Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Democrats Crown A King To Challenge Martinez; Can He Go The Distance? Plus: Weh To Face Udall; Eichenberg Turns Back Wertheim, And: Some State House Primary Surprises  

King vs. Martinez (Journal photo)
Gary King defied history Tuesday and now will have to defy what looks like a stadium full of skeptics if he is to unseat Republican Governor Susana Martinez in November.

(Statewide election results here. Bernalillo County results here.)

King becomes the first candidate in state history to win his party's nomination without garnering at least 20 percent of delegate support at his party's preprimary convention. In fact, King finished dead last at the March Democratic preprimary that was filled with party insiders who looked with disdain and potential doom at his gubernatorial candidacy. But King prevailed Tuesday night over his four rivals--and easily so--chalking up a blow-out 12 point win over Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber and also leaving in the dust challengers Lawrence Rael, Howie Morales and Linda Lopez.

King--with strong support in the ABQ metro but also with a boost in the Hispanic North--scored 35 percent of the vote. Webber took second with 23 percent, Rael placed third at 20 percent, Morales garnered 14 percent and Lopez took 8 percent.

The 59 year old two-term attorney general strode to the stage at the ABQ DoubleTree Hotel just in time for the 10 p.m. news broadcasts. As he claimed the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination as his own, memories of his father--Bruce King--doing the same four times before flashed before those old enough to remember. And plenty of those who voted in this election remembered. Insider polling showed that at least half of those who cast ballots in the Dem primary were 65 or older.

Bruce King was one of the more popular governor's in state history, serving a total of three terms and losing his attempt at a fourth to Republican Gary Johnson in 1994. Is the magic transferable to the son or is the caustic commentary that Gary King is dead on arrival on target?

In his TV appearance and later in an interview with our KANW 89.1 FM radio panel King was energized and excited. That may have appeased those who see him as too laid back. His messaging after the victory was broad and will need refinement. But he did not shy away from jabbing at Martinez. He noted that she has not publicly acknowledged that NM ranks 50th in child well-being, saying you can't solve a problem if you fail to recognize one exists.

Martinez will go for the early knock-out, flooding the airwaves with incessant attacks on King. Still, King played a convincing tortoise to his opposition hares in his race for the Dem nod. His easy primary win will earn him a second look from the New Mexico electorate. He will have to make the most of it.

Martinez played to Hispanic Dems Tuesday night, holding her nomination party at an ABQ South Valley restaurant. She will head to more Dem country today--Espaonla--before heading over to San Juan County to firm up her GOP base there.  Her primary night speech is here. Here's an eight minute video interview with Gary King.


Here's a taste of the skepticism that King continues to face in his own party as he embarks upon his quest to unseat the incumbent. From Dem central committee member Mike Folosm:

Gary won't be able to win the election depending on his father's name. That got him through the primary but in the general Susana will beat him just like Gary Johnson beat Gary's father. The only difference will be the percentage --sadly this time it will be a blowout. The Dems would be better off to have a question mark as a candidate. If things happen as most expect, it will be time for Dems to move on and focus on other races because the Governor's race has already been lost.'

Still, independent analyst Greg Payne noted that Martinez is polling in the mid-50's and that an upset is not out of the question, if the jobs and economy are stressed. Analyst Steve Cabiedes--a King supporter--argued that the progressives and liberals who are wary of King need to get on board and stop saying the race is lost before it even begins.


It appears when all is said and done some 130,000 Dems (or more) will have cast ballots in the 2014 primary. That would be about 22 percent of the Dems registered and a pretty respectable showing. 24 percent of the Dems voted in the 2010 primary. Analyst Steve Cabiedes says voter models that we cited on the blog and that predicted a lower turnout were flawed because they assumed too much of the vote would be cast early and absentee. It turned out that perhaps about 40 percent of Dem voters cast early ballots--not the 50 percent or more that some expected.


Allen Weh 
Allen Weh easily defeated attorney David Clements for the GOP nod for US Senate. The former NM GOP chairman will now face Dem US Senator Tom Udall in November.

