Thursday, October 07, 2010

On The Trail In These Critical Early October Days; Onslaught Of New TV As Time To Change Perceptions & Polls Narrows; Continuing Coverage & Analysis 

The campaigns are busy, firing their heavy artillery now as they have just days to change perceptions and the polls. The in-person early voting begins in earnest in the key ABQ metro Oct. 16. On that day alone thousands will cast ballots in an election that my experts say will draw about 600,000 New Mexicans to the polls. With that as the backdrop, let's hop on our ponies and onto the crowded campaign trail...

The Martinez campaign, feeling more comfortable with its standing, continues to throw salvos at Dem Diane Denish, but they've gotten softer and more clever. Their latest effort borders on the light-hearted, employing mild ridicule and a jaunty musical background to make the point.

The campaign dug up old video of Diane Denish and turned her words of praise of Governor Bill against her. As she cites accomplishments of Richardson the screen shows graphics detailing the opposite result. For example, when Di says into the camera: "Governor Richardson’s work is something to brag about," the graphic shouts "Pay to Pay scandals" and "50,000 drivers licenses to illegals."

The ad concludes with Di saying: "Please join me in supporting Bill Richardson."

All along the Martinez camp has strived to make this election about Richardson, whose popularity languishes around the 30 percent level. This ad continues that work, but letting Denish make the case is quite devilish and effective. Di's corner sniped back:

It’s no surprise that Republican Susana Martinez’s new attack ad uses Bush-era footage given that her economic policies mimic the failed policies of George W. Bush. Martinez, like Bush, will seek to empower powerful interests at the expense of New Mexico families.

Besides the softer touch, unlike past Martinez attacks this ad contains no apparent factual errors for the papers and Factcheck.org to go after. How about that?

Brian Colón
Meanwhile, the Denish camp comes with Di running mate Brian Colón to make the case against the El Paso born and raised Martinez as a Texan--or "Tejana"--who doesn't understand the culture and families of New Mexicans. Here's the spot.

The "Martinez is a Texan" angle is worth something, but the problem is that Colón is not a native New Mexican Hispanic. He is of Puerto Rican descent. He was born in New York and came to Valencia County as a small child.

This was a major point of contention in the Dem Light Guv primary when Colón beat Hispanic New Mexicans Lawrence Rael, Joe Campos and Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Denish never did take the bait to weigh in for one of those candidates. Colon was never considered her favorite, but she decided to stay out of the fray. Brian's close ties to Richardson were of concern, and they could surface again if the TV spot he cuts riles the R's.

Why didn't Di's camp use folks from up north to level the charge? Also, Colón does not appear comfortable in this spot, raising painful memories of his poor performance on CNN during the 2008 NM presidential caucus.

This would not seem to be the polished, well thought out effort Denish needs to catch the front-running Martinez.


Di's camp came with an internal poll that was taken Sept. 30 thru October 4 and paints the Guv race as a much tighter affair than the ABQ Journal survey released Sunday. Di's pollsters have it 49 to 46 for Susana. The Journal had it 49 to 42 when leaners were counted and 47 to 41 without the leaners.


Di's camp say Martinez's negatives are on the rise, but a vehement argument is raging in the elite circles of Democratic political analysts and consultants over Denish's strategy.

The lieutenant governor's campaign has long assumed a conservative electorate would decide the race and she has fought the campaign on that ground--clinging to center-right positions. But Martinez is the real deal conservative and has thwarted Denish. Martinez has consolidated the conservative vote and Denish has failed to ignite the large liberal Dem base.

Those disagreeing with the assumptions of the Denish turnout model argue that the candidate now has only days left to make a turn and rouse the Democrat base so the conservative vote is watered down.

That means getting people to the polls who might be hard to get there and that you have previously assumed won't vote. We have yet to see a strategic shift in the Denish campaign since that deadly Journal poll because her camp appears to believe that turnout can't be altered--that they must play with a conservatively stacked deck and see no need to alter their message.

Critics of this say the Denish DC consultants were scared senseless by the conservative turn this year of the Virgina and New Jersey Guv races. They are pounding the table that the race here is about to be placed out of reach if that fear prevails and a much more Democratic oriented and populist message is not crafted. Denish's camp is not budging. As usual, someone is going to be wrong. We'll soon know who.


Now down to the south where we have that hotter than a pepper sprout race for the US House.

There is now a polling trend in the southern race and it is toward Republican Steve Pearce. He was up one in Sunday's ABQ Journal poll and in a survey conducted for The Hill, a newspaper in DC, along with a group called America's Natural Gas Alliance, he broadens that lead to four. The Journal had the race 48 for Pearce and 47 for Dem Rep Harry Teague with the Hill putting it 46 to 42 for Pearce.

But Teague is still alive. The pollsters reported:

The path to victory for Teague could be to tap into undecided voters — 39 percent are Democrats and 21 percent are independents. To do that, he’ll have to overcome a traditional skepticism about one-party control that is causing some undecided voters to say they prefer a divided government.


