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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

King For A Day Or Nominee For The Year? AG Clings To Polling Lead As Final Week Of Primary '14 Starts; Will He Be Caught Or Not? Plus: Berry And His APD Consultants Draw Scrutiny  

Gary King 
Gary King, written off by party insiders and pundits in the wake of his disastrous last place showing at the Dem March preprimary convention, has somehow managed to not only survive but even thrive.

King, making his second run for the Democratic nomination for Governor, has quietly gone about his business since then, ignoring incessant chatter that if he's the nominee Governor Martinez will eat him for lunch and that his laid-back, almost bashful style of campaigning, will excite voters as much as a plate full of soyburgers.

But here he stands. With one week to go he tops the one and only ABQ Journal poll, garnering 22 percent of the vote in a five way race and with a much better chance of winning next Tuesday than anyone--perhaps except himself--thought possible.

King's first place ranking in the May 20-22 poll is the function of statewide name ID earned as a two term attorney general, but mostly from the storied political history of the King family. His father was a three term Governor. His mother Alice was a political powerhouse in her own right.

King polls especially well with seniors who are the most likely primary voters and who are most familiar with the King history.

King, 59, did not even come with a TV spot until last Friday, while Lawrence Rael and Alan Webber, both in second place in the Journal poll at 16 percent, have been on the air for weeks.

King's ad focuses on women who pollster Brian Sanderoff says will comprise 57 percent of the Dem primary electorate. King is performing well with men in the Journal poll. The King ad buy appears to include most if not all of the major broadcast networks.

Howie Morales--polling at 11 percent and Linda Lopez at 6 percent--have been below the radar but Morales has impressive southern strength, Lopez came with an ad that is being aired on social media.

You don't need a Senior Alligator to tell you that this campaign has failed to catch fire. The voters treat it like dirty laundry--they'll get to it when they have to. How else to explain the remarkably high number of undecided voters in the survey--29 percent? There's plenty of reason to believe many--if not most of those undecideds--will stay that way.

CHASING GARY 

Webber & Rael
So what's the take today on Gary King who was supposed to have gone away by now like a rejected kid no one wants on their team? Well, now he's the center of attention. One of our Alligators sums it up:

Rael and Webber need to drop Gary King's numbers to win. They haven't had the huevos to do that. If Gary was sitting at 17% at this moment, those other guys would have a chance, but instead they've allowed Gary to stay ahead of the game and now he is putting out just enough mail and TV to stay relevant. Some of those undecideds in the Journal poll will go to King and put him northwards of 25 percent. 

Even if either Webber or Rael get one third of undecideds, they will have a hard time passing King. If Webber had some savvy, he would have attacked King put TV up early and heavy and ended this embarrassment of a primary campaign early.

PAYNE AND PAVLIDES

The views of independent analyst and former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne aren't much different at this stage of the game:

In addition to his name ID, King is benefiting from the fact that none of the other campaigns have caught on and none have gone after King for his performance (or lack thereof) as attorney general. That free pass from his fellow contenders and the fact that he is polling better than any other candidate among Hispanics just may nudge King into the nomination.

Rael and Webber are still threats though and either one could squeak through. Rael by focusing in on undecided Hispanics and Webber doing the same with progressive Anglo voters. Of the two, the biggest threat to King is Webber, simply because of Webber's superior financial resources. If Webber can manage to win undecided progressive Anglos over the next week - a voting demographic where he already out-performs King--Webber could pull off the last-minute upset.


Longtime Dem analyst Harry Pavlides sees major danger for the Dems in this latest polling and the course of the campaign:

Democrats are looking at these candidates and saying not any of them are going to defeat the Governor. None of them has really shown that they are ready to go all the way. At this point, Gary King has the name ID and no one else does. 

Pavlides who correctly predicted a record low voter turnout in last October's ABQ mayoral election is also predicting a very low turnout for this primary. He says:

That means there are not enough voters for Rael or Webber to catch King unless they hit him and drop him two or three points. There is no gamble in hitting, the gamble is not hitting.

There are some 600,000 registered NM Democrats. A 15 percent turnout would mean 90,000 votes. Pavlides is saying we are not even going to hit that low level.

He says the lower the turnout the better for King and Howie Morales who is flexing major muscle in the southern part of the state and who is banking a good portion of his vote early.

