Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Voters Put Incumbents On Notice: Martinez Landslide For GOP And Scare Of A Lifetime For Speaker Lujan, Plus: More State Election Results & Analysis
Martinez & Denish (Journal)
They don't have pitchforks yet, but the New Mexican electorate appears as restless as its ever been, signaling Tuesday a burning desire for new faces. Republicans awarded a runaway victory to Susana Martinez as their 2010 gubernatorial nominee and Democrats gave NM House Speaker Ben Lujan the scare of his life.
Martinez's breathtaking victory--51% in a five way race--and Lujan's near-death political experience--he beat his primary challenger Carl Trujillo by a mere 72 votes--confirmed that the unsettled national political environment has not skipped New Mexico. There is now a target on the back of any long-term officeholder--in either party.
The AP wrap on the Guv race is here. More coverage here. All state results here. Bernalillo County results here. Sec. of State results here.
Even though she is a 13 year Dona Ana County district attorney, Martinez is a new face on the statewide scene. That conservative Republicans would overlook her thin political resume and opt for the first Hispanic female to ever lead a Guv ticket here or anywhere, demonstrates that the collapse of the old social and economic order is ushering in a new political era where anxious voters break conventional restraints and seek the unconventional.
Martinez was fully embraced in nearly all of the state's 33 counties. She didn't allow retired Marine Colonel Allen Weh, her closet rival, to even set a foot on the battlefield. The early vote in Bernalillo County, the state's largest, was released seconds after the 7 p.m. close of the polls. It showed Martinez with an 11 point lead that would eventually grow to an outlandish 17 and to over 20 statewide. That was the first and last shot she needed to fire. The race was over.
The landslide numbers: Martinez--51--Weh--28--Turner--12--Domenici--7--Arnold-Jones--3.
Mammoth Martinez wins in San Juan and Chaves, longtime GOP bastions, were speckled with healthy turnout numbers and had the R's at our KANW-FM round table on fire. The Dems had them on a starvation diet in 2006 and 2008 and they think this time they've found in the Martinez candidacy the red meat they crave.
We have Martinez winning 31 of the 33 counties. Roosevelt and Cibola appear to have gone for Weh. In conservative Lea County in the SE, it was close. Weh scored 39% to Martinez's 44%.
No wonder Diane Denish, newly coronated as the Dem Guv nominee, wasted no time in throwing some cold water on this blazing party. Taking the podium at a downtown ABQ downtown hotel, Di dug in her heels, admitting that this was going to be a competitive race. She then began her campaign to end this competition early by dissing nearly every aspect of Martinez's record as district attorney.
But with this blow-the-doors off win, you could quickly imagine armored cars full of cash streaming across the state border headed to Martinez headquarters.
Martinez didn't offer much new in her victory speech, delivering her now familiar bromides about corruption in Santa Fe and the "bold change" she will bring to the state. But who says she needs to do much more? The Dems greatest fear is that voters--desperate for the new--set the bar exceptionally low for the GOP nominee and don't listen to them as they mount their offensive against the DA's record.
Throwing the bums out is a grand old American tradition. After Tuesday night, there may be more politicos in that category than anyone ever suspected.
THE LIGHT GUV
Republican John Sanchez, who was the 2002 GOP Guv nominee, took the GOP lieutenant governor nod over Kent Cravens and Brian Moore--39--31--29. State Senator Cravens has to be kicking himself. John spent over $350,000 on the contest--much of it his own money--to make a big TV buy. If Cravens had raised just $100,000 more he would probably be the winner today.
Martinez and Sanchez will be the first all-Hispanic GOP Guv ticket in state history. In 1968, the Democrats had two Hispanics lead their ticket.
DEM LIGHT GUV
This race was never much in question when Brian Colon raised the most money and went up on TV with a big ad buy. Lawrence Rael held Colon at bay in big Bernalillo County--but barely. But outside the metro, Colon won handily. For example, he carried Eddy and San Juan counties big. Statewide, Colon beat Rael 29 to 24 with Joe Campos getting 20. Linda Lopez scored 15 and Jerry Ortiz y Pino 12%.
