Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lujan, Heinrich Poised For Primary Wins; Newspaper Poll Shows Ben Ray with 6 point Lead; Gay-Baiting Has No Impact; Heinrich Up by 11 

Lujan & Heinrich
It's still too tight for complete comfort, but Ben Ray Lujan, the established frontrunner in the six way race for the Northern Dem US House nomination, should be able to bring this race home June 3. The ABQ Journal survey conducted May 20-22 shows Lujan garnering 29% of the Dem vote and Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott, who has pumped $1.340 million of his own cash into the contest, getting 23%. Margin of error for the poll is 4.5%.

One danger point for Lujan is the undecided. A significant one third of the electorate remains up in the air, many of them Anglo voters on the east side in communities like Portales and Clovis. If many of them were to fall in line behind Wiviott the race could tighten considerably. However, from here it appears many of them will not be voting at all, not satisfied with Lujan nor Wiviott. Many of them are probably not comfortable voting for Hispanic Lujan and think Anglo Wiviott is too liberal. The other four candidates divide the remaining vote. Jon Adams gets 2%; Harry Montoya garners 7%; Rudy Martin 1% and Benny Shendo 5%.

Some of the poll of 500 registered Dems was conducted during the now infamous gay-baiting incident in which Lujan foe Benny Shendo accused Lujan of being a closeted gay, a charge the Lujan campaign denied. Pollster Brian Sanderoff said the charge appeared to have no impact.


As anticipated, the Journal poll released Sunday morning shows Martin Heinrich with a healthy lead over three competitors for the ABQ Dem congressional nod. He gets 34% of likely primary voters. Coming in second is former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron who captures 23%; Michelle Lujan Grisham came in with 10% and ABQ attorney Robert Pidcock was fourth with 4%. A large 29% were undecided. Margin of error is 5%.

The race here may be for second place. Grisham has made a TV buy that will keep her in front of voters. Vigil-Giron has not. There are indications that Grisham's TV is having the desired impact, and political insiders say second is now within her sights. And first? There's always a chance, but time is her biggest enemy.

As for Heinrich, a former ABQ city councilor who has been in the race nearly a year, he has run the only fully-organized and fully-financed campaign. He is a darling of the left, but has moved in recent weeks to also appeal to working class Democrats. Heinrich has also received important support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Heinrich's problem is evidenced by the large undecided. No candidate in this race has overly excited the electorate. That will have to change if the Dems are to take over the seat after a 40 year losing streak to the R's.

Heinrich's likely opponent in the fall contest is GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. President Bush will hold a fund-raiser for White in Los Ranchos on Tuesday. White is opposed for the GOP nod by State Senator Joe Carraro.

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