Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Martinez Doubles Down On Corruption; Three New Media Hits, Plus: Rating The NM US House Races, And: The Blogging Readers 

Susana Martinez doubled down on the corruption issue Tuesday, adding two more TV spots to the mix and a radio spot to boot--all flashing the corruption banner that the Dona Ana County district attorney is convinced will carry her into the governorship. Not everyone sees it with such clarity. The Democrats and Diane Denish are now taking full ownership of the critical issues of jobs and the economy. If these latest hits don't stick--and it is far from certain they will--Democrats could continue coming home to Di whose party makes up 50% of the state's registered voters, On the other hand, the political atmosphere is so fragile the R's can make a case that an all-corruption-all-the-time campaign has a better than usual chance of sticking.

Also, one of our Senior Alligators said the R's could still pivot off the corruption issue and into the economy when the calender turns to October. But first they can maximize corruption.

Martinez's campaign released an internal poll they say was conducted Sept 11-13 and that showed Susana beating Di by ten points 50-40. The poll situates Martinez better than others we have seen, but all polling has shown Martinez in the lead. This poll was conducted by Nicole McCleskey of the GOP Polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. She is the wife of Martinez's chief strategist Jay McCleskey. The release of the somewhat dated poll was seen as push back to news of polling here that has Martinez stalled out. However, only Martinez's own poll has her at the critical 50% mark.

These spots will carry Martinez into next week when the ABQ Journal is expected to being its second poll with results released Sunday, Oct. 3.

One of the "new" spots is a rehash of the ad that has been running and accuses Denish and her lobbyist husband Herb Denish of benefitting from an alleged pay-to-play scheme in the development of Mesa del Sol south of ABQ, but the foundation of that ad was shaken by the newspaper fact checkers. This second ad shouts new info that Denish had "a financial interest in a corporation that got a huge state tax deal worth $500 million."

The ad says the charge is derived from Di's 2003 state financial disclosure form but the Denish campaign says  their candidate has no such interest, including any ownership of stock in Forest City Covington, the developer of Mesa del Sol. Martinez's campaign did not come with specifics to back up the contention.

Martinez may be pushing the rock up the hill here because Denish, a public figure for decades, has not been perceived as a vessel of corruption, despite her association with Big Bill. Among a large chunk of voters she has a stand-alone political personality derived from previous campaigns, her years as Light Guv and chairmanship of the Democratic Party.

The second Martinez spot gives us some personal narrative, a rarity thus far in this long campaign. She talks of how she was fired in the 90's from her job as an assistant district attorney for testifying against her boss. She then ran against him and ousted him from the DA's job.

The ad is a mild response to the series of ads the Dems have been running questioning her corruption fighting credentials. "I don't back down to corruption...I never have..so don't be fooled by the negative attack. If you're ready to end the corruption..join me...

She has been repackaged here a bit, less strident in tone and slightly more laid-back. The narrative about being fired and going on seems aimed at female voters. And why not. She leads with men.

Martinez also came with a radio spot carrying the corruption theme. That's here.


The action is mainly north of I-40 for Di, home to ABQ and the Hispanic north, but she can still play in her home county of Lea. Can she pick up some votes in that heavy R voting county because of her roots there? It is late September, but she's making the play:

Denish will join Hobbs families in her childhood home for a kitchen-table discussion about her proposals to take on the powerful interests who take advantage of New Mexico families during these tough economic times.  The new proposals announced by Denish will protect families from predatory lenders and make sure big corporations don’t profit at the expense of New Mexicans....

If Denish could trim Martinez's wining margin in Lea--from say 65% to 58%, it would force the GOP contender to perform better up here. It's one of the early voting signals we will be watching for on Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM.


Could the next phase of the corruption campaign be a Martinez demand that Denish release her income tax returns? Well, if Susana is willing to release hers, maybe it is. Martinez has called for a new level of candidate transparency, so how about it Susana. Show us what you're showing the IRS?


Not all tax increases are getting the deep freeze these days. Tuesday night in Lincoln County in SE NM voters on a 53% to 47% vote raised their gross receipts tax to help the private owner of Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino to pay his state taxes.


 Here are your blog ratings on the three congressional seats based on our talks with Senior Alligators, insiders and other political gut checkers:

Heinrich vs. Barela--Lean Democrat. Republican Jon Barela starts six points behind freshman Dem US Rep. Heinrich in the ABQ district. No bombshells yet to change the outlook

Teague vs. Pearce--Still a Toss-Up, with a "Lean R" rating if they put a gun to your head. Dem Rep. Teague is doing a bit better than expected, but Pearce is only getting warmed up.

Lujan vs. Mullins--This is Safe Democrat. It's been that way since the district came into being in 1982 (It flipped once in a bizarre set of circumstances). Rep. Ben Ray Lujan will want to get it to 60%.


