Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Political Orphan: Independent Nunez Struck By Guv's Team And The Dems; Battle Important To State House Control, Plus: Former GOP Chair Yates Comes For Jennings & Blasts McCleskey & Adair, And: Predicting Legislative Races Can Be Fool's Errand  

How's this for loyalty? Dona Ana County State Rep. Andy Nunez sticks with Governor Martinez through thick and thin, loudly advocating for her bill to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and opposing the election of Ben Lujan as speaker of the state House. He even switched from Democrat to independent because he was so upset with his Democratic party. So what does the Reform NM Now PAC led by the Guv's political consultant do? They send out this attack ad against Nunez who is running as an independent in a three way race to retain his seat. Andy must be thinking.."With friends like these...."

And that's not Andy's only problem. The Patriot Majority PAC--working to elect Dems--has cut radio ads blasting Nunez for abandoning Dona Ana Democrats. Andy is getting it coming and going.

The Dems say they are starting to feel good about their candidate--Felipe Archuleta--while the R's are uniting behind Mike Tellez who previously sought the Nunez seat (Archuleta has also been attacked by Reform NM as they try to consolidate the GOP vote for Tellez).

Nunez, 76, might have thought Susana and the R's would come to his rescue as a reward for his work on their behalf, but maybe that old adage about Washington applies to Susana's Santa Fe--if you want a friend, get a dog.


Dems are hoping that they not only get the Nunez seat back in their column but they are saying their hopes are on the rise to defeat Dona Ana GOP freshman State Rep. Terry McMillan. Polling making the rounds says Dem Joanne Ferrary has a shot at the upset. More on the race here.

If the D's come out of Dona Ana with a two seat pick-up their chances of losing control of the state House would plunge. The current breakdown is 36 Dems, 33 R's and Nunez the independent.


Also from Dona Ana, former Lt. Governor Diane Denish is being heard on phone lines there touting Dem Dona Ana District Attorney candidate Mark D'Antonio. He is challenging Republican District Attorney and good friend of Governor Susana Amy Orlando. Denish says in her robocall that D'Antonio would be an "independent" DA. The Reform NM PAC is helping Orlando, even though the race has nothing to do with the Legislature


Jennings & Pirtle (Roswell Record)
Former New Mexico GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. comes with an op-ed in support of Dem Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings and in the process says it's time for someone to clip the wings of Jay McCleskey, the controversial political consultant who has been given carte blanche by Governor Martinez and who heads the Reform NM Now PAC that is conducting highly negative campaigns against Dems across the state.

Yates, of the prominent SE NM oil family, says:

I believe Tim Jennings’ presence in the New Mexico Senate is critical.  I believe that without him the New Mexico Senate is likely to move further to the left, and that this may place reform beyond our reach.  Thus, I support Tim Jennings, a Democrat, for the New Mexico Senate.

This has been a vicious campaign season. While I don’t mind truthful, negative ads, I disdain ads which are carried by half-truth rather than honesty.  I do not like dishonest ads directed at Republicans. I, also, do not like dishonest ads directed at Democrats. These dishonest ads are pushed by political operatives from both parties. This year Jennings is the target of two of the most prominent Republican practitioners of the half- truth. I believe the state would be well served if both parties severely clipped the wings of such political operatives. 

The second operative Harvey is referencing is none other than outgoing Roswell GOP State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair, a practiconer of the dark campaign arts.

Our latest intelligence on Jennings who is being challenged by Republican Cliff Pirtle has him looking pretty good for re-election, but there is no certainty. That weekend rally for Pirtle conducted by Martinez drew only a handful and that raised the hopes of Jennings supporters, but so much money has been pumped in there against him by the Guv's forces that he can't let up.

