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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Down Ballot Races: Dems Appear To Have Upper Hand, Plus: The Promises Di & Susana Can't Keep, And: A Spanish Fantasy Or A Wayword Historian? 

We've heard the numbers on the congressional and Guv races, but what about the down ballot contests like attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer, and land commissioner?

Well, the ABQ Journal usually doesn't poll that deep but this cylce they have come with an attorney general survey. It shows Attorney General Gary King with a comfortable lead over Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler. Gary scores 48% to Matt's 33%. Nineteen percent remain undecided giving Republican Matt some hope, but still making him the decided underdog. But it's going to be tough. The King name has cachet and while he has been taking some recent heat in the ongoing controversy at the Secretary of State's office, it is not enough to throw him off course.

King also has independent wealth that can be tapped if he runs into trouble. Chandler will need hundreds of thousands to make the big move he needs to make. Maybe some out of state groups can help him, but the R's are concentrating on the Guv's race this year. That's where the money is headed.

No Republican has been elected attorney general since 1986. It was thought that with Dems suffering nationally some of that unpopularity might bleed down to the lower ballot offices. It isn't happening.

We've also looked at a poll conducted for King by Lake Research Partners in the fist week of August. It shows almost identical results as the Journal survey with King getting 47% of the vote and Chandler 28%.

The other ABQ Journal polls taken last week and being released this week show Democrats, who have over 50% percent of the state's registered voters, are holding up against the sour national mood toward their party. Nothing is certain in this game, but that indicates all the down ballot races--not just attorney general--are likely to stay in Democratic hands--as they usually do.

There could be one switch, however. The R's control the state land office, but former land commissioner Ray Powell Jr. is favored to take it back as Republican Matt Rush is not showing the money.

The likelihood of a clean sweep of the statewide executive offices--AG, Auditor, Treasurer, Secretary of State and Land Commissioner remains high. Not bad for Dems in a year when they are threatened with losing the US House, the New Mexican Governorship as well as our state's southern congressional seat.

HEINRICH VS. BARELA

The Alligators are on the loose in the ABQ congressional race between Democrat Rep. Martin Heinrich and Republican Jon Barela. They are again declaring this is not a toss-up race, that it is clearly a lean Democrat race.

Heinrich has a six point lead in the Journal poll taking 47% of the vote. Barela needed to do better than 41%. It's true Heinrich came with TV shortly before the poll, but it appears to be working. Not good if you believe Heinrich's race can be nationalized. For Barela there is a price to pay for running six behind--money.

The R's need money to get Steve Pearce in the US House and Susana Martinez in the Guv's chair. Barela will face not only local competition for funding, but also on the national level as R candidates with better polling argue to the national committees that they should get the TV money, not Barela.

JUST THINKING

We've been on this one for a while and now the AP comes with a report that elaborates. The question is whether GOP Guv contender Susana Martinez or Dem nominee Diane Denish will be able to keep their campaign promise not to cut the public schools budget. And will they be able to keep their pledge to also keep the mammoth Medicaid program off the chopping block?

What's the size of the projected shortfall for the budget year that stars in July 2011 anyway? About $250 million, maybe $350 million if the economy goes further south.

Denish has announced plans to cut about $90 million a year. Martinez has not come with a concrete figure. Will either of them have a plan to cut the state budget by at least $250 million a year before this campaign is over? The odds on that are about the same as the UNM Locksley Lobos finishing first in the Mountain West this year.

We've blogged how Martinez's pledge not to cut the public schools budget is especially thorny because she is crossing swords over it with her own Republican legislative leadership. For example, since we commented on this potential fissure, we've been told by Republican Alligators that Roswell GOP State Rep. Keith Gardner, the House Minority Whip, is quite uncomfortable with the Martinez pledge.

Now State Senator John "Dr. No" Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is calling out both the Guv candidates for making budgetary promises he says can't be kept.

He predicted Martinez or Denish will "have to break 50 percent of their campaign promise," based on current revenue projections.

As we've noted here, the public schools and Medicaid make up nearly 60% of the state budget. Is Martinez delivering "bold change" when she refuses to take a look at waste in those huge line items? And is Denish any different than Big Bill when it comes to kicking the budget can down the road?

Not that we're advocating cutting the two programs, we're just thinking, along with Dr. No, of exactly how these two potential Governors plan on addressing the chief issue they will face upon being sworn in January 1.

(We blogged recently that we were unsure of Denish's stand on Medicaid cuts. Th AP reported: Both candidates also have said they would protect Medicaid from cutbacks.)

SPANISH DENIAL


Someone might want to send some new history books over to Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez, the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Why? Get a load of what he had to say about Spanish influence in New Mexico:

The Spanish heritage fantasy is really about denial and not based on history...Spanish identity, as it is thought about today, was somewhat of a fabrication. Spain may be the least of what has shaped our heritage of converging streams. The people here were deeply caste and irrevocably mixed within a mere two centuries of Spanish occupation, roots drawn from numerous indigenous nations. The effects and legacies are thus as much institutional as they are biological, aesthetic as much as they are ideological...

Hey, we know that the Spanish influence was diluted, but that doesn't make it a Disneyland fantasy. For the record, Doc, Spanish explorers came here from Spain 400 years ago. They brought with them their culture and heritage. They mated with Mexicans and Native Americans. The Spanish culture was merged with the others, but Spanish blood still courses through the veins here.

Now, is that so hard to say, Doc? If this historic revisionism of Rael-Galvez is what they're teaching our kids at the National Hispanic Cultural Center we might as well move the place to Anaheim--the home of Disneyland.

CRAVING REFORM

A reader writes:


...It's a shame that Susana Martinez feels she needs to distance herself from vouchers and also make a promise not to cut funding for education. As a taxpayer, I'm tired of all the money I pay in property taxes for APS and higher education, and not seeing any return on my investment.

A recent news article about New Orleans and its recovery said that prior to Katrina, only about 28% of students were tested as proficient and now, just 5 years later, almost half are. The article went on to say that about 61% of students are on some type of voucher, the schools are NON-UNION, and parents have a say in where their kids can go to school. That's the kind of reform that needs to happen here, and if that means cutting funding, or re-directing it to private schools (which are not all "wealthy" as Diane Denish purports), then so be it. The candidate that will say things like that, and do them once elected, is the kind of candidate I want to support.


THE BOTTOM LINES

Reader David Vittoria writes of the decision of Lowe's not to open a long-anticipated home improvement store at a new shopping center at Coors and Central in ABQ that would have employed 500:

The target audience was the city's southwest mesa which I call "subprimeville." Unfinished homes, short sales and foreclosures all over the place. Who needs a Lowe's?

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