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Friday, May 18, 2012

Heavy Voting Starts Saturday; New TV From Heinrich & Heather; Chaos In Clovis As Susana & Jay Fight Off Fellow R's And Speaker Lujan's Revenge 

The official Primary Election may be June 5 but well over half the vote will be cast before then. On Saturday alone thousands will flood into early voting centers and make their decision. Many of our readers will be part of that crowd. You can find early voting info from Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver here.

Maybe you want to wait to vote so you can see in action the three Dem candidates for the ABQ congressional seat. That hot battle goes to the tube Saturday at 6 p.m. as KOAT-TV hosts what will apparently be the one and only TV face-off in the contest. It features Eric Griego, Marty Chavez and Michelle Lujan Grisham.

There has been no public polling on the race but Alligators, insiders and wall-leaners see Griego and Lujan Grisham at the top and Chavez needing to make up ground as we enter the final stretch.

And if you just want to get away from La Politca for a weekend, you can always reach for the stars:

A rare annular solar eclipse is coming to Albuquerque on May 20, and Bernalillo County is proud to host a free viewing and educational event at the county’s Regional Recreation Complex in conjunction with The Albuquerque Astronomical Society. The county’s sports fields near Mesa del Sol will provide excellent views of the annular solar eclipse, when the moon is scheduled to block out the center of the sun and create a “ring of fire.”

Enough star gazing. Let's go back out to the cluttered campaign trail of 2012 for the very latest action....

HEINRICH'S LATEST

There's really nothing much for his foes to latch onto in the latest Rep. Martin Heinrich ad. The Dem US Senate candidate says he "understands it’s his job to fight for the things New Mexicans have worked so hard for." That includes the federal defense and energy establishments as well as Social Security and Medicare.

Henrich, facing Hector Balderas in the June 5 primary, positions himself in this spot as the inheritor of the Domenici/Chavez/Anderson legacy which was based on New Mexico's identity as a national security outpost. Someone has to keep the billions coming in and Heinrich argues he's the man.

Heinrich is likely to win the Dem primary and face Republican Heather Wilson in the Fall. She is also positioning herself as a defender of the state's mega-dollars of federal funding.

Wilson has solid national security credentials and a record as an ABQ congresswoman, but her weak spot could be Republican plans for Social Security and Medicare. Another reason Heinrich is already on that beat.

One other note--Heinrich is very low key, almost staid, but this type of media personality has played well here in the past. Witness Senator Jeff Bingaman, Pete Domenici, former ABQ Mayor Harry Kinney and others. Heinrich will be accused of being a wild-eyed liberal by the R's but his quiet media demeanor may help calm the crowds.

The United States Senate race in New Mexico is ranked "Lean Dem" here and also by a number of other media outlets that involve themselves with such matters.

OFF A CLIFF

When we first saw the title for Heather Wilson's new TV spot--"Off a Cliff"--we thought (humorously) that she was referencing the far right wing of her Republican Party. It turns out she is addressing the national debt. That's a big tea party issue and they're a crowd she has had trouble with for allegedly being too "moderate."

Then there is this line in the ad that seems to be positioning her for the fierce fight for undecided independent voters in the November election:

She says: Today Washington politicians of both parties are driving us off a cliff."

Wilson's far right opponent--Greg Sowards of Las Cruces--has not come with any TV ads or otherwise made much noise--a relief for Heather. (Sowards is running an ad on the Drudge Report calling Heather a R.I.N.O--Republican in name only--and trying to raise money from it).

There is the usual air of competence, confidence and intelligence in this Wilson spot. The problem? Many in the electorate are tired of the old faces and mad at Wilson for her fealty to the last President Bush. They are nervous as well about their Social Security and Medicare and not sure she can be trusted. It will be difficult for her to change those perceptions, so she will work overtime to raise doubts about Heinrich.

JUICY JOHNSON

A Watermelon is exploded and its juice and rind is sprayed in slow motion across the screen in the first major video for Libertarian Party Prez nominee and former NM Governor Gary Johnson. Hey, it's Gary.

CHAOS IN CLOVIS
Jay McCleskey
More now of our ongoing coverage of Governor Martinez's major mess in Clovis. As expected, the hit pieces against GOP Senate contender Pat Woods are flooding the mailboxes as the Guv and her political adviser and leader of SusanaPac--Jay McCleskey--work furiously to get their preferred Republican--Angie Spears--into the east side seat being vacated by Republican Clint Harden. But what will be the political cost of this intra-party warfare?

