Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's Here: Election Day 2008; Last Minute Nerves & Power Plays, Plus: Join Us For Election Night Coverage On 89.1 FM ABQ/Santa Fe at 5 P.M. 

  • Here is the link to listen to our live coverage on KANW 89.1 FM starting at 5 p.m.
Democrats were dancing like cats on a hot tin roof Election Eve, but those who have been through the fire before maintained the trend is their friend and believe the groundwork has been laid for a Democratic sweep of the state's five member congressional delegation and that an Obama victory here is a question of how much, not if. Republicans, whether bluffing, running on adrenaline or reading something into polls that most others can't see, went into a final hours frenzy with Senator McCain not only stopping at Roswell in the SE Monday night, but adding an afternoon Election Day stop in Albuquerque. This, despite the fact that about 70% of the expected vote in Bernalillo County has already been cast. Still, McCain knows no game ends until the clock runs out and R's are notoriously late closers. Besides, McCain’s Arizona home is right next door, making our state an easy place for late touchdowns.

On our KANW 89.1 FM Election Eve special Monday veteran lobbyist Scott Scanland remained unshaken. "It will be 5 to 0--a sweep of all five congressional seats by the Democrats." Former NM Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim agreed, but both he and Scanland said they will be watching most closely the ABQ congressional race between Dem Martin Heinrich and Darren White. The sheriff was working furiously to the end. He got some help from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani who was heard on a robo call going out to households in the ABQ area district. State Rep. Larry Larranaga says he senses White is coming on. He will not give up until he sees the votes tonight.


Other Dems warn that a hard-hitting TV ad being run by White accusing Heinrich of being a radical enviro may be eroding support for Martin. But longtime Dem State Rep. Al Park told me the spot is making mostly newbie Dems hold on to their stomachs "Heinrich is going to win because the race basically ended a week ago. I've been walking my district and the electorate, what is left of it, has made up of its mind. No last minute TV spot, no matter how negative, is going to change the race. Declared Park. Heinrich, he contended, did the right thing in not responding.

Those will be either words of wisdom or words to eat crow by. We'll know soon enough. We start counting the votes on KANW tonight at 5 p.m. Mountain Time. You can hear us on the FM dial in ABQ/ Santa Fe at 89.1 FM and anywhere you are via the KANW Web site where we will stream the audio.

My panel, including veteran ABQ Journal Washington correspondent Michael Coleman and longtime ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga wondered aloud if some state bond issues could be in trouble, or only narrowly pass, because of the troubled economic times. Something to watch for.


Just caught Big Bill on CNN's Larry King Live." The beard is gone! Last week he said he planned to shave it away. Now, Bill, get that resume burnished and you'll be all ready for that job interview with Barack--if he wins. The Guv will await election results in Santa Fe tonight where he will hit the national TV circuit.


About 500,000 New Mexicans have voted before Election Day, according to the Secretary of State's office. Here's what that means. Based on our projected turnout of about 850,000 voters, or 72% of those registered, we have had 59% of the vote already cast. In Bernalillo County, it appears 70% of our expected vote came in early. It makes you wonder about the future of the actual Election Day.

Sen. Jennings
That didn't take long. The Democrats haven't even had a chance to celebrate what could be a good night for them and they are already fighting among themselves. That's probably good because if the Republicans get wiped out tonight this state is going to need some kind of checks and balances. If it has to be the two wings of the Democratic Party while the R's are recovering in intensive care, so be it.

Conservative Dem State Senate powerhouse, Tim Jennings of Roswell, fearful that he will lose his president pro tem job to the cadre of new liberal senators coming into the Roundhouse, cut a robo call on behalf of Republican State Senator and Minority Whip Lee Rawson who is in a tough fight with liberal Dem Steve Fischmann to retain his Dona Ana County area seat. Jennings accuses Fischmann of "character assassination" but Fischmann has mostly talked about how Rawson got a road approved that benefitted his family's business. Hardly a personal attack. Here the robo call here.

Jennings' robo call sent up cries of condemnation from Governor Big Bill and Dem House Speaker Ben Lujan, who smell what others smelled--that Jennings, if need be, was setting up the possibility of forming a coalition with state Senate R's, to retain his pro tem position. If more liberal senators are elected--like Fischmann in Dona Ana and Tim Eichenberg in ABQ--he could have a hard time retaining his leadership post in the Dem caucus or in a coalition with R's. Also, if R's lose a couple of Senate seats tonight, that makes it even more difficult for Jennings to form a coalition with the R's. If Fischmann wins tonight, liberals may be emboldened to go after the Roswell rancher who they will say needs to be punished for straying off the reservation.

Another conservative Dem, State Senator Mary Kay Papen from Dona Ana County, was also playing on Jennings' side. She was said to be forwarding the robo call via e-mail. Jennings, Papen and Senator John Arthur Smith of Deming are three conservative power brokers in the upper chamber. Progressives have them in their sights, with some like Senator Cisco McSorley openly plotting to overthrow them. The plan would be for the big city liberals to join with Dem Senators from the Hispanic North to coup Jennings and Company.


What about Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez? He has supported Fischmann financially and also has supported Eichenberg against GOP Senator Snyder. His fingerprints do not seem to be on the Jennings-Rawson play. Insiders say he seems secure for re-election as majority leader, but Jennings' rash move could unleash animal spirits. Sanchez is on notice.

Big Bill, a financial backer of Fischmann and a longtime foe of fellow Dems Jennings and Smith, came with this from the Fourth Floor: “(Jennings') actions contradict what he told the Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee and me. At the very least he could have stayed silent. Instead, he has injected himself into a race against his own party at a critically important time.”

Bill has a point. Putting out robo calls on Election Eve for a GOP Senator from a Dem Senator can't be good for the Obama campaign which is the Guv's chief concern at this point, as well as getting a more friendly Senate leadership if he is still going to be around here.

The Election Eve split reinforces Jennings as being a politico with an impulsive streak, but it is also a harbinger of what's to come: New Mexico remains a middle-of-the-road state. New liberal senators seeking more power will be bumping against a generations-old tradition of southern conservatism. It's going to be interesting come January.


Join us for out 20th consecutive year of covering Election Night for pubic radio station KANW 89.1 FM. Lobbyist Scott Scanland, ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga and former Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim will be our mainstays, along with my "cousin" Lenton Malry who will have early results. Republican Bruce Donisthorpe has computers galore and will monitor the statewide action and have analysis. Steve Cabiedes coordinates our exclusive vote gathering operation. Photog Mark Bralley will be out and about. Jay Howard Deme will cover the Republicans in ABQ. Dem Heather Brewer will be at the ABQ Convention Center covering the D's. Kevin Otero is our producer. Once again, here is where you can listen to the program on the Web.

Our Election Night coverage is made possible by Coca Cola and the Coca Cola Bottling Company in ABQ; the Bill Campbell Agency--Realtors and Dan Serrano & Sons--Construction.


There's more, much more to blog about, but I have to get back to work on the radio coverage which we will start at 5 p.m. to catch the East coast returns. Our plans look like this:

We'll anchor and produce KANW coverage and stay on the air as long as Bernalillo County is counting votes. We are aiming to have a complete blog of results and analysis for you by Wednesday at 5 a.m. or earlier. At noon Wednesday, we'll give post-election analysis to a gathering of the Association of Commerce and Industry in ABQ. Thursday morning at 9, we'll be with 770 KKOB-AM radio and Bob Clark to do another election post-mortem.

Thanks to our election sponsors, our blog advertisers and to you for your continued support. It's been a most eventful election year and we do hope you can join us for the final hours of excitement.

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