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Monday, October 31, 2016

SCRAMBLE FOR AMERICAN POWER UNEXPECTEDLY COMES HERE; TRUMP IN ABQ IN LONGSHOT BID TO FLIP STATE; BOMBASTIC CROWD CHEERS HIM ON; RELISH CLINTON'S LATE BREAKING EMAIL WOES, Plus: Sen. Majority Leader Sanchez Race Remains Tight, House Leader Gentry Bashing His Foe On TV, Gary Johnson's Descent, And: APD's Stone Wall Stands Strong 

(Eric Lucero photo)
Donald Trump, making a longshot bid to change New Mexico from blue to red and jumble the national electoral math that has him lagging Hillary Clinton, brought the 2016 presidential election to ABQ Sunday night, rallying a crowd of about 4,000 bombastic supporters who roared with delight as he insisted he would carry the state Nov. 8.

(Full rally video is here.)

It was an unexpected visit. All public polling here has Trump trailing his rival, although not by overwhelming margins, but Trump told the crowd at an airport hangar near the Sunport that the race here is "tied." His campaign has been touting internal polls to back up that contention.

A new entrant to the polling derby, the Zia Poll, which bills itself as nonpartisan, says in its survey conducted Oct. 24 that Clinton leads Trump by 5 points, 45-40 with Gary Johnson fading to 9 percent.

Independent analyst and former radio talk show host Mike Santullo says the fading candidacy of Johnson could in the final hours be benefitting Trump more than Clinton. (The ABQ Journal will have its final poll this Sunday).

Trump the outsider played the insider game in his ABQ speech, making specific pitches to voters with just days before Election Day, but with nearly 300,000 votes of an expected 800,000 already cast. He bragged of how Hispanics are supporting him, singled out Kirtland Airforce Base (pronouncing it "Kirkland") and its 20,000 employees for special praise and pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs to a state that has lost so many during the ongoing economic stagnation.

Following the rally, Trump tweeted:

Beautiful rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico this evening - thank you. Get out & VOTE! #DrainTheSwamp


If Clinton does take a hit from the latest email flare up, the early vote thus far which has tilted Democratic could spell the difference. Trump's hope for an upset is not completely unfounded, but he has no ground game here and is not buying TV time. If he is to take the prize here it will have to be part of a late forming national wave against Clinton.

Bralley photo 
Unlike his visit during the primary, there was no bashing by Trump of NM GOP Gov. Martinez who has refused to support him. And there was no riot as there was at Trump's May downtown ABQ appearance, although there were some minor scuffles with protesters.

Southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce spoke to the crowd before Trump landed. Valencia County State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado was also on hand. He is now being mentioned as a possible GOP replacement for Pearce should Pearce give up his seat in 2018 to seek the governorship.

The Trump visit could help boost GOP turnout which has been lagging in the early vote and which is critical for the state House and Senate races which are being vigorously contested this cycle. Control of the House--currently in the hands of the GOP--is at stake.

Will Clinton follow Trump here? Right now she doesn't have to make the unexpected pivot as Trump does. She will concentrate on the true swing states that still show tight races. Here's how we explained it for KOB-TV's audience:

“The early vote seems to indicate the state is going toward Clinton,” political blogger Joe Monahan said. “So for all the political junkies out there, the thing to watch is not where Trump is going but where is Hillary going? Is she coming to New Mexico? If you see her coming, then you really know that this state is in play.”

SANCHEZ VS. BACA

In the must-watch, can't-turn-your-back-on-it race for state Senate, we have exclusive news.

State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, engaged in a nasty battle with Republican Greg Baca and the Governor's political machine, remains tied with Baca as we enter the final week in this expensive clash in Valencia County. That's according to reliable insider polling, not the junk stuff that sometimes floats around this time of year.

The race started off as a dead heat in the early October polling. Those controversial and emotional ads against Sanchez that featured two mothers of murder victims crying and pointing the finger at Sanchez apparently have not closed the deal for Baca. And Sanchez is now up with a response ad.