SOME ENTHUSIASM

Despite the apparent paucity of enthusiasm for this Dem guv race there are those who are fired up. A reader writes:

Joe, did you catch the "debate" among the Dem gov candidates on KRWG-TV at New Mexico State? (Video here). Some are stronger than others, but all seem to have a better handle on NM's current and future issues and concerns than our current "me, myself and I" Governor.

It therefore surprises me that national Democratic powers seem set to ignore NM's election on the foregone conclusion that "me, myself and I" is unbeatable. Don't any of them remember when Hillary Clinton was supposed to be unbeatable in 2008? Solid national Dem investment and support in NM could help kick "me, myself and I" to the curb.


PAPER BACKING

The liberal editorial pages of the Santa Fe New Mexican give a full-throated endorsement to Alan Webber but they give the editorial nod in the Dem state treasurer race to the more conservative Tim Eichenberg instead of progressive John Wertheim. And southern state Senator Morales picks up some northern support with this endorsement from the Taos News.

BERRY AND THE CONSULTANTS

Berry & APD consultants
Maybe Janet Blair, the new $95,000 a year public information officer for the ABQ police department can help us out with this. As part of a public TV interview last Friday one of the consultants Mayor Berry hired to help reform APD argued that "people are not entitled to know" what private clients his company has. Really?

We shouldn't know of any possible conflicts of interest the consultants have as they recommend changes  for the department--changes that will cost millions of dollars? A Senior Alligator comes with more on the interview with Berry and his consultants:

What is most remarkable about Mayor Berry is how easily he slides from explanation to rationalization to evasion. When one brings up uncomfortable subjects he moves into this progression quickly as he nervously talks faster with a mesmerizing flood of words. It was most apparent on Friday night's KNME-TV "In Focus" interview with Berry and his Cincinnati consultants Scott Greenwood and Tom Streicher.

He was asked why he didn't know of the serious APD problems that surfaced in the Department of Justice report.: "Are you saying you didn't know. . . why such a disconnect?" And, "You could have changed those things months or years ago."


He fuzzed up the consequences of his unilateral action of banning police officers from using their personal weapons and changes in the policy regarding lapel cameras. By making those decisions, he denies the community a seat at the table in the upcoming negotiations with the Department of Justice regarding police reforms. Any changes--even noncontroversial ones--should be mutually agreed on with the DOJ--not be preemptive so there is no community discussion.


And then there was this response from Greenwood when asked about his client--Taser--which has a large contract with the city of ABQ. "People are not entitled to know who our clients are," Greenwood

declared.

Greenwood, Streicher and former ABQ police Chief Ray Shultz have business ties to Taser. The Cincinatti consultants are being paid with taxpayer money and we have a right to know about private business relationships that could influence decisions made for our APD. Transparency is not dead.


Mayor Berry would have us believe that the DOJ findings report of excessive force and the apparent conflict of interest with Taser are "arguable" and of little consequence. Well, let's see if DOJ is up to the task of giving us straight answers and good cops.


STILL STONEWALLING

And why is the stiff-arming of the media continuing even as Blair is hired to improve communication? Take a look:

. . . KRQE News 13 followed up with Blair. She chastised a journalist for not giving APD enough time to respond to the story, then refused to comment. Again, News 13 contacted Blair and requested a response to the central premise of the story: that APD’s failure to investigate the child porn case may have contributed to the circumstances that led to the alleged rape of Nieto’s daughter. Blair again said that APD had no response — and that none would be forthcoming. She added that top officials do not like News 13′s coverage of the Police Department, which has been beset with a host of problems in recent years. . . 

This is the "cultural change" that we are being promised? Even more stonewalling after four years of it? Who cares if APD "likes" a particular outlet's news coverage? Just tell the damn truth and stop fighting with all of us who are seeking it.

It is this high-handedness, arrogance and penchant for secrecy that has aided in the destruction of the national and local reputation of the department and with it the city's national standing. That freshly hired personnel are apparently immersed in this repulsive tradition demonstrates that only a complete house-cleaning of the upper brass of the city police department is going to bring the change so urgently needed. And don't say we didn't tell you. . . .

THE BOTTOM LINES

A reader comes with an optimistic note for today's bottom lines. They quote a recent PBS report:

The National Dance Institute of New Mexico aims to instill in young people the lessons of success through lessons in dance: hard work, perseverance and health. This year, NDI taught nearly 8,000 students — a majority from low-income families — across the state, and academic performance has improved across the board. Special correspondent Kathleen McCleery reports."

Congrats to the students, but they'll never be able to compete with the political two-step. That's the official state dance. . . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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