Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012: It Can Also Be A Voting Day, Also: Latest Poll Updates, And: Dateline Clovis: The GOP Battle Continues; How Did It All Start? History Of GOP Strife 

If you live in the city and want to mix in a little La Politica with your Memorial Day observance today, you can go vote. That's right. The early voting centers in Bernalillo County are up and running today and you sure won't face any long lines. In fact, there have been few lines at all this early vote season. Bernalillo County Dem Chairwoman Ana Canales sent out an email urging Dem ward chairs to help get the vote out.

The suspense in the political world on this holiday is over the ABQ Dem congressional race and the Republican showdown in Clovis. More on Clovis in a moment, but first that tight battle for the US House nomination....

The New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan poll of the congressional contest race conducted in conjunction with Manzano Strategies broke the news to the state Wednesday that the race was a dead heat between Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham, with Marty Chavez lagging. Our Tuesday night automatic phone poll shows was Lujan Grisham with 34.7%, Griego at 33.9%, Chavez with 22.3% and 9% undecided. The margin of error is 3.62%

The Sunday Journal poll confirms our survey, putting Griego and Lujan Grisham both at 33%, Chavez at "about 20%" and undecided Dems at 14%. It was taken Monday thru Thursday of last week and has a margin of error of 4.8%.

The best poll from the three political campaigns came from Lujan Grisham's camp. It was released before the two independent polls were taken. It had Lujan Grishan and Griego both at 35% with Chavez lagging. It was done by Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner, a Dem firm with a long track record here.

There is still time for the candidates to sharpen their messages to persuade voters, but getting out the vote in a low turnout primary is job one. Insiders think Griego could have an advantage there because of the many union and other endorsements he has received, but Lujan Grisham has time to strengthen her operation.


As for the polling for the Dem US Senate nomination, our survey Tuesday night showed Rep. Martin Heinrich trouncing State Auditor Hector Balderas 57% to 29% with 14% undecided. The Journal had Balderas positioned a bit better, but Heinrich was still over the key 50% mark.

It was Heinrich 51%, Balderas 26% and undecided at 23%.

Balderas should pick up more of the undecided than Heinrich. He would like to keep the congressman below the 60% mark so he can better position himself up for a future political race, most likely attorney general but the 2014 Guv's race is also a possibility.

We did not poll the race for the GOP US Senate nod between Heather Wilson and Greg Sowards of Las Cruces, but the Journal did and it showed Heather at 66%, Sowards at 20% and 14% undecided.

Whether Wilson gets over 70% seems to be the question here. Still, Sowards has prolonged the long term headache Wilson has had with her party's far right wing.

Now on to the showdown in Clovis and some GOP history....


That GOP state Senate contest in Clovis is so hot the politicos there are sweating at midnight. The take-no-prisoners primary is political history in the making, a race that has the Governor going all in for Angie Spears in extraordinary fashion and letting her lead consultant, Jay McCleskey, assault Pat Woods with impunity. And not that Woods isn't returning the fire.

Longtime observers of state GOP internecine warfare have seen this before. Here's GOP State Senator Clint Harden who is retiring from the seat Spears and Woods are so fiercely fighting for. Harden is backing Woods:

Harden says that in general, the east side is not prone to “hyperpartisan politics.” But the Senate race reminds him of the bitter GOP primary contest for governor 10 years ago between John Sanchez, now the lieutenant governor, and then-Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley. Sanchez’s campaign--managed by McCleskey--did advertising linking Bradley with GOP nemesis Manny Aragon, then the Democratic majority leader. Bradley decried what he called a “bald-faced lie” and “cesspool politics.”

“I’ve been around long enough to know what kind of campaign they run: negative. If they don’t go negative, they don’t win,” Harden said.

That report came from the ABQ Journal, which long ago stopped circulating in Clovis, but this is a story that can't be ignored.

Mickey Barnett
For you newcomers, the faction of the GOP that includes McCleskey, ABQ attorney/lobbyist Mickey Barnett, attorney and GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers and outgoing Roswell State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair is accused by an opposing faction of being interested in GOP affairs only to feather their nests through lobbying contracts and campaigns.

