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Monday, November 01, 2010

Election Eve 2010: Susana's To Lose; What Would She Really Do? Plus: Heinrich-Barela Keeps Them Excited, And: Our Pre-Game Show Today At 5 On 89.1 FM 

  • Our Election Eve pre-game show is at 5 p.m. today on KANW-89.1 FM in ABQ/ Santa Fe. Click here to listen. Our guests are GOP State Rep. Larry Larranaga and former GOP Rep. Greg Payne. Our Democratic analysts are former NM Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim and ABQ State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Public radio coverage is made possible by PNM, The Garrity Group, Serrano & Sons and Cordova Public Relations

GAMING A GUV

If you are wondering what a Susana Martinez governorship might look like, take a peek at what has been happening with the Republican mayor of Albuquerque. The answer is not a whole lot. The city treasury is drained so new programs and initiatives are verboten. They are back to the basics downtown and that's where we're headed in Santa Fe. Sweeping programs such as those fostered by Big Bill and made possible by hundreds of millions flowing into state coffers are now passé. In vogue are furloughs and zero-based budgeting.

The "bold change" that Martinez incessantly promises (a phrase we would bet our golf clubs comes from focus group hocus pocus) is actually her personality, not her policies. That became clear the day she pledged no cuts to Medicaid or the public schools. Her gender and her ethnicity have exercised a powerful charm, even as she downplays both. Her middle name of "Not Bill Richardson" sealed the deal.

We are now concluding eight years of bold change by the current Governor and Legislature. For better or worse this change is a Spaceport, a RailRunner, increased teacher salaries, rebate checks to New Mexico households from what was a state surplus and widespread state investment in business start-ups.

If she wins, as the polls indicate she will, Martinez, at least for her first two years, will be in charge of downsizing state government while not dismantling the safety net that is essential to hundreds of thousands citizens in one of the nation's most poverty-ridden states. That sounds more painful than bold, but pain doesn't make a very good campaign slogan.

OIL AND VINEGAR

Veteran campaign observers like Democrat Mike Santullo of talk radio fame marvel at how Martinez has refrained from mentioning the Legislature during her long run even though it will be key to any of her plans.

"That will end Wednesday morning. This is going to be like oil and vinegar--a Republican Governor and a Democratic Legislature." Santullo opined.

KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson also touched upon this when we taped "Eye on New Mexico" with him and Nicole Brady, a program that aired Sunday.

HEINRICH VS. BARELA

If Martin Heinrich doesn't beat Republican challenger Jon Barela a long line will immediately form to take on Barela in two years. But first things first. The ABQ congressional seat still sways in the wind this Election Eve. We saw this in 2006 when the Wilson-Madrid US House race ended in almost perfect equilibrium with Republican Wilson finally winning by less than 900 votes.

However, the Journal poll showing Heinrich lagging Barela 49 to 46 is causing debate in the political community. Some recall that the Journal had Patricia Madrid ahead of Heather Wilson by three points in their final '06 survey. At five percent, the margin of error is also wide.

Republican Greg Payne thinks Barela is on his way to a narrow win after the Journal poll Sunday showed him at 49 to Heinrich's s 46. But with election day voting traditionally benefiting the Dems, it is premature to write Representative Heinrich's obituary.

Dem analyst Harry Pavlides picks up on that theme and claims Heinrich will take the narrow victory based on carrying the Election Day voting and by keeping Barela in check in the early voting.

FiveThirtyEight Forecasts in the New York Times projects a Heinrich win of 51.2 to 48.8. They put the incumbent's chances at retaining the seat at 65.4 percent. That is down after the Journal poll, but still well ahead of Barela's chances which they put at 34.6. The forecast is based on polling, expert forecasts, past election returns and other indicators.

