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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Latest: Less Than 3 Weeks To Go; Pence To ABQ Thursday But Why? Leader Egolf Feeling Pressure In State House Battle And Insider Polling Has SOS Race Going Dem In BernCo And Heinrich Gets On Clinton VP List 

Less than three weeks to go. We're on it like a wet blanket.

GOP VP candidate Mike Pence returns to ABQ for a Thursday rally at 6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel and the question is why?  New Mexico is colored blue on all the presidential maps and there seems little that could change that after the Trump implosion. That led us to query our Alligators about why the Indiana Governor is spending precious campaign time in a non swing state.

The most frequent answer was that the Pence visit is designed was to get out the base Republican vote in order to keep the state House under GOP control. Another reason for the visit? To possibly pave the way for Pence's own run for the presidential nomination in 2020. Besides, Pence will be in Durango, Colorado on Wednesday, a short hop to the Duke City where the TV time he gets will be beamed back to Durango and a lot of other southern Colorado towns that are in the ABQ TV market (so is a slice of eastern Arizona and the Navajo Reservation).

The state House battle is fully joined with a path for a Dem takeover more clearly defined than several months ago, but it is no done deal. Pence firing up the R's to go vote is time well spent in that regard. Maybe Gov. Martinez, chair of the Republican Governors Association, had a hand in bringing him in here? (He was also here in August). She has a lot to lose if the House reverts back to the Dems.

Bernie Sanders held an ABQ rally at UNM Tuesday that drew a crowd of some 2,000 so Pence's event will serve to counterbalance Bernies's bounce. And maybe Pence picks up some campaign money while at the Embassy suites?

Even though Trump and Pence are barnstorming Colorado this week the state is now tipping to the Dems and losing its swing state status. Worse for the GOP pair is Arizona. The state has rarely gone for  the Dem presidential candidate. Now that is in doubt with the Dems making a move there. Whatever his reasons for stopping in ABQ, the best advice to Mike Pence is to get back on the plane ASAP and head over to Phoenix.

PRESSURE TIME

State House Minority Leader Brian Egolf seems to be getting nervous. That's natural. With polling numbers circulating showing his Democrats in a better position to pick up three seats and retake control of the House from the GOP, the fretting has begun about turnout. But Egolf takes it one step further. He asserts that the polling is not as good as it should be:

Our Democratic candidates for the state House should be leading by wide margins. Donald Trump’s campaign is in total meltdown. But his implosion hasn’t seemed to impact down-ballot races. In fact, most of our Democratic candidates are still neck and neck with their Republican opponents. As hard as it is to believe, there is a real possibility that candidates who share Trump’s extreme agenda could be elected to the state House.

Egolf made that statement in a fund-raising missive as he works to generate enthusiasm among base voters. There is maximum pressure on Egolf who could very well be selected the next House speaker if the Dems win.

If Egolf and his team can't put the House under Blue control with Trump at the head of the GOP ticket and with good starting polling numbers in many of the key legislative districts, when can they take it back?

SOS UPDATE

Oliver And Espinoza
There's more from the polling front today. . .

It would be a surprise if Democrat and Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver failed to win back the secretary of state's office in a presidential year when turnout increases. According to insider polling conducted late last week Oliver is indeed on her way to Santa Fe. She is pulling about 54 percent in big Bernalillo County and if that holds on Election Night, she will be elected statewide. Oliver launched her TV ads in early October and that's paying off, along with the high name ID she has earned in BernCo due to her eight years of public service.

The R's took the SOS office for the first time since the 30's in 2014 in a stunning victory for Dianna Duran who beat Oliver in a low turnout off year election. But Duran blew it and ended up serving a month in jail for campaign corruption charges This time Oliver faces former GOP Roswell State Rep. Nora Espinoza who this week joined Oliver on the TV airwaves.

Espinoza needs to get ABQ in play but her conservative brand of politics makes that an uphill prospect, and having Trump serving as a statewide drag doesn't help.

ONE OF 39

Okay, it's not exactly making the short list, but freshman Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich still has to have his chest out after WikiLeaks discloses Clinton campaign emails had him as one of 39 prospective VP picks for the Dem prez nominee:

The list of 39 names. . . was sent to Clinton by Campaign Chairman John Podesta on March 17. The email was part of a trove of 50,000 purported messages stolen from Podesta’s Gmail account. The email was sent on the heels of Clinton’s sweep of five primaries. . . on March 15. . . The list of potential veeps was compiled by Podesta and top Clinton aides. .  .

Heinrich is up for re-election in 2018 and we already have hard news for you on that front. ABQ contractor and political newcomer Mick Rich is the first Republican surfacing as a possible foe.

Mick Rich is owner and CEO of Mick Rich Contractors in Albuquerque, But because of Mick’s commitment to improving New Mexico’s communities, his story extends far beyond business ownership. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mick earned his civil engineering degree from Oregon State University and began his contracting career in California and several other states before coming to New Mexico, where his roots stretch back almost a century. His grandfather worked as a mining engineer in deep shaft, hard rock mining in Silver City and Magdalena in the 1920s and 1930s. So when Mick moved here in 1980, he was seeking more than opportunity, he was seeking community.

Governor Susana has also been mentioned as a possible '18 Heinrich foe but with her popularity numbers in the cellar and the antipathy toward her in a large portion of her own  Party, the prospects look dim. Meanwhile, we're told by our GOP alligators that Rich is already spending money on consultants. That's rich.

ART HEADACHES

There's plenty of time to absorb the history on historic Route 66 in ABQ, these days. The ART rapid bus construction project is underway this week, with torn up streets slowing traffic to a crawl during rush hours. That was expected but reader Dan Klein has some ideas to make the Central Avenue commute shorter and smoother during the year long project:

The contractors and the city seemed unprepared for traffic issues. I recommend two things the contractors do immediately. First, from Old Town all the way up west Central, greatly increase the green light for east/west traffic from 6 am to 9 am every morning and from 4 pm to 7 pm every night. With Central being cut down to one lane we need to keep that traffic moving as much as possible. Second, consider stopping work and reopening a second lane on westbound Central from Old Town to Atrisco during the evening (4 pm to 7 pm) rush hour. I know Berry wants ART and since we are getting it he needs to tell the contractors to make life as easy on the citizen commuter as they can. I think these two ideas, at least for the Westside folks trying to cross the river, should help them get home without sitting for hours in traffic jams.

The city says it will not extend the time of the green lights along the ART route until the project is completed. And that's a flashing red light to motorists thinking of getting their kicks on ABQ's Route 66.

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