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Monday, May 10, 2010

Fresh From The Trail: Latest On GOP Guv Race; Waiting For Poll, And: More On Vanzi Vs. Montoya, Plus: A Report From The Rez On Prez Contest 

By Patty Baker
Let's take our first look of the year at the Real Clear Politics 2010 Governors map. Their experts have New Mexico as "likely" to stay in the hands of the Dems come November.

That's obviously good news for certain Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish, but her camp also has to fret about keeping enthusiasm at a high level.

There's plenty of enthusiasm in the Denish camp for having a public fistfight over the GOP Guv nomination. But they have to be disappointed they're not getting it. None of the five GOP hopefuls are beating up on each other. While Denish may not be happy about that, NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates is pleased.

Doug Turner comes as close as any of the contenders has in doing some comparing and contrasting with his rivals. In his latest TV spot, the ABQ PR executive talks about tackling government corruption and says:

It starts with leadership from outside the system. I'm not interested in making a career out of politics and I'm not worried about my political future...

Susana Martinez, the longtime Dona Ana County district attorney, has made government corruption a major theme of her campaign.

MORE CAMPAIGN ACTION

Insiders are awaiting the one and only ABQ Journal poll of the GOP Guv contest. They think it will come this Sunday. Since Allen Weh has spent the most and by most accounts has run a polished campaign, he will be expected to be at the top or very close to it. If he isn't, the race will be perceived as a lot more exciting and draw a lot more attention. And questions remain about Pete Domenici Jr. and how his extensive name ID will play in the survey.

Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff says of the son of the retired Senator:

Some people say he peaked on the day he announced. There's a sense that the others are gaining momentum. It should be close.

The paper came with profiles of the GOP Guv candidates in Sunday's editions. They also came with a piece (not posted on Web) on Dem Diane Denish. The money line:

I'm not a part of the Richardson, kind of, network...I think that people see me as an independent voice, and I'm going to be reiterating that."

And here's another newspaper questionnaire of the R's who would be Governor.

Martinez is strong in the south and hoping that the big ABQ metro is divided up among the five candidates. Something like that happened back in '86 when Garrey Carruthers was the last Dona Ana county politico to claim the GOP nod.

But some of our analysts see a developing problem for Susana--the strength of GOP lieutenant governor candidate John Sanchez. He is spending heavily on TV and is the favorite to take the prize over Brian Moore and Kent Cravens. But will many GOP voters want to balance their ticket by voting for an Anglo governor candidate and therefore shy away from Martinez? It's a possibility, but there's little she can do about it.

And this is not the lead Martinez wanted in the New Mexican's profiles of the GOP Guv candidates:

Susana Martinez's résumé and perhaps even her campaign commercials might suggest she'd be better suited as a candidate for attorney general rather than governor.


Martinez pivots toward the jobs issue in her latest TV ad.

GOP NOT TO BLAME?

One line in the first TV ad from Dem lieutenant governor candidate Brian Colón is drawing email and push back.

"As lieutenant governor, I'll fight to stop the Republicans who are hurting our public schools."

Reader Dave Matthews is among those questioning that:

...He states that Republicans are ruining education in New Mexico. Who is he talking about? Haven't the Democrats controlled the state offices and legislature for the past eight years, controlled the budgets and determined the annual funding for education, appointed the regents to the institutions of higher learning? I'd like to know what he means...

We asked Colón to comment and he came with this:

The Republican's who are upset over my commercial should read their own web site. They push school vouchers and vouchers hurt our schools--taking public money out of our public schools to subsidize the privileged is a tough policy to swallow with so many families struggling.

Also every Senate Republican voted against raising taxes this last legislative session thus they opposed increasing funding to make up the education shortfall. Further, let's not forget that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a program championed by R's and it has been a nightmare for schools...

Meanwhile, Colón and Jerry Ortiz y Pino were the two candidates among the five Dem lieutenant governor hopefuls who said in the newspaper's questionnaire that they would like to see the 2003 personal income tax cuts reevaluated. The cuts have resulted in a flat rate--with wealthy taxpayers paying the same rate as others. Experts say the '03 tax cuts cost the state $400 million a year. Adjusting them even slightly could raise major money to balance the budget.

With the state facing a secular economic decline, we think the pressure on the new Governor and legislature to seek more income from the upper tax brackets could eventually result in one of the major Roundhouse fights of this new decade.

THE BEAR WILL FIND YOU


From north to south to east to west and into every nook and cranny comes the Great Recession. Now the little town of Mesilla in the far south contemplates unprecedented government layoffs.

Hundreds of thousands of New Mexican lives are being forever changed by the economic forces that are at play in the American nation and around the globe.

