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Monday, August 25, 2014

King Slips On Debate Play But Finds Footing With Message, And: "NavajoGator" Reports On Navajo Prez Primary, Plus: Winter Takes APS Helm 

Say what? Gary King is going to debate Gov. Martinez on a Spanish-language TV station and use an interpreter while she addresses the audience in Spanish? Well, this is the kind of forced error that happens when you are 9 points behind and struggling to fund a campaign. Even the few Republicans who will watch this Oct. 19 face-off on ABQ's KLUZ-TV may find themselves having sympathy for King as he subjects himself to the awkwardness. Sometimes its best to just say no. . .

Meanwhile the Dem Guv nominee does seem to be getting his message tightened up and if he can package it right, it could resonate. In Farmington he said:

If we have a good education system in New Mexico, it'll drive a better economy, it'll give young people more job opportunities when they graduate. . . 

And in the ABQ Journal profile of his candidacy Sunday, he said:

We have no job growth, essentially, so that’s no way to deal with poverty.

But King has to directly indict Martinez for the lack of progress without letting the negative campaign splash back at him. It's really not that difficult. The trap for the Dems and their pollsters is falling for the belief that they are really close and that a careful, conservative campaign will get the job done. It won't.

The odds are long and risks--especially in attacking Martinez--will need to be taken if there is to be an upset. In his newspaper profile King refused to acknowledge he is the underdog, opting for the more optimistic "challenger" label.  But the underdog is the person expected to lose. That's King. And that's what he needs to embrace in order to be able to take chances to get the race in play.

TWO DRIVERS

Gary King
There are the two drivers for King--education and the economy. And for him the economy is the gift that keeps on giving. Look at these stats:

Since October, 155,000 New Mexico residents have joined the state’s Medicaid rolls, pushing total enrollment to more than 630,000, or nearly a third of the state’s population. On top of that, 410,000 New Mexicans are enrolled in Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly. Together, total enrollment in those two federal programs are more than 1 million, or half of the state’s 2.1 million population. Medicaid is the joint state-federal program for children from low-income families and low-income adults. . .Medicaid rolls will swell to 720,000, or a third of the state’s population, in the next couple of years. That would put 1.1 million New Mexicans on the two government programs.

For King this is the low-lying fruit of the campaign. UNM economics professor Allen Parkman nails the talking point:

It’s shocking, and when you add that to the out migration of people and the lack of economic growth, it’s almost an incentive to stay poor.

Call it what you like--low-lying fruit or shooting fish in the barrel--the economic backdrop is made to order for a Dem candidate. Journalist Wally Gordon writes of the ABQ metro jobs recession:

. . .The lost jobs were mainly held by men supporting wives and children with skilled labor or high tech work. The new jobs are largely filled by single women struggling to support children on work that pays little more than minimum wage. It is more than symbolically significant that Walmart is the state’s largest private employer. Add it all up and the sum is that the city’s economy is even worse than it looks at first glance. 

King has all the opportunity in the world. What he apparently doesn't have yet is enough campaign cash to get an effective message out. In that regard Campaign '14 is the same old story: Is King able to make the race competitive with the well-financed Martinez?  Until he does, he's more likely to make questionable decisions like debating the Spanish-speaking Governor while he uses an interpreter. . .

A BECKY BOOST

Becky Weh does the heavy lifting in Allen Weh's first TV spot of the '14 US Senate campaign. She details the impressive military record of the former NM GOP chairman in a well-produced ad. The spot works to cement his GOP base while softening up female voters. But it may be one of the few positive ads we see from Weh. He trails Dem US Senator Tom Udall 53-35 in the latest polling and will have to fall back on his combat experience if he is to gain on him.

NAVAJO GATOR

Covering the entire spectrum of La Politica, NM Politics with Joe Monahan now takes you direct to the Navajo Nation for the inside scoop on the 2014 primary election for the presidency of the Navajo Nation. Our corresponent is "NavajoGator:"


Joe: The Navajo Nation is set for its primary election tomorrow. Radio ads have been overplayed and campaign signs erected all over the dusty trails of Navajoland. Current President Ben Shelly of Thoreau, NM, is struggling to make a difference in a pack of 17 running for the executive seat in Window Rock. Also, former president, Joe Shirley Jr. is appealing for a third four-year term. 

Candidate forums around the Nation, the size of the state of New Jersey, have been playing to packed gyms and auditoriums, which could be an indication that the Dine electorate is shopping for a new leader. Dwindling revenue from federal and state resources, poor job growth and an ever-growing unemployed Nation population have each candidate trying to give us Navajos hope for a better tomorrow. 

From a grassroots standpoint, this year may be a lackluster year for politics after so much in-fighting between the Navajo Council and executive. This may translate poorly for the Democrats in the November general election. They sometimes benefit from election day spill over, when the Navajo presidential election excites a sometimes 80 percent turnout for Dine voters. 

There are a handful of presidential candidates who are under the age of 50, who are trying to motivate a younger electorate, but as always its harder to get them out to vote There could be some surprises in store tomorrow night night. Already this week, the Pueblo of Zuni, turned away its current leadership, as Gov. Arlen Quetawki came in dead last to six others, seeking a four-year term.

Here is the primary field for the Navajo Nation presidency.

Keeping you abreast, I am NavajoGator.

Nicely done, NavajoGator. We look forward to hearing more tomorrow night when the Navajo election returns come rolling in.

WINTER RETURNS

There's no law that says ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter has to give up his council seat now that he has been named interim superintendent of the ABQ Public Schools at an annual salary of $200,000. And the Republican lawmaker says he has no intention of vacating the Northeast Heights seat that will be on the Oct. 2015 city election ballot and that pays him $17,500 a year.

Serving two masters scan be tricky but then Winter, who is returning from APS retirement, is serving on one of the more lackluster and laid-back city councils in history. He's had a full-time APS job for all of the years of his council service.

Winter's appointment puts a close ally of the Martinez administration in the APS power seat, unlike the resigning Winston Brooks who was an arch-rival of the Guv. Winter's wife, attorney Nann Winter, also has close ties to the political arm of the administration. She was appointed by Martinez to the NM Finance Authority where she served as chair. Brad Winter says he will not seek to become the permanent super.

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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