Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Guv & Gary: No Love Lost; Could That Be A Good Thing? Plus: Carraro Operatives Fault State GOP In Wake Of Loss, And: Big Bill's First TV Airs 

Big Bill
There was no high-fives between Big Bill and newly crowned Dem attorney general nominee Gary King Primary Election Night. In fact, those in a position to know report that the Guv's congratulations to Gary at Dem headquarters were cursory and went something like: "Congratulations, Gary. See you on the trail." Likewise, King was not seeking a warm and fuzzy session with the Guv. It's no surprise. One King operative asserted that "the Governor's fingerprints were all over Geno's campaign and we know it." Geno, of course, being Geno Zamora the 36 year old Santa Fe attorney who was making his first run for office but was turned back by a King landslide.

Pointedly, King set up a campaign party Election Night separate from the Democratic Party's at the ABQ Hilton and joined the Dems only to make the TV newscasts. Was King already showing his "independence" from the Big Bill controlled Dems. Or am I reading too much into this?

"Joe, You are getting the point. Gary is a Democrat, but he is going to emphasize his independence in this campaign," relayed our operative who said Zamora was beat, in part, because he became known as "the Governor's boy."

Zamora's negative TV ad featuring Gary and the other AG hopeful, Lem Martinez, did not go down well with the King camp. They see it as unnecessary and say Gary's landslide proves the race was never in play; that Zamora's polls showed it and he should have never pulled the trigger. The Guv has denied any direct involvement in the Zamora effort, but that has been met with guffaws by the Alligators who note the $600,000 war chest the heretofore unknown Zamora was able to amass.

Friction between the King's and the Guv is old news. But the stakes are higher now that a King is a step closer to securing major New Mexican political power for the first time in a dozen years. Still, there could be political upside to the cool relationship between the duo. The R's may find it difficult to accuse Big Bill of trying to control the AG. In fact, he can embrace Gary as part of the Democrats' efforts to enforce high ethical standards and take note of their mutual independence. And Gary can convincingly argue that he will be the independent voice voters want in their AG. The perfect end to this tale is the old saying, "politics makes for strange bedfellows."


The Gators are also on the loose in the GOP as emotions are stoked by the election returns. ABQ State Senator and unsuccessful GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carraro is reportedly livid at operatives at the NM GOP and particularly its executive director, Marta Kramer. A Carraro campaign insider claims under Kramer's guidance the state party indicated support for the winner, Farmington Doctor Allen McCulloch. They further claim that Carraro had to fight with the state party to get voter information that he was entitled to and only after heavy pressure did Kramer relent.

When McCulloch let fly a mail hit piece against Joe in the final days of the campaign, it generated outrage among Carraro supporters, including ABQ state Senator Kent Cravens and former NM GOP Chair John Lattauzio of Alamogordo who said in a letter to McCulloch: "As a Republican volunteer of more than forty years, I wish to express my distaste and disapproval for your malicious attack on a dedicated public servant, Senator Joe Carraro."

Seems the good doctor and the state party both have work to do to heal the wounds from his recent battle.


Sometimes these politicians are too clever by half. Only one day after the June 6 primary Big Bill appeared on NM TV screens last night with his first ad of the 06' campaign. It's a feel-gooder aimed at conservatives about how he has cut taxes and run a tight fiscal ship. Another one is a black and white number featuring still photos of the Guv and addressing education and health care. In the first, he looks relaxed in a blue shirt and voices the spot himself. How much did he buy? Should we even bother to ask? With over $5 million in the bank, Big Bill is about to give new meaning to the word ubiquitous.


It doesn't get any closer than it did in Sandoval county Tuesday night where two of the three candidates vying for the probate judgeship there ended up with the exact same number of votes.

Erardo Misquez--817--16.6%, Stevan Jay Schoen--2056--41.7%,
Charles Aguilar--2056--41.7%.

They will cut the cards or flip a coin if it remains tied at the end of a recount. I hope all of the relatives of Schoen and Aguilar voted in this one. Otherwise, there is going to be some pain in the house.

