Tuesday, June 10, 2014
King's Surprise: He Won't Take It Lying Down; Answers 1st GOP Attack With TV Ad Ripping Martinez; Pulls Out Own Wallet To Finance Hit, Also: King Seeks New Campaign Manager For Fall Battle, And: The White Sands Conspiracy Watch
Democratic heads hung low Friday when the Republican Governors Association unloaded a vigorous TV attack on the two term attorney general. It was immediately speculated here and elsewhere that King was the one with his pants down--that he did not have the campaign cash to respond in kind. He had less than $80,000 in cash in his most recent report.
Not many expected King to dig into his own wallet to give the RGA and Susana a run for their money in the early going but he did, say those associated with his campaign, and there he is on the air slamming Susana to the tune of a $100,000 buy. Here's the ad and the transcript:
The first ad of the campaign and Martinez is attacking. She's attacking to cover up New Mexico being named the second worst run state in America and one of two states to lose jobs--while she gives no bid sweetheart deals to her friends.
As Governor, Gary King will clean up her mess, increase the minimum wage and demand women are paid the same as men when doing the same work. A new direction for a new New Mexico.
When referencing "sweetheart deals," the ad shows a headline from the liberal Mother Jones magazine reporting on a lawsuit filed by two former employees of the state economic development department. It reads: "Whistleblower Suit Alleges Corruption, Cronyism, and Affairs in Gov. Susana Martinez's Administration." But the average viewer may be left to wonder "What affairs?"
It is the first really tough TV hit against Martinez since the 2010 campaign. During the primary the Dem Guv candidates hit her, but only with kid gloves. This ad gets to the heart of the critique against the administration--that it is presiding over a moribund economy and not doing much of anything about it while fostering corruption by rewarding her allies.
Longtime New Mexico politico Mike Santullo says the surprising King move is motivated not only by a desire to win but protecting the family honor. He commented:
That family goes back nearly a century in state history. They have a long record of public service and I believe that tradition and heritage will be upheld in this newly launched battle.
BANKING ON KING
King was not shy about loaning himself money during his primary campaign. Media reports say he loaned himself $345,000 in total. The campaign of one of his opponents--Alan Webber--said it counted over $500,000 in King personal loans since he announced his Guv run in July of 2012--an amount not disputed by the King campaign.
King hails from a famous ranch family that has extensive land holdings. It is that fortune that has been put to use in these opening hours of the race. His father was three term NM Governor Bruce King.
Political insiders--many of them happily taken aback that King had fought back against the first major Martinez/GOP blast--found themselves wondering just how much personal wealth King will commit to spending in his effort to unseat Susana. Several of them said it gets serious if he hits the $2 million mark. Martinez recently reported having over $4 million in cash.
One Dem consultant told us he has urged King to loan himself $2 to $3 million.
It's his last hurrah. If he can afford it, he should do it. The race is being written off but he can revive it if he shows that personal commitment, said the consultant.
Other Dems--trying to restore hope for the Guv battle--said rather than viewing the nearly $150,000 TV hit against King by the RGA as an offensive move, it should be looked at as defensive.
If this guy is so weak and easy, why spend that kind of money so early to attack him?" argued NM Dem Party executive director Lissa Knudsen.
The decision by King to not let the first attacks go unanswered could stabilize him in the early polling. That in turn might attract campaign contributions that would make it unnecessary for him to spend large amounts of his personal wealth. Hey, the King's didn't get rich without thinking things through. . .
UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT
Another King surprise to open the political week was the news that his campaign manager for the primary--Jim Farrell of Las Cruces--won't be around for the fall derby.
"He left to spend more time with his family," is how one staffer with King put it.
But it's obvious that King needs a wartime manager, one who can parachute in and is not subject to intimidation by the opposition.
A number of disgruntled Dems have said until their party--or their Governor candidate--has an answer to Martinez political operative Jay McCleskey, they are in trouble. McCleskey has run a successful no-holds-barred campaign against the Democrats. Many of them have been cowed into their corners.
That is one reason we're told King is looking around DC for a campaign manager to stage his final political battle. A new set of eyes and someone who does not back down in the face of the formidable Republican political machine is seen as essential. Otherwise, all the surprises and personal loans won't take you very far at all. . .
One must view (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid’s lobbying effort (for the compromise) as suspect given that losses at WSMR create opportunities for test ranges in Nevada. As majority leader in the Senate he is in a unique position for Nevada to realize gains.
So let's get this straight. Because of the compromise that says national security concerns can be resolved if SunZia buries 5 miles of its $2 billion transmission line, White Sands is going to lose missions for its airspace and that personnel and missions will shift to Reid's Nevada? So Reid is putting the screws on his own--NM Dem Sen. Martin Heinrich--who strongly advocated for the compromise? And now Heinrich is about to be double-crossed as Reid pounces to debowel White Sands?
ABQ Journal newsman Bruce Daniels once labeled us "genetically conspiratorial" and not without cause, but Sherman's conspiracy is enough to make us give up reading about the Illuminati for a month.
Maybe as a military aficionado Sherm has been hanging around helicopters too long--the black variety.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author