Monday, July 10, 2006

Everyone Out Of The Pool & Back On The Blog; Part Two Of Election Year 06' Starts Now; Pollsters Begin Splashing; Manny Aragon Does A Cannonball 

Are you tanned, rested and ready? Looking forward to part two of Election Year 06'? Good. Me too. My valiant effort at abandoning blogging and becoming a mid-life golf pro took a hit over the long holiday, so I am back here and set to cover my ninth New Mexico gubernatorial contest. And if that is the current record for longevity, I don't want to hear it. My recent sports setback is all the reminder I need that time marches on. But the mind is more willing than ever and so are the latest batch of politicos seeking the power and the glory in the kingdom of La Politica, so off we go...


Besides picking over the Fourth of July barbecued chicken, I also digested the latest polling data starting to seep across our Enchanted Land. Two sets of numbers, one from the Rasmussen Research, the other from Democrat D.C. consulting firm Lake Research have the Guv's race starting about where you may have expected. Big Bill has a commanding lead and the main tension in his battle with R John Dendahl is going to be whether he is able to expand his margin and reach the 60% mark that his supporters want so he can launch a vigorous campaign for the 08' Dem Prez nomination, or whether Dendahl can pull the psychological upset and hold the heavyweight below 55%.

Despite the state Treasurer and Eric Serna scandals, a steady drumbeat of negative press over his campaign contributions and their impact on public policy, Rasmussen has Big Bill garnering 56% to Dendahl's 32%. (500 likely voters, conducted June 27. Margin of error +/- 4.5%) Lake, polling for Dem land commissioner hopeful Jim Baca and Dem attorney general candidate Gary King, has him even higher--59% to 29%. (400 likely voters, conducted June 27-29. MOE +/-4.9%.)

This is the strongest polling start for a Guv hopeful in modern history. His job will now be to avoid the big mistake and risk dipping below 55%, and managing expectations on that 60% number which has only been reached once in 94 years of state history--the 64' Dem landslide year when Jack Campbell was elected Guv with the 60% landslide mark. (The closest ever was a classic squeaker in 1924 when Dem Arthur Hannett beat R Manuel Otero by just 199 votes ending up with 50.09%. Hannett was defeated for re-election in 26'.)

One other polling note. According to a reliable Alligator, in mainly conservative southern NM, , a survey there recently put Richardson at just 51% to Dendahl's 37%, revealing why 60% is so hard to reach statewide. (In 02' the R and Green candidates combined took 44% of the Guv vote.)


Richardson's TV started the day after the June primary, has stayed up since, and there is no end in sight. If he raises $10 million (a "grotesque" number opines newspaper columnist David Roybal) we could conceivably expect media buys of $6.5 million. That is, if the traditional rule of thumb that 65% of your money raised goes to the boob tube, radio and mail. He has already raised $8.4 million, a number that, if not grotesque, surely raises concerns about our system of campaign finance.

By the way, any money leftover from the Guv's state race cannot be spent on a federal Prez bid. There are a few loopholes, but not many. Expect the Guv to spend just about all of his immense campaign treasure.

Plenty of that money will go to get out the vote. And it's already started. Alligators checking in here report that Big Bill field organizers were out on the weekend before the Fourth of July knocking doors and getting his voters to make early requests for absentee ballots. Like the already unprecedented summer TV and attack radio, that is a record early kick-off of the field campaign.

The Big Bill Web site is an expensive doozy too, with all the bells and whistles of the Internet age. Podcasts, his media spots, and even a defense of each line of his radio attack ad against Joltin' John are posted for the scrutiny of the prospective Big Bill backer.


Dendahl seeks to live off the fat of the land. He'll try to raise a million or two, but will hope that free media coverage will make a fight of this one. But the state GOP attack on the ABQ Journal for its initial coverage of Dendahl's campaign is presumably not sitting well at Journal Center and that could mean an additional challenge the feisty underdog does not need.

You can almost hear the GOP salivating over the whispering over the federal probe of the construction of courthouses in Bernalillo county and whether indictments of Aragon and others will be announced by GOP U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. It was Dendahl, after all, who tag teamed then Legislative leaders Manny Aragon and Raymond Sanchez in the 90's. He rode the theme to Republican Roundhouse gains and in the process made history by breaking up (along with R Guv Johnson) that powerful leadership duo.

Former State Senator Manny's imminent departure under fire from the presidency of NM Highlands University and his rumored involvement in the courthouse investigation, could give the GOP nominee a fresh opportunity to open the Dems ethics wounds, but linking them to Big Bill and making them stick is another story. Again, this is the same guy polling 56- 60% after all the scandal headlines of the past year.


And why is that? Why is the ethics barrage thus far turning out to be a political mirage for this Governor's foes? "It is his record of accomplishment versus some damaging headlines and the record is winning," maintains a veteran Dem political operative.

The polls seem to indicate that in the eyes of many voters Big Bill has taken on rock star status. His national reputation, (He was back on "Meet the Press" Sunday) combined with a workaholic mentality, has voters looking at him much differently than the political community which is dissecting the campaign contributions and the scandal du jour. Also, a jaded Mr. & Mrs. New Mexico see millions being raised by other New Mexico politicos, including the congressional delegation. Finally, Big Bill's campaign commercials that vastly out circulate the printed word don't hurt either.

As long as the ethics suitcase is not dropped right outside of his Fourth Floor door, this remains a Governor largely granted immunity by an electorate looking at things far differently than the partisans and the press


That Lake Research poll conducted for Jim Baca has him leading incumbent GOP Land Commissioner Pat Lyons 38% to 33%. That means it should be the closet of the down ballot races this year. Lyons has nearly a half million in the bank, but as the Dem contender Baca has the historic edge...As for Dem Gary King, the insiders peg him the heavy favorite to beat out GOP nominee and politcal newcomer Jim Bibb. According to the Lake survey King is on his way. He comes in with 49% to Santa Fe Bibb's 28%.

OK. We're warmed up, back in the saddle--all those good cliches. Help keep us in the swing of things by emailing your political news and comments from the link at the top of the page.

More cool stuff from New Mexico's #1 political blog comes your way tomorow. Hope to see ya' then.

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