It was no secret that Colon was not a favorite of Di, who fears the former Dem Party chairman's ties to Big Bill could slow the ticket. But in the end, the fear seemed to dissolve as it became clear once again that the top of the ticket will be the feature presentation, even if the R's try to surface Colon's ties to the Guv.
Colon seemed all team player in his interviews Tuesday night.
GIVE IT UP
Not one candidate who failed to get at least 20 percent of the delegate vote at the March Dem and GOP pre-primary conventions saw the winner's circle Tuesday night. That ought to tell future office seekers that if they can't meet the threshold to make the ballot without filing extra petition signatures, they ought to end their pain early.
It's still early, but it appears turnout for the primary was about 28% of registered Dems and R's. About 34% of the R's came out and about 22% of the Dems. The R's surged to over 120,00 surpassing the 115,000 hit when Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce faced off in their hot and heavy 2008 contest for a US Senate nomination. The Dems also had in the area of 120,000 voters.
Update: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Unofficial returns in New Mexico's primary election indicate that about 28 percent of eligible Republican and Democratic voters cast ballots.
More than 257,000 total votes were cast in Tuesday's election, according to unofficial returns on the secretary of state's web site.
The solid turnout is good news for the R's. They are clearly more energized than the Dems. Of course, with only 32% of the state's registered voters they need to be.
House Speaker Lujan held on by his fingernails in Santa Fe, but incumbent Valencia County Dem state Rep. Elias Barela was ousted by Julian Luna, the executive director of the NM Racing Commission. Business interests favored Luna.
Down Alamogordo way, Republican Gloria Vaughn fell to primary foe Yvette Herrell. Vaughn is getting on in years, normally not a big deal, but in this environment it worked against her.
School teacher Jim Smith is going to the Roundhouse. He beat his rival for the GOP nomination for the House seat of Rep. Kathy McCoy who is retiring. The seat includes the far NE Heights of ABQ and East Mountains. No Dem filed for the seat.
Republican David Doyle will take on vulnerable ABQ West side incumbent Dem state Rep. Ben Rodefer. Doyle came in first in a three man GOP primary field.
So what does the near defeat of Ben Lujan mean to the power structure of the 70 member state House? "It's kind of like the Catholics planning for a new pope. The House Dems will start planning for a new leader. This may very well be Lujan's final two year term." Opined a Senior Alligator.
Will there be a challenge to Lujan's reign as there was several years ago when State Rep. Kenny Martinez tried unsuccessfully to coup the strong-willed Lujan?
There could be, but "you can't replace somebody with nobody" and no one has emerged, said our Senior Gator. But surely Kenny must be putting his thinking cap back on. Maybe he talks to Ben about a transition in a year or so.
Lujan and Denish aren't that close. If she is elected Governor, she might welcome a change in that power seat. Stay tuned.
MORE BALLOT ACTION
It wasn't all party hats and confetti for the R's primary night. They are worried that they will give up the land commission office to the Dems. The D's nominated former commissioner Ray Powell and the R's came with unknown Matt Rush. R Pat Lyons has held the office for eight years. He ran yesterday for the GOP nomination for a southern Public Regulation Commission seat and he is now expected to win the general election in November.
Meanwhile, the Dems dodged a bullet when they rejected the ethically challenged candidacy of Rio Rancho attorney Dennis Montoya. He challenged Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi. She won it 55% to 45%. Bernalillo County was the key, giving Vanzi a landslide. D's did not want Montoya in there adding to their corruption baggage.
The E-Nite Radio Gang
Our joemonahan.com polls of mid and late May proved accurate, predicting all the winners in the major races. We had Martinez by 11. She went on to win by 23, picking up most of the undecided and picking off votes from the other four candidates....
Dan Houston won the GOP nod for Bernalillo County sheriff over William Kurth. He will face appointed Dem Sheriff Manny Gonzales. R's may be able to pick this one off. No Hispanic Dem in recent memory has been elected sheriff...
Should Diane Denish put up a vote on her Web site on whether she should wear eyeglasses? She features both looks on occasion. She looks younger without them, but serious with them. Take your pick....
Will someone give Susana Martinez a platform to stand on or a smaller podium? She looked like she was peeking over a fence when she gave her victory speech in Las Cruces...
Thanks to all my guests and contributors to our KANW broadcast. It was fun all around.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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