Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Guv Field Preps For TV Battle; Who Is Ready? Plus: Hot House Race Loses Candidates, And: Tom Udall & Clinton Anderson: Past Meets Present 

The 30 second TV spot is not dead despite a world bursting with Internet access and things like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, in this year's GOP Guv primary those brief emotional missives seeking to grab a voter attention will be as important as ever.

The reason is quite simple--the generation gap. Voters in their 50's and above are not addicted to cyberspace. They still get their news and campaign propaganda the old fashioned way--through TV news programs and advertisements and in their mailboxes. Sure, an email blast reaches just about everyone, but to move the polling numbers, the tube still rules.

Our Alligators are now estimating GOP turnout for the June 1 primary at about 105,000. They say direct mail and personal contact will be more important in rural areas of the state than the ABQ metro, where TV remains supreme in swaying voters. That leads us to the GOP field and their media plans for the final two months of Primary Campaign '10.

Doug Turner's heart must have skipped a beat when he glimpsed that Rasmussen poll released Saturday that showed him to be the best performer among the GOP contenders against soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish. Not that Doug was breathing down Di's neck, but his nine point deficit against the Light Guv was the best of the five person field.

Turner, owner of an ABQ PR agency, has already fronted his campaign about $250,000 plus thousands more in "in-kind" contributions from his agency. He told me recently he is not of a mind to put up more personal funds. He believes the campaign must attract outside financial support to be strong in the final stretch. Turner's fourth place finish at the GOP preprimary makes that more difficult, but then there is that poll showing him to be a strong November candidate.

Of course, Turner would not be the first candidate to change his mind and decide to ante up even more personal money in this high-stakes Guv battle. Things like that happen to those with skipping hearts.


Allen Weh is up and running with TV and radio ads and is not expected to come down until Primary Night. He may be the best positioned media wise if he is willing to continue to tap his personal fortune to buy time. Alligators and insiders say there is little doubt that right now Weh is moving GOP numbers. His spot centering on his war record is airing without any competition. As far as the general GOP public is concerned, Weh is the only one running.

Pete Domenici, Jr. is still dark. He has massive name ID, courtesy of his father, retired US Senator Pete Domenici. But if Weh, as expected, commits to a heavy TV buy, it will force Domenici's hand. The senator's son has reported raising about $300,000. Not an overwhelming number. But he needs less because of the name advantage at the starting gate. Still, he will have to spend every cent and more if Weh is to be held in check. If Domenici the Younger goes too light on the tube, he could let Weh surge past him.

Susana Martinez is an interesting case. She had a resounding win at the GOP preprimary convention, but did not have the funds to immediately start a media campaign. She needs to pull the trigger soon. Our analysts think she is going to have to come with a strong personal narrative to get the attention of mainstream GOP voters. She was polling in third place with 17% in Domenici's recent auto dialer poll. Weh was at 20% and Domenici was at 30%.

There's plenty of anger in the GOP among the Anglo, male voters that will dominate the primary. Can Martinez position herself as the repository for that anger? It won't be easy and lots of TV and mail will be needed. She may also need a break. If Domenici and Weh get into it with one another, Martinez would hope to take advantage and run up the middle. But if she is not financially positioned she will falter. She is thought to have raised over $300,000 so far, but the moment of truth for all the hopefuls will come when we see the money reports to be filed April 12.

Janice Arnold-Jones, like Turner and Domenici, failed to get 20% of the delegates at the preprimary to win an automatic spot on the June 1st ballot. Her fund raising has been hampered because of it. With limited funds, she may be advised to go with a hard message that breaks through the clutter. But Arnold-Jones is not that kind of candidate.


So "registered" NM voters give Big Bill an approval rating of only 28% in a February PPP poll, but in the March 24 Rasmussen survey of "likely" voters, the Guv scored an approval rating of 39%. Why is that? We queried veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff:

Generally, likely voters are more engaged and pay more attention than registered voters. Typically, likely voters are more likely to have increased favorable and unfavorable numbers since the percentage of “don’t know” and “no opinion” responses usually goes down.


