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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Four Governors--One Night; Bruce, Toney, Jerry & Bill On The Trail Together, Plus: Our Polling Woes, And: Some Bottom Lines--From 1976 

Four Guvs: King, Anaya, Apodaca & Richardson
A picture of this historic foursome last night was going for upwards of $5,000, so we made sure photog Mark Bralley snapped a freebie for you as Governor Bill and the three living former state Democratic governors were honored at a state Democratic Party fundraiser held at Sandia Resort & Casino. Besides the $1000 to $5,000 photo op, there were cheap seats for $50 so everyone had a chance to see some living history.

All four of these chief executives were and are political heavyweights. Bruce King, 84, served three four year terms as governor, more than anyone else. History will remember him for his unrivaled ability to bring an ethnically and geographically diverse people together. Bruce served from 1971-75; 1979-82 and 1991-1994.

Jerry Apodaca, 73, modernized state government through a reorganization plan and was responsible for increasing the state budget for education. The former Las Cruces state Senator served from 1975 to 78.

Toney Anaya, 67, was laughed at for proposing a "bullet train" between ABQ and Santa Fe when he served from 1983-86. But today the former attorney general and native of Moriarty looks visionary.

Bill Richardson, 60, has had the most, if not the most, consequential tenure as the state's leader. The Rail Runner, Spaceport and a constitutional amendment to better fund education all happened on his watch. He was also the first NM politician to be a serious candidate for President of the USA.

The foursome had their disappointments and failures, but they each gave it their all. The three former living Republican Governors are Dave Cargo, Garrey Carruthers and Gary Johnson.

POLLING ISSUES

There's a blizzard of polls out there these days, but we still should have double checked our statement that the Rasmussen poll is conducted by phone with live interviewers. As several readers pointed out, it is not. Like SurveyUSA, Rasmussen, whose NM poll we blogged yesterday, uses automatic phone calling, or "robo-calling" as it is often called. Both polls have been criticized for producing results that swing wildly month to month because of the method used. The polls of these firms conducted just prior to election days have been quite accurate, but some news organizations will not report either poll because the automatic phone method is used to identify registered voters and there are no personal interviews.

Why do we not have more "in-person" polling? Because it is expensive. That has left the field open to firms that employ the automatic technology. We have long noted that concern with SurveyUSA and blogged recently that we favored the Rasmussen poll because of its survey method, but I was mistaken in the description of their methodology and regret the error.

We'll continue to report both polls, but will keep in mind they can gyrate wildly month to month. And we will take most serious polls that use registered voter lists and contact voters personally.

AND, OF COURSE, MORE POLLING!

Just as we finished writing that missive, what lands in our inbox? The new SurveyUSA NM Prez poll. Conducted June 17 thru 19, it shows Obama with a three point lead over McCain--49% to 46%, considerably less than the eight point lead Obama had in the June Rasmussen, but still ahead. This reinforces the point that these automatic phone polls will give us the big trend in the Prez race, but not the nuanced reading the in-person surveys will.

The SurveyUSA pollsters also had some fun by comparing how a ticket in NM featuring Obama and Bill Richardson as his veep would do versus a McCain ticket with New York City Bloomberg as veep. No surprise. The Obama/Richardson ticket prevailed by 51% to 44%.

BILL'S PEN PALS

Big Bill slipping below a 50% approval rating (he's at 47%) in that Rasmussen poll did not go unnoticed by blog readers, particularly those looking for an excuse to pile on our Guv.

"It was inevitable that Richardson's numbers would fall as more New Mexicans realize that the whole show is about him and not our state. His big fish in a small pond mentality is evident in the fact that he could have succeeded Domenici in the Senate and helped to solidify a Democratic majority in our congressional delegation, but being one in one hundred was not powerful enough for him. He chose to tilt at the presidential windmill when there was never any hope of victory. ---Anonymous

Joe, I was disappointed with the shallowness of your “Exclusive Analysis." You generally do a much better job than the weak “incumbent fatigue” you and Harry Pavlides offered to explain the drop in Big Bill’s numbers. It must have something to do with the Summer heat.

As one who has voted for Big Bill but would have to think long and hard were he able to run again, I have been disappointed by Big Bill’s prolific spending unchecked by the clueless Legislature. Cases in point include Big Bill’s Train to nowhere, Spaceport in the middle of nowhere, “loans” to underwrite movie productions which have yet to be repaid and now health care for all. And, let us not forget the “cherry on top"--a new executive jet to fly Big Bill and his entourage hither and yon. --John Gniady

Well, we still think the Guv's numbers tumbled mainly because of a general anti-incumbent mood brought on by the lousy economy and the soaring gas prices. And as we blogged at the top, the Rail Runner and Spaceport may be major accomplishments, not White Elephants. But, as Dennis Miller says, we could be wrong

MORE TOM TUBE

We were quick to point out that Steve Pearce was given a free ride when he went on the attack during the primary campaign not only against his GOP US senate primary rival, Heather Wilson, but also threw Dem Tom Udall in for good measure. Udall let those TV attacks come and go. But the days since the June 3 primary have all belonged to the Dem senate contender.

Now Udall is out with a new ad today to shore up damage he suffered over job losses at Los Alamos Labs. In the spot, Udall takes credit for helping to save Cannon Air Force base in Clovis. In a more controversial assertion, the Dem senate nominee says: "...I voted for funding to expand the mission of Los Alamos, to create new jobs in counterterrorism and energy research." Udall, of course, was at the center of the controversy when jobs were lost at Los Alamos with Republicans charging he was powerless to stop Los Alamos funding cuts and actually voted for them.

In the new ad, Udall, dressed in jeans and pictured in a desert backdrop, seeks to appeal to voters outside the ABQ/Santa Fe corridor. We do hope for Tom's sake that the large vehicle he uses in the spot is one of these fuel efficient hybrids, or else he may take some ribbing for not being "green" enough. As for Pearce, he is busy raising money and has left the summer field clear for Udall. However, insiders note that when Pearce does come, he will probably hit hard. How Udall's numbers hold up to the first wave of attacks will be instructive in determining how exciting a Senate race we are going to have.

THE BOTTOM LINES

It was '82, not '76 when Jeff Bingaman ousted Republican US Senator Jack Schmitt. Our first draft Tuesday had it in '76. But there was a Senate incumbent ousted that year, too. Jack Schmitt beat Democratic Senator Joe Montoya.

'76 was a big national Dem year, but besides electing Republican Schmitt, our state gave its popular vote to Republican President Ford, not Democrat Jimmy Carter. Fast forward to 2008 and it again seems like a big Dem year, but 1976 always looms large when we think about "tidal wave" elections. New Mexicans have a real independent streak.

1976 also looms large because I was 21 years old in October of that year and flew around the state with Senator Montoya and legendary AP correspondent Bill Feather. One night we stayed at Las Cruces. Feather, away from his Santa Fe home and family, quietly announced that it was his 50th birthday. Of course, that meant we had to stay up most of the night drinking with the Senator who relished the opportunity to cheer up Feather and swap political stories with him that dated back to the 1940's.

I have some questions for Joe today that I didn't know to ask then, but he and Feather are long gone. In politics as in life, timing can be everything.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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