Monday, March 15, 2010

The Aftermath: Complete Wrap On Preprimary Conventions: All The Major Races Handicapped And Analyzed; What Now? 

Martinez, Domenici & Weh
Winning nearly half the vote in a five way field sure isn't what it used to be. Look what they're printing up at Susana Martinez headquarters:

"I won the Republican preprimary convention and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Not really. But the way Allen Weh and Pete Domenici reacted to Martinez's 47% landslide, you would think she just won the title of Best Homemaker of Quay County, not the first spot on the June 1st primary ballot and a realistic chance to take the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination.

And speaking of "realistic" chances. That is not the category under which you file the candidacies of Doug Turner and ABQ state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. Not after they fell far shot of the 20% needed to win an automatic spot on the primary ballot. Arnold-Jones has two days to gather a couple of dozen petition signatures and file for her House seat. If she doesn't and opts to stay in the Guv's race it appears it will be her political swan song.

Doug can tap his bank account for personal cash to stay in this deal, but why? Especially since he is being touted now as a possible future chairman of the state GOP with the chance to stamp his brand on the party.

Pete Domenici Jr. is still in the pool of candidates--because he comes from a certain gene poll, certainly not due to his dismal last place showing at Saturday's confab.

Domenici utterly failed to manage expectations. He went on statewide TV and radio and declared he would get the magic 20%, even as his operatives tried to downplay his chances. He did not even manage five percent Saturday. The ensuing damage is not as great as that earthquake that rocked Chile last month, but the major cracks in the foundation of the Domenici campaign are now there for all to see.

Martinez beat Domenici like a rented mule, but old warhorse Allen Weh managed to keep trotting and was the only other contender other than Martinez to jump the 20 percent hurdle. Weh made so many enemies with county chairs when he was state party boss they wanted to put his picture on urinal cakes. He got pay back from them Saturday when he ws kept to 26 percent of the vote.


Martinez has to build on her preprimary win and show that she's more than queen for a day. The money is essential as Weh was busy during the Great Bull Market scoring federal aviation contracts and making a bundle. He can write a big check and has already ponied up $300,000. He might write a bunch more zeroes given how much more the GOP nomination is worth than only six months ago.

Martinez, the Dona Ana County district attorney, had about $228,000 in the bank at the end of the year. She might tap into more SE oil money. And with her blow the doors off win, she might even try to convince some national R groups to ignore tradition and come down on her side with cash contributions.

We asked someone without a dog in the R fight--a top Dem operative to analyze for us the Martinez candidacy and what lies ahead:

Primaries are about two things--demographics and name ID (i.e. money for TV). Neither favor her. Even with her preprimary win Weh will have more money as will Domenici (who starts with much better name ID thanks to dad). Her bigger problem is the turnout for Republican primaries--it skews heavily towards older white men. We've seen this campaign before--Pearce V. Wilson in a GOP US Senate primary (Pearce won). Having said all that, Martinez is doing everything right...

We like that, but also keep in mind that the Dems would much rather see Weh as the opponent of Diane Denish than Martinez.


Domenici has raised about $300,000, but we don't know if the bottom is about to fall out of his campaign or not. While he has no organization and minimal money, he does have that name. And we've blogged that if someone can win the primary without winning the preprimary, it would be Domenici. We wrote that before the Saturday Afternoon Massacre. A five percent showing by the son of the state's longest ever serving US Senator? Maybe there's an astrologer somewhere who would call that a good omen, but we haven't met them.

Domenici came in at 29% in the first round of public polling, far ahead of Weh and Martinez, but soon she and Weh will also be much better known. And the attacks on Domenici will come hard and fast. It gets tougher for Pete Jr. from here, not easier.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff likens Domenici's situation to that of Marty Chavez who was defeated for the ABQ mayor race when he was pinched from two sides by Richard Romero and eventual winner RJ Berry. He says after Saturday's setback Domenici will need to spend all the money he can raise and then some.


Former Dem party chairman Brian Colon retains ownership rights to the title of front runner in this one, but the race is not in the bag. Lawrence Rael was the only other light guv contender other than Colon to get over the magic 20% mark and lives to fight in the June primary.

Liberal ABQ state Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino rallied, but he came up short with 19%. Will Jerry's supporters and other liberals now gravitate toward Brian? He has been courting them and that could prove crucial to this race. (Some insiders said Jerry's support of the controversial food tax may have cost him the handful of votes he lacked to reach the 20% mark).

