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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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Scary Mary? Hot SOS Race In Mail, Plus: Down-Ballot Races & History, Also: Susana's Transparency Problem, A Favorite Headline & Our Bottom Lines 

It's not only those trick or treaters getting scary looking right around now, the stuff in voters' mailboxes in the final hours of Campaign 2010 can be hair-raising, or at least those producing it hope it is.

Posted here is an example of a mail piece (Secretary of State candidate Dianna Duran who is battling to unseat incumbent Dem SOS Mary Herrera says it is not from her). It notes that Herrera is second in line to succeed the Governor, meaning when the Guv and lieutenant governor are out of town or otherwise not available, Herrera is acting Guv. It's happened a couple of times in the last four years and nothing much happened, but since then Herrera has been mired in ethics accusations from former staff members. We don't know if this piece that landed in our e-mail box has actually been sent, but it is representative of the hit mail circulating out there.

(As if Mary needed any more problems, a computer glitch delayed early voting in some parts of the state this week).


Republicans think we are about to see history made and have our first Republican secretary of state elected since 1928. It would be a biggie for them.

The secretary of state's office is an important cog in the once every decade redistricting of the state's legislative and congressional seats. With a Republican in charge and a Democratic legislature, that could get interesting.

With no independent polling, the SOS race is providing plenty of suspense for politics watchers. It will be in our sights when we take to the radio airwaves next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to give you all the latest results on KANW 89.1 FM. And don't forget our pre-game show Monday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m.


The mind wanders in the closing hours of a major campaign, assessing it and comparing it with others that have passed your way through the decades. Perhaps this one is most similar to a year that was before our time.

In 1966, Republican Dave Cargo, like Susana Martinez today, campaigned on a reform and anti-corruption platform. That year Cargo also brought in with him a Republican state treasurer and state auditor--The first time that had happened since the 1928 election and before the advent of Roosevelt's New Deal in 1932 that turned the state Blue for good.

In 1986, we recall how a snowstorm hit the north, dampening Dem turnout and making possible the election of Republican Hal Stratton as attorney general, also the first R to take that post since 1928. We also got our first Republican land commissioner since 1928 that year. Republican Garrey Carruthers took the Governor's office in '86 after four years of Dem Guv Toney Anaya who ended his term extremely unpopular.

In 1994, Republican Gary Johnson won the governorship, but did not bring in with him any of the down ballot races.

So in the elections of '66 and '86 reform played a prominent role and we had R success at the top and down the ballot. Will history repeat in the reform election of 2010? If it does, the likeliest Dem victim is Secretary of State Herrera. But the rest of the down-ballot Dems will be holding their breath until the results settle the issue Election Night.

Janice Arnold-Jones
She would not be around to enjoy it, but outgoing ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones claims Republicans have a shot at picking up as many as 10 state House seats next Tuesday. Janice, who was defeated for the GOP Guv nod by Susana Martinez and now hosts a daily talk show on ABQ's KIVA-AM, says even usually safe Dem incumbents like Danice Picraux are feeling voter heat this cycle.

In Janice's perfect political world we would think incumbent Dem reps like Jeff Steinborn in Las Cruces and Nathan Cote in the SE would be ousted. She has a different list. In any event, a pick up of ten seats would mean the House--currently with 45 D's and 25 R's--would be evenly split between the two parties--35 to 35. Has that ever happened before? If it did, there would probably be co-chairs of the major committees and maybe even co-speakers of the House. Talk about wild.

Arnold-Jones is the most optimistic R prognosticator we've heard from, but even Dems expect to lose three or four House seats when all the counting is done.


We've heard the Guv candidates talk about the economy and jobs but not much on the social issues of abortion, domestic partnerships and medical marijuana.
Here's the deal.


The tsunami of cash coming into the state's two competitive congressional races is overwhelming. The WaPo has been tracking it and reports in the ABQ Heinrich-Barela battle:

Interest groups and political parties have reported spending $2,613,153 on independent campaigning in New Mexico's 1st congressional district this year, with $1,967,238 benefiting Republicans and $645,915 benefiting Democrats.

