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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Martinez: Caught Red-Handed Or Smeared? Weh Rains Down The Pain, Plus: First Look At AG Race, And: ABQ And Kirtland; Billions Of Impact 

The race for the GOP Guv nod flirted with the personal Wednesday as multi-millionaire businessman Allen Weh rained down the pain on rival Susana Martinez. Weh, responding to Martinez's televised charge that he favored amnesty for illegal immigrants, threw the kitchen sink at the Dona Ana County District Attorney. Observers saw it as an attempt to have the party faithful lose trust in her personal character as the race remained tight as a vise.

Weh left the clear impression in his rip-roaring 30 second spot that Martinez did not pay her taxes. The ad says:

Martinez says she'd fight corruption, but auditors caught her red-handed. Martinez failed to pay taxes.

But in documents the Weh camp released to support the charge, it turns out that as district attorney Martinez hired 24 individuals to destroy closed cases and paid them as personal service contractors. The state auditor, in a 2008 report, said they should be placed on the DA's payroll and pay the required employment tax. So Martinez failed to pay her taxes? Hmmm.

The Martinez camp will likely respond with their own TV ad, but one of her operatives came with this early reaction:

There is a big difference between honestly contrasting on an issue and personally smearing someone with a lie."

And there's more. Weh pulled dining expense records for Martinez and her staff while on official business and roasted her for "extravagant dinners. luxury hotels, dinner at Hooters, even I-pods." Here is a transcript of the ad:

Why is Susana Martinez attacking? Because that's what career politicians do. Martinez says she'd fight corruption, but auditors caught her red-handed. Martinez failed to pay tax taxes. Look how Martinez spends our tax dollars. Extravagant dinners. Luxury hotels. dinner at Hooters, even I-pods. Wasting our money. Breaking the rules. Careerpolitician Susana Martinez--a false campaign, unpaid taxes, bad judgment.

The Weh campaign also released reimbursement records showing that Martinez and her staff ate at, among other places, the upscale Ruth's Chris Steak House in Scottsdale, AZ. Everything in the records appeared to be for meals consumed while on official business. (The state did not reimburse for the booze on the tabs, just the food.)

This ad comes close to going over the top because of the big stretch on Martinez and taxes, but it is potentially damaging as Martinez remains relatively unknown. Calling into question her integrity could raise doubts about her.

Martinez left herself open for some of this. She had flatly said a couple of years ago she would not plea bargain felony DWI cases, but she did. And she told TV news here that her office has always passed examinations from the state auditor with flying colors. But that wasn't the case, even if it was an innocent oversight like not putting contractors on the payroll.

But an objective look at Weh's ad leads one to conclude that the ominous delivery and excellent production values (they turn Susana's hand red when they charge she was caught "red-handed") are the real highlights of this hit piece--not the content.

We posted the support documents for the Weh ad here and here.

DEM LIGHT GUV ACTION


On the five way race for the Dem nod for Light Guv which our May 12 poll showed Brian Colon with a healthy lead over Lawrence Rael and Joe Campos, an Alligator writes:

I'm amazed at the latest TV ads by Campos and Rael. They should have been up two weeks ago with the positive stuff, and at this point should have been laying into Colon with a 20-10 ad, That's 20 seconds of negative and 10 seconds of positive. But,alas, they don t know what they are doing.

The other two candidates in that race are state Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Linda Lopez.

TAKING IT SERIOUSLY


In this, the year of the anti-incumbent, NM House Speaker Dem Lujan is taking seriously--very seriously--the challenge he is receiving from Carl Trujillo. Lujan spent more than $27,000 last month on his campaign for a 19th term. The 74 year old leader from Nambe outspent the 43 year old Trujillo who has loaned himself $10,000.

The latest campaign finance reports show Trujillo had less than $1,500 in cash. Luján had more than $118,000, raised over the years when he had no election challenges.

