users. No robo calls. No Internet panels. It's not cheap but that's what it takes to get the most accurate and useful results. 

The relatively high undecided of 21 percent in the Journal poll bothered some Republicans who read it as a lack of enthusiasm for either Ronchetti or Dow, signaling that the primary winner may have work to do to bring them home in November. 

THE DOW DIVE

Ronchetti has had only one scare in the primary. That's when Dow came with her winning TV ad on border security, but that was her peak. 

Next she came with an ad questioning Ronchetti's loyalty to Trump. His campaign then pummeled Dow in a relentless wave of negative ads, including one about her voting for a state budget bill that allowed undocumented immigrants to collect Covid relief money. 

GOP analysts said that hit appeared to be the most damaging, proving yet again that when done right negative campaigning is a powerful tool.

Then there's the critical money difference. Ronchetti has raised $2.5 million and had $1.495 million in cash on hand as of May 2. Dow reported $495,000 in cash and raising $1.3 million. 

As her campaign stalled under the rain of negative attacks Dow was left airing just a single ad for several weeks. That spelled the end long before the official election day of June 7.

Dow has now gone positive with this latest ad that labels her the "proven conservative" in the race. 

As for the general election outlook, the first job for the GOP is to get the race fully in play. As of May 18 the consensus forecast of the Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Sabato's Crystal Ball rank the race "likely Democratic" and Real Clear Politics does not list NM among their "Top 2022 Governor Races.

ZOOM MALAISE

The five GOP contenders conducted their one and only TV debate that aired Friday night on KOAT-TV but it was not very illuminating. 

Because the station policy does not allow anyone unvaccinated into the building, the debate was pre-recorded and conducted via Zoom, always an annoying prospect but especially so in this case. 

Candidates Zanetti and Block were plagued with significant technical issues, demonstrating that the station should have moved the one and only debate to a remote location and held it live. That would have solved the Zoom problem and also promoted a more vigorous exchange among the candidates. 

As it was a few sparks flew but none of any major consequence, leaving Ronchetti accomplishing his goal of leaving unharmed.

All the candidates, however, acquitted themselves when it came to understanding the key issues they were asked about including the state's wildfires, border security and crime. 

JAY VS. JAY

Pity Jay Block. He tried to score points when he asked Ronchetti why he had hired controversial political consultant Jay McCleskey who last year settled a defamation lawsuit brought by a GOP state House candidate whom he had attacked. McCleskey also was the subject of a federal grand jury investigation regarding campaign finances when he worked for  Gov. Susana Martinez. That probe ended with no charges. 

But Block's maneuver backfired badly when Ronchetti shot back that Block had tried to hire McCleskey for his own Guv campaign. There was much guffawing over that. 

Dow, Zanetti and Block continued to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Biden's election but Ronchetti did not, positioning himself in the center for his now expected face-off with MLG.

THE INK STAINED SPEAK

The Republican leaning editorial pages of the ABQ Journal have endorsed Ronchetti as have the liberal leaning editorial pages of the Santa Fe New Mexican. In the race for the Dem nomination for attorney general the Journal went with Raul Torrez and the New Mexican endorsed Brian Colón. 

AFFAIRS OF THE HEART

The publicity surrounding MLG's Saturday wedding to longtime boyfriend Manny Cordova was so low-key (nonexistent in fact) that one could assume they ran off to Vegas and eloped, not tying the knot at the DC home of the Vice-President of the USA who conducted  the ceremony. 

But the raging wildfires burning so many homes and ruining so many lives and requiring gubernatorial attention made the spectacle of a joyous MLG wedding a touchy political situation and the event did appear touch and go for a while.

Last Tuesday we blogged that a reliable source was told directly by MLG that the wedding would be postponed because of the fires that have received worldwide attention. The newspapers asked the Fourth Floor about that report but were deflected and were told there would be no comment until Friday. Odd for sure. Then it was announced that MLG would be traveling to Washington to meet with top federal officials about the fires. That gave her the PR cover she sought to quietly get married the following day. 

But Saturday and Sunday came with still no official release about the wedding, no photos of VP Kamala Harris officiating and no pics of a smiling and freshly hitched couple. But a spokesman did confirm to us that "the wedding occurred as planned." In fact, the only pictures of the governor that surfaced were of her visit Sunday to fire stricken areas in the north. 

With the blacked out wedding taking place, it turns out our initial report was incorrect or perhaps temporarily correct. It just goes to show that affairs of the heart are often unpredictable and subject to change without notice. In any event, congrats to the newlyweds. We'll keep it as quiet as possible. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

It’s peak season for La Politica and we’ll run down all the action today at 5 PM on KKOB with radio veteran TJ Trout. As usual, this will be a no spin zone.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022

GOP Heavy Hitters Step Up To Plate For Domenici Son Running For Senate But Sit On The Bench In NM Guv Race; Party Split Still There As NM GOP Struggles For Rebirth 

They love their politics, they just don't love the Republican candidates for Governor. We'll explain. . .

A who's who of GOP heavy hitters came together this week for a high dollar fund-raiser for Adam Laxalt, son of the late NM US Senator Pete Domenici now running for a Senate seat of his own in Nevada. The minimum donation was $1,000 and up to $5,800, the maximum allowed.  

Pictured left to right are Doug Turner, nationally known public affairs expert who ran for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2010; Adam Laxalt (whose grandfather was the late Nevada Senator Paul Laxalt); Harvey Yates, former NM GOP chairman whose family made a fortune in the oil business; Ryan Cangliosi, another former state GOP chairman but not of a rarefied financial pedigree; Roswell oilman Mark Murphy, whose family, like Yates', has made a fortune in oil and who has been a key political player for years and Ben Spencerfounder of the land developer Titan Development that has made him a millionaire many times over. 

