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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dem AG Race Set To Heat Up; King Prepares For Attacks, Plus: News On the Luna House Seat, And: Some Bottom Lines 

Gary King
Get ready for down and dirty action in the three way battle for the Dem nomination for NM attorney general. So say the campaign insiders as they prepare for all out battle for the prize that features three strong contenders who came out of the preprimary convention vitrually tied and who now see this race as anyone's to win.

All three camps agree that Gary King has the lead before the fireworks begin. A poll released to us by the Geno Zamora campaign shows Gary garnering 44%, Santa Fe's Geno 9% and Lem Martinez 8%. Undecided is put at 39%. But the Zamora poll, conducted in late February, claims King's support is "very soft" and if Zamora has the resources to "effectively communicate" he can take the race.

"They are laying the ground work for a negative campaign against Gary," asserted a King operative. "We are ready."

The Martinez camp also sees the fur flying and soon. But it may be headed in Geno's direction, not Gary's. "Geno is the heartthrob of the Democratic Left, but when they hear about his record as a private lawyer, they may not feel that way anymore," teased a Martinez insider.

PUSHING THE POLLS

King released a poll late last year that showed his support in the mid-30's, so the Zamora poll actually shows him growing. But King's third place finish at the preprimary when expectations were that he would finish first has helped Martinez and Zamora on the fundraising circuit. It appears both campaigns will have the money to take this thing negative on statewide television.

The Zamora poll also "pushed" voters to see how they would react to negative information about King. After that, voters moved to the Zamora camp and he took the lead. The campaign did not say what kind of info voters were fed before the went south on Gary.

"Let's face it. As the solo Anglo, Gary has the lead. But if they think his support is soft the only way they are going to find out is to attack him, and they will," analyzed another Dem insider.

Martinez, district attorney for Sandoval county, thinks the recent murder of a Bernalillo county sheriff's deputy will make voters more likely to support a prosecutor such as himself. "They (voters) are a lot more worried about crime than they were two weeks ago" asserted the Martinez operative.

With little action at the top of the ticket, the Dem AG's race is the one to watch. And it could get complicated with each of the candidates firing away at their two opponents. But first expect a wave of positive "image" spots touting the credentials of the trio. Once they establish themselves, katy bar the door; we're going into war mode. Expect the first wave of TV ads in a week or two.

MONTANO MOVES OUT

The contest to replace the dean of the NM State House, Fred Luna, just got a lot less complicated. Salomon Montano has withdrawn, leaving newcomer Elias Barela as the only Dem in the race. That word comes from the Barela campaign. Barela will face R Jackie Farnsworth who twice challenged Luna but each time came up short. The R's have targeted this one saying Jackie may have lost last time but she came close and the Valencia county district is getting more R. But the Barela camp is spinning that this one is theirs, saying Democratic performance for the Luna seat is 56%. Luna announced he is retiring after a 35 year career in the Legislature's lower chamber.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Sen. Fidel
They say you learn from your mistakes, And that seems doubly true when it comes ot NM politics. Take Monday, when I blogged that the chair of the state Senate Finance Committee was Hispanic. Not true. And I should have known better having profiled Chairman Joe Fidel and his Lebanese descent back in November of 03'. I know. They say the memory is first to go.

In any event, Joe's son, ABQ attorney Mark Fidel, e-mails in to remind us that his dad, now 82, is indeed Lebanese and that the senator's family came over around 1920 and was given the name “Fidel” by Ellis Island officials, who commonly changed names they could not pronounce. Fidel is regarded as a Spanish surname for “faith” so the senator is often thought to be of Hispanic descent, but his original name is Fadal.

Mark says his father, who represents the Grants area, is a pretty good Spanish speaker, “more so anymore than Arabic.”

I wonder if “Fadal’s” family would even make into the USA today given the paranoia since 9/11. Their story prompts the question: What if no one wanted to come to America? The fact that so many do means the dream is still alive and freedom rings. May it ever be so.

E-mail me your latest politcal news, comments, corrections by using the link at the top of the page. I look foward to hearing from you.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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