Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Can Heinrich Get Early Knock Out Over Hector? Plus: Susana, Heather & John; It's No Love Triangle, And: Here Comes A Judge 

Could Martin Heinrich score an early knockout or at least a knockdown of rival Hector Balderas? Perhaps. Heinrich, seeking the Dem Senate nomination against Hector, is hard at work on the money raising circuit with the aim of posting a large enough total that it dramatically alters the character of the race. From the latest Heinrich fund-rising missive:

In 16 days we face one of the most critical deadlines for our campaign, the first fundraising deadline of this Senate race. Without any polls, our fundraising numbers are going to be the only thing people have to judge the strength of our campaign by, and we need to show them that we are strong and that we are going to win. So today I am laying down a challenge and I know that together we can meet it. I want to raise $50,000 by Midnight, June 30th.

Heinrich banked $300,000 in the first quarter. The second quarter ends June 30 with public reporting July 15. Will Heinrich beat that $300K mark?

Balderas held a recent fund-raiser at the Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe. He is under pressure to come with a surprising fund-raising report or else face the possibility that Heinrich's money muscle gets bigger, scaring big donors away from Balderas and reinforcing the early conventional wisdom that the race is Heinrich's to lose.


Both Heinrich and Balderas are college educated and so is former Rep. Heather Wilson who is seeking the GOP Senate nod. But her challenger, Lt Gov. John Sanchez, did not attend college. How rare would it be for a person without a college degree to win a US Senate seat? Take a look:

About one in four of the nearly 7,400 elected representatives across the country do not possess a four-year college degree, according to a report released Sunday evening by The Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington. That compares with 6 percent of members of Congress, and 72 percent of adults nationwide, said the report, which is based primarily on the officials’ self-reported biographical information....

Only 6 percent of congressmen and senators have no college degree, so a Senator Sanchez--sans a degree--would be a member of a rather exclusive club within a 100 member exclusive club.


Heather, Susana & John
When it comes to politics, Governor Martinez has been a pretty smooth player. But no one is perfect and it is now becoming clear that the new chief executive overreached by dissing Sanchez when he entered the Senate race. It added a layer of division in an often divided GOP and it also drew some public criticism, as seen in this editorial from the Las Cruces Sun-News:

"To prevent this race from becoming a distraction, Lieutenant Governor Sanchez will not be given responsibilities in my administration beyond the select few provided for in the state Constitution," she said.

A distraction? This from the person who repeatedly assured Doña Ana County residents that her routine absences from the district attorney's office while campaigning for governor would have no impact on its efficiency. If New Mexico wants to pass a new law requiring elected officials to give up one job if they want to seek another, fine. What is not fine is holding Sanchez to a different standard than applies for everyone else.

Martinez's diss of John and her embrace of Heather cast John in the role of underdog, always an appealing position very early in a race. Don't expect to hear much from Susana about John or this Senate contest in the near future--at least not from her public podium.


This is a pretty good "get" for Heather Wilson as she tries to tame the more conservative wing of the GOP. Rio Rancho tea party activist Sylvia Bokor comes with this endorsement of Wilson over Sanchez:

...Wilson is an experienced and...strong-minded individual we need in the Senate. I do not believe we should consider an inexperienced individual in this position....The Republican candidate will be facing a very well-financed and hard-hitting Democrat. We need a strong-minded, knowledgeable and experienced candidate to oppose him. Republicans can win the 2012 Senate seat. Once there, we will need the same caliber of mind and spirit in our Senator to withstand the pressures and the work required.

Wilson has thrown a lot of establishment endorsements on the table, but it is the grassroots and open tea party support embodied by Bokor and company that she really needs.


Here's the official list of attorneys and judges who have applied for the NM Court of Appeals slot left vacant with the resignation of Democratic Judge Robert Robles. We've identified some of them by party affiliation:

Paul Barber (R), Henry Bonhoff, James Counts, Ned Fuller (R), James Miles Hanisee, John Kelly, Kerry Kiernan, Andy Montgomery, Artie Pepin, John Polk, Chris Schultz, UNM law professor Robert Schwartz, John Sullivan, Pres Torrez, David Williams, ABQ attorney Jane Yohalem, and ABQ Distrcit Court Judge Monica Zamora.

We asked a Senior Alligator who doubles as a Legal Beagle to game the action:

Republican Paul Barber came within 1,800 votes of knocking off Dem Richard Bosson in the Supreme Court race in 2002, though he didn't do so well against Judge Michael Vigil in 2004 for the court of appeals. Montgomery is the son of former Supreme Court Justice Seth Montgomery who left the family firm to get some criminal experience with the Attorney General. Counts is a district judge in Alamogordo. Shultz is a former cop and assistant district attorney who has run for Metro Court. Kiernan and Yohalem do a lot of appellate work, both very well, but we haven't had an appellate lawyer get on the Court of Appeals since Judge Fry...

A judicial nominating commission will forward their favorites to the Guv who will make the final choice. Odds are it will be a Republican. That individual will then have to run in a contested election in the 2012 cycle. The winner fills out the remainder of the Robles term which runs until 2019.

Patty Baker
From the polling watch:

More than two-thirds of voters think the ethical standards of politicians have declined over the past generation, and almost as many say Capitol Hill lawmakers are downright unscrupulous, according to the results of a new poll commissioned by The Hill. A striking 68 percent of likely voters polled said the ethical standards of politicians have deteriorated in recent decades, while just 7 percent said they have improved during that time, the survey said....

And what about the ethical standards of your profession over the past generation? Up or down?

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