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Thursday, September 10, 2020

NM R's Unveil "Fair Deal" But Is It A Desperate Deal? Plus: More Key State House Races Analyzed, And: Conspiracy Free Voting 

Top state Republicans are calling it their "Fair Deal" but others might label it a desperate deal because the on-the-ropes Grand Old Party is starting to sense another tidal wave forming that could wash away even more of their legislative seats.

The "Fair Deal" is a title taken directly from President Harry Truman, not President Trump. That says it all. The NM R's are trying to separate themselves from the Prez as he faces a substantial loss here to Dem Joe Biden and could take with him a number of GOP House and Senate seats.

But the ninth inning Hail Mary the R's are throwing is light on specifics. How do you separate yourself from the man who is your party? Not easily.

(The) news conference was light on the specifics of the Republican agenda, with legislators instead directing reporters to Respect New Mexico’s website. Legislators and candidates did say they favored “sensible criminal justice reform,” “comprehensive education reform” and retooling the state’s tax system, but they did not provide more specific proposals in those areas.

Some Trump supporters are none too happy with the Fair Deal. Trumper and ABQ radio talker Eddy Aragon says:

Republicans need to dance with the gal that brought them to the prom--that's Trump. They need to get into the grassroots and get out the GOP vote in the many Republican districts they lost for the first time in 2018. You don't do that by abandoning the one person who can light a fire under Republican voters. 

But are there enough Trump voters left to activate in those districts? Either way they go--with Trump or without him---GOP legislative leaders face a daunting task. Here's reader Kelley DuPont anguishing about her vote in her ABQ westside state Senate district:

(Republican) Sander Rue is my Senator. He’s nice, he’s visited our home in the past while campaigning. I think he’s done a good job. Sad to say I’ll probably vote for the Democrat whom I know nothing about. I’m so turned off by Donald Trump and (NMGOP Chairman) Steve Pearce that I’ll most likely never vote for a Republican in my lifetime.

The Dem candidate in that race is retired Air Force officer Harold Pope, Jr.

MORE RACES TO WATCH

Speaking of legislative seats, let's pick up where we left off yesterday and examine the remainder of the key state House races with our Senior Alligator of a Dem variety. Here's their take on contests outside of the ABQ metro that merit watching:

In 2018 in central New Mexico, Democrats narrowly lost House Districts 22 and 57 by 140 votes and 217 votes, respectively. In both cases, the Democratic candidates are running again. With more money and greater name recognition, these challengers may have a better opportunity to flip these seats than they did last cycle.

House District 57 in Rio Rancho features a rematch of teacher Billie Helean against incumbent Republican Jason Harper, a Sandia scientist who has represented the district since 2013.

Jessica Velasquez is running again in the East Mountains/Placitas district of HD22. But instead of facing Republican Greg Schmedes, who left his House seat to run for the Senate—successfully defeating Jim White in the SD19 primary—Velasquez is facing conservative activist and gun rights advocate Stefani Lord.

Three rural House districts could shape up to be nail-biters in November. In eastern NM’s HD63, Republicans defeated Democratic incumbent George Dodge by a mere 27 votes in 2018. Now, first-term Representative Martin Zamora is facing an elite challenger in Dr. Randal Brown. A long-time family doctor in Santa Rosa, Dr. Brown would bring valuable medical expertise to the Roundhouse, a strong selling point during a pandemic.

In House District 53 in Doña Ana and Otero counties, Rep. Willie Madrid is once again facing former GOP Rep. Ricky Little for the third time. Little won in 2016 by 138 votes, and then Madrid prevailed in 2018 by a healthier, but not overwhelming, margin of 291 votes.

Up in the Four Corners in District 4, first-term Democratic Rep. Anthony Allison, a Navajo, is facing Mark Duncan, the Mayor of Kirtland and the termed-out San Juan County Treasurer. Campaigns in swing House District 4 are always hard-fought and victories are often narrow, but will the Navajo-majority district elect a non-Native state representative? To our knowledge, that would be a first.

