Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Player In The Campaigns You May Not Have Noticed, Plus: Rael Gets Tougher On Martinez In 2nd TV Ad; He And Webber Still Atop Field With TV And Money; Martinez's Mountain Of Cash Holds Steady 

In today's campaigns they're as common as the TV ads, the mailers and the handshaking. They're the opposition "trackers" who live to capture on tape that one foot-in-the mouth moment that could turn the tide of an entire campaign. Candidates for major office from both parties learn to live with their presence. And in these days when state politics is covered much less by the media and press, they could be said to serve a watchdog role.

Dem Guv hopeful Alan Webber's campaign came with this picture of "Tony the Tracker" and they're treating his presence at their campaign events like a badge of honor. (The campaign says he told him his name is Antonio),

It’s clearer every day that Alan is the Democratic candidate who can defeat Susana Martinez and the Koch brothers in November.. . . That’s why the Republicans have assigned someone to track Alan all around the state (note: "Tony the tracker" seems like a nice enough fellow, although he’s a little weirded out by how genuinely we welcome him!).

We'll have to check with the other Dem guv campaigns to see if their campaigns have attracted trackers. If not, Webber could start boasting that he is ahead in the latest tracking polls!

Of course,, the Dems will have trackers on Gov. Martinez, but she often keeps a tight lid on her schedule so the trackers might need bloodhounds to sniff her out.


We don't recall any major campaign changing events in the state that were the result of the modern day trackers (tell us differently if you know). Usually it's a reporter who is on hand at just the right moment who picks up the gaffe that has the candidate soon wincing and the voters looking anew at them. . .

In '94 when Patrica Madrid was the Dem lieutenant governor candidate KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson did the job of today's trackers. In a memorable moment reminiscent of Paul Revere warning of an invasion she declared of the Republicans and their Guv candidate Gary Johnson: “These Republicans are not our people – they are Anglos – they are newcomers – they don’t understand us – our language – our culture – they are here only to exploit our people and our land – you must vote Democratic!”

Dyson recalled the moment:

Everybody knew we were there – nobody was trying to hide. My photographer Peter Olson was right in front of the podium and a little below it. Our microphone was up there on the podium. I was standing behind the podium and to the left – leaning against a wall next to Tom Udall who looked at me and said, "Oh my God! Is this gonna be on the news tonight?" I said you bet it is and he just shook his head and grimaced.

You could say by that time Dem Guv hopeful Bruce King had already lost the election, but the comments probably marked the end of the era when candidates felt they could push the envelope if they were appearing outside of the state's big cities. . .

Postscript: In '94 Udall was successfully running for a second term for attorney general. He turns 66 next week and this year is seeking a second term to the US Senate.


Dem Lawrence Rael comes with his second TV spot, one with a tougher edge than his first. The spot opens with a black and white photo of Gov. Martinez and these lines delivered by Rael:

While allegations of corruption pile up, we are the worst in the nation in child welfare and one of the worst in the nation at creating jobs. I say enough is enough.

The spot then takes a positive turn with Rael saying, "I know how to get us back to work. . ."

The reviews from our analysts of this Rael ad are more generous than his first. They faulted his first outing for not getting more to the heart of the matter--the performance of Martinez. Independent analyst Greg Payne called the new ad "hard-hitting."

Still, the lions cry for more. Red meat, that is. And it's not just to get a kick out of attacking the Guv. They see the race in the most urgent of terms when it comes to time. Veteran Dem operative Harry Pavlides sums it up;

Rael made the right move. but the knife still does not have enough edge. Whoever gets the nomination can expect a frontal assault from Martinez in the very early going. It will take time for the Dem candidate to transition and respond. That's why Martinez needs to be softened up now. She has been on the defensive, using two northern Hispanic mayors in a TV spot to deflect damage inflicted by the  tapes from Mother Jones in which former Speaker Lujan was referred to as a retard. . . .Those tapes could be used now--not when it is too late.

(Rael did use the Mother Jones released audio tapes in a radio ad that aired on three northern radio stations).

Pavlides continues:

She could put this race away early if the public is not primed for the early attacks she will be coming with. Force her to counterattack. Right now she has the Dem candidates right where she wants them. She will change her tune if she has to protect her flank but only when it is attacked with strength. If the national Dems who are already giving up on this race should smell some fear from Martinez, they could take another look at the race. That's what needs to happen, but first the Dem candidate has to show the ability to grow and to do that they have to wield a much sharper knife.

Martinez would love nothing more than an early knock-out and then move her troops (and bags of cash) to advance on the state House.


Martinez has an immense financial advantage. She reports raising $561,000 in the latest campaign reporting period (April 8 through May 5). She has $4.2 million in cash. For the Dems the money leaders are the two candidates up on TV--Alan Webber and Lawrence Rael.

Webber--who has loaned or gifted his campaign some $450,000--did not tap his personal wealth this period. He reported raising $115,000 and having $456,000 in cash on hand on May 5. Rael raised $58,000 and had $210,000 in cash. Gary King had only $48,000 in cash and raised just $12,000 during the period. Howie Morales had $48,000 in cash and raised $22,000. Linda Lopez raised $10,000 and had $14,000 in cash. The New Mexican has details.

For the pubic this has been a two way race between Webber and Rael because they are the only candidates they are seeing. The rivalry between the two could get more intense in the final weeks as they are the only two with significant cash to saturate the airwaves.

Webber's two to one money advantage is important. He can saturate the air and perhaps do a tracking poll to see where he stands. As the leading Hispanic contender Rael could consolidate votes easier, but he is going to take a beating with Webber's TV buy. And some analysts think he needs much more cash if he is to become the clear-cut leading Hispanic candidate

King does not have enough money for a major TV buy. He would have to write a personal check to compete on the air with Webber and Rael. Dem analyst Pavlides says King's heavy name ID means he will not go below 20% on election night, but he needs to grow to win the nomination. Morales has $45,000 so expect mail and radio from him in the late innings. Pavlides says that is problematic for Rael as the Hispanic vote is split between Rael, Morales and Lopez taking a piece. That means Webber's solid block of liberal, Anglo votes could carry the day.


It's the busy season so onward we go. One of our readers looking over the campaign finance reports tells us:

SusanaPAC raised $12,800 during the period and now has $52,000 in cash. State House Speaker Ken Martinez's Speaker's Fund raised $12,000 and now has $92,000 in cash. 

All that and more will be used in the forthcoming battle for control of the state House.

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