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Friday, May 30, 2014

King Digs Into His Own Pocket to Finance Final Push; Susana Spending But Has Plenty, Plus: GOP Senate Race: Boys Fight Over A Popular Girl, And: Mary Han, Gone But Not Forgotten 

Did Gary King open his wallet wide enough to seal the deal for the 2014 Dem Guv nomination? State campaign finance reports reveal King--who hails from a wealthy ranching family--loaned himself $195,000 this month as he battles four foes for the right to take on Governor Martinez in November. He used some of that money for a wave of TV ads this week that he hopes will sustain his polling lead through the weekend and into election day on Tuesday.

All the Dem campaigns have been famished for funds. King has gone into his own bank account for over $500,000 since the beginning of the long chase. Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber has tapped his personal fortune for $450,000 and Lawrence Rael coughed up $175,000 from his personal piggy bank to stay in the game.

Dem donors have sat this one out, leaving the candidates to fend for themselves and drum up whatever spare cash they can. It hasn't been much. Meanwhile, Martinez has been spending freely on TV ads but the finance report covering the period May 7 through May 27 shows she is not yet drawing down her reserves. She had $4.3 million in cash. (Hey, that's enough to buy a small jet.)

No Dem candidate reported over $170,000 in cash.

So who would Martinez least like to face as she seeks re-election? Here's what the conventional wisdom says:

Martinez would least like Webber as the nominee. An unknown, wealthy candidate is unpredictable. Money is the political driver and Webber has shown he has out-of-state contacts that might be able to help nationalize the race. More important is his personal wealth that is assumed to be in the millions. If he struggled with fund-raising, would he write a big check? It's not a question Martinez wants to have to deal with.

Lawrence Rael is probably Martinez's second least favorite to face. He could eat into that impressive showing she had in the Spanish North in 2010 and on a good day get the ABQ metro in play.

And who would Martinez most like to face this fall? That's been obvious since the beginning--Gary King. She knows him inside out and is ready to go on the attack from day one to try to end the race early. King also faces the problem of uniting his own Democratic Party behind him.

The first TV ad against Gary could very well feature that infamous quote from NM Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bregman that King was "the worst attorney general" in history (Bregman also used that line on Martinez).

CHANGE THE SYSTEM?

A Santa Fe legislator writes:

If Gary King wins the nomination for governor it will break the long streak of no one ever winning who didn’t get at least 20 percent delegate support at the preprimary. What does this mean for the Democratic Party preprimary system? Should the preprimary be changed? If King wins there will a slew of reform suggestions to make it more meaningful or pare it back it candidates don’t spend $25,000 on courting delegates during the lead up and then the stage show for the event. 

King came in last among the five candidates at the March Dem preprimary convention where a candidate must get at least 20 percent delegate support to win an official spot on the ballot. King fell short but submitted additional petition signatures to get on as did Linda Lopez. 

CHASING SUSANA

Clements & Martinez
Boys fighting over a girl. That's hardly news, but our boys in question are also fighting over the GOP US Senate nomination. The gal they are brawling over? None other than Susana Martinez. These guys are going at it like they would for a date with the prom queen. It's all kind of cute really.

Allen Weh, 71, started it by showing himself in a TV ad embracing Susana, even though they were bitter rivals for the 2010 GOP Guv nod which Weh lost. Now comes 34 year old David Clements--Weh's challenger--reminding everyone of the bad things Allen once said about the woman he now purports to have affections for. And then Clements tries to sweep Susana off her feet with this TV ad:

Allen Weh wants to be seen embracing Susana Martinez, thinking we'll forget his dishonest attacks. New Mexicans picked Martinez--a little known political outsider--to restore conservative leadership in Santa Fe and rejected Allen Weh. Now New Mexico can choose another political outsider to restore conservative leadership in Washington. Let's give Governor Martinez a partner in building New Mexico's future and elect David Clements as our new voice in the Senate.

That's a pretty good love letter but sad to say it's often the boy with the money that ends up with the girl--and the votes. In this case that would be Weh. Still, Susana has not expressed a favorite in the contest. Why would she? These fellas are keeping her mansion overflowing with chocolates and flowers.

More on the Republican US Senate race and the right to take on Dem US Senator Tom Udall in this AP profile.

And a postscript. This is likely Weh's last run for political office and if he's the nominee he won't lay down for Udall. Clements has impressed Republicans. He surprised with a strong showing against Weh at the preprimary convention and has campaigned hard. Expect to see him back on another campaign trail if he doesn't close the deal Tuesday night.

THE HAN CASE

Mary Han
Found dead nearly four years ago, attorney Mary Han is hardly forgotten. Her controversial death continues to make news. The latest:

The sister of deceased Albuquerque civil rights attorney Mary Han is suing former state Supreme Court Justice Paul Kennedy for allegedly breaching his handling of her estate.

Kennedy, who frequently defends Gov. Martinez in court—his firm has been awarded $150,000 worth of state contracts since last September—served as Han's law partner before her death in November 2010. Kennedy called 911 to first report that Han was dead. He told police that he found her body in the front seat of her BMW as it was parked in her garage, telling a dispatcher it appeared to be an "accidental suicide." Shortly after the death, Kennedy became the personal representative of Han's estate, a move that her sister Elizabeth Wallbro alleges he didn't have the authority to make. After a year, Han's family took over the estate.

A lawsuit Wallbro filed last week in the Second Judicial District Court accuses Kennedy of withholding vital accounting information that's preventing her from determining the full value of her sister's estate. She also alleges that Kennedy broke his firm's own bylaws by failing to pay all of Han's shares and severance payments.

Han's death was initially ruled a suicide but the attorney general later said he believed the cause was "undetermined."

EICHENBERG VS. WERTHEIM

That proposal to tap the state's $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for 10 years for very early childhood education has become a dividing line between Dem state treasurer candidates John Wertheim and Tim Eichenberg.

Wertheim, who calls himself "the real Democrat," supports the constitutional amendment that would require voter approval, but the more conservative Eichenberg says he's against it.

The Treasurer's race has heated up lately and will be closely watched by politicos for any other turns in the final hours. Wertheim started behind but has been closing fast with what are seen as effective attack TV ads. It is now a race to watch.

NEW MEXICO ZEITGEIST

Former NM Public Regulation Commissioner Tony Schaefer, formerly of Las Cruces but who now lives in Mexico, writes on the state of the state and the race for the Dem nomination for Governor:

Joe, Apparently, New Mexico is a state of poorly informed or motivated voters. That only changes via either an active press, which we sadly lack, or a motivated and active voter base which we also sadly lack. Until New Mexicans decide they have had enough of the status quo, nothing will change. It is up to us. Sadly, I think we will have a long wait.

Based on the economic growth of our neighbors, opportunity is there. We fail in our inability to reach out and embrace change, new ideas, frankly, any ideas. Where are the ideas, the platforms, the concrete plans to raise our state economy and create real growth and jobs? The current Governor will not share them, if she has them because she does not need to. She has nothing to lose. But where are the bold plans from her challengers? We will remain a delusional state until we demand concrete answers to basic questions. Like where are we headed. Like what is our goal. Like how do we create jobs.

When you are in last place in the economic race those questions don't seem so unreasonable. What is unreasonable is the complacency of both the electorate and the media faced with the problems our state and our people face. Maybe we are destined to return to being a wilderness, devoid of opportunity and ideas. It is our choice.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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