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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Decision '14 begins Today; First Votes To Be Cast As Campaign Nears Final Stretch, Plus: Analysis Of The All Spanish Guv Debate, Rocky Hits A Rock, Reader Email And APD's Taser Trouble 

Guv debate on KLUZ-TV
Never mind Election Day. For a number of New Mexicans it's all over today. Hundreds of them will stop off at their local county clerk's office to cast the first ballots of Campaign '14. Mind you, many of them will be the most partisan of the partisan. They don't need any more debates or TV ads to make up their minds. It would be fair to speculate that many of them will be voting for all the candidates from one party.

Here in Bernalillo, the state's most populous county,  the first in-person absentee votes will be cast today at the county clerk’s downtown annex at 111 Union Square SE from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Voting will continue there Monday through Saturday until November 1. In-Person early voting sites will open across the county and state on October 18. As much as half the total state vote will be cast before the actual Nov. 4 election day. And for those who are taking an interest in the campaign but are not registered to vote, today is the last day to do so. Your county clerk can get you on the books. . .

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail Monday the second of what will apparently be only three joint appearances by the gubernatorial candidates proved to be as awkward as the Alligators had predicted. (Reports here and here.)

If Gov. Martinez thought she was going to one-up challenger Gary King by being able to speak Spanish while he used a translator on their Spanish debate on KLUZ-TV, she thought wrong.

Spanish speakers weighing in here said that her pronounciation of the state she leads was lacking. Her reference to New Mexico as "Nueva" not the correct "Nuevo" irked them. They also said she seemed to often struggle with her grammar. But she did look good and appeared rather comfortable, sporting a small smile for much of the half-hour encounter.

For his part King appeared stoic, but it was as if  he was stuck in a Godzilla movie as the translator did his thing.

Senior Hispanic Alligator analysis from Belen:

For me, I speak the South Valley Chicharone Spanglish so I had difficulties understanding the interpreter's real Spanish. Susanna spoke the South Side Las Cruces mocho Spanish with English words made out to sound like Spanish. She did a Sarah Palin when looking at her scripts that Jay gave her in English and she had to do a quick mocho translation. Any winner depends on who the targeted audience was. 

The questions were relevant, dealing with the economy, jobs and the ever present driver's licenses for undocumented workers. Martinez made a pitch for Hispanic support by reminding the audience that she was one of the Republican governors who signed into law the federal expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. King touted his support for increasing the statewide minimum wage, even as a Martinez ad airs on the Spanish station pointing out his votes against an increased minimum when he served in the legislative branch decades ago. However, Martinez vetoed an increase in the state minimum that was sent to her by the legislature.

Martinez claimed big improvement because the state has gone from 50th to 49th in the most recent national child well-being rankings. But we were 46th when she was elected.

Even as voting begins today the King campaign remains dark on TV so he is going to take any chance he can get to appear for free with Martinez. But he really had no way to effectively go after her. As in their first faux debate where the candidates received the questions beforehand, King was again handed a gun by Martinez but she made sure it had no ammunition. One more to go October 19 on KOAT-TV.

TO THE LEFT, GUV

Not to nitpick but if Gov. Martinez is serious about seeking national political office she needs to learn to wear her American flag lapel pin on her left side not the right. That's because the left side is closest to the heart. No, we won't go there. . .

BEWARE THE TORTOISE

Is there a way for Gary King to beat Susana at this stage of the game? The Dem optimists point to this:

Some winning campaigns are late-breaking. The most famous is Ronald Reagan’s surge in the last two weeks of the 1980 presidential campaign. And some candidates are elected after being far behind. Mitch McConnell trailed Democratic senator Dee Huddleston by as much as 30 percentage points in 1984, then won narrowly. To capture the Virginia governorship in 1993, George Allen had to erase a gap of 29 percentage points.

King was down 18 points--54% to 36%--in the September ABQ Journal poll.

ROCKY HITS A ROCK

Republican Alligators are checking in on the southern NM congressional race where Rep. Steve Pearce faces Dem challenger Rocky Lara. They sound pretty pleased. A sample:

Joe, It Looks like Roxanne Lara appears to be running out of money. Did she gamble big and early and fail? Week of 9/23 she spent $160,000. Week of 9/30 she spent $143,000. This week she only has a $120,000 on the air. She just reserved $77,000 for the week of October 14th.

