Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Weh Winds Up For Knockout Punch With Big TV Bucks; Martinez Braces For Hit, Plus: Barela Says No To Arizona, And: Rio Rancho Push Back On Solar Doubts 

Allen Weh is winding up to deliver a knock-out in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial contest, upping his TV buy to a hefty $82,000 a week, but Susana Martinez is hanging on, coming with $51,000 of her own TV this week as she braces herself to block Weh's power punch.

The determined Weh started with about $50,000 in TV a week some six weeks ago and has been chased for a month by the scrappy Martinez, but unless she has raised a lot more money, she is not going to be able to keep pace with the former state GOP chairman. After this week, my media mavens report Weh will have spent $328,000 on the air, compared to $221,000 for Martinez.

Not that TV alone gets you the primary win. With a lower voter turnout than a general election, there's direct mail, free media and voter turnout efforts that can play a larger role, but no one is delusional in these campaigns. They know that Weh going to over $80,000 is probably a prelude to a finish where he takes it to near $100,000 a week. And with no one throwing any nails in front of his pick-up truck, that's what we'd call a lot of unfiltered messaging.

This $82K is going to look like an onslaught to the state. That's because other than Martinez, there are no other heavy candidate media buys out there. The duo has the field to themselves.


If Weh's four rivals choose to go after Weh, what do you attack him for in a GOP primary? We posed that question to several consultants and there were no easy answers.

Several said they would use the electability issue, citing Weh's allegedly limited appeal in a general election in a year when the R's have a decent chance to take the Guv's office. Others said his insider millionaire status and tenure as a former state party chair don't play well in the current climate and that might be something to take him down several notches. As we said, there were no easy answers.

One other thing. Some of the Alligators think Weh could be the first to go negative if his polling shows him hitting the ceiling and Martinez still threatening.


As the absentee balloting and early voting begins this week GOP Lt. Guv candidate John Sanchez is basically running unopposed. He is burying his opponents in a wave of TV ads. Here's his second one of the cycle.

Like Weh, Sanchez is basically self-financing.

Former State Rep. Brian Moore and ABQ state Senator Kent Cravens are no slouches, but the money advantage of Sanchez, who is a roofing contractor, is now taking hold. Moore loaned himself $100,000 and can still go up on broadcast television, but by that time will Sanchez already be gone and hiding the ball?


This is important to the ABQ congressional race. Republican hopeful Jon Barela tells us he is against the anti-immigration law recently signed by the Arizona Governor and which has caused so much opposition in the Hispanic community.

"I have concerns about the Arizona bill..about its applications." He said.

And would one of those concerns be that the law could lead to racial profiling in the "Yes, that would be one of my concerns," he replied.

That statement is not unexpected as support for the Arizona law in the ethnically diverse and moderate ABQ district could knock Barela to the canvas. Even conservative southern GOP congressional hopeful Steve Pearce is hedging on the Arizona law, decrying security at the border, but not saying whether he supports the new measure. That's a sure sign that the issue is political dynamite for the R's.

Barela also spoke to us of his fund-raising efforts, saying we have not mentioned that Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich, who he is challenging, "had a $450,000 head start" on him. OK, we've mentioned it.


A reader writes of our blog about GOP Guv nominee Allen Weh being the first to go negative with phone polling and says it was actually Susana Martinez who was first with the tactic. These polls are often described as "push polls" in which the caller is given negative and sometimes inaccurate information about one or more candidates to push them away from supporting their rivals. Pollsters for Weh say he was testing negative messages but was not conducting a classic push poll. Meanwhile, our reader says Martinez was apparently unaware of what a push poll is when questioned recently on the radio:

Joe, I've got to correct you. It appears that Susana Martinez was actually the first candidate to conduct a push poll that attacked her Primary opponents. Listen to the attached audio. It's from an interview with KKOB-AM radio a few weeks ago.

The caller says he received a call from a polling company and that the pollster said awful things about every candidate--except Susana. In fact, the pollster said some nice things about her. Hmm.

The best part, however, is how Susana responds: We're not doing a push poll. We don't do polls where someone has to push a button; we do conversational polls.

Apparently, she doesn't understand what a push poll is. She believes a push poll is something where you, uh, push buttons on your phone.

God forbid we elect a Sarah Palin as our governor!

We've listened to the audio and Martinez does say: "We have not a done a push poll, but it was a conversational poll. It was not something that we just push buttons....

Martinez may not know much about negative phone polling, but her campaign consultants apparently do.

Of course, the rich polling firms will give you what you want. Sworn off of "push polls?" No problem, Mr. Candidate. Here's a close facsimile that you can spin as being just a negative test. Just be sure to send the check on time!


There is a ton of negative out there about Dennis Montoya who is seeking to oust appointed NM Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi in the June 1st Democratic primary, but it's anyone's guess how much if it is sticking. Vanzi supporters fear big totals for Montoya in northern counties could overwhelm her. The judge comes with this news:

The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association (APOA) has endorsed Judge Linda Vanzi for the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The APOA represents over 900 officers..The APOA is the largest police association in the State of New Mexico. They rarely endorse in Judge’s races.

