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Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Eve 2012: The Campaign's Lasting Impact, Our Election Special At 5 PM Today, Santa Fe Gridlock Already Starting, Early Voter Turnout Makes Dems Happy, Guv With Heather Today, Heinrich Closing Out In ABQ, And: Nacho Libre Predicts 

CLICK HERE FOR OUR ELECTION EVE SPECIAL AT 5 P.M. TODAY OR TUNE IN KANW 89.1 FM

So what will be the lasting impact of this year's long campaign? On Elective Eve 2012 several things seem clear.

--The huge money made by the consultants on both sides of those super PACS trying to influence the make up of our citizen Legislature may mean they never go away. The consultants--like rats poking at a plastic bag full of prized garbage--will poke and poke at it to get it out. As a result, what you saw this cycle--audacious amounts of money going into a handful of competitive legislative races--may be par for the course in the future

---Bernalillo County goes a deeper blue. The state's largest county has been drifting blue, now it's  fully there. With the minimum wage increase poised for victory among ABQ voters and another easy win forecast for Obama and the Dem nominee in the congressional contest--in what used to be a fiercely contested district--the county's days as a swing area are done.

--New Mexico is now blue when it comes to national politics. That is until the GOP finds a way to appeal more to Hispanic and Native American voters. Yes, it's as simple as that.

--The downsizing of politics. By that we mean how this game of ours is perceived. After years of a ravaging recession, the limitations of politics and government are more notable. The interest of the New Mexican public has waned.

The lowest common denominator advertising tactics and the emotional wedge issues that dominate campaigns no matter the state of the state or nation have left them disconnected. They care about their state and community and they will vote. They just don't care as much about the process as they used to.

ELECTION EVE SPECIAL

There is so much to resolve tomorrow, and trying to figure out how Mr. & Mrs New Mexico will go about doing it is always a  fun part of a campaign. We'll gather our team of expert politicos today at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM (and streamed live on KANW.COM) who are ready to give their best shot at piecing the puzzle together.

Former Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim, former ABQ City Councilor Miguel Gomez, Republican analysts Jamie Estrada and Bob Cornelius, Santa Fe State Rep. Brian Egolf and journalist Milan Simonich stand at the ready. If you can't be near the radio, you can catch the entire one hour broadcast special on the web at kanw.com. We'll cover all the races and have some predictions, including in those too-hot-too-handle legislative battles.

Then we're back on public radio 89.1 FM Election Night when we'll be joined by a number of the panelists above as well as Republican Doug Turner, Democrat Lenton Malry and longtime state GOP analyst, pollster and consultant Bruce Donisthorpe. We'll break in starting at 5 p.m. with east coast presidential results and our wall-to-wall coverage is set to kick off at 6:30. 

It's out 24th year of coverage on KANW and we look forward to having you with us once again today and Election Night.

Public radio election coverage is made possible by PNM, Griffin and Associates, J.D. Bullington Government Relations, IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 480 and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. 

NOT SO TOXIC?


After so brazenly involving herself in the campaign of Dem Senate leaders Tim Jennings and Michael Sanchez, we blogged last week that Santa Fe could set new records for toxicity when the Legislature convenes for a sixty day session in January. A slightly different take now from a Senior Alligator at the Roundhouse:
 
The environment may not be all that toxic in Santa Fe after the elections. Susana and her consultant Jay McCleskey are bringing key legislators together, and even across the party aisles. While there were splits and fissures in the Democratic Party caucuses, the Governor’s conduct has rallied support for people like Senators Jennings and Sanchez.

Key Republicans now have even deeper differences with the Governor, and even more now than they did after the past two sessions. Expect to see a very strong Senate, united frequently in a nonpartisan way, and ultimately standing in the Governor’s way.

The key for the Democrats, say a number of our analysts, is to put compromise legislation on Susana's desk and dare her to veto it. We could see that happening in a Senate that is more unified against gubernatorial power. However, if  the state House ends up very closely divided or under GOP control after Tuesday night that is not going to be possible.

On the other hand, if Martinez knocks off one of the key Senate leaders and scores gains in the House some Republicans think that will put the fear of God in the Legislature and they will start giving her what she wants because they will not want to be on her future target list. Well, we'll believe that when we see it.

DIFFERENT TONE

We're already noticing a tougher tone from one Dem state Senator who has bent over backwards to accommodate the administration. ABQ SE Heights State Senator Tim Keller:
 
State legislators approved a law 18 months ago requiring a review of New Mexico's rebate program for movie makers. Are taxpayer-funded credits to Hollywood producers a means of bringing high-profile productions to the state and creating jobs, or are they a drain on the public treasury? Sen. Timothy Keller sponsored the bill to pin down an answer. But, Keller said, Gov. Martinez's administration has failed to implement the law she signed. Keller said it means taxpayers still do not know if rebates for Hollywood filmmakers are good or bad for the state's economy. As for the governor and her executive team, he says they are breaking state law.

