Thursday, March 30, 2006

Treasurer's Race Has Us Hitting The History Books And The Campaign Trail, Plus: The "Nitpicking" Pollster Blogs In; Dig NM Politics? Welcome Aboard! 

Demesia Padilla
We blogged that the Dems have held the NM State Treasurer's office uninterrupted for 70 years, but something didn't ring right so I went back to the history books. And what do you know? It turns out that back in 1966, the same year R Dave Cargo was elected Governor, Republican H.E. Thomas was elected Treasurer and another R, Harold Thompson, snagged the State Auditor job. And there's more. Our check revealed that 66' was the only time in NM history that the R's have ever captured the Treasurer's office.

I rang up Dave to get more insight. The ex-Guv told me neither Thomas or Thompson campaigned much, but he made Dem financial practices a key part of his Guv campaign and feels that caused the wave of change. That history is relevant today because of the Treasurer scandal. Can the R's do a 66' repeat?

"I think Demesia Padilla is a very good candidate. She has worked in my campaigns and she is one sharp lady," said the 76 year old Cargo of the R's 06' Treasurer nominee from his ABQ NE Heights home.

But the D's will nominate well-respected ex-Treasurer James Lewis who they think can overcome voter doubts over putting another Democrat in the office in the wake of the scandal. Lewis is also well-known in vote heavy Bernalillo county.


I chatted up Padilla Wednesday while she was toiling away on a batch of her clients' tax returns at her ABQ office. First, I finally satisfied my curiosity about Padilla's name, Demesia. "I believe it is unique to my family. It comes from my grandmother and it means "of the Earth," she explained.

Ready to dish the dirt on the upcoming Treasurer's race, Demesia pointed out that there are a lot more Dems than R's in NM and getting voters of any stripe to focus on a down ballot race is always difficult but this year, as we all know, may be different.

Padilla, a CPA who is making her first run for political office, has been handed the issue of a lifetime in the scandal which saw the indictments of Dem Treasurers Vigil and Montoya. "I respect James, but it's time to break up the good ol' boy network in that office," she said, reminding us not just of the scandal but also that she would be the first woman State Treasurer.

She also said the media have laid the groundwork for the campaign through extensive coverage of the scandal and now "it's up to me to get myself before the public and let them know who I am and why I am qualified." She believes the heavy scandal coverage relieves pressure on her to run a negative campaign. She also seemed disinclined toward linking her race to an overall GOP attack on the Dem party. After all, she is going to need a lot of ticket-splitting if she is to pull the upset.

While Lewis is counting on Bernalillo county, Padilla is an ABQ South Valley native and hopes to attract her share of Hispanic Dems here. But her real challenge will be raising the funds to conduct a statewide campaign. The NM GOP has been supportive, but will need to back up kind words with cold, hard cash. Bucking history will take a big TV buy.

But the "of the Earth" Demesia says she's up to the task and will be running a down to Earth campaign. "I have worked hard for a lot of candidates and campaigns. I will be calling on them to return the favor."


Veteran NM pollster Brian Sanderoff says he is known for his "nitpicking," and he picked one with our "retired Alligator" who informed us yesterday that a 10th NM county has now gone "majority" Republican. But, as Brian points out, while Roosevelt county does have more R's than D's today, it is a plurality, not a majority. Roosevelt R's now have 42% of the registered voters, the D's come in with 41%. It's a nit worth picking. I'll have more from Sanderoff on NM political trends next week.


Speaking of pollster Sanderoff, he has been running the numbers for the ABQ Journal for several decades, but don't look for any polls this primary season. There are just not enough high-profile races to send Sanderoff into the field.

Meantime, how do we track the hotly contested ABQ Congressional race featuring incumbent GOP Rep. Heather Wilson and her Dem challenger Patricia Madrid? It looks as if we will have to rely on polls done by the campaigns, if they release them or if my Alligators can get their jaws on them.

The first Journal poll in the race will probably come in late August or early September. Maybe one of the national news organizations covering the race will pony up the bucks to give us an early nonpartisan peek at Heather vs. Patsy, but I wouldn't count on it.

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