Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Final Prez Debate In The Books, Plus: Heather Still Hitting, Susana Traveling For Mitt Again, Baby Brianna Spot Pushes Buttons, And: Jeff Bingaman And Disgrace, Defeat And Death  

Is 2012 a 1976, 1980 or a 1992? Those are the three elections in our lifetime when an incumbent president was tossed out of the Oval Office. We thought about that upon the finish of last night's third and final presidential debate. Obama was given the win on points, but Romney's momentum from his fits big debater win has not faded away. The election seems close, but there is not the late October pall hanging over Obama that appeared when coffin nails were being brought out for Jimmy Carter in 1980 or George Bush in 1992. 

And even though New Mexico is no longer a swing state, we can't help but recount our history since statehood in 1912. Only once--in 1976--did New Mexico vote with the candidate who lost the national popular vote. This year we are trending again toward Obama. Will we be wrong for only the second time in our history? Or are we the bellwether that everyone has forgotten about?

As for last night's debate on foreign policy, we called on some of our longtime analysts to give us a quote or two. Dem pollster and consultant Harry Pavlides wasn't complaining about Obama's performance:

It was a case of "Me too, Mitt." He largely agreed with the President. His foreign policy seems to be do largely what Obama has done for the past four years and say it is different.

Former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne, a former Republican recently turned independent, said:

With a few exceptions, both Obama and Romney were at their most presidential this debate. But while Romney may be under the impression that Syria is Iran's path to the sea (it isn't), his path to the White House winds its way through Ohio. Should Romney lose there in two weeks, remember the President pushing Mitt into full-blown stutter over the bailout vs. bankruptcy of the auto industry. That back and forth might not have had much impact in the Sun Belt - but the Rust Belt was listening.

Republican pollster Bruce Donisthorpe came with this:

I felt that each candidate got his respective licks in on the other candidate in debate. The President vigorously defended his actions as Commander-In-Chief and pointed out time and again where Romney went out of bounds. Romney had a built-in advantage this cycle because he won the first debate do decisively.  The President has had to play catch-up in the last two debates--which he did a good job of doing – but you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. Romney’s core of supporters are energized about their candidate and this race has definitely tightened up nationwide.”

ABQ Journal Washington reporter Michael Coleman says this one was a snoozer:

No way foreign policy should be boring - especially in this world - but they managed to make it a snooze.


Now only days left to turn around the race for the US Senate and Heather Wilson is back on the air with her latest effort. It has Congressman Heinrich's former chairman of his military affairs advisory committee endorsing Heather because he says Heinrich voted for a budget bill that would lead to the loss of 20,000 federal jobs in the state.

Retired Colonel Gary Van Valin is the fella making the hit. The Heinrich campaign responded with a newspaper quote from Senator Bingaman:

When Sen. Domenici criticized Rep. Heinrich’s vote for the Budget Control Act, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Sen. “Bingaman, who also voted for the debt deal, along with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., called Domenici’s criticism of Heinrich’s vote ‘a complete distortion.' 

And the Alligators were all over this one. For example:

If you want to know why Gary came out swinging at Martin, just look at the history of his current company Keystone International.  A defense subcontractor operation founded by Heather Wilson.   

And on the anti-Heather front, Las Cruces reader Greg Lennes comes with this:

Elliott Management is the biggest contributor to the Heather Wilson campaign--$29,413. Elliot Management. It was founded by billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Singer. Mr. Singer said legislators should be focused on slashing obligations like Medicare. He wants to lift the retirement age or change the way benefits are calculated to lessen the cost. This is Heather Wilson's main financial supporter in her campaign.

Here's a little surprise. Republican Court of Appeals Judge Miles Hanisee wins the endorsement of the Santa Fe New Mexican--the hometown newspaper of his Dem foe--ABQ District Court Judge Monica Zamora.


The New Mexican is one of many newspapers getting hammered by the long term decline in readership. Take a look at this shocker:

Robin Martin, owner of The Santa Fe New Mexican, announced plans to sell the company’s downtown office building and move employees to the printing facility on the southwestern edge of Santa Fe.“The mission statement of The New Mexican emphasizes that we are a company committed to informing the community and serving the public interest,” she said. “It says nothing about maintaining buildings."

The paper is asking $6.2 million for the Marcy St. building it has occupied since 1942.

We don't get Robin's defensive and unsentimental statement about having to sell the building. Downtown Santa Fe ain't downtown Cleveland--it is one of the most storied downtowns in America. Moving out of it is a very big deal. The offices of the New Mexican have been in or near the downtown since it was founded 158 years ago. The paper has been in Martin's family since 1948.

The New Mexican has been a leader in the Santa Fe historic preservation movement and it's own move out of the core can't be dismissed as a simple business decision. Not just a building is being vacated but an important part of the life of the nation's oldest capital city is passing into history. That deserves to be mourned.


The use of the notorious Baby Brianna abuse case in a Reform NM Now PAC TV ad against Dem State Senate Leaders Jennings and Sanchez brought this from Dem Senate candidate Ellen Wedum of Cloducroft:

It really makes me angry to read that Susana Martinez is using the death of that little baby Brianna Lopez to attack Democrats. She used this child's death for her own political gain in her 2010 election campaign too. 

