Monday, October 20, 2014

King And Martinez Spar In Final Debate, Romney To Campaign For Guv, Weh Answers Udall's "So What?" Ad And Balderas Is Bashed By National R's  

Susana Martinez may have lost the cult of personality that elevated her to the Governor' office in 2010 but she did not lose last night's final debate to Democratic challenger Gary King. Martinez played as much offense as King--if not more--and escaped the podium with a few minor scratches. King lost by not winning as he seeks to close a large polling gap with the incumbent.

Martinez has never been a strong debater. Last night presented an opportunity for King to score if not a knock out at least a punch that made her lose her balance and give voters a reason to take a second look at the contest. But when it came time for King to pose a question directly to Martinez he wondered why she had been appointing cabinet secretaries from out of state. You could practically hear the jaws drop over that softball question that Martinez swiftly dispatched and with it any possibility of a game changing night.

The King question--coming against the backdrop of ongoing economic disintegration-- reflected what everyone knows--the Democratic Party never intended to mount a serious challenge to Martinez and haven't (Remember Sam Who?).

Dem analyst Harry Pavlides spared neither contender, saying Martinez seemed like an empty vessel with a mean streak. He battered King for being a modern day version of Herbert Hoover (remember him?)  disconnected from the audience and unable to humanize the economic decline gripping the state.

Still, Pavlides sees King gaining from sharing the stage with the incumbent and arousing the Democratic base some. King has been polling below 40% so it won't be hard for him to pop up from that level and the debate may have eased that path. But victory? That's somewhere over the rainbow.

Independent analyst Greg Payne said Martinez secured her base by "creaming King" on the issue of tax cuts and said of the debate as a whole:

Martinez connected with her base emotionally, while King was the aloof policy wonk. Gary needed to weave a theme and come with some one liners for undecided voters to take something away from the night. That didn't happen.

The debate, like the entire campaign, was a joyless, humorless affair. King, however, did get off an impromptu one liner that some might have greeted with a chuckle. When Martinez quoted the ABQ Journal about his record he glanced at the Journal's debate panelist and quipped. "The Journal doesn't always get it right."

At the top we called last night's Guv debate the "final" one but it was really the only one. The pair met before a business group but they answered questions given to them beforehand. And then they debated on Spanish language TV which is accessible to only those who speak Spanish.

The New Mexico governor's race is ranked likely Republican.


Speaking of the paper, it examines the Guv candidates stances on education and reports:

The governor counts among her education policy successes an increase in overall public schools education spending, bringing the total education budget to about $2.7 billion this year – the largest K-12 public education budget in state history.

But it doesn't report this:

New Mexico is still spending 8 percent less per pupil on K-12 education than before the recession. That translates to $633 less being spent per student than funding levels in 2008, when adjusted for inflation. That’s according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Now you know. .


You wonder if Allen Weh will pop in on the Thursday lunch featuring Mitt Romney and in support of Gov. Martinez's re-election. Mitt made his "47 percent" remark his political calling card when he lost the presidency in 2012. US Senate hopeful Allen Weh has enshrined "So what if they're making four bucks an hour" into the political vernacular. Weh does not believe workers under the age of 26 should get the minimum wage. The Sen. Udall campaign made a scorching and effective TV ad and mail piece from that statement. Maybe Mitt and Allen can exchange war stories. . . or at least compare investment portfolios. . .

Well, four bucks isn't going to get you anywhere near Mitt Thursday. Try $2,600 a couple for the Mitt meet and greet at the home of ABQ doctor Randy Briggs. Not that Martinez is cash starved and needs the dough. She reports recently having $2.7 million in her bank account while Gary King had $124,000.


Back to Weh and his now infamous "So what" comments. It is hurting him as evidenced by his decision to come with this response ad, the hallmark of which is repeating the phrase that got him in so much trouble:

In a recent ad my words were taken out of context. I spoke for all New Mexicans frustrated with the Udall-Obama agenda when we’re told, 'so what if we have 24% Hispanic youth unemployment. So what if we owe $18 trillion. So what if 30,000 New Mexicans lose their health coverage under Obama-care. So what if we don't take care of our veterans. So what if we have no strategy against ISIS. So what if there's no leadership. And so what if we can't live the American dream.' Change Washington. Change your Senator.

But the ad never rebuts the four bucks an hour comment or Weh's opposition to the minimum wage for workers under 26. And the repetition of the "so what" phrase seems to backfire, reminding voters of the contemptuous tone that Weh used when he made the original comments before a business group and was caught on audio tape. Also, several Alligators wondered why Weh waited so long in coming with a response.

Weh has vindicated himself by running a tough and well-organized campaign--more so than many observers thought he would. But. . .

The "So what" phrase remains the defining moment of the 2014 US Senate race and the contest remains ranked safe Democratic.

Meanwhile, Udall keeps it lighthearted in his latest TV outing as he labors to bring this one home. It's narrated by an 84 year old who says of Udall." I appreciate this young fella."

Say what? Tom is 66 and well into his Social Security years. Weh turns 72 next month. Well, one supposes at age 84 you get to call everyone a young whippersnapper. . .


