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Monday, October 06, 2014

Habla Español? Martinez & King Spanish Debate Today, Plus: Richardson Pastes Susana Over Pay To Play Attacks, More On Emails And NCIC, Grisham's Campaign Game And Balderas Vs Riedel 

(ABQ Journal)
Don't expect any breakthrough moments when Susana Martinez and Gary King today face each other for only the second time of this campaign. However we could get some awkward moments when the duo debates at 5 p.m on ABQ Spanish language station KLUZ-TV, Channel 41.

Martinez will debate in Spanish and King will use a Spanish translator. That alone is awkward for King who charged earlier in the campaign that Martinez does not have a "Latino heart." But today she will be able to demonstrate that she does have a Spanish tongue and that could put points on the board for her.

Not that many points will be at stake. The outside of prime time 5 p.m. time slot and the station's exclusive programming for Spanish speaking audiences guarantees that. But if there is an unexpected gaffe of epic proportions we'll hear about it--in Spanish and English. . .

The only other scheduled appearance between King and Martinez that we are aware of will come at 6 p.m. October 19 at a one hour debate on KOAT-TV. That means the two contenders will have a grand total of only three joint appearances for the entire campaign, a testament to the polling lead the incumbent Governor has had since the June primary. Former Dem ABQ Mayor Jim Baca, 69, has analyzed the action since the 60's. He says:

This campaign will be over in a matter of weeks and it may well go down in history for failing to give the public any solutions to our current and growing crisis. And the public for its part doesn't seem to give a damn.

The public gives a damn about the problem but seems to have lost faith that much can be done much about them from their elected leaders and government.

SMALL TALK

Big problems but it's small talk or no talk at all. That's the gist of the two newspaper columns authored by the Guv candidates over the weekend. Gov. Martinez continues to insist--erroneously--that she solved a $450 million budget deficit when she took office. News organizations and opposition Democrats have repeatedly shown otherwise. She also pledges to concentrate on education in her second term in the same way she has has in her first.  She says about the lousy economy that it's the fault of "dysfunction" in DC and that tax cuts enacted in her first term will save the day in a second.

King points out the state's economic decline and the "brain drain" we are suffering. He attacks Martinez for putting teachers on the defense and for over testing students. His economic program consists of raising the minimum wage and helping small businesses--in an unspecified manner--grow.

The vacuity of Campaign '14 would not stand out like a sore thumb in boom times but with the state drifting the dearth of deep thinking and vigorous debate shows New Mexico is not yet facing head-on the existential crisis facing its economy. Those with well-paying jobs and secure retirements are hanging on and not rocking the boat. Those without are leaving, downsizing or getting government assistance. And it seems nearly everyone is pining for stronger leadership to lead us. That might, as Mayor Baca might put it make us "give a damn."

Both King and Martinez offer baby steps or no steps at all for the next four years. Whoever wins won't need much time for their State of the State address in January.

BILL VS. SUSANA


We told your Friday about all the paid media the Governor is throwing at the man who preceded her in office--Bill Richardson. Unlike most other Dem opponents Martinez has tangled with these past four years, battle-scarred Richardson is not intimidated. He whips out his own campaign playbook as he comes with this blistering retort:

Martinez should look in the mirror at her own administration to uncover corruption and scandals. Her pathetic accomplishments and record as governor necessitate these deplorable tactics to divert attention from a miserable record in job creation, education and protecting kids, health and the environment. Her weak four year tenure as governor is the issue in this election, not what happened in an administration four years ago. 

I am proud of my accomplishments as governor in economic growth, job creation, energy and environmental protections, and education, particularly preschool and increasing teacher salaries. We cut over one billion in taxes and balanced the budget. Her record of leading New Mexico in every bad category of state ratings speaks for itself. My concern is that Martinez will dismantle some of my singular achievements out of spite and vindictiveness. I am especially concerned about the future of the Rail Runner, Spaceport, movie industry and a host of environmental protections and wildlife. New Mexicans should think twice about re-electing a clueless governor and an incompetent administration so devoid of a vision for the future.

If the Democrats had been using that kind of rhetoric against Martinez the past four years, maybe they would be talking about winning the governorship and actually picking up seats in the state House instead of  losing them. You think?. . .

Longtime Martinez critic and Richardson ally Michael Corwin comes with more on the Martinez paid media accusing Richardson of pay to play and urging New Mexicans not to return to that sordid past.
We'll run it in the category of equal time because the Dems have not responded to any of the Guv's TV hits in the past month--not with paid or unpaid media. Here you go:

And the winner of the "pot calling the kettle black" award goes to Susana Martinez! The master of pointing fingers at others while deflecting away from her own actions. Pay-to-play is a fundamental part of her administration. Some examples: The lucrative Downs at ABQ racino contract, Human Services Department contracts being shipped out to AZ firms and privatizing public education.

The owners of the Downs concealed the majority of the money they gave to Martinez. while at the same time holding discussions with Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey, and Martinez about the contract. Concealing the source of funds was for one reason only: to make it difficult for the public to know how much they gave and when they gave. They laundered money to Martinez through the RGA came just two days before her hand-picked evaluation committee met and decided to tap the Downs as the winner of the bid process.

The full Corwin respone to the Martinez TV ad is here.

SCANDAL WATCH

There is some news on the FBI investigation into the bid-rigging allegations over the ABQ Downs racino lease. The ABQ Journal reports:

As for the Downs contract, the FBI continued to interview potential witnesses into 2013, but that appears to have ended without any criminal charges.

Remember when there was all that denial that there was even an FBI investigation but our sources insisted there was? Glad we stuck to our guns. And we're still not so sure that we won't be hearing more about this down the racino road. . .