We expect early in-person voting and absentee ballot totals to be released in Bernalillo County shortly after 7 p.m. My analysts say Barela needs to be ahead in that combined vote, as Heather Wilson was in 2006, if he is to carry the day. Join us tomorrow night on KANW 89.1 FM beginning at 6:30 p.m. as we monitor this one like a dog eyeing a bone

STATE OF THIS RACE

There is much nervousness among R's over Heinrich-Barela as they pound the pavement to boost voter turnout. That's hard to do when so many of your faithful have already cast early ballots. That makes them look to the undecided independent voters and target last-hour appeals to them.

Heinrich will work it around-the-clock today and tomorrow in the heavily Democratic South Valley and his home base of the SE Heights where he started as an ABQ city councilor.

The Barela camp think their man won a late boost from the Saturday night KRQE-TV debate. Several of his supporters told us Barela "looked congressional." The Heinrich camp think Barela's attack on a local bar that received a federal small business loan has backfired. They cite this KOB-TV news report and an ABQ Journal fact check.

Since the Governor's race appears to be gone, both major parties would be wise to focus their last-minute efforts on this juicy congressional prize. If Barela loses, the seat may be gone for years and years. Heinrich will have solidified himself as the ABQ congressman. But if Barela wins, the R's will be in great shape with a GOP Governor presiding over the all-important redistricting in 2011. A Barela win would also set up a Republican frenzy to take out Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2012.

Of the state's three new congressmen elected in 2008, Heinrich has been most effective in establishing a political identity, partly because he is in the ABQ media market. But two years is not a long time and this race starkly shows why it is during his first-term that a congressman is at his most vulnerable. Add to that a no-end-in-sight recession and you've got double-trouble.

WHAT ABOUT BEN RAY?

The Journal did not poll the northern congressional seat held by Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. That omission is notable because Republicans are on the move elsewhere and Lujan's foe, Tom Mullins, is no exception. Lujan is expected to win in the heavy Dem district, but several readers here are wondering where the poll is:

Lujan is probably going to win, but he's considered at least somewhat vulnerable by observers up here. And the Journal doesn't even bother to poll the race? Why would they do that, if not to convey to Democratic Nortenos the impression that the race is a mortal lock for Lujan, hoping thereby to depress the turnout.

Mullins will, most likely, still lose but the massive Norteno vote that Denish needs won't materialize either. I'm curious, Joe. Did the Journal poll NM-3 when Richardson was walloping his opponents back in the day, or when Udall was kicking butt up here? If so, why not now?

We don't know about a Norteno conspiracy, but the paper did endorse Mullins, foregoing their usual endorsement of the Dem candidate in that district. Not polling the 3rd CD was an oversight the paper probably regrets.

ITS HAPPENED BEFORE
Manuel Lujan
Martinez's ability to cherry pick votes in Hispanic northern precincts and elsewhere isn't a first for a Republican. Manuel Lujan did it for 20 years as an ABQ congressman. He held the seat from '69 to '89. When Lujan started out the district consisted of the entire north. His Hispanic roots there had many Dems crossing over to him. When he got to Washington, he emphasized constituent services, not his conservative votes. After 1980, when the district shrank to only the ABQ area he kept the same game plan and routinely won re-election with 60 percent of the vote.

NO GIVE UP

Denish and the Dems will take it to the wire, hoping against hope:

President Barack Obama will join Diane Denish and Senator Jeff Bingaman for a tele-town hall with New Mexico voters on Monday evening at 6 p.m.

The tele-town hall will target more than 100,000 Democrats, who will be called and given an opportunity to join and hear from the President.


And from Di's campaign to her supporters:

Don't let the Albuquerque Journal and the pundits scare you this Halloween. Diane and Brian are going to win this race – but they’ll need your tireless help to do it.

And from the state Dem Party:

Consider this: Going into the weekend, 8,000 more Democrats than Republicans cast early and absentee votes...Combine this with the fact that our latest (Governor) poll had this race tied (45-46), and we know this will be a very competitive race. Your vote is truly going to make a difference....

