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Monday, October 01, 2012

Heather Fights To Awaken From Political Coma, Plus: McCleskey's Political Plate Getting Too Crowded? And: Latest News From The Legislative Campaign Trail  

Jon Barrie with supporter
Heather Wilson lapsed into a political coma in September and was pronounced near dead by the powers that be, but still she wriggles, her eyes occasionally blink and she struggles like a patient trying to tear an IV drip from their arm and jump back to life. And so late Friday her political team administered political shock therapy, issuing a poll that claimed Heather was only one point behind Dem front-runner Martin Heinrich.

(We have a new poll in--the Rasmussen survey released Monday morning has Heinrich leading Wilson 52% to 39% in a survey conducted Sept. 27. That's not going to help Heather shift the polling narrative.)

Are reports of Heather's political death premature?

Wilson's political pallbearers were giving no ground, saying her campaigns 43% to 42% poll contradicts every public poll out there and that the internal poll is a blatant and desperate attempt at getting the money crowd to send her checks instead of wreaths of condolence.

Heinrich was also having none of it, issuing his own internal survey that put him at 52% to Heather's 44% and his team again insisting it was time to write Heather's political epitaph.

What was different this time was the inclusion of Independent American Party candidate Jon Barrie in both polls. He pulled a healthy nine percent in both, making a big difference in Heather's standing in her poll, but not denting Heinrich in his survey.  Heinrich had himself at 48%, Heather at 40% and Barrie at 9%.

Our polling experts say Barrie--a tea party leaning contender--picked up his support from voters who are tired of negative campaigning and who are drawn to his "independent" status. He has done no paid media and only managed to battle his way onto the ballot after a court challenge over his petition signatures. (One wag suggested that some poll respondents may have thought they were being asked about ABQ Mayor RJ Berry).

The irony for Wilson is that her pollsters have Barrie helping her but if the electorate finds out that Barrie is coming from the right, he would probably take votes from her. (With no ads or major outreach, our polling gurus expect Barrie to pull around 3% on Election Night).

With or without Barrie, 68, no one is rushing to declare Heather resuscitated--not with Romney dead in the water here and the vultures circling. Still, we've said a number of times that Wilson can't and won't be pronounced dead until the votes are actually counted. She is more than capable of giving Heinrich a number of scares in this final full month of Campaign '12.  In other words, for her this is a fight to the death--and she isn't dead yet.

CALLING SUSANA

Veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff has some advice for the embattled Wilson:

...iI I were Heather Wilson, I’d be knocking on the governor’s door for a TV endorsement

Sanderoff's ABQ Journal September poll showed Martinez with an impressive 69% approval rating, but she has only dabbled on the campaign trail so far. She faces her own re-election bid in 2014 in which she will again need Dems and Indys too win. Still, it's hard to see how Martinez could turn down a Wilson TV request considering the history between the two. Not that endorsements make much of a difference. They don't.

OUR RANKINGS

Here's how we start October. New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan ranks the presidential race as "Likely Dem" the US Senate race as "Likely Dem," the ABQ congressional race as "Likely Dem," the northern congressional seat as "Safe Dem" and the southern congressional seat as "Safe Republican."

The US Senate race moves from "lean" to "likely" Dem. We began the campaign ranking that race as "Lean Dem" not "Toss-up."All other major political media had it rated as a toss-up but have since moved it to lean or likely Dem.

As for control of the NM House of Representatives, as we enter October it remains somewhat of a jump ball, with the Rs still having a shot at taking control of the lower chamber for the first time since the early 50's but the race for control is still ranked as "Lean Dem."

JAY'S OVERCROWDED PLATE

Without question one of the big financial winners of this cycle will be Governor Martinez consultant Jay McCleskey. He is all over the place, pumping gobs of money from Susana PAC and the Reform NM Now PAC into two dozen legislative races. The commissions will be juicy indeed.

But is Jay getting over extended? One of our political consultant readers makes that case as he examines this hit piece (click to enlarge) on Los Alamos Dem legislative candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard:

Look at this mailer that Reform NM Now PAC is sending out on Stephanie Richard. Never mind the fact that Stephanie said clearly in the ABQ Journal that she supports repeal of the law that allows undocumented immigrants to get NM driver’s licenses, they don’t even proofread their work. Take a look at the last sentence in the second paragraph from the bottom. It says:

“Below to add in edits … make sure Albuquerque Journal is italicized like below.”

This was actually mailed to voters. Is it possible that people give too much credit to Jay and his supposed political genius and he is more like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight?

They might have stretched themselves so thin with the 24 plus races they claim to be involved in that they can’t even keep track of basics like proofreading? And do they have anything else to talk about other than driver’s licenses in races where both candidates have the same position?

It's a fair shot and we think even McCleskey would agree. Letting a piece like this out the door with its lousy editing is not acceptable when you are operating with a budget of hundreds of thousands.

As for the attacks on Richard on her stance on driver's licenses for undocumented workers, Martinez and McCleskey are one trick ponies in this election. Either this trick works in the many legislative races they are playing or they don't.

