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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Barela Cash Count Climbs; Can He Make A Race Of It With Heinrich? Plus: Candelaria As U.S. Marshal, And: Di & Susana; An Age Factor? 

Heinrich vs. Barela
If the dreadful backdrop for Dem US House candidates continues into the fall, Republican Jon Barela will have enough cash to let voters know he is there, but he still lags Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich by a better than two to one margin, making his path to Congress a still steep climb.

Barela is reporting $536,000 in the bank as we prepare for the media phase of the race. Heinrich, facing his first re-election test, reports $1.3 million in cash. The latest federal reports are being released this week.

Barela's performance was a bit better than expected and gives R's hope that more cash will come, perhaps putting this race in serious play. Until now, it has been a quiet campaign with no paid advertising from either camp. A PPP poll in February had Heinrich leading Barela 45 to 36 in the ABQ area district. But a poll conducted by Heinrich in late April pushed him above the magic 50% mark, 55% to Barela's 38%.

While national polling continues to worsen for House Dems, Heinrich has been diligent in cultivating local issues, trying to avoid getting wet from any national tidal wave for the R's. But if it gets much worse, some water could start seeping under his door.

Barela is throwing some red meat on the table as he tries to make a splash:

I will work daily to end the runaway spending, tax hikes, and debt that continues to hamper our economy and prevent job creation. Mr. Heinrich, on the other hand, has been a down-the-line supporter of a far-left agenda that is causing these problems.

Some of our R analysts would like to see Barela up with TV ads in early August. They point out that ousting an incumbent--even a freshman Dem like Heinrich--is a herculean task. No incumbent has been defeated in the 42 year history of the district. Early TV may not be possible, but attorney Barela, a former congressional aide to the late GOP Congressman Joe Skeen, is credited with doing a good job of husbanding his resources. If something big happens to Heinrich, he will be there to capitalize.

Barela's cash account keeps him around and in the game. Right now, this one is still Heinrich's to lose.

CANDELARIA TO MARSHAL

How's this for a nice consolation prize? You are rejected by the Bernalillo county Commission to fill a vacancy as sheriff, but the President of the USA nominates you to become US Marshal. That's what happened to retired ABQ police department commander Conrad Candelaria Wednesday.

The appointment was quite late in coming. Obama took over in January of 2009, but is only now nominating a replacement for Republican Gordon Eden to the marshal's post, a plum federal job that goes to the party in power. NM senior Senator Jeff Bingaman made the call for Candelaria:

Candelaria has spent his entire career in law enforcement, and has developed all the right credentials for this important position. I look forward to his Senate confirmation.

The 44 year old Estancia native and ABQ Rio Grande High and UNM grad, ran into a buzz saw when he put his name in the hopper to fill out the unexpired term of Sheriff Darren White who resigned to become public safety director for ABQ.

A controversy erupted over his service in the NM National Guard and was thought to have derailed his chances. Democrat Manny Gonzales was given the nod.

Candelaria said at the time that he had taken his name out of the running for the US Marshal post, but told us last night that soon after he said that he received a call from Senator Bingaman's office and the game was back on for him and other marshal hopefuls, including Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano. Said Conrad:

I am very honored the President gave me this nomination and to have the endorsement of Senators Bingaman and Udall. I want to build on a great tradition. Among the primary tasks is keeping a safe environment for our judiciary and making sure they can keep the criminal justice system operating smoothly...

That sounds pretty formal, but Candelaria told us that over the phone while watering his lawn.

It was a bumpy road for Candelaria, but in the end fortune shined on him. Perseverance is not a quality to be underestimated for those seeking the higher rungs on the ladder of La Politica.

BIRTHDAY GIRL

GOP Guv hopeful Susana Martinez turned 51 Wednesday. (She's a Cancer). Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish turned 61 in March (She's a Pisces). By our recollection, Denish would be the oldest person elected governor for their first term. With age spans extended in recent years that probably could be expected. But does Martinez's relative youth vis-à-vis Denish make a difference? Maybe some in a year when voters are being lured to try the new brand.

There's a caveat here, however. Denish was first elected to statewide office in 2002, at age 53. She is a known quantity--a semi-incumbent. It's getting elected for the first time in your 60's that would be trickier.

Martinez's husband, Dona Ana County Undersheriff Chuck Franco, congratulated his wife on her birthday in a fund-raising missive sent out by the campaign. He said the couple has been married since 1991, or since Martinez was 30. That again raises a question about Martinez's personal biography that has yet to be addressed by the New Mexico press.

Is this Susana's first marriage? Denish was divorced in early adulthood. She has three grown children and was a single mother for six years. Martinez has a stepson, Carlo, 22. An article we spotted also says she maintains care for her 51-year-old sister with special needs, Leticia, who lives with the couple.

Curiosity is keen over the life paths that both women took to reach the top. We're anticipating the reporting of it in the weeks ahead.

UP CLOSE


Here's an article from last year from Las Cruces Magazine profiling Franco and Martinez. It fills in some of the blanks, but not all of them. In one of the photos, Susana is pictured with a cat. What will she do to get the vote of the dog lovers?

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