Vanzi has won a slew of other union endorsement and if they mobilize their membership on her behalf it could be a deciding factor. However, retired cop Mark Bralley says APOA may be large, but lets Judge Vanzi know it is not the largest police association in NM:

APOA is not the largest police association in New Mexico. The State Fraternal Order of Police is with over 2,000 members, followed by Albuquerque FOP Lodge # 1 which represents Federal State County and City law officers. The FOP often also makes endorsements.

Attorney Montoya and Vanzi tangled over legal cases when Vanzi was a district court judge, causing much bad blood between the two.

The court has 10 judges. There are currently five Anglos and five Hispanics. Rod Kennedy and Jonathan Sutin are the two Republicans on the panel which has offices in ABQ and Santa Fe.

And here's a Journal piece from today outlining the latest legal woes of Montoya.


Also on the legal beat today, the AP comes with the report on the first news conference of the new NM US Attorney. Democrat Ken Gonzales takes over from Republican Greg Fouratt who had a big run when it comes to prosecuting state corruption cases. He is expected to stay at the office and work under Gonzales who was confirmed for the position by the US Senate last week. He is a former aide to Senator Bingaman.


There really was no choice. The NM Gaming Control Board nixed the license for the proposed Raton racino Tuesday after months of delays and financial problems from the Canadian investor. Now investors who wanted the state's last authorized racino in Tucumcari are excited about getting another chance. But gaming board Chairman David Norvell, his colleagues and the state racing commission needn't be in a hurry. They need to take an extra hard look at any proposal for expanded gambling. Remember, the Downs at ABQ had a plan to expand to Moriarty that fell through because of money issues. Now the Raton deal. Financial waters remain treacherous during this bear market and the last thing we need is to start up a racino that fails to get started.

We're among those in the sceptical column when it comes to that proposed giant solar manufacturing plant for Rio Rancho, and we outlined why Monday as well as linking to a newspaper piece that also expressed concern over financing for this deal. That drew the attention of Rio Rancho City Manager James Jimenez who pushed back with this:

Joe, Your post comparing Green 2V to Eclipse Aviation was misinformed. There are very significant differences between the Eclipse Aviation project and the Green 2V project. The biggest difference between the two is that unlike Eclipse, there are no public funds being invested in Green 2V.

The company is buying land from the State Land Office (SLO), through the City of Rio Rancho, at the appraised value.
The "investment" by Rio Rancho taxpayers is $7.2 million in public infrastructure adjacent to the site; no public funds are being spent on the Green 2V property...

If Green 2V should fail, the city taxpayers will still have the public infrastructure and the site will be immediately usable by another company. The infrastructure investment will in no way be lost.

With respect to the industrial revenue bond (IRB), those bonds are repaid solely by the company, not by Rio Rancho taxpayers. Under an IRB, the investors have no recourse to public assets, and the IRB is not included in the city's credit rating.

I'm a bit surprised that, despite your daily rant about how tough things are for Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico, you would be so critical of a public-private partnership that is scheduled to bring 1,500 jobs...In a capitalist economy, people take risks and are sometimes rewarded, sometimes not...W
e recognize that there are limits to what a governmental entity should do and that is why we limited our investment to public infrastructure.

Lastly, the city has been very open from the beginning that Green2V is a start-up company and that they are being backed by private equity.

Fair enough. Eclipse got a direct taxpayer appropriation and this solar outfit will not. But Rio Rancho is putting up that indirect money that Jimenez mentioned, and the city's good name is going to be used to market the industrial revenue bonds. As for those 1,500 jobs, forgive our scepticism, but we'll believe it when we see it--and not before.

More important, why are Rio Rancho officials seemingly unconcerned about the many questions being raised about the ability of this outfit to deliver? Are city officials overselling this deal to the public and the many unemployed? And what about this other outfit that says its will be buying the $500 million in bonds from Green2V that are getting a low interest rate because Rio Rancho's name is on them? Why doesn't the city or anyone else know anything about them? Who are these people?

We are asking for competence and accountability on the behalf of our public officials who have in the past done such a substandard job when it comes to economic development i.e. Eclipse, Lions Gate Advent Solar and other failed projects. That responsibility can't be casually dismissed as part of the "risk" in a capitalistic society. It is the job of the publicly paid manager and mayor of Rio Rancho to avoid needless risk before committing the credibility and the good credit of the taxpayers of their city. Or deciding to spend over $7 million on "infrastructure" to attract a company.


And news of that risk keeps coming. NM Watchdog has posted more troubling information about this highly-touted start-up, asking why the company that says it will buy the $500 million in bonds is not listed in any public records in California where it tells Rio Rancho officials it is based.


And one of our readers sent us this interesting Securities and Exchange case from 2005 regarding Bill Housley, mentioned in the weekend ABQ Journal piece as the Green2V Executive Vice President and co-founder.

As for our "daily rant" on behalf of the state's unemployed and other victims of the Great Recession, if that is making some among the government and privileged classes uncomfortable, then maybe we're doing our job.

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