With the stakes higher than usual for a mid-term election, the D's and the R's put their get-out-the-vote machines into high gear heading into the final hours of Campaign 06.' The R's dismissed an ABQ Journal poll showing ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson teetering on the edge of defeat and asserted that their own surveys say the race is a "toss-up" and vowed to fight to the end.
They found some encouragement in the last round of national surveys which showed the Dem advantage perhaps shriveling a bit. And Wilson seemed to take a swipe at the ABQ Journal poll on KRQE-TV last night when she said "one Democrat poll" shows her behind and a "Republican" poll has her ahead. She did not mention what GOP poll she had in mind.
On the ground, the GOP has paid special attention to 65 precincts in the ABQ area that voted for President Bush at rates of at least 65%. Those households have been deluged with mail and calls as the R's work feverishly to energize their base and prevent the D's from taking the ABQ congressional seat for the first time since it was created nearly 40 years ago. Also, insiders say over 90 volunteers have been shipped into ABQ by the national R's to wage the 48 hour ground battle on behalf of Heather.
The Dems were busy too, with Big Bill and most of the other statewide candidates on a whistle-stop train trip along the fabled Rio Grande with stops from Hatch to Bernalillo then over to Las Vegas. Today they go airborne, flying across the state in search of last-minute votes.DIRTY TRICKS?
Allegations of "dirty tricks," par for the course in the final, nerve-wracking election hours, surfaced as Big Bill and Senator Bingaman claimed the state GOP was calling Hispanic Democrats to tell them--wrongly--that there had been a change in their polling locations for Tuesday. They planned on going to court to have a judge put a stop to the alleged chicanery. But blog photog Mark Bralley, a Republican, said he received a mailer from his party directing him to the wrong polling location. The truth is as slippery as an eel when the clock ticks ever closer to judgement day.
Back on the beat, Wilson was preparing to meet Senator John McCain at Eclipse Aviation this afternoon to further galvanize GOP supporters who are outnumbered in the district, but who often vote more reliably.
At Dem Patricia Madrid headquarters, one Alligator reported, they were flooded with volunteers Sunday morning anxious to canvass neighborhoods and energized by that Journal poll showing Madrid leading Wilson 49% to 45%, an unprecedented lead for a challenger.BALDERAS AND BACA
Nerves in the Hector Balderas for state auditor campaign had more reason than most to be frayed. The auditor's race was the only statewide contest the Journal did not survey. Dem State Rep. Balderas was a late entry after Jeff Armijo withdrew under a shadow. But ABQ attorney Brian Colon, traveling with Balderas on the Dem train and heading into Bernalillo, said he "expects a good Election Night for Hector" because of his early TV buy and overall strength of the Dems. R Lorenzo Garcia went up with late TV, but it was only in the $10,000 range.
Jim Baca, perhaps the most imperiled Dem in the state this Election Eve, took out full-page color ads in the state's large newspapers, including a $10,000 pop in the ABQ Journal. His camp says the former land commissioner and ABQ Mayor is now resting his hopes on a dramatic drop in voter turnout on the conservative East side and an uptick in the Hispanic north.
But Lyons' camp, celebrating their seven point lead in the Journal poll, say Baca is going to be disappointed. "Many ranchers and farmers in the north support Pat who is a rancher himself. He will do much better up there than expected," maintained one ardent Lyons backer.
Word also came to your blogger that Lyons has bought El Paso TV to prevent too much of a beating in Democratic dominated Dona Ana county.MORE TRAILDUST
Bernalillo county R's were working hard to shore up any weakness in their legislative roster, concerned that if a Dem tidal wave develops, it could put some of them on the endangered species list.
Dems were happy over the weather forecast for Tuesday--clear and 71 in the big Metro--and pretty nice elsewhere too. Snow or rain would hurt them them most because Election Day has become known as Democrat day since the advent of early voting and the predilection of many R's to cast their ballots by absentee or at early in-person sites. No weathercaster was predicting a tidal wave, but the political weathermen in the Dem camp were.
In just hours this latest dance of democracy is about to come to a screeching halt as Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico assume the role of the ultimate power brokers. May it ever be so.READER WRATH
Sunday's blog on the Wilson-Madrid congressional race left "Tony V." an unhappy reader. He blogs in:
"You're assertion that it was her (Wilson's) refusal to assert her independence on Iraq that may do her in and that "she chose fealty to her President and party, not independence" is absurd.