The question that hovers over the campaign is whether Weh will commit personal wealth to the race. Udall reports over $3 million in cash on hand. At 71, this is is Weh's last rodeo so he may be willing to take a gamble.

He indicated to our KANW audience that he is relying on a national Republican wave to make the race competitive. There has been no public polling yet.


Dem Tim Eichenberg survived the TV attack campaign of foe John Wertheim and captured the Dem nomination for state treasurer. Eicheinberg, 62, a former ABQ state senator took the nod with 53 percent of the vote. He came with late TV ads to respond to Wertheim's contention that he had discriminated against women, gays and Hispanics. Eichenberg, a Bernalillo County treasurer in the 70's, also scored the endorsements of the state's major newspapers. Eichenberg will face Republican Rick Lopez in November.


Veteran Republican analyst and pollster Bruce Donisthorpe comes with the state legislative action in Tuesday's primary:

The primary election featured 16 contested primaries. Lots of action across the state as nine of the winners advance to the 2015 Legislature without a challenger in the November General Election.

 In Bernalillo County--in the Democratic South Valley--in the  race for the seat of the retiring Kiki Saavedra, political newcomer and UNM graduate student Andres Romero claimed a majority (51%) of the vote in a 3-way race. Saavedra’s son, Randy, cane in second at 27% and Sisto Abeyta ran third at 22%.  Romero capitalized on the support of his uncle, former US Ambassador to Spain Ed Romero and ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez. The 27 year old also did a whole lot of door knocking. He is unopposed in November.

In the race for HD-12, the seat held by the retiring Dem Rep. Ernie Chavez--newcomer Patricio “Pat” Ruiloba defeated challengers Mark Armijo and Lorenzo Pino with 42% of the vote in the 3-way race. 

Ruiloba is a retired Albuquerque Police Department detective who works for the Albuquerque Public Schools Security Unit/ Ruiloba wore out several pairs of shoes walking the district throughout the race and is well-connected to the South Valley neighborhood associations. Both Romero and Ruiloba have no challengers in the November elections.

 In Albuquerque Mid-Town, two challengers faced each other to replace retiring House Majority Leader Rick Miera. Javier Martinez claimed the prize with 79% of the vote and will be heavily favored as he faces Republican Gwen Poe in November in the heavy-Dem district.

 In NW New Mexico, in the Dem primary to replace Rep. Sandra Jeff--who lost a court battle to remain on the ballot--Doreen Johnson scored a comfortable 55%-45% victory over Charles Long. Johnson will face opposition in the General Election and perhaps a write-in candidacy from Jeff, which will be difficult to pull off.

In the spirited 9th District, Dem incumbent Patty Lundstrom beat 3 challengers and collected 63% of the vote to win the primary and return to Santa Fe next year as she has no opponent in the General Election.

 In Valencia County, Dem Teresa K.E. Smith De Cheriff defeated former State Rep. Andrew Barreras in the HD-7 primary and won the right to face Republican Rep. Kelly Fajardo in November. This will be one of the most closely-watched races in the State in November in the Dem-leaning district with lots of crossover votes.

 In Dona Ana County, Dem Rep. Mary Helen Garcia trails challenger Bealquin Bill Gomez by 11 votes in a race that will likley go to a recount. Garcia strayed from Dem leaders on several votes in the 2013 session only to return to the fold on some of them in 2014. One wonders if she paid an adverse price for those actions.

 In Northern NM, long-time Dem Rep. Nick Salazar easily dispatched challenger and former State Rep. Bengie Regensberg in the race for HD-40. Salazar used his longtime strength and party ties to defeat the challenger who is known as a political maverick.

In Las Vegas, Rep. Tomas Salazar eeked out a 220 vote win over challenger and former State Rep. Richard Vigil who was attempting a political comeback.

