Friday, October 29, 2010

Heinrich & Barela Tangle With Finish Line Now Only Hours Away, Plus: Campaign Trail News From Across The State As Voters Prepare Their 2010 Verdict 

Heinrich vs. Barela
We have proposition for you. Can we have Martin Heinrich and Jon Barela run for Governor Tuesday and Diane Denish and Susana Martinez go for the ABQ congressional seat?

That's the take away we had from watching the debate between Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich and his GOP challenger Jon Barela. Here we had two guys who had actually mastered their subjects, had some firm ideas on what they believed and when they attacked their foe they also told you what they would do differently. Full debate video is
here. KRQE-TV will host the final Heinrich-Barela debate at 7 p.m. Saturday

These two might even give us a plan to balance the state budget, a far cry from what Di and Susana are willing to do.

Barela appeared more on his game than Heinrich who kept adjusting his microphone and stumbled around a bit in answering questions during the hour long face-off aired live on KOB-TV. Where was this aggressive and persuasive Barela back on Labor Day? Would he be in command of this race if that fella had shown up back then?

And where was Martin Heinrich's tie? Was the tieless look a bid for the casual Dem voter since so many R's have already voted early? Or did Martin spill red chile on his neck wear at dinner and had to punt?

Barela was strongest on the immense Washington spending. Heinrich was at his best when connecting with blue-collar voters. (Hey, maybe that's why no tie?)


R's think Jon Barela is breathing down the neck of Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich, but they have to keep the heat on. They've come with a heavy attack hit late in the game here, accusing Heinrich of making "false smears." The ad shows in small boxes three of Heinrich's commercials, including that powerful one from 69 year old Liz who says she doesn't trust Barela when it comes to Social Security. That ad asserts that Barela supports privatization of Social Security. In his latest ad, Barela quotes the ABQ Journal as saying Heinrich's commercials are "baloney." He repeatedly quoted that phrase at Thursday night's KOB-TV debate.

However, as we've previously pointed out the Journal asked Barela about his privatization stance when the Heinrich ad first aired. Barela told the paper that he was not for privatization, but then added: "Not at this point."

The newspaper, in an opinion on their editorial pages endorsing Barela's candidacy, called the notion that Barela would privatize Social Security "baloney." The editorial said:

Campaign attacks insinuating he favors privatizing Social Security and that he lobbied for the Chinese to send jobs offshore are baloney. There is zero evidence to support the first charge.

During the KOB debate Heinrich referred to Barela's "not at this point" quote and added that he is "taking off the table" any privatization now or in the future. Barela repeated that he believes Heinrich was lying about his Social Security position. He did not reference his "not at this point" quote from the Journal. Heinrich's ad was wrong to imply that Barela has supported privatization, but he did leave the door open for such a move in the future and that lent credence to the charge.

Believe us. Seniors who are the heaviest voting group in this mid-term election are paying close attention to every word said about this topic.

On another point that has dominated the TV ad wars, both Barela and Heinrich are over-the-top when they go after one another on their lobbying records. Neither were big-time players and it seems to be an argument over semantics, not character.


Jon is also flooding mailboxes with a piece that says: "Martin Heinrich walked into a bar....and left behind a million dollars." Barela's piece says Heinrich voted for a bill that gave O'Niell's Pub on East Central Avenue $1 million in stimulus money, but Heinrich's camp retorts:

Heinrich nor his office have had any role in any Small Business Administration loan obtained by O'Niell's Irish Pub. O'Niell's is a local, small business that applied and qualified for an SBA loan--just like any other business in Albuquerque could do...

This is the kind of piece that sometimes comes across to voters as a stretch by a candidate in the final hours. Barela says his internal polls show him two points ahead, but he's not acting like it. We maintain our "lean Dem" rating on this contest, despite Barela's impressive late-hours debate charge. Let's see if we are very far off or on the money when the Journal poll hits the driveways Sunday morning.