And in the southern US House contest featuring Republican Pearce and Dem Teague, the paper Democrats: informs:

Interest groups and political parties have reported spending $2,294,524 on independent campaigning in New Mexico's 2nd congressional district this year, with $877,992 benefiting Republicans and $1,416,532 benefiting Democrats.


In a closing spot for his re-election, Dem US Rep. Heinrich takes note of the deluge of TV ads and how they irritate viewers, saying: "By now, we’ve all had enough of these commercials..."

If it's not a cliffhanger, we should be able to call the ABQ congressional race shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Bernalillo County Clerk should release the early vote totals shortly after 7. The county makes up about 90 percent of the 1st congressional district. Barela needs to make his move right away with that early vote. The ballots cast on the actual Election Day will favor the Democrats.

The Heinrich-Barela goes to the tube tonight. The dueling duo will meet in debate at 7 p.m. on KOB-TV.

The station will also do a thirty minute question and answer session with GOP southern congressional candidate Steve Pearce at 8 p.m. Dem US Rep. Harry Teague declined the debate invitation. Hey, we'll call this "Pearce's Place." R's will think it's about serious public policy and the Dems will think it's a sitcom.


One of the political consultants was upset with this piece sent out by ABQ Dem State Rep. Bill O'Neill who is getting a stiff challenge from Republican attorney Justin Horwitz. He wrote:

Is it just me or do I sense an anti-Semitic undertone (see the cartoon)? I found it very curious.

We hope not. The exaggeration of the nose on the cartoon character is what the consultant is getting at. This is dicey stuff and with an anything goes mentality when it comes to late mailers, we're sure there's other eyebrow raising stuff out there. When we go to the mailbox these days and blindly stick our hand in, we feel like we are about to put our fingers in a powerful mousetrap. How about you?


State Auditor Hector Balderas took no chances in this unpredictable election year. He has been up with a light TV buy for a couple of weeks and is going to finish it off with a fresh ad highlighting his newspaper endorsements. GOP auditor candidate Errol Chavez was stricken with a brain tumor this month and unable to campaign personally. He did no TV.

Other than a news article about his legal jousting with fellow Dem and Attorney General Gary King, Balderas has run under the radar--the way a lot of other Dem candidates wished they had it this cycle.

And, yes. We have noticed the pounding GOP attorney general candidate Matt Chandler is giving incumbent Dem AG Gary King over his support of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. That is going to chip into that big 20 point lead Gary had in the last Journal poll, but he is up with a response ad and that should keep the bleeding in check.


Why is Susana Martinez refusing to do endorsment interviews with the alternative newspapers the Santa Fe Reporter and ABQ's Alibi? Sure, the papers are of a liberal bent and have given their nods to Diane Denish. But Susana refused to even show up and do the interviews.

If Martinez is elected, is press access going to be subjected to an ideological test? Or is this a case of Martinez and her handlers being afraid that she would make a big mistake in the interviews and give Denish an opening?

Whatever the case, it is disappointing. Martinez has run almost exclusively on a platform of anti-corruption and transparency. Her GOP Guv nominee predecessors have entered the "liberal den." They do it because they want to get votes, but also because it places them in front of New Mexico's young people. The papers are mainly read by young adults. Isn't this election really about building a better state for them?

If Martinez is afraid, that makes you wonder about her competency to lead a state of two million. If she is refusing interviews because of her perception of a news outlet's ideology, that is equally worrisome for a chief executive who is elected to serve and communicate with all the people, not just those who agree with her.

Susana, some free advice from an old PR flack--you are being ill-served by this advice. You can try to make it up if you win, but as the old saying goes, "We heard you the first time."

And a memo to the boys and girls at the ABQ Journal: Are you watching this? Are you next?


This came across our desk last night and it's one of our favorite news release headlines of the long campaign:

Diane Denish to Campaign on the Great Navajo Nation on Thursday

They don't actually call it "Great." but it is indeed a great, sprawling historic land in our midst. The diversity of New Mexico is always in front of our noses, but sometimes you see something that reminds you of just how special a place we have here.

We received a call from one of the national news outlets asking for some analysis of the Navajo presidential contest between Ben Shelly and NM Dem State Senator Lynda Lovejoy which will take place next Tuesday along with our state election. We confessed that that one is above our pay grade and referred them elsewhere. Wonder if anyone has written a book on Rez elections?


