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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pivotal Moment In Tight ABQ Congress Race: Lujan Grisham In High-Risk Attack On Griego, We Have The Scoop, Plus: NM & Prez Race; What Obama & Romney Need To Know, And: Showdown In Clovis; Jay Attacked On TV 

ABQ Journal photo
Will Michelle Lujan Grisham's decision to go nuclear on Eric Griego be the deciding factor in the race for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ congressional seat--a race so tight an ant couldn't crawl between the top two contenders? It appears so.

 Lujan Grisham launched missiles against Eric Griego Tuesday, accusing him in a new TV ad of being a scofflaw for having had 11 warrants issued against him for traffic violations. The ad pounded the state Senator with this tag line:

 "Does Griego think he is above the law? New Mexico can do better."

Michelle said the first strike was not a first strike at all, that a Super PAC hit her first in a cable TV ad for being the state cabinet health secretary who "had the worst nursing home scandal in history." Here is that ad.

The Griego camp pleaded innocent to knowing anything about the Super PAC that attacked Michelle, but their war room was put on high alert and a retaliatory launch over the same sore spot the Super Pac picked at is expected soon. The campaign came with this:

Lujan Grisham appears to have settled on a desperate strategy of trying to make this election about traffic tickets instead of issues like protecting Social Security...Eric Griego has taken responsibility for not paying his traffic tickets on time, while Michelle Lujan Grisham’s neglect resulted in the death of 8 New Mexico seniors and an effort to silence a government watchdog tasked with protecting the elderly.  New Mexicans deserve better than a politician who'd put her career ahead of the lives of seniors.

This internecine Democratic warfare is being watched like a hawk watches a darting rabbit. That's because Whoever wins the primary is heavily favored to take the prize in the fall over GOP contender Janice Arnold-Jones.

(Griego came with his negative TV ad on Lujan Grisham Wednesday afternoon,.You can see it here.

MICHELLE MISSES MARK?

Veteran Dem pollster and analyst Harry Pavlides, who praised Lujan Grisham's recent performance on the one and only TV debate, comes with the crucial analysis of the latest play in this high-stakes, do-it-or-die-trying contest:

Michelle may have taken her eye off the ball here. By attacking Griego she risks negative fall-out of her own. She should be making a sharper case for her own candidacy and looking for votes among conservative and moderate Dems in the NE Heights. Griego's 35% is solid. The negative on his traffic problems is not going to change that. Michelle may now see some of her own supporters peel off because they are not all that solid and were in the need of more convincing. She was seen as the fresh face but the negative attacks on Griego are going to change that image...

And guess who, sports fans, those Michelle voters could peel off to? Yeah, you know him and love him (or maybe not)--it's former Mayor Marty Chavez.

You could just see Marty pounding the table and yelling, "Just call me Lazarus" when Michelle hit with the negative TV. Remember, this race started with Lujan Grisham hoping that Eric and Marty--who like each other about as much as a four year old likes spinach--would beat each others brains out and she would dash up the middle and take the prize. But lo and behold it's become a Michelle-Eric war with Marty now trying to position himself to benefit.

Michelle and Marty appeal to many of the same voters and if Pavlides is right and this negative turn by the Bernalillo County commissioner is the wrong move at the wrong time, he might get back some of the votes she has taken away--or as we indicated above--some folks just might stay away from the whole bloody mess and not vote. That means Griego's voters could end up making up a larger percentage of the electorate just by staying level.

The pressure on these candidates is like having your head in a vise and an evil movie villain slowly turning the handle. They've got six more days of it, too.

UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY

There is some comic relief in the race, albeit not intentional. Here you go:

Michelle Lujan Grisham stands accused by Eric Griego of "trying to buy"the Dem nomination for the ABQ House seat. Really? So what does Eric do? He asks for help so he can buy the election. Well, it's silly season. Here's the hit:

With just a few days left, we just found out that our more conservative opponent Michelle Lujan Grisham loaned herself another $60,000, bringing her total loan amount to $95,000 for this election cycle. She's trying to buy this election. Will you chip in $5 to make sure she doesn't get away with it?

Lujan Grisham's candidacy is also being touted in the mail by an outside women's group. Griego has also had support from groups outside the state.

The polls have Griego and Lujan Grisham all tied up and the campaigns are getting edgy with one another Marty Chavez is in third and hoping he can climb back in it before Tuesday.

 LEANING DEM

The AP takes an early look at where all 50 states are headed in this presidential election. New Mexico and its five electoral votes lands on their "lean Dem" list

New Mexico (5) — Gave narrow victories to Democrat Al Gore in 2000 and Republican George W. Bush in 2004, and an influx of Hispanic and younger voters now moves this state toward Obama’s column. No advertising yet from Obama, Romney or any super political action committees.

And don't forget, a complicating factor for Romney is the presence of former NM Governor Gary Johnson on the ballot here as the Libertarian Party prez nominee. Gary is probably good for five percent o the vote when all is said and done and most of that would come out of Republican Romney. Here's one of Johnson's latest Internet ads.

On the other hand, if Romney comes out here and starts talking about protecting the federal funding for the national labs, the defense bases, Medicare and other programs, he's going to get some serious conversation going.

Yes, the state is "lean Dem" but little New Mexico needs a friend in the White House. He needs to be brought up to speed on our position in the federal government.  But who will do it?