I hope you enjoyed our coverage of Primary 06' on the blog, on TV and radio. I'll be around next week with some special stuff, but not in the breaking news mix as we re-group and prepare for the coming campaigns. Thanks for the company.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

King Of The Night; Gary Finally Grabs Glory; Takes AG Race, Plus: Baca's Rebirth And: More Race Results And Analysis From Primary 06' 

Gary King
It looked like the King machine of days of yore. Gary King stole the thunder and the night as he decisively defeated Santa Fe attorney Geno Zamora and District Attorney Lem Martinez in the contest for the Democratic Party's nomination for attorney general. The race failed to provide the suspense that the pre-election hype promised as the 52 year old King, son of legendary three term NM former Governor Bruce King, resurrected his political career by taking 47% of the vote to Geno's 32% and Lem's 21%.

It appeared to be a historic low voter turnout for a New Mexico primary election. For example, turnout crashed to 8% of the registered voters in Dona Ana County. But low turnout or high, this one was destined for King. Across the state he flexed his muscles impressively. In big Bernalillo County he even won a majority--52%. King broke across ethnic lines as he performed strong in the Spanish North, even keeping close to Zamora in Rio Arriba County and dominating the "Little Texas" counties of SE NM. Victory was especially sweet coming as it did after King's 04' congressional defeat and another one in 02' for the guv nomination.

In typical King fashion he immediately offered an olive branch to his opponents who promptly accepted. King's border- to-border dominance set him up as the favorite for November when he will face newcomer R Jim Bibb, son-in-law of former Governor Toney Anaya.

My analysts at KANW weighed in that a King victory could take some air out of the tires of the R's, who are hoping state ethics scandals will convince voters to turn to them for an attorney general. They said King's reputation for integrity means making the ethics case against him will be difficult. And they also noted that Gary, unlike Zamora, has an arms-length relationship with Governor Richardson and that the argument that he would be a tool of the powerful chief executive is also off the table.


Even though the AG's race fizzled, there was still plenty of suspense. And it came from two men with political ties to the King family. The Associated Press told me Jim Baca was clinging to a 1600 vote lead over Ray Powell at 3:00 a.m. Neither political veteran was ready to say who will be the next Dem nominee for land commissioner. (UPDATE: Baca has won the race by 2000 votes.) It was deja vu for the 60 year old former ABQ mayor who in 1982 sought the Dem primary land nod and went to bed behind by some 700 votes, only to awaken to victory as late votes came in.

It was the Hispanic north that rescued the Baca candidacy this time when it hit the skids early in the evening as former land boss Powell dominated Albuquerque, even winning Baca's home precinct. The experts started to lean toward Ray, but the tide turned when Baca blew the doors off in San Miguel County, scoring about a two to one win and carrying the city of Las
Vegas. The poor ABQ showing was a hangover from his days as mayor, an office he lost in a re-election bid in 01', but the more you traveled north the more forgiving the electorate was toward the environmentalist. If he hangs on he will face a well-funded incumbent Republican land commissioner in Patrick Lyons.


Its been along time since a Bernalillo County candidate captured the Dem nomination for secretary of state, but county clerk Mary Herrera did it in fine fashion, bringing it home with an impressive 40% of the vote to 29% for former Secretary of State Stephanie Gonzales. Shirley Hooper and Letitia Montoya trailed. Herrera did well in southern NM offsetting a fourth place finish in Santa Fe County. She came through with her necessary landslide in Bernalillo county, going over the 60% mark. The next secretary of state will come from NM's largest city as former ABQ City Councilor Vickie Perea ran unopposed for the R nomination.

Herrera is the favorite in November as the R's have not won the slot since 1929, but GOP Chair Allen Weh told the radio audience Perea is their strongest candidate in years and that election snafus that have plagued the state could convince D's to cross over to Perea. But it's a long shot and the 49 year old Herrera, who started in government as a typist, is positioned to take the leap to the statewide stage.