So who is going to clip Jay's wings and put his title of "Shadow Governor" to rest? Well, if he is able to take out Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in Belen probably no one. You will hear the crowing from Susana and company from Ruidoso to Rio Arriba--some of it justified. If however, both Sanchez and Jennings survive and the Dems also retain control of the House there could be a move by other prominent R's like Yates to hand the Governor some shears and tell her to start clipping Jay's wings. The price of not doing some clipping could be financial support for her re-election campaign and/or less support in the halls of the Legislature.


We didn't have the exact numbers when blogging about voter turnout Wednesday. Let's take a closer look. In 2008, 71.8 percent or 833,365 of the 1,160,395 registered voters cast ballots. Not all of them voted in the presidential race which saw a turnout of 69.5 percent of those registered.

In 2012, there are 1,254,567 registered. If at least 850,000 vote--as our analysts expect--that would be a turnout of 68%--a decline from 2012 in terms of the percentage registered. Part of that would be caused by the bloating of the registration rolls due to a lack of purging and also a dip in turnout for the presidential race which went high because of Obama. To get to 71.8 percent of the registered we would have to hit 900,779 voters. Maybe we will.


We're fast moving to the phase of the campaign when the messaging starts hitting the brick wall and it becomes all about getting the vote out. Along those lines:

Ben Ray Luján, Democratic candidate in District Three, and Martin Heinrich, Democratic candidate for Senate, will attend early vote rallies in Las Vegas, Mora, and Taos during a tour of northern New Mexico on Saturday, October 27, 2012.  They will be joined by Senator Tom Udall in Las Vegas and Mora to encourage northern New Mexicans to cast their ballot during the early vote period.

And here's video of GOP Florida Senator Marc Rubio campaigning with GOP Senate candidate Heater Wilson and Governor Martinez in Mesilla in Dona Ana County on Wednesday.

And Senator John Kerry gave the Martin Heinrich campaign some star power.


The state political community is abuzz over our exclusive scientific poll this week that shows Dem Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez holding a very slim two point lead over Republican State Rep. David Chavez--48 to 46. Many Dems are urging a more aggressive response by Sanchez--and it's coming

Patriot Majority PAC comes with the blast of Chavez over his attendance record in the Legislature, saying he missed 18% of all the votes taken during his two year term. It seems pretty mild compared to the Reform NM charge that Sanchez is soft on child killers, but in a normal year it would be seen as pretty tough.

Meanwhile, supporters of Frank Otero who is challenging GOP State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado are hoping that the Sanchez-Chavez clash helps them. Their reasoning is that the Baldonado district overlaps much of the Senate district and that if Sanchez gets more voters to the polls it could help Otero. A long shot, perhaps, but a shot nonetheless.


Opponents of a ballot measure that would raise the ABQ minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour report they have campaign kitty approaching $180,000. We wonder if that is enough to defeat the measure in an election in which turnout is going to lean Dem. When the opponents lost their efforts to keep the measure off the ballot or conduct a special election over it, they lost a lot. The money they raised is nothing to sneeze at but in this economic environment not a few voters are going to look kindly on increasing the minimum. We''ll definitely be watching this one closely when we cover the returns on Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM.


If you're a lobbyist or a pundit and your client asks you to predict the outcome of the state legislative races, you can get a quick case of heartburn fast. While the top of the state ballot--the federal offices--are all likely Dem--that is not the case at the state level. Here's an entertaining missive from one of those wall-leaners whose job is to make sense of it:

Anyone who thinks they can accurately predict the outcomes of all the state Senate and House races on November 6 is being naive. When you combine the various key factors of redistricting, a truck load of new candidate faces and personalities, the grass root efforts of the presidential and U.S. Congressional campaigns, the political activism of advisors and consultants, plus the unprecedented flow of enormous PAC money from all sides into swing races, it's just absolutely overwhelming to try and make accurate predictions unless you've got current, reliable, district specific polling data. 

There's fighting in the streets, fires are burning, cars are overturned and packs of dogs are controlling the low ground....

"Packs of dogs are controlling the low ground?" Oh yeah, now we're bloggin'....

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