Monday, June 06, 2016

New Mexico Becomes Billionaire Alley As Trump And Soros Make Splashes; Trump Blows Kiss To Susana; DA Hopeful Torrez Plays In Soros Pool, Plus: Direct From The Alligator Pond: Predictions On Some Of Tuesday's Stand Out Races 

Soros and Trump
 New Mexico politics became billionaire alley in the closing days of Primary '16 with Donald Trump confessing newfound affection for Gov. Martinez and Dem billionaire activist George Soros suddenly showing a $100,000 plus interest in the race for the Dem nomination for Bernalillo County district attorney.

Trump seems to be toying with our governor. First, he excoriates her job performance at an ABQ rally that set off a national Republican panic over the minority vote. Then in a reversal he tells the New Mexican he "likes her" and wants her support. It must have Susana's head spinning which is probably what Trump has in mind as he guides her to an eventual endorsement of his candidacy.

Insiders are telling us that polling shows Susana took a big hit with fellow R's over Trump's initial criticism of her in ABQ. She is going to have to stop the bleeding and that probably means some kind of endorsement soon.


And then there's Dem billionaire and international progressive activist George Soros. What's he doing here? Does he have a relative in trouble with the local law? Well, no, but he has been showing an interest in crime and punishment issues from a liberal perspective. He's put that interest to work by giving $107,000 to a super PAC which reports spending most of it on media and polling on behalf of Dem BernCo district attorney contender Raúl Torrez. It's an astonishing sum of out-of-state money for a county race.

Torrez has raised over $350,000 and with the Soros money included we're looking at a half million dollar campaign for DA. Talk about over the top.

Torrez challenger Ed Perea has raised a mere $92,000 which is what it used to cost to run for the office. But the Torrez spending torrent--including some $10,000 a month for a campaign consultant--demonstrates how even retail politics at the local level is now becoming a playground for the consultants and out-of-state money interests.

Is Soros looking to recuruit Hispanic candidates for higher office?  Does Soros want to exert outsized influence over the DA's office here? Or is citizen Soros just doing what he often does--backing candidates whose views match his own?

Defense attorney Simon Kubiak is unopposed for the GOP DA nomination tomorrow, but Republicans don't seem too fired up about him. If Torrez wins--as expected--he will go into the general election as the front-runner. But will that Soros money prompts out-of- state GOP interests to give Simon some support? What about the billionaire Koch brothers lining up for a brawl with Soros? You can already see the TV ads: "Defeat Raúl Soros!"


So just how did that Trump interview about Susana come down? We asked New Mexican reporter Robert Nott for details on the scoop:

I called his press secretary for comment after I had interviewed the governor about Trump. About an hour later, the press secretary called back and put Trump on the line. (the story didn't make that part clear) I had him on the phone for less than ten minutes; asked him a half dozen questions or so.

Martinez continues to say that she wants to hear more from Trump on where he sees funding for the state's national labs in a Trump administration. Trump says the labs will do fine under him because he is going to build up the military:

. . . I will be adding to New Mexico greatly, building up our military capability in New Mexico… so New Mexico is totally protected.

Trump knows how to push the buttons and by mouthing reassuring words about the billions in funding for Sandia and Los Alamos he pushed one of the biggest of them all. Does Hillary agree?


Reader Joe Barela is taking advantage of the pickle Susana is in over deciding whether to endorse Trump and he comes with this:

 I would have expected complete condemnation of Mr. Trump's racist attitudes towards people of Hispanic origin from Governor Martinez. For her to blow off Trump's comments as just politics when almost half the population in New Mexico is Hispanic is not enough. She needs to speak boldly and proudly for the Hispanic people that she serves, that go back for many generations and have served our country as Americans. . . When Mr. Trump sees a Hispanic surname, he immediately associates it with being an illegal immigrant from Mexico. To allow New Mexico families who settled these lands hundreds of years ago to be portrayed as rapists and thugs is not acceptable. Come On Governor Martinez, "man-up" and do your job and represent all New Mexicans proudly and set Mr. Trump straight.