Democrats think they can pull Sanchez to safety because of their superior ground game. R's are confident that increased GOP turnout in the final week will make the difference for them. But this is going to be a stare-down right to the bitter end. For sure, we will watch this one with eagle eyes when we take to the airwaves for our Election Night coverage on public radio KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM.

GENTRY VS. FIGUEROA

What's this? State House Majority Leader Nate Gentry doing expensive TV ads against his Democratic opponent Natalie Figueroa? Yep. Although this race is not on the list of swing seats this year, Gentry has raised a boatload of money for himself and fellow House R's and he's spending heavily. He's attacking Figueroa, a longtime school teacher who is running a feisty challenge against him, in both the mail and on the tube.

The TV ad says Figueroa is opposed to adding 100 cops to APD and paints her as weak on crime overall. (If we get the ad, we'll post it.) Figueroa strikes back with an Internet ad that lumps Gentry and Trump together calling them "two peas in a pod."

The Gentry NE Heights district has a Dem performance of only 47 percent. However, it has been held by a Dem in the past and in 2012 Gentry's Dem challenger kept him to 53.9 percent of the vote. He won by a similar margin in 2014.

Gentry probably has more to fear from losing his title of majority leader than losing his race--the Dems have a chance to take the House over in this presidential election year--but the fact that he would put up TV against his opponent is only go to make all of us in the bleacher seats pay attention Election Night.

THE JOHNSON DESCENT

Johnson tangles with reporter
Former NM Governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson says:

This is the last political office I’m going to seek. I’m never going to be a candidate again. No regrets. No regrets. This has been a big league education.

And it was his educational deficiency that did Johnson in this year, unfamiliar as he was and is with the major issues of the day, especially foreign policy which is so relevant to the presidency. He continues his wayward ways to the end:

Gary Johnson Blows Up At Reporter: 'Why Are You Even Interviewing Me?'

Gary Johnson insisted that he was "not a dummy" in a contentious interview published Thursday about tax policy and his position in the polls. The Libertarian presidential candidate's interview with Guardian reporter Paul Lewis came on the heels of an exchange with HBO, which was apparently just as heated.

One reader likens Gary to a third grader who won't do his homework but insists that the teacher give him a passing grade because he is who he is.

In early summer we thought Johnson might get about 6 percent of the NM vote. More recently we upped that to 10 to 12 percent but that, like all odds-setting, is based on performance. We now expect him to have difficulty getting into double digits here. In national polls he is hugging the 4 percent level, a drastic drop from his peak. It's as if he's tumbling from his beloved Mt. Everest which he successfully climbed.

Johnson has run a sorry campaign these past few weeks, revealing to the nation his lack of depth, a trait he shares with Trump whose celebrity gets him a pass. Even the Republican-friendly editorial pages of the ABQ Journal, desperate to endorse someone other than Clinton or Trump, could not bring themselves to give the nod to Johnson and for the first time in its modern history refused to issue a presidential endorsement.

Johnson's best decision of the campaign and his most eloquently stated was his intention to never run again. No hard feelings, Gary, but it really is time to come home.

APD'S STONE WALL

You can ask where the mayor, the city council and the business community is until your blue in the face but there's still no stomach to reform APD. After all these years of scandal and disruption, it remains off the leash:

Albuquerque’s Police Oversight Board has told the office of the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico that APD has stonewalled the agency “at every turn” in its attempt to help reform the troubled department. In a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Beth Mohr, chair of the oversight agency, laid out scathing criticisms of APD Chief Gorden Eden. She wrote that APD’s actions “directly thwart” efforts at civilian oversight and use-of-force reform. The civilian board’s efforts have become a “waste of time” because of APD’s refusal to cooperate as required by city ordinance and the settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit over APD’s unconstitutional use of force, she wrote. ABQ Free Press Weekly contacted an APD spokesperson seeking comment and did not immediately hear back.

The Federal Monitor for APD, James Ginger, has also repeatedly expressed his frustration with the pace of APD reforms and the resistance they continue to encounter.

APD critics say only a new chief and upper command staff, along with an uncompromising mayor and judge presiding over the federally mandated reforms, will rein in  the department.

You might have heard that a time or two. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016

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