Who will save our neighbor to the south?

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Gunmen opened fire on a car wash in western Mexico on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people, an official said. It was the third massacre in Mexico in less than a week. The gunmen drove up to the car wash in the city of Tepic and opened fire without provocation, said the official with the attorney general's office of Nayarit state, where the city is located.Aa


Jay Leno: "This Sunday, Halloween, the scariest day of the year, unless you're a Democrat. Then, that would be next Tuesday."

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Di Has Fallen Down And Can't Get Up; Stuck At 42--Again, Plus: Barela-Heinrich Match Still Watched, And: Is It 2012 Yet? Alligators Are Already Ready 

As soon as Diane Denish starts to breathe the oxygen gets sucked out of the room. And so it was on Tuesday as the Dem Guv nominee was knocked to her knees just as she was trying to get up to mount a final assault. The Rasmussen Poll gave Republican Guv nominee Susana Martinez a ten point lead--52-42. The poll was conducted Sunday, refuting Dem contentions that Denish was starting to finally move off the 42 percent mark. Rasmussen says Susana is getting 90 percent of the R's and is blowing the doors off with independents.

42 is like unlucky 13 for Di. She has been stuck there for months. Martinez is now at 50 in her own poll and 52 in Rasmussen. The Journal reports their final findings Sunday.

The polls get more accurate as you get closer to Election Day, so unless there is a major misstep by Susana she should be your next governor.


We had blogged Monday that Denish might not yet have flat-lined. Former ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle gets in on the analysis action and opines that the Martinez 10 point Rasmussen lead is indeed a flat-lining:

Martinez again moves to a 10 point lead with likely voters polling 52% in the second straight survey this month. Denish draws 42%. Only 2% would like a different set of candidates and 4% are undecided.

Given that election day is only six days away I would say that Denish has both hit the ceiling and flat-lined as her number seems to be remaining steady...My gut feeling is unless there is some kind of really big misstep on the part of Susana this race is over given all of the early voting.

We remember gut feelings, Rory. We used to have at least one a day. Now we get ten polls a day.

When the Tuesday blog went to press we noted that Martinez was still going negative, despite her polling lead. She has mixed in a mostly positive closing spot with the negative.


Where the candidates were on Tuesday and election analysis on KOB-TV. And we talk about the polls with KRQE-TV.


It will indeed be Las Cruces where Martinez makes what now appears will be a victory speech next Tuesday night. We blogged earlier that ABQ might be bypassed on the big night, the first time that has happened in modern memory. But Cruces is where the candidate feels most comfortable. We expect her to spend good deal of time there even after being elected. Her father and sister live there.


The news network hooked up with Martinez Monday in Alamogordo. An excerpt:

Though Sarah Palin's endorsement helped Martinez lock up the nomination the candidate now seems to be seeking distance telling CNN, "You know Sarah Palin's endorsement was in the primary. We were pleased to have it. We were pleased to have everyone else's endorsement." Asked if she would support Palin for President she punts saying "you know I am not focused on Sarah Palin at this point.

Martinez does lunch with another GOP presidential hopeful today. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will be at the ABQ Country Club for a VIP lunch that is going for $2,000 a couple. The cheap seats are $500 a couple and $300 a person. One of the hosts is ubiquitous Republican businessman Sherman McCorkle who served on ABQ Mayor Berry's transition team and is a good bet to be tapped for a similar role should Martinez win Tuesday night.

Martinez will also hold a free ABQ rally with possible 2012 GOP Prez candidate Pawlenty. That will be this morning at 10:30 at Martinez campaign headquarters at 5500 San Mateo NE.


Denish continues her barnstorming. She'll be in Bernalillo and Santa Rosa today. She'll also have an event with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, Senator Tom Udall, Rep. Heinrich and NM Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales. They will be at Matteo's Restaurant, 6301 South Coors, from 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM


Will Jon Barela be the November surprise? His campaign comes with an internal poll that says he has pulled ahead of Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich by two points among 400 likely voters. They have it 49-47 in the survey done Sunday and Monday. More details here.