It was Democrats in the Legislature that did the work to get SB 166, the "Baby Brianna Bill," passed in 2005. Democratic Senator Mary Jane Garcia of Las Cruces sponsored the bill.  Democratic representatives Joseph Cervantes and Ken Martinez (no relation to Susana) shepherded it through the House. Democratic governor Richardson signed it into law. 

Wedum is running against former Alamogordo Mayor Ron Griggs in the heavy GOP district.

The Baby Brianna ad is not available on the web. Governor Martinez, who prosecuted the case as Dona Ana County district attorney, is prominently featured in the ad which ends with the tag line, "Jennings and Sanchez must go."

So once again, Susana is all in on the Senate leadership. We're going to see just how deep her over 60% approval rating runs.


The Guv heads to Colorado today to campaign for Romney outside of Denver. The polls there are tied. Then she comes back to NM for Wednesday campaign action as we learn in this campaign memo from the Heather campaign:

...Two rallies this Wednesday.  The first will be held in Mesilla, New Mexico, at the Mesilla Plaza. Special guests at the rally include: Heather Wilson, Governor Susana Martinez and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).  The rally will begin at 10 a.m. and will most likely be over by 11 a.m. The second rally will be held in Albuquerque at the Tiguex Park, 1800 Mountain Rd NW(across the street from the Natural History Museum).  The first speaker will begin about 3 p.m., and the rally will most likely last about an hour.  Special guests at the rally include: Heather Wilson, Governor Susana Martinez, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry, Janice Arnold Jones, Jeff Byrd and Matt Rush, who will serve as our MC.


"Why go back to the Richardson way?" So says a new Reform NM TV hit ad. It scores Dem legislative candidates Emily Kane and Andrew Barreras, saying Kane received an appointment from the former Dem Governor and Barreras was awarded a state lease.

We don't have the fact check info yet, but we point out the ad because it shows how important those two legislative races are for future control of the New Mexico House, currently divided among 36 Dems, 33 R's and 1 independent.

Richardson left the Guv's office suffering from bad polls. His approval ratinng was in the 30's. It was a key reason for the election of GOP Governor Martinez. Can Bill still be toxic for Dem candidates?

Barreras is going for election in Valencia County and is being opposed by Kelly Fajardo. She is being nuked on the radio by the Patriot Majority PAC for being a Tea Pary Adherent. Kane is running in the ABQ NE Heights against attorney Chris Saucedo.

Reform NM, run by Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey is so flush with cash that it is using expensive TV spots to target several thousand voters. The ads go to almost the entire state.


It's not her role in the Baby Brianna case that is being talked about in the campaign of veteran Dem Senator Mary Jane Garcia. It's this radio ad from Lee Cotter, her Republican foe, blasting her for apparent violations of campaign law following this news:

The secretary of state imposed a $1,200 fine on Democratic state Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Doña Ana, after finding a dozen possible violations of campaign reporting law. The notice indicated that Secretary of State Dianna Duran had looked at allegations brought up by a treasurer for Garcia's Republican challenger, Lee Cotter. Cotter and Garcia are vying for the District 36 Senate seat in the Nov. 6 election. Garcia said that she hadn't yet seen the notice, but she would comply with Duran's decision, as she had previously stated. "Whatever determination she came up with, I will correct," Garcia said. "I don't want it to distract from my campaign."

Garcia, 75, is still favored for re-election, but redistricting gave the Republicans a bit more stroke there so election watchers will stay tuned.


We don't think constitutional amendment 2 that calls for more qualifications for state Public Regulation Commissioner should get your "yes" vote because it doesn't specify just what qualifications they should have and leaves it up to the Legislature. Dem PRC Commissioner Jason Marks disagrees:

Concerns have been raised that C.A. 2 does not specify what the educational or professional qualifications for PRC commissioners will be. This is intentional. Putting detailed language identifying the specific degrees, occupational qualifications, or combinations thereof into the Constitution would not only be awkward, it would lock-in whatever was done this year for a very long time. By providing the authority in the Constitution, but leaving the details for the Legislature, the door is open for errors and omissions to be fixed and, more importantly, for the minimum qualifications to increase over time or change as the jurisdiction of the PRC evolves..." 

Good point, Jason, but by leaving it up to the Legislature to increase the qualifications, you might get nothing at all.


Soon-to-be retired Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman joked about end of his 30 year career recently:

When I was leaving the Senate one of the wall-leaners said the only way someone leaves the Senate is becasue of one of the three D's---Disgrace, defeat or death. He said I've escaped all three!

Bingaman noted that he still has a couple of months to go before the three D's are defeated for sure.


Karen Montoya & Valerie Espinoza
re these two women New Mexico's next Public Regulation Commissioners? Well, for sure Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza is. No Republican is running against her for the northern PRC seat.

Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya does have GOP opposition in the form of Republican attorney Chris Ocksrider, but the district is currently represented by Dem Jason Marks and Montoya has the edge.

By the way, if Montoya and Espinoza are both winners they will join Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, making a woman majority on the five member PRC. Would that be a first for the PRC? We think so.

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