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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wilson Treads Water As Heinrich Maintains Lead In Two New Senate Polls, Plus: Tea Party In Rio Rancho Rocks City Hall, Plus: Past Economic Leaders Missed 

It's still early. At least that's what you keep telling yourself if you're Heather Wilson. At this stage she must be kept awake at night, worrying about how she is going to crack open the US Senate race. The first polling since the June 5 primary--which also reflects the first wave of negative TV ads--is bad news for Wilson, the GOP nominee. She trails Dem contender and ABQ Congressman Martin Heinrich 49% to 45% in one survey and loses to him 51% to 42% in another poll. This continues the trend since the polling featuring these two began last year--not one public or private survey since then has shown Wilson ahead.

This is a close US Senate race, but it is clearly trending Democratic. We continue to rank the contest to replace Sen Jeff Bingaman as "lean Democratic." Heinrich gained some prestige from his June 5 primary win over Hector Balderas, but Wilson--who is already widely known around the state having served 10 year sin the US House--did not. She is still bumping up against a polling ceiling at the 45% mark, while Heinrich for the first time breaches the magic 50% level. (The polling firm that got him there says its results are "weighted" to reflect what they think will be the eventual turnout).

What's to come? Well, expect the R's and Heather to get more personal with Heinrich. They will probably try to go after his character since the issues of the day seem to cut his way. He has not been tested in that regard in his short political career, but he has been vetted and nothing that would cause extreme damage has surfaced.

Wilson has had positive image ads up, financed by Karl Rove's Super PAC, but enviro groups have been hammering her on TV as a captive of big oil interests.  This has resulted in pretty much no change in the Heinrich-Wilson race.

The poll that showed Heather trailing by four points was paid for by  the League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups friendly to the Dems, The Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates survey of 503 likely New Mexico general election voters was conducted from June 28-July 1 and carries a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

The poll showing Heinrich leading Wilson by 9 points was done among 1,295 likely voters by the automated polling firm "We Ask America." It has a margin of error of 2.8%. It was conducted July 9 and 10. hey are a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. They have a long history of polling. A liberal web site accuses the firm of being GOP leaning. That doesn't help Heather, as their poll shows her losing by nine,

That automated survey also showed Obama leading Romney in New Mexico 51% to 40%. But you already knew that...

RIO RANCHO TEA

Time to check in on the La Politica out in Rio Rancho. It looks like a Tea Party is going on in ABQ's next door neighbor and our Alligator is on the scene with the insight you won't get anywhere else. Here we go....

Joe,  I’ve been reading your reports for several years and I must say you are the only voice for complete, factual and unbiased political reporting in our fair state. There is one helluva story brewing in The City Of Vision. In less than three months, the four newly elected city councilors (each an avowed TEA party member) are setting out to dismantle City Hall. They have already successfully run off the City Clerk, and are certain to railroad the best City Manager we’ve ever had--James Jimenez. Their next target is Mayor Tom Swisstack, a capable,  and respected leader.

The TEA party four’s latest brainstorm is to reconvene a new City Charter Committee so they can engineer a scheme that will weaken the mayor, forcing him to leave. Never mind that the City Charter was just reviewed a few months ago, and voters approved modest changes the committee proposed.

In the past the charter committee has always met once every five years (as required by law) to review potential improvements before voters vote up or down on any changes. I was a member of the recent charter review committee...Believe me, this story isn’t over yet...it may have just begun to surface.

These wholesale changes by the new city council is a direct result of what happens when a motivated minority show up at the polls, and a huge majority of voters stay  home. These four right-wing political gadflies could cause damage to our city for decades.

Newspaper coverage about Jimenez's ouster as Rio Rancho manager is here. He is a well-known Dem administrator, having headed up the state Department of Finance and Administration and serving as Big Bill's chief of staff. (Jimenez was officially let go by the council Wednesday night. He received a departure package worth $144,000).

WHERE ARE THEY?

The Wednesday blog featuring a biting commentary on ABQ as a "ghost town" from an out of town financial analyst who visited here recently got them out of their seats. Mike Santullo, a New Mexico talk radio pioneer, and former communications director for Dem ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz, chimed in with this searing email:

Where are the Bob Hoffmans', the Rick Homans', the Ike Kalangis', the Jerry Geists' the Bill Richardsons', the Jack Kolberts', the Marion Cottrells' and even Marty Chavez. At least they made a noble effort to bring this city in the 21st century. Now we're left with Susana who talks to 3rd graders, a state economic development secretary who is a "chair warmer" who is happy to have a job and a salary and Richard J Berry, the mayor who thinks putting a new face on the Convention Center is going to being in the money. It's all splash and no cash. This town and state is in saaaad shape.

Santullo is not known for leaving any words on the table. He's been around a long time so some of his references to past city and state leaders may be obscure to some.

The late Bob Hoffman was a longtime economic development champion in the state and city. Rick Homans was economic development director under Governor Richardson and for a time headed Spaceport America. He also was a magazine publisher who now lives and works in Florida. Jerry Geist was the longtime and often controversial head of electric utility PNM during its heyday in the 80's and 90's. Jack Kolbert was a University of New Mexico professor who became the first president of the ABQ City Council when we adopted the modern form of government in 1974. Marion Cottrell is a retired UNM professor who served long stints on the ABQ City Council and Bernalillo County Commission. Ike Kalangis was a banker at Sunwest Bank (originally ABQ National Bank) who was active in ABQ economic development. He recently passed away.

Those were some heavy hitters, all gone now and not replaced. They put this town on the map. Without the likes of them, we languish and wait for a new crop of leaders to emerge. And wait...

AND THE GOOD...

Okay, it's not all bad news out there when it comes to the economy. The state says it will collect about $250 million in unexpected revenue because of energy royalties from the SE oil fields and Billy Sparks at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center comes with this:

The UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center held its grand opening ceremony this past weekend at city center in Rio Rancho. This $189 million, 72 bed hospital will not only bring greater access to health care to the people of Sandoval County, the SRMC is a also a major boost to the local and state economy. Within a month of opening the SRMC will employ 361 people at an average wage of over $75,000.00 per year.  That's a first year payroll of over forty million dollars. These are skilled, high wage jobs, which will last for generations. Let's celebrate this achievement and not overlook the importance of the health care industry to our economy and our health.

Thanks for that, Billy. Now about a dental school for UNM.....

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