"They're in violation of a state statute. That's a fact," Keller said. He said he realized state resources were thin, but the movie analysis legislators approved could be done for a relatively small price...Do 2,000 or 10,000 people make their living in New Mexico because of movie making? Nobody could say for sure. Keller said that was the reason he sponsored the bill. It will provide a clear answer as to whether the rebates are smart public policy, he said.

Keller was challenged this cycle by former Dem Senator turned Republican Shannon Robinson. It was former NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates Jr. who notarized Shannon's switch to the GOP and it was thought that big money might flow against Keller as a result. It never really did, although Robinson did pop up with final week radio ads. Keller--seen as an up and comer in statewide politics--is on his way to a second four year term. You might seem him run for the Dem nomination for state Treasurer in two years. He has ruled out a run for the ABQ Mayor's office in 2013. 

PRE-GRIDLOCK

We're well on the way to getting another full dose of gridlock come January when the Legislature convenes for a sixty day session, but we're also getting what we'll call "pre-gridlock."

The tax proposals coming from economic development secretary Jon Barela are already getting the cold shoulder from Dem heavy and Santa Fe State Rep. Lucky Varela:

“One of his [Barela’s] concerns is that we have a too-high corporate rate,” Varela said. “We need to hear from him on that. We can perhaps take some of those exemptions and apply them to a lower rate.” But tax reform is not quick or easy, and it is unlikely to happen even in a full 60-day session, without interim work before the January session convenes, he said. So far, Varela has not seen or heard from the governor. “We are a long way from having any type of consensus by the Secretary [Barela] or the administration on what to expect in the 60-day session. We have a hell of a lot of work to do,” he said.

Varela is speaking like a man who believes the House will remain under Dem control after Tuesday night. Even if it doesn't, there's that Senate graveyard that awaits Barela--unless he and Susana decide deal making is part of governing.

TRACKING TURNOUT

With no battle for the presidency and the US Senate race not creating much of a stir there is a drop-off in early voting in heavy Democratic Santa Fe County. Dem analyst Harry Pavlides says he thinks the dip in early voting there will be made up largely on Election Day, but there will not be turnout at the level of four years ago.

Santa Fe voters vote. However, wee are looking at a turnout of about 66% in the northern congressional district versus of over 70%  four years ago. There was nothing to excite them this year. That's part of the problem of ignoring a state where you have such a big lead as Obama did.

Obama has kept field offices up around the state but there's no question that here--like elsewhere--the Obama support is more muted. Pavlides says the good news for turnout  is the weather. The warm streak we've been having should help turn more voters out on Tuesday.

BIG BERNALILLO

Here in Bernalillo early voting was strong:

According to the clerk's office 149,904 total ballots had been cast during the early voting period, of which 74,889 were registered Democrats, 50,722 were registered Republicans and 23,616 identified as other.The clerk's offices sent 41,301 absentee ballots, 32,715 have been returned. The clerk has received 183,619 votes total.

Overall county turnout will likely dip compared to four years ago, but not dramatically.

Dem analysts say they are happy about the early voting trend. Dems are out voting Republicans at the percentage you would expect them to and then some. R's are lagging and will need to show up on Tuesday. That Dem trend in the early voting is statewide--not just ABQ.

HEINRICH VS WILSON

A bit lower turnout could help tighten the US Senate race here by a point voting or two tomorrow night. Dem Martin Heinrich is still favored, although the national AP is now calling him "narrowly favored." Many of our analysts see his winning margin as four to six points. Super PAC money has come in big time for GOP contender Wilson in the final hours, but Heinrich's grip on Bernalillo County is expected to hold and that is key. Independent conservative candidate Jon Barrie is a bit of a drag on Wilson, even though he is expected to come in with just 2 percent. That's 2 percent she needs.

HOW CLOSE

Heather says she has the "best pollster in the country" and he says her race with Heinrich is tied at 46% each. But that's the only poll done in the contest that shows it anywhere near that close.

No, Heather doesn't need a pollster at the 11th hour, she needs a curandera to clear up whatever is fogging her eyesight and that of one Glen Bolger--henceforth known as the "Best Pollster In the Country."

Well, the part of the country that doesn't include our little third world outpost.

TURNING THE CORNER?

