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Monday, June 04, 2018

Sudden Guv Drama Closes Out '18 Primary; Quiet Campaign Ends With Bang As MLG Foes Lash Out Over Delta Dealing, Plus: Congress Race Awash In Cash Sputters To Close And Much More; Our KANW 89.1 FM Election Eve Special Starts at 5 PM 

Sudden drama in the race for the Democratic Guv nomination pushed aside other contests in the final hours of Primary '18, with the pulse rate of Republicans jumping as front-runner Michelle Lujan Grisham grappled with what the R's hope is a budding scandal that will carry into November and help carry Republican Steve Pearce into the Governor's office.

Pearce remains the decided underdog, but the beating Lujan Grisham has been taking from rivals Jeff Apodaca and Joe Cervantes over her involvement with the healthcare firm Delta Consulting undermines the notion that if Grisham wins tomorrow night she automatically takes a unified Dem Party into the fall campaign. And it has the bookies heading to the sidelines to recalculate the betting odds for the November derby.

Both Apodaca and Cervantes warned voters in the final hours that Lujan Grisham's Delta troubles make Pearce more formidable. Cervantes unloaded with this:

If Democrats want win back the governor’s office in November, we must elect an honest candidate who can take on the Republican machine, not someone with a looming scandal hanging over their campaign.

To drive the point home Apodaca unveiled a three point plan to combat corruption. It calls for mandating the release of the tax returns of all statewide candidates and prohibiting elected officials from having state contracts. Interesting ideas that may get some legs as a result of the Delta debacle.

With polling from two weeks ago showing MLG winning over 55 percent of the vote, a drop below 50% tomorrow night could mean Delta sapped some enthusiasm from her at the end. We'll be watching on our live broadcast on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

No matter the outcome tomorrow, Delta delivered a blow to the general election momentum of the 58 year old congresswoman which she must now recover from. That was amplified over the weekend when it was reported that she had incorrectly reported on her congressional disclosure forms her 2013 income from Delta. Her campaign called it "an honest mistake."

While MLG's past foes have questioned her competence and temperament this is the first time her ethics and honesty is being called into question in a major way. That's significant because conservative Pearce can't beat her on the issues or on how to run the government. He can only make the race competitive by calling into question her character and ethics--the same path Republican Susana Martinez took against the Richardson/Denish administration in securing victory in 2010.

Gleeful GOP operatives boasted that it's not over, that Delta is the gift that will keep on giving. One of them saying:

Joe, you don't lay out all your cards in May. There will be more to come.

Whether that's a fact or a bluff remains to be seen. The answer could define the campaign to come.

INVADING APO

For her part, MLG will make her last stop of the primary today in the heart of Apodaca country when she joins a South Valley phone bank at 6:30 p.m.

The last Guv debate of the primary was Saturday in the South Valley but MLG was a no-show, while Apo, Pearce and Cervantes were on hand.

The feisty Apodaca has hit the hardest on Delta and the story has more impact in the heavy ABQ media market. He has been running well with old line politicos and families in the South Valley and hosted a traditional matanza there Sunday.

MEGO IN CONGRESS RACE

The Dem race to replace MLG in the US House sputtered to a close over the weekend amid a bombardment of sterile Super PAC ads that sent voters into MEGO--my eyes glaze over.

The trio of leaders--Damon Martinez, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Deb Haaland never did light much of a fire under the electorate. But endless buckets of out of state money ceaselessly fanned whatever flames burned in the contest.

The six way race ends in a muddle with the polling leader being Martinez. If he wins he will immediately face a hostile progressive wing that will lament his victory even though their own inability to settle on one challenger would be what sealed their fate.

HuffPo came with its take on the race over the weekend.

The congressional primary did illuminate a new reality: the Super PACS are now the steroids of state politics. Their coffers dwarf those of the candidates' campaigns. Funded by billionaires and corporations with their own agenda, they make the political races seem more remote and disconnected from the reality of New Mexico. The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling made possible these PACS and this new reality.

