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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anxiety And Foreboding In The Seven Day Stretch; Dueling Guv Polls, Plus: SOS Race Heats Up Even More, And: Our Pit Rule Challenge (Cont.) 

Latest Rasmussen poll released Tuesday morning has Martinez over Denish 52 to 42.

Denish (New Mexican)
The days dwindle down to a precious few and the traditional stomach-churning, sleep-depriving anxiety and sense of foreboding is now afflicting even the most confident campaigns. It's especially so in this topsy-turvy, crazy year when no one is really sure just who will get out and vote and in what numbers. Add to the mix a dreary economic backdrop the likes of which modern day New Mexico has never seen and you have a perfect recipe for apprehension, one that not even Emeril Lagasse could cook up.

The apprehension burst into full view Monday as the final week began and the camp of Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish threw a poll on the table that contended she was only one point back of Republican Susana Martinez--46 to 45. The Martinez's camp quickly responded with a survey of their own taken in roughly the same time frame that showed Susana still leading Di big time--50 to 42.

But with all conservative votes seemingly accounted for there was a continued sense that the Dem candidate had nowhere to go but up, even if no one knew where she would bump into the ceiling.

The final or near-final round of Susana TV spots confirmed the disquiet. Both spots--TV and radio--are relentlessly negative. Here's the TV and here is the radio. Martinez has thrown in some positive stuff in recent weeks, but as the guts tighten in these last tension filled hours the campaign decided to go with what has worked for them--a strong anti-Richardson-Denish message. It was a sign that they do not feel that they have this deal sealed, said several Alligators, or else they would have moved to more positive stuff to position Martinez as Governor. Also, our analysts say that continued negative campaigning could keep voter turnout down, a plus for a Republican candidate. (Martinez has moved into rotation this positive closing ad along with the continued negative hits).

Not to say that they are not the front-running campaign. But it does say they do not feel they have room to flirt with a positive close right now. The Denish reading on the EKG may be troublesome, but she has not flat-lined. (Although with the release Tuesday morning of the Rasmussen survey with Denish trailing by ten--52--42-- the heartbeat is a murmur.)

MORE MARTINEZ VS. DENISH


From polling analysis, the undecided is almost all independent and Dem voters. The R's are in the bank. Denish is climbing uphill with a pack on her back too heavy for a mule. She has to landslide these undecideds. Likely? Maybe not. Inconceivable? No. Her campaign says strong debate performances and more populist messaging (e.g. predatory lending) has strengthened her.

Denish, of course, is still on the attack trying desperately to make up lost ground and win this thing by a margin of 2,000 votes or less. She finally came with the TV ad the media and pundits were waiting for. It shows Martinez being embraced by conservative Sarah Palin at a May ABQ rally for Martinez. It comes with the tag line "Your friends say a lot about you." The spot then shows Di's friend-- ex-President Clinton--at an Espanola rally saying that "Denish would be a great governor."

Contrasting Palin's support of Martinez with Clinton's of Denish is obviously aimed at deep-blue Dem voters who have not been jumping on the Di bandwagon.

Denish is now aiming her get-out-the-vote guns at those new base voters who came out for Obama in 2008. Not an easy task with a message that may have been too conservative all campaign long, but ammunition is running low for Di and the Dems.

HERRERA VS. DURAN

The dueling polling continued in that "round-and- round-she-goes-where-she stops-nobody-knows race" for Secretary of State. Republican Dianna Duran released a poll done by the same outfit that polls for Martinez showing her with a stunning 12 point lead--46 to 34--over incumbent Dem Secretary of State Mary Herrera. But Herrera's camp pointed out that the survey was done between Oct. 14 and 18 and they came with numbers of their own.

Veteran Dem pollster Harry Pavlides, working it for Herrrera, called the Duran poll, released by her campaign manager, Roswell GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair, "stale bread." He said his survey of over 400 likely voters taken over the weekend gives Herrera a lead in the ABQ and Northern congressional districts, enough to keep her ahead of Duran who will sweep the southern district. The Herrera camp did not release the full poll.

