Friday, February 24, 2012
Obama Team Tends To The Garden Here; Senate Race Impact Eyed, Plus: A Police Chief Who Wants Driver's Licenses For The Undocumented
Early polling has President Obama in very good shape for re-election in New Mexico (he has a 15 point polling lead over Romney), good enough that on a recent Western swing he flew right over us, but top Dems here say he isn't taking the state for granted. They point to an ABQ visit this month by VP Joe Biden and the extensive ground game that his campaign is setting up here.
Also making a stop here this week was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz, the feisty chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She is shown here with NM Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales a a fund-raiser at ABQ's Scalo restaurant. We call the chairwoman feisty because of her numerous journeys into the talk pits of cable TV. The Florida lawmaker can hold her own.
The Prez race is all about turnout. While the campaign will harvest Obama's time and put him in states that are tight, we will see a steady parade of surrogates to keep Democratic juices flowing and to make sure they head to the polls in November.
My top analysts do not expect the president to repeat his 2008 Bernalillo County performance when he won by a stunning 60,000 votes, but they say even a victory of half that margin puts him in the driver's seat.
This appears to be the first presidential election since the 90's when New Mexico will not be considered a swing state. Unless the polling tightens up in the months ahead that could mean a lot less aerial bombardment from our TV screens. The state is looking a lot more like 2008 than the cliffhanger years of 2000 or 2004.
On my recent visit to Washington, Mo Ellithee and Peter Brodnitz, consultants to US Senate candidate Hector Balderas told me that presidential performance will have a profound impact on the race for the open US Senate seat here. "Don't underestimate it," declared Brodnitz as he rattled off a series of polling examples from the past that buttressed his point.
And that's another reason why in the very early going we have the Senate contest here ranked "lean Dem."
By the way, we had lunch with the consultants at the storied Monocle, a stone's throw from the US Senate office buildings. Despite being a lifelong Washington area resident, Ellithee told us it was the first time he had ever been to the Monocle and thanked us for the suggestion. Glad to do it, Mo. Just don't ask us how Hector can raise a million bucks to match the $1.4 million Martin Heinrich has banked. That's above our pay grade.
A THREE WAY
Make it a three way race for the Dem nod for the ABQ Public Regulation Commission seat being vacated by Dem Jason Marks:
Cynthia Hall announced her candidacy for Public Regulation Commissioner in District 1 to a group of supporters gathered at her home in the North Valley. She is an attorney on leave from her employment at the PRC, where she has worked as Associate General Counsel and Staff Attorney over the past three years. She was formerly a Staff Attorney at the Public Service Commission, a predecessor of the PRC.
Hall joins State Rep. Al Park and Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya in seeking the nomination for the $90,000 a year job. Dems are favored to keep the seat on the five member panel that has been riddled with controversy. Chris Ocksrider is an announced GOP contender.
Even though it's a PRC race you have to wonder if Park's cave-in to Governor Martinez over repealing the law that allows undocumented immigrants to get a driver's license will play a role in the contest. As chairman of House Judiciary Park tried to broker a compromise with Martinez, but she hung tough and Park ended up voting with the GOP Governor. He also voted for the repeal in a prior legislative session. At one point in is career Park was known as a liberal, but no longer.
WAKE UP CALL?
Reader Jim McClure says of the planned layoffs of up to 800 employees of Los Alamos National Labs:
I hope the budget cuts at Los Alamos will be a wake-up call for New Mexico to start building an actual economy. Fighting for our place at the government trough is a necessary short-term strategy, but we need some savvy economic development planning and commitment by elected officials. I'd like to see our largely invisible economic development officials push to improve the overall business climate rather than just granting tax breaks to favored industries. Economic development is an ideal issue for Rs if they can recruit some candidates for the legislature. National lab layoffs also are an opportunity for education. How about a fast-track program to certify some of those surplus techies as science teachers?
Hey, Susana, don't be so sure that repealing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants is always going to be so popular:
Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck thinks that all Californians should be allowed to obtain state-issued drivers licenses--even undocumented immigrants. He made his position clear at a meeting with Los Angeles Times editors and reporters.
That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by and for making us New Mexico's number one political web site. We appreciate it.
Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan
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