Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Election Day Sneaking Up On Us: A Veteran Analyst Offers Insights, Plus: Another R With A "Family Values" Problem; Doyle Fading Against Sapien, And: Got Space? In ABQ The Answer Is "You Bet" 

Malry & Monahan On Election Night
We didn't realize how close we were to the finish line of Campaign '12 until we picked up the phone and there was former Bernalillo County Commissioner Lenton Malry on the line reminding us we had to get together for our traditional ballot review. We only have three weeks to go, Lenton reminded, so it is indeed time next week for a sit down with him to prepare for our Election Night broadcast on KANW 89.1 FM.

Together we've called every state and primary election on KANW since 1988. Some years we've held forth until nearly dawn as the vote count trickled in for extremely tight races. But this year--unless the presidential race is a cliff hanger--we could have a much earlier night.

Democrat Malry, who became the first African-American state legislator in the 60's, is happy with what he is seeing out there, predicting comfortable wins for Dem Martin Heinrich in the race for the Senate and another Dem win in the ABQ congressional seat where he sees former Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham prevailing. He says the R's, as expected, will celebrate the re-election of southern GOP Congressman Rep. Steve Pearce.

Malry, now nearing 70, came to ABQ from Shreveport, LA in 1962, and is the first of our major analysts to make a prediction about the two top state Senate leaders targeted by the Governor and her chief political advisor. He predicts both Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings of Roswell and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez will win their races.

Republicans might say that is a partisan prediction, but Malry has a strong track record and hasn't been shy in the past about pointing out Dems in trouble. He says Republican support for Jennings is key. "He is like a Republican too those in that part of the state. That is going to keep him in there."

He sees the Jennings race against Republican Cliff Pirtle as more competitive for the R's than the equally expensive campaign being waged against Sanchez by the Reform NM Now PAC led by Guv advisor Jay McCleskey. Sanchez is being opposed by Valencia County GOP State Rep. David Chavez.

So where will the suspense be Election Night if the national presidential race falters? Well, there is that fight for control of the NM House. The R's have a shot at taking the majority in the 70 member chamber for the first time in 60 years. Malry asked me for my take at the same time I asked him for his. Looks like we both still have some home work to do.

It seems there's always something that keeps us up late on Election Night in New Mexico, Lenton.


There are new numbers in the ABQ congressional contest today and they back up the conventional wisdom that the race is Michelle Lujan Grisham's to lose. The Dem contender leads Republican Janice Arnold-Jones 51% to 37% with 12% undecided. That gives here a 13 point lead and puts her above the magic 50% mark. The Journal poll was taken last Monday thru Thursday. Michelle's own polling firm--Greenberg, Quinlan Rosner Research came with a poll Oct. 10 that had her up 15.

(We've had good luck with this polling firm over the years. If the numbers are lousy for their candidate, they stay mum and don't attempt to mislead. But when they do release numbers that show their candidates up, they are more often than not confirmed by public pollsters.)

Women supporting Grisham were key to her June primary win and she is courting them to the very end. Her latest TV spot takes on the family planning issue:

Do you think women should make their own decisions about health care? I do. But some in Washington would rather eliminate Planned Parenthood and score political points than protect women’s health. Enough is enough. In Congress, I’ll protect access to women’s health care and stand strong against the attacks on family planning and birth control. I’m Michelle Lujan Grisham and I approve this message because I won’t let Washington roll back the clock on women’s rights.

Arnold-Jones hasn't come with any new media recently. Her campaign has been cash-starved due to the consistently bad polls and opposition to her candidacy within her own party because of her reputation as a moderate R.


By the way, both US Senate candidates--Heinrich and Republican Heather Wilson--reported having about $1 million in cash for the final five weeks of the campaign. Each have raised about $6 million since the beginning of the campaign way back when.

Hear that Tom Udall? The Dem US Senator has begun raising money for his '14 re-election bid. It appears $6 million is the floor if he finds himself in a hotly contested race--not counting the gazillions of dollars that pour in for both sides from third party groups.

What if the R's put up a second-tier candidate? Then the price of Tom's race would probably plummet by half.


Rep. Doyle
You can move what everyone thought was going to be a close race for state senate to the "likely Dem" column. We speak of the re-election bid of Corrales area Dem State Senator John Sapien who is being challenged by one term GOP State Rep. David Doyle.

The bottom is falling out of Doyle's campaign.

The liberal group ProgressNow NM--following up on widespread rumors--tracked down Doyle and discovered that he is not living in the Senate district he is seeking to represent, but in the ABQ Country Club area near downtown. They interviewed him on his door step. And to top it off, they also noted his personal relationship with Katherine Martinez, who was appointed by Governor Martinez to head the state's Construction Industries Division. Oh, Doyle is a contractor.

