Friday, April 23, 2010

Team Teague Pushes Back Against Gloomy Pundits: Poll Shows Cliffhanger, Plus: Raton Racino: Time To Fold? And: More NM Job Losses Drive Campaigns 

He was headed toward disaster but a shipwreck has been averted and the race is a toss-up. That's the bottom line from the top political consultants to embattled freshman southern NM Congressman Harry Teague as they vigorously fight an effective Republican spin machine in DC that has Teague getting buried by the national pundits before the first vote is counted.

The Teague brigade came with fresh polling numbers to back up their assertion that Harry's political health has improved since last August when the debate over the Obama healthcare bill--unpopular in the conservative district--put Teague's political health at its nadir. Teague subsequently voted against the health measure.

The survey conducted for Teague by Hamilton Campaigns has the race tighter than Rush Limbaugh's bike shorts. Teague is at 47%, his Republican challenger Steve Pearce at 46% and undecided is at 8%. The poll of 500 voters was conducted April 6 thru April 8 and has an MOE of + or 4.4%.

This poll is in stark contrast to the Hamilton August 2009 survey that had Pearce clocking Teague 52% to 42%. That was when conservative anger may have been peaking in the district. Public Policy Polling in February had Teague trailing Pearce 43 to 41.

David Beattie of Hamilton pushed backed against DC pundit Stu Rothenberg who this week dubbed the race "almost certain" to go for Pearce. He told us that may have been the case back in August, but the pundit hadn't seen these latest numbers. He says his survey shows Pearce and Teague now basically tied among crucial independent voters, a group Teague was getting trounced in last year.


We asked Beattie for what are probably the most critical numbers of this race--those in Democratic Dona Ana County. It is must carry territory for Teague and comprises over 25% of the turnout.

Beattie said 135 of the 500 surveys were conducted there and that Teague was polling at 53% and Pearce at 40%. He said the goal is to have Teague at 57% or above on Election Night to offset Pearce's strength in the conservative Eastside counties of Eddy, Chaves, Lea, Lincoln and Otero. Teague scored 61% in Dona Ana in the '08 election, running ahead of Obama in the key county. Beattie said this poll indicates the 57% goal is more than doable and is a key reason the race remains in play.

Here's another tidbit from the Teague poll that makes this race so exciting. Teague gets a 60% percent favorable rating from voters and 33 percent unfavorable rating. That's up from 52 to 37, from the August Hamilton poll. Pearce had a 55 to 31 favorable/unfavorable rating in early April, down from a 61 to 29 split in August.

It's clear that Pearce, the former congressman for the district ('03-'09) and Teague are both well-known and generally well-liked.

But what about the anemic fund-raising Teague had in the first quarter--only $133,000 raised? Teague's camp says the healthcare debate and the poor economy were chief reasons for the weak money showing. They said that speculation heard here that Teague was also spending more time on district business rather than the fundraising circuit was "partially right." And the fact that Teague, a wealthy oilman from Lea County, seems willing to write a large personal check to boost his campaign as he did in '08, may also influence some donors from holding back.

So the battle goes on, which probably needs to be said after the aggressive National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee this week declared: “With the embarrassingly low fundraising quarter, you’d think Harry Teague had packed his bags and given up on his re-election efforts..."


No wonder soon-t0-be Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish is racing around the state promoting her plan to spur the creation of more small business jobs. It appears jobs will be the premier issue in the coming campaign. The March stats nudge the state's unemployment rate up to 8.8 percent from 8.7 in February. And in ABQ the Great Recession continues to bare its fangs with the jobless rate soaring to another modern day record of 9.2 percent. That's up from up from 9.0 in February. Like Denish, Republican Allen Weh is already hitting the issue, promising to create jobs in a TV ad he has running for the June 1 GOP Guv primary.

Up in Farmington, the jobless rate in that oil and gas region has spiked to 11.3 percent. That's what we call scary high and way above the national rate of 9.7%. While other areas around the nation recover or stabilize, New Mexico continues to inch downwards.


It's gone from bad to worse for the proposed Raton racino. Now the Canadian investor who the state racing commission and the gaming control board have put their faith in is being slapped with a lien by the main contractor for not paying bills totaling $845,000.

What else do regulators need to pull the plug on this deal? Racing commission chair Marty Cope and gaming board chair David Norvell have been more than patient with the developer. But the time has come for them to end this mess and protect Raton and the credibility of New Mexico's horse racing and gambling industries. If they can't do it, the Governor should lower the boom.

As for where the racino should go if this deal is killed, how about nowhere? We don't need more racing and gambling in the current economic environment. Let the next governor decide when the time is right.


How about a final word in the Great Chicarrone debate this week? To stir the pork treats with metal or wood has been the question ever since we ran that photo of Dem Light Guv candidate Brian Colon using metal. Here's that final word from a reader identifying himself as "Tortilla Man:"

The true reason for using a wood paddle is that the wood adds that nice correct after taste that makes the difference of real chicharrones vs. frying pan phony. This is like putting whiskey into a plastic bottle rather than an oak barrel or wine in a bottle with a good cork vs. a box.

Thanks, Tortilla Man. You don't work for Lawrence Rael, do you?


A reader from western NM wraps the week for us, and writes:

Hi Joe, You hit the nail squarely on the head with your column Thursday. The economic crisis is also an opportunity. We sure could use some leadership and bipartisanship right now. We do need to restructure government and make it more efficient and we need to take a new look at tax policy beginning with reinstatement of progressive rates. It’s not a case of which approach is best: we need both.

While Bill Richardson is a remarkably talented and ambitious man, unfortunately his lasting legacy (after pay to play) will, in my mind, be that he put this political ambitions above sound public policy. He filled state government with patronage hires and his repeal of progressive rates appeared designed to advance his presidential campaign. I wish him well, but it sure is time for him to move on.

On a personal note, it seems hard to pigeon hole you into an ideology. From a readers point of view, you come across as a real independent--and perhaps that is one of several reasons for your success. I like that you advance positions from both the right and the left, and seem to be speaking from your heart when you do.

Hey, thanks for that. And thanks to you for checking in here this week. Email us any ol' time.

From Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan reporting.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign