Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Out Of The Gate: Early Voting Starts Today, Plus: News From The Trail; Jay Slates Big TV Buy; Senate Leaders Jennings & Sanchez Seen As Targets; Guv Martinez In The Middle, Plus: A Kennedy For Obama 

First let's hit today's first day of voting for Election 2012 and then move to the campaign trail for the latest action that you don't want to miss....

Voters across the state begin casting ballots today, nearly a full month before Election Day, November 6. They can do so at the offices of county clerks across the state. Also, absentee ballots will start to be mailed out today. And today is the deadline for people to register to vote.

As much as 60% of the total New Mexico general election vote will be cast before the actual Election Day.

If you want to be an early bird in big Bernalillo County you can cast your vote today at the My Vote Center at 620 Lomas Boulevard, NW. It will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday until November 3. Sixteen additional early vote centers open October 20 and that's when swarms of voters hit the polls. Candidates are advised to have their messages out there loud and clear by that day. Now we take you out to our exclusive coverage of the campaign trail...


Tim Jennings
The home of New Mexico politics is in the middle of Campaign '12, tracking the important action and our veterans of La Politica are checking in with the news you will find only here.

For example, a Senior media Alligator breaks the news that the Reform NM Now PAC, led by Guv Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey and which says it will be active in over 20 legislative races, will not just use mail to try to oust Dems but expensive TV time as well:

Michael Sanchez
Reform NM Now has purchased $181, 000 in time on ABQ affiliates for 10 days--from 10/19-28.  Plus an additional $34,000 on KOB from 10/29 through the election. The order does not specify what message the ads will carry. The first spot I can find is the KOB 5:30-6 am news on Friday, 10/19.  Negative campaigns often start on Friday because it will probably be Tuesday before opposing campaigns are able to respond.

Dem state Senator Tim Jennings is purchasing TV time in his race against Republican Cliff Pirtle as the Reform PAC pours big money into the Roswell area district to defeat him. We're told Reform NM is doing TV as well.

We ad the cautionary vote that advance TV buys can end up being cancelled, but with Reform PAC flush with cash there's no reason to not expect Jay to pull the trigger and flood the ABQ airwaves with the dates posted above by our Senior Alligator.

Reform NM is also conducting a high-dollar negative campaign against that other prominent Dem Senate Leader--Michael Sanchez--in Valencia County. TV time to hit Sanchez seems to loom.

Jay McCleskey
It's unusual for legislative candidates individually to go up on the tube because it is so cost inefficient--you are reaching thousands of voters who can't cast ballots for you--and it costs a bunch. But when these races escalate into big money battles you will see a legislative race or two pop up on the tube.

Along those lines, our Alligators report seeing a TV spot for Dem state Senate candidate and attorney Lisa Curtis. She is fighting to take the ABQ seat vacated by Republican Kent Cravens and to which she was appointed. Mark Moores is the Republican hopeful in the heavy Republican district.

As for the state of the all-important, everybody-all-in Sanchez and Jennings races, both leaders have launched vigorous counterattacks and both are well-liked in their districts. Our observers feel they are favored for re-election, but no one is taking any chances with Susana going all out via the Reform PAC.

And let's be clear. It is the Governor targeting the two leaders. Technically, the Reform NM Now PAC is not under her wing. But the fact that it is run by the person she relies on most for advice and who has been labeled the "Shadow Governor" says it all.

If Martinez picks off either Sanchez or Jennings it will be a major coup, but if they win, she will have no fig leaf to cover her. She will own those losses and they will have a major impact on how her legislative program will be greeted in the 2013 legislative session, not to mention making her look less formidable as she prepares her own re-election bid.


This is the "all or nothing" approach this Governor has chosen from the beginning--refusing to compromise and holding out for total victory. So far, it has not hurt her with the public. In a poll conducted for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan on July 17 she scored a 59% approval rating. In the ABQ Journal poll in early September she polled an even higher 69% approval--although that poll was heavily influenced by the bounce the Guv received by speaking at the GOP National Convention.

Syndicated columnist Jay Miller comes with this take on the Guv's so far enduring popularity:

Despite Martinez' s unwillingness to compromise, she remains quite popular. Many Democrats complain her popularity is not deserved because she can't claim to have accomplished much. It could be that is what New Mexicans want. Bill Richardson could claim a ton of accomplishments and it made him popular into his second term. But by the end of that term, the economy was sinking and Richardson's expensive accomplishments weren't paying off with the economic development he had promised.  Could it be that New Mexicans are glad to take a breather from expensive projects and are enjoying a more limited state government under a cost conscious governor? Publicity of Martinez for being run by shadowy advisers, misusing email accounts and an insider award of a racino contract hasn't hit any raw nerves with 69 percent of New Mexicans.

And we would add that while there have been some eyebrow raising scandals in the Guv's first two years--emailgate, the Downs at ABQ racino lease and the Gardner tapes--they have played out in the media sporadically. There has been no paid media attacking her and the Democratic Party has for the most part played a hands-off role.


In this modern era, the media reach of the chief executive dominates. The two Governors we have had since we permitted them to seek second four year terms--Johnson and Richardson--have both achieved it. Martinez is no lock for re-election, but her early strength positions her well.

What Martinez has to be careful about is galvanizing the majority Democrats. That's why her brash decision to take on the Dem Senate leaders is politically questionable. You make a lot of enemies if you lose and the benefits of winning are not all that clear. Dems will still control the Senate and even the loss of Jennings and Sanchez is not going to change that.

It is the smallness of the Martinez agenda that has led critics to charge that her attack against Jennings and Sanchez is pure vindictiveness and revenge. She is railing against them for blocking the repeal of the law that allows undocumented workers to get state driver's licenses and for not passing a bill that would hold back third graders who are not proficient in reading. That is not an agenda that has far reaching ramifications fore the daily life of New Mexicans, thus the narrative that the real agenda here is simply to punish--not to advance a program.

When it comes to legislation Martinez is nearly a mirror image of former GOP Governor Gary Johnson. He vetoed everything in sight if it did not follow his instructions to the letter. There was no compromise then and there is no compromise now.

These are different eras, however. Johnson had the benefit of a bull market economy that provided plentiful jobs and incomes. Martinez presides over an elongated recession which her administration has done little to address. Therein lies the hope of the opposition--that they can link the lousy economy and the administration's inability to address it to the political campaign of '14.


We told you about that news conference seven women candidates planned to blast Reform NM PAC and Jay McCleskey. They did just that on the steps of the old ABQ City Hall:

Seven Democratic women...complain that Reform NM Now has targeted them with negative mailings that are "unfair" and "inaccurate" - a charge Reform NM Now denies. The PAC accuses them of favoring higher taxes and driver's licenses for illegal immigrants - some of the Governor's top hot-button issues. "If Jay McCleskey and his PAC, Reform New Mexico, think picking on women is easier, they've got another think coming," said state Sen. Lisa Curtis, running for election after being appointed to a vacant seat after the 2010 election."We will not stand for lying or cheating. Voters deserve issue-oriented discussion."

Republican female candidates, like Monica Youngblood of Albuquerque, say that's exactly what the Reform PAC is delivering. "It's a distraction that they're trying to pull this other issue up with war on women," said Youngblood, who is running for a newly created state House seat on Albuquerque's Westside. "It really has nothing to do with that. As a female candidate who supports the governor's reforms, that's where the question needs to lie."


We expect another ABQ Journal poll on the prez race to be taken this week and published Sunday. Remember that last one, where they had Obama leading Romney in the state by only five points? That was soon dubbed an "outlier" because it was influenced by the GOP national convention and other polls following it showed Obama doing better.

But now the Journal is apparently in the field in what could be another good week for Romney because of last week's blown debate by Obama. They could again show the race close, only to be followed again by polls less influenced by that debate showing Obama with a bigger lead.

Whatever the case, the president took a hit here for his performance but it is highly unlikely it is going to change us from blue to red. Watch your TV screens. If the Romney campaign starts spending big money here, it will tell you they think they have a chance. So far, no TV from Mitt.

As for the prez, the Hispanic vote is key. If he is going to pull over 65% of it, there's no way Mitt can touch him. So as the start of early voting begins at courthouses across the state today, we get this from the Prez's PR camp:

The Obama campaign announced that Ted Kennedy, Jr., the eldest son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and nephew of Senator Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy, will join the Obama campaign for two days in Northern New Mexico and Albuquerque as New Mexicans begin early voting....Ted Kennedy, Jr. will discuss the clear choice New Mexicans face this election at grassroots events in Santa Fe, Española, and Albuquerque.

Today Kennedy will be in Santa Fe at noon for a rally at the downtown El Dorado Hotel. He will be in Española tonight from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Plaza de Espanola Convento, 706 Bond Street. On Wednesday he will appear in ABQ at noon at the Obama for America Northeast Heights field office at 7301 Indian School Road NE.

The Kennedy family has always been popular in the Hispanic community and like we said, the support of Hispanics is key for the president. It's how Slate Magazine reports Obama took New Mexico off the “swing state” map?


The first round of congressional debates gets underway tonight. At 7 p.m. Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham faces off on KNME-TV with Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. They are vying for the ABQ congressional seat.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Republican challenger Jeff Byrd will debate on KNME. Thursday at 9 p.m. it will be Republican Congressman Steve Pearce facing his Dem challenger Evelyn Madrid Erhard.

The KNME debates will be moderated by the peripatetic ABC newsman Sam Donaldson which should keep things jumping.

Also this week, KRQE-TV will host the first US Senate TV debate between Dem Martin Heinrich and Republican Heather Wilson on Thursday, October 11, from 6 to 7 p.m.  

Heinrich leads Wilson 51% to 41% in the latest PPP poll. The Wilson camp continues to attack the poll and points out it does not include independent candidate Jon Barrie. But all polls--no matter who has sponsored them--has shown Heather trailing. Obama leads Romney 52% to 43% in the PPP poll taken Oct 2-3 before the first presidential debate. The poll did not include Gary Johnson.

Not including Barrie or Johnson in the polls is no big sin. They have no paid media up and are not going to be major factors unless they come with some. We expect the second ABQ Journal poll to be conducted this week and released this weekend will include the third party contenders. The TV debates will not.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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