Tuesday, August 24, 2010
New Dem Spin: Di Trails But Susana Is Peaking Early, Plus: Heinrich Goes Local In TV Debut, And: The Berry Beat; Cop Shootings Force Mayoral Hand
Democrats are bracing for a weekend ABQ Journal poll that many of them think will show Republican Susana Martinez leading Diane Denish by three to six points. But the late August poll being done this week and to be published Sunday is only the beginning. And now there is a new Democratic narrative popping up on the radar screens of La Politica--that Martinez and the R's will get their peak performance this week and that we are headed for a photo finish.
Attorney and former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough, a Denish supporter, sums up this latest line on the must-watch race for Governor:
This is an intriguing race that is going to be as close as it can get at the end of the day--and I think it's all about timing. Susana has had timing completely on her side to this point but that is starting to change. Diane is generally well-liked around the state by independents and even some conservatives, but she has the misfortune of running during a severe economic downturn and at a time of great dissatisfaction with incumbents in general...
At first blush, Susanna is captivating: a successful, female, Hispanic district attorney who has won election in a Democratic stronghold. But as the campaign progresses, I see Susana running thin with independents out here. One independent friend asked me this morning, “Is it my imagination, or is there not much substance there?” Another commented that Susana’s hyper-aggressiveness may be well suited for a DA, but questioned how it would play over the course of four years as a governor. Simply put, time, which has been against Diane, is now on her side.
If the election were 30 days from now, Susana would win. If it were 120 days from now, Diane would win. But the election is 70 days out and, by then, it looks to me like it’s going to be a nail-biter.
A nail-biter? That's just the way we like them.
HEARD ON THE STREET
About Republican Susana Martinez pledging of no cuts to the public school budget or the Medicaid program:
Now I know how Susana Martinez beat the Democrats she ran against for district attorney in Dona Ana County--she became one.
Dem Diane Denish has also pledged not to cut any funds the public schools budget which makes up over 40% of the state budget. But Denish apparently has not made Medicaid one of her sacred cows. From the Politico:
Denish said she’d break from her current boss by make spending cuts everywhere but education.
Does that make Di more of a fiscal conservative than Susana? And what do all her liberal supporters think about that?
OTHER TRAIL STUFF
Susana doesn't seem to be having any trouble financing her message. She ended the June 1 primary with under $150,000 0n hand but her TV ads have been running with regularity. Insiders tell us she attended a mid-July Republican Governors Association meeting in Aspen that brought together Guv GOP candidates with top donors and she may have received commitments of up to $500,000.
The best Martinez TV ad so far? The one running now on education. It really strikes at the heart of what frustrates so many New Mexicans.
Susana's worst ad? The one that had Martinez surrounded by macho lawmen wearing protective vests and saying she was tough on crime. It scared the bejesus out of folks.
MORE TUBE ACTION
ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich has come with his first TV spot of the cycle, and it sends a clear message--the freshman rep elected to serve in the US Congress hardly spends anytime there. That's right. He may have to go back to the dreaded banks of the Potomac and hold his nose, but "Martin's been home 82 0f the 85 weeks he's served in Congress."
As for Obamacare, Wall Street reform, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or the yawning budget deficit, well, they don't merit a mention in Martin's tube debut. What he does talk about is his own backyard:
He and has staff have helped over 1,800 people get things like veterans benefits or Social Security assistance...He helped small businesses to get the credit they need to hire more workers. And Martin’s fought to save a thousand jobs at Kirtland Air Force Base. Martin Heinrich: all New Mexico, all the time.
You bet "all New Mexico all the time." With an angry electorate ready to make any incumbent walk the plank, Martin is doing all he can to hold off the mob.
The ad's speed is accelerated and shows a peripatetic Heinrich dashing to and fro as the narrator details his busy schedule--but no mention of his voting record. That they will leave to Republican Jon Barela who is fast at work calling the first-termer a creature of the "far-left."
Actually, the congressman seems to have the wonkish temperament to become a successful legislator on the Hill. And if he makes it through this first re-election bid, we expect to see more of that side of him. But not this year and not in this fevered throw the bums out atmosphere. In this TV ad Heinrich reveals much more about the political climate than he does about himself.
HEINRICH VS. BARELA ANALYSIS
That Heinrich can come early with TV and we are still waiting for Barela speaks to the financial position of the contenders. Heinrich has a two to one advantage in that department.
A recent SurveyUSA poll shocked the political community when it showed the unknown Barela leading Heinrich 51% to 45%. Heinrich's own polling does not show such a tight race. The Journal poll to come next week will influence the contest. In the unlikely event Barela is ahead, it will rattle the Dems cage mightily and might force open the cash drawers for Barela.
