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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

More On Di's Spring Offensive Against Susana (And She Hits Back), Also: Weh's Swan Song Not for Susana, Plus: Another Legislative Race To Watch 

Diane Denish continues her June offensive against GOP Guv nominee and Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, but with some adjustments. In round two, she address concerns about her first foray which was seen as falling flat and inviting more press scrutiny than she may have liked.

In TV ad #2, unveiled Tuesday, gone is any mention of Martinez's record for murder convictions, a point that had the ink-stained scribes questioning the stats used to back up Di's contention that Susana had a lousy record in that regard. Instead, Team Denish focuses solely on Martinez's DWI record, and rather than 30 seconds of all negative, the ad also begins to build a positive case for Denish.

This effort seems to hit the mark. Martinez has been caught squirming over a pledge she made when running for DA that she would "never" plea bargain felony DWI cases, but she did plea bargain out 800 of them.

The DWI issue also has more emotional impact. Even though the state has made progress, horrific cases of slaughter on the highways still occur. And in just about all of these cases the offender is a repeat drunk driver.

Martinez is doing her best to explain away her no plea bargain pledge. Take a look:

Susana Martinez kept her word. A felony DWI case is pled down by eliminating a past DWI conviction in limited cases when a prior DWI cannot be proven, such as when another agency is unable to produce a record of a past conviction or when the evidence does not support the felony DWI
.


In 2009, the Doña Ana County DAs office had a 90% conviction rate on felony DWIs (out of the 59 cases that were disposed, only six cases did not result in a conviction).

Martinez may not be directly to blame for having to plead down the DWI's, but she is part of the criminal justice system faulted by voters for not cracking down on multiple DWI offenders. And she did make that pledge to "never" plea bargain.

In the ad's second half, Di for the first time begins to tout her record as lieutenant governor (although she never mentions the office). She points to her backing of a small business loan program, her longtime support for pre-kindergarten which was approved in the Big Bill years and her corruption fighting credentials, saying she fought to reform the state's scandal-plagued housing authority.

This portion of the ad may go down easy with voters who are already angry with politicians and politics. Besides, with New Mexico breaking heat records, we can use less of it coming out of our TV sets.

MARTINEZ RESPONSE

UPDATE--Martinez hit with her own attack ad on Denish Wednesday morning. You can see it here. The campaign said it's a crime ad:

The ad highlights Denish’s efforts to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico and discusses the sanctuary policy at the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), which allowed juvenile criminals who were also illegal immigrants to go unreported to federal authorities, and the result was child molesters like Juan Gonzalez were allowed to remain in the country and commit crimes, including preying upon New Mexico children.

I
n a newspaper interview she said this of Denish's TV attacks:

Denish really doesn't know what she is talking about when it comes to my conviction record or my ability to have a very strong and tough stance in the prosecution of cases in my office," she said. "Denish is doing it to avoid discussing the issues that are important to New Mexicans. We've got to start talking about what's important to them.

Meantime, some of the sting was taken out of Di's attacks on Susana as she publicized an endorsement from the NM Fraternal Order of Police. That helps the DA hang on to her tough on crime credentials that the Denish ads are so determinedly trying to undercut.

THE BARRERAS PROBLEM
Rep. Barreras
Here's the stuff that makes voters nervous about politicians in power:

Democratic state Rep. Andrew Barreras...owed $24,41 in taxes on three properties...The majority of that is...for the last three years on an office building he owns in Los Lunas.

The Valencia County lawmaker is mum on why he hasn't paid up. But with the state a fiscal shipwreck and Barreras among those charged with finding a way out, voters might find it soothing to hear an explanation on how Andy finds himself in this mess.

RACES TO WATCH

This week we've hit a few of the legislative races to watch this year. A reader chips in another one:

Take a look at the state Rep. Bill O'Neill versus Republican Justin Horwitz (R) race in District 15. This is the old Raymond Sanchez North Valley seat, which was R for about four terms and turned back to D last go around.

The demographics of the district have morphed R overtime, particularly in it's northeastern section. These are two strong non-native New Mexican candidates and both attorneys. The incumbent is a Cornell grad and the challenger from Amherst. Both played football.

The challenger is a Rodey law firm lawyer, like many legislators before him, most recently Dick Minzner and Victor Marshall.

O'Neill is a freshman who captured the seat after his second try. Horowitz has shown a willingness to lend himself campaign money. O'Neill is favored but says he will be on the door-to-door circuit.

Have a legislative race for us to focus on? Email it in.

SWAN SONG

Where's the endorsement of Susana? Supporters of unsuccessful GOP Guv hopeful Allen Weh don't get one from their candidates as he pens his final email missive:

Although my candidacy ended on the 1st of June, the same challenges for New Mexico remain: rooting out corruption, turning around our sick state economy, fixing education, and strengthening public safety and securing our border.

Because of your support and our common concerns, I intend to stay involved with specific issues that confront our nation and our state.

But will the former GOP chairman "stay involved" by backing Susana who beat him up so badly? Well, the sores may be less painful come October than they are in June. Until then, Susana will play nice with her old boxing buddy and wait for the inevitable kiss and make-up.

LOOKING TOUGH
Rep. Heinrich
It seems Martin Heinrich has come a long way from the days when R's called him an anti-establishment hippie from ABQ's SE Heights. The ABQ Dem freshman congressman, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is pictured in a helicopter during a recent five day trip to Afghanistan.

Heinrich has reason to look somber. American casualties in the region are escalating, but he says he supports the Obama policy there and sees progress in thew war which is now the longest in our nation's history.

Neither Heinrich or his Republican foe, Jon Barela, are military veterans.

ONLY HERE

We're the go-to political Web site in New Mexico because our Alligators and wall-leaners come with stuff like this:

Now that NM House Speaker Ben Lujan has survived his primary challenge by less than 100 votes, he has a new nickname at the Roundhouse. It's "Squeaker Lujan."

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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