Friday, December 03, 2004

The NM Hispanic Vote: The Numbers For Bush Come Down, But The Threat To The D's Remains, Analysis And Insight Right Here 

There is no question more crucial in the aftermath of the NM Prez race than what percentage of the Hispanic vote went for Bush. Initial exit polls trumpet the Prez's performance at 44% of this vital group, long part of the D power base. But a second look at the the numbers has the experts second guessing. They're now saying Bush's performance among Hispanics was about 40%. That's still up a bunch from 2000, when he received about 35% of the NM Hispanic ballots in his race against Al Gore. NM political junkies like the ABQ Trib's Shea Andersen, pollsters Brian Sanderoff and Harry Pavlides (and your blogger) have been skeptical of that 44% number from the start. They are more sanguine about the 40%. They say Protestant Hispanics went heavy for Bush and many Catholic Hispanics simply stayed home after Kerry was pasted for his "liberal" social views.


While the D's can emit a sigh of relief that Bush's number has come down, they still have to be worried that 40% could be the new benchmark for an R Prez candidate here. If it is, New Mexico would be recast as a "lean Republican" state.

The backbiting over the Kerry loss continues here unabated, albeit quietly and behind the scenes. Several emailers are calling for a shake-up at the top of Big Bill's Moving America Forward organization, the political action committee charged with inspiring the Hispanic vote. "Let the heads roll," cried one scribe. That may be tough talk, but probably necessary if the D's are not to be blindsided again with the very voters who are responsible for keeping them in power across our Enchanted Land.


That flag photo accompanying today's lead piece may not look familiar, but it was in our state's early days. From 1912 to 1925 it was the official state flag. Since then the easily recognizable Zia symbol flag has flown proudly.

Have a great weekend and, as always, thanks for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you next week.

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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Media Update: A New State TV News Leader By A Nose; Plus: Readers Ask: What's Up With Larry Ahrens? And: Blue State Therapy For You Unhappy Dems 

Erika Ruiz
It appears there will be a switch at the top in the hotly contested battle for TV news leadership at 10 p.m. in the ABQ market. Our TV insider reports KRQE-TV, Channel 13, was poised to take the coveted #1 post away from KOB-TV with just one night left to go in the crucial November sweeps.

"The sweeps-to-date averages now have KRQE holding its lead with a projected 19 per cent share, KOB in second with an 18 and KOAT in third with a 14. In order to take over first place, KOB would need to beat KRQE by a huge margin in the 10 p.m. tonight," penned our TV watcher. All told, about 28 per cent of the homes that have TV's in the big ABQ market, which sprawls across the state, are tuned in to one of the big three network affiliates at 10 p.m.

KRQE is the CBS affiliate and was helped in its news ratings by the networks prime time dominance with such shows as "Survivor" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." KOB has narrowly led the crucial 10 p.m. sweeps in recent ratings books. One time ratings king KOAT-TV now languishes in third place at 10, but continues to turn in a strong performance at 6 p.m. TV news dean Dick Knipfing and Erika Ruiz are the lead anchors for KRQE.


Content wise there is not much difference in the three newscasts, with all of them emphasizing crime. But unlike years past when CBS performed strongly, this time the audience is staying around to watch the local news instead of switching over. Knipfing and Ruiz have given KRQE the depth they lacked in the past. At close second KOB, Carla Aragon and Tom Joles are also reliable and credible. KOAT has suffered from budget cuts in recent years and needs a new formula to get back in the game.


Several readers ask about veteran KKOB-AM Radio morning show host Larry Ahrens, reminding me that we had a story months ago detailing Larry's stalled contract talks with station management. At that time Ahrens said he was looking around at other opportunities and told our blog he would let us know his future plans as soon as they were settled. His contract runs until the end of the month. Still no word on his future, but I will check with him in he coming days when he returns from vacation and let you know if the one time GOP Guv candidate will be staying behind the microphones of the big 50,000 watt station where he has been stationed for nearly a quarter century.