The host committee for the event included George Romanos, Domenici's longtime, loyal chief of staff and Terri and Jack Fortner, living legends in GOP politics in the Four Corners.

The picture is fascinating on several fronts. 

First, all of these men represent the anti-Susana Martinez wing of the state GOP. The pro Martinez  wing is now led by GOP governor candidate Mark Ronchetti and Martinez's consultant Jay McCleskey. 

Second, none of the heavy hitters, of course, has donated to Ronchetti but neither have they given major money to Rebecca Dow, the chief anti-Martinez candidate seeking the Guv nomination against Ronchetti. They have sat on their wallets, opting not to reignite the intraparty warfare that has so bedeviled the GOP and sent it into extinction when it comes to winning statewide office. A showdown will apparently have to wait for another day. 

Don't think these hitters couldn't make a difference. Murphy and his friends were instrumental recently in making Democrat Tim Jennings the mayor of the ruby red city of Roswell. 

The one thing the group does have in common with Ronchetti is an apparent dislike of Donald Trump who was famously anti-Martinez. Dow is an unabashed Trumper. Saint Pete and the GOP heavy hitters are middle of the road guys. Still, many of them donated big bucks to Trump.

The GOP being what it is today Laxalt, 43, who served as Nevada's attorney general, accepted the endorsement of Trump last year as well as that of Florida Gov. Ron Desantis. Like his dad, Adam knows how to cover all the bases. 

Senator Domenici was the longest serving US Senator in NM history ('73-'09) and it was not until 2011 after he left the Senate that he disclosed that he had conceived Adam Laxalt out of wedlock with the lobbyist daughter of Nevada GOP Senator Paul Laxalt. 

Domenici was not a big presence in young Adam's life but if politics is passed along in the DNA, Laxalt got a big dose. 

Laxalt was elected attorney general in 2014. In 2018 he sought the Nevada governorship and lost. In 1970 his father Pete Domenici lost the governorship to Bruce King. In 1972 Pete was elected to the US Senate where son Adam now hopes to follow in his footsteps--if he can get past Dem US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. It is a very tight race. 

It looks like the GOP heavy hitters pictured here are having grand old time hosting and doling out cash to Laxalt at ABQ's upscale boutique Hotel Parq. If only they could figure out how to do the same for some New Mexico Republicans, New Mexico might someday again become a two party state. 

But congrats on the fundraiser fellas. . . or something. 

(Exclusive photo courtesy of a Senior Alligator who will not be reimbursed if they had to pay Five Grand to get in.)

BLOGGING SENATOR

Sen. Heinrich does a little campaign blogging in his latest fund-raising missive. Take a look:

A Chevron-backed super PAC is pouring tens of thousands of dollars into New Mexico’s Democratic primaries. They want to tip the scales in corporate America’s direction. We can’t let them. One of their main targets is Raúl Torrez, who I’m proud to support for Attorney General. Raúl will fight every day to preserve our public lands, protect a woman’s right to choose, and hold corporate bad actors accountable for preying on New Mexico’s most vulnerable communities. And that’s all a threat to this super PAC — who’s mailing out ads attacking Raúl in an attempt to keep him out of the Attorney General’s office.

Okay, not exactly unbiased blogging there but interesting info as the race for the AG nomination between Torrez and Brian Colón has turned hotter than a Tucumcari parking lot in July. 

Of all the oil companies, Chevron is the most active politically in New Mexico. Former NM GOP political consultant Pat Killen is a key player in determining where the cash goes and does so very quietly.

RAISING GREEN

Here's another interesting pic courtesy of the Alligators who are now running frenzied laps on the campaign trail. 

It's MLG attending a fund-raiser for legislative candidates this week with Cherise Quezda pictured in front of her who is running against Eleanor Chavez for the Dem nomination for ABQ westside District 26. 

It may have been a bit awkward as MLG has not endorsed Quezada but did endorse state Rep. Art De La Cruz who along with Quezada was being feted at the fundraiser. De La Cruz has two opponents. 

But green is green and the Guv's presence hyped turnout for the event held at the home of ABQ City Councilor Klarissa Pena. Some of the green generated fell into Quezada's purse--endorsement or no endorsement. 

Yeah, there are some weeks when we really dig this stuff. This has been one of those. See ya back here Monday. 

Reporting from Albuquerque, I am Joe Monahan and this is. . .  

The home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022
 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Analysts And Alligators Size Up State Of The Major Races As June 7th Primary Campaign Heats Up, Plus: Trial Lawyers With Big Money For Progressive House Dem Contenders 

Less than three weeks to go before the June 7th primary and here's the conventional wisdom from the Insiders, Alligators, Wall-Leaners and Hangers-on as to where things stand in the major contested races.

Governor--The race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination had hearts racing when Rebecca Dow came with her polished, debut TV ad on border security featuring her riding on horseback with elected sheriffs. But the excitement has since died down as Dow stalled out and Mark Ronchetti pulled away. Without a bombshell development Ronchetti will likely end up in the winner's circle.

Attorney General--BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez got off to a slow start but since is now coming on stronger. State Auditor Brian Colón has outraised Torrez and has a distinct financial advantage, but did Colón err by not spending more of his money earlier? Early polling is inconclusive and there is too much media to play out for forecasters to give either hopeful a solid edge. 

State Treasurer---Tim Eichenberg is a well-respected state treasurer but his foray into negative campaigning on behalf of Heather Benavidez is a backfire, according to several of our insiders. They see former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya benefiting from Eichenberg's interference and her experience as an actual treasurer giving her the edge. 