The race is shaping up to be a vote of confidence in Martinez--not the candidates. She and Jay didn't have to go there, but now that they have, they are going to pull out all the stops to get the win. Here's a negative mailer that accuses rancher Woods of being a "liberal" because of his past campaign donations to Democrats. "Pat Woods Says He Is Loyal To Liberal Democrats," screams the mailer. And Woods strikes back in a robo call, decrying the negative campaign of his opponent and her "high-priced consultants," a reference to McCleskey's role in the Spears effort.

Martinez and McCleskey are getting their backs shoved against the wall like never before. Outgoing Senator Harden had been playing it polite--even thought he was essentially forced from the race by Susana and Jay--but he now takes his gloves off to slam Jay and urge support for Woods:

Harden says he expects Jay McCleskey, Martinez's political strategist, to finish the primary season with a negative campaign and "character assassination" against Woods."It is typical of what they do. They just run negative campaigns," Harden said.

McCleskey responded with criticism of Woods. "This election is not about the governor or personalities, but rather whether voters want to take on the liberal status quo in the Legislature by electing Angie Spears, or surrender the seat to former lobbyist Pat Woods, who practices business-as-usual politics and will accept the status quo," McCleskey said in a statement.

McCleskey is referred to in political circles as the "Fifth Floor" because of the power he wields over the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse where the Governor holds forth. That he has become a big issue in this GOP internecine combat is a sign of how high a profile he now has in the state Republican Party.

Did Martinez err in thinking that her high popularity in the GOP would permit her to openly interfere in legislative races--something Governors usually do from far behind the scenes? The Woods-Spears battle has now become the premier legislative contest in the state, raising the stakes far beyond who gets to represent this east side district in the Senate.

Woods was up ten points over Spears in a recent robo-poll conducted for his campaign, but Spears just bought $16,000 in cable and network TV and will hit Woods even harder. She will likely close the gap as Jay and Martinez are now forced to pull out all the stops to salvage a win. There will be political enemies of a lifetime made because of this race. A Spears loss or even a narrow win would weaken the Governor. There are many morals to this story.  "Be sure to pick your fights carefully" is just one of them.

LUJAN'S REVENGE?


Dem State Rep. Sandra Jeff has been more than a thorn in the side  of Dem state House Speaker Ben Lujan, She's been more like an axe. So this news was not too surprising:

Speaker of the House Ben Luján has contributed $1,500 to Jeff’s Democratic primary opponent--Charles Long. Political retribution? Speaker Lujan says no. When asked by Capitol Report New Mexico  why he gave $1,500 to Long, Luján said flatly, “Because he asked for it.” The Speaker said, “I appreciated the fact that [Long] felt I might be able to help him...and that he had confidence in me to help him spread his message...I haven’t heard from Sandra Jeff at all.

Right, Ben, You haven't heard much from Sandra Jeff at all, but you heard plenty from her in the last legislative session--enough to convince you to give her opponent $1500.

ALIBI FOR THE ALIBI

The progressive ABQ weekly the Alibi failed to endorse Eric Griego, the self-described progressive in the three way ABQ congressional race, opting instead for Michelle Lujan Grisham. That brings this entertaining missive from the Alligator corner:

There is no "mo" for Michelle. Eric has the endorsements that count. The Alibi must have had a heavy dose of Rush Limbaugh's meds of choice the night they decided to make that endorsement.

GOING POSTAL (CONT.)

It started with the news from Senator Bingaman that rural post offices in the state will have their hours cut but not be shut down, It continues today as reader Jim McCaughey comments on a post that said the postal service does not get federal funding

Joe,While some people do like to point out that the Postal Service does not receive government funding, it does have a line of credit with the US Treasury. It is maxed out at $15 billion. There is no way it can pay it back, USPS is effectively bankrupt. They also receive $96 million a year for certain services for the blind. Now it is true that Congress for some reason has stated that USPS must fund it's pension plan in "real" time." Certainly a novel idea for government, but it is impossible for USPS to do right now. My guess is that Obama will not bail out USPS before election, it would give R's too much ammo about how government does not work. After the election, USPS will get a government bailout. The taxpayers will eventually pay.

Thanks for that, Jim.

ROOM WITH A VIEW

Now here's a room with a view. This pic was snapped from our window in the country inn we stayed at recently in France, about an hour south of Paris. The bright yellow is a field of mustard plants. Like Albuquerque, when you drive a half hour from Paris you are in another world--one with a peaceful, easy feeling.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I' m Joe Monahan.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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