Steve Pearce is one tough cookie and it's hard to take in a half-hour of him delivering his dour diagnosis of the state of America. But Pearce scored thirty minutes all to himself Thursday night from KOB-TV. The reason? His Dem opponent for the southern congressional seat, Rep. Harry Teague, did not want to do the debate. The station then offered Steve the free time. You can see it here.

Anchor Nicole Brady ably tossed questions at the very conservative Pearce who grabbed at them like a hungry lion. This was appropriate pre-Halloween fodder for the liberals watching this exhibit of ultra-conservatism in their living room dens in the precincts of ABQ's Nob Hill and the North Valley.

But Pearce has his pulse on the tea party prone district he hopes to again represent. He has run a relentless campaign against Teague and most of his TV ads have been at least somewhat connected with reality, unlike what we have seen in the race for Governor, for example.

Pearce should have no problem bringing this one home and if Martinez wins the Governorship, he will be a moderating influence on those R's who worship at her altar but fear the formidable Pearce.


Former US Marshall Gordon Eden was heard on a robocall for GOP Guv nominee Susana Martinez this week, damning Diane Denish's record on border security. Eden was head of the motor vehicle department under the last GOP Guv, Gary Johnson. Will he be back if Martinez wins? His tenure as Marshall ended when Obama appointed Dem Conrad Candelaria to fill the post so he is available.

Not many names have circulated as possibles in a Martinez administration. They don't want to encourage over-confidence, but the resumes are starting to circulate.


One of the Alligators e-mailed us from the Martinez lunch at the ABQ Country Club this week that featured Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and joked that the Martinez campaign would like to thank us for helping them raise money. Say what? "You mentioned the Pawlenty lunch on your blog that morning and it really helped pack the house, including some Democrats." They ribbed.

Well, the wind-sniffers are out in full force now. They have only days to ingratiate themselves if Martinez wins. As for your blog indirectly raising money for Martinez, we're donating any commissions to a fund for heartburn pills for State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. If Susana gets in, he's going to need the help.


Diane Denish says in one of her final TV ads that she will never stop fighting for the "state that we love." But the odds are she will be fighting for it in retirement.

She continues to score Susana for "favoring out-of-state corporations" that she says will mean cuts to education and even public safety.

It's all turnout now. Di has to somehow move the needle among the 2008 Obama voters. If she can somehow turn enough of them on in the final hours, we could get a midnight surprise Election Night.

She has taken a more populist tone in the final days--as advised to do so by the Senior Alligators several weeks ago. She's even cut a pro-choice radio ad.


For Denish the best possible weather for Election Day is snow in the SE--like smack in the middle of Chaves and Lincoln counties. We had a big snowstorm there in 2000 that kept many conservative R's home and out of the voting booths. It made possible Dem Al Gore's less than 1,000 vote victory over Bush.

For Martinez, the best weather is snow smack in the middle of the Hispanic Dem North. Even though she is pulling votes there, it remains her weakest region. Of course, some 60 percent or so of the vote is now cast before the actual Election Day, making the weather much less of a factor than in days of yore.


We're far from alone in our take that this has been a downer of a Guv campaign. The state is in a big financial mess, but the campaigns were trivial at best and amoral at worst. The Rio Grande Sun editors in Espanola held their noses and endorsed Denish, but not before condemning the campaign to the ash heap of history:

Regardless of who you would like to be the next governor, the staunchest of either party must agree, both Diane Denish and Susana Martinez should be ashamed of themselves. Neither has conducted themselves in a professional manner, let alone a civilized one or the way we'd like our governor to behave. We've learned little about either's plans, goals or ideas. The focus has been on who's from Texas, who flew the state jet or gave a bonus to whom and how we can cut a couple of jobs and presto, the budget is balanced...


Mary Herrera
There are already some big winners in Campaign 2010--the media consultants. And one of the biggest is Lincoln Strategy Group which has the media consulting gig for Susana Martinez, GOP attorney general candidate Matt Chandler and now we learn also for GOP Secretary of State candidate Dianna Duran.

