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Friday, November 07, 2008

Heavy Pushback From Guv's Team On China Ambassador Speculation; Not In The Cards, They Say 

We're getting more and heavier pushback from Big Bill's team on our Thursday report that he may be in line to become ambassador to China in the Obama administration. They maintain, despite what one of our Senior Alligators insists, that there is no mid-November meeting scheduled with Obama and that Richardson is highly unlikely to take the position, even if it were offered which they say it hasn't been.

"I won't use the word never, but the Governor is saying that the source of this speculation is not accurate," informed Pahl Shipley, a senior aide to Bill.

Earlier, the Guv's press director also moved quickly to strike down the China talk that started here and was picked up by other media, including KOB-TV.

Our source maintains his position that the China ambassador job is in play. (See Friday blog).

Earlier this year when we blogged that James Jimenez then the Governor's chief of staff was about to depart, the Guv's team told the ABQ Journal that that report was also inaccurate. Jimenez left several weeks later.

Let's see what happens with this one. Someone is going to be proven right soon enough.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tim Jennings Sleeps With The Fishes; Plot To Take Him Out Underway, Plus: The China Syndrome; Bill As Ambassador? And: More Election Fallout 

Sen. Jennings
Tim Jennings sleeps with the fishes. So say a variety of analysts, Alligators and hangers-on as they game out the impact of the election on the leadership of the Legislature. They seem nearly unanimous in their belief that the conservative lawmaker from Roswell, the Senate president pro tem, will be stripped of his position. They predict Jennings, a well-liked and well-respected legislator, will be sacrificed because liberals have increased their numbers in the Senate and that Jennings handed them his own murder weapon--a robocall he made into the district of Republican Senator Lee Rawson Election Eve condemning the campaign conducted against Senator Minority Whip Lee Rawson in Las Cruces. The move was widely condemned by the Dem hierarchy, including Big Bill and House Speaker Lujan as heresy. Now, with the liberals hungry for their pound of flesh and their appetites whetted by election victories, they are seen feasting on Jennings. (It appears Rawson, with some provisional ballots still to be counted, has lost his Senate seat 51% to 49% to Steve Fischmann, who will now be only be too glad to be part of the hit team formed to take out Tim.)

State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen is seen by the same political circles as surviving in his position when the Legislature meets for a sixty day session in January. He is seen as acquiescing to sacrificing Jennings or else he could end up sleeping at the bottom of the river. Who would replace Jennings who has significant influence over Senate committee assignments? Names floating include Senators Pete Campos, Carlos Sisneros. Linda Lopez and Phil Griego.

One other angle. Will the libs make a move on Senate Finance Committee boss John Arthur Smith? The conservative legislator, known by Big Bill as "Dr. No" for warning of state funding shortfalls, is a major stumbling block to spending more money on government programs.

THE CHINA SYNDROME


Among the many impacts of Tuesday's vote none is more far-reaching for this state than the possibility of Big Bill giving up the governorship to take a place in the Obama Administration. And the chatter over that prospect is getting loud and more defined. My top level sources report in on what has been going on behind the scenes. Here is a report from one of them:

The Governor has a confirmed meeting with Obama in mid-November at which time an offer for him to be Ambassador to China will be accepted. Remember, Ambassador to China is where the first George Bush got a step up. This comes from deep inside Obama's camp, and from what I can tell very, very reliable...The Gov. responded several weeks ago to a request from Obama about what four positions he would take and how he was qualified for them. The four the Gov. sent in were: Secretary of State, President of the World Bank, Secretary of Commerce and Ambassador to China.

That's pretty darn specific from a Senior Alligator. We'll see. The Governor's office reacted to this report Thursday. "There is no meeting scheduled. Why would he take either of those jobs (ambassador to China or World Bank"?)

Well, they are pretty good jobs, maybe that's why. But we'll let Bill's statement stand for itself. We rechecked and our sources are sticking to their guns--that a meeting between Bill and Obama has been set. The possibility of Bill becoming China ambassador was mentioned on this blog several weeks ago. It seems it is more, much more, than idle chatter. Stay tuned.

TRANSITION TIME


We didn't see Big Bill's name on the list of those selected to lead and/or help out with the Obama transition. Federico Peña, a former Clinton cabinet member under President Clinton, like Big Bill, was on the list of advisory board members. Some of the Gators told us to watch for Bill to pop up on the transition team, but we're not going to read too much into the fact that he hasn't.