Colon has raised the most money and has delivered on his stated goals. Now he'll be buffeted by charges that he is too close to Big Bill whose popularity has plummeted. He will also be scored in below the radar chatter for not being a native Hispanic--he is of Puerto Rican heritage, but has lived in NM since he was a toddler. He will also take hits for the dysfunctional 2008 state Dem presidential caucus. And then there is his tense relationship with soon-to-be Guv nominee Diane Denish.

But none of this stopped Colon with party insiders. After all, Colon was being loyal to the governor who made him party chair. And Rael still needs to convert his preprimary performance into campaign cash and better media than he has so far unveiled.

Santa Rosa area state Rep. Joe Campos missed winning an official spot on the ballot by the narrowest of margins. After a recount, he had 19.69%. He could go the petition route to get on the ballot, but fund-raising is now more problematic. Tuesday is filing day for the state House seats. Campos could gather up the signatures necessary to retain his seat. No one has ever won a primary election after failing to achieve 20% of the vote at the preprimary.

ABQ state Senator Linda Lopez came in fifth in the light guv duel. She received five percent.


As expected this has become a three way race with Santa Fe's JR Damron failing to reach the 20 percent mark. What was unexpected was the blow-out margin toted up by former Clayton area state representative Brian Moore. He scored 41% of the delegates and throws this race into the toss-up column, if not the "lean-Moore" column. ABQ state Senator Kent Cravens came in second with 28%; 2002 GOP Guv candidate John Sanchez was third with 23% and Damron received only 8%,

Moore is well-liked among state R's and he made a point of announcing just before the convention that he will loan himself $100,000 to make the race. Sanchez, now a veteran politico, is a wealthy roofing contractor whose fortune has intimidated Cravens and Moore. But Moore downsized Sanchez some at this convention and will now force him to spend that money. Cravens is highly popular in big Bernalillo County, but he needs campaign cash to make a statewide presence.

Sanchez can argue with credibility that he got in a little late, but Moore can argue--perhaps with more conviction-- that the party and voters are looking for newer faces.


Party insiders are not comfortable with gadfly Republican candidate Adam Kokesh who was narrowly deprived an official spot on the June 1 primary ballot--he came up half a point shy, scoring 19.5% of the delegates. Kokesh says he will file additional petition signatures to get on the June ballot.

Farmington oil man Tom Mullins overwhelmed Kokesh with 80%. Mullins is now the favorite to take this, even in the face of national libertarian money coming in for the 28 year old Kokesh. The caveat is that Mullins may need to spend a reasonable amount on mail and media if that national dough continues to flow.

When all is said this nomination for the right to take on Democratic Congressman Ben Lujan is like fighting for a deck chair on the Titanic. The seat is heavy Dem.

If former land commissioner Ray Powell puts together a decent campaign kitty, he should not have much of a problem taking the nomination in this race. He blew the doors off at the preprimary, scoring 44% of the delegates in a four way race. That's a clear signal to campaign donors that Powell is the likely winner.

In 2006, Powell was denied the nomination by Jim Baca as the Hispanic North went huge for the former ABQ mayor, but this time around the two Hispanic contenders--Santa Fe County Commissioners Harry Montoya and Mike Anaya--failed to get to 20 percent. And Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones also came up short of the 20, making the odds of Powell winning all the better.

All the candidates say they will try to stay in via the petition route, but their failure to get even 20 percent is a testament to Powell's appeal.


Portales area rancher Matt Rush is as close to a foregone conclusion as you can get. He scored 65 percent of the delegates and was the only one of four hopeful to even get over the needed 20 percent. Rush has across the board backing from party insiders and the money will now follow.


Judge Vanzi & Montoya
A nasty behind the scenes battle has been going on between incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi and challenger Dennis Montoya. You're going to be reading about this one in the newspaper. Vanzi trounced Montoya at Saturday's preprimary, getting 72% of the vote to Montoya's 28 percent. However, Hispanics often make up over 50% of the turnout in Dem primary elections, keeping Montoya alive.

Vanzi backers say Montoya is running out of vengeance because of a ruling Vanzi made in a case she presided over as a Bernalillo County district judge. Vanzi approved a settlement in a wrongful death case, but did not approve Montoya's fee and filed a complaint against him. Recently that disciplinary board complaint against Montoya has been circulating via email. Now Vanzi's sexual identity has become grist for the mill on the email circuit.

Somebody grab the popcorn. The entertainment hour has begun.

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