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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Week To Go And Tight Races Continue Down Ballot, Plus: UNM's Political Present For Susana Prompts Alligator Strike, Christie To NM And Why Weh is Further Behind Than It Looks 

Democrats have major work ahead of them if they are to prevent a down ballot debacle. The latest polling shows the race for secretary of state tighter than a fresh facelift and the land commissioner contest hotter than a honeymoon hotel.

With incumbent GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran and Dem challenger Maggie Toulouse Oliver tied at 42% each in the ABQ Journal poll conducted Oct. 21-23, turnout warnings are flashing bright enough to wake the blind. Ditto for the land commission race where Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn has actually opened up a one point lead--40% to 39% over incumbent Dem commissioner Ray Powell, Jr.

These are very low numbers for the Dems at this point in the game and veteran Dem consultant Harry Pavlides is heeding the turnout warnings:

The Democratic candidates should be pulling above 45% this close to the election. The high undecided is telling us that many of them may not vote. The vote for Dunn and Duran is in the bank with that 42%. If Dem turnout slides it may be easier for each of them to reach 50% than their Dem opponents.

Pavlides says election day voting will be key to pull these races through for his party because more Dems than R's cast ballots on that final day.

As for the media game, Duran needs to pound Oliver and she is. As an Anglo woman, Oliver can't hit Duran and shouldn't. She needs to beef up her Hispanic vote. Duran is getting too much of it.

In the land commission race, Ray Powell has not been able to afford much broadcast TV while Dunn has hammered away. Obviously, Powell needs to somehow find a way to communicate more broadly with the voters.

The race for attorney general is the sleeper--meaning Hector Balderas is sleeping well. The Journal survey has it 51% for Balderas and 35% for Republican Susan Riedel. Nighty night, Hector.

THE POLLS

In an Oct. 21 poll for NM Politics with Joe Monahan BWD Global had the secretary of state race at 47.6% for Duran and 45.0% for Oliver. Why were the numbers lower for the contenders in the Journal survey? The short answer is that voters are more prone to answer questions via automatic phone calls like those used by BWD Global than the in-person surveys used by the Journal. Both polls did their job--showing the SOS contest to be a razor tight race.

STILL SWINGING


Dems say Gov. Martinez is swinging at a corpse when she waxes Dem rival Gary King, but King has enough life left to swing back with this:

For those of you tired of seeing this state at the bottom, that's what's between us and a new start. This isn't simply a choice between a Republican vs. a Democrat. Rather, this is a choice between the death spiral Martinez has meant for our economy, education system, and the environment vs. hope for our state.

Some politicking at UNM as Gov. Martinez leads the polls. Here's the pre-election present for Susana from UNM Prez Robert Frank and VP David Harris:

UNM President Bob Frank has chosen two recipients for this year’s UNM Presidential Awards of Distinction: Gov. Martinez and Dr. Howard Yonas, chair of the school’s Department of Neurosurgery. “Both Gov. Martinez and Dr. Yonas have made critical contributions to the health and well-being of New Mexicans; one through policy, the other through practice,” Frank said “I am pleased to recognize their outstanding accomplishments and to express the high regard we have for the impact they have made on the lives of so many in our state.”

The preceding announcement was paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Susana Martinez. And now an Alligator strike on Frank:

Frank acknowledges Martinez taking Medicaid funds but somehow has amnesia about her destruction of the behavioral health system in NM, defunding of programs that deter teen pregnancy, defunding sex-education and returning to abstinence only approach, forcing people off SNAP program, cutting public health budgets -- how does this translate to improving the health of New Mexicans? This combined with the huge increase in Lobo coach Craig Neal's salary announced in September but kept secret for months should make UNM community wonder what this guy is thinking and if he "gets" what health improvement is all about.

And with the election fast approaching corporate giant Comcast was also throwing the Guv a bone.  She joined the company in announcing a big batch of new call center jobs:

Comcast announced on Monday that it will bring 450 new jobs to a new call center in the Renaissance corridor of Albuquerque."This new facility represents our latest investment in the tools, technologies and people that will help improve our customers' experiences with us," said Chris Dunkeson, area vice president for Comcast in New Mexico. 

Glad to see one of the corporate giants adding to its payroll here, but what do you think we're going to hear about jobs from Intel after the election?

CHRISTIE FOR SUSANA

It's another big GOP name dropping by for Susana. Following on the heels of Mitt Romney last week, New Jersey Guv Chris Christie will campaign Thursday with Martinez in Farmington for a Martinez For Governor noon bus tour stop in at Los Hermanitos Restaurant. Martinez is starting a statewide bus tour on Wednesday. No word on any fund-raising by the duo. As for "Why Farmington?" Well, this is a base election and the GOP base in San Juan County is hefty and Martinez wants to bring that vote out.

Reader Thomas Buckner doesn't like Martinez's recent TV ads:

I see that Governor Martinez is running again for either Attorney General or perhaps to be District Attorney. Her recent ads have gone back to touting her activities as District Attorney in the Las Cruces area and claiming accomplishments from a previous position. Such actions point out her miserable failure as Governor. After having been Governor for the past four years, you would think that she  would have some more recent accomplishments to her credit such as education, job growth, and even an increased minimum wage. However, Governor Martinez and her administration don’t have any such accomplishments to their credit. Can’t we do better the next four years? 

And another reader piles on:

I am incensed with Governor Martinez’s recent continued exploitation of Baby Brianna and her "promise" to protect the children in New Mexico. Do you know that under the Martinez administration  New Mexico is the second worst state in child fatalities at the hands of their parents? All of the children's deaths could have been prevented if the children and their families had appropriate prevention treatments, and oversight by CYFD. Much to our demise, this administration’s CYFD departments have proven to be incompetent with not enough staff and then to add insult to injury, HSD dismantled any behavioral health services available to prevent these tragedies. . .This administration only cares about her political agenda and God help us if she gets to Washington.

NO WEH IN?

GOP US Senate candidate Allen Weh is polling 7 points behind Dem Sen. Udall--50% to 43% in the Journal survey. But it's not as close as it looks. A conservative National Review columnist in DC explains why:

While I’d love to say Weh has a… “way” to victory, what we’re seeing here is Weh, a dramatically under-funded challenger, reaching the usual level of support for a Republican in a New Mexico U.S. Senate race. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. Back in 2008, as Obama was winning the state in the presidential election, Udall beat GOP congressman Steve Pearce, 61 percent to 38 percent. You can find additional factors that may make this one even closer — midterm year turnout instead of presidential year turnout, the gloomy national mood, the low motivation of Democrats this cycle, and perhaps even coattails of Gov. Susana Martinez, set for a big win — but history tells us that candidates trailing by 7 or more percentage points this close to Election Day almost never win.

So Allen Weh's motto for the last week of the campaign is "never say never." He's dropped his first motto of: "So What!"

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