State Auditor---Public Regulation Commissioner Joe Maestas is being put through his paces by 31 year old Zack Quintero but the 61 year old Maestas been elected to a number offices in the North besides the PRC and has a strong base there. To pull off the win Quintero could use statewide TV exposure. But money is a problem.

Lieutenant Governor---Republican newcomer Ant Thornton, a retired aerospace engineer from ABQ's East Mountains, carried the day with 59 percent of the vote at the GOP preprimary convention. No other candidate received the required 20 percent to win an offical spot on the primary ballot. Peggy Muller-Aragon, an elected school board member in ABQ, submitted petition signatures to make the ballot. It appears Thornton will be the first Black to be nominated lieutenant governor by a major state political party.

IT'S THE ECONOMY

MLG continues her early effort to get her approval rating up to the key 50 percent mark and also interfere with the early TV bashing she's getting in the Republican primary. Here is the third, 15 second TV ad she is running addressing the economy. The subject is paid sick leave.

The campaign has also set up a web site--newmexicodelivers.com--to tout the economic achievements of the administration, including child care assistance, college tuition, and cutting Social Security taxes.

The economy is seen as her strong suit while high crime is seen as her weak hand. Her approval rating in the late April/early May SurveyUSA poll was 47 percent, 

LAWYER PAC

A PAC--Committee for Individual Responsibility--has raised $288,000 in contributions from trial lawyers and has been doling out the maximum contribution of $5,200 to progressive Dem House primary candidates. That includes Eleanor Chavez running for the Dem nomination for an ABQ westside seat; Andrea Romero running for re-election in Santa Fe; Rep. Kristina Ortez in Taos; Rep. Meredith Dixon in ABQ; Rep. Sue Herrera in Rio Arriba and Rep. Pamelya Herndon in ABQ.

At the '21 legislative session a bill supported by trial lawyers to abolish qualified immunity for law enforcement officers was approved and signed by the Governor. The measure "shields officers from civil  from civil liability as long as they didn't violate an individual's clearly established constitutional right."

GOP Guv candidate Mark Ronchetti is now using MLG's support of that bill in an anti-crime TV ad called "Back the Blue." 

Trial lawyers are often hired on contract by state government to pursue lawsuits against corporations for a variety of causes, including the opioid epidemic and environmental damage.

THE BOTTOM LINES 

We joined radio talker Richard Eeds on Santa Fe's KTRC Tuesday to take a look at some of the key primary races in the June 7th election. A portion of that program can be heard here. . .

And we're putting together Election Night coverage for you on public radio station KANW 89.1 FM radio, our 34th consecutive year of doing so and looking forward to returning to the studio after two years of Zoom. 

We've learned a lot in nearly 50 years of covering and participating in the public discourse but the overriding lesson is that the First Amendment is the guardian angel of La Politica. 

May it ever be so.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Playing Favorites: MLG Treads Carefully With ABQ House Endorsements, Plus: Martinez Vs. Whitlock In Hot SW NM House Primary, And: Wedding Bells Fall Silent For MLG; Fire Disaster Cancels Ceremony Planned For VP Harris Home 

The joke is that Dem Sen. Martin Heinrich makes political endorsements like he hunts elk--if it moves he shoots. But Gov. Lujan Grisham, navigating her re-election this year, is more circumspect when doling out her support.

Take this fund-raising event she's having tonight where ABQ Dem state Rep. Art De La Cruz is being highlighted as well as Dem state Rep. candidate Cherise Quezada who is in an intense primary battle with former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez for an ABQ westside House seat. 

MLG's campaign confirms she is publicly backing De La Cruz who was appointed to fill a vacancy to his South Valley seat and is now seeking election for the first time. However, the Guv is not endorsing Quezada, wife of Dem BernCo Commissioner Michael Quezada--at least "for now" says the Guv's camp.

De La Cruz, a moderate, faces two progressive women candidates who may be splitting the vote and favoring the former county commissioner. 

That De La Cruz also happens to be a Hispanic male and moderate, a sore polling point for MLG, can't be overlooked.

The Quezada-Chavez face-off is tricker territory with the race expected to be close and progressives more intent on taking the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Georgene Louis. The upside for an MLG endorsement doesn't seem as obvious there as with De La Cruz.

MARTINEZ VS. WHITLOCK

Another state House primary battle getting attention is in SW NM where former Dem state Rep. Rudy Martinez is battling Karren Whitlock, who twice ran unsuccessfully against Republican Rep. Rebecca Dow and who is now running for Govneor. 

With redistricting Martinez and Whitlock are now facing off in HD 39 which includes Silver City in Grant County as well as towns and villages in Catron and Hidalgo counties. 

The seat is currently held by freshman GOP Rep. Luis Terrazas who beat Martinez in 2020. But Terrazas could be in trouble no matter who wins the Dem primary. His new seat has a Democratic performance rating of 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent for Republicans. 

Whitlock, the progressive in the race and Martinez the moderate, were evenly matched in cash on hand going into the final weeks, with Whitlock reporting $48,000 for the last weeks, including a personal loan of $16,000. Martinez, who has represented the area on and off for the last ten years, reported $47,000 in cash, including a personal loan of $15,000.

Whitlock, an educator and social worker, received $1,000 from state Rep. Patty Lundstrom in the most recent money reports and $2,000 from Rep. Javier Martinez. Both are potential candidates to replace outgoing House Speaker Brian Egolf. The selection will made by the House Democratic caucus. Lundstrom also donated $1,000 to rudy Martinez but Javier Martinez's committee did not donate to him.

Whitlock vs. Martinez will be high on our watch list when we take to KANW 89.1 FM on June 7 to deliver all the latest primary election results.

