Friday, May 28, 2010

The Final Days: Primary 2010 Heads To the History Books As Voters Head To the Lake; Latest Line On Key Races, Plus: Our Take On GOP Guv TV Debate 

As Primary 2010 enters the final stretch and heads to the history books, Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico are headed to the lake. This campaign essentially ended Thursday with access to the news cycle blocked by the long Memorial Day weekend. We can't recall when Election Eve fell on a holiday, but that's the case this year. It means the last minute mail, robo-calls and perhaps dirty tricks aren't going to have much of an audience as voters switch off the politics and fire up the barbecues.

So where do things stand just days away from June 1, Election Day? Well, by then as much as half the vote will have been cast at early voting locations or by absentee ballot. If your candidate did lousy with those voters, he or she will have to have out sized performance among those who vote Tuesday. Not likely.

Nothing much is going to rock Susana Martinez's boat. Her double digit lead in the polls could shrink, depending on the composition of the electorate, but with her currently holding a lead in just about all demographic groups, her nomination as the 2010 GOP Guv nomination is now being treated as a foregone conclusion.

For the GOP nod for lieutenant governor, it still appears to be John Sanchez's to lose. Clayton's Brian Moore has come with some solid TV in the closing days, but he seems to have come too late. Kent Cravens, another quality candidate the R's have for this post, will do very well in ABQ. But Sanchez wrote the personal check for this one, and unlike GOP Guv hopeful Allen Weh who also came with large personal cash, his investment appears set to pay off.

On the Democratic side, the politicos will be watching the five way race for lieutenant governor which still seems to be tilting Brian Colon's way. The only scientific public poll in the race was one commissioned by this blog in mid-May and that showed the former Dem Party chairman with the lead. He still appears to have the pole position, but the rumor mill is busy with reports of polling that claim the race is still open. We'll see when we broadcast the results on KANW 89.1 FM starting at 6:30 Tuesday.

Here's the AP wrap on the latest finance reports on the Dem Light Guv race filed late Friday. Colon continues to outspend his foes by a wide margin.

In that hot and heavy race for the Court of Appeals between appointed Judge Linda Vanzi and challenger Dennis Montoya of Rio Rancho, our poll gave Vanzi the lead in mid-May. She will probably keep it on Election Night with a strong showing in ABQ. But veteran observers caution they will not call this race until the see actual returns. A lone Anglo versus a lone Hispanic in a Dem primary is usually a recipe for Hispanic success, even sometimes with badly damaged candidates like Montoya.

In the Dem race for land commissioner, there's been some final week noise, but former commissioner Ray Powell won the pre-primary convention big and came in first in our poll. A win by Sandy Jones or Harry Montoya would be an upset.


Turners watch son
In the one and only televised broadcast debate between the Guv hopefuls, it was a case of the last coming in first. Janice Arnold-Jones and Doug Turner, both trailing badly in the polls, didn't let that stop them from turning in polished and complete performances Thursday night on KOB-TV. Front runner Susana Martinez did herself no harm, but the night did not belong to her or Allen Weh.

Complete debate video here.

Because of a lack of money, Arnold-Jones has been largely invisible. But on this night she was focused, cogent, persuasive and likable. And she looked the part, too. This was a classy performance that came way too late in the game, but if the Republicans take the Guv's chair you have to think Arnold-Jones, an outgoing ABQ state representative, would be high on the list for a cabinet position.

Turner also acquitted himself nicely with a command of the facts, confidence, and ease at the podium that you would expect from the owner of a public relations firm. His brand of politics is out there, but appeals more to independents than the current population of R's.

Martinez has work to do. She has mental agility, but one critic called her TV appearance somewhat "morose." The likability factor is important. Thursday night Martinez was understandably determined to cling to her ample lead, not wanting to make a major mistake. But if she is the nominee, she will have to stop clinging to the debate podium and show more of her human and hopeful side.

The pic posted with this story is of Bill and Regina Turner, parents of Doug Turner, as they watched their son make his case on statewide TV. That's politics at its most personal and heartfelt.

As for Turner's parties, it's true that they are populated by some of ABQ's most beautiful women. As a dutiful reporter, we note that this has not changed.


The latest poll pitting Martinez against Denish in a general election match-up is not as dire for Di as the SurveyUSA poll that had her trailing the Dona Ana DA by six. Rasmussen has Denish up one over Martinez--43% to 42%. From the survey:

The Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in New Mexico shows Denish picking up 43% support while Martinez earns 42%. Only three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and 12% are undecided. In late March, Denish led Martinez by 19 points, 51% to 32%. In that survey, Denish led her five potential Republican opponents by anywhere from 10 to 22 points and crossed the critical 50% mark in three of the match-ups. Now her support falls short of 50% in every instance.

The survey was conducted Tuesday. An interesting tidbit from the poll:

Fifty-five percent (55%) of New Mexico voters favor the passage of an immigration law similar to the one recently passed in Arizona in their state. Thirty-five percent (35%) are opposed to such a law in their state. Those numbers are almost identical to results found on the national level.

But then there's this:

When asked specifically about the chief provision of the Arizona immigration law, support in New Mexico is lower than national results. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of voters in the state believe a police officer should be required to check the immigration status of anyone stopped for a traffic violation or violation of some other law if he suspects the person might be an illegal immigrant.

Martinez has been careful to shy away from giving the Arizona law her support wile Denish has been in the fore in condemning it.


Big Bill is still beleaguered when it comes to his approval rating. Only 39% of the voters surveyed by Rasmussen approve of the Guv. That number is identical to the March survey. The reasons are obvious--the lousy economy, high unemployment, the state budget crisis and the previous round of corruption headlines that hobbled the chief executive.

Richardson is putting out more stuff now about what he has done and is going to do to resolve the budget problems, but he was late to the party, resisting significant cost-cutting measures until there was no other option


Join me Monday, May 31 at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM for our traditional pre-game show with my panel of experts as we kick around the big ball known as Primary 2010. Republicans Larry Larranaga and Greg Payne will be with us along with former NM Dem Party chair John Wertheim and ABQ Journal political reporter Sean Olson.

Then on Tuesday, June 1--Election Night--join us again for wall-to-wall coverage of the results beginning at 6:30. Our Election team will be back and at full strength.

Public radio coverage of Primary 2010 is made possible this year by ABQ Economic Development, The Garrity Group, Serrano and Sons, Constructors and Cordova Public Relations.

Thanks to them and to you for your continued interest and support.

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