The down-and-dirty, no-holds-barred, win-it-or-die-trying Roswell race for state Senate may have taken a turn over the weekend. First, 34 year Dem Senate veteran Tim Jennings received the endorsement of the Roswell Daily Record. Then a piece of literature hits that no one will take credit for that accuses Republican Cliff Pirtle of being against abortion even in the case of rape and incest. And finally, a radio ad from Jennings warns of federal intrusion in the state over driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, giving him some cover on the legislative compromise he sponsored--instead of outright repeal of the licenses.

Some think the abortion piece signed "The Tea Party" was actually sent by Pirtle sympathizers to get the Tea Party mad at Jennings, but maybe it helps Jennings with women who believe there should be some exceptions for abortion.

The outcome is still uncertain and we'll have it early Tuesday night on KANW.

NO CRISSCROSSING ROSWELL

Observers note that the whirlwind tour that Governor Martinez is taking across the state today with GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson does not include any stops in Roswell where Susana is trying to oust Jennings or Valencia County where she and her political adviser is targeting Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. Both are probably too toxic for Heather to go near. She was in Roswell over the weekend with Rep. Steve Pearce.

Martinez last month campaigned personally for Pirtle, holding a rally that only drew about 40.

Martinez never did cut a TV ad for Wilson. Today the pair will stop in Santa Fe, Clovis, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Farmington and Albuquerque.

And it's the little things that could mean big things that are noted on New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan that makes this place the #1 source for political news in the Land of Enchantment. The TV spot that featured Martinez talking about the Baby Brianna case and that then went into a full-scale assault on the Jennings and Sanchez votes on prison terms for child murderers was not on the air very long. It was recut and the new version did not have Susana speaking.

Clearly, she overreached and she had to be pulled back. That lesson is central to what is unfolding in Campaign 2012. How far can a Governor reasonably go to alter an independent branch of government? In a few short hours, we will get some answers.

HEINRICH'S FINISH

Martin Heinrich will finish off Campaign '12 today by manning a phone bank in ABQ's South Valley. During the lunch hour he will rally UNM students along with Dem Senator Tom Udall and ABQ Dem congressional hopeful Michelle Lujan Grisham. Heinrich will then be joined at 3 p.m. by northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Ljan for a volunteer event at Bernalillo for the coordinated Dem campaign. The ABQ congressman who hopes to soon be a Senator-elect ends his day phone banking with volunteers at the Dem coordinated campaign offices in the NE Heights.

MORE ON McCLESKEY

Jay McCleskey might be the really big winner of Campaign '12. The controversial political consultant to Governor Martinez who has been dubbed "The Fifth Floor" and "The Shadow Governor" stands to make hundreds of thousands in profit from the over $2 million raised by the Reform NM Now PAC that he is running to oust Dems statewide. The New Mexican comes with a profile of the Manzano High graduate.

Win or lose Tuesday night, McCleskey is going to have plenty of spare cash to buy premium beer to cry in or champagne to toast victory.

ONE FOR THE R'S

Back in September we blogged pundit opinion that there might be a chance the US House could fall back under the control of the Democrats. That was when Obama was surging, but how things have changed. Some of the major pundits are now throwing in the towel, saying that while the Dems may pick up a couple of seats, the R's are going to keep the chamber under their control:

The Crystal Ball can now project that the Republicans will retain their House majority, although we suspect it will be at least a bit smaller than their current 25-seat edge. While we have been saying the Republicans were heavy favorites in the  House for months, this is the first time we’ve said definitively that  they will keep the majority. Given the topsy-turvy presidential race, it  appeared in mid-September that President Obama was building a lead that  might actually, through his coattails, put the House in play. But after  the presidential race returned to its achingly close state, it’s become  clear that while individual races are fluctuating, there’s not a clear  wave building for either side.

Here in ABQ Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham is the likely winner of the ABQ congressional seat, but her job will be much tougher--and frustrating--toiling in the minority.

As for control of the Senate, the betting line is that the Dems will retain control. Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich is favored to take the open Senate seat which would put the state's two Senators in the majority. 

NACHO LIBRE SPEAKS

Settling in for a Halloween lunch at Barelas Coffee House, we were startled when we looked up to see none other than wrestling legend
Nacho Libre staring at us with a menacing gaze. He demanded that we put a prediction of his on the blog or else. And what might that be, oh feared one?

"State Senator Michael Sanchez will be re-elected in Valencia County," barked Nacho Libre.

Well, not that far out of a prediction, but just as he said it who turns up at the table? Michael Sanchez. He sported a smile and said he was taking it door-to-door--and he is still off the chicharrones and eating healthy.

It turns out Nacho Libre--unmasked--lives in Valencia County And w thought he was supposed to be a pudgy monk turned wrestler from a poor Latin American monastery.

See you on the radio at 5 p.m. today and back here tomorrow for Election Day 2012

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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