On the Republican sider, eyes looked toward Lincoln and Otero counties. In what some would term the political equivalent of the “Republican Lincoln County War,” the Governor’s ally and confidant – incumbent Rep. Zach Cook--scored a strong win with 64% of the vote in a tough fight with challenger Jim Lowrance. The attacks were mean and nasty down the stretch and several voters appeared to tune out the race until the Governor herself e-mailed voters on Saturday and robo-called them on election eve en route to Cooks’s re-election victory. Zach has no challenger in November.

On Albuquerque’s West Side, longtime State Rep. Tom Anderson was trailing Republican challenger and political newcomer David Adkins by 21 votes when the polls closed. The race may or may not be subject to a recount depending upon the results of the voter canvass later this month. Anderson was opposed by allies of the Governor for not supporting her legislative agenda as vigorously and actively as other members and he has faced primary challenges in recent elections. Adkins was helped by the support and endorsement of ABQ City Councilor Dan Lewis who took an active role in campaigning for Adkins throughout the primary.

In Artesia, newcomer James Townsend defeated Pam Richardson with 70% of the vote to claim the seat of retiring Rep. Bill Gray and in Clovis, city commissioner Randy Crowder received 87% of the vote to win the seat of retiring Rep. Anna Crook.

In Farmington, two long-time Republicans fought hard for the nomination for the seat of retiring Rep. Tom Taylor. Former GOP County Chairman Rod Montoya defeated Karen Bayless by 109 votes out of almost 2,700 cast in one of the highest-turnout races in the state. Both candidates spent considerable time going door-to-door in the race in the Farmington and Aztec areas. Many state political followers watched the race with interest as Montoya ran as an outspoken conservative. Montoya faces a challenger in November but the district usually votes Republican.

 In Los Alamos, Geoff Rogers won 53% of the vote in a challenge for the Republican nomination against incumbent Dem Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard in November. Rogers defeated Vincent Chiravalle and received the endorsement of former US Senator Pete Domenici to help secure the nomination.


Republican Scott Baird of Albuquerque claimed one of the hardest-fought Republican primaries last nite in the race for the GOP Sheriff nomination in Bernalillo County. Baird led incumbent Dan Houston by less than 500 votes. Baird will face Dem primary winner Manuel Gonzales in November. Baird and Houston sent out thousands of negative mail pieces against each other, as well as negative radio attack ads that appeared on the air. This race should be interesting in November.


Ken Sanchez
ABQ City Council President Ken Sanchez responds to criticism that there was no need for him to cancel Monday's council meeting because of protesters who staged a sit-in at the Mayor's office:

I want to set the record straight regarding why Monday night's City Council meeting was rescheduled. Readers of your blog might have been left with the impression that the reason we rescheduled was due to cowardice, or that rescheduling was in some way an effort to send an indirect message to the public about the protesters. Neither is true.

There were two reasons that last night’s meeting was rescheduled: 1) concerns for the security of staff, Councilors and the general public, and 2) the requirements of the State Open Meetings Act.

As the protest in the Mayor’s Office played out, Council staff was in constant communication with City security and APD, and was monitoring social media to get a sense of how widespread the protests would be. For the safety of all concerned - staff, Councilors, and the general public attending the meeting - I chose to reschedule the meeting for a time when emotions weren’t running so high and the building wasn’t on lock-down by security.

More importantly, and something your blog failed to mention, we were informed by law enforcement that the City/County building was going to be locked down and inaccessible to the general public for most of Monday evening. That meant that the City Council meeting would be inaccessible to the public – which would have violated the provision of the State Open Meetings Act requiring that the public be permitted to attend the Council meetings. In order to avoid violating state law, I chose to reschedule the meeting for next Monday night, when many of the Councilors, as well as members of the public, were already planning to attend the Council’s Finance & Government Operations Committee Meeting.

The City Council has always welcomed public comment, whether positive or in protest – in fact we’ve been virtually the only venue that the public has for airing concerns relating to the police. The decision to reschedule last night’s meeting was in the best interest of all involved – including the general public.

The question remains--why was the entire Government Center on "lock-down" because of a handful of   peaceful civil disobedience protesters?

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