Monday, May 14, 2012

The Big Monday Blog: From Congress To Clovis, We're On The Cluttered Campaign Trail Of 2012; Read All About It! 

No one is swinging for the fences in the hotly contested race for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination. In this three way race about 40% will do the trick for the win and that means slicing and dicing the electorate. And that in turn means campaign ads like this one from Michelle Lujan Grisham. In it the attorney and Bernalillo County Commissioner makes no bones about going for only a portion of the Dem electorate. She declares that "the war on women stops right now, right here in New Mexico." She argues that Washington is "trying to turn the clock back on family planning and women's health care."

Veteran Dem analyst Harry Pavlides says Lujan Grisham, playing for a narrow win with women voters leading the way, is making her best bet:

She needs to motivate women who normally would not vote in a primary. That's why you hear her talking about "the war" on women. She needs to turn them out. (State Senator) Eric Griego is still the front-runner because of his strong support among liberals. (Former ABQ Mayor) Marty Chavez should now look to turn out more conservative and moderate Dems east of San Mateo Blvd. in the NE Heights. Fighting with Griego over the liberals will not get him the win.

A major dynamic in this race that is making it more difficult for Marty and Michelle is the ABQ SE Heights. That area will have the highest turnout in the primary and that's where Griego is strongest. Also, Martin Heinrich lives there and will look to increase turnout there in his Senate race. Those voters will be prone to vote for Griego.

Thanks for that road map, Harry. We'll keep it handy as we enter the final stretch.


Surprisingly, there has been only one public meeting featuring all three congressional contenders, and only one TV debate is scheduled--on Saturday, May 19 at 6 p.m. on KOAT-TV. The race may be getting buzz in the political community but in the city at large it still seems to be a sleeper. That means we are on target for another low primary turnout.


Lujan Grisham picked up the endorsement of the ABQ Journal Sunday, as did Dem US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich. On the GOP side, the paper endorsed Heather Wilson over Greg Sowards. Of Heinrich, they said:

Having earned his stripes in the rough-and-tumble U.S. House, Heinrich has matured and refined his positions.

Heinrich is opposed for the Dem nod by State Auditor Hector Balderas. The Las Cruces Sun-News also endorsed Heinrich.

Of Lujan Grisham, the Journal said:

New Mexico’s young delegation needs an official who won’t hesitate to wade into tough issues and seek compromises — whether it’s health care, protecting and creating jobs, or finally passing meaningful immigration reform. Lujan Grisham has clear stances on each...

The Journal has its most influence with Republicans, but no doubt those endorsed will tout the backing in mailers and other campaign ads.


Over on the East Side, that GOP state Senate primary we've been blogging about is hotter than a Clovis parking lot on the Fourth of July. And we have fresh stuff. The insider polling there done for the Pat Woods campaign shows Woods leading Angie Spears by ten points in the multi-county district, with Clovis in Curry County being at the heart of the battle. It's Woods 42%, Spears 32% and undecided 26%.

On May 8th and 9th, a brief three question auto-poll was conducted. (Posted here). Calls were placed to all 2008 and 2010 primary voters. 546 people completed the poll, or roughly 16% of the voting population. We earlier blogged the results of the first night of polling. With Woods well below the magic 50% level, the race is wide open.

And why do we care? Well, Spears is being openly backed by Governor Martinez, causing a major split in the Republican Party. Her SusanaPAC, led by adviser Jay McCleskey, has already donated $5,000 to Angie and Jay's consulting company is expected to lead the final weeks attack against Woods. Also, former GOP National Committeeman Mickey Barnett is involved. A PAC he is leading has donated heavily to Spears.

For years, ABQ attorney Barnett has been in the thick of the internecine GOP wars. Our coverage of that can be found in our archives as far back as November 2003 and the news on his controversial PAC can be had here.

Angie Spears
Woods is now carrying the banner of a diminished middle wing of the GOP. He backed Doug Turner over Martinez for  the 2010 GOP Guv nod. Woods is being attacked for having given past campaign donations to Dem candidates and insiders say they think the rancher will also be hit for getting Federal farm subsides. But that's dangerous territory for the Guv. Subsides are a way of life in the state agricultural industry.

And therein lies the problem. By going all in for Spears, Martinez can't hide her fingerprints. When Woods is attacked the attacks are perceived as coming directly from the Fourth Floor and executed by the "Fifth Floor"--Jay and company. Not good.

The motive here for the Guv to get in this messy battle was to enforce ideological purity and subservience to her administration. That may seem worthy on paper or in idle daydreams of ruling without opposition, but she has to be wondering if it is worth all the headache. An ugly and even more divisive phase appears to be ahead in the final days of the Showdown in Clovis.


One of the issues Woods supporters raise could resonate with R's around the state. They ask: Why give money to SusanaPac if the cash is going to be used to beat up on fellow Republicans and not used to take back the Legislature from the Dems?

Of course, much of SusanaPAC money doesn't even come from New Mexico--but from Texas and other out-of-state interests.