A reader writes from the ABQ NE Heights and North Valley House district where all guns are blazing:

Have you looked at the District 15 race?  Democratic Rep. Emily Kane is showing $150,000 raised this year  and Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes is showing $130,0000 raised. the other day I received five glossy mailers from the candidates and PAC's working the district. And Sarah even has a TV ad going on for this district. Also, the "polling" calls are incessant. I am going to early vote just to get some peace and quiet...

If the R's ousted Kane their chances of controlling the NM house for the first time in over 60 years would soar. That's why the huge spending.

But a lot of campaign money is being wasted and reader Rich Talley has one reason why:

I wonder what's going to happen as the so-called millennials come to dominate the electorate. I'm much older (my sons are millennials) but my viewing habits are like theirs. I don't own a TV. The little TV I watch is on my iPad. I rarely listen to local radio anymore; I listen to Internet radio. As such, the paid part of this campaign season has passed me by. 

I've seen a couple of on-line ads. The only political ads I've seen are are some bloggers linked to as particularly good or bad. I don't have a land line, so the pollsters don't reach me.  I have already voted, so I'm reading your blog and other coverage simply as an bemused and amused observer.

Bemused and amused. That's a pretty good analysis of Campaign '14, Rich. 


Hector Balderas held a 48% to 41% lead over Republican Susan Riedel in a poll of the attorney general race conducted for us by BWD Global on Oct. 6 and 7. But the national Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) isn't ready to throw in the towel. They come with this TV hit on Balderas centered on a lawsuit dispute between Balderas and Attorney General and Dem guv nominee Gary King. The TV ad is vague about the lawsuit. It is based on this news from 2008:

It began with an anonymous complaint to the Auditor’s Office hotline in 2008 that Balderas used a staffer as a babysitter on work time, made improper office equipment purchases and wrongly required workers to use a time clock. The auditor contended the allegations were “completely frivolous,” but he forwarded them to the attorney general for review. When the attorney general apparently broadened the inquiry and served Balderas with a grand jury subpoena for documents, the auditor’s office refused to comply, saying it wouldn’t let the attorney general “simply rummage through its files.” According to Balderas, the attorney general abused his authority by requesting information related to other audit matters. . . No charges were brought against Balderas and the matter was resolved – but since court hearings were held behind closed doors and a judge ordered documents sealed because of grand jury secrecy, the details have never been public.

We blogged a couple of years ago that the big legal fees Balderas's office was shelling out over the secret lawsuit with King could become a campaign issue. And it has. The TV ad asks "What is Hector Balderas hiding?" and also throws up a picture of Big Bill and Balderas, saying Bill "hand-selected" Balderas for the auditor job. Balderas was selected by the by the Democratic Party to replace Jeff Armijo who withdrew his candaciy amid scandal. Richardson was governor at the time.

Balderas, who has run an aggressive TV campaign, wasted no time responding to the hit and and came with this ad narrated by former NM State Police Chief Robert Shilling:

If you want to know why out of out of state special interests are attacking Hector Balderas, it’s the same reasons cops like me support him. Because Hector Balderas is independent, and he knows that no one is above the law. Hector Balderas prosecuted violent criminals, wrote laws protecting children from predators, and as Auditor, he cracked down on corrupt politicians – from both parties – to protect taxpayers. That’s why law enforcement trusts Hector Balderas for Attorney General.”

The hit from RAGA raises doubts about Balderas, but it comes quite late in the cycle and his quick response will dampen the effect. The AG's race is ranked likely Democrat.


Reader Chris Cervini, a former NM Dem consultant,monitoring the action from Texas, comments on the erroneous mail piece put out about northern Dem Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard. It came from a GOP PAC supporting House candidates and led by former District Attorney Matt Chandler. Even though the piece on Richard's voting record was found to be in error, Chandler did not retract it, prompting this from Cervini:

That hit on the Garcia Richard false attack sums up why the political system is completely broken and does a disservice to all citizens.You can basically lie about someone, put it out in an expensive mailer (or TV spot) and the damage is done. A strong press used to be a good referee with an ability to shame lying candidates into more responsible hit pieces that were based in facts. But with dark money feeding the beast and newsrooms generally giving up on political coverage (not to mention a populace that is fundamentally less engaged in how their leaders are chosen) and you have a perfect storm where some hack like Chandler can attack, be called out, but then pivot back with a lame "well, she's bad nonetheless" response. It's gross and shameful. But, the damage is done -- the voters cannot unsee the piece and the dark money will not issue a correction.


Reader Jim Richards writes from DC of reader Peter Ives Friday comments on green chile:

Peter Ives asks if the Texans have lost the “e” versus “i” debate over the spelling of chile. They lost it a long time ago. I don’t have to ship green from home anymore. Several grocery stores, largely due to the efforts of Jeff Witte at the NM Department of Agriculture and NM chile producers, are carrying and properly roasting fresh Hatch chile right here in Virgina. New addicts are being created daily in the greater DC area.  Back to Mr. Ives. He should know that our divine food is a fruit not a vegetable as he stated. Red or Green? Yes….

And we thought spending was the only thing they were addicted to in DC. . .

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