If Jeff Armijo's relationship with indicted ex-state Treasurer Robert Vigil was a big issue, you wouldn't know it last night. The native New Mexican trounced rival Tom Buckner in the race for state auditor, grabbing 62% to Tom's 38%. Bernalillo county results were not quite as impressive where the scandal coverage has been heaviest; Buckner held him below 60% here, but that was the only shadow on an otherwise bright night for the travel agency owner. The R's nominated Dan Alvarez, but he may withdraw and a new candidate, according to Republican sources, should be named later this month. It will take a major effort to stop Armijo now and whether the GOP will come with the necessary funds is the open question.

My analysts also thought that the unopposed nomination of Dem James Lewis for state Treasurer, an office he held in the 80's, also bodes well for the majority party as it tries to shed its ethical baggage. He's another candidate with a reputation for integrity, they said, giving him a strong advantage over the GOP's Demesia Padilla, an ABQ CPA.


The easy ouster of controversial politician E. Shirley Baca by State Expo Chair Sandy Jones for the Public Regulation Commission seat down south raised the expert eyebrows. Sandy shut the door on Shirley when he rolled over her in her home county of Dona Ana. Her pot bust in late 04' was no doubt a major reason for her defeat, even though she reminded voters the charge was dismissed. This is a D district and Jones is expected to take the seat in November.

We had a good night on the air, but there's always one race that gives you trouble. This time it was the PRC race for northwest NM. Derrith Watchman-Moore had the early lead, but it wasn't until very late that we noticed that McKinley County Clerk Carol Sloan had eased past her to claim the victory. Also losing out in this one was former Bernalillo County Commissioner Steve Gallegos. It's seen as an easy win for the D's in November.


The highlight of the Dem legislative contests was the four way race for the Dem nomination for the state House seat on ABQ's West Side being vacated by Harriet Ruiz. Antonio "Moe" Maestas raised the young, "progressive" Dem flag and coasted to victory over Pat Baca, Jr. Maestas took 34% of the vote to Baca's 27% with Dominic Aragon and Dan Serrano trailing. This is another heavy Dem district and Maestas should be sitting in the Roundhouse next year.

In the GOP's banner legislative race, the expensive duel for the state House seat being vacated by Avon Wilson in Roswell, educator Mike Kakuska, backed by oilman Mark Murphy, came up short as he was defeated by Nora Espinoza whose campaign was led by conservative State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair.

Before the primary Murphy signaled that he is considering running for the state chairmanship of the GOP. The defeat could impact those plans. In another widely watched GOP primary battle, contractor Richard Berry won easily and is on his way to the Legislature as no Dem is running for the seat. Berry took out James White who was backed by state House Minority Leader Ted Hobbs and who is retiring.

The youngest member of the NM Legislature, 27 year old Justine Fox-Young, and a thorn in the side to the House Dem leadership, is positioned to continue giving them headaches. She dismissed a challenge from Bob White who she defeated in a GOP primary two years ago in her ABQ NE Heights district. She has a Dem opponent, John McWaters, who will try to make her road back to Santa Fe a bit rocky, but the district is heavy R.


Allen McCulloch has the financial resources to cause some headaches for U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman. Will he? The Farmington urologist scored an impressive 51% of the vote to overcome ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro and ex-Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer to become the GOP nominee for Bingaman's seat. McCulloch took some hits for a late attack on Carraro, but the fact that it did not backfire may encourage him to go rough on Jeff. Still, the senator remains the heavy favorite to secure a fifth, six year term when voters go back to the voting booths for the general election.


Thanks to all who tuned in to our broadcast last night and early this morning. The bottom line is that it is time to put this election to bed, and your blogger too.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Election Night Tip Sheet: What To Watch For, And: KANW 89.1 FM Coverage At 6:30 P.M., Plus: Some Personal Thoughts On This Special Day In La Politica 

So few voters. So much uncertainty. It's a recipe for an exciting Election Night. Contested primary elections are the most difficult to predict, especially in a low turnout one like today's. The key to victory depends on just who shows up at the polls. That's why you see the top consultants and Alligators quoted here hesitant to go too far out on the limb. Having said that, here are some key things to listen for tonight. Of course, we hope you do so with us on KANW 89.1 FM starting at 6:30 p.m.

