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Friday, September 21, 2012

So Long, Mitt: New Mexico Moves To "Likely Obama" As Romney Pulls Plug Here, Plus: We Have The Headline For The 2013 ABQ Mayor Race, And: Heather's Good And Bad TV Spots  

So Long, Mitt
First things first. We're moving the New Mexico presidential race from "Lean Obama to "Likely Obama" as Mitt Romney throws in the towel here, moving key staffers to more competitive states.

That and his decision not to put up TV here or make any visits means his only chance here would be a major development on the national scene that altered the narrative of the race everywhere.

Goodbye Mitt-- not that we ever got a chance to say hello.

A Democratic wag couldn't help himself:

Bye, bye Republicans!  See you again in 2016 (maybe). Chile must have been too hot for them!

This is more bad news for GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson who is already on the ropes in her contest with Dem Martin Heinrich for the US Senate seat. It now appears it will be up to her and the state GOP to drive turnout.

We could be heading for a "little wave" election here with Dems Obama, Heinrich and ABQ congressional hopeful Michelle Lujan Grisham all posting solid if not runaway victories.

With much of the drama and suspense being drained from the top of the 2012 ticket, more focus will be on the battle for the state Legislature. Romney winding down here is not welcome news to the GOP legislative candidates, either. They will want to beef up their operations to make up for any slack.

GOOD LINE

David Letterman opines: "It's fall, unless you're Mitt Romney. Then it's free fall."

As for Obama he does not have TV up here, but Dems say he is staying staffed up. Martin Heinrich and the rest of the Dem ticket will continue to push for that continued presence. If Heinrich and Grisham win, it could mean those congressional seats stay blue for years--if not decades--to come.

While Romney was bailing out on the Rs, there was a tidbit of good news for the GOP. Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye took a hit from a a TV news report that says he filed for reimbursement from the state for a conference he attended, even though the entire cost of the trip was paid for by the National Conference for State Legislators. Begaye is running against Republican Sharon Clahchischilliage in the heavy Navajo district in San Juan County. R's were touting her chances even before this development.

Dems say there is cause to worry, but point out that Begaye knows it and is working hard. They also say expected big wins by Obama and Heinrich in the region should help Begaye. Still look for the PAC's led by Governor Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey to pump money into Sharon's effort and go for the upset,

MORE STATE HOUSE BATTLE

We've had fun on the blog all week handicapping the battle for the closely divided NM House of Representatives. Readers helped after we came with what we considered the top contests. They came with more races and analysis, including the aforementioned Begaye contest.

They also pointed out in that in a first draft Thursday we said Gerald Chavez was the GOP candidate for the East Mountain legislative seat held by retiring Rep. Rhonda King. He is not. Chavez lost to Larry Miller and he is the GOP nominee in what many consider a swing district.

A CAMPAIGN HEADLINE

Unless there is a big improvement next year, the headline for the October 2013 ABQ Mayor's race is this: "Zero Job Growth For ABQ Since 2008."

Here's the news as the unrelenting Bear Market continues to pinch New Mexico's largest city:

Economic recovery in the Albuquerque metropolitan area is among the slowest of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, according to a new Brookings Institution report that tracks employment, economic output and housing prices from lows reached during the recession. The Albuquerque area ranked 90th overall in economic performance since the area’s low point in early 2008, Brookings reported. The national recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009...Brookings found that the Albuquerque area’s job growth during the recovery has been zero between early 2008 and the end of the second quarter this year, ranking it 99th out of 100 metropolitan areas studied. 

ABQ City Hall has played ostrich on the economy for three years, burying its head in Rio Grande river sand as jobs vanish across the metro. Now with the election less than a year away, Republican Mayor RJ Berry is starting to shake off some of the sand off. Take a look:

Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry is on a multiple-city trip to three East Coast cities to encourage business development and expansion in the Albuquerque area. Albuquerque Economic Development Department President Gary Tonjes and Director of Economic Development for the city, John Garcia, have joined Berry on the trip. “It is important to get out and pound the pavement and remind the decision maker’s around the country about the many advantages to doing business in Albuquerque...