We've blogged extensively about why the state Democratic Party wanted emails from the office of Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando who Gov. Martinez appointed to succeed her as district attorney when she was elected governor.  The media has been reporting about how those emails have been destroyed, but not giving the reason the Dems and an investigative reporter for KOB-TV waned them in the first place. The ABQ Journal finally tipped it's toe into the water in a Sunday report:

Attorney General Gary King, announced last week that his office was opening a criminal investigation into the alleged destruction of public records in the District Attorney’s office when Orlando left office. (Current District Attorney) Mark) D’Antonio issued a preliminary report saying his investigation couldn’t find emails sought by the Democratic Party and emails concerning the use of federal data bases, like NCIC, by the district attorney’s office under Orlando and Martinez.

So what is the issue with the NCIC database? The paper still won't go there but we will as have the  New Mexican. Santa Fe Reporter and Mother Jones magazine which broke the story earlier this year. They wanted those emails to check out allegations that staffers for Martinez's 2010 Guv campaign were feeding the license plate numbers of her political opponents into the federal NCIC database to see what they could find out about them. At the time of the alleged NCIC abuse, Martinez was district attorney.

What about not just license plate numbers but raw names being illegally fed into the NCIC database to dig up dirt on opponents? No one is asking but an investigation seems in order. If this isn't a big civil liberties story for this state, what is? You would think the paper would want to know. You never know. The license plate numbers or names of reporters and editors may have been among those who were checked out on NCIC--not to mention bloggers and others.

The newspaper said King is too conflicted to do the email investigation, pointing out that when Gov. Martinez's campaign email system was hijacked the FBI led the investigation. If the paper is saying the FBI should lead the probe into the emails and the allegations of NCIC abuse, they got it right. Nixonian style intimidation of political foes is definitely something to get bent out of shape over.

Remember,  it's not only about whether the emails and hard drives were destroyed illegally, it's about what may have been on them.

SUSANA GETS SUN-NEWS

One of the state's three major newspapers--the Las Cruces Sun-News--endorses  the re-election of Gov. Martinez. The paper has faint praise for her first term but believes "she has grown from and learned from her first four years in office, and that her second term will be a reflection of that."

GRISHAM'S GAME

The ABQ and northern congressional seats are ranked safe Democratic but the incumbents--ABQ Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan will raise the TV flag in the final month. Grisham's debut ad takes on the issue of hunger in the state. It has Lorenzo Candelaria, an organic farmer, narrating the ad and praising her dedication in supporting food assistance programs. Grisham is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture which has jurisdiction over the food stamp program.

Early insider polling shows GOP contender Mike Frese consolidating the conservative vote. Grisham scored a 59% win in her first outing in the presidential year of 2012. It appears she is on track for a 55% re-elect in this off-year election that will attract fewer liberal and moderate voters.

The ABQ congressional seat underwent an historic shift in 2008 when Dem Martin Heinrich soundly defeated Republican Darren White. Until then, the seat had been considered a battleground seat since its inception in 1968. The seat now begins each cycle as likely Democratic, given the increased minority demographics that have been key to Dem success.

BALDERAS VS. RIEDEL

Riedel
The speciality publication Governing had the Alligators and analysts taking a second look when it shifted its ranking of the NM race for attorney general from lean Democratic to toss-up. It said:

Democratic state auditor Hector Balderas is facing Republican former prosecutor  Susan Riedel. Balderas has a sizable money advantage, but Riedel has a solid reputation and may get a bump from GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who’s coasting to a second term this year.

We continue to rank the AG contest as likely Democratic. Balderas is the only Hispanic Democrat  among the down ballot candidates. That's a big plus. As Governing noted he has a sizable financial edge over Riedel whose reputation--good or bad--is confined to Dona Ana County where she served under then-District Attorney Susana Martinez.

Riedel, a former prosecutor and a current district judge, has come with a significant TV buy to introduce herself to the state, but Balderas has appeared on the statewide ballot twice and each time won by large margins. In addition, he challenged Martin Heinrich for the Dem US Senate nomination in 2012, earning more name ID.

Democrats call into question Riedel's status as a BFF of Susana and say the Governor could have inordinate influence over the independent attorney general if Riedel were to score the win.

Balderas
Republicans have criticized Balderas for being a lightweight who has little real legal experience and is interested in using the AG's office as a jumping off point for an '18 Guv run. He's also been hit by Martinez foes for going light on allegations that her administration engaged in bid-rigging for the Downs at ABQ racino lease. His supporters say he has matured and his record as auditor shows it.

Balderas' first TV ad was quite soft for an AG contest where being tough is the signature theme. In his second ad Balderas ramps up  his message, pointing out his attacks on public corruption in his role as state auditor, particularly with troubled Sunland Park, NM. His campaign seems to have a road map and Riedel will have to rattle him (with negative TV) to throw him off course.

It was 1986 when the last R was elected attorney general. Our AG watchers thing Riedel needs national money to get the race anywhere close to the toss-up category Governing labels it.

DEM DANGER ZONE

There is some danger lurking for Balderas and the other down ballot statewide candidates--a crash in turnout. The worry is that a noncompetitive governor's race discourages thousands of Democrats and they stay home. If the turnout crashed to 550,000 or below--we did a bit over 600,000 in the last off year election of 2010--it could tilt Election Night to the R's and result in upsets in the down ballot and judge races that are traditionally dominated by the Dems. That's why there is so much hand wringing over Gary King. A very poor performance by him puts other Dems at risk. Still, voting is a powerful habit, opines turnout whiz and veteran pollster Bruce Donisthorpe. He says he is sticking to his turnout projection of 600,000.

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