HERRELL VS. NEWMAN

According to one of our sources, late insider polling by a Super PAC supporting Yvette Herrell for the southern GOP Congressional nomination shows Herrell with a good lead over Monty Newman. However, a Super PAC supporting Newman came with a wave of mail over the weekend so the race is still being closely watched. The winner will likely face Xochitl Torres Small who is leading Mad Hildebrandt for the southern Dem nomination.

EARLY VOTE IN

Here's the statewide total early vote for the primary county by county from the SOS. It looks as though we will beat '14 turnout when all is said and done.

PRC AND PNM

Nowhere is the Super PAC phenomenon causing more chaos and concern than in two races for the Public Regulation Commission. In a never before seen move, PNM Resources, the parent of electric company PNM, has put up $440,000 to take out the Dem opponents of incumbent Dem PRC commissioners Sandy Jones in the south and Lynda Lovejoy in the northwest, both of whom are seen as more favorable to the company than their liberal rivals.

It's a stunning power play which threatens to alter the image of PNM as a good neighbor and into a partisan outfit that seeks to evade proper regulation. That they hired Gov. Martinez hit man Jay McCleskey to execute their plan only shows how the leadership of the company, which is getting an increasing share of its profits from Texas, is unconcerned about isolating itself from the public here. And they are unapologetic about it:

PNM Resources is supporting New Mexicans for Progress to ensure that voters have the facts regarding key energy and economic issues that will impact our customers and the state as a whole.

A leading critic of the company said the spending was “shocking but not surprising.”

There’s no longer even the pretense of regulation. When PNM’s parent company spends $440,000 to bankroll the regulators of their choice, we have to seriously question the ability of the commission to govern on behalf of the public,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of the nonprofit group New Energy Economy.

PNM has always played in politics,  but more demurely. This blatant big money move to essentially take over the body that regulates it should give rise for calls that commissioners no longer be elected but appointed.

ALLIGATOR BEAT

The Gators continue to scour the state finance reports and come with intriguing news. Here's some:

Joe, Oklahoma Oil Company Devon Energy has been a big contributor to NM Republicans and especially Governor Martinez. Now it looks like they're sticking with old friends and picking new ones. The latest report shows a $5,000 contribution from Devon Energy to ABQ GOP Rep. Monica Youngblood five days after she was busted for DWI

Devon also donated $5,000 to Republican turned Democrat candidate Mary Martinez White who is running in a three way Democrat primary for an open Las Cruces state House seat against Micela Cadena and Guenevere McMahon. White has been taking hits over her newly minted Democrat registration. She is pushing back on the charge but being linked to Youngblood and Devon Energy and their deep Republican connections isn't going to help.

MORE GATOR BEAT

Here's another Gator who is eyeing the state registration figures and has a bit of good and bad news for the R's:

Joe, In Quay County between the end of April and May 30th, Democrats lost 33 registrations to 2,395 while Republicans gained 58 registrations to 2,419. This has been a continuing trend with Dem registrations in free fall in that eastside county. 

In Dona Ana County, Republicans are now in third place. At the end of March, Independents (DTS) and other party registrations surpassed Republicans. The trend continues as the gap widens about 100 registrations per month. 

OUR ELECTION EVE SPECIAL

On the Radio
Join us as we wrap up Primary '18 with analysis and some fun predictions on our traditional Election Eve Special today at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

It's our 30th anniversary calling elections for public radio and we have some fine guests to share it with. They ainclude: ABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas, Valencia County GOP State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado and fresh off her ABQ city council campaign, Catherine "Cat" Trujillo.

With that line-up we may have to lengthen the program. And they'll be back, along with other guests Election Night starting at 6:30 p.m. on KANW-FM and kanw.com. We can make an easy promise: something none of us expected will happen.

I look forward to being with you to bring home yet another primary election and appreciate your continued interest. See you on the radio later today and on Election Night.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2018
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