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Monday, December 14, 2009

Heinrich Vs. Barela; Race Updated, Plus: A Breather For Di? R's Start Infighting, And: NM Education: Ethnic Gap Or Poverty Gap? 

Heinrich & Barela
ABQ GOP congressional candidate Jon Barela has to keep his foot on the gas for the final weeks of fundraising for '09. That's because his race against freshman Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich is not yet considered a must-watch contest--either here or in Washington. Barela had a so-so first quarter, picking up $107,000, compared to Heinrich's $238,000. Insiders on both sides say the attorney needs to come with more muscle in the December quarter if the race is going to hit the radar screens and become seriously targeted by national R's.

Heinrich had over $600,000 in cash at the end of September, a formidable, but not an insurmountable advantage if Barela can start playing catch-up. If he falls too far behind too early, the money could dry up. One saving grace for Barela: the uncertain environment. If a strong anti-incumbent mood remains next year, he would not need as much money as usual to mount a credible challenge.

So what does Barela need to show on his January report? Well, a dip below his previous $107,000 would be deadly. Alligators in the know say a strong showing would be in the neighborhood of $200,000.

HEINRICH POSITIONING


And how about that support from Heinrich for Obama's plan to first expand then reduce the American troop presence in Afghanistan?

President Obama articulated both the necessary resources and a clear strategy to accomplish our goals in Afghanistan and the region...This is a critical step forward, and frankly, it should have taken place years ago.”

Liberal Democrats are especially disappointed with Martin. They are not alone. The war has voters divided, but Heinrich's decision to give Obama his backing probably plays well in a general election in what is still largely a centrist district and one with a large military presence. It also deprives Barela of a rallying cry for his fellow R's.

Another point. Liberal Dems have had some success primarying some state legislative Democrats, but when it comes to national issues, the progressives here have been flaccid. Heinrich faces no Dem primary challenger, giving him more wiggle room and keeping him in the center as he prepares for his first re-election test.

That leaves the question of turnout on the table and keeps Barela hoping. If the Democratic base voters are turned off by Heinrich's new found centrism, perhaps they stay home next November, exaggerating conservative strength.

DI'S REPRIEVE?

She won't be what you would call a distant memory, but insiders who have been saying here that the GOP race for governor is about to take a turn away from attacking Diane Denish seem to have it right.

The ABQ Journal's Sean Olson reports GOP Guv contender and Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez came with the first negative barrage. She says of competitor Allen Weh: "I will never speak ill of him, but I do not believe that at the end of the day that he can defeat Diane Denish in the November election.

That would be retired Marine colonel and former GOP NM party chairman Allen Weh. He responded to the attack by saying "it's a shame."

It's s prelude of what's to come and it is likely to give Denish a bit of a breather from the early assaults of campaign '10.

One other note. It's no surprise that Martinez is doing the attacking. Republicans in the know have pegged Weh as the early front runner for the 2010 GOP Guv nod as he is the only Anglo conservative in the contest and has the personal wealth to finance a campaign. Candidates Arnold-Jones and Turner hope the Weh-Martinez infighting will give them a shot at the nomination by shooting it up the middle.

ON THE TRAIL


Weh did not show up at the conservative Rio Grande Foundation's governor forum last week. Neither did Martinez or Dem Denish. But the two lesser known GOP hopefuls--ABQ State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones and ABQ PR executive Doug Turner--did make it. One of our Alligators gives us an insider's take:

It was a full house....I estimate well over 100 people. Allen Weh had his campaign manager give a short speech...Lots of Marine stuff--two purple hearts, wounded in Vietnam, Iraq tour, etc. She also emphasized that she was going to get Weh to tone down the "take a bat to Santa Fe" language.


Janice Arnold-Jones and Doug Turner were center stage. No real upsets on either side. The applause was polite, strong for both, and consistent.


Doug is very articulate and had some factual knowledge about state government that was generally well received. He appeared stronger than Janice at times, but maybe because he is a man. However, he sure did not give the impression that he has ever had calluses on his hands...

Janice was fine...She emphasized the mess that the state is in. You know the topics---pay to play, corruption, cronyism, etc. She played her "I am an experienced representative" card a few times. Fine, but didn't light any fires...
Turner in my mind was just a little more intellectual (worldly) than Janice, but overall it was a draw.

Your unpaid Alligator.

Thanks for that, but what's with the "unpaid" moniker. Are the Alligators feeling the recession? Maybe there's a rumor going around that we are now paying our Gators. We've seen a marked increase in the number of requests lately to be named one. Especially off-putting are those under the age of 45 pressuring to be named a "Senior Alligator." Hey, we know these are somewhat desperate times and it is the Christmas season, but there are still some things that can't be bought.

For the record, a Senior Alligator is at least 45, has at least 20 years experience in La Politica--preferably consecutively--has given us over the years two major, exclusive and accurate political stories and has (preferably) sought and lost political office either as a candidate or campaign operative (We learn more from losing).

Unless you meet these qualifications and then some, don't expect to see a note in your Christmas stocking awarding you coveted Senior Alligator status.

MANAGING THINGS


And another GOP Guv note. This one from Arnold Jones:

....Arnold-Jones has brought in Steve Kush, of Kush and Associates, a political consulting firm that has worked races throughout the country. Most recently Kush served as a political director for New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie’s campaign. Kush will assume the duties of campaign manager.

NOT MUCH ACTION

There's a bunch of 2010 races for governor across the USA, but New Mexico's doesn't even make
the list of the top 15 most competitive ones, says the WaPo's political analyst.

That's good news for the Dems and Denish. It will make fund-raising outside of the state more difficult for the eventual GOP nominee. It also dampers public interest in the contest. Of course, any polling showing Denish in trouble will get the animal spirits aroused and the R's into this thing.

Denish continues to mix in a high-dollar fundraiser or two, along with many cheaper priced events to appeal to donors in a weak economy. Today at 5:30 she will be at ABQ's Artichoke Cafe seeking $1,000 donations. From the email:

We invite you to support Lt. Gov. Denish by becoming a Member or Renewing your Membership in the Denish Cabinet. Membership--$1,000 per person

ETHNIC GAP OR NOT?

ABQ blog reader Peter Ives writes of our sympathy toward an Hispanic Education Act as proposed by Big Bill:

What we are really seeing is...a bit of ethnic grandstanding by the Guv. Outside of bilingual education, which NM has already addressed in law, what's the point of this Act? Passing a redundant law will not help anyone "focus."


Also, the ethnic statistics Sec. of Education Garcia quotes are grossly misleading without an economic-class component. That kind of breakout (per each ethnic group) would truly show where any "focus" might be needed...Easier to fawn over simple minded ethnic categories than to suggest that the culture of poverty might have more to do with the "achievement gap" than the culture of ethnicity. One wonders how low-income Anglo students compare to middle and upper-middle income Hispanics? Where are those stats?

A valid point. Let's ask Secretary Garcia's office to give us those stats--if they have them--and we'll blog back. The Journal is doing a good, long series on the "achievement gap"and hit with their latest installment Sunday.


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