Meantime, both Pearce and Teague are finding plenty of potholes on the campaign trail.

We don't think this is Pearce's Macaca moment" but why is the former congressman wading into the "birther movement" that continues to question the citizenship of President Obama? To the details:

During a recent town hall meeting, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) cast doubt on President Obama's citizenship and said that while the economy should be on the top of Republicans' agenda, he would be "in the fight" if the issue is taken up in Congress.

At the Sept. 30 event in Los Lunas, a woman stood up and asked Pearce if he would "be agreeable to subpoenaing and making him show a birth certificate." "Because if he is not eligible, because of everything he signed, every bill he signed, every executive order, his czars, our whole government, everything we're doing is invalid and unconstitutional and illegal," she said, adding, "I just want to know what is your position on Barack Obama if he is in fact a Kenyan-born, Indonesian Muslim. What is your position on all of this?"

In his response, Pearce said that were still "significant questions" surrounding the birther issue...

Steve went on to make several factual errors about Obama, and there is video of the sorry sight in the link we provided.

Not that this is going to take him out in the ultra-conservative south. And Dem Harry Teague is not of a mind to be seen defending Obama under any circumstance. And Pearce will solidify Tea Party type support in the SE with this remark. But Harry might wonder aloud about how Steve Pearce knows so much about the birther movement and whether he knows as much about how to provide jobs for the southern district.


While Pearce got his tongue tied up over Obama's birth, Harry keeps getting tied up in knots over how much money he has received from his oil business in recent years and why his company cancelled health insurance for 200 employees while the congressman was doing so well. The latest downer news for Teague came from the pages of Congressional Quarterly under this headline that could soon pop up in a Pearce ad: "Teague Skirts Details About His Income."

Rep. Harry Teague, who made millions in the oil industry before coming to Congress, launched a new ad campaign this week claiming he has not “accepted a penny” from his company in 21 months. The ads are part of the New Mexico Democrat’s response to recent criticism from his GOP opponent that he cut health care benefits for his employees while accepting hefty profits.

But according to Teague’s personal financial disclosure statement for 2009, his wife, Nancy Teague, who works as an adviser to the company, earned a $120,000 salary from Teaco Energy Services in 2009, the oil services firm Teague founded in 2000.

And while Teague, ranked 12th on Roll Call’s 50 Richest Members of Congress list, did not take any money from Teaco in that time, he did make as much as $2 million in income from two other companies he has ownership in.

Pearce's first ad on this has been picked at by Teague. Pearce has come with a second one again battering Harry on the issue. The central question lingers and may be scoring points for Pearce. Why did Teague not come to the rescue of his employees and save their health insurance when he was apparently in solid personal financial health?

Is this a character issue that could decide this race? Is Pearce breaking into the lead because of it? We don't think there will be a more important week in the contest.


The national Dems have put up a $300,000 ad buy for Teague but if he hasn't moved the numbers by the start of the heavy early voting Oct. 16, they will likely be out of here.


The Heinrich camp likes this one as it buffs the congressman's law and order credentials, sometimes a vulnerability for a Dem candidate:

The Fraternal Order of Police New Mexico (NM FOP), the largest law enforcement organization in the state, announced their endorsement of Martin Heinrich in the race for the First Congressional District of New Mexico seat. The NM FOP chose Heinrich over Republican Jon Barela.

Meanwhile, Barela announces he is bringing in former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani for a campaign rally for him next Tuesday, Oct. 12:

Bode Aviation Hanger--Inside Atlantic Aviation FBO. 2505 Clark Carr Loop SE, Albuquerque International, Tuesday, 12:00 PM---check in begins at 11:15 AM. Rally $25 per person; Photos and Reception $1000 per person or $1500 per couple. R.S.V.P. to rsvp@jonbarela.com


The ABQ economy appears to be bumping along the bottom. Tax collections are stabilizing at the new lower levels, but at least they are not plummeting. If the trend continues city employees won't face furloughs or layoffs, but given the shaky state of things we are on a month by month watch.


Readers had fun adding their captions to this fun photo snapped of US Senator Tom Udall looking surprised on the phone as Secretary of State Mary Herrera hams it up for the camera. We called for captions with the two best each winning $50 for their favorite charities. So without further ado, a drum roll please...And the winners are....

Well, we have an email handle for our first winner--E10Chile--but no first or last name. But that's alright. He sent along his favorite charity--New Mexico Breast Cancer Resources--along with his caption:

"Whoa, Joe. Yes, it is a genetically altered watermelon to make it seedless. But no, Mary's hair is freekin' real!

And David Hadwiger came with our second winning entry which had us chuckling:

I'm not kidding. The voting machine spits out a slice of watermelon after you vote! What a great idea to improve turnout!"

David listed Bandalier Elementary School PTA as his charity.

Checks will be on their way this week to both charities.

Thanks to all who sent us their captions.

Voted the best in 2010 by readers of the Alibi and ABQ The Magazine, This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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