Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What Gov. Martinez & Ben Ray Lujan Have In Common, Plus: Showdown In Clovis Coverage, And: Much, Much More In The Final Stretch Of Primary '12 

What do Republican Governor Susana Martinez and northern Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan have in common? Both are bullying their way into their party primaries and making waves as a result.

You've heard about the Showdown in Clovis and Susana's involvement, but probably not about Congressman Lujan's controversial power play.

Insiders are asking if Lujan is asking for trouble of his own as he campaigns vigorously for Santa Fe Mayor David Coss who seeks to expand his political portfolio. Lujan, son of retiring NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, is not just giving cursory support to Coss, he is personally blasting Carl Trujillo who is Coss's rival for the nomination for the senior Lujan's Santa Fe County House seat.

Like Susana in the Clovis GOP state Senate primary, the younger Lujan is openly attacking the opponent--in this case political upstart Carl Trujillo. Here's Ben Ray's hit on Trujillo:

It is unfortunate that David's opponent refuses to lay out clear positions on important issues affecting the valley. David's opponent has been running for three years on a negative campaign that doesn't offer any proposals for leadership or solutions to the challenges the valley is facing in these tough economic times. One of the basic tenets of Democracy is candidates communicating to voters what they stand for and what they believe in...

Trujillo nearly upset Ben Ray's father in the 2010 Dem primary, losing by less than 100 votes. It's no wonder then that the Lujan's bear a grudge, but acting it out publicly could be viewed as bullying and putting your nose where it doesn't belong.


Just what is a Dem US Congressman doing getting so openly engaged in a street-level brawl for a state House seat? It seems very similar to the same overreach Governor Martinez is committing in that GOP primary in Clovis.

Martinez's pick in Clovis is locked in a tight race and now we get word that Mayor Coss has yet to close his deal. Trujillo is popular in areas of the district that are in the county and Coss is popular in the city. Coss is resented for wanting to be both a Mayor and a legislator and the seat has been held by a Hispanic forever.

Insiders say about half the vote will come from the county, giving Trujillo a decent chance to pull off the upset. The Coss polling shows him with a lead, but not one he can sleep on.

It may be tempting for incumbents who are basking in favorable popularity polls to try to force their candidate down the throats of their party, but it's a temptation best resisted. Both Martinez and Rep. Lujan may be successful but they are kidding themselves if they don't think they aren't making long lasting enemies.

Don't say we didn't tell you.


Now your blog is back on the roads of Clovis, tracking that high-stakes, do-or-die GOP state Senate primary between rancher Pat Woods and Angie Spears, the candidate backed by the Guv and being handled by her chief political operative Jay McCleskey.

Here's the question of the day: Will State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle involve himself in the primary to counter Martinez's support for Spears? Rumors are flying but east side Senator Ingle has not said anything. That leads to the question of why the Clovis News-Journal is not asking him what he is up to, if anything.

After all, the paper earlier reported on speculation that the Guv and her operatives might have been planning to field a primary foe against the venerable Ingle. He did not take kindly to that talk and it might make him take a counter move and support Woods. If he did, it would be a big news story--the kind you would think the local newspapers would want to break. We would ask him ourselves but we're getting voicemail.And isn't that why we have newspapers? Well, it used to be.

Meanwhile, Alligators are noting that Martinez made her personal visit on behalf of Spears to Tucumcari and Quay County which comprises a much smaller portion of the district's population than Clovis. Why? Well, Woods is leading Spears in Clovis. Maybe Susana and company are trying to pull this race out by boosting GOP turnout in the hinterlands of the district. If so, it is a bad sign for Spears and a good one for Woods, who in the next six days is going to be subjected to the McCleskey flamethrower.

Wilson Vs. Sowards
An absolute blistering attack on Heather Wilson from the GOP right wing. It comes from activist Yates Walker in the conservative Daily Caller. Put your gloves on for this one. It's hotter than a branding iron. Some excerpts:

Heather Wilson can’t win. She just can’t....Heather Wilson is a moderate Republican. She dabbles in limiting the power and reach of the federal government. She’s lukewarm on capitalism. She’s almost pro-life. In short, she stands for nothing. But the death knell for her candidacy is not her policy positions. The insurmountable problem is the candidate herself....Wilson is everything Americans despise about politicians, regardless of party. A cursory look at her career reveals profligacy, cronyism, abuse of power, lies, cover-ups and a sex scandal. She’s seldom crossed an earmark she hasn’t liked...She is a crony of the first order, landing a cushy state job with a $93,000 base salary for her husband Jay Hone...

Geez, no wonder the Wilson campaign has been so obsessed with a grass fire starting for a hard right conservative. If you didn't get that before, you surely do after reading that scorcher.

This attack going viral through the state's GOP electorate is Wilson's worst nightmare, but it isn't going to happen. Her opponent for the GOP Senate nomination--Greg Sowards of Las Cruces--is not up on TV and doing little else. Still, Wilson polled 66% in the Sunday Journal poll, not 76%.

What this attack reveals is the deep disdain for Wilson among the hard right and the opportunity it presented for Lt. Governor John Sanchez when he briefly sought the GOP Senate nod, only to drop out. 

