Tuesday, July 27, 2010

National GOP Chairman To ABQ For Susana, Plus: Heinrich's Summer Scare; Barela Leads In Poll, And: Browbeating Big Bill 

RNC Chairman Steele
Only yesterday we speculated about the big guns that would be brought to bear on the 2010 New Mexico Guv race. Now comes word that Susana Martinez is about to fire one off. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will appear as a special guest at a fund-raising reception to be held this Thursday at the ABQ home of GOP Light Guv candidate John Sanchez. (The invite is posted here. Click to enlarge.)

VIP tickets are going for $1,000 a couple and $250 a person for the general reception. Susana could use the cash. Dem nominee Diane Denish reported $2.2 million in the bank at the end of June while Susana barely topped $130,000 after an expensive primary battle. Tickets for the event featuring Steele are available by calling 575-636-5844.

Martinez is a candidate with potential political sex appeal for the power starved Republicans. She would be America's first Hispanic female Governor and the GOP needs to start focusing on that to create excitement. So far, however, her TV ads have been solely about hitting Dem nominee Denish. The state (and the nation) awaits a more positive and uplifting profile of this unusual standard bearer. Steele might give that a kick start in his speech to the party faithful Thursday.

Steele's tenure at the national party has been marked by a series of controversies. The latest over his remark that the war in Afghanistan was "a war of Obama's choosing" and that it is failing.

His appearance here will help Martinez raise money and her profile in the state's media and population center.

Barela and Heinrich
They dropped their fishing rods and golf clubs when they heard this one--a new poll shows Republican Jon Barela leading Democratic US Rep. Martin Heinrich 51% to 45% with 4% undecided in the race for the ABQ congressional seat.

Say what?

Didn't Heinrich beat Darren White by 12 points in 2008 to become the first Dem to take the ABQ seat? And didn't Heinrich release a poll of his own May 2 that showed him in good shape, beating Barela 55% to 38%? And didn't a February PPP poll also put Heinrich ahead 45% to 36%?

The SurveyUSA poll (MOE + or 4.2%) conducted among 559 likely voters July 22-25 for KOB-TV shook the lemonade stands from here to D.C, and left the pundits--including yours truly--scrambling for explanations. There are several.

First off, if this poll has captured something, it might be an anti-incumbent trend among voters. It can't be a vote for Jon Barela because he has done no TV ads, no significant newspaper or media stories have been generated about him or the contest and he has never sought a major elective office in the district. But in this chaotic year voters can be of a mind to be against whoever is in office. (KOB'S Stuart Dyson has more on the polls specifics in this report.)

The Heinrich camp was having none of it. The congressman's chief of staff, Steve Haro, speaking with us from the embattled halls of Congress, called the SurveyUSA poll an "outlier" and an "anomaly," citing the results from earlier polls and adding one of his own--a "benchmark poll" conducted for Heinrich July 8 through the 13th by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. That poll shows Heinrich holding on to a solid lead. From Haro on the Hill:

We tested our vulnerabilities and then beat the heck out of each candidate to see where we would end up. We started out with a 12 point lead--53% to 41%. After beating one another up, we still ended with a winning margin--49% to 36%.

I don't know what what is going on with the SurveyUSA poll. It is one of those outliers, an anomaly...If you believe that poll..then you have to accept the fact that this district made a 19 point swing in less than 13 days and I don't see how that is possible...

Haro insisted he saw no message in the surprising findings:

I don't think the poll is telling us anything...Clearly there is an anti-incumbent mood across the country, but we have a positive job approval rating--52 percent. When we ask voters what they like about Martin, they mention that he is very hard working...

The Heinrich campaign released this brief polling memo.

Not surprisingly Barela was milking this one for all it's worth:

Washington is seriously off track. I believe that Washington is out of touch with the average New Mexico family. This far-left drift in Mr. Heinrich's voting record--97 percent of the time with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi--has led to higher taxes, a higher deficit and certainly higher unemployment.

This was the second tidbit of recent good news for Barela. He earlier reported he has over $500,000 cash in the bank to Heinrich's $1.3 million. That's still a considerable disadvantage but enough to take advantage if something big happens.

Has something big happened in in the district? Probably not. The SurveyUSA automatic phone method seems to work better when both candidates are widely known by the public. But both Barela and Heinrich will use this survey to raise money. Barela more so. And the message to Heinrich in this unsettled year is that nothing less than a picture perfect campaign will do to secure his first re-election. For Barela, the message is to get out of his headquarters and out on the streets---and onto the airwaves.


National Dems have reserved $500,000 of ABQ TV time for the final two weeks of the campaign. Most of it would likely go to help southern Dem Congressman Harry Teague who is locked in a fierce battle with Republican Steve Pearce. A final decision on whether to actually buy that air time will be based on polling closer to the election.

Meanwhile, NPR comes with this coverage of the Teague-Pearce contest.

Pearce played "gotcha" with Teague over that broadcast:

Teague stated "we went from losing a half million [jobs] a month to having a positive increase every month. I think most people are aware of that and will vote accordingly."

The Department of Workforce Solutions' release says:

"The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing June 2010 with June 2009, was negative 1.8 percent, representing a loss of 14,200 jobs...."

But the Teague forces retort that NPR described how Pearce had gotten lost in Weed, NM, and they had a good laugh at his expense.

It might be one of the few laughs the Dems get in this contest. Pearce is now seen as the favorite among the Alligators closely following the action.


The El Paso Times comes with profiles of Guv hopefuls Dem Diane Denish and R Susana Martinez. Some highlights:

State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, said Denish "is a person of integrity--honest, thorough, fair, and was willing to work with both parties. I also like Susana Martinez, and I think she is a good prosecutor, but that's all she knows."

And from Martinez:

After eight years of deplorable and unethical conduct, New Mexicans deserve a leader who will put principles before politics. My work ethic has earned respect and support across the political spectrum because I am willing to confront the most pressing challenges and work to deliver results, not excuses.


Now it's time for a good old fashioned summertime rage. Hold on to your iced tea, folks. Here comes reader Yolanda Acosta with bare knuckles and brass for Big Bill:

I would like to have a website where citizens of New Mexico could sign their names welcoming the governors from the Border States and Mexico to the most corrupt, pay to play, bankrupt, high crime, low wages, no job creation, cronyism filled state in the nation. And let's not forget Governor Richardson is proud to proclaim he supports issuing driver's licenses to undocumented persons from Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries. It doesn't matter where you are from--you want a driver's license you've come to the right state...

That was so entertaining we wouldn't be surprised to hear that Susana Martinez has offered Yolanda a speech writing job.

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