Third party money is flooding into ABQ TV stations against Heinrich. The spots are not that well-produced, but they keep the heat on.

We continue to rank the ABQ race as lean Dem, with Heinrich polling well in the last ABQ Journal survey in early October 48 to 41--and insiders saying Heinrich's own internal numbers showing him six points ahead. (Of course, all internal polling is to be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism). There is that nagging concern about who is voting. The Barela poll asserts among high interest voters Barela is clocking Heinrich 52 to 46. They also point out that Republican Martinez leads Denish by nine points--53 to 44--in the ABQ congressional district.

Like Dems, Republicans appear to be getting worried now about their turnout numbers. Many R's have voted early but they need to keep coming to the polls if they are going to put candidates like Barela over the top.


No incumbent anywhere can take anything for granted. Democrats may want to turn away, but R's are going to relish this news from The Hill:

Republicans are headed for a blowout election win that seems certain to seize more than enough seats to knock out the Democrats and take control of the House.

The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party.

Okay, Dems you can come back to the blog...


Those wily Alligators are already looking forward to 2012. (Don't they have enough to keep them busy right here in 2010)? Apparently not as they are coming away impressed with the performance of 40 year old Republican underdog northern congressional candidate Tom Mullins.

Mullins sent a scare up the spine of Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, but Ben Ray now seems to have matters in hand and should secure the win Tuesday night with no major problems. (How much he wins by remains an issue).

So where does that leave Mullins who is the most conservative GOP candidate on the scene this year? This fella even makes Republican Steve Pearce look soft. Remember it was Pearce who took the US Senate nomination from former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson by labeling her too moderate in 2008. He went on to lose to Dem Tom Udall.

Heather, who is making noise about another Senate run in 2012 when Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman is expected to seek re-election, could find that Mullins or a candidate like him will present as formidable a hurdle as Pearce did. Besides, Mullins with his balding pate and conservative views, looks like a younger version of Pearce.

Mullins is concentrating on his congressional run today, but his brand of unapologetic conservatism matches up nicely with much of today's GOP (and Tea Party). If his US House campaign has done anything it has positioned the Farmington petroleum engineer for another contest.

Could we see Mullins run in the 2012 GOP Senate primary and go for the heart and soul of the GOP while Heather also runs and is again labeled as "too moderate" by likely primary voters? We could. And that's why those Alligators are already looking forward to 2012.

Cargo & Keller
Former GOP Governor Dave Cargo ('67-70) talks politics in this photo with the new generation at Barelas Coffeehouse. Cargo is now 81 while ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller turns 33 in November. Cargo had a reputation for forming alliances with Hispanic Democrats. Keller was once a Republican who has also shown signs of pragmatism. Keller's business background has propelled him into the center of discussions over the state's budget crisis. Cargo's charisma and intellectual prowess have kept him in the game even as his contemporaries hug their rockers.


We've been batting around that $155 million state bond for higher education this week, especially after we said we would be voting no. Reader Brad Hill, who describes himself as a NM based construction industry professional, weighs in:

Joe--Until the Regents at New Mexico’s educational institutions quit excluding New Mexico construction and design firms from their projects, I don’t see why NM voters should support them.


In a metro area economy experiencing record high unemployment and home foreclosures, the home prices still seem too high:

In the Albuquerque metro area, pending sales for detached single-family homes in September dropped 28.82 percent from the previous year and are down 14.45 percent from August 2010, according to data from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.

The median sale price for single-family detached home sales in September saw an increase of 1.72 percent in September to $183,000, when compared to the previous year, the group said.

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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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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....


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?


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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Monday, October 25, 2010

Final Frenzied Week: Can Di Close Gap? Plus: Ink-Stained & Endorsing; What The Papers Think, And: We Opine On Bonds And Amendments 

The final frenzied week of Campaign 2010 begins with Democrats hopeful that they can drive up turnout enough to give Diane Denish a chance to pull ahead of Republican Susana Martinez by a nose. Denish seems to be closing the gap in this final stretch, but still trailing the Dona Ana County DA.