The warfare started when GOP Governor Gary Johnson advocated drug legalization in the early years of this decade. It split the party, with some major players going along with Johnson and others opposing. Some R's got contracts from various groups and made money by supporting Johnson's controversial stand.

The first to object was the Christian right, embodied in state representatives like Lovington's Earlene Roberts who was primaried by the Barnett led faction in 2004 and was defeated by Keith Gardner, now Martinez's chief of staff.

The GOP split was later framed as also pitting hard-right conservatives against GOP moderates. For example, former Governor Dave Cargo was reviled by the Barnett faction for his penchant for working across the aisle.


The split first burst fully into public view in November of 2003 when the Barnett led faction ousted GOP Chairwoman Ramsay Gorham. (You can read that history in our blog archives). Then-Senator Domenici was criticized for joining the anti-Gorham forces as was then-GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson.

As Harden indicated, the faction associated with McCleskey is accused of being ruthless in going after fellow Republicans they oppose. Those include the aforementioned Lt. Governor Walter Bradley, ABQ GOP Congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones, 2010 GOP Guv candidate Allen Weh, (who used to be with the other side, but got burned by them when he ran for Governor), former State Representative and ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne and now the gutsy Clovis rancher Pat Woods.

Gorham has long since moved out of state.

Pat Woods
Pat Woods says he is a dyed in the wool conservative. He is, but to get Spears the win, the Governor and Jay are determined to paint him as "liberal."

Woods is being excoriated in paid literature for donating small amounts of campaign money to select Democratic candidates over the years--thus the "liberal label." But remember, Barnett and company advocated the most liberal position of them all--drug legalization.

The Governor also said in Tucumcari last week that Woods does not support her move to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, but Woods has plainly said he does and it is prominently mentioned on his web site.

The Governor offered no proof of her accusation against Woods in her Tucumcari speech. She just threw it out on the table.

And that's the type of campaigning that gets the blood boiling between the factions, the "cesspool politics" that Bradley once called it.

They just don't try to defeat their fellow Republicans who happen to be primary foes--they try to destroy them.

Those kind of over the top tactics have now made McCleskey a public target in the Clovis race. He is the subject of a negative mail piece which we posted this week and which we're told will also be made into a television spot.

The irony of all this is that Martinez has total control of the GOP. There is hardly a peep made against her by R's, but she has been convinced that she must have total fealty to her by elected GOP state senators. Is this a case of not relaxing--or appreciating--that you already have it all?

The problem Martinez and McCleskey have created by the public hammering of Woods and their more subtle interference in other GOP primaries is summed up in that crass old saying heard in the barnyards of Clovis: "Don't shit where you eat."


The Clovis News-Journal came with a poll in the Woods-Spears race, but it was taken over 10 days, raising questions about its accuracy. It shows Spears beating Woods 38% to 31% with 31% undecided and a margin of error of about 7%. But a Woods poll taken by automatic phone calls Friday night among 296 participants favored Woods over Spears 51 percent to 38 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

There is no Democrat running for the seat so whoever wins the June 5 primary goes to the Senate for four years.


Here is a complete report from Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver on early and absentee voting in the county:

Total early vote through Saturday 5/26:  9970

Total DEMS EV through Friday 5/25:  5337 (=61% of total EV turnout through Friday)
Total REPS EV through Friday:  3415 (39% of total EV turnout through Friday)

Total Absentee ballots mailed through Friday:  6423
Total ABS ballots returned through Friday:  3518 (55%)

Total DEM ballots mailed through Friday:  4154
Total DEM ballots returned through Friday:  2266 (55%)
Total REP ballots mailed through Friday:  2269
Total REP ballots returned through Friday: 1252 (55%)

We did experience a significant uptick in requests for absentee ballots on Thursday and Friday (approx 600 each day - 2x as many as we were previously receiving daily).

We also had an uptick in early voting turnout on Thursday and Friday --

Wednesday 5/23 total Early Voters: 1068
Thursday 5/24 total Early Voters: 1302
Friday 5/25 total Early Voters: 1779 

Then back to normal on Saturday...total Early Voters for 5/26: 1218

Thanks for that, Maggie.

My experts estimate that Democratic turnout for the June 5 primary in Bernalillo County will be in the range of 25% of registered voters and lower for Republicans.

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