Susana Martinez will be getting some tips on how a Republican can become governor in a Democratic state. And the tipster is most qualified. New Jersey GOP Governor Chris Christie will campaign for Martinez Thursday at an ABQ fundraiser. Ticks are going for $250 and $1000. Christie won election in Dem New Jersey in 2009. By the way, Steve Kush, who was one of Christie's consultants, has set up consulting digs in ABQ. He recently consulted the GOP Guv campaign of Janice Arnold-Jones.


Getting a government check of some kind.  In New Mexico, you continue to have plenty of company:

The income data from July 2009 through June 2010 show a lukewarm recovery. Nationwide, income rose just 0.3% after inflation in the year after the recession. Wages actually fell 1.1% while benefits from government programs jumped 4.1%.

New Mexico ranked No. 1 in income growth because it ranked No. 1 in increased money from government programs. Even states that are doing well in the private economy are reaping a large share of income from government benefits. Texas ranked No. 2 in wage growth and No. 3 in growth of government income.

So are New Mexicans more concerned about cutting the federal deficit or preserving the funding that keeps the state's lifeblood flowing?


Let's do some reader blogging on this first day of fall.

After pounding Susana with adds of outright disingenuous accusations, Denish may have a point or two rise in her poll numbers, but that is very little to show for the money. The votes Susana needs to go over the top are in the so called undecided that are hidden among the Hispanic Democrats

On Susana being called a "Tejana:"

I'm a bit surprised at those trying to make Susanna a “Texan.” I was born in Arkansas but have been in Taos and Clovis most of my life and certainly consider myself a New Mexican. (Granted, most people in NM don’t consider Clovis in NM).  I assure you it is...As for the folks up North and  the “No Tejana Susana,”  I always wondered growing up in Northern NM why it was we were willing to take the Texans money but had nothing good to say about them. Some things never change.  I’m curious what folks thought of Bill Richardson when he moved to Santa Fe from back East (with no apparent ties to NM) and ran for office within 2 years. 

Our Tuesday blog suggesting changes at the University of New Mexico athletic department drew reaction:

I went to an undergraduate school that had the good sense to kill its football program fifty years ago for being what 90% of Division 1-A programs are: Money losers. Now I know that it won't happen at this state's flagship university (the only one, in spite of NMSU President's comments that it is as well), but the fact is that the football program is a boondoggle. It's always been one in my lifetime, and it will continue to be because there is no appeal.

How you can't fill a 34,000 seat stadium in a metro area with nearly 1 million people and no viable competition is beyond me, but that speaks volumes about the greater worth of the Lobo football program than just the latest woes of Locksley and company.

Reader Amanda saw it differently:
You know nothing of UNM sports. Yes, football is down bit. It takes more than one or two years to turn a football program around. As for (athletic department VP) Krebs, look at all Lobo sports. Basketball is a huge success. Volleyball is up. Soccer is a top program. Baseball is another success story. Don't tear down Krebs because he has done a great job. If the negative haters would look at the big picture they would see how good the Lobo programs are compared to their peers. In our conference only BYU has more programs doing better than UNM....

We noted that NM Tech in Socorro has been named one of the most desirable rural schools in the nation by Newsweek. That prompted this from UNM philosophy professor John Bussanich:

Nice mention of New Mexico Tech. How much does Tech waste on big time sports? the Gov, legislators, and the UNM Regents have to decide now: do they want to maintain UNM's current level, i.e. a second or third-tier research university or, instead, to continue to let it slide into the abyss while pouring huge amounts of money down the athletic sink-hole...

Barry Simon weighed in on the UNM athletic situation with this:

When I read the six and seven-figure salaries of these coaches at UNM, I just shake my head...And then there's the behavior of people like (football coach) Locksley, a lousy role model and a man who will never get that he is the source of the problem despite all the conflict resolution classes he attends. As you suggest, he needs to be fired. Then he can blame everyone else for finding himself out on the street. And the thought that he's being paid hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars and has a buyout clause that will bring him even more money for his bad behavior and poor performance...well, what can one say? This is just as bad as any alleged pay-to-play scheme. Perhaps it's even worse because it's an expression of the values of our society.

If it were up to me, I would abolish tax-payer support for these athletic programs and, instead, apply free market principles to them: let them show they should stay alive by bringing in the fans and alumni dollars. And if they can't support themselves, ax them.

Our blog being named "Best of The City" for 2010 brought this comment from Carroll Cagle: 

Joe, Well-deserved.  Given how good you and the blog already have been, amazingly enough you keep getting better. Both the content and the delightful writing…Some of your metaphors and similes (or whatever they may be called) are outstanding and put smiles on many a face. Not that such are the only examples of your writing--the overall clarity and conviction of your conscience unfailingly comes through, too. We New Mexicans are fortunate to have you…

Longtime media maven Larry Ahrens came with a compliment and a ribbing:

Congrats Joe! You have more than earned the honor. You’ve been around politicians so much, you’ve even adopted the “I’m pointing at something to make me look decisive” picture to go with the announcement....


We found a photo of Harry Teague's favorite pet--it's a blue dog.

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