TRACKING TURNOUT

We projected about 850,000 New Mexicans would trek to the polls. The Secretary of State's office says about 814,000 exercised the franchise. That's a turnout of 68% of the registered voters. Bernalillo County may hit 72% of those registered, or 283,000 when all the votes are tallied. In 2004, statewide turnout was 70% of registered. Because we don't purge the voter lists as much as the old days, it is hard to get turnout much beyond that 70% mark.

THE WIPEOUT

From deep in La Politica, in the South Valley of ABQ, comes this take on the crushing defeat of state Republicans Tuesday night: "It was worse than Custer. At least Custer shot a few."

And just how did Obama do it? "Hispanics and the Albuquerque area delivered the knockout punch for Barack Obama..." analyzes the AP's Barry Massey. Who can argue with that? Barack carried Bernalillo County by 59,000 votes, dropping jaws to the floor at our KANW broadcast.

WONDERING ABOUT WEH


Republicans were heard wondering aloud Wednesday if NM GOP Chairman Allen Weh would resign now because of the party's election disaster. "It would be the dignified thing to do," said one. A new party chairman is to be selected in January. No heavy weight names are circulating yet.

RYAN'S RIDE


Veteran politico Mike Santullo says GOP ABQ North Valley State Senator John Ryan survived a challenge from Dem Victor Raigoza because of ethnic voting. "I don't believe the anti-gay hit piece that was mailed on behalf of Ryan by the state Republicans was responsible for him pulling off the win. Large areas of that district have not been easy historically for Hispanic candidates. Ethnic voting is what likely cost Raigoza." He declared.

The district also covers precincts in Sandoval County, including the Corrales area. Ryan won 51.3% to 48.7%. It was Raigoza's second try. He lost a primary election in 2004. We had earlier blogged that he opposed Ryan that year. It was John Hooker who four years ago beat Raigoza in the Dem primary and then lost to Ryan.

ZANETTI'S LOSS


ABQ GOP State Rep. Teresa Zanetti lost, in part, because she only hit the mailboxes a couple of times, analyzed Dem John Wertheim. "Bill O'Neill worked it harder and she got caught in the Obama tidal wave." He said. O'Neill, in his second attempt, took the seat 52% to 48%.

THE NEWBIE CREW

We talk with KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson about the state's all new freshman US House delegation.

IT WAS BUSY
AG King
How busy did it get Election Night for New Mexico's media mavens? Well, one of them told of being so snowed under that when Attorney General Gary King showed up for an interview, he told Gary he had no time to do a formal interview. The solution? Gary was given a recorder and told to interview himself! He did and the "interview" went fine. What did Gary ask himself, anyway? Let's speculate. How about: "Don't you think you'd make a great governor, Gary"? Answer: "Yes, Diane Denish was telling me just that the other day!"

E-mail your news and comments.


(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

BERNALILLO COUNTY BLOWOUT LEADS TO HISTORIC VICTORY FOR NM DEMS; THEY SWEEP CONGRESS SEATS; OBAMA WINS; MORE D'S TO SANTA FE 

  • Bernalillo County results are here.
  • Statewide results here.
  • Heinrich declares victory (bralley)
    They had to dig deep to come up with adjectives to describe the Election Night blowout that occurred in New Mexico. Perhaps ABQ GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga described the Democratic landslide best. "We got an old fashioned ass whopping," pronounced the shocked lawmaker as he bore witness to a sweep of the state's three US House seats, a US senate slot, the presidency and several legislative seats.

    It was one for the ages, with numbers posted in Bernalillo County that left you wondering whether you would ever see the likes of them again. Tom Udall beat Steve Pearce by an astonishing 75,000 votes in the state's largest county, coming in with 63% of the vote. Statewide Pearce was landlsided 61% to 39% as Udall allowed Pearce to flex a minor muscle or two on his southern congressional district, but that was all,. It was over one minute at the polls closed, an ominous sign for the Republicans of the Tsunami wave that was about to sweep them away.