MARTIN FOR ZACK

Meanwhile, Sen. Heinrich is back with yet another round of endorsements, the chief one being that of Dem State Auditor candidate Zack Quintero who is challenging Public Regulation Commissioner Joe Maestas for the Auditor nomination. The stakes are high. There is no Republican candidate running so the Dem primary winner will take the prize. There is a Libertairan candidate. 

NO WEDDING BELLS 

There will eventually be wedding bells in MLG's future but they are not going to be heard in DC on May 21 as originally planned. That's the word from close associates of the Governor who said the decision to postpone the wedding of MLG and longtime boyfriend Manny Cordova was made out of respect for those who have suffered tragic consequences from the historic wildfire in Northern NM that is now the largest in state history. 

The Guv has been on the fire scene and giving briefings as well as announcing state actions to deal with the disaster. The "look" of a wedding in the midst of all of that would obviously be inappropriate. The couple were scheduled to be married at the home of Vice-President Kamala Harris with Harris officiating. No new wedding date has been announced. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Monday, May 16, 2022

Santa Fe's Cup Still Runneth Over From Oil Boom; Where To From Here? Plus: Colón And Torrez Still Not Household Names, And: Unknown Southern Congress Candidate Stands Out On Oil Views  

Another state revenue report and another upside explosion.

That's old hat now as the oil boom in the Permian Basin in SE NM blossoms even more and as higher inflation makes everything cost more so the taxman takes in more cash.

But what a startling mountain of cash it continues to be. The bean counters at the Legislative Finance Committee now say the budget for the year that ends July 1 will see a whopping $442 million more revenue than previously thought. And, an early childhood trust fund that sops up some of the excess oil royalties is now predicted to hit a stunning $4 billion in just two years. 

That doesn't include the billions now in the general fund reserve and a tax stabilization fund that also takes in energy revenue. 

These massive revenue inflows demand big ideas. We aren't getting anywhere near enough of them but some are trickling in. 

LFC Director David Abbey proposes establishing endowments to create revenue streams for some programs to free the state from worry over a downturn in oil prices, An example is the Opportunity Scholarship fund that pays tuition and fees for NM college students and soon could cost $100 million a year. An endowment could supplement those costs over the long-term. 

We've discussed going the Alaska way here and pushing out annual checks to taxpayers from the oil gusher. The rebate checks that the Governor did not jump for joy over when introduced will total $500 for individuals and $1,000 for two income households this year. That looks downright cheap in light of the mammoth surpluses and higher inflation. Those rebates could now easily be doubled. It makes more sense as gas goes over 4 bucks a gallon and rents are being raised in the ABQ metro at a clip of $300 a month or more.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Lundstorm wants to look at abolishing the personal income tax as other states have. She frets over the top rate of 4.9 percent, but a better start would probably be eliminating the tax for households with income under $60,000 and then tackle the top bracket. 

The time for reforming the more complicated gross receipts tax--long criticized as a job killer and business inhibitor--appears to have finally come in this new financial era. That sweeping project will require firm gubernatorial leadership.

POITICAL IMPACT

The massive surpluses have made budget management nearly irrelevant on the '22 campaign trail. The state never--that's never--has enjoyed a horn of plenty like this. However, inflation remains a problem and with it an opportunity for the GOP as they try to tie national Dem policies to the state election. 

Leading GOP Guv candidate Mark Ronchetti has come with a new TV ad that has him saying he will "take on the Biden administration and unleash New Mexico energy."

But New Mexico energy is more than unleashed, it's running like a wild horse. So much so that the state recently became the second largest oil producer in the USA and another record is expected in '22. That's even as the Biden administration temporarily suspended oil and gas leases and drilling permits on federal lands. The suspension has had minimal impact as the many current leases are more than enough to keep the industry cranking out the black gold at extraordinary levels. And as mentioned at the top m, state oil revenue is out of this world. 

AG RACE

Candidates can get wrapped up and think the world revolves around them but a recent poll conducted in late April and early May in the race for the Dem nomination for attorney general shows how hard it can be to build name ID.

The SurveyUSA poll shows a big 38 percent of voters still undecided in the contest between State Auditor Brian Colón and BernCo District attorney Raul Torrez, despite both being high profile figures in the party. 

The race appears wide open, according to the poll, with Torrez leading 34 to 28 percent (MOE plus or minus 5.7%). The candidates have stepped up their advertising since that survey so the large undecided is on its way down. Where it is falling adds more excitement to one of the few competitive statewide Dem races on the June 7 primary ballot.

UNKNOWN STANDS OUT

Patel
One of those Dem contests that doesn't seem very competitive is for the the nomination for the southern congressional seat held by GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell. 

Former Las Cruces City Councilor Gabe Vasquez is the heavy favorite but political unknown and physician Darshan N. Patel is no slouch. 

Vasquez, backed by US Sen. Martin Heinrich and most of the Dem establishment, is often described as a progressive candidate but Patel is the same and in one important instance wearing that label brighter than Vasquez.

First, Patel, 35, who works at a hospital in Lovington and lives in Hobbs, describes himself this way:

As the only out LGBT candidate running for any federal or statewide office in NM, a rural physician, union president and former high school teacher, I would bring frontline experience to uniquely represent New Mexico as a policymaker on the issues that matter." 

Now the dividing issue from the ABQ Journal questionnaire:

What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you think the federal government should change course and issue new leases? 


I oppose new leases on federal land for oil and gas development. New Mexicans are already experiencing a warmer climate, earlier fire seasons, historic drought and worsening air quality. I will stand up to big oil and secure our environment and jobs for future generations and lead a transition to a Green Economy.

Vasquez
Vasquez says:

Bureau of Land Management lands in New Mexico are governed by a multiple-use mandate, and we should continue to use our resources wisely to protect our energy independence, while looking toward the future of our rural economies by promoting uses of federal land that encourage renewable energy development. 