The sense of the race is that the negatives on Denish are done working. Democrats are coming home, but Denish may have let Martinez get too far ahead. Her campaign says the race is still within reach. The final Journal poll will be out Sunday. Denish could use some public polling in the next day or two that shows her closing. It would be a motivator for Dems who are seeing the race written off.

The chief weakness in the Martinez campaign has been their reluctance to tell the public more about her. They know she is a prosecutor and little else. The campaign rejected biographical spots in favor of attack ads. That could make some Dems and independents who don't live in the south more reluctant to cross over to the Republican as they take one last look before casting their ballots.

The chief Denish weakness has been messaging. She has too often sounded like an echo chamber for Martinez and the R's. Her campaign argued in an email missive that "the pundits" who believe this have their own agenda. They don't. They are just talking about why a Dem Guv nominee has been running so far behind in the public opinion polls.

In-person early voting numbers for Bernalillo County show Dems and R's pulling the same numbers in--about 14,000 each so far. That shows the higher enthusiasm for the GOP. They make up only 32 percent of the registered voters here and statewide.

Optimistic Dems are forecasting a loss of two or three state House seats. They now hold sway over the R's by 45 to 25. Optimistic R's are predicting a pick-up of five to seven House seats.

This reader e-mail passes for what is the conventional wisdom on the New Mexico Guv race:

Republican candidates for Governor don't win by double digits in NM unless a lot more is happening than I can see today. 1994 was also a bad year for Dems. They were badly divided and had a third party to its left to contend with, and Gary Johnson still won by (barely) less than 10%. Today the Dems are united, albeit tepidly, and the Green Party is no longer with us. Martinez will win, but the margin will be no more than eight points. Put me in the pool for 53.8%.

Johnson won in 1994, defeating Dem Bruce king 50 to 40 and Green Party candidate Roberto Mondragon garnering 10 percent of the vote.


It's night and day when it comes to the points of view of Dem Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Republican Tom Mullins. They debated the points on KOAT Sunday afternoon.

Lujan started his TV late. Mullins came with negative TV. Lujan is now responding to those attacks. The race is too close for Democratic comfort, with Lujan expected to take it in the end. But Mullins has snuck up on Lujan despite early missteps like calling for land mines to be placed around the border. The Lujan negative is meant to put Mullins in his place---in the very low 40's.

Lujan wants to get this thing to at least 55% in the heavy Dem north come Election Night. If he doesn't, progressives who have never been his biggest fans could plot a primary run against him in 2012 which could prove to be a nuisance or a real threat. And maybe we would even see the 40 year old Mullins again.


We're still closely watching this battle for the ABQ congressional seat as is the AP.


The ABQ Journal, as expected, came with its endorsement of Martinez Sunday. The Santa Fe New Mexican, also as expected, gave its nod to Denish.

The Journal's main concern is what they see as a culture of corruption. The New Mexican is more concerned with the state's budget crisis and human service needs.

The Journal also endorsed all three Republican candidates for the US House over the weekend. However, in giving the nod to Republican Jon Barela the paper failed to make an important distinction:

Campaign attacks insinuating (Barela) favors privatizing Social Security...are baloney.

But the Journal's own Washington correspondent, Michael Coleman, broke this news on Barela's Social Security position:

Asked if he would favor allowing Americans to invest even a portion of Social Security in the market, Barela said he would not, at least not "at this point."

That means Barela is open to changing his mind and voting for privatizing Social Security. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Martin Heinrich, has closed the door to privatization. That is a significant and factual distinction between the two hopefuls for the ABQ House seat.


The paper tried to prepare its readership for its hard swing to the right by putting up a foreword to its editorials:

...Single-party grip on power has led to a major expansion of government and an explosion in spending...(The election is) about whether you want a government to take care of you, or one that gives you the opportunity to take care of yourself and prosper through your own hard work.

Democrats who have been critical of the paper the last several years, claiming their conservative editorial views have seeped into their news articles, are unlikely to be assuaged.

Speaking of which, the Diane Denish campaign pretty much busted the Journal for a front-pager they ran Saturday. From the campaign manager:

The Albuquerque Journal has caught Diane Denish red-handed fighting for New Mexico’s children. Firmly plant your tongue in cheek and read the story where an investigative report by the Journal exposes Diane Denish’s devious “political mission”: more funding for early childhood education. If Denish and her cronies get their way, more New Mexico children would benefit from Pre-K education (the horror, the horror). Yes, this column did actually run on the front page of Saturday's paper.

