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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Prudent Or Panic? Keller Debuts TV That Slams Aragon In State Auditor Race; Low Turnout Fears Seen Driving Dem Campaign Decisions, Plus: No Cash Dash For Gary, And: On Fantasy Island With John Sanchez 

Keller
You know it's a quandary for state Democrats when their candidate for state auditor goes negative on his GOP foe.

Tim Keller, a popular ABQ state senator, is up on TV slamming Republican challenger Robert Aragon. It tells you just how spooked the Dems are about turnout for this election. A Republican hasn't been elected auditor since 1966.

Keller has a double-barreled problem--a low turnout combined with possible ethnic voting for Aragon. Usually the Democratic auditor nominee is Hispanic--there hasn't been an Anglo nominee since 1986. That still would not be a big
Aragon
problem if the Democrats were not having such trouble getting voters interested in the top tier races. The Udall-Weh Senate contest is a yawner and the governor's contest has also been a snore.

That brings us to a historic crossroads where Dems have to fight for offices they used to be able to take for granted.

Many will say they brought the apathy upon themselves as they sought to placate the the Republicans and in the process lost the messaging battle. At the same time a new generation of strong local Democratic leaders that could fire up the Dems (ala Bill Richardson, Marty Chavez) have yet to emerge. But it's easy to forget that there was a Dem turnout panic during this year's gubernatorial primary, but it proved baseless. And Democrats and their interest groups still have plenty of money, manpower and time to motivate the base.

Dem analyst Harry Pavlides--who believes there will be a low turnout--still wonders if Keller isn't over reacting:

The voters are already tiring of the negative TV campaign and turning it off. Did he need to associate himself with it? I think at this point a positive commercial would be more effective.

But Keller, who has had a nasty battle or two in his state senate district, isn't prone to taking any chances. He does not have enough cash to do a positive ad first and then follow it up with a hit on Aragon. So. . .

Keller's ad touts his own credentials in fighting corruption and then scores Aragon--a former ABQ Democratic state legislator who turned Republican--for being sued by legal clients for "fraud and negligence." And it adds that he "failed to pay over a quarter million dollars in taxes." The ad concludes by calling Keller "the clean choice."

Aragon's latest finance report shows he has less than $10,000 in cash so Keller's preemptive strike is also based on the fear that the Gov. Martinez political machine could give Aragon some financial aid. Keller, 37, is often cited as a future statewide Dem leader. Let's see if the Machine takes the bait and goes up on the air for Aragon.

The spot is not without risk for Keller. This is his first statewide exposure and an Anglo attacking a Hispanic candidate--whether they be Dem or R--can backfire in some quarters. But for Keller, as the old saying goes, "it's first things first. . . "

The ABQ Journal's Deborah Baker profiles the auditor's race here.

NO CASH DASH

There will be no dash for cash for Gary King.

Democrats turn your heads away. Republicans lick your chops. Here's the latest finance report covering the period Sept. 2 through Oct. 6:

Martinez reported cash-on-hand of $2.7 million as of last week, while King had $123,651. Martinez spent $1.9 million from Sept. 2 through Oct. 6, including $1.2 million on TV and radio advertising, $221,000 on targeted mailings to voters and $87,000 on polling. In contrast, King spent nearly $205,849 but nothing on TV ads in the past month. He launched a new ad late last week after the reporting period covered. . . 

Dem secretary of state hopeful Maggie Toulouse Oliver reports $149,000 in cash on hand as of October 6. Incumbent GOP Sec. of State Dianna Duran reports $206,000 in cash. Oliver has launched her TV campaign. Duran is expected to join her today.

Will we see independent groups weighing in on the secretary of state's race on both sides? That's what we're hearing.

DEBATE TIME

We said there would be a debate between US Senator Tom Udall and his Republican challenger Allen Weh. But if you were expecting a prime time duel with bells and whistles, forget it. The duo will debate October 31 on KOB-TV's noon news. The pair will also debate on public TV KNME-TV. . .

Upon hearing of the disappointing debate time on KOB, Weh shouted, "So what!?". . . .Just kidding.

By the way, in case Allen pulls off the upset and defeats Tom, we have a press secretary in waiting for him. KRQE-TV political reporter Alex Goldsmith says he has not yet reached the ripe old age of 26--the age at which Allen says the minimum wage should kick in and for which Udall is attacking him.

We don't know if you can get Alex for your famous four bucks an hour, Allen, but we're sure you fellas can work something out. . .

POWELL MEDIA

Incumbent Dem land commissioner Ray Powell continues to get hammered on TV by Republican challenger Aubrey Dunn over the flooding of the Dixon apple orchard, and Powell says he is responding. But not with a TV ad of his own on the topic but with this radio ad.

We blogged Tuesday that Powell was not on TV, but he says he has two TV ads airing talking about his accomplishments. Dunn is buying top-tier over the air broadcast media. That's one of the reasons we've ranked this race lean Democrat rather than likely Democrat.

FANTASY ISLAND

We've got a free ticket to Fantasy Island for Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez who writes:

New Mexicans are better off today than they were four years ago. Just look at what we've accomplished since 2011: We're restoring faith in government, graduation rates are improving faster than any other state, we have created 32,000 private-sector jobs and we've seen budget surpluses three years in a row.There's still more work to do. But we have proved that by working together, we can make New Mexico a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Restoring faith in government? John, did you not read the recent story about how Presbyterian Medical Services was held up by the state in the behavioral health scandal? And 32,000 jobs in 4 years? That's one of the worst records in the USA. A better place to live? Then why are we for the first time in modern state history experiencing an out migration of residents?

New Mexico knows all of this but it has stopped listening--to both Republican and Democrats. It awaits leadership that will show them a better path.

THE ENTHUSIASM GAP 

We carried that gloomy Gallup polling outlook for the Dems Monday. It said turnout could be even lower than usual for a mid-term election. But on the glass is half-full side, we get this from a Dem reader:

In 2010 the Democrats had an enthusiasm gap of 25 points below GOP enthusiasm. Taken from that perspective, 12 points is much less problematic, especially in a state with a large imbalance in voter registration by party affiliation like NM has. What all the prognosticators fail to note is that it is the GOP that has had the real large drop in enthusiasm, not the Dems. With no real exciting races to draw them out, the GOP is just as likely to stay home on Election Day. And more importantly, the GOP leaning independents who outnumber Dem leaning independents have nothing lighting a fire under them to turn out in significant numbers. This is born out by the large drop off in GOP primary voter turnout. In 2010 there were about 124,000 GOP primary voters, in 2014 there were 64,000. Even in an uncontested primary, an enthusiastic base would have turned out just to drive up the numbers like an informal poll. They didn't. I suspect the polling models for 2014 will prove to be faulty come election night.

JUDGE NOT JUSTICE

petite filet
It's true we should have known better than to give promotions Tuesday to the NM Court of Appeal judges by calling them "justices." That title is reserved for the five members of the NM Supreme Court. If Judge Rod Kennedy would buy us lunch once in a while we probably wouldn't make such errors. . . And here's the correct link for the Las Cruces newspaper coverage of this year's contested appeals court race between Kerry Kiernan and Miles Hanisee. . .

Speaking of lunches, Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey could afford to take the entire campaign staff to lunch at the ritzy ABQ Rancher's Club. Martinez paid $1,353,484.17 to McCleskey Media Strategies from September 2 through October 6. If he commissioned all of that at a low 10% rate that would still be about $135,000. Let's see. . . We'll have that petite filet, Jay. Go for the T-Bone, Judge Rod. . . .

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