Wilson has dodged a bullet...no, a bazooka. She is going to win the nomination next Tuesday without  being drawn and quartered by a member of her own party. Remember when we blogged months and months ago how a prominent conservative blogger said defeating Wilson was his number one priority? Fortunately for Heather, the national conservatives who could have flooded the state with campaign ads could not find a worthy conservative candidate to take her on. Heather lives to fight another day--not that the Democrats are going to be much nicer.


Sowards isn't being completely shut out. The Rio Grande Sun in Espanola has endorsed his candidacy over Wilson's:

Greg Sowards holds the traditional Republican principals and says he’ll vote that way in Washington D.C. He’s pro-gun, pro-life and wants government out of your business. He hasn’t done much to help his own cause but he is the right choice for Republicans wishing to further their cause without the weight of a connected Washington insider.

That's good for Greg. The only problem? There are about as many Republicans in Rio Arriba County as there are yachts anchored at Tingley Beach.


Will this be the line that puts Eric Griego over the top and make him the 2012 Democratic nominee for the ABQ congressional seat? From the TV spot he has up to close the deal:

The last thing that we need to send to Washington is a Democrat who is a kinder gentler version of Republicans. We need someone who is going to stand their ground and that's what I have done my whole life...

The polls have Griego locked in a dead heat with Michelle Lujan Grisham as as we enter the final stretch to the June 5 primary.

The two are vying mainly for women voters now. They are more undecided than men.

My experts say Lujan Grisham's best bet may be to milk votes out of the Mid and Northeast Heights where there's a more conservative breed of Democrat. No matter how much she labels herself as progressive, Griego is still perceived as the staunch liberal. Going after his base this late in the game may be futile.

Lujan Grisham is getting a break from a weak Marty Chavez. He is polling at about 20% and she has taken much of his old base. If he weakens further, she would benefit.

So who is the favorite here? Griego has a slight edge as we enter the final week because he had an earlier start and has a more motivated voter than Lujan Grisham. If we stay on track for a low turnout, it will be to Eric's benefit. The higher the turnout, say the numbers mavens, the better for Michelle.

To put numbers on that, if Dem primary turnout starts to push toward the 30% level then look for some Michelle muscle.


The AP comes with its final stretch take on the tight ABQ congressional race.


An Alligator offers a perspective on the polling troubles of Marty Chavez in the ABQ Dem congressional race:

Instead of forcing Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham to fight over the 55% of the voters who are liberals/progressives while he consolidated the 45% of the voters who are moderates and conservatives, he lost his temper after losing the Pre-Primary convention (which, really, is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. He spent too much time attacking Eric instead of rallying his base and giving them reasons to vote for him (instead of Michelle). Michelle snuck right in, charmed Marty's base, and came off as an acceptable alternative to Marty...Having said that,  I do think the Michelle camp may be underestimating Marty.  I wouldn't. The guy may be down in the polls but he's tenacious and tough, and decent money to spend. 

Griego beat Chavez at the Dems March pre-primary convention.

Will Chavez revive and take votes away from Lujan Grisham and thus help Griego get the win? It would be an ugly irony for Chavez who has sparred with Griego for over a decade. Marty is up with a healthy TV buy this final week.


We've been getting email reporting that former Governor Big Bill Chief of Staff Dave Contarino is playing a role in the congressional campaign of Michelle Lujan Grisham. He has a lot of experience at it, having led Senator Bingaman's re-election charge back in '94 and numerous other campaigns  before signing up with Bill and helping him win two Guv's races. Lujan Grisham says Contarino is giving "her informal" advice:

Michelle considers Dave a friend, and like many of Michelle’s trusted friends (Debbie Armstrong and Diane Denish come to mind), Dave has given informal advice to her during the campaign.

Insiders say there are no payments listed to Contarino on federal finance reports.

The Richardson administration is still apparently the subject of federal grand jury investigations, keeping his former aides on edge.


The newspaper picked up on the story we broke to the state last Tuesday concerning a state contract that has paid the three person law firm of  State Representative and Dem Public Regulation Commission candidate Al Park over $600,000 in the last ten months. However, the coverage was rather skimpy.

We say the reporting on this was skimpy, meaning no one has asked if a PRC commissioner being paid over $600,000 on a state legal contract would be subjected to pressure from the administration--Democrat or Republican--who awarded that contract. Also, how about asking if  commissioners who make $90,000 be permitted to have such contracts? Should commissioners making that salary still be allowed to run their own law firms or other businesses? If so, why?

When we made the PRC pay $90 Grand a year we were trying to attract top-tier contenders, but all we have had the past decade is an ethical black hole. Commissioner after commissioner has succumbed to controversy and conflict. That's why we see the questions surrounding this latest PRC episode as skimpy.

Park is opposed for the Dem nomination for the ABQ PRC seat by Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya and attorney Cynthia Hall. He has spent over $113,000 on the race from campaign funds that he mostly raised years ago when he was thinking about an attorney general run. His rivals are accepting public financing and getting only $30,000.

Our exclusive poll of the PRC conducted last Tuesday showed Park leading. It was Park 33%, Montoya at 25% and attorney Cynthia Hall at 21%. Undecided was 21%.


In our first draft Monday we said former GOP State Rep. Earlene Roberts was from Roswell. She is from Lovington in Lea County....Veteran KOB-TV news reporter Stuart Dyson is 60? How did that happen? Congrats, Stu....

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