And this comes on the heels of this ranking for the race from the Cook Political Report in DC

NM-02: Solid Republican. Democratic Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne "Rocky" Lara has proven a very impressive fundraiser. But considering the sharp drop-off in Hispanic turnout in midterm years in southern New Mexico, any Democrat would still be a long-shot against Pearce in 2014. Many Democrats are optimistic that if Lara loses, she will try again in 2016 when the demographic mix of voters improves.

VOX POPULI

One of the more enjoyable aspects of doing a blog like this is the good email you get, not just the blow-off-smoke venting that dominates many venues. And at this time of year readers chip in with coverage of the campaigns. So to the email box and vox populi:

A longtime reader who says "Just call him Steve," writes of the state of the Guv campaign:

Joe: After watching the relentless beating Susana and Jay are giving Gary King the following picture comes to mind--it would make a good political cartoon. Picture this: In a dark alley two people are beating the crap out of one man. Jay  McCleskey is holding King's arms behind his back back and  Susana is beating the heck out of him.  In the background cowering behind a nasty dumpster watching the beating take place is Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman and the rest of the party. I don't fault Susana. It's a political battle and it's win at all costs.

It was a pretty tepid endorsement for Gov. Martinez from the Las Cruces-Sun News, writes reader Kathryn Carroll from Tucson:

The endorsement of Martinez in her hometown newspaper read like an apology, not a resounding endorsement. It can be interpreted as "well she's ours, so what else could we do?" The only thing they could come up with in terms of economic progress for Southern New Mexico was the Union Pacific rail yard in Santa Theresa, which was originally started by Governor Richardson during his tenure. Union Pacific, however, made certain that she would remain on board by contributing $10,000 to her campaign once she got elected in 2010.

 The editorial writer's hint that Hanna Skandera should not be reappointed as public education secretary will fall on deaf ears if the governor is reelected.  Skandera will serve another four years without ever being confirmed by the state senate. You think she would have gracefully moved on after the first year there was no confirmation.

Reader Norm writes of the GOP's hopes of taking over the NM House:

Susana is cruising to re-election. Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas, trails in all the polls there. Both were very conservative Republicans who cut government spending. Brownback also slashed income taxes while raising sales taxes. As a result, the state now faces a massive deficit. Susana probably would have done the same if she'd had the Republican legislature he has, and would probably also be in trouble.  The moral of the story is: the GOP had better hope it doesn't take the House. Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

TASER TALK

Retired APD Seargent Dan Klein writes:

Questions that Mayor Berry did not ask before his administration approved a $2,000,000 long term contract for APD with Taser for lapel cameras. 

What is the status of the three (city Inspector General, state attorney general and State Auditor) investigations into this contract? APD Chief Eden was on the news this week complaining that APD lapel cameras are not as good as a cell phone camera and that their battery life doesn't last the entire shift. He went on to state that several times (when regular APD officers not SWAT apparently) run their cameras not a single one captures the incident because of the way the Taser cameras are designed. Nice, $2,000,000 spent on cameras that don't last the entire shift, don't capture the event and that take over an hour to upload video (officers are not patrolling when uploading). Tell me again why we rushed to buy these things?? I think we all know why. . . 

NPR comes with this report on the ABQ police shootings and the department culture:

A lot of this bad behavior is the work of a good-old-boys network, where it's all about who you're related to, says Cassandra Morrison, another former Albuquerque cop of 20 years. It's about "who you know, who you hang out with, who you smoke cigars with, who you go have a beer with," she says.
If you're in the club, she says, you don't get punished when you act like a cowboy, break the rules and use excessive force. It's a system that won't change until some of those cowboys get punished, she says.
Morrison says she's been told several Albuquerque police officers could be indicted in federal court for previous shootings. "So I think once those indictments come down, it's gonna be like, 'Uh-oh,' " she says. In other words, those who are part of the club aren't so invincible."

THE BOTTOM LINES

Some readers thought we did not make it clear enough Monday that GOP attorney general candidate is not a current district court judge. One of them wrote:

Susan Riedel is a former district court judge. She was appointed by Gov. Martinez on February 2, 2011, and was defeated when she ran for election in 2012.

Riedel is opposed for AG by State Auditor Hector Balderas.

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