Assessing what people who have had access to Barela's internal polling are telling us, it is more likely that the race will show a several point gap and probably in Heinrich's favor. The congressman remains the favorite but with pressure to run a top-notch campaign that was simply not present there three months ago.
THE BERRY BEAT
Speaking of lawmen, ABQ Mayor RJ Berry went in the bunker when we and others questioned the ninth police shooting of the year. But now that we've hit double digits--ten shootings with seven fatalities- Berry is out of the bunker and "has asked Public Safety Director Darren White to find an independent agency such as the Police Executive Research Forum to review trends in this year's shootings..."
Berry did not frame it as a possible problem with the department but said: "I want to know why our officers are being attacked..."
That's cool. Just don't let the problem fester, possibly exposing the city to costly lawsuits, the rumblings of which can already be heard. Whether we have an outbreak of nut cases attacking cops, police that are not being trained properly or other reasons, it's in the best interest of everyone to find out. That Berry is turning to a police group and not a civilian one will make some suspicious, but it is a start. If the shootings continue, an investigation that includes civilians will be forced upon the 11th floor.
We won't read too much into it, but it was refreshing to see Berry publicly give an order to his public safety director who has assumed more authority--without questioning--than anyone who ever previously occupied the post. We have a feeling that Berry is going to be riding herd more in that regard.
As we noted, Berry went bunker mentality when this issue first arose, but he is showing some flexibility and leadership that come with experience on the job. Those traits also tend to surface when you have the cases of 10 police shootings with seven dead on your desk--a number that easily surpasses what other cities of a similar size are experiencing.
That edited video we posted yesterday of GOP southern congressional candidate Steve Pearce getting a hard time from a voter over his position on Social Security came to us via the state Dems. The Pearce camp thought that that needed to be pointed out and we agree. However, there is no change in the evidence that Pearce did in the past support the partial privatization of the program.
WATCHING THE WATCHDOG
New Mexico Watchdog author Jim Scarantino says a post we had in our first draft Monday was all bark and no bite. He says our source who said he had been fired from a previous job by Congressman Martin Heinrich was in the dark:
I was not fired by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Board. Indeed, when I resigned I received a letter of commendation from the Chair of the Board. And Martin Heinrich was not on the Board at any time I served as the NMWA executive director. Instead, he worked for us as a lobbyist...As for "not holding a decent job since then," I'd point out I was a sole practitioner as an attorney and named the ACLU of New Mexico's Attorney of the Year in 2006 and I made enough money in my practice to retire from law quite early in life...
Scarantino recently reported on Rep. Heinrich upgrading his flying status to first class using frequent flier miles accumulated by his office. That's what started the email flow. We regret the error and are impounding our usually reliable source so he will no longer trip over the Watchdog.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
We've all seen the columns after columns of ABQ area home foreclosures in the classified section. And it just keeps coming. The national housing debacle prompts this food for thought from Rick Wolff, writing for truthout.org:
The US housing industry's basic problem is the system in which it is embedded. The larger capitalist economy shapes the gap between the costs of privately produced homes and American workers' earnings. Over the last 75 years, US capitalism has bridged that gap by means of private credit guaranteed and/or subsidized by the government. This system provides incentives as well as opportunities for excessive home prices, diminished wages and salaries, and excessive quantities, risks, and costs of housing credit. The last 30 years have seen all three phenomena converge into a systemic crisis.
PORK IS GOOD
When we blogged about using even more unspent capital outlay money to plug the state's gargantuan budget shortfall, we weren't advocating that it be done, only pointing out that it was an option for the politicians. Well, even though Joe Craig of Craig & Co. in Los Ranchos was mistaken about our position, he did come with a strong defense against using that capital outlay money, proving once again that one man's pork is another man's pride and joy:
Joe, I am a faithful reader of your blog, but this one set me aback. You are advocating shoving the construction industry (along with the architectural and engineering design community) back into the Stone Age?
Our A/E/C industry is already on the ropes, the housing industry and real estate industries are dead in the water, architectural and engineering firms are laying off people and the construction industry is in the worst shape that I have seen it in my career.
The entire construction industry accounts for something like 40% of our economy and according to UNM the gross receipts that the industry generates is second only to the retail sector. Maybe you should be chatting with economist LarryWaldman at UNM about the implications of what you advocate.
The Federal stimulus monies are not reaching our industry and we desperately need an infusion of capital outlay from the state, counties and municipalities to keep this industry from tanking. The industry is being commoditized by mid-level procurement people that have found ways around the State Procurement Code to cheapen the design and construction side. The institutions that are supported by State money, that are driven by our taxes, regularly give work to out of state firms with only a pretense of being New Mexico firms.
There's $1 billion of unspent capital outlay with $90 million of it uncommitted, according to the Legislative Finance Committee. With the state economy still reeling lawmakers will be feeling increased pressure to get the shovels turning.
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