Insiders will watch this race closely. A huge upset would be a Trujillo win, but the margin of a Lujan victory will also be closely monitored to see if there is any weakness as he faces a grouch electorate.

And to the North of Lujan five term moderate state House Republican Jeannette Wallace is seeing two Dems vy to take her on in November. Wallace hasn't had an opponent for ten years. That tells you that the voters are tired of both parties--not just the Dems.

IN BIG BERNALILLO
Sisi Miranda
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales failed to score the endorsement of the ABQ Journal in that crowded race for the Dem nomination for sheriff. The nod went to Sisi Miranda, a 25 year retired veteran of the ABQ police department.

Gonzales is well-financed and has party support, so he is still high on the favorites list, but the Miranda endorsement gives her a boost. She would be the first female sheriff in county history.

On the Republican side, retired APD commander William Kurth gets the Journal's blessing. Kurth has been piling up the endorsements over rival Dan Houston. Recently, GOP state Rep. Larry Larranaga endorsed Kurth
.

UNM FALLOUT


Could the continuing turmoil at the University of New Mexico be impacting fund-raising? The UNM foundation reports it will not meet its goal of raising $90 million for the fiscal year that ened June 30. It says it will probably take in between $70 and $80 million. No doubt the recession ravaged state economy is playing a role in that decline, but the stormy state of campus affairs could also be starting to take a financial toll.

The next Governor will have a full plate, but they will need to reserve some space on it for troubled UNM.

AG ACTION

Our first look at the 2010 race for attorney general finds Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler boasting that he has nearly matched the money raised by Democrat Gary King, but King trumps Chandler, son of a former Clovis police chief, with the news that he's received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Both King and Chandler are unopposed for their party's nominations. R's like the young and aggressive Chandler, saying he can give King a run for his money--if he can continue to raise money. King is the son of the legendary Bruce King and has been known to write a check or two to keep any competition at bay. Chandler reports $99,000 in cash on hand in the early going. King reports $103,000.

THE BIG PICTURE

$5.6 billion dollars a year. That's what the ABQ Chamber of Commerce says is the economic impact of Kirtland Air Force Base on the metro area economy. In addition, they say the base population is 21,000. Less than half that $5.6 billion comes from the Department of Energy and Sandia National Labs operations, and over half from military organizations on base. KAFB is the largest employer in the state.

Senator Bingaman is back on the Senate Armed Services Committee for the rest of this year. ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich scored an appointment to the House Armed Services Committee. These panels are crucial to writing the budget that funds KAFB.

The modern ABQ economy was built with KAFB as its foundation, and it remains so today. Through the decades the state's congressional delegations have worked together--regardless of ideology--to ensure the viability of Kirtland. Today's economic environment makes that even more urgent.

One of retired Senator Pete Domenici's great attributes was his willingness to throw his weight around to secure funding for Kirtland and the national labs. Some in Washington called it arrogance, but whatever it was, it got the job done. If Bingaman and Heinrich catch a couple of black eyes for offending their committee colleagues when it comes to protecting the state's interests, so be it.

The Chamber's newspaper ads about Kirtland got us to wondering. Does the conservative business group help Republican Jon Barela in his effort to oust Heinrich and in the process possibly hurt Kirtland by losing the state that slot on House Armed Services? How important is Barela's support for conservative government versus Heinrich's position to help preserve KAFB? We suppose that's also something for the Chamber members to wonder about.


THE BOTTOM LINES
Rep. Lujan
From the news release file:

Rep. Ben Ray Luján has been named to the Committee on Natural Resources. The Committee has jurisdiction over federal land agencies including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“The Committee oversees many programs and agencies that are important to New Mexico...,” said Rep. Luján. “In New Mexico, we place great value on our lands and resources, and with the Committee, I will work to make sure these resources are available for future generations.”

Rep. Heinrich also serves with Congressman Lujan on this committee which has had NM representation for as long as we can remember.

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c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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