This scores points. The "Denish is a crook" meme has now been taken to ludicrous heights in the Journal and in the Martinez campaign commercials. Because the public and the Republican-leaning paper is so tired of the incumbent administration, the bar is lowered on damning Di. If the ABQ Tribune were still around there would be more checks and balances in the city's media market, but alas...


If Barela loses next week--and Heinrich's internal polling is pointing to that probability--could he end up working for Susana Martinez if she is elected Governor? Republicans are already talking about their light bench when it comes to filling out the cabinet and other top positions. Barela has government experience and the personality to make a deal--something that is going to be critical for the R's as they deal with the Democratic majorities in the Legislature.

Of course, we don't know if Martinez cares to make deals. She could end up being a Gary Johnson in skirts. But that wouldn't do her or the state much good, would it?

Joe Monahan
We don't endorse political candidates--and we don't think many folks would pay much attention to us if we did. But in the matter of how the state's bonding capacity should be used and amendments to our state Constitution, we do have a citizen opinion. And here it is...

There are four bond issues on the statewide ballot totaling $175 million, but we'll be voting against all but one of them. Passage of each bond would mean slight increase on the property tax rate on homeowners in the coming years. That and the need for the state to pause and reflect on its overall fiscal situation going forward gives us pause in automatically giving our approval as usual.

Bond A totals nearly $8 million for improvements at various senior citizen centers. A break of a couple of years is not gong to harm the elderly. A no vote is in order,

Bond B provides $7 million for buying library books and equipment statewide. This is another item that is frequently before voters and you might think enough is enough for a while. However, we'll be voting yes because of the increased use of public libraries by the many unemployed, underemployed and newly low-income New Mexicans. The library is where many of them get free Internet access. Joblessness is a long-term problem now. The libraries are also especially vital in rural New Mexico for children who need a broader exposure to their world.

Bond C would authorize $5 million in bonds to build pre-kindergarten classrooms and provide instructional materials, among other things. We don't think $5 million is make or break for the pre-k system. Let's revisit this in two years. Meanwhile, a no vote is reasonable,

Bond D is the biggie. It totals $155 million for construction projects at the state's far-flung universities. We like the idea of the construction jobs this would provide, but we have been on a capital improvement bender in this state for the past decade. A no vote is needed so we can spend a couple of years assessing our needs for the tighter times ahead.


There are five Constitutional Amendments on this year's ballot. Four of them are nonsense and deserve rejection without thought.

Amendment #1 is getting broad support from newspaper editorial writers. It would "create a new exception to the "anti-donation clause" to allow the state to establish a veterans' college scholarship program for military war veterans of conflicts that began after August 1, 1990." Currently only Vietnam Vets can get these scholarships.

We understand the motivation but the federal government has established very generous educational benefits for our newer veterans. We think those are sufficient. Also, we agree with opponents who say we don't need to add another unfunded program that would increase tuition for other students.


From the Politico:

Mississippi Gov. and RGA Chairman Haley Barbour is poised to embark on a whirlwind trip through gubernatorial battlegrounds with a group of top GOP governors, showcasing Republican leadership in the states on what the RGA's billing the "Remember November Tour." Barbour will hit up 13 states in five days - starting on Tuesday with New Mexico...

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will accompany Barbour in NM Tuesday.


ABQ City Hall is a pretty quiet place these days with a Republican mayor who believes in limited government and an empty city treasury preventing much government expansion even if it was wanted. But noise is being made over the outbreak of police involved shootings. APD has shot 12 persons this year and that led to a protest downtown that attracted about 75, many of whom were relatives of those who lost their lives or were wounded.

APD Chief Schultz says he can't explain the outbreak. The shootings, he says, appear justified. The administration is asking an outside police group to take a look.

Schultz has been a community-oriented chief. The protests should not chase him into a bunker, but this number of shootings also deserve an internal study by the department and a report to the City Council. That way what the chief calls unexplainable will be explained.

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