Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Some Smoke Clears From Campaign '16 As Filing Day Is Completed; R Takeover Of Senate Is Longshot Indeed Plus: The Key To The House, A Filing Day Gator Strike, Some Political Tidbits And More Trump Power  

Filing day Tuesday cleared some of the smoke away and we have a better idea of how Campaign '16 may play out. Here's the complete list from the Secretary of State. Now let's get started on what it means. . .

While the Republican hope of taking over the State Senate for the first time in decades may not be a pipe dream, filing day made clear it is a very, very long shot.

The Senate is currently divided 24 to 18 so the R's would need to pick up three seats to get to 21 and tie up the chamber. They would then have GOP Lt. Governor John Sanchez  to break tie votes in their favor. So it's three to tie and four to take outright control.

But appointed GOP Senator Ted Barela is very likely to lose his northern Dem-leaning district. Now you are down to 17 R's. GOP Dona Ana Senator Lee Cotter is another on the critical list. His political death takes you down to 16 R's.

Okay, say the Dems lose Dona Ana Dem Sen. Bill Soules, which they could. That takes you back to 17 R's. Assume Sandoval County Dem Senator John Sapien goes down to R Diego Espinoza--if Sapien surveys a Dem primary challenge he's getting from progressive Dem Jodilynn Ortiz. That would take the R's to 18, right where they are today and maybe the best they can expect.

The other seats they hope to put in play to go beyond that number will be as hard as pulling molars.

ABQ Dem Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto holds one of them. He drew a pretty good challenger in Republican attorney Eric Lyon Burton. But the Dems have held the seat since 2008 so this would be a major upset that would get you to 19 R's. (Also these ABQ NE Heights seats are more Dem friendly as the economy continues to get downsized).

We're fast running out of real estate, with only one other contested contest on our "in play" list.

The GOP will again spend big money to take out Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. They think they have a good candidate in attorney Greg Baca but his odds are long against the powerful leader. Making matters worse for the R's, the Dems say Baca only recently moved into the Valencia County district.

The Governor's machine spent huge and ran statewide TV ads against Sanchez four years ago. It failed. But say this time it turned into an epic GOP night and Sanchez went down. Now you are up to 20 GOP senators. And that would be an extraordinary and historic night in a presidential election year which will feature higher Democratic turnout.

The bottom line? The best possible Republican scenario as outlined above still does not get the Grand Old Party in the winner's circle and it is highly unlikely to reflect the final reality. Come November if the R's can hold on to the 18 seats they have now, it would be a very good night for them.


As for the State House, the Dems need to pick up three seats to get to 36 and retake the majority from the R's. The odds of that happening? Well, better than the odds of the Senate going Republican.

The Dems have come up with a pretty decent roster for the targeted seats and the R's will be playing more defense than they did in the 2014 election when turnout crashed to historic lows. When the R's last took control of the NM House--in 1952--they lost it in the 1954. Will we have a repeat of history?

State Dems have lost their voice in recent years, with a weak message backed up by consultants and candidates who simply would not or could not take on the Governor's political machine. This year they can't simply rely on a higher voter turnout model and preach a watery bipartisanship that has led them into oblivion. They need a strong message and it will have to be delivered with emphasis in ABQ and Las Cruces.

We've seen glimpses of the economic message they need from ABQ Dem House candidates Ane Romero and Damon Ely, but the party needs to make it a statewide coordinated message backed by backbone and mobilization.

The Democratic Party is the party of the cities. Their best bet to retake the House is to win the ABQ seat held by Republicans Sarah Maestas Barnes, the one left vacant by the retirement of ABQ Republican Conrad James and the two Dona Ana County seats held by Republicans Terry McMillan and Andy Nunez (there had been speculation here that McMillan would not run). But if their economic message is weak and they continue to accommodate the Governor's machine by failing to hold the executive accountable for the state's economic crisis, the R agenda of "all crime all the time" will be appealing to voters and the Dems will again come up short.


