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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

TRUMP TEARS THE TOWN IN HALF: WILD NIGHT OF POLITICAL THEATRE AND PROTEST ROCKS CITY; HE STUNS THE STATE AS HE LASHES OUT AT NO SHOW MARTINEZ, Plus: Surprise Endorsement In Key State House Race 

Donald Trump cut Albuquerque in half Tuesday night. His appearance prompted violent street protests that drew national attention and at the same time had his hard core supporters inside the Convention Center reacting with euphoria. (Complete video of Trump rally is here.)

Visiting the most Hispanic state in the nation and a Democratic city, Trump did not hold back. He hit hard all the hot button issues that have made his presidential candidacy the most controversial of our time. There was no change in tone or content to indicate he would pivot to generate more Hispanic support here or elsewhere.

It was a night of political theater unlike any ever seen here, giving an up front, uncut and unsettling look at the new brand of American politics that carries with it an air of danger.

When we left the convention center for the walk home to our near downtown neighborhood, protesters on the street and in cars taunted the Trump crowd, waving Mexican flags and shouting obscenities at them. Some vehicles spun their tires to burn rubber and send smoke into the faces of the Trump supporters.

It was a long walk home as cars filled with protesters shouted anti-Trump epithets. As ABQ Journal newsman Dan McKay tweeted: "Police break up shoving match and deploy pepper spray at Tijeras and Third. Lots of men looking for a fight tonight."

As for the action inside the hall where a crowd of about 8,000 gathered to hear the New York billionaire businessman, we watched from the press pen which Trump said was filled with "disgusting slime" who don't report his candidacy accurately.

Protestors were also inside--lots of them. When they erupted at him, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee yelled forcefully: "Get them out! Get them out!" And out they went to the delight of the boisterous crowd.

There were plenty of Hispanic New Mexicans in the audience but it was predominantly Anglo, reflecting Trump's particular appeal to White conservative males.

TRASHING SUSANA

Trump is the master of the put down and Governor Susana Martinez came in for special treatment Tuesday night. She would not endorse him or attend his rally and she paid the price when Trump stunned the crowd (or at least the media) with this:

Since 2000 the number of people on food stamps in New Mexico has tripled. We have to get your governor to get going. She has to do a better job. Your governor has to do a better job. She's not doing the job. Hey! Maybe I'll run for governor of New Mexico. I'll get this place going. She's not doing the job. We got to get her moving, Come on, let's go governor.

By throwing Martinez under the bus Trump was not only extracting his revenge for her shunning him but also putting Republican elected officials across the nation on notice that if they mimic her behavior they will be getting some of the same medicine.

It was yet another political low point for Gov. Martinez. She was coming off a big weekend loss at the state GOP convention where her favored candidate for GOP national committeeman--Pat Rogers--was trounced by her ardent critic Harvey Yates. Combine that with her falling poll numbers and all that blood in the water proved irresistible to Trump who cuts jugular veins with glee.

And where was the Governor's vaunted political team? Once again, the defensive game eluded them. Political pros said they should at least have had Martinez out of the state when Trump spoke. To have her here and not showing up had to serve only to further inflame him.

Martinez's reaction to Trump throwing her under the bus:

"The potshots weren't about policy, they were about politics," said spokesman Michael Lonergan. "And the Governor will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans, and she did not hear that today."

Well, Trump could care less.

IN PLAY?

One of the few--very few analysts--who think NM may be in play for Trump in November is Greg Payne, the former city councilor and state legislator. Now an attorney, the longtime political consultant and strategist says ABQ will not vote for Trump, but he might be able to cobble together a coalition of rural support--as did Bush in 2000 and 2004--that could put the state back in play.

He says the unpopularity of Hillary makes that a plausible scenario. But he says turnout will have to go down--especially among Hispanics. He believes the rowdy ABQ protest could actually help Trump by firing up his base voters. But will that also fire up Hispanics?

It's a longshot but coming from the analyst who first predicted (back in January) that Trump would be the GOP nominee, it's worth mentioning.

TRUMPT TWEETS ABQ

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump. Great rally in New Mexico, amazing crowd! Now in L.A. Big rally in Anaheim.

Protests? Chaos in the streets? No problem.

Update: Another tweet from Trump:

"The protesters in New Mexico were thugs who were flying the Mexican flag. The rally inside was big and beautiful, but outside, criminals!"

THE WALL

On building a wall on the southern border to keep Mexican immigrants out, there was no  give from Trump, no sign that he might moderate himself for the sake of attracting Hispanic votes. He mentioned the wall a number of times, saying it was needed and he was going to build it. He pointed to the roof of the convention center and said the wall might be as high as that. He did not say, however, as he has in the past, that "Mexico will pay for the wall."

THE LAW

A lot of people showed up at the Trump rally intent on causing trouble. The often troubled ABQ police department was prepared. Rocks and bottles were thrown at the police. Their calm and measured response was viewed under the spotlight of continuous coverage of the protests from CNN, Fox and other national media.

As we were leaving the convention center protesters were pounding on a glass door (which eventually gave way) but the police held their ground--professionally and without incident. Good job. Still. . .

ABQ radio talk show host Eddy Aragon asked on Facebook: "Where were ABQ Mayor and APD Chief Eden?" Good question. . .

DON'T FORGET BILL

(Moore/Journal)
With all the commotion surrounding the Trump visit, you might have forgotten that former President Bill Clinton is in the state for two days to campaign for Hillary. He will be in ABQ today after a stop in the north Tuesday.

Veteran political reporter Steve Terrell has that story.

PERCEPTIONS

Tom Garrity of the Garrity PR Group reports the 2016 Garrity Perception Survey is out and reveals an interesting divide between those identifying themselves as "somewhat conservative" and those who identity as "conservative." They see the major institutions in the state quite differently. For example, the oil and gas industry rates much more favorably with conservatives than the somewhat. Ditto for solar and wind power. More here.

SURPRISE ENDORSEMENT

Maestas Barnes
Some bleak news for Democrats in a district at the center of the battle for control of the NM House. Republican Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, seeking a second term, has secured the endorsement of the union for ABQ area firefighters, a group that usually goes with the Dem:

I am excited to announce the endorsement of the International Area Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 244 union, which is comprised of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Firefighters. I have a tremendous amount of respect for fire fighters and receiving this endorsement is extremely humbling. As a legislator, I have been a strong advocate for public safety and emergency services in New Mexico. I will continue to work to ensure that all first responders have the needed resources to continue to serve and protect the citizens in our community. 

Maestas Barnes has worked across the aisle on a number of issues, including solar energy. She has also kept an arms length from the Governor's political machine so the endorsement in this swing district is not out of the blue. Still. . .

The Dems say they have recruited a quality challenger in Ane Romero but the firefighters endorsement of Maestas Barnes is a wake-up call that taking back this seat and control of the House from the Republicans is anything but a done deal.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016
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