Still, that looks mighty close and Herrera is going to have to keep Duran at bay in big Bernalillo County and wrack up traditional big Dem margins up North to ensure the victory. Duran has gone up with $125,000 in TV. Herrera is also up, but with a smaller buy. However, she has been on radio for weeks which targets rural voters. There's still concern among Martinez supporters that pounding Herrera too hard could rile up the Democratic base and harm Martinez's Guv bid.

Herrera has been engulfed in controversy with ex-employees accusing her of wrongdoing. Not one major newspaper has endorsed her re-election. One of those employees, former elections head A.J. Salazar, took to KKOB-AM radio Monday to further knock Herrera, but he encountered resistance from Herrera supporters. It was another sign that Herrera is fighting tooth and nail to hang on to power.

Republican analyst Greg Payne says the Duran poll should be eyed skeptically. He wondered how the relatively unknown Alamogordo GOP state senator could be up 12 points in a down-ballot race normally dominated by Dems while Susana Martinez says she is up only eight points over Denish.

Still, the SOS race--all Democratic for 80 years--is seen as the GOP's best chance for a down-ballot upset. We think we will have a good handle on it shortly after 7 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM Election Night. That's when the early and absentee vote for Bernalillo County will be released. Duran will need to show muscle in those returns, or else the race will belong to the Dem Donkey.

YOU'RE STILL IN IT BRIAN

With operatives working to plant seeds of doubt on all conceivable scenarios, Brian Sanderoff and his ABQ Journal poll will again be closely scrutinized come Sunday. It will be the paper's final take on the Guv race, the three congressional contests and the attorney general face-off.

HEINRICH VS. BARELA

The nerves are also frayed among our three freshman congressional representatives who are enduring their first re-election tests. ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich worked Monday to get the vote out in Bernalillo, appearing with Attorney General Gary King. His camp is confident but this is such a volatile year nothing can be taken for granted. Also on hand for the rally was Dem US Senator Tom Udall and Dem Light Guv candidate Brian Colon.

Republican Jon Barela has no quit in him, fighting over the weekend with retired US GOP Senator Pete Domenici by his side. Heather Wilson, who held the congressional seat before Heinrich, has also been seen on the trail with Barela. GOP analysts think the lower the turnout the better as Barela works furiously to pull off the upset. It may be the last chance the R's get to wrest the seat from Heinrich.

The southern race is seen as trending heavily to Steve Pearce over Rep. Harry Teague. Harry will play the Social Security card on Republican Pearce this week, but the urgency surrounding the contest has dissipated. Top state Dems now think this is Steve's to lose

Up north, Ben Ray Lujan's campaign is contending with pugnacious Republican Tom Mullins who is drawing cheers from R's for his debate performances against the congressman. There is no public polling in the heavy Dem district, but Lujan has had enough of Mullins roughing him up. His campaign manager says of Mullins: "This is the same guy who wanted to land mine the border" and is now trying to "hide his dangerous ideas." The counterattack, now also playing on TV, is seen as keeping Mullins in check in this crazy-quilt year when even the Spanish North is subject to zigging and zagging.

THE MAIL BAG

Reader Andrew Diversey says a recent blog butchered a quote from Susana Martinez and he wants to set the record straight:

Here is what you quote her as saying:

“It's sad. It's disappointing that anyone running for the top position of governor and lieutenant governor. I think the appropriate thing to do is divide people instead of uniting them. They are talking about me as a person instead of where I stand on the various policies...”

This is incorrect. She obviously did not say “I think” at the beginning of the second sentence since she is criticizing what the Democratic party candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor think.

If you listen carefully to her interview on YouTube, you will hear her saying the following:

“You know it’s sad; it’s disappointing that anyone who’s running for the top position of governor and lieutenant governor think that the appropriate thing to do is to divide people instead of uniting them. I don’t know what they intended by it, but it’s inappropriate.”