THE SIGN WARS

A reader writes:

...The "Domenici for Governor" signs that my husband and I posted in our neighborhood, respecting all city ordinances,, had been pulled-up and left to lay on the ground, or disappeared altogether a few days later. What was disturbing was that though the Domenici signs, which were placed next to Turner signs, had disappeared, the Turner signs remained intact. This fact led us to believe that the Turner camp was responsible. However, over the last day or two, the Turner signs that were posted in our neighborhood have also disappeared. Was this retaliation?

What has happened to respecting your opponents' rights to campaign--to display a respectable amount of campaign protocol and professional acumen toward your opponents? It is getting ugly out there, and this ugliness may be sign to come. I guess it is all or nothing in the war of the signs!

Surely, you don't expect us to say "it's a sign of the times"....

VANZI VS. MONTOYA

This race is generating a lot of copy for a down ballot contest, and we're back with more today on the heated campaign for the Dem nod for the state court of appeals seat held by Judge Linda Vanzi and her challenger, attorney Dennis Montoya. ABQ lawyer Peter Kierst comes with this:

Hi Joe, I read you every day, and find your blog pretty much indispensable. But I do want to challenge your characterization of the race between Judge Vanzi and Dennis Montoya.

The other day you wrote, “Attorney Montoya and Vanzi tangled over legal cases when Vanzi was a district court judge, causing much bad blood between the two.” To me, this sounds as if there was some bilateral, judge-and-lawyer clashing that went on, and so these two don’t like each other. After practicing law in this town for 26 years, I know that can happen. But the facts here are different.

When you see the disciplinary complaint that Judge Vanzi filed, it’s immediately apparent that she had no choice but to report Mr. Montoya’s actions for investigation. This wasn’t something she did as a result of some wrangle or clash between them, but because of the facts that appeared in the record of the case before her. The facts in the record would suggest powerfully to any reasonable lawyer or judge that there was a probable breach of the lawyer’s duty to his client and to the court...

Certainly, there is widespread speculation in the legal community that Mr. Montoya is mounting this challenge out of spite but I am not aware of any reason to think that Judge Vanzi’s report was made out of anything other than a firm—and correct—decision that she had no choice. So it isn’t a matter of Judge Vanzi having “bad blood.” She did her duty in a professional, dispassionate manner...

Maybe this seems like a fine distinction, but I think it’s an important one...

And who will win this intense combat? Montoya is getting beaten to a pulp in the dead-tree media, but he could benefit from ethnic voting in this two way campaign. Stranger things have happened. That's why the Vanzi forces continue to bang the drum.
(No R is running. The Dme primary winner takes the game.)

DERAILED IN RATON

The collapse of the proposed racino for recession ravaged Raton has the town of 6,500 reeling. They had pinned their hopes on the racino, but the Canadian developer was looking as flaky as pie crust and state gaming officials had to shut it down. The coverage is long and deep in the Raton Range.

FROM THE REZ...

A reader writes from the Navajo Reservation and appraises us of the political situation as a nine way race for president gets underway:

It looks like there is going to be a long hot summer on the Navajo reservation. Everyone and there grandmother is running for Navajo President. Each candidate has to pony up signatures and a $1,500 filing fee.

Of those filing, here are a few notables: First, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, has filed, ignoring modern tribal laws of term limits, but opting for traditional laws, which state that any Navajo voter can chose whomever as their leader despite modern laws and customs. His vice president, Ben Shelly, of Thoreau, is also among those filing. State Sen. Lynda Morgan Lovejoy is taking another shot at this, after loosing to Shirley four years ago by 6,000 votes. As you know, she was appointed to the state senate by Gov. Richardson after she was defeated in that election.

Also, a newcomer to tribal politics but not to NM politics is Sharon Clahchischiliage, a Navajo native who grew up near Shiprock. She ran in 2002 as the Republican candidate for secretary of state. Also, Donald Benally has filed. He was convicted 12 years ago by a federal jury and sent to federal prison for crimes related to the riot in Window Rock.

This race will determine the next four years of the the tribe's future, after so much in-fighting between the president and the Navajo Tribal Council. Also at issue is how the tribe will decide on the reduction of the council from 88 to 24 members, which was voted on last year by a 3 to 1 margin..

We'll be sure to keep an eye on Shirley's controversial effort to get a third term. The primary is Aug. 3. The two top vote-getters will face off int eh November 2 general election.

MY BOTTOM LINES

We blogged Friday that Robert Rivera, the lobbyist who took his own life last Thursday, had been working in the office of House Speaker Lujan during the last legislative session. A friend of Rivera's passed that information on and we took it at face value, but Lujan says Rivera was not working for him. The Speaker said he was "devastated" by the death of Rivera.

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