Thursday, November 01, 2012

Intense Battle For Roundhouse Rages Across State; Outcome Uncertain As Big Money Plays; A Look At Key Races, Plus: Allen Weh Goes Risk-Free, And: No Second Bite In Roswell For Guv 

The battle for the state House goes on and where it ends nobody knows.

"If anyone says they can tell you how this is going to turn out they are blowing smoke, said one top Dem working closely on the campaigns.

The Dems hold the House 36 to 33 with one independent. The Reform NM PAC run by the Guv's political consultant has pumped hundreds of thousands into the races. Dems have answered with hundreds of thousands from their own out of state funded super PAC.

Much of that cash has gone into the well publicized race featuring Dem Senate incumbent Michael Sanchez, but the battle rages in the lesser known races as well.

Dems involved in the campaign say an astounding 21 negative mail pieces have been sent into the Valencia County district of Andrew Barreras, the former Dem state Rep. who is trying to reclaim a legislative seat and is opposed by Kelly Fajardo.

And we are hearing of similar numbers of hits in the other contested races,

The super PAC money has changed the very fabric of the legislative campaign process. Never have we seen so much money go into these races for unpaid, part-time lawmakers. Maybe this year is an exception because the Governor is trying to tip the Legislature in her favor, but once the money cat is out of the bag, it's hard to put it back.

New Mexico legislative races of the future may be destined to become big money, negative campaign affairs that inundate districts with too much literature, too much door knocking, too much phone calling, too much super PAC money and...well....you get the idea.


So where does the fight for the 70 member House stand as we head into the final weekend of Campaign '12? Do the R's have a chance of taking over the chamber for the first time in 60 years? Or will the Dems add to their numbers strengthening the hand of presumed House Speaker Kenny Martinez?

With the kind of money being thrown around in these races, there are no safe predictions. We simply don't know the full effect of it despite polling which can often be off the mark in these small turnout contests. It is even possible that there will be zero change in party strength in the House when the Election Night dust has settled--not likely but possible.

And what races will decide the outcome? There are better than half a dozen. The highlights:

Dona Ana State Rep. Andy Nunez who switched from Dem to independent and became a strong supporter of Governor Martinez only to have the PAC run by her political team turn against him, appears to be weakened going in to the final hours. The beneficiary of attacks on Nunez by both the R's and the Dems appears to be Dem nominee Felipe Archuleta.

R's point out that they will pick up the new House seat that was created on ABQ's west side when a Dem seat in the north was eliminated. Monica  in redistricting. Monica Youngblood is the GOP hopeful. Eloise Gift is the Dem.

In Valencia County, you have that comeback effort by Dem Andrew Barreras who is being hammered daily by Reform NM. And his GOP foe--Kelly Fajardo--is getting the same treatment from the Dem connected Patriot Majority super PAC. The race is too close to call.

A late addition to the watch list is the seat of GOP State Rep. Alonozo Baldonado. He is favored but Dem challenger Frank Otero is working it hard. If the heated Sanchez-Chavez Senate race there results in Dems getting fired up and out to the polls, it could impact Alonozo.

In Bernalillo County Dems are increasingly confident that firefighter Emily Kane will beat out Republican Chris Saucedo for the ABQ NE Heights seat being vacated by Rep. Bill O'Neill who is running for Senate. Saucedo started the race as the slight favorite, but Kane has worked it hard. We'll watch it closely on Election Night on KANW 89.1 FM and streamed live at kanw.com starting at 6:30 p.m.


ABQ GOP State Reps Nate Gentry and Conrad James are favorites to retain their NE Heights seats, but Dems are making a play. A big Obama night in the county could deliver close races or a surprise upset.

R's are saying that Rep. Ray Begaye has climbed up their target list because of his ethical problems. A GOP pick-up in this Navajo Country district would be a major coup.

Both parties are saying they will win the Los Alamos area seat of GOP State Rep. Jim Hall. He is being challenged by Dem Stephanie Garcia Richard. The race has been a see-saw.

And both GOP and Dem analysts think they have a winner in the Blaze-Pacheco race. Dem Marci Blaze and Republican Paul Pacheco have been bruising one another for months in the westside, Corrales area district that has a slight GOP tilt. This one could be a nail-biter.

A late addition to the second-tier watch list comes from Hobbs, with Dems saying Hector Ramirez has a shot against Republican David Gallegos, but this is going to be a banner county for Romney so any Dem move would be a major upset. But the race is worth your attention next Tuesday.

Besides those major Republican challenges to Senators Jennings and Sanchez, the GOP hopes to take out Dem State Senator John Sapien in the Corrales/Bernalillo area.  GOP State Rep. David Doyle is the challenger. He has had major problems with residency and other issues, but Dems fret that the word about Doyle has not been effectively spread. Sapien remains the favorite, but the race is still open.