Of course, the R's are loving it. They continue to relish their Prez victory. And why not? To the victor go the spoils. Now they are sticking it to the D's with a very funny and creative spoof of "blue state" voters and what they can do to overcome their depression. If you're a Dem and still mad, you may not want to watch. On second thought, it's time to get over it so click away and enjoy.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Insiders: Top Power Spot On ABQ Council Set To Go To Winter; Griego Comes Up Short In Pre-Election Power Positioning, Plus: More On the Catholic Front 

Brad Winter
Sources deep on the inside at ABQ'S City Hall say all signs point to Brad Winter returning as City Council President when the nine lawmakers take the vote next Monday. If it happens, it will be a blow to Council VP Eric Griego who hoped to take the lead chair and use it to his advantage in his bid for Mayor. Our tapped in insiders say there was an understanding last year that Griego would assume the top post from westside Councilor Michael Cadigan who won the job with Griego's support. But the fly in the Griego ointment is once again westside Councilor Miguel Gomez, who refused to back Griego for prez last year and is again refusing to give him the nod.

"Cadigan can not go with Griego whose position against the Paseo Del Norte road extension has westsiders seeing red. Cadigan will face a tough re-election bid and if he supports Griego it would cost him votes. Without Gomez and Cadigan, Griego is left out in the cold," analyzed our inside source.

Winter has had the presidency before and tried to be a compromise voice on a then deeply embattled council. Things have been a bit smoother of late, but Winter's asc
ension to the presidency will fuel more speculation that he too will make a run for mayor. "Brad would have a good shot, but he has to make the decision soon. Raising money and putting together an organization takes time," said an R who would like to see the well-liked NE Heights councilor make the run.

Bob Schwartz
There seems to be an air of denial around town that the 2005 Mayor's race will be a quiet affair. Whenever you hear that prepare for the opposite. Big Bill crime advisor Bob Schwartz, who ran second in the Mayoral field in 2001, may again step up to the plate. Because he has a good-paying job, Schwartz supporters say the decision is tougher this time around, but they say it's wishful thinking that Big Bill will keep him out of the race. "Anyone who knows Schwartz knows he has a mind of his own," said one City Hall observer.

The formula in ABQ politics remains the same. If one strong Republican emerges that the party can rally around, look out; that person will be the odds-on favorite. Fortunately for Dem Mayor Chavez that has not happened in a long, long time. But the positioning has just begun. There is no favorite in this race until we see the full field and that may not be known for several more months. Don't say we didn't tell you.


The e-mail continues to pour in on over the NM Catholic Church's role in the NM prez race, Archbishop Sheehan's "alliance" with evangelicals and whether priests were directly politicking against Kerry from the pulpit as one of our correspondents claimed. If they were, one imaginative emailer pointed out a possible, if far-fetched, consequence.

"I thought of a tax implication on your posting about churches and "at least two instances where priests made their views known directly from the pulpit." If a 501(c)(3) does political lobbying, it could mean the loss of their 501(c)(3) status. So, I guess I hope no one gives you the names of a priest who did so... Those IRS guys can be persistent!" Exclaimed our political junkie.

Also casting a wary eye at Catholic politics is liberal ABQ Trib columnist V.B. Price

Thanks for all the e-mail on this one. It was one of the big uncovered stories of Campaign 04.'

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hey, Big Spenders: Try The ABQ Mayor's Race; Plus: Eric Griego Will Be First To Fire, And: How About "Her" Honor? 

Eric Griego
Spend all you like. That's the message from the Supremes in D.C. The high court washed its hands of the ABQ spending caps case Monday letting a lower court ruling stand. That means candidates for Mayor and City Council in the state's largest city can spend and raise as much as they want. There are still limits on how much you can contribute to a contender, about $450.00 for City Council and about four grand for Mayor.

In 01' Dem Rick Homans, now working for Big Bill and a party to the suit challenging the spending limits, (ex-City Council candidate Sander Rue was another challenger, spent well north of half a million for the Mayor's job and lost. He is not expected to run again. Insiders say the ante to get in the Mayor game this time around is $200,000 with the top spender perhaps hitting the half-million mark.

The next city election is in October 2005, just ten months away, so interest is picking up a bit. The latest from the campaign trail has City Councilor Eric Griego becoming the first official candidate on December 12th at a party at the historic La Posada downtown. Griego will work to build all-important name ID in the days ahead.

The talk is also heating up about Judith Espinosa, former NM Transportation Department Secretary under Governor Anaya and currently the director of the Alliance for Transportation Research Institute at UNM. Espinosa shares Griego's liberal politics and her entry could pose a problem for him. Her entry would also mean three Hispanic contenders so far, including Mayor Marty. The Anglo Republican field is wide open, but.....