Patel pulls no punches but Vasquez, perhaps positioning himself for a moderate approach in the fall election, pulls back from the progressive view. Is that view congruent with the many environmental supporters of Heinrich and Vasquez or is Patel more in touch with those primary voters? 

FINANCE REPORTS (TAKE 2)

We mangled a software program on the May 11 blog that had the cash on hand totals from early May state finance reports for legislative candidates. The corrected version does not have any impact on the tilt of key races, as handicapped by the political pros, but it is important to have it right. So with apologizes to the hopefuls, we repeat that blog with the dollar amount corrections: 

In District 40 in the Rio Arriba county area the election of former one term state Rep. Joseph Sanchez over incumbent freshman progressive Dem Roger Montoya is now widely expected. But a large swath of the district is impacted by the wild fires and campaign mail can't yet be delivered in some areas. Montoya reported $23,000 in cash on hand for the final month of the race and Sanchez $56,000. Dem consultants say Sanchez has a clear edge. The general election will not be competitive in this heavy Dem district so the primary winner goes to Santa Fe. 

In District 38 in the Soccoro area moderate Dem and Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker is up against progressive Tara Jaramillo. She had $33,000 in cash and Bhasker $19,000 in state money reports filed Monday. Abeyta says because Bhasker has been mayor for over 30 years he has an edge but the race is hard fought. The Dem primary winner will be favored for the November election. 

Back in Rio Arriba in District 41 Dem progressive Rep. Susan Herrera is up against moderate Marlo Martinez. Herrera is running for a third term and has solid name ID. She had $39,000. Martinez is a former probate judge. He had $11,000 in cash. 

In District 42 in Taos county progressive Rep. Kristina Ortez faces moderate Florence Miera but the race has not taken off, with Ortez overwhelming Miera in the money race. Ortez reports $111,000 in cash on hand for the final month while Miera reports $13,000. 

In Santa Fe area District 46 progressive Rep. Andrea Romero has moved past moderate and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal. She reports $69,000 in cash to Roybal's $10,000. Two other candidates did not raise significant money. Romero is seeking a third term. 

 In ABQ westside District 26 moderate Cherise Quezada is competing against progressive and former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez for the westside seat that will be vacated at the end of the year by Rep. Georgene Louis. Chavez had $31,000 in cash and Quezada $27,000. The race appears competitive. 

Also on ABQ's westside in District 17, an open seat, former moderate City Councilor Cynthia Borrego is challenging progressive Dem Darrell Deaguero who is a union leader. She reports $19,000 in cash for the final push to Deaguero's $31,000. Borrego lost her re-election bid for the council seat. Deaguerro is making his first run for office. 

Our analysts see the possibility of several of these moderate Dems prevailing and going on to win in November. If so, they could join with moderate Dem reps already there on certain policy votes. And if the Republicans pick up a couple of House seats the progressive majority could be in for numerous policy challenges. Among the many angles we are watching this cycle because. . . 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022

MLG Vs. Ronchetti Poll Match-Up; She Leads But Is Below 50 Percent; Both Have Work To Do, Plus Dow Gets Final Poll Shot At Changing Perception Of Guv Primary, And Latest AG Money Reports  

Now that Mark Ronchetti appears to be closing in on the '22 GOP gubernatorial nomination the conversation includes how vulnerable Governor Lujan Grisham is to a challenge. The answer for now is a mixed bag.

In a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KOB-TV in late April and early May among more than 1,400 likely voters, MLG led Ronchetti 47 to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Error margin is plus or minus 3.9 percent. 

That's below the key 50 percent mark for the incumbent. On the other hand, she is leading and if she was in immediate peril she would be expected to be tied or behind.

For example, SurveyUSA also polled over 1,400 likely voters in May of 2010 when Susana Martinez was on her way to winning the GOP governor nod. That survey pitted her against Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish and she beat her in that first poll 49-43. 

Martinez never looked back, winning the election in November with 54 percent. Denish was strangled from the start by the deep unpopularity of Gov. Richardson. 

So, MLG has a bit of a hole to dig out of but not a crater, but so would Ronchetti if he were to be the nominee. In 2020, he spent millions against Dem Ben Ray Lujan for a US Senate seat but came up six points short, getting 46 percent of the vote. Now he has spent over $500,000 on media in this primary and gets 43 percent in a head-to-head with MLG. 

Her job is to get above 50 percent in the months ahead and his is to try to break through a ceiling that keeps him in the low to mid 40's against Democratic opponents.

MLG led in the poll in big Bernalillo County 52-39. Ronchetti won voters concerned about the economy, 49 to 40 but the Dem Governor carried those concerned about crime, 46 to 44. She won moderate voters 52 to 34. 

In a separate question, MLG's approval rating among those surveyed was 48 percent with 46 percent disapproving. 

ANOTHER SHOT 

There will be another and final polling opportunity for Rebecca Dow to show that she still has a shot at the GOP Guv nomination and that Ronchetti is not a done deal. Ronchetti flattened the field in the SurveyUSA poll released this week, leading his closest rival by 32 points. 

The opportunity for Dow will come when the ABQ Journal conducts a poll of the five way race. Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff confirms that the paper will continue their tradition of polling the primary race. The poll will be scientific using in-person phone interviews with the proper mixture of cell phones. The poll will be released May 22. The election is June 7. 

FIRE FINANCE

Many are wondering about the financial impact of the wildfires that have ravaged large swaths of the north this summer. Dem northern US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez says

 The federal government compensated the residents of Los Alamos county harmed by the (2000) prescribed burn-induced Cerro Grande wildfire – we must do the same for the residents of Mora and San Miguel counties harmed by the Las Dispensas prescribed burn.