The battle lines for one of the hottest state House races of this election cycle are now more defined. The Secretary of State's office says only one Republican qualified for the June primary ballot for House Dist,. 23 on ABQ's West side and a slice of Sandoval County. That candidate, is retired ABQ police officer Paul Pacheco. Now that his opponents Tom Molitor and David Doyle have been ruled off the ballot, Pacheco will prepare for his November face off with freshman Dem Rep. Ben Rodefer.

The SOS ruled Molitor and Doyle off the ballot on a technical violation. They circulated petitions for voters' signatures that listed the names of both counties. You are allowed to list only one county on the petition forms. The candidates could appeal the SOS ruling to district court, but that's expensive. Rodefer took the seat from a Republican in 2008, so this is a swing district.

Democratic southern Public Regulation Commission candidate Bill McCamley caught a break when the SOS ruled off the ballot his primary foe--Ronald Rees. State Bureau of Elections Director Don Francisco Trujillo tells us the SOS ruled that Rees had not registered in Dona Ana County in time to be a legal candidate.

McCamley was expected to easily defeat the unknown Rees. McCamley is a former Dona Ana County Commissioner and ran for the Dem nod for the southern US House seat in 2008. He dodged another primary bullet when no Hispanic challenged him for the PRC nomination.

There is a six way GOP race to determine who McCamley will face. That GOP nomination is worth having because the seat has gone R before. It is currently held by Dem Sandy Jones who is now running for land commissioner.


Ponzi schemer Doug Vaughan from a 1989 ABQ Journal interview:

All the bells and whistles don't work if the leader is a crook. You have to be innovative, work hard and maintain integrity.

Sens. Anderson & Udall
Some pretty cool stuff here from the WaPo and how Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) has become connected with the late New Mexico Senator Clinton P. Anderson:

(Senator Tom) Udall is the most ambitious of the freshmen, proposing a resolution that would change the way rules are changed. Shortly after winning his 2008 race, Stewart Udall, the interior secretary in the Kennedy administration who died last week, instructed his son to climb into his attic to find a dusty old copy of "Outsider in the Senate," the autobiography of Clinton Anderson, the late senator from New Mexico who led the fight to modify filibuster rules in the 1960s and 1970s.

Anderson argued, as Udall does, that the rules should be changed every two years at the start of a new Congress by a simple majority vote. After more than 15 years, Anderson succeeded in lowering the filibuster threshold from 67 votes to 60.

Anderson, a Democrat, served in the US senate from 1949 until 1973. He was succeeded by Republican Pete Domenici.

Like so many others who came to ABQ in the early 20th century, Anderson came here because he contracted TB and the desert climate was helpful to victims of the disease.

A couple of years ago I was at the library, reading old editions of the ABQ Journal on microfilm and stumbled across Anderson's bylines in the newspapers from the early 20's. It was only then that I learned he started out as a newspaper writer and a darn good one at that.

I never met Anderson, having moved to NM as a teenager in '71, although I did work in Washington in the early 80's with Frank DiLuzio, one of the senator's key committee aides who adored him and what he had done for national security and Los Alamos Labs.

And a 1972 TV news report has made an indelible impact on my political memory. It was done by KOAT-TV news reporter Rodger Beimer (now a deputy director at NM Expo) and showed film (no video back then) of Pete Domenici going to pay his respects to Anderson either before or after he won election to Anderson's seat. Anderson, known as "Clint" to friends, was by then quite infirm, but still much revered for what he had done for the state. He died in 1975 at age 79.

Now 38 years later, Udall, as Domenici did when he started in the senate, makes his own connection with Anderson who was by any measure a New Mexico political giant. He served in the US House before he became a senator and was also the Secretary of Agriculture under President Truman.

I confess to not having read Anderson's autobiography, "Outsider in the Senate," but after reading the WaPo article over the weekend and how Stewart Udall had urged his senator son to dust it off, I ordered a used edition from Amazon.com. The book is out of print so there were no new copies available. At last check, there were three used editions for sale.

I hope to write to you soon with some tales of the life and times of this man who helped create modern New Mexico.

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