Thursday, October 30, 2008
How Obama Could Lose New Mexico; Giving Hope Where They Say There's None, Plus: Politics Of A Crummy Economy, And: Swing Music For Our Swing State
Our headline today is a real grabber, but we're in the business of promoting competitive elections, so anytime we see the big dog running away, we wonder what it's like running with the pup. So, with every indicator and pundit pointing to an Obama win in New Mexico Election Night, let's flip the coin and try to make the case for a McCain win in the Land of Enchantment, a stunning upset that would grip the nation.
WEATHER---One of those big fall snowstorms descends on Northern NM, surprising everyone and crashing voter turnout in the Spanish Democratic counties to below the poor turnout Kerry had there in 2004 when he lost the state. That cuts Obama's expected northern margin and boosts McCain statewide. Remember, early voting should be lower in many of those areas than in the city so an Election Day storm could pack a punch.
RACE CARD--The polls have it all wrong. There really is a "Bradley Effect." Maybe not as big, but Fernando C de Baca was right and older Hispanics waiting to vote on Election Day go against Obama 4 to 1. That's not enough by itself, but remember, we have that snowstorm going.
ABQ BURNOUT--The young ones (under 30) say this thing is over and turnout collapses around the university area precincts in Las Cruces and ABQ, as well as Santa Fe and Taos.
HEIGHTS ARISES--R's in ABQ's voter rich NE Heights have a change of heart and slap on their cashmere sweaters and surprise everyone by heading to the polls on Election Day in larger than expected numbers.
CALAMITY---The increased Republican turnout is pushed along by a huge news event that calls into question the foreign policy credentials of Obama. It happens on Friday morning, giving McCain a huge boost in the heavy early voting Friday and Saturday and absentees mailed on those days
So it could happen. The problem is one of these events alone wouldn't do it--Mac appears to need all of them. Still, we've done our public service for today. Obama supporters reading this may start walking their neighborhoods, trolling for votes. They lose weight, get healthier hearts and the national medical bill goes down. See, these blogs really do move the needle.
Obama campaign higher-ups here say they are meeting their goals for early voting and that provides them protection from any fall off in Election Day voting. One report we ran had early voting coming in low in heavy Dem Rio Arriba County, but an operative says early voting is going as Obama expected there, but the reports from the county clerk have been slow.
FARMINGTON FALL OFF
Potentially scary news for the R's out of Farmington. Early voting in San Juan County is lagging. Twice as many people voted early in 2004 compared with recent numbers. The Four Corners county is 46% Republican and 38% R and over the years has delivered reliable majorities for the R's. The big advantage Dems have shown over the R's in early voting is also of concern for the minority party. A low early turnout in the Farmington area is more of a concern for R's because R's traditionally cast much of their vote early and absentee. The many Navajo Democrats there tend to wait until Election Day. My experts say there are no key legislative races in play that will be impacted by a low Farmington area R turnout, but it would help Obama and congressional hopeful Ben Ray Lujan.
CUTTING THE FAT
The NM budget crunch can be alleviated in the short-term by recovering money put up by the Legislature for construction projects that have not been built. That's what the Guv is proposing and the search is underway to find money just sitting there. They're already looking in Dona Ana County, a process that is going statewide.
The Legislature has to approve transferring this unspent capital outlay money to the general fund so it can cover the money shortfall. Will lawmakers resist and look like pork barrel artists? The Guv has the PR advantage on this one, whether or not reluctant legislators go along. Some of that construction money has been there for years, a testament to the inefficiency of pork barrel politics.
THE ECLIPSE OF ECLIPSE?
We've long been on the side that says the sky is falling on Eclipse Aviation, and now it may.
Forecast International Inc. will release a new report in December that predicts Eclipse Aviation will cease production of its very light jets in 2009.
The forecast predicts the company will go out of business in 2009. You read that right--out of business. Eclipse laid off over 600 this summer in ABQ. There are still over a thousand employees there. Layoffs of that magnitude will take a major toll on the city economy.
Eclipse is the company that Big Bill and ABQ Mayor Mayor Marty pumped millions into. Chavez is up for re-election in 2009 and if Eclipse meets its demise you think it would be a big issue. But all of those running against Chavez were on the same bandwagon fueled by euphoria, making it hard for them to make hay.
May we be the first to suggest that if Santa Fe starts getting the itch to raise taxes that they have plenty of room at the top of the tree? Big Bill's first tax cut years ago was for the most well-off New Mexicans. You remember that. It was the one meant to encourage wealthy executives--some from Eclipse--to locate here. Well, doesn't look like we will be needing to do that anytime soon. Of course, there shouldn't be any tax increases at all unless Santa Fe acts oblivious and tries to continue their spending party on your back.