Leger Fernandez, Sens. Lujan, Heinrich and Rep. Stansbury introduced The Hermit's Peak Fire Assistance Act that would "require FEMA to design and administer a program for fully compensating those who suffered personal injury, property losses, business and financial losses resulting from the Hermit’s Peak Fire."

About 200 homes have been destroyed so far. Some of those homeowners will have insurance that will help defray the impact. Those without insurance would be entitled to full compensation from the Feds whose Forest Service set the prescribed burn that led to the historic blaze. 

THAT HOT AG RACE

Dem attorney general candidate Brian Colón has a reputation as a prodigious fund-raiser who sharpened his skills under Big Bill and through many of his own campaigns. That reputation carries into this campaign as Colón has raised a total so far of $1.452 million in his race for the nomination against BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez who has raised a not so shabby $1.066 million. 

It's the cash on hand on May 2 that the candidates reported that makes the race a steeper climb for Torrez. Colon reported $911,000 in cash to Torrez's $382,000.

Among the contributors Colón reported was $1,000 from state Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart. And the campaign committee of current attorney general and Colon BFF Hector Balderas donated $10,000. But Colón was passed over by former Lt. Governor Diane Denish. Colón was the lt. governor nominee on the 2010 Dem ticket when Denish was the governor hopeful, but Torrez reports a $1,000 contribution from her and $500 from her husband Herb. Auto dealer Eddie Corley came with $1,000 for the DA.

The winds of La Politica are always shifting.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Key Dem State House Primaries Analyzed With Arrival Of Fresh Finance Reports; Moderate Dems Clash With Progressives Around State, Plus: Mailbox Hits Start, And: Ronchetti Pleased With Guv Poll 

Will the state House take on a more conservative tinge following this year's elections? The primaries that feature both a moderate and a progressive Democrat will give us some clues so let's take a look at the latest money reports in key races that could impact state policy.

In District 40 in the Rio Arriba county area the election of former one term state Rep. Joseph Sanchez over incumbent freshman progressive Dem Roger Montoya is now widely expected. But a large swath of the district is impacted by the wild fires and campaign mail can't yet be delivered in some areas. Montoya reported $23,000 in cash on hand for the final month of the race and Sanchez $56,000. Dem consultants say Sanchez has a clear edge. The general election will not be competitive in this heavy Dem district so the primary winner goes to Santa Fe. 

In District 38 in the Soccoro area moderate Dem and Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker is up against progressive Tara Jaramillo. She had $33,000 in cash and Bhasker $19,000 in state money reports filed Monday. Abeyta says because Bhasker has been mayor for over 30 years he has an edge but the race is hard fought. The Dem primary winner will be favored for the November election.

Back in Rio Arriba in District 41 Dem progressive Rep. Susan Herrera is up against moderate Marlo Martinez. Herrera is running for a third term and has solid name ID. She had $39,000. Martinez is a former probate judge. He had $11,000 in cash. 

In District 42 in Taos county progressive Rep. Kristina Ortez faces moderate Florence Miera but the race has not taken off, with Ortez overwhelming Miera in the money race. Ortez reports $111,000 in cash on hand for the final month while Miera reports $13,000. 

In Santa Fe area District 46 progressive Rep. Andrea Romero has moved past moderate and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal. She reports $69,000 in cash to Roybal's $10,000. Two other candidates did not raise significant money. Romero is seeking a third term. 

In ABQ westside District 26 moderate Cherise Quezada is competing against progressive and former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez for the westside seat that will be vacated at the end of the year by Rep. Georgene Louis. Chavez had $31,000 in cash and Quezada $27,000. The race appears competitive. 

Quezada has been outraised overall but started the final month before the June 7th primary with more cash than Chavez--$27,000 to $19,000. The race appears close.

Also on ABQ's westside in District 17, an open seat,  former moderate City Councilor Cynthia Borrego is challenging progressive Dem Darrell Deaguero who is a union leader. She reports $19,000 in cash for the final push to Deaguero's $31,000. Borrego lost her re-election bid for the council seat. Deaguerro is making his first run for office. 

Political pros see the possibility of two of these moderate Dems prevailing and going on to win in November. If so, they could join with moderate Dem reps already there on certain policy votes. And if the Republicans pick up a couple of House seats the progressive majority could be in for numerous policy challenges. 

The best chance for GOP pick-ups are in the ABQ NE Heights where there are challengers to first term Dem Rep. Marian Matthews and Rep. Pamelya Herndon who was appointed to her seat last year to fill a vacancy.

The money reports cited here can be seen at the SOS website

TIS THE SEASON

Once again it's the season to check the mailboxes where the hits are even harsher than the TV attacks.

Here's one freshly arrived that is being mailed out to 84,000 Dem households by the Working Together NM PAC supporting Dem attorney general candidate Brian Colón over BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez. 

Not only do the headlines on the pics scream that Torrez "failed to keep us safe" and "It's not safe to promote Raul Torrez," you get a photo of the DA clearly meant to present him as effeminate with his hand to his face and looking more than a little worried. 

A good mail piece has to connect emotionally and the picture is often the only thing voters see before they quickly dispatch the campaign mail to the circular file. 

There is another photo in this piece that may grab views. It is of the child Victoria Martens, the victim of a heinous 2016 murder which became one of the most publicized in state history. DA Torrez had to drop murder charges against the girl's mother and no one has been charged with killing Victoria, although one suspect associated with the crime has been sentenced to a long prison term.

In any event, be careful when you open the mailbox in the next month who knows what will jump out at you. (We'll labor to get a Torrez piece on his opponent up soon.)