The radical right wing of the GOP doesn't seem to care if the federal funding is cut and even some of the conservative press is sympathetic to that outlandish notion. So it's probably best to leave the Romney briefing to GOP Senate candidate Heather Wilson. Or if we have to, let's wheel in "Saint Pete" (former Senator Domenici) to tell Mitt that Uncle Sam needs to remain a generous uncle to our Land of Enchantment.

 HOLD THE EMAIL

You can hold the email about how we are going to drop billions of federal spending and replace it with a miracle of free enterprise right here in the high desert. It's not going to happen in your lifetime (if you are over 40). The only way it can happen is for the next generation of kids to be educated properly and taken out of poverty...

And look here. The Santa Fe New Mexican gets down to it....

The perennial poverty crisis in New Mexico has been with us so long the mainstream media rarely work up a head of steam about it, but the New Mexican's Robert Nott picks up the spear in this piece and comes with a look at the pervasive poverty among school kids  in the capital city area, the gap between the rich and poor and an examination of how income impacts education success.

We know many disagree with us on the need for a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to tap its Permanent Fund for early childhood programs for children aged zero to five, but this piece explains why we see it as essential if our state is ever going to make a dent in its woeful rankings in education and income.

The bottom line? We are at least a generation way from losing our dependence on the feds and probably more. In the meantime, let's not bite the hand that feeds us and be nice to both Barack and Mitt.

NOT SO FAST

And then this crosses our monitor, showing just how difficult it can be getting the big money in here:

Lea County and Governor Martinez may have popped the champagne corks too soon when it comes to that big economic development announcement for Lea County. The Santa Fe Reporter comes with a hard-hitter:

As the projected costs for a mysterious “ghost town” skyrocket,  questions about the company’s financials, size and seemingly vague,  unrealistic business plans pile up. Pegasus Global Holdings  picked a site in Lea County earlier this month for its Center for  Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, an uninhabited town it plans to  build for testing emergent technologies. At the same time, the project  originally priced at $200 million suddenly became a $1 billion deal. But  Pegasus still hasn’t disclosed a single investor or potential client  who would use the site.

Are you reading this stuff, Guv?

BACK TO SANTA FE

Let's go back to Santa Fe today where they are not only wrestling with education woes (like much of the state) but the burglary binge is now back:

Santa Fe has seen a 52 percent increase in such crimes for the first four months of 2012 compared to the same months in 2011, according to police statistics, and that number also outpaces 2010, a record year for residential burglaries. 

And you wonder why so many Santa Feans are questioning the wisdom of Santa Fe Mayor David Coss running for the state legislature? Coss argues that mayor is a part-time job and he would have no problem serving two masters. But if burglaries are spiking 52%, there's a very real question about the job being done right now...

And not to pile on His Honor, but the Bear Market is alive and well in his City Different and crying out for some innovative programs to revive tourism and business in general. Here's the latest grim reminder:

The Sanbusco Market Center is in default on a debt of $9 million, according to a complaint for foreclosure filed this week in state District Court. Joseph Schepps developed the shopping complex at 500 Montezuma Ave. in 1984 after purchasing the century-old Santa Fe Builders Supply Co. property next to the Santa Fe Railyard...Schepps cited the loss of the large Borders bookstore early last year as a factor in financial problems for the center.

SHOWDOWN IN CLOVIS 

We asked here Tuesday if State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle would get involved in the hyper-controversial GOP state Senate primary between Angie Spears and Pat Woods and whether the Clovis News-Journal, the dominant paper in the district, would find out or whether we were on our own in reporting the major political news of Curry County. The paper's editor, David Stevens, comes with this:

Stuart Ingle still says he's not endorsing anyone and if the guv wants to get involved, "that's her choice." Ingle says he favors the candidate the voters choose.

In an unusual show of support in a contested primary, Martinez has publicly backed Spears, raising the stakes when the votes are counted Tuesday night

Ingle's own falling out with the Guv is known throughout the state since it was circulated that Martinez operative Jay McCleskey was seeking a primary opponent to run against him and that Roswell GOP State Rep. Dennis Kintigh was approached about running.

Meanwhile, the campaign wars continue in Clovis. Here's a TV ad that Woods has come with that goes after Spears for using McCleskey and the "ABQ political machine" to go after him. It's pretty extraordinary when the Governor's consultant becomes the issue on paid TV spots.

YA TA HEY

Martin Heinrich continues his effort to get to the US Senate, but first the ABQ congressman must get past challenger Hector Balderas as they compete for the Dem nomination next Tuesday. To that end and with an eye toward the general election as well, Heinrich has rounded up support from a broad spectrum of Native Americans. To top it off he comes with a radio spot for the Rez that is narrated in Navajo:

Martin helped lead the effort to modernize health care for our families. And Martin Heinrich cut through the bureaucracy that kept families from homeownership. Now, instead of waiting a year for a home loan, it can take a matter of weeks. 

That's a rough translation of some of the 60 second spot...which reminds me of a story.....

We were out in Navajo Country back in '84 working press for GOP congressional candidate Lou Gallegos who was running against then-Dem Congressman Bill Richardson. Wanting to pick off some Navajo votes, we wrote a 30 second radio spot--much like Heinrich's--and made our way over to the station where the ad would be translated by a Navajo. He started doing his thing and I noticed that he was soon past 30 seconds, then 60 and beyond. I interrupted and said we had budgeted for 30 seconds and he said something to the effect that it would take 30 seconds just to say Lou's name in Navajo.

Well, we exaggerate a bit but we learned a lesson unique to New Mexico politics.

(By the way, I timed the copy for Heinrich that was translated to Navajo. In English, the 60 second spot takes just 41 seconds).

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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