Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Our Exclusive Poll: Powell Has Big Lead In Land Office Race, Plus: Weh Hits Martinez Back On TV, And: Tuesday Election Impact On NM 

Powell, Montoya & Jones
Ray Powell has opened up a better than 2 to 1 lead over his closest rival and appears well on his way to securing the Democratic nomination for state land commissioner in the June 1 primary. That's the news from a scientific poll conducted for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan on Wednesday May 12 and which measured the support of Powell and fellow candidates Harry Montoya and Sandy Jones.

Powell scored 37.5% in our statewide poll; Jones 17.3% and Montoya 15.9%. Undecided voters came in at 29.3%.

Powell is well known in Democratic Party circles, having previously served 1o years as land commissioner, longer than anyone in state history. He scored a landslide win over Jones and Montoya at the Dems March pre-primary convention to win first place on the ballot. He was the only one of the three contenders to garner more than 20 percent of delegate support, forcing Jones and Montoya to gather petition signatures to win an official spot on the ballot.

Powell is running ahead of his two opponents among both men and women. He also leads in all age groups. Only among Hispanics does he cede the lead. Santa Fe County Commissioner Montoya scores 42% of their support while Powell gets 26 and Jones, a Public Regulation Commissioner from the south, gets 11.

That number haunts Powell some because, in 2006, he lost a bid for the Dem land commission nod when Jim Baca beat him in the northern Spanish counties. Baca lost the general election to Republican Pat Lyons who is now seeking a seat on the state Public Regulation Commission after two terms as land commissioner. However, Montoya does not appear to have the strength of Baca who is also a former land commissioner.

Republican Bruce Donisthorpe who assisted with the survey had this analysis:

Ray Powell has a strong and solid lead in this race and is well-positioned to capture over a majority of the votes cast in the June 1 primary. He has the lead in all of the large population centers throughout the State and has solid leads throughout the rural counties and is running especially strong in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor. He is the only candidate in this race who has support throughout New Mexico in all corners of the State and all demographic groups on this survey.

The land commission office has been in Republican hands for eight years. There are two GOP candidates vying for their party's nomination--Bob Cornelius of Tatum and Matt Rush of the Portales area.

Our poll differs significantly from a survey conducted by the Jones campaign. His phone poll conducted of 400 registered voters April 30 to May 2 had Powell leading with 23.5%; Jones getting 22.4% and Montoya 9.1%. 45% were undecided.

Our survey was conducted by automatic phone calls to likely Democratic primary voters by Dialing Services, LLC in Roswell. The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus 5.2%.

Complete cross-tabs for the poll are posted here.

A tip of the hat to our blog advertisers for making the survey possible.


A crowd of some 300 or so greeted former President Clinton at the Embassy Suites in ABQ Tuesday afternoon as he stumped for certain Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish.
The ex-Prez is pictured at the late afternoon event with Denish and her husband Herb. Tickets were going for up to $500.

Clinton has always been a popular figure in the state. He won it in both his presidential elections. He was last in New Mexico last year to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of former Governor Bruce King.

Denish's ties to Clinton include chairing Hillary Clinton's 2008 prez campaign in the state. The former President had a falling out with Governor Richardson when the Guv failed to throw his support to Hillary.

Clinton has the appeal to the independents and centrists that Denish needs to win in November. We wouldn't be surprised to see him and/or Hillary back here for Di before the campaign is over.


Allen Weh's first response to Susana Martinez's negative TV hit came not on the tube but in a hard-hitting 60 second radio spot, charging that the Dona Ana County District Attorney "failed to pay taxes" and used state funds for "steak dinners, luxury hotels, dinner at Hooter's, even making taxpayers pay for three I-Pods." The ad wraps up with this hit: "Wasting money, Breaking the rules. Career politician Susana Martinez. A nasty negative campaign, unpaid taxes, questionable spending."

Weh's campaign has not yet supplied their evidence that Martinez did not pay taxes, but the spot said "auditors caught her red-handed." The ad does not say how much money was allegedly involved or what kind of taxes are involved. Sometimes these charges can be pretty spurious. Sometimes not.

We heard the radio spot and transcribed it for you. We don't know where it is airing.

As for Martinez's TV spot that he is soft on illegal immigration, Weh's radio retorts:

For years Allen Weh has fought liberals to crack down on illegal immigration He'll end sanctuary policies, stop giving illegals driver's licenses....no one will be tougher than Allen Weh.

Weh laid the ground work for his counteroffensive Tuesday night, sending this missive to supporters:

It's too bad Mrs. Martinez has decided to take her campaign down the old, tired road of political deception...Let the record show that Mrs. Martinez has decided to take a negative turn in this race, and we will defend ourselves in an appropriate fashion.

Weh could put up his own negative TV against Martinez as early today. She fired first Monday with the amnesty ad. Weh calls her charges "laughable." (We are now told by the TV insiders that Weh will go up this afternoon with a spot similar to the radio ad.)

Meanwhile, Martinez came with a mailer that attacks Weh for not being tough enough on the death penalty. She charges he is only for the administering the penalty if the crime has been corroborated by DNA evidence. Weh's camp says it must have taken time to produce that piece and shows that Martinez was the first to go negative, not him.

While Weh used radio to launch his first counteroffensive against Martinez, TV hits are right around the corner. This is going to be a roller-coaster finish.

The newspaper joined the campaign trail Wednesday and came with this report on the latest charges and countercharges in the highly charged GOP Guv contest.


The critical component of the final stretch is TV and in that regard Weh will continue to outspend Martinez--by more than he has. Our Media Mavens report the latest numbers as of late Tuesday. They say for May 18 to 24 Martinez has now bought $94,000 on the major ABQ over the air stations. But Weh has now pumped in nearly $180,000 for May 19 thru 25th. He originally purchased around $110,000 for that week, so you can see the trend.


What do the election results from around the nation Tuesday mean for New Mexico? One of our insiders has some news:

With Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter out and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd retiring--both Dems--come next year New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman will presumably move up to #10 in seniority among all 100 US senators and up to #6 among the Democratic senators. That's a big deal,

Yes, it is a big deal. The retirement of veteran GOP Senator Pete Domenici cost the state millions in earmarked funds. But Bingaman is in the majority, has close ties to the White House and now this surge in seniority. This could strengthen the state's position in protecting federal funding for the national labs and military bases.

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