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Monday, October 24, 2016

Game On: Guv's Second Revenge Campaign Against Dem Majority LeaderSanchez Fully Engaged As Mega Media Attacks Start, Plus: Our "InsidersOnly" Report On State Senate, The Problem Of Richard Priem, And: Joles For Congress? 

The revenge campaign is on. The Governor's political machine, led by her longtime consultant Jay McCleskey, has just plunked down $125,000 for TV time in an effort to take out Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, the arch-enemy of Martinez who has thwarted her agenda in the Democratic-controlled House since she took office in 2011.

The $125k is only for ads on two TV stations, reports data journalist Sandra Fish, so there is surely more to come because Advance NM Now, the PAC run by McCleskey, showed over $1 million in cash-on-hand as of early October. There are also anti-Sanchez radio ads up and flyers in the mailboxes as Martinez goes all out to try to hand the seat to her machine's hand-picked candidate, attorney Greg Baca.

Sanchez was also bombarded with hundreds of thousands of Martinez money in 2012 but scored a relatively easy re-election. This year he is again fighting back, coming with his own $120,000 TV buy plus mailers etc. While McCleskey got much of his cash from oil companies, Sanchez is getting much of his from labor unions opposed to Martinez's agenda.

There is some irony here. If Sanchez were to be defeated his likely replacement as majority leader would be Sen. Peter Wirth of Santa Fe who is even more liberal than Sanchez. That is of little concern to Martinez who relishes nothing more than having the opportunity to take down a political opponent.

The media against Sanchez focuses in a general way on the Governor's "all crime all the time" agenda that Sanchez was key in defeating in the recent special session of the Legislature. The emotional spots show mothers crying over the loss of relatives to crime. An example is here.

The first round of TV from Sanchez worked to soften his image and features his wife Lynn.

Sen. Sanchez
Polling from both sides shows Sanchez started this race below the key 50 percent level so the contest is even of greater interest. The conventional wisdom has Sanchez scoring another win by running an effective campaign with a boost from the Trump candidacy which could dampen GOP turnout.

But there are concerns, chief among them that Sanchez realizes he is not only running against Baca but against Gov. Martinez and not lose sight of that. How he presents that to his voters is his problem but it is a problem.

Despite Martinez's deep drop in popularity--from its peak in the 60's to the low 40's today in the Journal poll and to 36 percent in the SurveyUSA, Democrats have struggled over how to take advantage of that plunge.

Let's sum it up this way: If Sanchez were to lose, that infamous holiday pizza party the Governor held and where her staffers were throwing bottles from balconies and where she hounded the cops to back off, would look like a senior citizen tea party compared to the revenge-filled festival that a Sanchez loss would set off.

Never mind that there are upset Republicans who look at all that PAC cash and fret that more off it isn't going into the state House races where the R's are in peril of losing their majority. They know that revenge triumphs over rationality when it comes to the Martinez playbook on one Michael Sanchez.

INSIDERS ONLY 

We aren't going into details on the outcome of the battle for the state Senate in this update so this is for "Insiders Only:"

Based on interviews with a wide assortment of Alligators, insiders and politicos of both good and ill repute, we have Dem Senators Sanchez, Soules and Ivey-Soto winning, Stefanics beating Republican Ted Barela, Steinborn winning over GOP Senator Cotter and the seat held by Dem Senator Sapien a toss-up. We're keeping our eye on the Simon-Gould seat being vacated by an R. If the above holds, you're looking at a Dem pick-up of at least one. But there's two weeks to go and we want to see what tricks Jay has up his sleeve before locking down on any of these forecasts.

Details on these races and more are here.

That concludes our "Insiders Only" portion of today's blog. Now back to our regular programming. . .

THE PRIEM PROBLEM

Richard Priem
The newspaper this weekend aptly labeled Richard Priem as the "hard-to-find" challenger of ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, but there is a back story. Priem, the GOP nominee for the congressional seat, is very ill.

We sat next to him in late July at the funeral services for our good friend, pollster and consultant Bruce Donisthorpe. Richard, in is late 60's, was in poor shape, suffering from undisclosed ailments that had severely weakened him. We exchanged pleasantries but little else. He was ailing even before he secured the primary nomination in June but chose to go forward.

We've met with Priem on several occasions in recent years to discuss politics as well as national security and the military presence in the state. Those are subjects he is well acquainted with, having served in the army for 21 years and becoming an expert on terrorism.

For whatever reason he has declined to discuss his health with the media but he is running for Congress and the public has the right to know. We wish him well and hope to soon see him fully recovered.

NEVER SAY NEVER

Meanwhile, the newspaper also followed up on the news broken here repeatedly over the last several months that Grisham is likely to give up her congressional seat in 2018 to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. "Never say never" was her response when asked by the paper about such a bid.

The newshounds might also want to follow up on our report of several months standing that southern GOP NM Congressman Steve Pearce is also thinking about an '18 Guv run.
(If we broke as many dishes as we break news around this place, we'd be knee deep in china.)

And then there's some work to do with Dem Senator Tom Udall and his political ambitions. Opinion has been seesawing on whether Udall would also take a look at the '18 NM Governor's race, with the end of the seesaw stamped "yes" being most recently favored. However, there is one big caveat. If the Dems take control of the US Senate next month, as currently predicted, Udall will not jump and enjoy his role in the majority.

Udall might not have long to bask in that winning sunshine. That's because even if the Dems win it back in '16,  for 2018 there are already heavy odds posted saying they will lose it back:

. . . This could be a very short-lived majority for Senate Democrats, as the 2018 field is remarkably bad for them. The numbers for that year are stunning: 25 Democratic or Democratic-affiliated independents are up for reelection, compared with just eight Republicans. That’s as lopsided an election cycle as you will ever see.

JOLES FOR CONGRESS?

Tom Joles 
Michael  Romero
What's this? KOB-TV anchorman Tom Joles is running for the northern congressional seat against incumbent Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan?

No, but if Michael Romero, the Republican who is actually running against Lujan ever needs a stand-in, we think Joles is his man. That's quite the resemblance there, isn't it? Maybe Tom has relatives he doesn't know about from Embudo where Romero was born and raised? He's probably checking out ancestry.com.

Well, the stand-in status goes for Romero as well. If he doesn't make it to Congress, he could always handle the anchor chores for when Joles is on vacation. Viewers would be sure to be fooled.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016

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