Friday, December 19, 2014

The Best, The Worst And The Strangest Of Election Year 2014 

Another zany political year provided enough entrainment to merit end of the year awards for the best, the worst, the strangest and more.  With a hat tip to national political pundit Stu Rothenberg, who came up with the categories, here's our list for 2014:

Biggest Surprise--The nominees are: The land commission office going Republican for only the third time in history; the state House going Republican for the first time in 60 years; the Democrats failing to take back the secretary of state's office after the R's won it four years ago for the first time in 60 years and UNM decides to award the naming rights to the famous Pit to WisePiesPizza.

My winner: It wasn't politics but WisePies Pizza? What were they thinking?

Worst Campaign-- (Besides Gary King)--The nominees are the House Democrats; Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state; Rocky Lara for Congress and Ray Powell for state land commissioner.

My winner: Ray Powell. Attacked for weeks in TV spots, Powell did not respond until the final days and lost the race to Republican Aubrey Dunn by less than 700 votes out of 500,000 cast.

Most Overrated: The nominees are Allen Weh For US senate; Bernalillo County GOP sheriff candidate Scott Baird and Republican state House candidate Vickie Perea.

My winner: Republican Allen Weh. He ran a decent enough campaign but the race was never seriously in doubt and Senator Tom Udall defeated him by over ten points.

Most Underrated: Democrat Sandy Jones for the southern Public Regulation Commission (PRC) seat; Republican Miles Hanisee for the NM Court of Appeals and Democrat Manny Gonzales for Bernalillo County sheriff.

My winner: Manny Gonzales. A Hispanic Democrat has not been elected Bernalillo County sheriff in living memory, but Gonzales pulled it off.

Most “Memorable” Candidate Interview: The nominees are Gary King and the ABQ Journal.

My winner: Gary King. Actually, it wasn't a media interview of the candidates. It was when Democratic governor nominee Gary King questioned Governor Martinez at a TV debate. It was his one and only chance to pin her down. So what did he do? He asked her why she had hired so many out of state cabinet secretaries. Pfft. . .

An honorable mention for this category. When an ABQ Journal columnist asked southern NM GOP PRC candidate Ben Hall why he was using money from public financing to pay himself and his fiance a salary for campaign work, he replied: “If I didn’t hire and pay myself, I would have to hire someone else. What is the big damn deal?”

Most Embarrassing Moment: The nominee and clear winner is Governor Martinez. In leaked audio tapes of conversation between her and her campaign aides in 2010, Martinez revealed she did not know what WIPP is. In 2014 the nation was stunned by  news of a radiation leak from the low level nuclear waste disposal site near Carlsbad.

Most Weird TV Ad: The nominee and hands down winner is GOP attorney general candidate Susan Riedel who sat on a couch in the middle of the desert as she made her case to voters. It raised two questions: How did a couch get in the middle of the desert and did the producer of the ad enjoy some mushrooms when he came up with the idea?

Name Misspelled or Mispronounced Most Often:  The nominees are GOP state Rep. Sharon E. Clahchischilliage, Republican attorney general candidate Susan Riedel and Democratic state treasurer candidate Tim Eichenberg.

My winner: Sharon Clahchischilliage. Duh.

Isn't It Time To Stop Running? The nominees are Republican Jefferson Byrd for the northern congressional seat; Democratic governor candidates Lawrence Rael and state Sen. Linda Lopez

My winner: Jefferson Byrd. He's now been handily defeated twice in a row by Democratic US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. Lesson learned?

Best Candidate Of 2014: The nominees are Senator Tom Udall; Governor Martinez; Attorney General-elect Hector Balderas and State Auditor-elect Tim Keller.

My winner: None were really put to the test, but Balderas led the Democratic ticket so he wins.

There's no state election in 2015 so where will the best and worst come from next year?  No need to fret. Just around the corner there's the frolic and follies of the 60 day legislative session.

This column also appears in the ABQ Free Press, on newstands now.

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 (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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