NO TORTILLA TAX

If you are being charged NM gross receipts tax on groceries ordered delivered to your door, you shouldn't be, says Fred Nathan of Think NM:

. . . We learned that some grocery stores were taxing food that people order for delivery even though the sale of food has been tax-exempt in New Mexico since 2005. Being able to have groceries delivered without paying taxes that can run at high as 9% is especially important for elderly . . . and immunocompromised New Mexicans during the current pandemic. . .Now we have good news: Governor Lujan Grisham's Secretary of Taxation and Revenue has issued a directive clarifying that food should not be taxed when New Mexicans order it from a grocery store online and have it delivered.

CONSPIRACY FREE VOTING

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has her hands full trying to combat the conspiracy theories and fear over absentee voting that could grow if left unchecked. She reports:

Registered voters in New Mexico can now begin using the Secretary of State’s online absentee ballot request portal to apply for an absentee ballot for the November 3rd General Election. New Mexico is a “no-excuse” absentee ballot state, meaning that any registered voter is able to apply for, receive, and vote with an absentee ballot.

“Voting by absentee ballot is a safe and secure way to make your voice heard in November while also protecting your health and the health of your community. . .New Mexico’s election administrators are prepared and are providing a number of ways for voters to cast their ballot, whether by mailing an absentee ballot, dropping your completed absentee ballot off with your County Clerk or designated drop location, or by voting in-person during Early Voting or on Election Day.”

Voters should also know that if their absentee ballot is not completed correctly, a notification with the reason why the absentee ballot was not accepted will be sent by the County Clerk to that voter within 24 hours of receiving it. That notification will include instructions on how the voter can remedy whatever discrepancy led to their ballot not being accepted.

For those who can't get over the Black Helicopters flying over head or the Russians behind a tree, the best bet may be to drop off your ballot at a designated drop location. Here in Bernalillo County, Clerk Linda Stover says they will be ready for hand delivered ballots at these locations.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Gaming The State House; Dems Try For Repeat Of '18 Metro Blue Wave; R's Mount Defense; Expert Senior Alligator Analysis, Plus: Crazy South Valley La Politica But What Else Is New?  

Monahan And Senior Alligator
Was it a fluke or a permanent reset? That's the big question hovering over the key races for the 70 member state House of Representatives this year.

In a stunning reversal of fortune for the GOP, Democrats picked up seven House seats in the ABQ metro in the Blue wave of 2018. It left the Rs gasping for air as their ranks in big Bernalillo County were reduced to a last man standing--Rep. Bill Rehm. When the wave receded the NM House had 46 Dems and 24 R's--the biggest D majority in years.

But will the Dems hold on in 2020 or give back some seats that perhaps came too easily? Or is Republican Red a color that is as out of style as handwritten letters?  House R's are trying to get back in the game, saying this week they are advocating a "moderate agenda" which seems aimed at toning down their Trumpian ties.

We now take a look at every key race in the ABQ metro with a Senior Alligator of the Dem variety. It's insider info you will only get here.  And we're off. . .

Joe, the metro area will be the center of the battle for the House. Many of the tightest races will involve these first-term incumbents defending their seats against a new crop of Republican challengers.

1) House District 27 in the NE Heights will be the most watched House race in the metro area. It features incumbent Dem Marian Matthews and GOP challenger Robert Godshall, who lost to Bill Pratt by only 193 votes in 2018. Matthews was appointed to serve out the term of Rep. Pratt, who passed in December 2019. Godshall was nominated to replace GOP Rep. Larry Larrañaga on the ballot after he withdrew because of illness and later died.

Our comment: If the Dem blue wave for the metro House seats is going to continue in 2020 the Matthews-Goodshall race will provide an early clue Election Night. The area has been a GOP stronghold for decades.

2) DISTRICT 68--Most observers believe the only reason that Democrats captured this district on ABQ's westside in 2018 is because GOP incumbent Monica Youngblood got busted for DWI, and the police video from the event revealed her efforts to parlay her elected office into a get-out-of-jail-free card. But Hillary Clinton narrowly edged out Trump in the district, so the House Democrats had their eye on it before Youngblood’s legal issues. The DWI certainly helped Karen Bash run up a 16 point victory, but the Democrats might have pulled off the win regardless. It does, however, make it interesting that the GOP recruited Giovanni Coppola this cycle, given that he has a DWI arrest of his own.