    Dems partied mightily over the Senate victory as it means they will reclaim the seat held by Republican Pete Domenici since 1973, but their most satisfying win and the one they showcased for the 10 p.m. news audience was the historic win of Democrat Martin Heinrich for the ABQ congressional seat. After decades of heart breakers often led by high-profile candidates, it was the unheralded Heinrich, a former one term ABQ city councilor, who finally ended the GOP's 40 year old stranglehold on the seat.

    What was supposed to be a cliffhanger quickly turned into a rout. When the early and absentee vote was released Heinrich took a nearly 30,000 vote lead in Bernalillo County. You could see the white flags go up at the ABQ Marriott where state Republicans gathered. Into the early morning hours Heinrich held to a 31,000 vote lead--161,551 to 130,101 with 55% of the vote to White's 45%. The champagne poured at the ABQ Convention Center where the Dems rejoiced, but the liquor turned to embalming fluid at the mournful gathering of R's.

    SOUTHERN SAILING


    It was the same margin in the southern US House seat where Hobbs oilman Harry Teague tied Republican Ed Tinsley in Teague's home county of Lea. When the numbers came in from heavy Republican Chaves county showing Tinsley only winning about 52 percent of the vote, my panel of experts at KANW 89.1. FM nearly fought with each other to call the race. That was at 7:40 p.m. It only took forty minutes from the time the polls closed to announce that the Democrats had taken back the district they last had 28 years ago.

    The foregone conclusion known as the northern US House race went as predicted. Democrat Ben Ray Lujan took it in a landslide, garnering 56% of the vote to R Dan East's 30 percent. Lujan's night was shadowed a bit by a strong performance from independent Carol Miller. She was scoring an impressive 14% of the vote, denying Ben Ray the 60% that a Dem can usually rely on in the north.

    OBAMA MANIA

    Did we forget the presidency? Well, New Mexico was called by the networks for Obama not long after the Udall Senate victory. Obama overwhelmed McCain in big Bernalillo by a stunning 58,000 votes, winning it with nearly 60%. The jaw-dropping feat in the county that is home to the state's Republican Party was so sweeping it raised questions about the viability of the R's for the immediate future,. Everything was swept away. There is nothing left to rebuild. Obama is making them start all over. His statewide win was 57% to McCain's 42% with minor parties getting the other 4 percent. With 98 percent of the vote in, Obama was leading by 115,000 votes. Exit pollsshowed he carried the Hispanic vote 69 to 31 percent, and they appeared to have turned out in healthy numbers. R turnout had to drop. The independents came home in droves to Obama and the Dems. Anglo voters went with McCain.

    A MOMENT IN TIME

    When Obama was declared president-elect and took the stage in Chicago, tears welled in the eyes of Lenton Malry, who decades ago 's became New Mexico's first African-American state legislator. It was an emotional moment in our radio studios where Malry has spent the last 20 years of Election Nights. Volunteers and others at the station all stopped to witness Obama's and the nation's historic moment.

    TSUNAMI ROLLS ON


    And the Tsunami rolled on--into the halls of Santa Fe's fabled Roundhouse. It appeared ABQ GOP State Rep. Justine Fox-Young was drowned in the Dem tide. The political lungs of ABQ GOP Rep. Eric Youngberg were filled with deadly Dem water. GOP State Senator Steve Komadina could not escape the wave that rushed outward from Bernalillo County and into neighboring Sandoval County. Komadina's race with John Sapien was so close, there will be a recont to determine the winner. In the South the waters were deep indeed. State Senate Minority Whip Lee Rawson appeared to have been lost to the political seas, although there were still absentees to be counted. Even those who tried to surf the wave--a somewhat moderate R like ABQ GOP State Rep. Teresa Zanetti--was shown no mercy. She was pulled into the Obama whirlpool, her voice silenced by Dem Bill O'Neill. Two term GOP State Senator Diane Snyder was warned that the waters could find her first. They did. Dem Tim Eichenberg claimed her Senate seat early and swiftly.

    The loss of the two Senate seats changed the balance of power from 24 Dems and 18 R's to 26 Dems and 16 R's, not counting the possible Rawson loss. "The fight for the leadership in the Senate is going to be completely dysfunctional. Who knows what will happen," offered a Santa Fe wall-leaner late in the evening. Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and President Pro Tem Jennings, who took a hit for doing a robocall for Rawson, could only wait for the waters to subside before deciding their moves. The state House appears to go to 45 D's and 25 R's.

