Thursday, September 13, 2012

Susana Poll Numbers Go Up And So Does State Poverty; She Scores 69% Approval But Gridlock Remains, Also: Supremes Maximize Minimum; Wage Hike On Nov. Ballot, Plus: Wiener's Lament; Says He Pays Price While Keith Gardner Walks 

You might say, "what a waste." Here is Governor Martinez sitting on an approval rating of 69% and her legislative cupboard remains mostly bare. She and her political team have been unable (or unwilling) to transfer the Governor's popularity into legislative results--that's the key difference between her and Dem Governor Bill Richardson who at this point in his first Guv term earned a 63% approval rating.

(Susana had a bounce as a result of the publicity from her speech at the GOP national convention. The poll was taken shortly after the Tampa confab. A poll conducted for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan on July 17 had her approval rating at 59%.)

As we've blogged repeatedly, Martinez has remained popular because she has shied away from the very agenda that was front and center at that GOP convention. She has maintained ample budgets for Medicaid and education. And she hasn't even bothered to introduce to the Dem-controlled Legislature any of the anti-union measures that have gotten her fellow Republican Governors in so much trouble. In other words, for most voters no news from Santa Fe has been good news--and that has been good news indeed for this Governor's personal popularity.

But even when Susana desperately wants something from the Legislature, she is unable to convert  personal popularity into legislative strength. That's because she and her political team have tried to lead by intimidation--not gentle arm twisting backed up by pressure from hometown voters.


After winning the ABQ mayor's office and the Governor's office, her political team seem to suffer from a delusion that negative campaigning is going to switch control of the New Mexican Legislature to the R's. It isn't. But as long as the administration is governed by that delusion, there is little hope for compromise.

From the beginning they have used robocalls and hit literature in the districts of recalcitrant legislators in an effort to make them go their way. It has been an utter failure, with her bill to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented workers going up in flames three times and her education bills stalled. How revealing is it that the repeal proposal garners support from 71% of the electorate yet this Governor and her legislative team can't advance the ball?

Martinez could craft a route of compromise and begin breaking the legislative gridlock in Santa Fe, but after nearly two years in office we don't think she is really interested. And she is not alone. Senior Democratic members of the Legislature have been more than comfortable with a stalled and minimalist agenda.

The Democrats have been flat on their back since Big Bill departed. They have not mounted  sustained criticism of the Governor, despite the cracks in her political foundation that have developed--emailgate, the down and dirty Downs at ABQ racino deal and the recent Gardner tape. These mishaps have yet to collated by the political professionals and presented in a campaign format. And the mainstream press continues to honeymoon with the Governor, even as we approach the two year mark of her administration.

However, there are signs that the Dems may soon find their voice. They have formed a number of political action committees with healthy cash balances and appear ready to finally push back,

So what's the bottom line? Martinez can bask in the glow of high popularity, but it is doing little to advance the economic and social standing of the state which continues to sink or stagnate, even as surrounding states crawl out of the long recession. Much like government under Gary Johnson--the last GOP Governor here--we remain in a state of perpetual gridlock. If this Governor really wants more than simply her own re-election, she has yet to convince us.


What are we talking about when we blog of economic and social stagnation? Something like this:

The Census Bureau reports more New Mexicans are living in poverty and nearly a fifth of the state’s population lacks health insurance. The agency reported Wednesday the poverty rate in New Mexico was about 20 percent in 2010-2011 compared with almost 19 percent in 2009-2010.

Where's the leadership on that?


Public TV producer Matt Grubs points out that on the same day the disappointing news on New Mexico poverty hit the wires, the NM Supreme Court cleared the way for ABQ voters to decide Nov. 6 an  increase the city's minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour.

Mayor Berry and City Council Republicans fought tooth and nail to keep it off the general election ballot because it will have a much better chance of passing there then at a special election. But it will be far from a cakewalk for wage supporters who managed to gather enough petition signatures to place it on the ballot.

There will be business money flowing in to defeat it and look for Berry political adviser Jay McCleskey to organize the anti-wage campaign. Supporters are unlikely to raise big campaign cash.