One wonders if Mayor Chavez will be as committed to seeking re-election as the local economy craters. Eclipse was his crown jewel of economic development. He went as far as announcing his 2005 re-election plans at Eclipse. How is that going to look in 2009? This recession is looking nasty and even usually placid ABQ does not look as if it will be spared. Chavez's approval rating, according to our recent Oct. 22 poll, was 45% in Bernalillo County, below the magic 50% mark. He may do a reality check before going for another four years. How things look after the holidays may tell the tale.
The failure of Eclipse would be a stern message to policy makers and biz leaders that our state's permanent funds and other resources need to be preserved, and that gambling with the state's savings is so 1990's.
CITY CASH CHAOS
We've told you recently that the deficit for the City of ABQ for the fiscal year that got underway in July was on track to total a whopping $50 million. Well, for the July quarter it was $17 million, according to chief financial officer Anna Lamberson. If it's the same for the October-December quarter, and there is no good reason to think it won't, that would be a deficit of $34 million for just the first half of the year. If the recession goes for a full year? That $50 million figure could look good.
Mayor Chavez and Lamberson need to act now or risk adding to the red ink. One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the over funding of the city's police and fire departments. Those two agencies alone are consuming a stunning 53 percent of the budget. But Chavez and the city council are reluctant to do what needs to be done, dreading the possible political consequences of a crime-fearing public. But the pressure will only grow for public safety efficiency and cutbacks if and when layoffs of classified city employees in other departments is required. (TV news reported last night trouble over proposed city employee pay raises.) There's already a hiring freeze at City Hall and vacant positions are going unfilled. Unless this economy snaps back, city government could be on a collision course with its sacred cows. Don't say we didn't tell you.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
In light of that news, can you believe they are actually talking about raising ABQ taxes to finance a $400 million downtown arena and hotel complex? In this economy? In any economy? Did something get into the city water supply? Maybe their drinking the same stuff they had before turning the keys of the city over to Eclipse. Hey, if Eclipse goes under, maybe they can park all the planes that didn't sell in the arena that will be vacant year-round. Viva La Politica!
MORE CITY ACTION
Confirmed. Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Alan Armijo is telling friends he has definite plans to run next year for the downtown area city council seat held by Dem Ike Benton. "It is not speculation; it is for sure," said one Armijo confidant. Wonder how Ike and Alan feel about that $400 million arena/hotel? Think some voters might ask?
And insiders say Dem Westside City Councilor Michael Cadigan will run for mayor next year as a "fiscal conservative." Is that the same Michael Cadigan who they threatened to recall for being a "California liberal?" Maybe Light Guv Denish, a good friend of Michael's, can give him some tips on how to fade the heat to come over his fiscal credentials. Let the games begin....
We blogged yesterday of the five legislative races in which big money was being put in by R oilman Harvey Yates and commented that none of them appear to tip R. But readers chime in that Rep. Jose Campos of Santa Rosa needs to be watched. Yates is supporting R Matt Rush and they say he has a shot in that district. Duly noted. We will watch for it when we broadcast Election Night results on KANW 89.1 FM.
Has a sex harassment suit involving a female worker at Harry Teague's oil field services company in Hobbs been dismissed or not? Teague says it has. His GOP opponent for the southern congressional seat, Ed Tinsley, says it is still active. He launched a new round of cable TV and radio spots about the suit this week. That prompted Teague to send out the letter from his lawyer posted here (click to enlarge) that says the suit has been settled. However, it appears Tinsley is hanging his hat on a technicality. The lawyer says an "Order of Dismissal" should be entered in the case by October 31.
Still, an Alligator for Tinsley says: "I think Teague is pulling a fast one on the sexual harassment suit. He, his son and wife are the sole owners of both of their companies. The lady complained to Harry AND to his son. Neither ever responded to her complaints."
Meanwhile, seems Harry Teague, like Obama, believes in "spreading the wealth." He put up cash for 85 free roast beef dinners in Grants the other night to woo local voters. Now that's our kind of socialism. And Steve Pearce, you are so busted! You served hot dogs at your weekend ABQ Valley rally, letting your Hobbs neighbor Teague one up you in the north. What are the folks back home going to say?
UP THE LADDER
She was passed over for a NM Supreme Court appointment, but a favorite Big Bill ABQ judge gets her promotion. From the Fourth Floor:
Governor Richardson announced the appointment of Linda M. Vanzi to the NM Court of Appeals. Vanzi is currently a 2nd Judicial District Court Judge in Albuquerque. She will fill a newly vacated seat on the Appeals Court. “Judge Vanzi...stands out and is known for being fair and competent..." says Bill.
Vanzi gets the post held by Judge Lynn Pickard.
A SWINGIN' AFFAIR
Attention all you swing voters in swing New Mexico. Get ready to swing some more because "They're taking it Back with Barack, Jack." If you're a McCain fan, just pretend it's "Taking it Back with Mac, Jack." Cue that band and let's head out to the dance floor. Why wait for the weekend?
Are we having any fun yet? You betcha....
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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