Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Million Dollar Finish In Fight For Legislature; Last Minute Money Flowing, Plus: Spotlight Of La Politica Falls On Big Spending Lisa Curtis, And: A Senate Sit Down In Cruces--Or Maybe Not; 

The heated campaign for control of the New Mexico Legislature will have a million dollar finish--and probably much more. The Patriot Majority Fund--a PAC funded mostly by the NEA union in DC--has begun spending the nearly $800,000 it reported having on hand at the end of September, and Reform NM Now PAC led by Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey reported over $300,000 in the bank at the end of September, most of that from the Republican State Leadership Committee. (Former Big Bill aide Amanda Cooper is with Patriot). That cash is now flying out the door and into the legislative races and is in addition to what the individual campaigns are spending.

Where's it all going? Our readers report that Patriot Majority has started to hit Kelly Fajardo, the GOP candidate for an open Valencia County legislative seat in which she faces Dem Andrew Barreras. The seat is seen as key to Dem hopes of holding their slim majority--36-33 (with one independent) in the state House.

Patriot is also playing in much tougher territory for a Dem, but if Obama has a big showing the ABQ race for the NE Heights seat of freshman GOP State Rep. Nate Gentry could get close. Mary Ellen Broderick is getting boosted by Patriot in her effort to pull off the upset.

Reform NM is flooding the mailboxes for Republican Paul Pacheco who is engaged in a heated contest with Dem Marci Blaze for a House seat in the northwest metro area. This is another contest that is seen as important in determining control of the House which has been in the Dem column for 60 years. Both sides say their internal polling shows them in the lead so you know this one is going down to the wire.

Up in Los Alamos, Dems and PACS sympathetic to them may have to spend more money if they are to take out GOP State. Rep Jim Hall. Stephanie Garcia Richard has been hammered with Reform NOW hit pieces and Los Alamos County is conservative enough to respond. Hall was appointed to the seat by Governor Martinez.

And that's a very short list of where this PAC money is going to eventually go. If some of it hits your mailbox, feel free to send it to us so we can post it here.


Sen. Lisa Curtis
It's not every day that a candidate for the state Senate puts up $80,000 of her own money to buy TV time. In fact, we can't recall an ABQ metro area Senate contender ever doing it. So what's up with Democrat Lisa Curtis? Her TV spot is in regular rotation throughout the state, even though she is seeking only a slice of ABQ votes. She was appointed to hold the ABQ NE Heights Senate seat vacated by Republican Kent Cravens and is waging an uphill battle  against challenger Mark Moores to keep representing the heavy R district.

Curtis, 48, is a successful trial attorney who apparently isn't used to losing--no matter the odds. But that TV buy has the Alligators wondering if Lisa is looking past this campaign and perhaps to another.

Her TV spot--seen here--reveals Curtis, a UNM School of Law graduate and mother of four teenagers, as photogenic and well-spoken but most important she is a new face. And that gets attention.

In modern politics name ID is paramount and Curtis--win or lose--is going to come out of this race with a lot more of it than she came in with. Will she try to build on it and perhaps seek another office in 2014? A number of insiders say the Dems would be best off with a female nominee to take on Governor Susana, but so far no possibles have surfaced. It might seem premature for the speculators to even think of Curtis in that regard, but Martinez was elevated to the top spot with only the office of district attorney as a credential.

We first noticed Curtis when she played a role in killing a liability bill that supporters of the Spaceport says is needed to advance the project. Her status as a trial attorney would be fodder foe her foes and it is also unknown if her political personality could withstand scrutiny.

Still, Curtis has anted up and for that you get the spotlight of La Politica pointed in your direction. If she loses the Senate seat, she will have her hands full keeping it on her, but if her ambition burns as bright as that light, we'll be hearing more.


