Thursday, May 08, 2014

TV Time: Webber Joins Rael On Airwaves As Dem Guv Chase Heats Up; Two Man Contest Shaping Up? Plus: Susana's Reprise; She Brings Back State Jet In Her Latest TV Pitch 

Webber & Rael
Now there are two. Dem Guv hopeful Alan Webber joined competitor Lawrence Rael on the TV airwaves Wednesday, signaling a two man race is underway for the June 3 nomination--until and unless the other three contenders can join them.

Webber's first TV ad (transcript here) gets right down to the business at hand. The political newcomer does not do a traditional "bio" spot to tell voters about himself. Instead, he delivers to  Democrats the first TV attack on Governor Martinez of Campaign '14. Not that the Santa Fe businessman threw juicy red meat to the crowd. It was more like a lean sirloin. But after four years of vegetarian dining any meat at all probably looked good to the famished and demoralized Democratic base.

As his foil Webber uses those favorite Democratic whipping boys--the billionaire Koch brothers. The spot depicts a helicopter landing in NM and notes a visit the brothers paid to the state last summer, during which they met with Susana. Webber then accuses them--and her--of pursuing a "radical agenda."

The money lines from this spot about big money:

The Koch brothers choppered into New Mexico just like this. Out of state billionaires looking to spread their radical agenda here. Susana Martinez may take orders from them. I never will. . . I’ll invest in early childhood education. End tax breaks to out of state corporations. And up the minimum wage so folks can actually live on it.

While Webber's ad will not induce gasps, it does fill the gaping hole in the Democratic primary--the lack of any televised attacks on the woman the Dems hope to toss out of the Guv's office.

Lawrence Rael's first ad was well received for production values, but never mentioned Martinez and was seen as more general election oriented. However, it did work to consolidate the important Hispanic vote. In his ad, Webber is clearly going after ardent Dems who will be voting in this low turnout primary.


Independent analyst and former ABQ city councilor Greg Payne has been on the ad watch for us for this campaign. He came with this take:

The general public might not know who the Koch Brothers are, but Democratic primary voters do and that's who Webber is talking to. Webber is a New Mexico transplant, so the ad might open him up to GOP attacks about an out-of-state rich guy attacking other out-of-state rich guys. On the other hand, Webber can argue that  Martinez is angling to leave the state for Washington, DC as soon as possible. The ad is also a stark contrast to Webber's chief rival --Lawrence Rael--and will definitely help Webber with progressive Anglos. The Rael TV (and campaign) has more of an Hispanic focus though. That may be the voting bloc the Webber campaign needs to aggressively reach out to in the coming weeks if he wants to be the Democratic nominee.

On the flip side, one of the Alligators got grumpy about the Webber TV debut:

Webber is basically going to have the airwaves to himself so he should be a little less cute, be a little more New Mexican, and aim for slightly broader appeal. I do like the helicopter, though, it catches the eye.

That Gator is noting Webber's cash two to one cash advantage over Rael and much more over the rest of the field.

Gary King's campaign says he will be doing TV. The campaigns of Howie Morales and Linda Lopez would obviously like to go up, but may not have enough cash to make a significant buy.

Webber's campaign says he has bought  TV time in the ABQ market--which covers most of the state--from May 7 through May 20. Absentee voting is underway. Heavy early voting at voting centers begins May 17.

Webber's ad was produced by GMMB in D.C. The firm did media work for Martin Heinrich's successful 2012 US Senate campaign. One of its senior partners, Jim Margolis, was born in ABQ.  Lawrence Rael's TV is being handled by ABQ creative veteran Steve Wedeen and David Garcia's Half Life Digital. Longtime NM media buyer Chris Brown is also on board.


While Susana was absorbing the first TV hit on her since the 2010 race, her campaign came with a fresh TV ad that some might argue is stale, but nevertheless is the right medicine at the right time.

She takes us back four years as she boasts of the savings the state realized when she sold the state jet.

The jet became a major symbol of Richardson administration excess when Martinez rode to victory over Diane Denish four years ago. The Guv says in her ad that the money saved went into reading programs for kids, but there's no citation offered on screen to back that up.

She opens the spot with a highly questionable assertion--that she solved the "largest deficit in history." That has been debunked time and again by the Dems, but Susana and her second husband Jay McCleskey (pay attention, Nicole) the man she has ceded her gubernatorial powers to--is going to keep telling it as long as they can get away with it.

The heart of the spot:

When I took office we had the largest deficit in history. That's why I sold the state luxury jet.  The maintenance alone cost taxpayers about $250,000 every year. Now we spend that amount providing every first grader with a summer reading book of their very own....I believe its better to buy reading books for first graders than to pay for a luxury jet...

Strategically, analysts we talked with said the spot is right on target. They said the jet and the "deficit" are key issues for Republicans and independents (throw in education for the independents)--groups that strongly back Martinez. The ad works to keep them on board as the negative campaign approaches.

The strong part of this ad--as most others from the Governor--is how easy it is to understand and how it seamlessly connects with its target groups. Cosmetically, the ad did not seem to show Martinez in her best light.

The resurrection of the state jet reminds us that Martinez will run against Bill Richardson again--as much as she will the '14 Democratic nominee. And when you're presiding over a state that has slipped even further under your watch in the economic and social standings, it's a sure bet talking about the past is better for you than talking about the present.

FYI: The latest insider polling we're privy to has Martinez's approval rating at 55 percent.


The black eyes continue for ABQ as our police problems continue to make national news. The rowdy protest that forced the cancellation of Monday's City Council meeting was featured on the NBC Nightly News.

The broadcast said protesters will also be at tonight's council session.

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