Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Primary '10: The Voting Begins Today, Plus: New Susana TV, But No Hit On Weh, And: Heinrich's Home Office; Over The Top? 

All the hand-shaking, TV and radio ads and yard signs won't be worth as much after today. That's because this is the day that starts the clock on early and absentee voting. Withe each passing day the candidates are faced with a shrinking voter pool to persuade. More than half the vote for Primary 2010 will likely be cast before the actual Election Day on June 1st.

Today the first round of absentee ballots get mailed out and the first in-person early votes will be cast. In Bernalillo County voters can go to the county clerk's office at 6th and Lomas to cast an early ballot. Things really blast off on May 15th when multiple early in-person voting locations open across the state.

Here's early voting info for Bernalillo County and for Santa Fe County.

Even though the voting is already underway, you still have until the end of today to register to vote and take part in the primary election. Only Dems and R's are eligible to vote in the June 1st balloting.

So far, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver reports 1,508 voters have turned in applications requesting absentee ballots--771 Democrats and 737 Republicans. R's are expected to vote in larger percentages because of their governor race.


We're getting word now that there will likely be at least one broadcast TV debate for the five GOP Guv candidates. The Rio Grande Foundation will sponsor the one hour face-off set to be aired on KOB-TV at 7 p.m. May 27th.

That's interesting timing. Most of the early and absentee vote will have been cast by then and Election Day is only four days later. And then there's the Memorial Day weekend following the Thursday night debate.

In other words, none of the campaigns are taking any chances. If a hopeful puts his or her foot in their mouth, the opposing contenders will be hard pressed to make much of it.

Not that there is really much room in a five way debate to make a costly gaffe. Even with sixty minutes you don't get to say much.


It's still all about corruption for Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez who comes with her third TV spot of the cycle. It's a fast paced look at some of the more prominent corruption cases that have graced the headlines in recent years, including the $3 million embezzlement at the Jemez school district.

Martinez makes the leap that corruption costs jobs. "We need good schools to attract good jobs," she declares, before launching into a description of the Jemez corruption case and others.

Corruption alone is not moving the needle for Martinez who our senior analysts see as locked in a battle, but lagging behind Allen Weh for first place for the GOP Guv nomination. She needs to link her premier issue to the issue that most matters to voters--jobs.

Martinez also asserts in her ad that "a crippling energy regulation made insiders rich, but drove our jobs to Texas."

She is referring to the "pit rule" which deals with cleaning up oil and gas exploration sites. But whether the rule cost our state jobs is a point of intense debate.

The candidate posted a script and supporting documentation for the ad on her web site.

If you were waiting for Susana to unload on Weh, you will have to wait. The closest she comes to contrasting herself with the former GOP state chairman is when she says, "I'm the only candidate that has taken on corruption and that's the difference."

Martinez uses the ABQ area Sandia Mountains to close out her spot, a none too subtle appeal for votes in the metro area where she can't afford Weh to separate himself from the pack.

Martinez's style continues to provide a contrast with Weh's TV. He is somewhat laid back as his director goes for an avuncular attitude to make him more likable and not the stereotypical old angry white guy.

Martinez is in your face, energetic and dead serious. As a female candidate in a male dominated party, it may be the advisable route to travel. She is pugnacious in the sense of being a willing fighter. Weh was that way when he was chairman, but now with his open collars and occasional on-camera smiles, he approaches grandfatherly.

Martinez can give this latest ad a chance to work and take a look at the polling numbers. If she isn't closing, she will then have to decide whether to hit Weh directly. Time is no longer her friend.


Maybe we're too old school, but we don't quite get this "giving up your apartment and sleeping on the office floor thing." It has become part of the culture of the United States House of Representatives. Now ABQ freshman Congressman Martin Heinrich has joined the ranks of this peculiar club that he estimates numbers about 50 of the 435 US House members:

Heinrich said he works out and takes a shower every morning in the Longworth gym.

"I eat most of my meals in the Longworth cafeteria anyway — breakfast and lunch," Heinrich explained. "Then I'll go out and grab a bite someplace (for dinner). I used to be an outfitter guide, so I sleep basically on a camping mat and a sleeping bag."

Heinrich says he is saving $1,400 a month in rent by sleeping on the floor. But he makes $174,000 a year and his wife Julie has a good paying government job in ABQ at the Mid-Region Council of Governments. The couple is pulling down well over $200,000 year. Also, a congressman gets a tax deduction for the cost of maintaining a primary residence.

When we worked on the Hill in the early 80's it was common for some Members to rent an apartment together--places where the refrigerators contained mostly beer and cigars. But it worked. They saved money and also had camaraderie. What happened to that?

We get the feeling that Heinrich, 38, isn't really relishing his sack time on the floor. But with DC housing prices the way they are, he may be saving his coins for a down payment on a place. Republican Jon Barela, who is challenging Heinrich in November, hopes to have something to say about those future housing plans, but the way Heinrich is harvesting his money, Jon may have already lost the fiscal conservative argument.


Heinrich has carved out a middle of the road record on national defense issues by sitting on the House Armed Services Committee where he can keep an eye on funding levels for the state's national labs. But Heinrich, a true-blue liberal when he served on the ABQ city council, is still true to those roots in Washington. The Hill lawmaker ratings have Heinrich scoring 100 from the nation's leading pro-choice group and another 100 from the League of Conservation Voters, a prominent enviro group.


Meanwhile, on the Heinrich political watch, DC handicapper Charlie Cook has apparently sat down for a beverage with fellow handicapper Stu Rothenberg and now calls the Heinrich-Barela race "lean Dem" instead of "likely Dem."

He says Barela is the "perfect candidate." But we're going to have some of what Stu and Charlie are drinking before we sign on to that take, or at least a set of polling numbers that push us in that direction.

Why? Because we believe if Barela were the "perfect" candidate" he would have close to a million bucks in the bank like Heinrich, or the $700,000 southern Republican congressional hopeful Steve Pearce has. Barela's latest cash total is about $390,000. Heinrich's is $1.044 million.

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