Earlier, Independent Source PAC, a union-funded group, did a report on the ugly divorce Doyle has gone through and the battle over his child support payments. Meanwhile, candidate Doyle pictures himself with his current wife on his web site and portrays himself as a family man. (Doyle says he is buying a home in Rio Rancho to make sure he lives in the district).

First it was Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner with a tape recorded potty mouth followed by GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston. He called one woman "a fat slob" and other women around him "whores." Now it's yet another Republican tripped up in the "family values" category. Maybe NM GOP Chairman Monty Newman should have a class in that "old time religion" he was brought up with down in Hobbs.

Meanwhile, Corrales area voters are going to have a short fuse with all of this. David Doyle, thanks for the memories. Your time on the brightly lit stage of La Politica appears to have expired.


We've blogged about speculation that Katherine Martinez, a Democrat, could be in line for a mayoral appointment to the ABQ City Council. Debbie O'Malley is poised to be elected to the Bernalillo County Commission in November, leaving her city council seat vacant. Her replacement would be appointed by Republican Mayor Berry. Martinez previously ran against O'Malley and is an appointee of the GOP Guv thus the thought that Berry could appoint her. But will Martinez's involvement with Doyle dash those plans--if there ever were any? We're just asking.


Got space? Asks the commercial real estate sign around ABQ that is as common as the hundreds of political signs that dot the major intersections. No jobs being created means the answer to the question is: "You bet, we've got space":

The vacancy rate for office space in the Albuquerque metro area has been stuck at 18 percent or higher for three years running with no end in sight. The ABQ Journal reports that the average asking lease rate appears to have bottomed out at the level of mid-2007. Office construction is at a standstill. Office real estate and commercial real estate in general tend to absorb the front end of recessions pretty well and then lag behind any recovery. Real estate experts say office leases during the pre-recession boom years were typically for five-year terms, although many were also for three years or seven years.

The newspaper is now saying that much of the commercial real estate crash is being caused by our loss of government contractors--federal, state and city. But the reporting has not been quantified in the general or business press.

Who are the contractors? What did they specifically do? How many did they employ? Are they gone for good? What, if anything, will replace them? What is the size of the government contractor work force today? What was it in the past? How about the future?

The old assignment editor in us awaits some crackerjack reporting on this--one of the biggest economic stories in the city's modern history.

Meanwhile, next October ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry stands for re-election. If the commercial real estate depression continues you would think it would be an issue--whatever its chief cause.

The list of possible Dem mayoral challengers in the early going includes former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez, former ABQ Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli and State Treasurer James Lewis. They are expected to make their decisions after the November election, but before the end of the year. (Yes, Lewis, who ran for mayor of ABQ back in 2001, says he is seriously considering another run.)


Former ABQ GOP State Rep. George Buffett who died over the weekend and whose obit we wrote here Monday was a popular character of La Politica. Some reaction from NM GOP Court of Appeals Judge Rod Kennedy:

What a loss to those Republicans and conservatives in New Mexico who have their principles in the right place and had a voice through George Buffett. George was a rare eagle whose vision and strength of purpose showed a lot of emperors to be scantily clothed. He pointed to loudly-voiced ideas that have become canon in the GOP and showed them to be nothing more than gaudy balloons filled with stinky gas. George was the bullet who so often popped those balloons, and I will miss him...

John Lattauzio, chairman of the NM GOP in the 90's, emails from his home in Utah:

George Buffett will be long remembered for unselfishly serving New Mexico. His wit and humor, coupled with his common sense benefitted his constituency, his party and all New Mexicans. George served honorably as Republican National Committeeman. I knew him as a political ally, a supplier for my business, and a customer for his delicious candies. I found him honest and straight-forward in all of his dealings.

GOP activist and advertising professional Angie McKinstry:

George was in my office a couple of weeks ago. He wanted some information about weekly newspapers in the southern part of New Mexico to help advertise his candy store in Ruidoso and I gave it to him in exchange for a couple of bags of popcorn. He looked older, but then don't we all, and spry and enthusiastic about helping his store down south.  He said the candy business was booming and he was laughing and joking!  I am saddened by his passing.  He was all you described.  A man of principle. RIP, George Buffett. 

And Linda Buffett, the sister-in-law of George, wrote:

Joe, thank you for your excellent descriptions of George Buffett. George was a forthright, forceful and highly principled individual and I was privileged to know him as my brother-in-law. 

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