    KARI'S TRIPLE

    There were no bright spots for the R's in what one of them called a "near extinction level event." Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg easily dispatched R Lisa Torraco who some thought might put up a fight, but Obama and Kari's own last-minute campaigning, made sure she didn't. Kari will do a third four year term.

    THE IMPACT

    Big Bill was a big winner. Obama won. Bill will likely be leaving the Guv's chair and joining the administration. Reliable insiders we trust say it will not be as Secretary of State. They say a meeting has been scheduled with Obama. A job will be settled on soon, if it hasn't been already.

    DENISH DAYS

    State #2 Diane Denish is now more likely to become Governor. A constitutional amendment that would allow her to appoint a lieutenant governor to fill the vacancy created if she does become Guv easily passed last night. The line now forms outside her door.

    TURNOUT


    Bernalillo County appeared to come close to our projected turnout of 295,000 voters, or about 75% of those registered. It appeared over 280,000 cast ballots, much of it prompted by the Dem early vote machine. Statewide, turnout appeared to come short of our 72 percent projection. It appears it came in at about 66%. But that was good for Obama and the Dems. Big Bernalillo met expectations and its influenced apparently exaggerated by a falling off in turnout in rural and Republican leaning NM.

    DESTRUCTION: UTTER AND TOTAL

    It is hard not to slip into hyperbole to describe the devastation wreaked on the NM GOP by this election. What was especially frightening were the overwhelming margins of the Dem victories. That is going to make it that much tougher to come back and reclaim the lost congressional and legislative seats in two years. The party will need new faces, new leadership and new ideas. Pete Domenici will not be around to do it; Heather Wilson is wounded and likely to take a job in Washington; Darren White was trounced so soundly a rematch with Heinrich is out of the question. Steve Pearce's severe thumping may impede him from any future political playing. We'll see. But for sure, the R's need a new and strong chairman, preferably with few ties to the current leadership. Let the jockeying begin.

    WHAT NOW, DEMS?

    NM Attorney General Gary King stopped by our studios late last night and wondered aloud about the thousands of new voters who came to the polls and created the tsunami that gave Dems huge margins of victory. "They want to see things get done--like universal healthcare--we Democrats are being asked to deliver. That is the expectation and if we don't, we could be the ones in trouble."

    E-mail your news and comments.

    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
    Not for reproduction without permission of the author

    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.

    DEM WORRIERS

    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.

    BILL'S BEARD GONE

    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.

    TURNOUT UPDATE

    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.

    INFIGHTING ALREADY UNDERWAY
    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.

    MORE ON THE JENNINGS COUP


    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.

    MORE ON TONIGHT

    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.

    OUR PLANS

    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.

    E-mail us your news and comments.


    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
    Not for reproduction without permission of the author

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Election Eve 2008: Maximum Pressure Still On R's, And: Big Early Turnout; Our Analysis, Plus: Our Traditional Pre-Game Show Today at 5 On 89.1 FM 

    New Mexico's great population center stands alone and unprotected from the Democratic troops stationed around its perimeter, preparing a final invasion Election Night to root out what is left of the Republican opposition. The defenselessness of what has been the home of the state GOP in the post WWII era is startling. Senator McCain will make his final NM stop today at 6 p.m. not in moderate ABQ, but in Roswell in Chaves County, in Little Texas--the heart of the social conservative wing of the party. McCain, even if he wanted to, could not save his troops here. On his last ABQ visit he could barely muster a crowd of 1,000.

    Historically, New Mexican Republicanism has attracted swing voters and conservative Dems because of its economic views. In 2008, in the final hours, the R's have turned to their quasi-religious base. Nothing more need be said at how marginalized the state's minority party has become in the midst of an economic maelstrom.

    If the state goes deep blue, as it seems it will, and chooses an all Dem congressional delegation as well as increasing the D's majority in the Legislature, we could return to the days when it was the two wings of the Democratic party--moderates vs. liberals--that provided the checks and balances while a feeble GOP lies dormant.

    The economic devastation to the balance sheets of individuals has been colossal. It will not soon be forgotten. Religious and social conservatism works best when elections are about principles. But this election is about putting food on the table. You can't eat principles. If the Republican Party of New Mexico is not to wander in the wilderness for a decade or more, it will have to start feeding the voters what they need, not what a small band of them want.

