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Friday, November 09, 2012

A Few Friday Clips And Then Back Monday 

Thanks for being with us all election year. Here are a few Friday clips before we rejoin you on Monday...

Turnout for the Tuesday election fell short of our mark of 68 percent of the registered voters, according to the AP:

 Voter turnout dropped in New Mexico and unofficial returns indicate about 62 percent of registered voters cast ballots in this year’s presidential race. That’s down from nearly 70 percent in 2008, and it’s the lowest turnout rate since the 2000 presidential election when 61 percent of eligible voters participated. About 772,000 votes were cast in the presidential race. That’s 7 percent lower than in 2008, but is 2 percent higher than in 2004.

And a reader writes of another  possible Senate President Pro Tem play now that Roswell Dem Senator Time Jennings has been defeated:

Could Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith be selected as Senator Pro Tem, an "honorary" spot, so that another person can step into the Finance Committee Chair.  Lots of changes in Santa Fe as a result of this election, from the Fourth Floor on down. 

Thanks again for your support throughout the election year and for our radio Broadcast Tuesday night.

Reporting to you from Tucson, AZ, I'm Joe Monahan

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
  
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Susana Mulls It Over: Some Signals Of A Softening In Aftermath Of Her Election Setbacks? Plus: The Changing Faces Of Santa Fe  

On The Radio Election Night
When it doesn't go your way, change the subject. The day after the election, this is announced:

Governor Susana Martinez, Children, Youth, and Families Department Secretary Yolanda Deines, and University of New Mexico Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs will host a press conference to announce a permanent display of CYFD's Heart Gallery at the Pit at UNM.  The Heart Gallery of New Mexico is a photographic art show featuring foster children who are waiting to be adopted,...

Why, it's like nothing ever happened. But something did. The Guv's expensively funded effort to change the basic character of the Legislature was thwarted.

Instead of the talk in Santa Fe being centered on new conservative power in the Roundhouse, it's about how the Dems have strengthened their hand and whether they can now start sending an agenda to Martinez that she can either veto or sign.

HE'S THE MAN

He's got the whole world in his hands. Really, that's the deal now with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. He looked the beast in the eye and beat it. His power is enhanced enormously after the Guv's political adviser Jay McCleskey unloaded some of the most negative tactics possible and fell a whopping ten points short of victory.

If you're going to kill the king, kill him. Now the fate of this governorship is largely in Sanchez's hands. He will probably decide who will be the next Senate president Pro Tem now that Tim Jennings is gone. Also, the Democratic Party is going to unify behind him. Why? Because in this game, there's nothing like a winner.

Warning flag: Sanchez has to keep in check what his fellow Senators call the bristly and quirky side of his nature. Susana just overreached. Now Sanchez has to be careful he doesn't fall in the same trap.

GOOD 'OL GRIDLOCK

Gridlock doesn't have to continue. The Governor could offer an olive branch and put Sanchez and the Dems on the spot. She probably won't, choosing instead to run a campaign for re-election in 2014 against the lawmakers, but she always has the compromise option. Consultant McCleskey said the bruising of the Guv means she is indeed ready to bend:

Governor Martinez has already begun reaching out to legislators on both sides of the aisle, and she is committed to working in a bipartisan manner to continue moving New Mexico forward...

We'll see. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez told KNME-TV Election Night he doesn't know what Martinez's agenda is, that it seems to be McCleskey's agenda of wedge issues to use in whatever election is around the corner.

Martinez retorted in a KRQE-TV interview:

“He hasn't read it, that’s the problem.”

That Sanchez mentioned the consultant by name may be an indication that he is signaling to the Guv that he wants new players on the field before he agrees to any dealing or peace making. We don't think Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle would argue with him over it.


SHE KNOWS HOW 

It's not as if Martinez can't act in a bipartisan manner. She hit pay dirt when she showed up in Rio Rancho Election Night expressing deep concern about long lines of voters there because Sandoval County had not allocated enough machines. The presence of the Guv had to be comforting to the dozens of people who were worried that their right to vote was going to be lost because of ineptness. And it sent a positive signal to the public at large.

Martinez refused to criticize the Democratic County Clerk. She noted that the area with problems was a Republican stronghold, but she said she would do the same if the problem had been in a Dem area like Taos.

That struck just the right note and reminded us of her handing of the natural gas heating crisis shortly after she took office--another time when she seemed to put politics aside and tackled the problem at hand.

She knows how. And now--after a GOP rout at the polls--she may see the wisdom in showing more of that side of her political personality.

JAY'S WORLD

McCleskey
As for McCleskey, he is now a hyper-controversial figure in the Governor's own Republican Party. He knocked off Jennings (who was supported by many R's) but lost mostly everything else.

We don't know exactly what that means for his status as the most influential figure in state government apart from Martinez, we just know losing is not good.

And what's with McCleskey hammering the New Mexico media and trying to determine who they use to provide commentary and analysis on the Governor's administration? That's not helping his boss on the Fourth Floor.

 Bashing the press and media is fair game, but trying to have the government run them (or a shadow government) isn't.

PICKING A PRO TEM

President Pro Tem? Senators Pete Campos and Carlos Cisneros jump to mind. The pro tem controls committee assignments. But Leader Sanchez will want to have a pro tem who listens to him. Certainly the coalition of R's and conservative Dems that kept Jennings in the position is gone. The position is decided by the entire Senate. The Dems lost three seats Tuesday but they still control it.

DR. NO

The Election Night results may alter the position of conservative Democratic Senator John "Dr. No" Arthur Smith. He has run the powerful Senate Finance Committee as his personal fiefdom. Smith is now going to have to share power with more centrist and liberal elements of his Democratic Party. That's the message from voters. Look for him to be more accommodating. If not, that could be a developing story.
 
THE NEWBIES

There are 15 brand new faces in the Senate. Again, we're not sure what it means, but something is going to be different.

SUSANA NATIONALLY

Because Romney could not attract Hispanic voters, Governor Martinez's name surfaces again in the national media as a Republican who could help the GOP.  But after she lost most of her campaign goals here, she has her hands full just hanging on to power here. The national spotlight may have to wait. Obama's win certainly kills talk that she could leave New Mexico to take a job in DC.

THE NEW SHAPE

So what's the 70 member state House looking like now? Well, at least two new Dem members make it comfortable for State Rep. Kenny Martinez to get elected speaker. There will be no coalition with the R's.

And ABQ Dem State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas comes with this on the new House:

There are 21 new members. 6 new Republicans. 15 new Democrats. 2 new Natives; R-Clahchischilliage and D- Georgene Louis (26-Acoma);  Hispanic Republicans: 23-Paul Pacheco (although he self identifies as European- Portuguese) 61-David Gallegos 68-Monica Youngblood..

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
  
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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Democrats Flex Muscle: Top Ticket Sweep; Obama Wins; Heinrich Is Senator-elect, It's Grisham In A Rout; Mixed Night For Guv; She Gets Jennings, But Not Sanchez; Dems Add State House Strength; R's Get A Senate Bump; A Grind It Out Kind Of Night 

Senator-elect Heinrich (Daily Lobo)
Democrats muscled aside Republicans Tuesday night to assert their dominance in the state's congressional delegation and hold back a determined Governor from changing the narrative at the state capitol. (Bernalillo County results here. Statewide results here.)

The exit polls called the New Mexico presidential race for Obama early in the evening. He was carrying the state 52% to Romney's 42%. Former NM Guv and Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson managed only 3%.

Martin Heinrich rolled over Heather Wilson--51 to 45 and 4 for independent Jon Barrie--in a US Senate race that her pollster claimed at the end was tied, but was never really close.

Michelle Lujan Grisham flirted with the 60% mark in routing Janice Arnold-Jones to take the ABQ congressional seat, while Dems dashed the takeover dreams of the R's and appeared poised to pick up at least a couple of state House seats, although it could be days before the dust settled on all of them.

Grisham led the ticket in Bernalillo County, outscoring both Obama and Romney.

SUSANA'S MIXED NIGHT

It was a decidedly mixed night for Governor Martinez who unleashed her political consultant Jay McCleskey to spend several million dollars in super PAC cash in an effort to change the state Legislature to her liking. And the Dems responded with a couple of million of their own. But she missed taking the big prize--the ouster of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez--and had to settle for a win in Roswell where she narrowly took out conservative Dem State Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings. His district is heavy R.

Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia of Las Cruces, 75, also fell Tuesday night. The Reform NM Now PAC mailed against her, but her wounds were mainly self-inflicted. She was caught in a campaign ethics web just days before the election.

The irony for Martinez is that by taking out Jennings she may have dissolved the Senate coalition that he led and that made possible her getting a budget through the Legislature. The Senate could actually get more liberal with Jennings gone.

Jennings, Garcia and Lisa Curtis, who was appointed to a heavy GOP ABQ NE Heights Senate seat vacancy all went down, but the balance of power in the 42 member body doesn't budge. As we write Dems still control it 25-17.

THE HOUSE STORY

When we left the air at KANW-FM around 1 a.m. Wednesday, the state House was 36 Dem and 34 R, but five races were unresolved. It appeared Dems were positioned to take at least two of them and that would give the 70 member chamber a cast of at least 38 Dems to 32 R's. That small pick-up would secure the the election of State Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants as House speaker.

Among the incumbent victims was Dona Ana County Democrat turned independent Andy Nunez who befriended the Governor only to have her scorn him. He fell to Dem Felipe Archuleta in a three way battle. In ABQ, the Dems--with Elizabeth Thomson carrying their banner-- claimed the ABQ NE Heights seat of freshman GOP State Rep. Conrad James. Another victim appeared to be appointed GOP State Rep. Jim Hall in the Los Alamos area, Stephanie Garcia Richard says she win by over two hundred votes but we await confirmation.

Andrew Barrreras, absolutely hammered by the Guv's team with nearly 30 mailers said to have been sent against him, lagged Republican Kelly Fajardo by about 90 votes.  Marci Blaze had a slim lead over Republican Paul Pacheco on the ABQ metro's west side and a couple Las Cruces races were still up in the air.

RAY BAN

We thought one of the more meaningful wins for the R's was when they ejected Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye. He shot himself in the foot with ethics mishaps and his Four Corners/Navajo reservation seat was taken from him by a Navajo woman--Sharon Clahchischillage. A Navajo Republican in the state House?

It is with Hispanics and Native Americans that the GOP has underperformed. Their loss of Conrad James--the first African-American Republican elected to the state House from Bernalillo County--hurt the R's, but Sharon's win in Navajo Country will speed the healing.

COLOR IT BLUE

The continued drift of the state's largest city to the blue column was symbolized by the landslide for a dollar increasing the minimum wage. It passed with over 65% of the vote, despite the opposition of a large segment of the business community and ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry.

Republican Bob Cornelius noted that a Republican Mayor and GOP controlled city council now preside in a deep blue city. Dems have to do a  better job of uniting behind candidates if they are to take some of that control back in next year's city election. The $50 million bond issue for the Paseo Del Norte/I-25 interchange passed handily. (All the state and Bernalillo County bond issues won voter approval.)

DONA ANA SUSANA

The Guv's political team took a whipping in her home county of Dona Ana when Dem Mark D'Antonio upset Republican District Attorney Amy Orlando who Governor Martinez appointed to the post when she became Governor and who had worked under her as her chief deputy. Three judges Susana appointed in the county also went down to defeat last night.

Same in Benralillo County. Three judges Martinez had appointed to the district court were all stopped in their election bids, including Sam Winder who was taken out by Dem Ben Chavez.

RECRIMINATIONS?

Because some of the state House races were so close and R's had a chance to take over the chamber, there is already criticism of Martinez and Jay for spending so much money on the Sanchez and Jennings Senate races and also on that Dona Ana DA's race and the judgeships. If that money had been redirected to the House battle could some of the seats been pushed into the R column?

GRINDING IT OUT

The night was interesting, but lacked the drama of more recent elections, opined attorney David Bucholz on KANW. We agreed. We grinded out the nitty-gritty of state House races to determine who would control the chamber, but that doesn't have the same flair as close races do at the top of the ballot. And the results both nationally and in the state seem to indicate more gridlock. No election is not exciting, but this one seemed rather flat. The huge expenditure of money from the Super PACS polluting the legislative contest also left Bucholz--and we think the public at large--relieved that Campaign '12 was finally skidding to a close.

ANOTHER TAKE

Why stop blogging now? Here's a whole other version that we compiled with veteran R consultant and pollster Bruce Donisthorpe who broke the news on KANW that Senator Jennings had lost in Roswell. He did it before 10 p.m. and was the first in the state with that big legislative story and many others. First the political autopsy on Jennings' loss:

New Mexico’s legislative races Tuesday night were often tied to the results at the top of the ticket. Strong Dem performances at the top led to major pickups for the Dems in Bernalillo and Dona Ana counties, while a strong GOP performance at the top of the ticket doomed the efforts of State Senator Tim Jennings in Roswell.

As the dust settled as we went to press, the Republicans had a net gain of 3 seats in the State Senate – the same number of seats they lost in the 2008 election 4 years ago. In the State House, Dems were poised to pick up a net gain of 2 seats for a 38-32 chamber majority.

One wonders if the Republicans might have done a little better in some of the House races if the Governor had spent more money in State House races.

Cliff Pirtle, the 27 year old farmer who beat Jennings by about 500 votes, definitely benefitted from the fact that Romney, GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson and southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce each won Chaves County by over 7,500 votes. That triumph enabled Pirtle to squeak out a 650 victory over Jennings. Pirtle added a 180 vote win in Eddy County, while Jennings cut Pirtle’s margin by winning by 300 on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in Otero County.  The loss of Jennings means Senators will elect a new President Pro-Tem in January.

THE NIGHT THAT WAS 

In Valencia County, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez withstood a tough barrage of GOP-led attacks by scoring a 1,500 vote victory over GOP challenger David Chavez. Sanchez’s victory shows he is now “King of the Hill” in the State Senate--having defeated all comers--and all legislative roads on every bill for the next four years go through his desk. 

In Bernalillo County, President Obama’s 16-point win over Mitt Romney led to a 43-thousand vote win. That huge margin enabled Dem candidates Emily Kane (House District 15, North Valley) to hold an important seat for the Democrats, while Elizabeth Thompson (House District 24, NE Heights) toppled incumbent GOP State Rep. Conrad James and picking up the seat for the Dens.

Other Dems who scored big wins include: State Senator-Elect Daniel Ivey Soto (Senate District 15, NE Heights), who won 53%-47% over former State Sen. Diane Snyder who lost the seat in 2008; and State Sen. Tim Keller (Senate District 17, SE Heights) who beat back a spirited challenge from former Democrat State Senator turned Republican Shannon Robinson. 

Republican state lawmakers held their own in territory not so dominated by Obama, including Republican State Senator John Ryan (Senate District 10, West Side) who beat former State Senator and Independent candidate Joe Carraro by 55%-45%; State Rep. Nate Gentry (House District 30, NE Heights) who defeated Mary Ellen Broderick by 8 points.

A pair of GOP newcomers were elected to the State Senate as Lisa Torraco (Senate District 18, NE Heights) held the seat vacated by former Republican State Senator Mark Boitano, and Mark Moores was elected to the seat held for a year by attorney Lisa Curtis (State Senate District 21, NE Heights) who was appointed to the seat when Kent Cravens left the Senate in 2011.

Democrats re-gained the vacated Bernalillo County Commission seat left by US Representative-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham as City Councillor Debbie O’Malley defeated Republican Simon Kubiak by an impressive 61%-39% margin.

DOWN IN DONA ANA

Democrats used Obama’s strong performance at the other end of the Rio Grande in Dona Ana County, where the Prez defeated Romney by 15 points and scored a 10-thousand vote win. In the US Senate race Dem Heinrich defeated Wilson there by 18 points and won by 12-thousand votes.

The Obama-Heinrich double tsunami took out Republican State Rep. Rick Little, who defeated former State Rep. Nate Cote (House District 53) in 2010. And, at press time, Dem challenger Joanne Ferrary had a 12 vote lead over GOP State Rep. Terry McMillan (House District 37).  Ballots are still being counted by hand and this race could go to a recount, but could be an important pick-up for the Democrats in the State House.

Perhaps the biggest dividend for Dems in Dona Ana County could well be the defeat of the Governor’s hand-picked slate of District Judges as the Martinez appointees (Susan Riedel, Nelson Goode and Jacinto Palamino) went down to defeat by a troika of Dem candidates led by Marci Beyer, Darren Kugler and Mary Rosner.

And no doubt the icing on the cake for the local Democrats was the defeat of the Governor’s hand-picked and former long-time assistant Amy Orlando as she lost the District Attorney race to Mark D’Antonio a former federal prosecutor and law enforcement candidate.  Martinez also lost her three judges in Albuquerque making it a bad nite for her appointees to the bench in this cycle.

The one bright spot in an otherwise bleak and dark wilderness in Dona Ana County for the Republicans was the defeat of ethically-challenged State Senator Mary Jane Garcia (Senate District 36) as she lost to Republican challenger Lee Cotter by a 54%-46% margin.

In other races, In Los Alamos & Santa Fe Counties, Dem Stephanie Richard Garcia appeared to topple Republican incumbent James Hall to pick the seat up for the majority party in the State House, while San Juan Dem State Rep. Rep. Ray Begaye--himself a target of ethics charges--lost to Republican Native American challenger Sharon Clahchischilliage (see if this shows up in the NY Times Crossword Puzzle someday!) by a comfortable 23 point margin.

In Valencia County--where Republicans ran much more competitively against Barack Obama--the GOP held both its State House seats as incumbent Rep. Alonzo Baldonado defeated Dem challenger Frank Otero by about 600 votes and newcomer Kelly Fajardo led former State Rep. Andrew Barreras by less than 100 votes at deadline time.

Thanks, Bruce. And thanks to the many other contributors to our broadcast coverage. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
  
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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

To The People It Goes; Election 2012 Ends Today; Our Coverage Is Tonight At 6:30 PM ON 89.1 FM, Plus: Gaming The Legislature; Where Will We End? Also: Top Politicos Predict And Our Election Day Musings 

CLICK HERE FOR OUR LIVE ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE ON KANW 89.1 FM OR TUNE IN TO 89.1 FM STARTING AT 5 P.M. WALL-TO-WALL COVERAGE BEGINNING AT 6:30 P.M.

They are coming around the corner and into the final stretch. This is Election Day 2012. All the anticipation and angst will be resolved tonight. We'll be with you every step of the way with live continuous coverage on KANW 89.1 FM and streamed at KANW.COM. Our panel of experts is at the ready:

Santa Fe Democratic State Rep. Brian Egolf; former New Mexico Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim; Republican Doug Turner who sought the 2012 GOP gubernatorial nomination;
Republican Bruce Donisthorpe who supervises polling of Manzano strategies and is a former top aide to NM Governor Garrey Carruthers; Democrat and attorney Pamelya Herndon, executive director of the Southwest Women's Law Center; Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino; former Bernalillo County Commissioner Lenton Malry; Republican consultant Bob Cornelius of the 90 Degrees Agency; Republican Jamie Estrada, VP of the Agenda PR agency and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce; veteran field organizer Steve Cabiedes and Dem attorney David Bucholz.

What a group! What a night! It's our 24th consecutive year of anchoring Election Night coverage on public radio and we look forward to having you with us for all the excitement.

We'll have reporters in the field and live reports from ABQ Government Center where Bernalillo County races will be tallied. Steve Morgan will be at the Democratic HQ and Monica Rodriguez will be at GOP HQ. We'll also have exclusive early results from select voting centers in Bernalillo County.

Thanks to our sponsors for making possible this comprehensive coverage by New Mexico public radio: PNM, Griffin and Associates, JD Bullington Government Affairs, ABQ Teachers Federation and IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 480.

Now let's get back on the 2012 campaign trail one final time...

ELECTION DAY 2012

It's Election Day 2012 and in this state Democrats are set to sweep the contests for the presidency, the open US Senate seat and two of three US House seats. The suspense will come over the outcome of hard fought battles for several state Senate and state House seats.

