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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Doubting Doughty: Racing Chairman Seeks State Senate Seat, Plus: Another Poll; Another Heinrich Lead, And: On The ABQ Congress Campaign Trail 

Why is the latest scandal in the NM horse racing industry of special interest to the voters of the ABQ NE Heights district of outgoing GOP State Senator Kent Cravens? Because one of the the three GOP candidates seeking to replace him--Robert Doughty III--is chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission. That panel has come under fire after a lengthy New York Times investigation found state horse racing riddled with animal and drug abuse issues.

Doughty, an attorney in ABQ who was appointed to the commission by Gov. Martinez in March 2011, may come under questioning as to why these problems have festered as he served as head of the panel overseeing horse racing. His most formidable foe is Mark Moores, executive director of the state dental association and who insiders say has the backing of Cravens. Cravens held the dental job before Moores. The other hopeful is Nancy Cooper.

On his web site Doughty prominently features a photo of him and his family visiting Martinez at the Guv's mansion on March 24. While that is not a formal endorsement in a contested primary, it comes close and insiders believe the Guv's political action committee--Susana Pac--will help him. Moores served as chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Walter Bradley. He was considered the front-runner before Doughty's entry but Moores now has a major battle on his hands.

The seat is currently held by Dem trial attorney Lisa Curtis who was appointed to fill the seat when Cravens left for a position with the NM Oil and Gas Association. She is seeking election to the seat. She may spend a lot of money trying to keep it in the Dem column, but this is GOP country and the winner of the nomination is likely to go all the way. However, if Doughty emerges as the nominee and is damaged by the racing revelations, it could make for an interesting race.

THE SENATE LEANS DEM 
Heinrich
Here's the Senior Alligator money line on the polling in the US Senate race: "Wilson appears to be hitting a ceiling in the low 40's, while Heinrich has a floor at around 45%."

Now on to the latest...We just don't think a five term ABQ area congresswoman with superior statewide name ID should be consistently trailing in the polls. But that is the continuing fate of Republican Heather Wilson and that's why we have the US Senate race here ranked "lean Dem," although we are not throwing water on the "toss-up" crowd. The latest numbers from the conservative leaning Rasmussen polling firm has Dem Martin Heinrich leading Heather 46% to 42%. That poll was conducted Tuesday and improves on Heinrich's standing from the February Rasmussen when he beat Wilson 44% to 42%.

State Auditor Hector Balderas who was tied with Heather in the February Rasmussen--44 to 44--now slips back and loses to her 43 to 42. Balderas was hoping for momentum coming out of the mid-March Dem preprimary convention in which he had a better than expected showing, but this poll does not pick up any.

Heinrich remains the probable Dem Senate nominee and Wilson almost certainly the GOP winner of the June primary. She will continue to argue that this poll and others put her within the margin of error which for the latest survey is 4.5%. But independents are breaking for the Dem candidate and women are going for Heinrich at a rate of 53% to 38%. Hispanics are solidly in the Dem corner, says Rasmussen. These numbers are the traditional cornerstones of Democratic victories. That's why we see it differently than those who call the poll "a wash" because of its overall margin of error.

There is a long, long way to go and Heinrich (or Balderas if he scores the upset) will be tested in ways they probably have not yet imagined, but Wilson--a campaign veteran--has to know there are storm clouds over her head. Some of them not of her own making. The state is looking increasingly blue for Obama and thus for the Senate race. Wilson needs to run an A+ campaign, but her ultimate fate may rest with Obama's performance, not her own.

By the way, Rasmussen gives Governor Susana a 60 percent favorable rating and 36 percent unfavorable. Thirty-six percent of likely voters strongly approve of her job performance.

ON THE TRAIL

ABQ Dem congressional contender Michelle Lujan Grisham says she's not endorsing anyone in that heated campaign for the Dem nod for the ABQ area Public Regulation Commission contest. State Rep. Al Park links to a news release on his web site that lists Lujan Grisham among those endorsing him, but her campaign tells us that is not the case. "She has not and will not endorse anyone in that race," said Gilbert Gallegos, the candidate's spokesman. Park faces Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya and attorney Cynthia Hall for the nomination. Lujan Grisham's candidacy has caught fire with a number of womens groups so the news of a Park endorsement raised eyebrows.....

First he has a matanza that made blog news over whether it was handled according to tradition, now Dem congressional hopeful Eric Griego gets this:

Griego (NM-1) announced his endorsement by CHILE-PAC, a Political Action Committee advocating for Hispanic interests throughout New Mexico.  Griego is only the second candidate in this election cycle to be endorsed by the organization.

Guess Eric's matanza passed the smell test, after all....And Marty Chavez, also seeking the Dem nomination for the ABQ US House seat says he's started a campaign newspaper:

As we move toward the final stretch of this primary campaign, Marty wants to make sure that you're fully up to date on the inner workings of the campaign. In the Marty Messenger you'll learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and other ways to get involved in Marty's campaign to bring tough leadership that can actually deliver results to Congress....

The "Marty Messenger" is a pretty catchy title. If he starts making money with it, the state's struggling newspapers are going to be knocking on his door for tips...

THE WIENER WATCH
Wiener & Sen. Barrassos
Well, we may have lost State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair to retirement this week, but that doesn't mean we won't have some colorful political characters to track this election season. One of the is pictured here. He's GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener with Republican Wyoming US Senator John Barrasso. The Senator was in town recently and Wiener was shoring up his GOP support. He's being challenged in the primary by businessman Lonnie Talbert.

Wiener has always been known as an independent Republican.
During his commission term he has been a headline maker for a number of stories, including one for sexual jokes he cracked and that offended a county employee. He says the incident has passed and he doesn't expect it to be a factor in his contest. Talbert begs to differ.

Wiener is the only politician we know of to have been an ABQ city councilor, a state Senator and and a Bernalillo County Commissioner. Is he resilient enough to get two terms on the commission?

THE BOTTOM LINES

A reader writes:

How about some positive news?  This is a great clip that you may not have seen. Our former NM Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, John Garcia, was on MSNBC in his current position as Assistant Secretary to the US Department of Veteran's Affairs. He's still working hard for veteran's and is complimenting the groundwork he laid in NM now at the national level.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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