Our comment: Okay, but that little swipe at Giovanni will upset the R's who think they have a winner with the 29 year old entrepreneur. 

3) DISTRICT 28--Melanie Stansbury, a water and natural resources consultant, is facing Republican Thomas Stull in this NE Heights district. Stansbury defeated long-time GOP incumbent Jimmie Hall by more than 1,000 votes in 2018. Like other suburban Albuquerque districts, this is trending more blue. Although Republicans are making a strong play the partisan shift is working against them, as evidenced by the presidential polling numbers from the Journal.

Our comment: No question the R's need Trump to perform in these newly Dem House seats, a tall order given his bad numbers in the metro where he trailed Biden 61-33 in the Journal survey.

MORE HOT RACES

Hochman-Vigil
4) DISTRICT 15--in the North Valley/NE Heights, aerospace attorney Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil is defending her seat against Ali Ennenga, a conservative activist and former staffer for Americans for Prosperity. After GOP attorney Sarah Maestas Barnes opted against running for re-election in 2018, Republicans had hoped to hold on to this swing district by recruiting popular long-time City Councilor Brad Winter to run. Hochman-Vigil prevailed 52-48, however, and now faces a weaker opponent in Ennenga.

Our comment: If the well-known Winter couldn't do it, can any R?

5) DISTRICT 29--In fast-growing northwest ABQ, another first-time incumbent, retired educator Joy Garratt, is facing challenger Adelious Stith. Stith’s campaign happens to be managed by the man Garratt ousted in 2018: David Adkins. The margin in that race was more than 8 points after Democrats lost it by only 9 votes in 2016.

6) DISTRICT 30--In one of the few rematches from 2018, Natalie Figueroa once again faces John Jones, who she defeated by a hefty 16 points in 2018. Few people expect Jones to close that 16 point gap this time, so Figueroa should be sleeping just fine.

7) DISTRICT 20--Dem Rep. Abbas Akhil, who defeated incumbent Jim Dines in '18 by only 115 votes to serve as the state's first Muslim-American legislator, opted against re-election. Meredith Dixon, a small business owner and fundraising consultant for Sen. Udall, is the Democratic candidate. She’s facing Michael Hendricks—the GOP nominee for Attorney-General in 2018. This SE Albuquerque/Four Hills district is another trending blue so Dixon has the edge and has plenty of cash in the bank.

Our comment: Hendricks is a strong offering. He was the only big name R to call for the resignation of then-GOP Rep. Monica Youngblood after her DWI arrest. He's conservative but showed he could cross party lines but Dixon's money advantage may be too much to overcome.

The Alligators are out in force for the final stretch of Campaign 2020. They won't miss a trick which means neither will you. And that’s how you become New Mexico’s top political news source. 

ART DE LA CRUZ

De la Cruz
Remember him? Sure, you do he is the former two term BernCo Commissioner from the Dem South Valley and now. . .

(The BernCo Commission has) chosen (Democrat) Art de la Cruz to fill the vacant District 12 seat of the NM  House. . .De la Cruz replaces (Dem) Rep. Patricio Ruiloba who resigned his seat in August. District 12 is located in the southwest quadrant of Bernalillo County. . .The commission approved the appointment of De la Cruz on a 3 to 2 vote. (Dem) Commissioners Debbie O’Malley and James Collie dissented.

But Art may never get to step into the Roundhouse as a lawmaker. He was appointed to serve the remainder of Ruiloba's term which runs until the end of the year.