And a Senior Alligator gets right to the point:

Joe, Governor Martinez still touts on her website that “New Mexico is more reliant on federal government spending than any other state, and experts agree that is why our state has been especially hard hit by the national recession and the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.”  and that: “The last thing we need to do is adopt the same failed job-killing policies championed by our opponents that created this dependency in the first place and made our state’s economy so vulnerable to the dysfunction in the nation’s capital.”

So the Governor believes federal funding is a job-killing policy but won’t endorse Mr. Trump until he assures her about federal funding for the labs and bases?… It certainly appears she Governor is talking out of both sides of her mouth as she tries (again) to navigate the national scene.


Here's how Tuesday night might very well come down, according to a variety of Alligators and Senior Alligators queried about the key races.

The upset of the night could be Cynthia Hall defeating Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya for the Dem nomination for Montoya's ABQ area PRC seat.

Hall came close four years ago and this time around Conservation Voters of NM has put nearly $50,000 into the race as it raises questions about Montoya's record. This is an Anglo district that Montoya took four years ago when the Dem primary vote was divided between her, Hall and Al Park. This time it's a more perilous one-on-one contest for Montoya.

Clinton beats Sanders is the Gator consensus. The issue is by how much. Both sides will get delegates to the national convention based on how the vote ends up. . .

The race for the South Valley BernCo County Commission is just too close to call. Someone may decisively win the Dem nomination but the Gators don't have much visibility on this exciting contest between Michael Quezada, Adrián Pedroza and Robert G. Chavez.

Rep. Nick Salazar, the longest serving member of the NM House, will fend off a younger challenger and win the Dem nod in the northern district. But that's it. No more bites out of the apple for Nick after this as he nears 90 years of age.

Linda Stover is poised to prevail over Roman Montoya for the Dem nomination for Bernalillo County clerk. . .The four  race for county treasurer is too wild and crazy for any Gator to make a bold prediction.

Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena should win the Dem nomination to her ABQ SE Heights district as two opponents split the vote against her.


Let's  see how those Alligators fare tomorrow night when we take to the airwaves of KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM to provide the state's only wall-to-wall Primary Election Night coverage beginning at 6:30 p. m. Among our analysts will be former NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid and veteran Republican pollster Bruce Donisthorpe. The early vote in Bernalillo County should be posted shortly after 7 p.m. so don't wait too long to tune in.


Now pull your boots on and come for a walk with us deep into the political weeds.

We've been blogging about various interest groups offering dual endorsements in some of the legislative primaries. But it's not as straightforward as that. In fact, it can seem downright confusing to the average voter.

Conservation Voters NM and Animal Protection Voters NM were mentioned by reader Michelle Meaders as offering dual endorsements, prompting responses from both groups about their endorsement policies. First, a spokesperson for CVNM:

CVNM & CVNM Action Fund did not endorse in the HD 21 race nor in the HD 38 race. Our endorsement policy does not allow for dual endorsements. . . When a candidate stands out in a race on conservation, they get our endorsement. In some races, there are multiple candidates that would be strong conservation choices, but no single clear conservation choice. Historically, CVNM has simply not endorsed in those races. This year, we are utilizing a new designation: Conservation Qualified. When we released our endorsements, we also identified Conservation Qualified candidates.  

HD 21: Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena (Conservation Qualified); Debbie Sarinana (Conservation Qualified)HD 38: Mary Hotvedt (Conservation Qualified); Karen Whitlock (Conservation Qualified)

Rep. Lechuga-Tena has been saying she is "endorsed' by CVNM.

Still not confused enough? Here's a spokesperson from the Animal Protection Voters of NM:

Animal Protection Voters hopes to inform the electorate as to which candidates, after a balance of factors, are the best animal protection vote in a given district. As such, APV does dual or triple endorsements in open seats (or seats in which a candidate was appointed vs. elected) when candidate questionnaires suggest that multiple candidates will be very strong on the issues that matter to us. We would rather give voters a fair assessment in these circumstances rather than invent an artificial delineation, because we care about the issues above all else. I hope this helps explain, in case others had the same question.

Thank goodness we've been ranked as "blog qualified" and don't need an endorsement.


The South Valley BernCo Commission seat does not contain Kirtland Air Force base as one of the candidate's website states. We relied on that description in blogging the race but were informed KAFB was removed from the district during the 2010 redistricting.

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