The latest state money report shows that Lincoln handled $100,000 of the $125,000 media buy made by Duran in October. She is trying to oust Dem incumbent SOS Mary Herrera. Lincoln is led in part by longtime GOP consultant Jay McCleskey. If Martinez beings home the bacon Tuesday night, Lincoln will have bragging rights and entree to even more contracts with candidates and the NM GOP.

Another highlight of the Duran report is a $50 contribution the Republican state senator received from one Shirley-Hooper-Garcia. Old timers will recall that she is a former Dem Secretary of State who won under the name Shirley Hooper. She's been with Duran since early in the year. Shirley served as secretary of state from '83 to '87. Dem Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza is also in Duran's corner. She has said she may seek the office some day. Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse-Oliver, also mentioned as a possible SOS candidate in the future, has stayed out of the fray.

Dianna Duran
Duran raised $71,000 in the last three weeks and Herrera came up with $41,000. Half of Herrera's--$20,000--came in a single donation from the Dem assocation for secretaries of state. She also received $5,000 from Big Bill friend and Downs at ABQ heavy Paul Blanchard. Duran raked in $25,000 from the NM GOP.

The SOS race is rated a toss-up around here.


The AP's Barry Massey is on the money beat and reports Martinez out raised and out spent Denish in the final weeks. He also points out that Attorney General Gary King loaned himself $202,000 as he tangled with Republican challenger Matt Chandler.


What's this? Voter fraud in the party that has made such a big issue of it? GOP Chairman Harvey Yates had to grab his heart pills when he read this AP dispatch:

Police are investigating voter registration cards that were filled out at a Republican booth at an enchilada festival or Republican party headquarters in Las Cruces and were apparently changed, officials said Thursday. It appeared someone in the Republican organization tampered with the forms, changing seven cards filled out with "no party" affiliations to Republican, Dona Ana County Republican party chairman Mark Van Dyke said.

Changing voter cards at an enchilada festival? Okay, Mr. US Attorney. Follow the chile stains and find the fraud!


An Election Night Party that is scheduled to end at 10 p.m.? Well, state Dems may or may not have a reason to stay up. The details:

Hotel Andaluz, 125 Second Street NW, Albuquerque, Tuesday, November 2, from 7:00-10:00 P.M. Special guests: Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, Brian Colón, Rep. Martin Heinrich and all your Democratic Elected officials


The final jobless report before Tuesday's balloting doesn't help the Dems much:

New Mexico’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in September 2010, down from 8.3 percent in August but up from 7.8 percent a year ago. The national unemployment rate remained at 9.6 percent. The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing September 2010 with September 2009, was negative 0.3 percent, representing a loss of 2,400 jobs...The Albuquerque area’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in September, unchanged from its August level. The rate was 7.9 percent in September 2009.

A human face is put on the Santa Fe housing crash.


We'll keep you posted on the late-breaking campaign news with a Sunday blog on the final ABQ Journal poll. Also, Sunday at 10 a.m. we'll appear on KOB-TV's "Eye on New Mexico" with Nicole Brady and Stuart Dyson to analyze the campaigns. Monday at 5 p.m. we'll have our traditional pre-game show at KANW 89.1 FM. My analysts for the hour long broadcast are Republicans Greg Payne and State Rep. Larry Larranaga. On the Dem side, John Wertheim and State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino will hold forth.

Tuesday night--Election Night--we return to the KANW airwaves (and Web site) to deliver the returns and expert analysis. We kick if off at 6:30 p.m. and go until all the votes are in.

Our KANW coverage is made possible by PNM, Cordova Public Relations, Serrano and Sons, Constructors and The Garrity Group--Public Relations.

We look forward to being with you on all these venues and hope you can make us part of your schedule as we track together the final chapter of Campaign 2010.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. From Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan reporting.
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