It would take a thousand words to describe this convoluted mess. Suffice it to say that De la Cruz is running as a write-in candidate in the November election. Independent candidate Brittany Barreras is the only hopeful on the ballot. The Republicans ran no one. Can Art beat Brittany as a write-in? Maybe. Will ABQ South Valley politics continue to be batshit crazy? Definitely. How do we know? Because Ruiloba is now running for Bernalillo County Sheriff in 2022.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Poll Reveals Warning Signs For R's In Southern CD, Plus: In Senate Race Lujan One Point Shy Of Magic Number And R's Strategize State Senate 

There are warning signs for the R's in the latest polling as they fight to oust Dem US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in the state's southern congressional district.

The ABQ Journal survey conducted Aug 26-Sept. 2 has XTS carrying a two point lead--47-45--over Republican Yvette Herrell into the final critical weeks of Campaign 2020. That places the race well within the survey's 4.8 percent margin of error. But there could be an enthusaism gap developing between the two contenders that left unchecked could give the Dems the edge.

First is the anemic performance of President Trump in the mostly conservative district. He aced Hillary Clinton by a ten point margin in 2016 but this survey shows he is beating Biden by only 4 points. That confirms insider polling we reported on weeks ago that showed Trump carrying the district by only one point.

A sagging Trump could have a profound impact on Herrell. Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff points out his studies show that what happens at the top of the ticket has significant impact on what happens below. Herrell needs a Trump rebound.

The other part of the enthusiasm gap is Herrell's support from 81 percent of Republican respondents. That sounds high, but political pros will tell you that number should be pushing 90 percent. The R's are much smaller than the Dems and must show unity to score the upset. The fear is that the ongoing infighting among GOP factions in the district will again dampen turnout for Herrell as it did when she lost to XTS by 3,700 votes in 2016.

LUJAN VS. RONCHETTI

In the Journal polling of the US Senate race, veteran political analyst Greg Payne pronounced himself "a little surprised" that US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan came up one point short of the magic 50 percent mark that signals victory is near. Lujan scored 49 percent to Republican Mark Ronchetti's 40 percent. (Libertarian Bob Walsh had 4 percent).

Payne does not believe that Lujan is in serious jeopardy at this juncture. He says the northern congressman's name ID statewide is only now being developed via TV ads.

There is also the matter of the intense dislike of Washington DC these days. The Journal poll gives Congress a ludicrously low approval rating of 12 percent. That could also be holding back BRL from getting an early "all clear" signal from voters. Ronchetti and the R's have been hanging liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi around his neck. She's unpopular with conservatives but also many in the Dems progressive wing.

Lujan has only just begun to put Ronchetti's neck in the Trump noose. Trump is running about where Ronchetti is--39 percent against Biden's 54. How can Ronchetti break through the wall of negativity surrounding Trump in the ABQ metro area where the poll says he is already behind 20 points? Without that breakthrough, he can't win. His 40 percent polling  represents a consolidation of the Republican base vote, not a breakthrough with needed Dems and indys.

Lujan's first wave of general election ads left him about where he was in the June PPP poll which had him leading Ronchetti 48 to 34. There are still no signs that national R's are interested in targeting the race but Lujan will want to close that door as quickly as he can. That means going negative.

Only the southern congressional race is competitive. The other two are snoozers. ABQ Dem freshman Rep. Deb Haaland has an enormous 58-31 lead over R Michelle Garcia Holmes.

Haaland’s politics may be a bit far left for the district but voters take pride in her overcoming her personal struggles to become one of the first Native American women to serve in the Congress and serving with dedication.

The lesser known Teresa Leger Fernandez, the Dem nominee for the northern seat, is also way ahead of her GOP foe, Alexis Johnson, 50 to 35. Leger will need time to win the hearts of voters but she possesses a calm competence that has been well received in the north.

STATE SENATE ACTION

R's focused on the state Senate seats say that they have two possible pick-ups to offset a potential Dem rampage in the ABQ metro. They point to Crystal Dimond who is running against Neomi Martinez for the seat of Sen. John Arthur Smith in the SW. He was defeated by Martinez in the Dem primary but the district does have conservative inclinations. They also think that the seat being left vacant by conservative Dem John Sapien of Corrales could tip Republican with able GOP contender John Clark. Onetime Deb Haaland aide Brenda McKenna is the Dem hopeful and women are getting elected in droves on the D side.

