Wednesday, June 01, 2016
A Testy Race For BernCo DA: Torrez With A Torrent Of TV Ads But Perea Grabs On To His Past Baggage, Plus: Latest On NM Prez Race
The retired APD officer and special prosecutor was handed a golden opportunity when his primary opponent, Raúl Torrez, was the subject of a damaging newspaper report involving his tenure as a former assistant US attorney. Then this week Perea received the ABQ Journal's editorial endorsement.
But Perea was unable to raise substantial funds for his bid to publicize either event, while Torrez was--and spent over six figures on TV ads. Torrez had raised over $290,000 as of May 9 and Perea about $81,000. Perea is expected to go upon TV this week but with nowhere near the buy of Torrez. Also, at their one high-profile debate Perea failed to use the news report against his rival, foregoing valuable publicity.
That's the good news for Torrez. The bad news is that his behavior as a federal prosecutor that was called into question went unvetted and hangs over his political future. The best outcome for Torrez might have been to have that report that called his integrity into question used against him in TV ads and still go on to win.
There has been a spirited under the radar debate over the matter between Torrez and Perea who are vying to replace four term DA Kari Brandenburg who is not seeking re-election. First, the report:
In 2012, a federal judge accused. . . assistant U.S. attorney (Raul Torrez. . .of trying to “unfairly alter” a transcript of a recorded encounter between drug agents and an Amtrak train passenger suspected of carrying a stash of crack cocaine. Weeks later, in an unusual action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked the judge to withdraw her negative written comments about prosecutor Torrez, contending her findings could lead to an internal U.S. Justice Department inquiry and possible disciplinary action.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office denied that Torrez acted in bad faith but acknowledged in a court filing that there were “imperfections” in how the evidence was prepared and presented for a pretrial hearing on whether the search of train passenger Billie Tiea Vaughn was illegal. Torrez said. . . that he regrets there was a “misunderstanding” of a transcript he initially offered at the October 2011 hearing on a defense motion to suppress the evidence. He said he never intentionally tried to mislead anyone.
Pretty serious stuff and Perea pounced, calling the story "very troubling:"
This information is a strong indication of his lack of judgment handling prosecutions. It also casts doubt on his integrity when a federal judge accused him of trying to "unfairly alter" a transcript to favor the government's case against two drug suspects. Even his employer, the U.S> attorney, wrote that he might have been subject to disciplinary action had the judge's order not been modified. . . we need effective prosecutions. The kind of prosecutorial misbehavior allegedly committed by my opponent is unacceptable and creates distrust in our criminal justice system.
Torrez punched back with this:
Perea's political smear campaign deliberately falsifies the truth and the facts , The truth i, and Ed Perea knows this, any suggestion that I acted improperly was taken back, dismissed, and the judge corrected the record. . . As a prosecutor I put rapists, child abusers and murderers behind bars. Ed Pera has not. I;m proud of my record. My political opponents will stoop to anything to stop our movement for reform. This blatant attempt to smear my record only underscores the need for real change in our community.
The judge who "corrected the record" was Chief U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo who declined to comment on her action.
The winner of the Dem DA primary will face Republican attorney Simon Kubiak who is unopposed for the GOP nod. But Kubiak is expected to run a low-budget campaign that is unlikely to get into this controversy in a big way.
A sidebar to the DA's race. Perea's supporters are grumbling over the endorsements of Torrez from Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich and ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. They complain that the federal reps usually don't stick their noses unto contested primaries and wonder what's different this time?
ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE
The Torrez-Perea race is one of many exciting down ballot duels that we will be covering Tuesday night--Primary Election Night--beginning at 6:30 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ/ Santa Fe and everywhere on kanw.com. Among my guests will be veteran Democratic strategist Sisto Abeyta who counts Senators Munoz and Sapien among his clients. You can bet we will be all over the legislative primaries like a wet blanket.
CLINTON VS. SANDERS
No big NM TV buys from Hillary and Bernie as the June 7th primary fast approaches. According to the latest reports Sanders has put up $47,700 for 128 spots and Clinton is buying 88 spots for $29,435.
Tortured TV executives can only pray to the polling gods that the state somehow becomes competitive in the fall and they start seeing those luscious $100,000 plus weekly TV buys that they did when the state had swing status back in 2008 and 2004.
Meantime, former President Clinton is being sent back into the state for a Las Cruces stop Thursday. Last week he visited ABQ and Española. Sanders made a point of going to Dona Ana County on his three stop NM swing. And Bill's visit seems aimed at slowing any late momentum for Sanders there. Details on his Thursday afternoon rally here.
Still, the "tell" on where the race stands is Hillary's decision to not personally campaign here.
And about that poll we blogged Tuesday from BWD Global and Bruce Donisthorpe showing Clinton leading Sanders 53 to 28 in the state. It was not commissioned by the conservative GOAL WestPAC as we first blogged. BWD Global does do polling for the PAC, but Donisthorpe says his firm paid for the presidential survey.
As for the poll itself, Donisthorpe explained that Sanders' numbers probably lagged because the survey was conducted among likely voters with landlines--not cellphones. That especially impacts the results with younger voters which the BWD poll showed Sanders strength, but still had Clinton ahead with them. Veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff weighs in:
At this point, I would speculate that Bernie is ahead by over 20 percentage points in NM among the 18 to 34 year olds and is also ahead among the 35 to 49 year olds, by a slimmer margin. It will be interesting to see how many of them vote.
Reader Michael Corwin believes the poll will mean some egg on the face:
Throughout the primary, Bernie Sanders has killed it with first time voters, and those with an inconsistent voting history. Donisthorpe's polling was landline based and focused on those who have voted before. My son is one of over 1,700 17-year olds who have registered to vote in this cycle that like their peers across the country strongly back Sanders. There are 18-year olds, 19 year olds, 20-year olds etc. who also will turn out and vote for him. With the exception of southern states, and maybe one or two others, the young voters have turned out in force this primary season. Also, the undecideds already know who Clinton is and are not likely to break for her. Expect some egg for Bruce on election night.
Well, we saw a carton of 18 eggs at Costco selling for under two bucks. Look out, Bruce.
This is the home of New Mexico politics.
E-mail your news and comments. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016