    WHO'S LEFT?

    It appears nearly 70% of the total vote in Bernalillo County and well over half the vote in the state will be cast early this cycle. We are forecasting a turnout of 75% of the registered voters in the county, or about 295,000. Over 192,000 early and absentee votes have been cast. That is 65% of our expected turnout. It will go higher with the remaining absentees. Dems have outvoted the R's in the early in-person voting by a big margin--126,744 t0 89,385. In the absentee, it is closer--31,881 Dems have mailed them back and 25,588 R absentees have been returned. About 90,000 absentees were mailed out here. It appears B. County Dems, for perhaps the first time, will cast more absentees than the R's.

    Even if a candidate has a strong performance in the Election Day voting, if they failed in the early vote, they have their work cut out for them.

    County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver managed to get the early and absentee posted early primary election night and she says she will do it again this Election Night. If she does, we will have a very good idea very early of what the night has in store.

    ACROSS NEW MEXICO

    Statewide we are looking for a turnout of about 850,000 or 72% of the 1, 184,000 registered. Will we be too low? The consensus estimate among the experts we interviewed has Obama taking the state with about 53% of the vote. Our turnout calculations say that would bring the Illinois Senator in with about 450,000 to the Arizona Senator's 400,000 or so, giving Obama a 50,000 vote win and our state's five electoral votes. Bill Clinton carried NM by 48,800 in a three way prez race in 1992. 570,000 votes were cast that year. Only once since we became a state in 1912 has NM not voted for the winner of the national popular vote. That was in '76 when we chose Ford over winner Carter.

    PAYNE FORECASTS R PAIN
    Greg Payne
    Over the years, or at least since 1999 when he won a seat on the ABQ city council, we have checked in with Republican Greg Payne for his predictions on upcoming elections. Payne, who has consulted a number of campaigns, has a good track record. Here's what he is saying on Election Eve 2008:

    An electoral blow-out for Obama, but the popular vote is closer than most expect. Obama gets 353 electoral votes with 53% of the popular vote. McCain takes 185 electoral with 46%. Dems have a clean sweep of the federal delegation in New Mexico and pick up a handful of seats in the Legislature. The vote in New Mexico mirrors the nation: 53% Obama vs. 46% for McCain. Minor parties get just 1 percent. A bright spot for the GOP--Despite heavy Democrat turnout, Lisa Torraco wins the race for Bernalillo County district attorney over incumbent Democrat Kari Brandenburg.

    Payne now works for ABQ Dem Mayor Marty Chavez as his director of transit. Torraco winning may be wishful thinking if Obama blows the doors off in ABQ.

    WEATHER WISE

    It will be windy and cooler in parts of the state Tuesday, but no Election Day winter storm is forecast which could help the R's if one hit the north. Temps will be in the 60's for much of the state Tuesday, but we'll check again as the weather can change faster than a political pundit changing his mind. Back in 2000, a snowstorm that swiped conservative SE NM is given partial credit for Bush closing the gap with Al Gore. However, northern snowstorms are more common and they hurt the Democrats more than the R's.

    BLOCK VS. LASS

    Political insiders say anyone who has read a news article about the race for the northern Public Regulation Commission seat has probably been moved to vote for Green Party candidate Rick Lass over troubled Democrat Jerome Block, Jr. But the same insiders expect Lass to come up short Election Night. Lass will need a solid block of Republicans, independents and many, many Democrats to cross over and vote Green. However, many voters don't read newspapers and many have never hard of the PRC. Also, straight party voting for the Dems may be higher this year, enabling Block to score the victory. The anti-Block fervor is especially strong in Santa Fe. If Lass is going to pull off the upset, he will need a blow-out there.

    In ABQ, PRC Dem incumbent Jason Marks is well-positioned. He is an incumbent in a district that was designed for a Republican. But he appears to have out-campaigned his R foe, Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins. Marks is also benefitting from the big Obama surge in the ABQ area.