Stand-Off Over Sit Down In Cruces
And we do mean sitting for one candidate. Last night in Las Cruces GOP US Senate hopeful Heather Wilson stood and debated while Dem hopeful Martin Heinrich sat. It made for this bizarre photo posted here. Wilson's camp said she needed to stand in order to speak directly into the microphone. The various media sponsors were apparently unable (or unwilling) to enforce the rules--kind of like that presidential debate Tuesday night.

Heinrich and Wilson battled for an hour over the airwaves of El Paso's KFOX-TV which is widely viewed in Dona Ana County. However, the debate promoters also said the debate would be broadcast on national cable network CSPAN but when we tuned in at 6 p.m. CSPAN was not showing the debate. They probably taped it for later broadcast. But who knows? When it comes to news coverage, Las Cruces is like a district in the Twilight Zone.

As for the content, the duo pounded away at one another on jobs, energy and gay marriage. There was no blood, according to our debate watchers, with Wilson turning in a solid performance and Heinrich ably defending himself. Too bad the same can't be said for the producers of this flat affair. Maybe the would like to keep it a secret. As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, the debate still had not been posted on the KFOX-TV site or that of the Las Cruces Sun-News.


Reader Jeffrey Paul writes of the Obama-Romney debate:

In the aftermath of the 2nd Presidential debate, I have two observations. First, Romney's campaign is based on the premise "If I say it often enough, people will start to believe it". The truth is not relevant with this strategy. Second, Fox News is so distraught by Obama's winning performance that they are attacking the moderator, Candy Crowley. Very telling, indeed.

Paul is the author of "Inside Politics in America: A View from the Outside"

In our first draft of the blog Wednesday assessing the presidential debate, we said former ABQ city councilor and state legislator Greg Payne was a Republican consultant. Payne informs that several weeks ago he became a registered independent.


Governor Susana is playing it low-key on the state campaign trail, preferring to do most of her polticking out of state for Mitt Romeny, but she is surfacing with some regularity in campaign literature. Here she is in a newspaper ad promoting five judges she appointed to the bench, all of whom face stiff election contests Nov, 6

ABQ attorney Paul Kennedy was named to the state Supreme Court by Martinez, but he faces northern Dem District Court Judge Barbara Vigil. No R has won a high court seat since the 80's so Vigil is heavily favored. More on the race here.

The chances of GOP Bernalillo County Metro Court Judge Henry Alaniz are much better. This Martinez appointee is unopposed. Henry still campaigns, though, and says he has a special interest in helping young people in trouble with the law.

ABQ District Court Judge Brett Loveless is going to need some luck to hold on to his judge's gavel. Democrat and Metro Court Judge Briana Zamora is the front-runner to take the job.

Martinez also appointed NM Court of Appeals Court Judge Miles Hanisee. He is a well-respected jurist, but in a presidential election year Dem turnout could set the bar too high for him. He faces ABQ District Court Judge Monica Zamora whose political family hails from the Santa Fe area and where she is going to be getting big vote totals. Still, Hanisee has come with a solid TV spot that could keep this race close.

ABQ District Court Judge Sam Winder is a find for a Republican Party trying to diversify. His late father was an African-American from Louisiana, and his mother was part Navajo and part Southern Ute. Still, it appears Sam is going to be overwhelmed by Metro Court Judge Ben Chavez who has been biding his time and awaiting a move up to district court. This year looks like his year.


On a campaign swing through Silver City and environs we ran into former Dem Silver City Mayor Terry Fortenberry who was out campaigning for the state House seat held by the formidable Dianne Hamilton. Terry knows he has an uphill battle but interestingly he is getting some top level help. Senators Bingaman or Udall have joined with Diane Denish in recording a robo call for Fortenberry. Bingaman is a native of Silver City and his mail piece for Fortenberry has popped up in SW NM mailboxes. Hamilton has been a morning radio host for a number of years in Silver City and is a popular politician and the favorite in this election, but Fortenberry is putting some heat on.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. Email us for details.

Not for reproduction without permission of the autho
website design by limwebdesign