Our observations about the new TV ad from Dem US Senate contender Martin Heinrich brought in some email. We thought the scene showing Heinrich campaign with his wife and kids was "out of context" and doubted his statement that the "hard-working citizens of New Mexico" will solve the nation's problems, not the politicians we pay to do that in Washington. Here's another view on that ad:

A young family and their connection to the outdoors? Looks like someone has their priorities straight. It's never out of place to show connection and appreciation for where you live, and the world around you...

You blogged that, "It is the failure of the "powers that be" in Washington to solve critical national problems that has them in low self-esteem. The "hard working citizens" of New Mexico have made their views known and it is up to our elected representatives to get the job done...

Nobody gets off the hook here. You're both right, and vice-versa. This isn't a job we're outsourcing.  Even if politicians were just contractors, we need a dialogue about choices, priorities and accountability that includes everyone, citizens and officeholders...

Well, we see how a"dialogue about choices" is useful, but like the rest of this nation, we're frustrated with the inability of the Congress to get something done. We want New Mexico's next US Senator to be results oriented and an actor for this state.

Let's get on with the election (that's the "dialogue") and then tell the winner we "hard-working citizens" expect more than expressions of exasperation at the state of things in Washington.

Do something about it.

Monahan with Udall in DC
Keeping it on Washington for a moment, Dem US Senator Tom Udall has been criticized by the R's for being a low-key and not very active lawmaker, but Udall has been diligently campaigning for a change in the filibuster rule of the Senate that keeps major legislation from getting anywhere, even if a majority is in favor. Now comes the news that Udall might be making some progress. A frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a moment of exasperation on the Senate floor:

"If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it's tonight," Reid said. "These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn't. They were right. The rest of us were wrong. Or most of us anyway. What a shame."

A Senate Democratic aide told The Huffington Post that Reid wants to revisit the issue in January, when the new Congress begins and when there is a brief window to change Senate rules with a 51-vote threshold. "Right when you convene a new Congress, you have an opportunity to alter rules with just a simple majority," said the aide. 

For Udall it's a signal that even though his head may hurt from banging it against the wall, he needs to keep banging.


The job of a New Mexico US Senator often leaves you open to the charge of hypocrisy For example, there's this news from Senator Bingaman:

Senator Bingaman said he is glad that the U.S. Postal Service put forward a plan to keep open rural New Mexico post offices that were once identified for possible closure. In a letter to Bingaman, the Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said rather than closing down thousands of rural post offices, it is taking a new approach. Instead, it will consider reducing the number of hours rural post offices are open. Congress is working on legislation aimed at bringing long-term solvency to the financially strapped Postal Service.

Some will argue that Bingaman should back the shuttering of all the rural post offices in the name of cutting out waste , but those post offices are quite important to rural New Mexicans. Jeff came down on their side.  He may be accused of being hypocritical, but those critics didn't vote for him--all those users of rural post offices did.


Back on the campaign trail now and it's getting more cluttered by the hour...

Dem State Rep. Bill O’Neill has received the endorsement of State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino and ABQ City Councilor Debbie O’Malley in his campaign to replace retiring Senator Dede Feldman in Senate District 13....

ABQ GOP State Rep, Larry Larranga endorses Mark Moores in that hard fought ABQ GOP NE Heights primary. It features Moores and attorney and State Racing Commission Chairman Robert Doughty. Nancy Cooper is also seeking the GOP nod. GOP Sen. Kent Cravens, who held the seat until he resigned to take a job with oil and gas, has also endorsed Moores.

We're saying goodbye to a whole bunch of legislators who have announced their retirements this cycle. They include longtime ABQ Dem State Rep. Danice Picraux who gets this send-off from the Alibi....Steve Cabiedes, campaign manager for Cara Valente-Compton who is challenging Dem State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton in the ABQ SE Heights district, told us he has in the past worked for Republicans, but is about as conservative as Jerry Oritz y Pino--a leading NM liberal But Michale Corwin of Independent Source PAC which attacked Cabiedes in a flyer, gets a final dig in:

What is most troubling about Steve Cabiedes work with Republicans was his serving as a plaintiff in a Republican voter suppression lawsuit that accused Democratic leaning groups helping minorities to register to vote of "widespread fraud." Cabiedes has yet to repudiate his role in that lawsuit. He should....

Okay, we're going to get Michael and Steve together and settle this thing with a poker match. The winner gets a free lunch from NM GOP Chairman Monty Newman. 

There are always some hopeless causes to talk about in the election season. Take a look at this well-intentioned missive from Bernalillo County Dem Party Chair Ana Canales:

The Democratic Party of Bernalillo County denounces any kind of negative attacks on your fellow Democrats whether it comes from your campaigns or any PAC.  The County Party has been very clear that negative campaigning of any kind will not be tolerated.  Unfortunately, it continues.  With the June 5 Primary getting closer and tension building, do not resort to fighting against your Democratic opponent but save this for your Republican opponent. 

Keep trying, Ana, you're still young.

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