Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sensing Susana: Week To Go And She Appears To Have Big Mo, Plus: Weh's World, Also: Colón And The Robo Calls 

Patty Baker
Judging from what the pundits and Alligators have been coming with, the 2010 race for the GOP Guv nomination has been swinging back and forth like Count Basie. But now with only one week to go to the June 1 primary and the events of the weekend settling in, there is a sense that Susana Martinez has found her tempo and has the momentum to make it to the big dance--the general election and a face off with certain Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish.

Among the pieces of evidence for this latest take is the late endorsement of the Dona Ana County DA by state Rep. Don Tripp of Socorro. His wife is the NM GOP National Committeewoman, epitome of the party establishment and no enemy of Weh's. That boost for Susana's effort comes on the heels of NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates calling out Weh on Sunday for employing "dishonesty" in his campaign ads targeting Martinez.

Former NM GOP Chairman John Lattauzio, who held the post in the early 90's, is among those who see this one tipping toward Martinez:

Reading between the lines, I believe Harvey feels that Susana has a better chance, but he has plausible deniability. Having traveled the state for the Party for more than 10 years, I cannot come up with a scenario that has Weh winning in November. The Republicans that don’t know either one of them are going to ask their county chairman, officers and elected official’s advice. Weh is in terrible shape with those folks.

Political pros speculate that Yates made his controversial weekend intervention in the campaign because he sees Martinez winning next Tuesday, but getting damaged for the general election by Weh's aggressive attacks. Best to try to get the dogs off Martinez now so she can clean herself up in time for the main event.

Weh may be punishing Martinez, but it appears her ad accusing Weh of being soft on amnesty for illegal immigrants has had more impact than any ad of the season. She is out with a second version hammering Weh and Weh is on the air trying to knock down the insinuation.

Reasons for the drift toward Susana include: The Sarah Palin endorsement, the amnesty ad, the support of the oil and gas industry and GOP establishment, the ABQ Journal poll showing it a one point race and the subsequent endorsement of that paper and others. It's unclear if the Weh ad that infers that she did not pay her personal taxes--the ad that drew the ire of Yates--cost Weh votes by backfiring. It just may be that it did not grow his numbers.

Adding to the evidence of Martinez's momentum is the growing belief among key Dem strategists that Martinez is now in the driver's seat, with Weh needing to drop a bomb in the final days to reverse the trend.


Weh was hitting back Monday against the weekend hit from Yates in which the chairman said a committee composed of himself and two party officers concluded that Weh's ads lacked enough evidence to support their claims. Said Weh of Yates: "His statement was full of inconsistencies, it was prejudiced, and it was patently dishonest..."

Weh's camp said they would pull the ad that said Martinez was caught "red-handed" for not paying taxes and that the GOP committee took issue with. However, it was still running on the 10 p.m. news. The campaign said it was being "pulled from rotation" gradually and will be completely gone by today.

And who was on that committee that Harvey formed to assess the campaign ads.
The committee Yates used to evaluate the advertising from Susana and Weh included himself, Pat Rogers, National Republican Committeeman and Rosie Tripp, National GOP Committeewoman.

Hey, didn't we just get done saying Rosie's husband and State Rep. Don Tripp just endorsed Susana. Just a coincidence we're sure.


Whether Yates and his committee got it right is a story, but not all of our readers agreed with the criticism of Yates that he should have a hands-off approach. They report being bone tired of campaign negativity and long for the old days when party leaders could reign in the candidates. From that vantage point, Yates struck a nerve and may have done the political process some good by showing that the political parties are still relevant and, in fact, can have a constructive role in regulating the millions of dollars of ads that often go unchecked for accuracy by any neutral party, including the press.


We blogged Monday of one GOP veteran telling us that Weh, like Yates, intervened in a GOP contested primary when he chaired the party. They said Weh made a robo call, in 2006, into the Roswell state House district race where Mike Kakuska was challenging Nora Espinoza that complained of Kakuska's ads. But Weh told reporters Monday that didn't happen quite that way. He said the robo call was made without party authorization and that he followed it up with a phone call that disavowed party involvement in the contest which was won by Espinoza. It was never determined who made the original negative call using the party as cover.

