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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Primary '18 To Pick Up Today As Candidates For Statewide Offices And Congress File Their Papers, ABQ Congress Contest Appears To Narrow And Reaction To State House Dems Bipartisan Play With R's  

It's filing day for Primary Election '18. No surprises are expected when candidates for US Senator, US House, governor. lieutenant governor and all the statewide offices file their declaration of candidacies today along with required option signatures to make it on to the June 6 primary ballot. But you can make sure of that by following the filing action at the Secretary of State's office here.

One of the more competitive races this year is the battle for the ABQ Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham who seeking the Dem nod for Governor. But according to the latest finance reports, the race has become a bit less competitive.

Insiders, analysts and Alligators seem to agree that there are now three leading contenders who have emerged for the Democratic nomination--Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Damon Martinez and Deb Haaland.

And the nomination is nearly tantamount to winning in November because the district has been in Dem hands for a decade. Here's one of the Alligators with the first winnowing of this multi-candidate scramble as he assesses the fund-raising:

Although (ABQ attorney) Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has a slight lead over (former US Attorney) Damon Martinez in their current cash-on-hand, Martinez is clearly the more efficient fundraiser and was raising money at a faster rate than anyone by the end of the year. He has $322,00 on hand but only spent 12% of what he raised to get there. Sedillo Lopez had $347,000 on-hand but spent 31% of what she raised in ’17 to get there. It appears that Martinez and Sedillo Lopez both will have the funds needed to launch a media campaign. Sedillo Lopez needs to trim her expenses if she’s going to keep up with Martinez. She paid a hefty $13,000 in December for staff. Someone needs to remind her she’s not running for U.S. Senate (yet, right?).

(ABQ attorney) Damian Lara has $147,000 on-hand and (ABQ City Councilor) Pat Davis is sitting on $73,000. The real story of the reports is the disappointing showing by (attorney and former NM Dem Party Chair) Deb Haaland. She’s got only $195,000 on hand and almost spent more than she raised. She’s barely outpacing newcomer Lara.

Political consultants should bring their buckets to the Haaland HQ ASAP to catch all the cash she’s shoveling out the door. Last November she spent a whopping $34,000 on consultants and staff. She hasn’t even dipped into paying pricey media consultants and pollsters. Last fall she gave out staff bonuses (guess it wasn’t a “win” bonus, huh?). If she had spent at the rate of Damon Martinez, she’d be sitting on $340,000 right now. Hey, but at least the consultants and staff are fat and happy—that what’s really important!

That's a pretty good drubbing of Haaland but she has fallen considerably behind her two main foes in the cash contest. However, we would add that her candidacy has powerful symbolic appeal. She would be the first Native American woman elected to the Congress and that's something the party faithful respond to. Still, we have a race to watch here in the top tier.

MORE ON "BIPARTISAN" D'S

Our Monday blog scoring the state House Democrats over their anxiousness to make "bipartisan" deals with the House R's in an election year where they should be looking to take advantage of the R's weakness drew some insightful comments. First, this from the "On the Sidelines Alligator:"

Joe, I have a slightly different take. In the parlance of the weekend, I think we need to wonder whether this year's "bipartisan" approach is a preventive defense designed to run out the clock on the upcoming election. It is a 30 day session with a Governor who still has a veto pen. Why take the chance of giving up a Hail Mary pass to the Republicans this late in the game by creating an election issue? If this strategy works, I expect in 2019 we will see a no huddle Democratic offense with the Republicans unable to blitz.

We'll see about that '19 call as conservative Senate Dems continue to dominate liberal Majority Leader Wirth. We asked this Gator why don't the Democrats at least force controversial votes that could be used against House R's in swing districts regardless of whether the bills have any chance of being signed by the Governor. After all that's what R's did when they recently controlled the chamber:

I think theirs is a risk adverse strategy. The Democrats would just as well have the election tomorrow and don't want to raise any new issues. That approach does not come without its own risks but they are playing it safe. None of this, of course, has much to do with defining and enacting policy, at least until next year.

Another Alligator of the Dem variety is not pleased with his party's action at the session:

Those of us who receive non-stop solicitations from the House Majority Dems will think twice about contributing if it means supporting House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, ABQ GOP Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes (who are in key swing districts) and other Republicans who receive assistance and cover from House and Senate Dems. Why are our Democrats engaged in giving these Republicans legislative victories that they will then use to claim they are “bipartisan” on the campaign trail? They never did the same for us! ABQ Dem Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto has 5 bills he’s cosponsoring with Gentry and 3 with Sarah Maestas Barnes. Last election cycle Gentry and Barnes were two of Dems’ top targets. Our Democratic leadership should be busy digging the graves for Barnes’ and Gentry’s political careers not finding ways to extend their terms.

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