Thursday, June 24, 2010

Humor Or Sexist? All Female Guv Race Surfaces Issue, Plus: Republicans For Denish? Big Name GOP Lawyer Goes For Di, And: An Alert For History Buffs 

Mud Wrestlers
With two female candidates vying for the New Mexico governorship for the first time in history, the media coverage is being closely watched--including ours. We quoted from a column of retired newsman Ned Cantwell this week when he likened the race between Denish and Martinez to female mud wrestling. That brought this sharp retort from reader Lissa Knudsen, president of the graduate student association at UNM:

Coverage like this: "Mud wrestling," I said. "So far these ladies have displayed such lack of class, we're beginning to think, 'strip down and get 'er on, gals.'"

That's over the top. We're going to have a female governor. It's time to brush off the 1970's era sexism and get with the times...No one EVER makes such jokes about male candidates. So I ask, a) if you hear it don't repeat it and maybe even step up and call people on their BS, or b) make sure you objectify and sexualize male/transgender candidates at an equal rate.

Thanks, Lissa, you make a point, but let's not get carried away with political correctness. We're not about to play censor around here, and we don't think Ned was being malicious. He was commenting on the conduct of the political campaigns, not the candidates personally.

As for no one ever making such jokes about male candidates, fact check that one. Bill Clinton has been the butt of sexual innuendo during his entire national political career.


Of course, much of the early campaign for Governor has been about sex--sex offenders and other criminal wrongdoing. The negative TV ads have gone back and forth, but according to the first poll conducted since the heavy advertising began, it has made little difference in the race. Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies, who worked for NM GOP Guv candidate Doug Turner during the primary, says the race remains a dead heat. Their poll taken Monday has it 44% for Susana, 43% for Di and undecided at 13. The margin of error is + or -4.2%. It was conducted by automatic telephone calls. You can read the poll here.

The Alligators questioned the early launch of Campaign '10, with many of them predicting the negative ads would be largely ignored by a voting public more concerned with their summer plans than politicking. They appear to be right. Another problem is the negative ads themselves--they seem disconnected from reality, and several of them have been questionable in their accuracy.

Denish seems to be looking for a magic bullet to shoot through Martinez's record as a district attorney, one that would fatally wound her for the fall. But the stuff they have come with is like rubber bullets--it stings, but doesn't penetrate the flesh.

Has Denish paid a price for going negative first and early? The Magellan poll says Di's favorable rating is at 40% and her unfavorable rating is at 41%. Martinez's favorable is at 45% and unfavorable at 34%.

However, Alligators looking at the crosstabs say Denish's negative hits may be taking a toll on Martinez with some Dems and independents.

Looks as though both Di and Susana could have saved their June TV money and spent it on some iced teas. June is a time to chill, not kill.

Turner Branch
She won the five way GOP Guv primary with 51% of the vote, but Susana Martinez apparently still has some work to do to unify her party. The sometimes nasty exchanges she had with chief rival Allen Weh took their toll. Now, Turner Branch, a prominent Republican trial attorney and founder of the Branch Law Firm and long involved in state politics, writes to tell us he will not be on the Martinez bandwagon:

I was one of Allen Weh’s staunchest supporters and largest contributors. I have been a Republican in New Mexico since I was able to vote in 1959.

...Although I am a lifelong Republican and one of Allen Weh’s strongest supporters in the GOP primary, I cannot, in good conscience, back Susana Martinez for Governor.

Martinez, in my opinion, ran a totally unnecessarily nasty primary campaign and she’s already doing the same in the general election, distorting her record as she tries to mislead voters.

I’m supporting Diane Denish– a woman with unmatched integrity who has what it takes to be our state’s next great Governor...I suspect that other Republicans will be following my lead in the very near future.

Sounds like these are the first rumblings of a "Republicans for Denish" group. It would also not be unusual to see a "Democrats for Martinez" committee before this election is over.

But Martinez supporters were quick to point out that Branch has deep ties to the Dems, not just the R's that he claims. Calling him a "liberal trial lawyer" and his bolt to Denish "hardly a defection," one of them sent this list of federal campaign donations Branch has made:

$28,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2008
$10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2004
$5,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 1998
$4,200 to Bill Richardson for President

On the state side, a campaign operative said Branch's only GOP donation in 2010 was to Weh, with eight others all going to Dems.

Many major NM law firms, including Branch's, do business with state government. Branch was named state liquor director by Republican Governor Dave Cargo back in the 1960's.


Reader Ched MacQuigg says we missed an angle when we covered the pit rule controversy on the blog Wednesday:

You write; "but no one could point to the name of a company and their employees who were laid off as a direct result of the pit rule, or moved out of the state as a result of the environmental regulation."

This would apply only to existing companies. If someone, not already drilling, had decided not to drill because of the pit rule, there would be no record of their decision...

Fair enough, Ched. If there is a company out there that can prove that it decided not to drill here because of the pit rule that governs waste disposal, we will be glad to report it if they let us know about it.


UNM, Karen Wentworth of the communications department, writes:

Here’s a suggestion for you and your readers. It’s a series of three audio lectures about turbulent political times in the early 20th century. The state historian sponsors fellows to dig into the archives at UNM and in Santa Fe. These lectures are a great reminder about how complicated New Mexico history is and what a tangled cultural legacy we have. Perfect listening for when you are tired of reruns and just want to relax and listen to something interesting.

The lectures are here.

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