As for Richard, she faces Rep. Jim Hall, a Republican appointed by Governor Martinez to fill the Los Alamos area House seat. The race is said to be tight.

VOTER FRAUD TWIST 

How about this for some great irony? A prominent R caught up in possible voter registration fraud. Lincoln Strategies Founder Nathan Sproul--a former business partner of Jay McCleskey's--has been cut-off by the Republican National Committee for voter fraud allegations.

The Republican National Committee has abruptly cut ties to a consulting firm hired for get-out-the-vote efforts in seven presidential election swing states after Florida prosecutors launched an investigation into possible fraud in voter registration forms. The RNC has sent more than $3.1 million this year to Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona voting consultant. Sproul has operated other firms that have been accused in past elections of improprieties designed to help Republican candidates, including dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats, but none of those allegations led to any criminal charges. 

McCleskey says his work at Lincoln Strategies had nothing to do with voter registration.

HE HAS TO GO

There are plenty of Dem consultants on the job, positioning themselves as the "anti-McCleskey" of this cycle. Here is a web video produced for ABQ Dem legislative candidate Joanne Allen, taking shots at Republican State Rep. Bill Rehm.

Allen, a retired dentist, has largely self-financed her own campaign as she works for the upset in the Republican leaning district that Rehm has represented since 2006.

Her theme expressed in stark black and white is "He has to go" and asserts Rehm is for big tobacco and has voted against legislation to protect the health and safety of women and children. We'll see if Rehm has any response.

NOT THIS ONE

Gary Johnson has had some catchy ads for his presidential run as the Libertarian Party candidate for President, but this is not one of them.

GENTRY VS. BRODERICK

The race between ABQ GOP State Rep. Nate Gentry and Dem Mary Ellen Broderick is ranked "likely Republican" by those who concern themselves with such matters, but architect Broderick says her chances increase the better Obama does in Bernalillo county. She will try to fire things up today:

Please join in welcoming special guest Jim Dean Chairman of Democracy for America in support of Mary Ellen Broderick candidate for NM House of Representatives District 30 in Abq. Monday Oct 1, 5:30 pm-7:00 pm @ The Artichoke Café.  

Dean is the brother of former governor Howard Dean who helped found the liberal Democracy for America PAC.

Gentry, an attorney and former aide to Senator Pete Domenici, has signs up in the district and appears to be taking the challenge seriously. He needs to as a representative is often most vulnerable when making their bid for a second term as Gentry is.

HAN IS IMPORTANT

Readers continue to weigh in on the ongoing coverage of the 2010 death of civil rights attorney Mary Han and the circumstances of that death that have sent the case into the courts:

Why is the Mary Han case so important to the department and community? Because the fingers are being pointed not at lower APD officers, but directly at the command staff. The chief, deputy chiefs, commanders, directors, PIO's etc. If nothing was done wrong, Schultz and Berry need to release information and show all of us that nothing inappropriate happened. The longer Schulz and Berry do nothing the more suspect the command staff at city hall and APD look.  

When your command staff is under this kind of suspicion it harms everything throughout the entire city and police department. The integrity of the entire Berry/Schultz management team is under fire and the only response we are getting is having a judge step in and order them to release evidence that, if it clears them, they should have publicly released months ago. The accusations being made are so serious, and the people being accused at such high positions, that if they care at all about the police department and the mayor's office they need to show the citizens they did nothing wrong. On the other hand if some things were done wrong Berry/Schultz need to take responsibility for these actions and start fixing them. 

THEY'RE WATCHING US

The New York Times comes with a New Mexico angle in its political coverage:

New Mexico Democrats are intensifying their efforts to increase Hispanic voter turnout, a perennial quest here and across the country for a rapidly growing ethnic group that tends to vote in significantly lower percentages than other groups. The results are being closely watched by national party leaders. The theory is that, with the Hispanic population growing in many states, the way New Mexico looks today is the way many states will look in elections down the road. 

PETE ARGYRES

We received word over the weekend of the death of Pete Argyres. You may not have known him, but you probably heard of the Townhouse Restaurant on ABQ's Central Avenue. With his brother George, Pete put the steak house on the map and it became a well-known haunt of La Politica from the 60's through its closing in 2007. Pete Argyres, who died at 89, never ran for office, but his daughter Christina Argyres caught the bug. She is a Bernalillo County Metro Court judge who is a Dem candidate for a seat on the ABQ district court this year. She is running against fellow Metro Court Judge and Republican Sharon Walton. By the way, the Townhouse was reopened by the Argyres family at a new location several miles east of the old one.

PEEING AT THE PLAZA

Come on people. The Santa Fe Plaza is one of the top tourist destinations in the USA--or should be. So why can't we make it easy for our visitors to find a place to take a leak? The bathroom wars there have been going on for decades and resurface as we prepare for this weekend's ABQ balloon fiesta, a huge event that will also benefit Santa Fe. It's the type of problem that you would think the state Tourism Department would work to resolve, but the "place to pee" controversy is mired in the Byzantine politics of local Santa Fe government. If they don't find an answer soon, one of these days you're going to see a diaper dispenser open up shop on the historic plaza.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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