PUSHING THE POLL 

It would be an understatement to say Mark Ronchetti is very pleased with that SurveyUSA poll released this week showing him with a 32 point lead over his closest challenger and Rebecca Dow in fourth place. Ocourse, he is using it in his fund-raising:

We can’t let up on the accelerator now. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a war chest she is sitting on to try and defeat me in November. I’m asking for your most generous contribution. Recent polls also show us neck-and-neck with Governor Grisham at 46%-46%. And her recent approval ratings have dipped to less than 50%. But, I fear that interest groups and dark money will pour into MLG’s coffers after seeing these primary polling results. Democrats would like nothing more than to have a weak Republican opponent to go up against in November.Even with this good news we can’t let our guard down. We need everyone who is tired of the status quo to contribute to our campaign and turn out to vote in the upcoming primary election!

Most analysts we spoke with question that Dow, who has spent hundreds of thousands on TV ads, is in fourth place. They speculate that the poll may have oversampled ABQ where Ronchetti is strongest and under sampled rural areas where Dow has muscle. But none is disputing that Ronchetti has a lead over his challengers. SurveyUSA did not release the county by county polling numbers that would show any ABQ oversampling, if indeed there was any. 

This is the only public primary poll so far. The ABQ Journal usually conducts one for the primary and one for the general election.  

NOT WAITING

Like Ronchetti, MLG isn't waiting for the GOP nomination to be settled before starting her general election media outreach. For her it's about showing the money and making those voters who are facing an economic crunch more comfortable. To that end her campaign comes with an ad promoting the Social Security tax cut enacted at this year's legislative session and another short ad on tax credits for lower income households.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Ronchetti Continues To Hold Large Cash Lead As Primary Enters Final Weeks; Dow Second And Will Remain TV Presence; Other Contenders Lag; Plus: MLG Money Machine Grinds On  

Mark Ronchetti takes a commanding cash lead into the final month of the '22 GOP Guv primary but  Rebecca Dow will remain a presence in the final weeks of the contest. 

Ronchetti, who has been relying in part on the fund-raising apparatus of former GOP Gov. Susan Martinez, reported $1.495 million in cash on hand as of May 2. Dow reported $495,000 in cash.

Latest fund-raising reports here

The former KRQE-TV weatherman has no intention of deploying all that money between now and the June 7 primary. If he is victorious, he could start the general election campaign against MLG with close to $1 million, even after matching whatever Dow spends and then some. 

But he still must defeat Dow who has run an underdog campaign with hard messaging that has raised her profile but Ronchetti has heavily outspent her on TV ads. That could make the difference. 

A SurveyUSA poll released by KOB-TV Monday had Ronchetti handily leading the contest (44%) with Dow running a surprising fourth with only 9 percent, despite being the only candidate other than Ronchetti with paid broadcast media. 

Our political pros say the survey may have it right "directionally" with Ronchetti in the lead but were dubious of some of the other numbers, wondering about the geographic sampling of ABQ vs. the rest of the state. 

Dow has been subjected to a massive negative campaign by Ronchetti. 

The survey, which said 23 percent of GOP voters remain undecided, was done via robo calls to landlines and online participation April 29 to May 7 with a margin of error of 6.4 percent. There has been no other public polling in the contest. 

Late Monday Dow had this statement:

We know from the enthusiastic response we're getting all over the state that we're second and closing fast. That's why the Ronchetti campaign is distorting my record. The polls always showed President Trump losing when he was winning. There is nearly another month left in this campaign for many more speculative polls to be conducted and the only poll that will matter is Election Night."

GOP hopefuls Jay Block and Greg Zanetti remained stalled out in fund-raising, according to reports filed with the SOS Monday. 

Block had less than $35,000 in cash which means a wide-ranging media buy is unlikely. Greg Zanetti had less than $165,000 in cash. 

The low fund-raising totals for Zanetti and Block is good news for Dow who wants to avoid splitting the anti-Ronchetti vote with them but overcoming Ronchetti's cash and name ID remains a formidable task. 

Among those contributing the past month to Ronchetti was former TV news anchorman Dick Knipfing who gave $1,000 to his former TV co-worker. 

Former Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza of Santa Fe has crossed the aisle for this primary and donated $2,000 to Dow. She is also reported to be working the North for the T or C state rep. 

MLG MONEY

MLG, as expected, reported a hefty $3.7 million in cash in her latest report. Whatever her problems may be in an off year election, raising money isn't yet one of them. She has raised over $5 million so far this cycle. 

The Governor has been spending a good deal of time in fire-stricken areas of Northern New Mexico and that has enhanced her leadership image, but the aftermath of the fire and how the many dislocated people will handle the financial damage of the fires is a challenge that awaits her and other government officials. 

AUDITOR RACE

In the race for the Dem nod for state auditor, Public Regulation Commissioner Joe Maestas reported about $85,000 in cash on hand and enough for a bit of a TV buy. He comes with this spot that stresses his lengthy government experience. He does not directly mention his younger rival, 31 year old Zack Quintero, a former MLG aide, who reported $60,000 in cash on hand. 

AG DEBATE

It was a lively TV debate between Dem attorney general contenders Raul Torrez and Brian Colón Monday night. The two again sparred over qualifications with Torrez hammering away at his theme that Colón, the state auditor, is a "politician not a prosecutor." Colón attacked Torrez's "failed record" as BernCo district attorney. The give and take did not let up for the full hour which can be seen here

The winner of the primary is very likely the next attorney general. No Republican has won the spot since 1986. 

TODAY'S THE DAY 

This is the first day of voting in the primary election with county clerk's offices across the state open for those wishing to cast ballots. In person voting at convenience centers in BernCo will open May 21st.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

Monday, May 09, 2022

ABQ Politics Grabs Headlines From Primary: Fresh Murder Outbreak, Homeless "Lots", Garbage Rate Increase Proposed, Multi-Million Dollar Homeless Shelter Disappoints, Plus: More Colón Vs. Torrez Jabs 

The primary campaign trail has been getting some stiff competition from ABQ politics lately.