So what's the "over-under" for the state House for Election Night. It's a pick up for the House Democrats of "2." That's the most likely outcome as seen from this corner. But you can take the over or the under if if you see it differently.


A Mitt Romney TV ad in blue New Mexico? Yep. Like Lazarus, Romney rises, resurrected by last minute super PAC money so we won't be deprived of seeing his visage on our TV screens in the final days. KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson has the report on Romney's heart ticking here.


Former GOP Chairman Harvey Yates is shaking the political earth down Roswell way by vigorously endorsing Dem Senator Tim Jennings and calling for the GOP consultants running the Reform NM Now campaign against Jennings to have their "wings clipped." But another former GOP Chairman--Allen Weh--is not venturing out on the limb like Harvey.

Weh comes with an endorsement of....hold your breath...GOP Supreme Court Justice Paul Kennedy?

That's it, Allen? No thoughts on what Harvey has done or about the campaign being waged by Reform consultant Jay McCleskey who took you out of the 2010 GOP race for Guv which you lost to Susana?

Maybe Allen still harbors political ambitions and doesn't want to step on anyone's toes?


We blogged Tuesday that our Roswell sources said that Governor Martinez would make a second appearance in Roswell for Cliff Pirtle the Republican farmer challenging Dem Senator Tim Jennings, but nothing has been announced for Friday or any other day so we are calling back that story.

Martinez's recent appearance for Pirtle drew only about 40 and we speculated that the campaign might respond by trying to turn our a bigger crowd at a second appearance.

Now there is a Steve Pearce for Congress rally in Roswell Saturday with Lt. Governor John Sanchez also appearing, And that may have bee the genesis of the second Guv rally for Pirtle report.

Complicating matters is that the state GOP and the Reform NM Now PAC will not discuss the Guv's campaign travels with us. But we're truckin' along pretty well just the same--with an occasional speed bump.


Are there occasions when we are intentionally misled so we'll have egg on our Gator bib? What do you think? You are told of events that are scheduled then canceled or never take place, candidacies that are passed off as definite fade in the mist and the list of misinformation tactics goes on. But it's all part of the positioning of La Politica, especially in the final drama-filled days of the fight for the glory and the power. 


Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye is fighting to stave off GOP challenger Sharon Clahchischillage. As the temperature rises in the race, the email heats up. A sample:

Navajos could care less about Begaye taking any extra travel money.  Their thinking- That's what politicians do and besides it's State money and not Tribal money.  After all the Navajos have been through- chump change charges doesn't faze them.  If indeed the ad is true about Begaye's challenger firing staff for not "being White enough" that will get back to the Rez and will not be well received.  They would rather have Begaye than a Republican wanna be.

Sharon, 63, has made a number of runs for political office, including a campaign for Navajo Nation president.


Al Hurricane
You've probably hear enough about hurricanes this week to last a lifetime, but when it comes to Al Hurricanethe news is always welcome:

Musician Al Hurricane, also known as the Godfather of New Mexico Music, will hold three rallies with Heather Wilson in northern New Mexico on Thursday. Wilson and the Hurricane will hold rallies in Las Vegas, Mora and Taos."I'm proud to have New Mexico's favorite musician, Al Hurricane, in my corner," Wilson said. "We're looking forward to bringing our pro-jobs message to northern New Mexico."

Hey, maybe Heather will join Al on stage and pluck out a tune on the banjo we see her playing in her TV ad. "Oh, Susana, don't you cry for me, I'm going to Rio Arriba with a banjo on my knee...


We were having so much fun. And then this popped up in our email from our City Hall sources. Albuquerque's economic growth is still in perilous shape. For July, August and September gross receipts tax collections fell:

July - negative 0.1%
Aug - negative 0.9%
Sep - negative 0.9%
Down a total of - 0.7% for the current budget year that began July 1.

And what does it mean? Our insiders report:

If we end the fiscal year next June with this trend, we will be around $10 million short. That could effect about 100 city jobs or more, or major cuts in recurring expenses in city departments. On the positive side, it could change if we get growth in the gross receipts tax in the coming month.

This is negative growth compared to the same months from last year. The FY13 budget that began July 1 was based on about 2.5% growth.  To hit our budget we need to grow at 4% on average for the next 9 months. What is alarming about this is when you compare our city to other cities that are growing.  We are definitely lagging when you compare cities, even Southwest cities.

We are lagging because we are getting hammered by government layoffs, the depression in the construction industry and the lack of overall growth in the private sector.

And city residents seem to be looking for some relief from the Bear Market on next Tuesday's ballot. The latest polling shows they will approve a proposal to increase the minimum wage in ABQ from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. About 40,000 ABQ workers toil under the minimum wage and with the price of gas at $3.50 a gallon, it's no wonder that the hike is looking like a done deal.

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