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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ABQ Congress Race Still Dem Playground, Plus: The Udall File; Taking The Senator's Political Pulse, And: Early Mayoral Campaign Action 

Don't just take it from us--although we've been saying it for months--the ABQ congressional seat is a goner for the Republicans. We broke that news when we traveled to Washington
in February and were told by top R's that they are doing a towel throw on the district which has so often been competitive over the past 40 years. Now the national media is picking up on the grim GOP news. From DC's Rothenberg report:

Once upon a time, the Albuquerque desert was home to one of the nation’s top political fights. This year, the heat’s being turned up in the 1st District Democratic primary, but it will likely fade after the June 5 primary as this once-battleground seat drops off the list of top GOP targets. As the (district has) trended more Democratic, the open seat race to succeed Rep. Martin Heinrich (D), who’s running for Senate, will likely be decided in the Democratic primary after Republicans failed to recruit a top tier challenger.

Former state legislator Janice Arnold-Jones will be the GOP nominee this year, but her fund-raising has been so disappointing that feeble doesn't begin to describe it. (She did get some minor good news this week when the courts ruled that Republican Gary Smith does not have enough valid signatures to be on the primary ballot with Janice). The Dems have a three way fight for the nomination, but any of them can carry the day in November.

The ABQ seat was Republican from its formation in 1968 until Heinrich took it for the Dems in 2008. The trend to the Dems means that two of the three state's US House members are going to be in the D column instead of the other way around. R's argue they may be able to take it back in a lower turnout election in 2014. But who's thinking about that?

TV TIME

Michelle Lujan Grisham is first out of the TV gate in the Dem battle for the ABQ congressional seat. She comes with an ad that is sure to have appeal to women and seniors and maybe more. Sometimes the diminutive Bernalillo county commissioner can seem too peripatetic, but her media handlers have toned her down for her debut spot.

Lujan Grisham, the wild card in this race, speaks calmly and distinctly as she says its time for the rich to pay their fair share in taxes and takes credit for bringing jobs to the city.  She has over $340,000 in cash and the campaign says this first buy is for about $40,000. Eric Griego and Marty Chavez are sure to follow soon with their own TV. although Eric is more on par with Michelle when it comes to money and Marty currently lags,

Marty doesn't like Michelle's TV ad. His campaign poked at her by saying:

Her spot is overwhelmingly funded with out-of-state money from people who don’t have the best interests of New Mexico at heart. They do not share our values, and are not accountable to central New Mexico voters.

Michelle retorts:

More than 70% of the money Michelle has raised has come from New Mexico donors.  

Here we go, kids. All three have a shot at this one and the game is on.

SAME SONG

Another US Senate poll matching Dem Martin Heinrich against Republican Heather Wilson and like every other one before it this PPP survey reinforces our view that the Senate race leans Dem here. By the numbers;

Our newest poll finds Martin Heinrich leading Heather Wilson 48-43 and Hector Balderas with a 44-43 advantage. Both match ups have seen only a small change from when PPP polled the state in December. At that time Heinrich led Wilson 47-40 and Balderas and Wilson were knotted at 43%.

In politics, it's all about timing. For Heather, 2010 would have offered much more friendly terrain. In 2012, not so much. She is going to have to smoke Heinrich out to catch a wave on this one. With a five point lead, he's going to try to make himself as scarce as a Texan at a Matanza...

Still, the Wilson operatives again say this poll, conducted by Dem oriented PPP is another one biased against them:

Any poll that has Heinrich and Balderas tied with Hispanics in NM in the Senate Democrat primary at this time obviously has some demographic problems.

As for Martin vs. Hector, Heinrich leads 51% to 27%. But you already knew that.

THE UDALL FILE
With Udall in DC
Speaking of 2014, here we are on that February Washington visit with Dem Senator Tom Udall, We had a wide-ranging discussion, including his re-election plans. He has been a champion vote getter in the state. In fact, the only race we recall him losing was way back in 1982 when he came up short in his bid for the Dem nomination for the then newly created northern congressional seat. Big Bill Richardson took that contest. But soon after Udall was off to the races, winning two four year terms as attorney general and finally getting that congressional seat--the ABQ one--in 1998. In 2008, he faced off against Republican Steve Pearce for the US Senate and was again victorious,

After just one term Udall will find himself called the state's "senior senator" but he does not embrace the title, cracking a smile and waving a hand away when he is jokingly called by his new title. It won't be official until Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman heads to the showers at the end of the year.

Udall has become what's known as a "process" Senator, concentrating on such insider issues as the number of votes needed to break  filibuster. He says the Senate is dysfunctional and its inability to move forward on important issues impacts the economy and other matters of more direct concern to New Mexicans,

He is watchful of the state's federal funding but not as dogged as former Senator Pete Domenici. He is a liberal and has had his ups and downs with Los Alamos Labs which he got to know when he represented it as a congressman,

Udall's affable, low-key style suits the state, but it is expected by the insider classes that the new NM Senator--most likely Martin Heinrich or Heather Wilson will do the heavy lifting when it comes to pork barrel politics and bringing home the bacon for the state. Udall is expected to be the point man for the congressional delegation on other key issues. His recent high-profile on the state's troubled horse racing industry is one example of what we might expect from him in the future.

The R's fault Udall for being a lightweight and say their team could do better. They will get their chance but not for another two years during which Udall will try to come across with more gravitas, even as he says "aw shucks" to his soon-to-be new moniker of senior senator.

LIKE BUSH?

With a new opinion poll out showing only 42% of the public now trust the ABQ Police Department, a reader writes that ABQ Mayor RJ Berry is reminding them of the first President Bush:

Berry and APD are starting to look like George H.W. Bush and the economy. Which is to say, any incumbent that sticks with what the public perceives as a failed approach or an unpopular policy is an incumbent who is extremely vulnerable...

Speaking of which, on the 2013 mayoral campaign front, we have news of early polling going on in regards to the Dems and that race. From the reader email:

Joe I was polled "seeking the opinion of registered Democrats." It was  pretty standard stuff until the end. In the category of "only answer this if you live in Albuquerque," I was asked to rank as favorable or unfavorable Mayor Berry, City Councilor Ken Sanchez, former Lt. Governor Diane Denish and ABQ State Senator Tim Keller. Then, on the "if the election were held today" question, I had to choose from RJ Berry and Democrats Sanchez, Denish, Keller and City Councilor Debbie O'Malley.  There was no option for undecided. I thought it interesting that they threw O'Malley in there without first asking the favorable/ unfavorable question about her.  Thought you'd like to know...

Indeed we do want to know. There are no announced candidates yet for next year's mayoral contest, although Berry has indicated he will seek a second four year term.

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