The four R seats on the line include those of Senators Rue and Gould and the open seat of GOP Senator Bill Payne, all in big Bernalillo County. Another R problem is the challenge Republican freshman Sen. Greg Baca is getting in Valencia County.

The R's would like the seat of Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants who was ousted in the Dem primary by Pam Cordova but that is a tall order with Trump leading the ticket and her deep roots in the district.

If the GOP could pick up the Smith or Sapien seats or both it would balance out potential losses or even lead to a pick up, if all their incumbents could hold on. One thing is certain--the R's are again playing defense just as in '18.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

Monday, September 07, 2020

Trump Hits The Blue Wall; Biden Trounces Him In Key State Poll: Impact On Legislative Races Eyed 

Barring an event of unimaginable consequence, New Mexico is poised to go blue for the fourth consecutive time in a presidential contest.

The ABQ Journal poll released Sunday essentially puts the race out of reach of Republican President Donald Trump who won the backing of only 39 percent of likely voters compared to Dem challenger Joe Biden's 54 percent.

Making a Trump comeback even less likely, just 7 percent of those polled said they were undecided or that they would not be voting for either candidate.

Given the exceptionally low undecided less than two months from Election Day only an event of seismic proportion that shakes the entire nation would appear to be able to alter the inevitability of a Biden win here. 

In the know R's are circling the wagons, acknowledging that with a Biden blue wave the state's five member congressional delegation will likely stay blue and that the party's best hope is to vigorously campaign to protect and add to their legislative numbers.

A Trump win is not in the cards but they see a shot at reducing his losing margin in which Trump breaks free from the Republican base vote of 42 percent. That could benefit their legislative candidates as well as southern congressional hopeful Yvette Herrell.

At NMGOP headquarters they tried to put a brave face on the dismal numbers. They questioned the survey's demographics, wondering about the number of Dems polled vs. R's, noting that the information was not released. They added:

Polls conducted in the summer often fail to be reflective of November elections. Campaigns don’t start until after Labor Day. There will be nationally televised presidential debates, and candidates will spend millions in media advertising. To conduct a poll during late summer may be useful, but in New Mexico there are more than 283,000 unaffiliated voters who were not involved in the Primary Election.

Still, this makes for some very wishful thinking. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton here in 2016 by 48 to 40 with Libertarian Gary Johnson garnering 9 percent. Pollster Brian Sanderoff sounded a four alarm fire for the White House, pointing out that Hispanic voters were supporting Biden 64 percent to Trump's 28 percent and that just about all the Hispanics who supported Johnson were now supporting Biden. That undercut a key argument of the Trump campaign on why the state could be brought into play. The President would need  40 percent Hispanic support to be anywhere near competitive.

There were tidbits of good news for Trump in the survey conducted August 26 to September 2 among 1,123 likely voters and that sports a margin error of 2.9 percent. In the Northwest region he manages a 55 to 43 margin over Biden and on the conservative eastside Trump won landslide numbers, 65 percent to 30 percent over Biden. And while Trump is behind here it is not a surprise and not a commentary on what the ultimate result of the national election will be.

But it was the ABQ Metro that delivered what could be the death knell, giving him just 33 percent support to Biden's landslide number of 61 percent. The Metro is the most populous region of the state and turnout could be off the charts this year.

In 2018--an off year election with lower turnout than a presidential year---a Dem Blue Wave washed over the usually moderate/conservative ABQ NE Heights. When it was done only one GOP state House member was left standing in Bernalillo County. R's challenging the Dem freshman winners from that year have to face the dilemma of watching many of their voters going for Biden and then trying to persuade them to vote Republican for the House seats.

Then there's the four metro area GOP state senate seats that could be crucial in determining how liberal state policy could be in the election's aftermath. The R's seeking those slots are in need of chicken soup and valium to help them recover from the body blow this poll represents.

One poll does not an election make but it often defines what is and what isn't possible. Could we see some Republicans separate themselves from Trump in hope of surviving? Well, a hungry man will do most anything to see the sun rise another day.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2020

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