Thanks for catching that, Andrew.

And our recommendation that three of the four statewide bond issues be voted down drew this response from Billy Sparks, executive director for communication at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. He urged approval of Bond D for higher education, saying:

One project with unquestionable statewide significance is the renovation and expansion of decades-old Carrie Tingley Hospital. Services and clinics housed in the CTH facility include specialized orthopedics and musculoskeletal related clinics such as Spina Bifidia, Cerebral Palsy and an Orthopedic/Spine program.

The rehabilitative program includes a comprehensive speech, physical and occupational health services as well as multiple gym and therapy spaces designed to meet the special needs of complex pediatric patients. Multiple specialty clinics within the CTH facility are also designed to increase access to care for children with special challenges. ...Outreach programs throughout the state serve to increase access to children and families...Supporting the GO Bond ensures that these important services continue to be available for the growing communities throughout New Mexico....

PIT RULE CHALLENGE (cont.)

And our ongoing debate over the "Pit Rule," continues to draw comments. We've asked for definitive proof that the rule, designed to protect the environment from oil and gas drilling, has cost energy related jobs. Dana Hodges of Little Texas says her company is the proof. She picks up on this ABQ Journal article outlining how a company owned by Dem heavyweight and Journal villain Johnny Cope benefits from the rule.

I am an avid reader of your blog, live in SE New Mexico and own a small business that is oil & gas related. Prior to the pit rule change we employed 25 people, now we employee three. I don’t care what anyone else thinks outside of this area but the pit rule change did affect all of us in this area, except the few mentioned in this article.

Where once we...could utilize our equipment up to June 2008, it came to a dead stop when the changes came into effect and CRI monopolized the oil & gas service industry... Not only did CRI have all the equipment they also had the disposal facility they could use in the bargaining factor. We will survive down here and we will be able to bring back the revenues to the state from the oil & gas industry, but it will take time. When something works, why change it? “GREED” is the answer to that question.

We still don't see a direct link in to the pit rule and lost jobs, Dana. In other words, "we had to obey the pit rule and therefore you are laid off."

Maybe if we offer you Pit Rule buffs a free lunch, you will send documentation that stands up.

Meanwhile, perhaps we should issue a challenge to our friends in the oil and gas industry: New Mexico cancels the pit rule for a full year and the industry promises to add a certain number of jobs. After all, if it isn't the world economy cratering oil and gas, then our challenge should be readily embraced. How about it, oil and gas folks? Are we on? And how many jobs do you pledge to bring back for the year the Pit Rule is waived?

ELECTION COVERAGE

Sometimes we feel like Dick Clark, the names of the bands change, but the music plays on. And so it is in 2010 as we prepare to bring you live Election Night results on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ. This is our 23rd year calling the action for the public radio station and it is never dull. The people have a way of always delivering a surprise or two that catches our jaded panelists wryly smiling and shaking their heads back and forth. What will those upsets be this year?

We'll kick it off Monday, Nov 1 at 5 p.m. with our traditional pre-game show. Democrats John Wertheim and State Senator Jerry Oritz y Pino will join with Republican State Rep. Larry Larranaga and former GOP State Rep. Greg Payne.

On Election Night, we get underway at 6:30 p.m. and go until all major races are settled. Our pre-game panel will be back, with former State Rep. Lenton Malry joining us as he has for every election broadcast since 1988.

Bruce Donisthorpe, federal lobbyist and former top aide to the late GOP Congressman Joe Skeen, will man our special statewide county-by-county desk, giving us insight to how the major races were won or lost. Steve Cabiedes, another political veteran, will be gathering early results from key precincts to further refine the voting.

We'll also check in with the Election Night parties and bring you the key speeches from the winners and losers as our state once again chooses a Governor.

Our program this year is made possible by ABQ Economic Development, Cordova Public Relations, Serrano and Sons, Constructors, and Garrity Public Relations.

We look forward to being with you on the radio or via the KANW web site. Election 2010 is now only one week away.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2010
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