    Some top Dems fear a PRC, a very powerful agency that regulates the state's utilities, could be controlled by a troika of R's David King and Cummins and and Dem Block. That, they say, would be a five member commission that would tilt away from the consumer. Their fears seem to have subsided as Marks has pulled ahead in the insider polling

    GAY BASH REACTION

    Reaction to that hit piece we posted Friday from the state GOP implying that Victor Raigoza, the Dem opponent of GOP ABQ North Valley State Senator John Ryan, is gay and "radical" for holding gay-friendly issues positions. Linda Siegel, who lobbies for Equality NM, writes:

    Who is that NM Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Society that endorsed Victor Raigoza? We in the gay community have never heard of it and might like to join. Seriously though, the Republican Party has within its very midst "radicals" who want to tear down Republican values--radicals like Republican state representatives Kathy McCoy, Justine Fox-Young and Senator Diane Snyder. They support domestic partnership legislation for gay and straight people. Guess the big Republican tent is not going to be well decorated.

    WANT IT CRAZIER?

    Don't have enough to think about? Make some space in your brain for this hypothetical scenario. Dem NM US Senator Jeff Bingaman is tapped by a President Obama for Secretary of Energy as is NM Guv Big Bill. Diane Denish has become Guv since Bill is now in D.C. She appoints herself to the Bingaman Senate seat. The governorship becomes vacant. The constitutional amendment on the ballot Tuesday that allows a governor to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor's office has failed to pass. There is no Light Guv. The Guv's chair, therefore, goes to the third in line. Good morning, Governor Mary Herrera. Now we're having fun.

    THIRD PARTY PREZ

    Why haven't third party prez candidates like Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr caught on this cycle? We put the question to politico Steve Cabiedes, himself once a member of the Green Party.

    "The more important people feel a race is, the less they vote a third party candidate...Also, you have to buy into the argument that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two candidates. When they fell there is a major difference between the two candidates they will not vote third party. The biggest selling point is that the two big ones don't offer you a real choice." Right now the two major parties seem to be accentuating their differences."

    Barr and Nader and other third party candidates seem to be headed toward getting around two percent of the vote or about 16,000 ballots. Steve will be back with us Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM collecting early returns and providing analysis.

    PRE-GAME IS ON THE AIR TODAY

    Today at 5 p.m. it will be time for our traditional, live Election Eve special on KANW 89.1 FM. The one hour broadcast will feature top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, Democrat John Wertheim, Republican State Rep. Larry Larranaga and ABQ Journal Washington correspondent Michael Coleman. We'll run down the key races and hear our panel's predictions so join us for the fun. The program will also be streamed on the Web.

    ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE

    We kick off our 20th consecutive year of anchoring Election Night coverage for KANW 89.1 FM Tuesday night. We'll be on the air early---around 5 p.m. to check the early national action. We'll start wall-to-wall coverage shortly after that. All of our pre-game show guests will be back and joined by veteran NM Democrat Lenton Malry. Jay Howard Deme will be at NM GOP headquarters and Democrat Heather Brewer will cover the Dems. We'll also have live reports from Government Center in ABQ where the votes will be counted. Steve Cabiedes will coordinate our exclusive early results from Election Day voting. Veteran Republican Bruce Donisthorpe has set up his own Election Central and will check in with his keen analysis of the state action. Kevin Otero will be our Election Night producer.

    What an historic night it's going to be. You can catch us on the dial or on the Web where the program will be streamed from the KANW site. This is commercial-free programming so you won't miss any of the breaking action. The experience of my NM broadcast analysts is unmatched. All have more than 20 years experience in the game. KRQE-TV will have a camera in our studios to tap into what we are doing, so look for us during their coverage.

    For a true understanding of what is happening in state politics, there is simply no place like KANW on Election Night. Thanks to Coca-Cola as well as ABQ's Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Bill Campbell Agency, Realtors and Serrano and Sons, Construction, for helping to make possible our pre-game show and Election Night coverage.

    E-mail us here.

    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
    Not for reproduction without permission of the author

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    Journal Poll Indicates Dem Sweep; Heinrich by 4; Teague By 4; Obama by 8; Udall Over Pearce By Double Digits 

    Wouldn't you know it. The only numbers in the final ABQ Journal poll that held much interest were those in the ABQ congressional race featuring Dem Martin Heinrich and R Darren White, but when the Journal posted the poll this morning about 12:30 a.m. they informed us that Heinrich was four points ahead, but failed to release the numbers! Well, if you have a print edition handy by the time you read this they will be in there and we'll update later today. But we didn't want to wake up pollster Brian Sanderoff. (Is the Journal trying to get people to buy the print edition?). 