Berry, a contractor before he became mayor, boasts of his private sector experience but that sector has been hammered here during his tenure as has the government sector. It has been a double whammy that has given the Duke City its longest economic losing streak since the Great Depression. Yet, the Democratic Party has made little of it, even as Berry blames Washington policies for the slowdown that shows no signs of quitting here, even while surrounding states begin adding jobs.

A lousy economy and a mismanaged police department give Berry's potential opponents plenty of material to work with, but city councilors, leaders of the business community and the mainstream media seem content to let the status quo go unchallenged. We'll see soon if any mayoral candidates rise to the occasion.

MORE ECONOMY WATCH

New Mexico's economy is like night in day. In the Rio Grande Valley and stretching into the north, it's night, but down south and in the southeast it's a bright day:

Three new companies are expected to open doors in Santa Teresa and one will expand, with officials expecting about 120 new jobs to be created.

Then you drive back up I-25 and get slammed with this news in Rio Rancho:

When property values drop, the state raises tax rates to make sure the county brings in enough money to provide services. According to county information, the countywide taxable property value dropped by more than $200 million this year compared to last year, from almost $3.4 billion to not quite $3.2 billion.

The decline in housing prices combined with no job growth have consumers in the ABQ metro continuing to pull back on their spending. Gas prices over $3.50 a gallon aren't helping.

THE COMPETITION

The Spaceport in southern NM has the potential to be a major employer and spin off hundreds of jobs in the years ahead, but we do have competition:

Virginia reaffirmed its commitment to the commercial space flight industry on Sept. 17 as Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the launch of a new program that will include eight resupply missions to the International Space Station, a test flight and a demonstration flight. The Virginia Space Flight Authority (VCSFA) and Orbital Sciences Corporation agreed to use the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) to create local jobs and generate income for Virginia.

New Mexico's Legislature killed a liability bill that Spaceport supporters badly wanted. It's defeat could put us at a distinct disadvantage with other states pursuing space programs. It would be a shame if the state Spaceport falls short of its potential, but it will if we are outmaneuvered.

HITTING HEINRICH

Is the US Chamber of Commerce wasting their money? Well, you be the judge but the attack spots they are coming with against Dem US Senate candidate Heinrich sound tired to us.

The Chamber fires vague salvos about Heinrich voting for more government regulation and says (he) "voted for more government red tape." The Chamber ad also scores Heinrich for voting against the Keystone Pipeline project. When did that become a big issue around here? We must have missed it.

As a third party group the Chamber can't coordinate its ads with Heather Wilson's campaign and it shows. The ads are cookie-cutter that seemed designed to be plugged in against any Dem candidate anywhere. They appeal to Republican voters who are already in Heather's corner. No wonder the Alligators are yawning.

Effective or not, Heinrich is hitting back, following the first rule of negative campaigning: A charge unanswered is a charge believed. Here's his latest spot and here's the script:

Here they come. The special interests are here to distort Martin Heinrich’s record. Because they know they can count on Heather Wilson to support their agenda. Wilson voted four times to ship our jobs overseas. Voted to bailout Wall Street. While supporting a plan that would lead to deep cuts in Social Security, Medicare and education. Heather Wilson and her friends have the wrong priorities. It’s time we sent them packing for good.  

The Chamber spots for Heather may be yawners but a new spot coming out of Wilson's campaign may hit the mark. The content is lame, with more boilerplate attacks about the aforementioned Keystone Pipeline (did that thing pop up in a focus group or something)? But the atmospherics of the ad stand out. It is shot in black and white and features "regular folks" (meaning actors) complaining about Heinrich. The close is strong, with a man in his 60's chiding Heinrich in a condescending, slow drawl:

"And creating jobs? That's just not his thing."

The ad may seem contrived to some, but in that one line Wilson finally gets close to the minds of the electorate. Does the ad also work because Wilson is not in it? Yes. The state is tired of "high negatives Heather" leveling the attacks against the popular congressman.

Wilson's latest ad is fact checked here.

That's it for this week. Back on the trail with you Monday.

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