Out in Indian Country, former Dem State Rep. and the always entertaining Sandra Jeff is back and challenging incumbent Dem Senator Bennie Shendo in the primary. It's Shendo's to lose. . .Longtime political rivals Shannon Robinson and Mimi Stewart will face each other in a Dem Senate primary in Bernalillo County. Stewart is the incumbent, but Robinson held the SE area seat for years, ending in 2008. It's Stewart's to lose. . .

And more from Indian Country as 91 year old Dem Senator John Pinto has filed for another four year term, but Willie Nez will try to oust him in the June primary, or at least continue to monitor the elderly Senator's heart beat. . .

GOP State Senator John Ryan will not seek re-election. There are two R's seeking to replace him. Candace Ruth Gould, wife of prominent lobbyist Leland Gould, is the favorite. The couple have been major supporters of the Guv. The Dems have fielded David Simon who has a strong resume, but this ABQ area seat is GOP leaning. . .

Four Republican candidates are seeking to replace retiring ABQ GOP State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort, including former State Rep. James White who is the favorite to take the nomination and then keep the seat in the R column in November in the heavy GOP district.


Dickens & Martinez
Here come the Gators. They've pored over all the filings and they come with an Alligator Strike in the Dona Ana County District Attorney contest. Here it is, direct from the lips one of the sharp-teethed creatures:

Joe, James Dickens is a longtime Republican who has switched parties so he can run as a Democrat and challenge District Attorney Mark D'Antonio who is a longtime foe of Governor Martinez and Amy Orlando. Both are former Dona Ana DA's. If Dickens, who once worked for Martinez in the DA's office, could beat D' Antonio, the Governor would be back in power at the office. . .

Dickens has a long history of giving to Republican candidates, but he says in an rebuttal email:

I switched parties years before I had any intention of running for office. My decision was reached only after a number of life events and struggles that led me to understand how important providing for the common good improves all of society.

Dickens adds that he has had "only one conversation" with Martinez in the past "few years." And Dickens points out that incumbent D'Antonio switched from Republican to Democrat in March of 2011 and was elected DA the next year.

Not a bad defense, Dickens, but your ties to the Guv's Machine are too deep to strike down this Gator strike. Consider yourself bitten. Congratulations, or something.


Now that four-term Dem Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, the longest-serving DA here in history, has announced she will not seek re-election, all eyes turn to who will replace her. The Dem hopefuls are former assistant US Attorney Raul Torres and former APD cop turned lawyer and sometimes prosecutor Ed Perea. Torres has a lot more cash on hand for TV ads that are needed for this countywide race and starts as the favorite. Republican Simon Kubiak will take on the winner in November.

Like your politics on the crazy side? Never mind the GOP presidential contest, take a look at the four way Dem primary for Bernalillo County treasurer. Former Treasurer Patrick Padilla is taking on incumbent Treasurer Manny Ortiz and battling with two lesser knowns as well. The duo were the best of buddies for years, giving each other a job in the treasurer's office when the other one was out of power. Padilla vs. Ortiz. It's a grudge match that even Holly Holm won't want to miss. . .


Blogging The Donald
Another great primary night for GOP presidential contender Donald Trump last night as he gets big wins in Michigan and Mississippi and continues his march toward the nomination. We are not going to join the GOP "establishment" in panicking and aid them in stopping The Donald. Nope. We're getting in early. Here we are on a recent trip to Las Vegas pictured paying homage to our nation's new leader at his Trump International hotel.

But in this wild election year, we're also Feelin' the Bern. He did a nice job last night. . .

Meanwhile, Governor Susana's prez fave, Marco Rubio, was once again getting his clocked clean by Trump last night, only days after Martinez endorsed him.

Come on, Susana, get back in the game and join us in Vegas for the Trump celebration. We promise there will be no pizza party jokes. . .

Thanks for making us New Mexico's #1.

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