    UPDATE: The dead tree version of the Journal has a graph that says it's Heinrich 47% to White's 43%. 10% are undecided. The graph is not on the Web. 

    In any event, pollster Sanderoff points out that Independent voters are positioning Heinrich for the win, although the poll's margin of error is five percent which means White is still alive by that standard. However, it is Sanderoff's last poll and it will be judged by who he has placed on top. In 2006, Patsy Madrid was placed above Heather Wilson in the final Journal survey, but Wilson won, one of the rare times the Journal survey did not have the winner on top in its last poll.

    That does not appear likely to happen this year. A good deal of the undecided are Independents and unless they go against the grain, Heinrich should get a good share of them. In this Oct. 28 to Oct. 30 survey, Heinrich seems positioned where he has for the past several weeks--a victory of at least 3,000 votes.

    The Harry Teague-Ed Tinsley race for the southern congressional seat has Hobbs oilman Teague beating Republican rancher Tinsley 45% to 41%. As we've written here over the months, Teague is performing well for a Democrat on the Republican Eastside. This race is Teague's to lose.

    Up North, Ben Ray Lujan is polling 51% to R Dan East's 23% and Independent Carol Miller's 12%. The only question left is whether Lujan can get to 60% which would give him added muscle when he heads to D.C. in January.

    PREZ RACE

    Obama leads McCain 51% to 43%. That's above the magic number and Obama may be able to grow it a couple of points Election Night. But McCain is coming into Roswell Election Eve to try to push Obama back below 50%. But Obama is polling a big 58% in Bernalillo County, the state's largest. If he comes anywhere close to that number Tuesday night, the race will be over. McCain will not be able to make up those votes in rural areas.

    SENATE CONTEST

    Like the northern congressional race, in the U.S. Senate battle its just a question of what Tom Udall's winning margin will be over Republican Steve Pearce. Sanderoff has it 53% to 39%. If Steve holds Tom to a single digit win, it will be a moral victory.

    The Journal poll confirms the Bernalillo County survey conducted for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan by Positive Contacts Consulting Thursday night which showed Heinrich leading White 53% to 44% and Udall and Obama holding large leads.

    The SurveyUSA was released Saturday. Scroll down for our blog on that. And here's a KOB-TV report we interviewed for on that poll.

    One other note. The Republican oriented Journal editorial pages dealt a final blow to Pearce by endorsing Dem Udall for the Senate seat.

    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
    Not for reproduction without permission of the author

    Saturday, November 01, 2008

    Final SurveyUSA Poll Shows Obama, Udall Lead; McCain To Roswell Election Eve 

    The final SurveyUSA poll was released Saturday. The ABQ Journal's last survey comes Sunday. In SurveyUSA, conducted for KOB-TV, Obama continues to lead in New Mexico--52-45%--going into the final hours. McCain will make an Election Eve stop in Roswell at 6 p.m. at the airport hangar there. Tom Udall retains a large lead--56 to 42%-- over Steve Pearce in the US Senate race. Here is the analysis from SurveyUSA:

    Maybe, At the Wire, A Slight Tightening in the New Mexico President and US Senate Contests:

    Democrat Barack Obama defeats Republican John McCain, to capture the state's 5 electoral votes, and Democrat Tom Udall defeats Republican Steve Pearce to capture the US Senate seat vacated by Republican Peter Domenici, according to SurveyUSA's final pre-election tracking poll. In four SurveyUSA polls since mid-September, Obama has received 52%, McCain has received 44% or 45%. Of New Mexicans who tell SurveyUSA they have already voted, Obama leads big. Among those who have not yet voted, but who promise to, Obama leads small. The relative size of those two groups will determine Obama's winning margin.

    In the contest for United States Senate, Democrat Tom Udall defeats Republican Steve Pearce 56% to 42%, the closest Pearce has been to Udall in 4 tracking polls, and 4 points tighter than the race was mid-October. In Bernalillo County, Udall's once 24-point advance is now 13, as Pearce breaks 40% for the first time. SurveyUSA interviewed 800 New Mexico adults 10/29/08 through 10/31/08. Of them, 721 were registered to vote; of them, 664 were determined by SurveyUSA to have already voted or to be likely to vote on or before Election Day.


    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
    Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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