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Monday, November 03, 2014

Election Eve: Join Us For Our Radio Special at 5 P.M. Today, Plus: NM October Surprise Was Nonpolitical, Fallout From Feds Report On APD Reforms And All Those Mailers 

It's just about all over--except the second most important part--the counting. How that counting may go tomorrow night will be one of the topics we'll tackle today at 5 p.m. on our traditional Election Eve special on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ.

Join me and my guest experts--the New Mexican's Steve Terrell, Democratic consultant James Halinan, former ABQ City Councilor Miguel Gomez and Republican Jason Hefley of the GoalWestPAC. We'll review the key races and make some fun predictions. Listen over the air or from here.

And be sure to join us again Election Night on KANW starting at 6:30 for the latest results and the state's best analysis and commentary. Now it's out to the campaign trail for the final day of Campaign '14. . .

Based on what we've seen so far of the early vote totals we don't expect turnout to reach the 608,000 level seen in the 2010 Guv election. A 5% drop from that level would take us to about 578,000. We're awaiting final early voting numbers to see where we're headed. . .

This year's October surprise was a shocker, but won't have much impact on the election. The tragic crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo--which claimed the life of one pilot and injured another--is a major setback for the NM Spaceport.

For years, New Mexicans have patiently waited for space tourism to get off the ground. This crash makes the future much more ambiguous. Will the Spaceport still have the political and financial support it needs? Can the Spaceport recover from this setback by attracting more commercial cargo launches while it waits for commercial space tourism to recover? And how long will that recovery take? Tough questions. . .

And Sir Richard Branson, the colorful head of Virgin Galactic, is coming under fire in the wake of the tragedy. Take a look:

. . . It’s hard too not to be angry, even disgusted, with Branson himself. He is, as today’s tragedy shows, a man driven by too much hubris, too much hucksterism and too little knowledge of the head-crackingly complex business of engineering. For the 21st century billionaire, space travel is what buying a professional sports team was for the rich boys of an earlier era: the biggest, coolest, most impressive toy imaginable. Amazon.com zillionaire Jeff Bezos has his own spacecraft company—because what can better qualify a man to build machines able to travel to space than selling books, TVs and lawn furniture online? Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has a space operation too because, well, spacecraft have computers and that’s sort of the same thing, right?

It's shaping up as a pretty rough year for southern NM. There was the accident at WIPP that shuttered the nuclear waste site, the aforementioned Virgin Galactic crash and the slide in oil prices that has been the underpinning of the boom in the southeast and that will be threatened if prices stay low for many months. . .

HALLOWEEN TIMING

Another October surprise--albeit a mild one--came down on Halloween afternoon. It was the announcement of the reform agreement the city and the Department of Justice have struck with regard to ABQ's troubled police department,

Mayor Berry's administration has been blasted by critics for not really embracing meaningful reform in the wake of the numerous fatal police shootings in recent years and which brought the Justice Dept. to town. One of the Alligators contended the timing of the consent decree announcement gave those critics more cause for concern:

Berry ought to be called out for using the very cynical technique of announcing the consent decree on Halloween when it's highly unlikely anyone will be paying attention. This just another example of the flippant attitude Berry has towards the APD scandal. If he truly was invested in the process and wanted true APD reform he would approach the topic like a leader and stop treating it like it is an inconvenience.

The reforms are expected to cost from $4 to $6 million in the first year alone. That brought immediate speculation from Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez that the city's gross receipts tax will have to be raised to pay for the reforms. But that idea is dead on arrival. Berry won't support a tax increase and either will the public. It was this mayor and city council that left the police department scandal fester and now it's time to pay the piper. The councilors and mayor will have to take the hit for the programs that will have to be cut--not have the taxpayers bail them out. . .

One way out might be to raid the capital fund used to float bonds and move the money over to the general fund. Mayor Chavez did that for a number of years to make ends meet. It was a move strongly criticized by Mayor Berry but one he may consider if his back is pushed against the wall by the cost of the cop reforms. . .

CLINTON FOR KING 

Bill's back. Not Big Bill. But the original Big Bill, the ex-prez who goes back many years with the King family. President Clinton recorded a robocall for Dem nominee Gary King that went out to the state Sunday night. It's posted here. Some of the script from the 40 second call:

I am calling to encourage you to vote Tuesday for an old family friend of mine who will bring a new direction to New Mexico...Gary's committed to improving NM schools and getting them more funding--and quality improvements--the kind of improvements you deserve. And he's got a good plan to create jobs that I believe will work. I've known Gary and his family for decades. I know them as decent, caring public servants who are always on the side of the people. So Tuesday vote for Gary King. It's important to you and important to New Mexico.

MAILING IT IN

(Click to enlarge)
As the election approached, on one day alone we received 10 pieces of candidate mail. Candidates on the lower ballot races are especially dependent on the mailboxes as TV and other media can often be too expensive and inefficient.

For example, in the race for southern Public Regulation Commissioner Dem Sandy Jones is seen in this mailer pasting incumbent GOP Commissioner Ben Hall and putting him in the "Hall of Shame."

Hall has been told by the secretary of state that he may have to return public campaign funds he received because--as Jones pointed out--Hall paid himself a salary out of those funds. But one of Jones' supporters argues that the money should not go back into Hall's account where he could spend it all over again--but into the public campaign finance fund. That's an angle that is going to have to be sorted out by the legislature as this election is just about history. . .


And the legislative races have all kinds of mail. Here's ABQ GOP State Rep. Paul Pachecho blasting Dem challenger Catherine Begaye in a race that the Dems are hoping will be a lot closer than the pundits are predicting.

The candidates in these and other key legislative contests are spending over $100,000 or even $200,000 each and that doesn't even count the thousands of "independent expenditures being poured into this pitched battle for control of the NM House. It's over-the-top says former state legislator Lenton Malry who will be with us again on the radio Election Night. He says: "In 1966 I spent all of $1000 and won."

The wild-west-anything-goes campaign finance rules have ushered in a new era that came into full view this election cycle. It's as big a story as any coming out of this election. . .

THOSE DIXON APPLES

Here's Dem land commissioner Ray Powell with a late TV ad as he battles to fend off a challenge from Republican Aubrey Dunn. It's about--what else?--Dunn's now famous--or infamous--TV ads blaming Powell for the Demise of the beloved Dixon Apple Orchard.

PARTY TIME

Balderas & Keller
Maybe Dem attorney general candidate Hector Balderas and Dem state auditor contender Tim Keller can take this act on the road. We could sure use some humor after this humorless campaign. The duo--both up and comers in the NM Dem Party--are yucking it up at a recent campaign stop at KRTN radio in Raton.

Does Hector flashing a peace symbol mean he's trying to do a better job of courting the Dem progressive wing which turned a cold shoulder to him when he sought the US Senate nomination against Martin Heinrich in 2012? In any event, he's lucky his GOP foe Susan Riedel didn't get a copy of the pic. She might have labeled him "Hector the Hippie.". . .

We blogged earlier of how Balderas will host his own Election Night party at the Hotel ABQ instead of attending the event planned by the NM Democratic Party at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown ABQ. Now Balderas has raised another eyebrow by announcing that NM House Speaker Kenny Martinez will be at his party as well as 2010 Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish. Balderas is polling the strongest of all the statewide candidates so his is expected to be a victory party. The Balderas camp says he will stop by the DPNM party to speak. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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