Friday, May 25, 2012

Susana Airways: You Might Want To Buy Accident Insurance, Plus: Susana Vs. Who In '14?; We Polled The State, Also: Testing Eric Griego & Michelle's New TV; Is It Enough? 

About that state jet, Governor....Well, Susana isn't about to buy back the iconic jet that she used as a symbol of excess under the Big Bill regime and since sold for $2.5 million, but her crash landing at the Santa Fe airport late Wednesday night, does raise some questions.

First among them is why the Governor of this state is allowed to be chauffeured about in a single engine propeller plane? How about a two engine requirement for the state's chief exec?

And surely this is a good time to examine just who gets to pilot the Guv's plane. The Clovis businessman who piloted Wednesday, Sid Strebeck, is said to have 3,000 hours of flying experience but he is not a professional pilot. They say he flew Governor Johnson around, but that was then and this is now.

Of course, this whole incident could have been avoided if the Guv wasn't bound and determined to interfere in a hotly contested GOP State Senate primary on the eastside. She was in that small plane because it took her to Tucumcari so she could campaign for Angie Spears who is being challenged by Rancher Pat Woods. Is it a case of bad karma for the Guv? And we won't even get into the bad timing of Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler for being on that plane...

Martinez made her first public comments about her controversial intervention in the primary Thursday. She said she is intent on reforming Santa Fe and "has no apologies" for getting involved in the Spears-Woods race.

She also tried to spin her involvement in the battle by saying of her 2010 GOP Guv primary "even in my race people got involved in contested primaries..."

Well, the sitting Governor is not  just "people." And previous governors have generally kept their fingerprints off of contested primaries because it does little but make them enemies and is resented by the legislature which is an independent branch of government. And voters don't like to be told who to vote for.

But Martinez evidently enjoys a good fight as much as her political consultant Jay McCleskey--no matter the political price. They seem to egg each other on. A Senior Alligator had the line of the week on that:

Susana and Jay could start a war with Switzerland!

And if you don't get that, there's always Wikpedia.


Susana doesn't have to worry about re-election for a while. She's not up until 2014, but we thought we would have some fun this week and see what Democratic voters are thinking when it comes to a potential nominee to face off with Susana.

We polled 1,400 New Mexico households Tuesday night in conjunction with Manzano Strategies, asking voters to make their Dem Guv pick from a list of candidates they were given. Here are the results:

State Auditor Hector Balderas--25.6%, Attorney General Gary King--22.5, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kaari Brandenburg 12.1, attorney Brian Colon--6.8, Santa Fe State Representative Brian Egolf--5.6 and trial attorney and former ABQ City Councilor Sam Bregman--2.89%.

We didn't ask any of those folks if they were going to run in '14, but several of them are known to be toying with it.

At this early stage, a poll like this is mainly about which potential candidate has name ID, not support. And as long as Susana's polling numbers stay strong, there isn't going to be a whole lot of elbowing to get in on a Dem primary.


One of our Alligators is following the money. He comes with the latest count in the congressional contests for the period April 1 through May 16th:

In the race for the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat Marty Chavez reports raising $106,000 and had $167,000 in cash. Michelle Lujan Grisham reports raising $103,000 and had $122,000 in cash. Eric Griego says he raised $139,000 for the period and had cash on hand of $87,000.

Marty is going to come with a pretty big TV buy to try to catch his two rivals who are far in front of him in our Tuesday poll.

Republican Janice Arnold-Jones will face the winner of the Dem nomination. She reported raising only $42,000 for the period and had just $39,000 in cash on hand. There will be no head start for Janice in the crucial money race.


He's so close he can taste it, but Eric Griego doesn't have it yet and Michelle Lujan Grisham could take it away from him on June 5.

The "Stop Griego" crowd has swung into action and it led to this pretty extraordinary memo from the candidate:

Rumors have been swirling, and I want to put them to rest for good. As reported this week by the Albuquerque Journal and the right-wing blog The Daily Caller, I incurred a series of traffic tickets over the past 10 years. In some cases, I was late paying the fines. As a result, traffic warrants were issued and I paid late fees and additional fines to settle the matter. I should have taken care of these on time. I regret not having been more responsible. And 15 years ago, I was put on probation for driving under the influence of alcohol. It was the biggest mistake of my life. It was a difficult lesson, and I deeply regret it. It’s made me a more humble person, and I’ve worked hard to become more responsible...None of these decade-old events have anything to do with the issues at stake in this year's congressional election. That's why I'm here to say: together we can fight back and together we will win.

Now who would start rumors about Eric? Certainly not anyone whose first name begins with the letter "M." Right?

It can't be good that Griego's traffic warrant problem and long ago DWI is surfacing in the critical final stretch. One of the Alligators at lunch at Barelas Coffee House this week called Griego's penchant for ignoring the warrants "odd" and wondered what it told us about him.

Griego has always been a rebel and bucked authority. Maybe that's what his behavior tells us.

Of the three candidates, Griego is the least tested at this level of play. Marty Chavez is...well...Marty Chavez, a major league political power player. Lujan Grisham is a trained attorney and a former state cabinet secretary and an elected Bernalillo County Commissioner. Griego has been a city councilor and state senator and, boy, is he getting lucky. Let's explain...

Griego has had to face his polished opponents only once--on the sole TV debate. His subpar performance is credited, in part, with letting Michelle in the door. But there are no more TV debates, radio debates, joint appearances before community groups or any other format that could put pressure on Griego.

If Griego wins, he will have taken some heat, but not the usual amount. That will give the R's an opportunity to see if they can crack him under the pressure.

In the old days, a traffic record like Griego's would have been subjected to much more intensive coverage in the electronic and printed media. We also had another daily paper that would have put the heat on.

That Griego is apparently able to extinguish this little prairie fire with an email missive and a comment to the newspaper is a break. But saying it will do no damage to him Election Night is premature and unknowable.

As for the "rumors" that Griego says have been swirling, the big one is that he would drop out of the race because of his warrant problems. Well, don't believe it. Cardiac arrest is the only thing that could make the ambitious Griego quit.


This latest TV ad from Michelle Lujan Grisham is well-produced (like her others) but it is a little thin on content. The producers rely on Lujan Grisham's endorsements from the Alibi and ABQ Journal to fill most of the 30 seconds. The copy about her is glowing, but you have to wonder if this ad is going to motivate casual voters to get off their couches and vote for her. She needs those kind of voters to turn out if she is to overcome Eric Griego whose progressive base is headed to the polls.

Lujan Grisham doesn't have to jump up and down on Oprah's couch in the final days, but she needs to turn up the temperature and make sure folks are excited about voting for her. This ad does not take her in that direction. Maybe her next one will (can they use some of that TV debate footage to fire up the crowd?)

Our poll Tuesday night showed the race to be a virtual dead heat between Lujan Grisham and Griego, so the get-out-the-vote-effort is critical. Griego, endorsed by a number of prominent national groups, is seen as having the edge there. That's why Michelle's late media may need to be a bit more fiery.

For the record, our Tuesday polling results again: Lujan Grisham--34.7%, Griego garners 33.9%, Chavez comes with 22.3% and 9% were undecided.


We called Dem Public Regulation Commission candidate Valerie Espinosa the "former Santa Fe County Clerk" on our Thursday blog. In fact, she is still the clerk there for the rest of the year....Espinosa was leading the race, but Brad Gallegos was getting more than 1% of the vote, as we erroneously posted. We left out a number. Gallegos is at 13% in that four way race.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Thanks for stopping in this week.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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