Meantime, Martinez had the luxury of campaigning in Espanola Sunday as she continued to try to raid the Dems base. She will close out her campaign today in Grants and Deming before heading to Las Cruces tonight. She did not come to the ABQ metro for her final push, again signifying that rural New Mexico is the cornerstone of her effort. Denish spent her Sunday hunting for votes in ABQ and Belen.

Here's the AP end of campaign wrap.

WHY PEARCE?

The WaPo US House analyst thinks this is the reason Harry Teague is about to lose his House seat, but we don't think so:

New Mexico's 2nd district (D): Republicans always said Rep. Harry Teague's (D) vote for cap and trade doomed his reelection chances. They were right.

Cap and trade has been mentioned sparingly in the campaign. It appears the real back-breaker for Teague--especially among female voters who the Journal poll says now favor Pearce--were those stories that the Politico broke concerning Teague's oil business.

One very damaging article revealed how Teague's company dropped health insurance for his employees even as he was taking money out of the business. Combine that with dissatisfaction over Harry's support for a liberal Dem agenda in a conservative district, including his cap and trade vote, and you have the recipe for disaster.

Pearce's TV ads on Teague's personal business left the freshman lawmaker tongue tied and appearing incompetent. The ads knocked him down and he has had trouble getting back up.

HARRY'S HOPE

But Teague says he can still take the prize:

We’ve known all along this was going to be a close race. Just 10 days ago, Congressman Pearce’s own poll had him 9 points ahead, but with 2 days to go, Harry has nearly erased that gap and is moving in the right direction. And as early voting came to a close on Saturday, the number of voters turning out in support of Harry Teague was on the rise..

THE MARTINEZ FILE

Information about Susana Martinez's background has trickled out over these many months of campaigning and It continues to do so even at this late hour. From the El Paso Times:

Chonita Aguirre called her granddaughter Susana Martinez "la abogadita," the little lawyer. Even as a girl, Martinez, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New Mexico, had a gift for talking, a knack for enticing cousins and other children to do things her way, a leadership trait her abuelita and others quickly recognized.


"She was muy bossy, always ordering the other kids around," said Jake Martinez Jr., Susana's older brother and the owner of an East El Paso uniform store.

IT'S THE PITS

The Farmington Daily Times says it has had enough of the oil and gas bear market that has ravaged the Four Corners. They endorse Martinez for Guv because of her stance on the Pit Rule which aims to have energy companies clean up their drilling sites:

Pit rules involve environmental control efforts at drill sites, but oil and gas industry leaders in San Juan County long have argued that natural gas production in this area does not create the same problems as other production fields might experience, and they have criticized pit rules as being a faulty "one size fits all" approach that has sent business and jobs elsewhere.

"I would put a moratorium on that very quickly," Martinez promised. "It was only done to make a few friends rich," she charged. "I don't feel it has proven scientifically to be beneficial or effective.

We've gone round and round on this with our many readers in oil and gas country. We don't see the direct link between the jobs and the rule. What we do see is a continued bear market in natural gas prices causing the havoc. Still, if people are hurting this bad, we're willing to listen some more.

SKIPPING OUT

From the email bag:

Hi Joe: Susana's been catching some heat from you and others for skipping out on newspaper-endorsement interviews with two weekly alternative newspapers--The Santa Fe Reporter and The Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque. Yet no reporter mentions how Denish has consistently refused invitations to be interviewed on 770 KKOB AM, specifically Bob Clark's morning show.

Okay, we've now mentioned it. The talk station strongly backs GOP candidates so Denish's team backed away.

By the way we'll be on Bob Clark's Thursday morning broadcast at 9 to analyze Tuesday's election results.

Another media note: Martinez also refused to interview with Lorene Mills of public TV's "Report From Santa Fe" and also turned down an appearance on KNME-TV's "In Focus."

However, Susana will appear regularly on the secret Webcam that Big Bill is planting in the Guv's office before he leaves. Email him for the address.

Se ya' on 89.1 FM today at 5...

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