This detail was important to the Weh camp to show that the Yates action dunning him for his ads was without parallel. But it also seemed to show that Weh needs some new material in this final week if he is to turn the tide against Martinez.


State Democrats played a larger role in the GOP Guv race than anyone may have expected. KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson reports the material that was the basis for Weh's major negative hit on Martinez originated with the Democrats.

"The stuff about the meals at Hooters and the taxes in Martinez's office was floated to the media by the Dems several weeks before it showed up on Weh's TV. We passed on it."

It's well-known that state Dems and certain Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish would prefer to face Weh in the general election. Martinez is a wild card.

But the hits on Martinez do not appear to be sticking, and thus the Dems may be stuck with Martinez--despite their best efforts to jolt her.


We blogged recently that Dem land commission candidate Sandy Jones has cut two TV spots, but according to the camp of his Dem rival, Ray Powell, Jones has purchased barely any TV time. That led to this response from a Jones spokeswoman:

Not sure where Powell's camp got information from on our television buy. I had a good laugh seeing what you posted. I can assure you we purchased more than $2,200. Maybe next time you want to post a dollar amount you can drop us an email.

Well, we are happy to provide any laughs we can in these often dour times. But let's get serious for a minute. How much more than $2,200 is Jones spending? The Jones camp won't say. Powell isn't buying any TV time.


The camp of Dem Lt. Guv candidate Brian Colón has come with a detailed response to that negative and anonymous robo call that was fed into households over the weekend. We posted the gist of that call Monday. The response is from Colón campaign manager Daniel Sena:

Let’s set the record straight on the call.

Brian grew up in Valencia County NM, not New York. He was a baby when his family moved to NM, his very first memory is from NM.

At UNM he worked with CWA to organize for fair labor practices. He was not a Republican, ever.

He was not handpicked by Richardson to be Chair of the Democratic Party, he was elected by hundreds of Democrats statewide and was elected twice (unanimously the second time).

Brian was not part of Moving America Forward, but was part of a nonprofit foundation, called The Moving American Foundation, that helped register and educate over 250,000 Native American and Hispanic votes in AZ and NV. He was not part of any investigation nor has he ever been questioned about that particular C3 or any of the many nonprofits he helps raise money for. The call leads people to believe Colón refused to cooperate.

The call enters into slander when it leads the listener to believe Colón actually took money from the nonprofit and implied he is now using it for his campaign.

The call states “Brian Colon fully supports gay marriage” This is wedge politics, Joe. BC was the one of first candidates to support domestic partnerships in the campaign, one of the few points the call got right.

Brian regularly attends mass in ABQ, he does not support school vouchers, however. In this economic environment, it’s difficult to understand using tax payer dollars for school vouchers while so many people are being asked to take furlough Friday’s and many counties are facing crucial cuts in important services.

On the presidential caucus, the party ran the election with a next to nothing budget, and the 2008 elections saw record turnout in both the caucus and the general. Brian accepts responsibility for the caucus, however, he is also proud to have so many Democrats turn out to participate in the processes.

So you call it Joe, who illegally called NM voters (no phone number is given on the call, breaking both NM and Federal law) to slow Colón in the last week?

We don't know who made the call, but the campaigns of Dem Light Guv hopefuls Lawrence Rael and Joe Campos deny it was them. Generally, these calls are untraceable.


We talked last week about how conservatives may give ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich a second look this year. They may disagree with him mightily on the issues, but if they are one of the thousands of voters associated with Kirtland Air Force Base, they could vote their pocketbooks. Here's something from Heinrich's office illustrating the point:

Representative Heinrich, member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, passed the committee by a vote of 59 to 0. Heinrich secured several key provisions in the bill to support U.S. service members and their families, create jobs, and spur economic development in central New Mexico. A detailed summary of the bill as reported is available here.

Of course, it is the appropriations committees that will have the final say on the KAFB budget, but Heinrich has the ear of those panels from his perch on House Armed Services.

Republican Jon Barela will try to take Heinrich out for being too liberal for the district. He may have his work cut out for him when this "liberal" member is defending the interests of some of his most conservative constituents.


It isn't from New Mexico, but this ad from a candidate for the Alabama Agriculture Commission is keeping the politicos laughing from coast-to-coast. We think it will do the same for you...

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