City Councilor Brad Winter has also made a bit of noise about running. With no GOP NE Heights candidate in the contest yet, a bid must appear tempting. The Hispanics could split the Valley and a good chunk of the Westside. Also, unlike Griego, Winter would not have to give up his council seat to make the run.

Finally, there is Margaret Aragon de Chavez, ex-wife of Mayor Marty, who flatly refused to rule out a mayoral candidacy of her own in a recent interview with KOAT-TV. She deemed it unlikely, but sent a message that she will be a presence in the race, one way or the other.


There's plenty of onion to peel when it comes to the outcome of the NM prez race. AP Santa Fe Bureau Chief Barry Massey has another go at it as he looks at how first-time voters cast their ballots. They were to be the savior of Kerry here, but it was not to be with Massey's analysis of the exit polls revealing that Kerry won the newcomers by only two points.


Sam Montoya, a veteran NM politico whose last posting was as executive director of the NM Association of Counties in Santa Fe, died unexpectedly last week of a heart attack while at work in his office. He was in his early 50's and had undergone heart surgery recently. Previously he worked for the NM Municipal League and was well-known among government officials across NM. Montoya was laid to rest Monday.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Black Gold, Texas Tea: It's The Driver, Plus: Barnett & The R's, And: Readers React To Catholic Politics 

What is the key dynamic in post-election new Mexico? The new legislative leadership? Big Bill's standing? How about the price of oil? That one gets my vote as I talk with political insiders, journalists and lobbyists who still subscribe to that old adage: "Follow the money." The oldtimers among the group marvel at the near fifty bucks a barrel the black gold is fetching and they worry about a price collapse. Oil prices are notoriously volatile. Back in the 80's the price slid into the mid-teens, wreaking havoc in NM.

"Just how much money is being committed to ongoing government expenses based on all this oil money flooding in to Santa Fe? What happens if we go back to $20 a barrel?" Asks one longtime Roundhouse wall-leaner.

Good point. The state Medicaid program has been munching thru additional millions each year. But we've been able to fund it as tax collections skyrocket. What impact would a declining oil price have on the program and others? Will Big Bill and his budget minions be quizzed on that before the next spending spree starts in Santa Fe in January?


The semi-surprise defeat of Rep. Dan Foley at the hands of Terry Marquardt for the position of State House Minority Whip has them talking about the status of the so-called Barnett wing of the GOP. You may recall that Mickey Barnett, an attorney and lobbyist, was defeated earlier this year when he sought re-election as Republican National Committeeman. That after Barnett fielded several opponents against sitting GOP legislators. Now, insiders say, Barnett's backing of Foley may have played a role in the Roswell lawmakers defeat. "Barnett has been slowly losing his sway over legislators, but still has a network of operatives at the campaign level," said one insider R. But with the departure of Minority Whip Thompson, a Barnett acolyte, and the Foley defeat, the fear factor among R lawmakers when it comes to Barnett & Co. seems to be receding into history.


Not surprisingly, our report (Nov. 22) on the involvement of the Catholic Church and NM Archbishop Sheehan in the Prez campaign had our mail bag bulging. We covered the critics point of view in that first report. Here's the other side of the coin from our emailers, beginning with former top NM Congressional aide Jack Daum:

"Sheehan, the Church and the biblical stance on both infanticide and homosexual marriage have all been around much longer than Silly Billy and might even survive both the blogmugging and Billy's bluster," blazed Daum.

David Balz, a thoughtful Catholic writer, had the best defense of the Church's politics:

"Catholics are free to make prudential judgments on the best means to help the poor, protect the environment, etc. They are not free to publicly oppose Church teaching on inviolate moral issues and lead others into sin, without facing public consequences. The Church and her bishops were not playing politics. They were warning Kerry, and others who look up to him, that they risked their souls by supporting abortion. That warning was long overdue and apparently clear enough that a significant number of Catholics who would normally vote for the Democrat, failed to do so this time--costing Kerry the win.

Were some Bishops out campaigning for Bush? A few, sure, but certainly a lot less than have campaigned for Democrats in the past. As citizens, the priests and bishops are free to do so. Are they not?" penned Balz.

Finally, another Catholic emailer claimed priests were not just urging a vote against Kerry in one-on-one talks but said he knew of at least two instances where they made their views know directly from the pulpit. Thanks for all the comments which are always welcome at jmonahan@ix.netcom.com

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

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