We're forecasting a turnout of about 68 percent of the electorate or a total of 853,000 New Mexico voters. That will be a dip from 2008 when Obama mania took hold, but still a healthy number.

While Dems control the top of the ballot with Obama set to secure the state's five electoral votes, Dem Martin Heinrich is positioned to beat Republican Heather Wilson for the Senate seat. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a heavy favorite to win the ABQ congressional seat over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. The R's are hanging all their hopes on improving their standing in the 112 member state Legislature.

Conventional political wisdom as we prepare for the count tonight has Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez surviving his challenge from GOP State Rep. David Chavez, a challenge egged on by Governor Susana Martinez who argues she needs to rid the Roundhouse of Sanchez as well as Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings in order to advance her legislative agenda.

Dem Jennings is locked in a ferocious battle with 27 year old farmer and tea party sympathizer Cliff Pirtle in Roswell. The district is heavy Republican, but Jennings--in the Senate for 34 years--is popular with many of them. The race is close. Predictions below.

The Senate will remain under Dem control after tonight. It currently has 28 Dems and 14 R's The GOP could pick up a couple seats but the political landscape doesn't change. In fact, analysts say the Senate could become more liberal if Jennings is defeated tonight because it would likely mean the end of the conservative coalition of Republican and Democrats that have made him president pro tem.

GAMING THE HOUSE

In the House, outright control by the R's for the first time in nearly 60 years is possible but still a long shot. The current breakdown is 36 Dems, 33 R's and 1 independents.

One of our Senior Alligators comes with the scenario for a GOP take-over:

It is possible for the Republicans to take control of the state House. It's a stretch, but here is how it would have to play out.

First we assume, Democrat Felipe Archuleta takes the seat held by Dona Ana County independent Rep. Andy Nunez and that  Republican Monica Youngblood takes the new ABQ area seat that was formed when the northern seat of Thomas Garcia was eliminated in redistricting.

If nothing else changed all night, we would end with Democrats 36 and Republicans 34. This assumes the Republicans keep these Republican seats: Rep. Alonzo Baldonado in Valencia County, Rep. Jim Hall of Los Alamos, Rep, David Chavez of Valencia, (Chavez is leaving the seat to run for Senate) Rep. Conrad James in ABQ, Rep. Rep. Terry McMillan in Dona Ana, Rep. Dianne Hamilton in Grant County, Rep. Rick Little in Dona Ana and the ABQ area seat being vacated by Rep. David Doyle who is running for state Senate,

Keeping all those seats in their column is no small feat, but it is essential that Republicans pull it off or their chances of taking outright control are going south.

If they can do that, they have a shot at a House majority by having Chris Saucedo beat Dem Emily Kane in District 15 in ABQ. That would make it a 35-35 tie. Then, if they could knock off Ray Begaye in District 4 in the Four Corners, they would take control with a 36-34 majority. It is a very long shot but not impossible.

Thanks for that. So if any of the current GOP state reps bite the dust as listed above, the Dems will very likely retain power.

The D's say they would be elated if they picked up two seats tonight. That would give them a 38 to
34 majority assuming independent Andy Nunez is defeated.

That is seen as a comfortable margin to elect State Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants as the new Speaker of the House to replace Ben Lujan. A House with fewer than 38 Dems could invite mischief, such as another attempt to form a coalition, with Republicans working to peel off a couple of Democrats to take control.

As we said, control of the state Senate is not in play. The Dems will control it, but the big story is the fallout from the highly negative campaigns sanctioned by the Governor and how that impacts the legislative process.  We've blogged of it extensively.

PREDICTIONS!

Rep. Egolf
Our KANW-FM Election Eve panel was unanimous in predicting that Dem Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings will survive a Governor-backed challenge to him that has turned into one of the nastiest and most expensive state Senate contests in history.

Jennings faces 27 year old farmer Cliff Pirtle who has received major backing from the Reform NM Now PAC run by the Guv's chief political advisor. But Santa Fe journalist Milan Simonich said Pirtle lacks the stature and experience as a candidate to take out Jennings. He along with the rest of the panel predicted a narrow win for Jennings.

On the other big race the Guv is trying to influence, the panel was again unanimous that State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez would keep his Valencia County Senate seat. Former Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim said a TV spot featuring Sanchez and his wife Lynn will be key to the victory.

Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Brian Egolf says we may not know the composition of the state House until Wednesday because of slow returns in the contest featuring Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye that includes a large portion of the Navajo reservation. He says returns from there could take time to come in.

Egolf, who had a political action committee to help Dem House candidates this year, said he thinks the House will grow from 36 Dems to at least 38 after Tuesday's election. "We have a shot at 40 if the turnout comes our way," he said.

The panel was nearly unanimous (with Republican Jamie Estrada the exception who said Wilson wins a squeaker) in predicting that Dem Martin Heinrich will defeat Republican Heather Wilson and claim the open US Senate seat.

Former City Councilor Miguel Gomez predicted easy passage of the measure to raise the minimum wage a buck an hour in ABQ and said Mayor Berry's opposition to it could be an issue in next year's mayoral race.

Republican consultant Bob Cornelius said GOP southern Congressman Steve Pearce will win re-election easily tonight, but don't expect another US Senate run from him. "I think Steve will look at going after a leadership post in the US House, but another Senate bid is not in his future."

So there, Tom Udall. You can stop wishing.

THAT WAS QUICK

No sooner had the press found out that Big Bill was working for the California's Spaceport in Mojave, stirring native passions against the former chief executive--then it's disclosed that he pocketed $10,000 for two months work and he's all done. Bill helped California get liability legislation for the Spaceport that was approved in September.

Why we were not told of that in the initial press accounts is a mystery but in any event, it appears the former Guv is available now to help Susana get similar liability legislation for our Spaceport through the legislation. Say what, Bill? You don't hear your phone ringing?

ELECTION DAY MUSINGS

While we all anxiously await the results, veteran Santa Fe television reporter Lorene Mills gives us an entertaining story sure to draw a grin and a chuckle from even the most nervous of the nervous on this Election Day:

Joe,  My show this weekend is with Santa Fe's Forrest Fenn, who started the famous Fenn Gallery, and he tells this story about Republican Governor Garrey Carruthers. This is right from the transcript and I thought you could use a good laugh! Enjoy!

At the gallery I had an alligator called Beowolf. And can I tell you a story about Garrey Carruthers? He was running for governor and staying in one of my guest houses. We were having a fundraiser and he was standing on a rock with his back to my pond, the pond is about one foot behind him. And a hundred or so people out there, he’s telling everybody how good he is and what a great governor he is going to make. And Beowolf thought that it was me talking and calling him to dinner. So clear across the pond, sixty, seventy feet, comes Beowolf

The crowd can see Beowolf, but the Governor can’t, so Beowolf came right up to the rear end of Garrey Carruthers and opened his mouth like that and the crowd went wild. Governor Carruthers thought he was making a good impression but then he saw what happened and he left. He was, he was good about that. You have to like Garrey Carruthers

Lorene: Well I’m very fond of Garrey Carruthers and they always say that New Mexico politics is full of alligators. So I am glad that the alligators did not get Governor Carruthers.

Hope that brightened your day a little. It's hard to have watched New Mexico politics for so many years and to see the bitter changes we see in this election cycle. Thanks for your perspectives and wisdom. All the best, Lorene...

And thank you, Lorene.

On the big political days like this one that we think of those who have come before us. Like your late husband, the newsman and commentator Ernie Mills. No one loved New Mexico more. There was Bill Feather of the Associated Press who thrived for decades. Bob Beier of the ABQ Journal, the crustiest of the crustiest political reporters. Kate Nelson of the ABQ Tribune, one of the gifted ones and Jerry McKinney, also from the Trib. Larry Calloway of the Journal understood the game better than anyone, and reaching way back we think of Fred Buckles, long ago author of the "Inside the Capital" column, whose musings from Santa Fe seemed so exotic and exciting for a teenager from Pennsylvania.

Politics here still seems exciting and exotic to us, despite nearly 40 years passing since we read that column. Before we take to the airwaves at 6:30 tonight, we'll pause to think about the long history that is La Politica and give a silent tip of the hat to those who once walked the path. Then we'll step on the gas and do what we're supposed to do....i

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
  
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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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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