Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Down The Stretch We Go: Now It's All About Turnout, The Down Ballot Derby Heats Up With More TV Ads, Aragon Slaps Back At Keller, Rocky In For A Rocky Election Night, The Question They Didn't Ask Nate And Is Heinrich TV Act Wearing Thin? 

All of Senator Udall's late TV ads are aimed squarely at the Democratic base--a majority of whom are women. It's where the Dems need to go to bolster turnout in the face of an apathetic electorate. . .

R's are divided on the chance of a Hail Mary being completed by Republican challenger Allen Weh, but all agree if there is a turnout collapse--say a vote total of around 550,000--Election Night starts to look like Halloween night for the Dems. . .

BWD pollster Bruce Donisthorpe does not expect a turnout collapse even as Dems fret over somewhat sluggish early voting. His turnout model is set at 595,000--a 2% decline from the 608,000 who voted in 2010. . .

And it's not all roses and lollipops for the R's They are easier to get to the polls than Dems but the attention being paid to this election could be likened to a fella taking a siesta with one eye open. . .

So, assume the Dems and the R's manage to get more of their voters to the polls (insiders say the Udall turnout operation will spend $1.8 million) then what? From our email:

Joe, I voted early at the Los Ranchos location and took maybe 10 or 12 minutes to fill out my ballot. People who arrived after me sat down, filled out theirs and left before I was done. I'm betting most didn't fill out the back page. I don't know what this means for down ballot contests, but the length of this ballot is going to make for some long lines and angry people on election day.

We think early voting and a lighter turnout than a presidential election will probably mean we avoid really long lines, but we are looking for many, many voters to vote for the top races and get out of there. In other words, while Donisthorpe expects 595,000 total voters, what will the drop off be down  ballot? In Bernalillo County we say, "Look Out Below!"

By the count of one of our Alligators there are over 80 decisions to be made on the Bernalillo County ballot, including all those judicial retentions. Is this really the way to run a railroad? Should we do something about it? If so, what?. . .


The latest in the down ballot action. More of the hopefuls are putting up late ads on the tube. GOP state treasurer candidate Rick Lopez has reportedly booked a $14,000 buy. Dem contender Tim Eichenberg's campaign says he is going up with a $17,000 buy. In his ad Eichenberg touts the endorsements of Dem US Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham as he works for important Hispanic support. . .


Republican Robert Aragon slaps back at Dem state auditor candidate Tim Keller in his late media. We are told by his supporters he is buying both radio and TV.

In his ad Keller faults Aragon for not paying his taxes and for malpractice suits against his law practice--issues Aragon says have been resolved. In his ad Aragon calls Keller a "liar." No word on how much he is spending.

Not surprisingly, Keller is getting some pushback from Hispanics--both D and R--for his attack on Aragon. Reader Camille Cordova writes:

As a loyal, lifelong Democrat and a Hispanic woman, I am extremely disappointed in the “Breaking Bad” ad aired by Tim Keller. The ad implies that Robert Aragon is a criminal. The ad uses a black and white photograph of Mr. Aragon, in contrast to the color images of everyone else. This makes Mr. Aragon look dark and sinister and the content of the ad implies that he is a criminal and has some association with drugs. The implication is that the White candidate is the only clean candidate. There is no evidence that Mr. Aragon has any association with drugs, and Mr. Keller clearly knows of none. The Democratic Party has traditionally been the party of Hispanics in New Mexico, advocating for equality among the races. Obviously, this is not the case when the Democrat candidate is Anglo and the Republican is Hispanic. Hispanics of all political parties should be outraged by this portrayal of a man who has demonstrated his commitment to public service.

Keller's supporters point out that it is traditional to show your opponent in black and white in a negative ad--no matter their race. Keller's ad has over 24,000 views on YouTube.

Keller, an ABQ state senator, was leading Aragon in the Oct. 21 BWD Global poll for NM Politics with Joe Monahan by a margin of  51% to 42%.


State Dems will host an election night "Victory Party" at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown ABQ but Dem attorney general candidate Hector Balderas says he will be at the Hotel ABQ Fireplace Room, celebrating what appears to be a forthcoming victory. Hector and Gary King have been as far apart as any two Dem politicians in the state the last four years so why change now?


National Dems could be in for a rocky night come Election Night in southern NM. Insider polling shows southern GOP U.S. Rep Steve Pearce easily handling a challenge from Carlsbad attorney Rocky Lara. The D's have poured a lot of money and resources into that race, arguing that the large Hispanic population could give Pearce real trouble. But Lara's campaign has not taken off and it is highly problematic whether she can eek out a moral victory and keep Pearce in single digits--below 55%.

The question is if Lara lags badly will she lose her chance for a rematch in 2016 when higher turnout will improve Dem chances? Maybe not. We don't see Dems lined up to take on Pearce. They would rather wait until the 67 year old retires (how's your heart, Steve?) and they can run for an open seat.


Rep. Gentry
A TV news report covered a litany of past sins being brought up in the campaign against ABQ GOP State Rep Nate Gentry--aggravated DWI, criminal assault and illegal hunting. But strangely, when the under siege lawmaker was interviewed he was not asked about the freshest and latest development: Why did Gentry use an assumed name when he checked into a hotel room in April of 2013 when he was representing his constituents at a national legislators meeting? He was to be reimbursed the price of the room by taxpayers and later had trouble doing so because of his use of the assumed name. The matter has become an issue in the race as the Dem favored super PACS continue to hammer Gentry over it in their mailers. So why didn't TV news ask him?

As for Gentry, he says of the PAC attacks:

I was warned by my Democrat friends that if you dare to take on the entrenched establishment up in Santa Fe, there's going to be a price to pay.

The Gentry seat is key in the battle for control of the state House. R's need to pick up three seats to take control for the first time in over 60 years.


The view from this corner is that all five proposed Constitutional Amendments on the ballot are inconsequential and should be voted down. That includes the one that would allow the giant $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to increase its exposure to foreign stock markets. Nearly half the profits of US companies in the S&P 500 already come from foreign operations. Charles Wollman of the State Investment Council comes with a differing view:

Not one of our peer permanent funds around the country has this restriction on international investment.  There is a good possibility that the language currently in the Constitution violates the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, the fiduciary standard for more than 40 states . . . This amendment will actually remove an existing conflict between statute and the Constitution, while increasing the safeguards on the LGPF, and standards under which the Council must operate (from "ordinary prudence" to the much higher UPIA standard). So, it adds accountability and safeguards to the fund, and brings us more into line with "best practices" of other Funds and pensions like ours across the country--most of which have between 18-23 percent international allocations. . .


Is the U.S. Senators on a deserted island already wearing thin? Dem NM Senator Heinrich and Arizona GOP Sen. Flake appeared on Letterman this week to talk about the reality TV show they are featured in and that was filmed in the Marshall Islands. It goes on the air tonight on the Discovery Channel. The comic mostly ridiculed the senators and drew hearty laughs in the process.

Heinrich, elected in 2012, has been sailing a course as a lawmaker with serious purpose--watchdogging NSA surveillance, wilderness protection, declaring support for early childhood investment in NM and successfully promoting alternative energy for economic growth. Why rock the boat? Martin, we're voting you off the island. . .

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