The city endured another murder outbreak over the weekend with at least four victims, has seen a Republican city councilor propose controversial "living lots" for the homeless, the mayor proposes an increase in garbage bills to clean up homeless sites and a multi-million dollar shelter built for the homeless now threatens to become a White Elephant

On the crime beat, APD Chief Harold Medina showed up near the westside Cottonwood Mall Sunday where a double murder and suicide occurred and said the scene--that included the bodies of two 16 year olds—combined with two other ABQ homicides in the city made for a "tough weekend."

That led to this blast from one of our Senior Alligators:

Medina seems to think these shootings are some sort of strange anomaly. "We've had a tough weekend." Tough weekend? Try tough decade. A triple homicide isn't something new to ABQ--it's old. It's the city's new normal, without being new. It's what ABQ has become and it isn't changing anytime soon, if ever. Especially with the likes of Medina and Mayor Keller sugar-coating everything the city is really facing. 

Then there's the proposal for "living lots" to contain the homeless problem and brought to the fore by GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan. Encampments would be placed in each of the nine city council districts in areas such as empty parking lots and equipped with toilet facilities. That drew this from retired APD Sergeant and city politics watcher Dan Klein. 

This is Councilor Bassan jumping into the political briar patch. No one is going to want these encampments in their backyard, especially in her NE Heights District, but they do want more law enforcement to deal with the problem. If she presses this, I wouldn't be surprised to see potential challengers surfacing.

GOP Councilor Dan Lewis parted ways with Bassan on the encampment plan, saying the city needs to get its new homeless shelter up and running at capacity. Speaking of that. . . 

The now somewhat infamous Gateway Center in the SE Heights is being financed by taxpayers at a cost of nearly $20 million and is now reduced to a shell of its former proposed self. It will start out serving only 50 homeless individuals, all of them women. That's instead of the hundreds of homeless the project was originally designed for.

And now residents are being asked to pay more each month for their garbage pickup because of the cost of cleaning up the many homeless camps around the city--camps that might be curbed if the Gateway Center had lived up to the billing of the city's politicos when they asked for and won voter approval of a $14 million bond issue. 

LOUIE TAKES LUMPS 

Louie Sanchez, the conservative westside Democratic city councilor, has turned out to be the media attraction of the new council that resulted from last year's city election. The former cop, however, has bull in the china shop tendencies. Those came out when he pressed an anti-union proposal at council and called members of unions "slugs" when doing so.

But the building and trades unions are nothing if not organized and they planted this flier in his constituents mailboxes, pointing out he sided with Republican councilors in trying to repeal project labor agreements for city projects. That stung because Sanchez's district is heavy Dem. 

The saving grace for him--at least for now--is that he is not up for re-election until 2025. That also gives him plenty of time to learn the limits of his power in his new post. 

IN HIS WORDS

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan comes with new details on the stroke he suffered and that sidelined him from his Senate duties:

. . . 5:45 a.m. Jan. 27. While staying at his mother’s home in Nambé, he’d gotten up to make coffee. Before long, the room’s four walls began losing their form.“I thought it was vertigo, but it was just spinning. And I didn’t feel anything before. Not the day before. Not the week before. Not even 10 minutes before.”. . .He called his chief of staff, Carlos Sanchez, who told him to immediately call his doctor. . .The next call went next door, to Luján’s sister, Jackie Valdez, who was staying with their mother, Carmen. By the time Valdez arrived, Luján was crawling.. . “My sister helped carry me to her car, just, like on her shoulders." As they drove toward Santa Fe, Valdez spotted a local fire station in Pojoaque and pulled in.. . . One of the firefighters or EMTs said, “I don’t like the way he looks.”. . . Luján was on his way to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. . . After a quick scan at Christus St. Vincent, he was headed to UNM Hospital. . .Luján’s medical team said he’d suffered a tear in his vertebral artery. . .On Day 4, Jan. 31, Luján underwent decompressive surgery, prompting the need to remove a piece of his skull and leaving him with 26 staples in the back of his head. 

Lujan now says he feels more than 90 percent recovered and is back to work in the Senate.

AG ACTION

In an increasingly tense race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez is trying to put State Auditor Brian Colón on defense, coming with video of the father of a murder victim whose picture is in one of Colón's TV ads. The Torrez campaign says: 

Patrick Weller and Lisa Praeger-Weller, parents of Jackson Weller, a UNM baseball player who was tragically murdered three years ago, call on Brian Colón to take down his misleading and disrespectful ad using Jackson’s death for attempted political gain. (Full video here.) “This week marks three years since we tragically lost Jackson at the hands of Darian Bashir in Albuquerque,” said Weller. “(Now) a media ad has surfaced by Brian Colón. In the video, they’re using Jackson’s likeness without our consent, and I would ask that the video be taken down.” 

I find it deplorable that Mr. Colón would exploit a family’s tragedy for attempted political gain,” said Torrez. “The Colón campaign owes the Weller family an apology and must take this video down immediately.

But Colón didn't cave: 

I understand that Mr. Weller is deeply hurt by what happened to his son. I’m angry that the D.A. has been dishonest with the community by hiding his colossal failures in this defendant’s prior case. These failures, and others like it, have made Albuquerque more dangerous for the five years Raúl Torrez has been the D.A. New Mexicans deserve the truth, which is that due to the DA’s incompetence, the defendant was released into the community. 

As for the use of a murder victim's photo, that photo is in the public domain and there is no law or regulation that would prevent its use in a political ad.  

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2022

 
website design by limwebdesign