Still, this high court ruling is a major blow to the R's. There will be campaigning for the increase and it will attract lower income voters to the polls who are more likely to vote for Dem candidates on the ballot. That's why Berry and the R's fought so hard to try to keep it off the ballot.


The Sunday Journal poll got the Repubs in a tizzy as it showed a 45-40 race between Obama and Romney in New Mexico, but the Dem-oriented PPP poll comes with a new survey taken by automatic phone calls from Sept. 7-9 showing Obama leading Romney 53-42. PPP did not include Gary Johnson in their survey who had 7% in the Journal survey but appears to be fading fast.

The GOP trash talked the survey saying all PPP polls are suspect but most of us who have to follow all of them find PPP to be about as reliable as most of them out there.

The PPP survey shows Dem Martin Heinrich leading Republican Heather Wilson 50-41. The Journal had it 49-42 for Heinrich. Heather's unfavorable rating in PPP is an untenable 50%. PPP says it interviewed over 1,000 "likely voters." That means the margin of error is 2.9%.

So where are things at? The Journal poll looks like it underestimated Obama a tad. The paper's  analysis that the state could again become a battleground state because of their poll is wide of the mark.

In the Senate race, all polling agrees that Heinrich is well ahead and suspense is starting to fizzle.


On that poll showing Governor Martinez winning a 69% approval rating, Rio Rancho reader Joe Barela writes:

I am truly at a loss to understand today’s Journal poll for Susana Martinez being at 69% approval given her Chief of Staff problems, the NM Finance Authority debacle and our State’s lack luster economy.  It just doesn’t add up.  Those are very serious problems and there are more.   It really does makes you wonder if the media are purposefully keeping these issues out of the limelight.  Can Mr.& Mrs. NM be that out of touch?    

Readers continue to email in about the now infamous audio tape of a potty-mouthed Keith Gardner, Martinez's chief of staff. Here's another:

If you go 58 minutes and 20 seconds into the recording Gardner is talking about a volley ball coach Eric   Zamora. Gardner describes him as a short "Mexican" guy. Does that mean he has a problem with the "Mexican" on the fourth floor. Didn't Susana have a problem with a Democratic state representative referring to her as the Mexican on the fourth floor?

State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton referred to the "Mexican on the Fourth Floor." She has since apologized. Gardner has not apologized for the obscenity-laced diatribe he launched against Senate leader Tim Jennings. Among other things, he called him a "cocksucker."


There is a dollop of good biz news to send your way:

Air USA will relocate its headquarters from Quincy, Ill., to Albuquerque. The company, which does military combat training with foreign-made fighter planes, is expected to employ up to 200 in the Duke City.

We hope this doesn't upset the Tea party and others in the anti-government crowd, b Air USA is a defense contractor, getting its money from the USA government. Governor Martinez has pined for private sector funded jobs, but she was in front of the train Wednesday announcing these jobs.

You bet she was.


That profanity laced audio tape of Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner that was released on the blog this week drew the attention of outgoing GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener. The Guv called on him to resign when Wiener was pictured in the Philippines enjoying the company of several young women. The speculation about his relationship with them led to his political demise in the June primary. Now Wiener emails in and wonders why Martinez isn't taking Gardner to the woodshed over his moral lapses as caught on the leaked tape:

I'm in absolute shock that Keith Gardner--arguably the second most powerful person in the state--wasn't the lead story in the ABQ Journal for his extremely profane comments and unapologetic abuses of power.  If anyone ever had any doubts that the Journal is biased and plays favorites, look at the difference between how the Journal covered Gardner and how they destroyed me.

I'm a lowly County Commissioner, Gardner is the Governor's Chief of Staff. Gardner is on tape calling respected elected officials "mother-fuckers" and "cock-suckers,"brags about being able to get traffic violations dismissed by his daddy, offers to slide his friend into a high-paying government job and brags about circumventing open government laws by private e-mail. I had my picture taken while on a trip to visit my daughter. I broke no laws, was on my own dime/on my own time--with my fiancee standing 5 feet away. Guess who made the front page of the Journal day after day after day after day--and who didn't?

They run the Journal like it's the glorified mouthpiece of an out-of-control high school clique and as more and more people catch on to that fact, the more and more the circulation, readership and relevancy of the Journal will continue to drop.

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