"How do you figure that she showed "fealty to her President and Party" when she has always been strong on defense..? Also in the "her President quote" you reveal your liberal leanings, Joe. Bush is YOUR President. The reason Wilson is potentially going to lose is her weakness on conservative issues, not her weakness of not voting with the liberals on one of "the most pressing issues ever to face our nation."
Tony has point. I should have said the President's "policies." Of course, the President is President to all citizens. I disagree with Tony on his insinuation that Iraq is not one of the most pressing issues of the day. That is denial, but perhaps understandable as emotions run high before an election. Also, if Wilson loses it will be because she was unable to attract Dems and independents because of her Iraq position. Over 80% of R's are supporting her.
With the final voting fast approaching, NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh comes with an analysis that drops the partisanship and emotion and sums up what is happening this cycle.
"With a healthy two-party system, you will have occasional changes--and in a healthy two-party system that's good," said the retired Marine Reserve colonel to the Journal's Jeff Jones.
Weh is recognizing what is actually the norm. Checks and balances are as old as the Republic. One party rule is an anomaly. If the D's take over one or both houses of Congress tomorrow, don't think voters won't more carefully consider putting a Dem in the White House in 08' which would put them in charge of all three branches.
Of course, Weh would say that NM also needs to have checks and balances and that at least one branch of our state government needs to be controlled by the R's to check excesses by the D's. (Treasurer scandal anyone?) It is his most powerful argument for change here, but the R's need unity to achieve it.
Big Bill cut through 60% in the latest Journal poll like a hot knife through butter. He came in at 65% to R John Dendahl's 24%. We've blogged about the Guv's hope to carry 32 of the 33 counties, and he just may do it. Lincoln, with 57% registered R's, could be a challenge as well as R dominated Catron. In the 64' landslide Dem Jack Campbell carried 30 of the state's then 32 counties and 60.2 percent of the popular vote.
Now you have something to keep you interested when you watch this race unfold Election Night.NO REALLY LONG LINES?
My election watchers don't foresee disastrous lines at the polls in big Bernalillo county tomorrow. And they have good reasons for that forecast. It appears well over 50% of the vote will have been cast early and this is mid-term election, not a presidential one, dramatically dropping voter turnout.
In addition, unlike at the early voting locations, on Election Day voters will not have to wait while poll workers figure out which legislative district they are in and take several minutes to determine the correct ballot. Tomorrow when you go to your precinct your ballot will be ready to go, cutting down on wait time.
My experts do see line problems late in the day at some fast growing precincts.
"Areas around Cottonwood Mall on the West Side and in North ABQ acres where we have had big growth, could see some lines develop in afternoon drive-time," analyzed politico Steve Cabiedes.
Let's hope the no-huge-lines prediction here is the most accurate one of the election season.ELECTION EVE AT 5 P.M TODAY
Cabiedes and pollster-pundit Harry Pavlides will be working for you Election Night as we count the votes on KANW 89.1 FM. They have created our early voting reporting system, so we expect to have results from key precincts and analysis of what they mean. It should give us a good idea on where things are before the big vote totals come in later in the evening.
Today at 5 p.m. we are going ot have a lot of fun with Campaign 06' as we sit down at public radio KANW with top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, veteran NM journalist Sherry Robinson, GOP State Senator John Ryan and ABQ Dem State Rep Al Park for analysis and predictions of the major races. We have a full hour uninterrupted by commercials, so join us as we bring this campaign home.
Tomorrow night tune is in for all the excitement of Election Night. We kick it off on 89.1 FM at 6:30 and keep gong until they stop counting the votes. Rep. Park will be back for that along with GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga, Sandy Buffett of the Conservation Voters of NM, politico Lenton Malry and lobbyist Scanland. We'll have Dem Chris Chris Catechis covering the Dems in the field and veteran radio broadcaster Jay Howard Deme with the Republicans.WE WILL STREAM KANW ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB. COME HERE TOMORROW AND CLICK ON LOGO AND IT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BROACAST BEGINNING AT 6:30 P.M.
Election Night coverage is made possible by support from PR firm DW Turner--"Strategies and Ideas that Win," New Mexico's Enterprise-rent-a-car, ABQ's Ladera Golf and by ABQ's Bill Campbell Agency, Real Estate.
We thank all of them for their support, as we do you. See you back here on Election Day!
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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