In the Dem race for attorney general it's early precincts with big Hispanic vote counts. If Lem Martinez is running competitively with Geno Zamora, it will make things difficult for Geno. It's the scenario Gary King's camp is rooting for. If Geno is cleaning up in these wards, his prospects for a good night improve.

It's a similar story in the four way Dem race for secretary of state. Stephanie Gonzales and Mary Herrera don't want to see Letitia make a big move in the heavy Hispanic wards. It would mean Shirley Hooper is going to be a threat.

Don't buy into the ethnic factor? Reconsider. According to Research and Polling, when a New Mexico voter has little information about a race, 78% of them will vote along ethnic lines. There won't be as many of them in a low-turnout primary election that attracts hard core, informed voters, but there will be a good number of them. That's why in the closing days Zamora and Martinez have been working to spike the Hispanic turnout.

King's last poll shows him at 39%, Geno at 19%. Geno should surge big tonight as Hispanic voters are the least likely to tell pollsters who they will vote for. Martinez is in high single digits.

The fate of Dem land commissioner hopeful Jim Baca may rest in ABQ. Watch precincts from the ABQ SE Heights where in the past Baca has been popular with enviros and Dem liberals. If Ray Powell holds him down there, Baca could have a rough night.


When I called my first election at the tender age of 19, my hands shook so severely, I thought the paper would start shredding. I have calmed down (some) over the years, but I still fret and get butterflies before the red light comes on. I guess if I didn't it would be a signal that perhaps a break was in order.

In live broadcasting, as in speech making, it's about knowing your material. If you are comfortable with the subject, you want the night to last forever. Of course, I have a team of experts who are quick to jump in when I inevitably falter on a particular race or get a fact wrong. Safety nets are good.

I start my Election Day scanning the papers statewide, checking in with some of the Alligators and monitoring turnout reports. And I look at the ballot and wonder about the candidates, their families and their hopes. I respect them because they are putting it all on the line.

It's the first-timers who I wonder about the most. This time it's Geno Zamora, Jeff Armijo and Allen McCulloch, to name a few. Imagine the emotional peaks and valleys they will have tonight. Win or lose, it will be one of the most formative experiences of their lifetimes.

And I wonder about the grizzled veterans. They are battle-tested, but they are human. Working in campaigns you see men and women who you know are as tough as nails let the tears freely flow when this most public of referendums turns against them. When they win, you witness almost a physical transformation, a new found confidence that only comes in a democratic system where your peers pass judgement.

Tonight, of course, is about the numbers. Who's up. Who's down. But behind those numbers is the personal drama that keeps us fascinated, year in and year out, with our beloved La Politica. Good luck to all our candidates and their staffs.


We've got you covered. Our 19th year of consecutive Election Night coverage on KANW- 89.1 FM kicks off at 6:30. Our exclusive, early results come in shortly after the polls close. The aforementioned Scott Scanland, GOP State Senator John Ryan and Dem State Rep. Tom Swisstack will be joined by politico Lenton Malry to form the main team. Thanks to ABQ's Ladera Golf, Bill Campbell Agency, Realtors and Enterprise rent-a-car for making it possible. Here's more:

Steve Cabiedes and Harry Pavlides captain the precinct coverage. During the evening you will hear from State Senator Taylor; pollster Brian Sanderoff and Republican Bruce Donisthorpe. R Vic Segura is at ABQ GOP headquarters. Dem Chris Catechis reports live from his party's big party. Ace blogger Heath Haussamen covers Dona Ana county and political reporter Ave Maestas is our man in SW NM.

Like I said, we've got you covered, so join us for a night of pure, unbridled New Mexico politics. On the morning after come back here for all the highlights of NM Primary Election 2006. Meanwhile, I'll see you on the radio!

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, June 05, 2006

Primary Election Eve 06'; Just A Day Left To Close The Deal, Plus: Our Pundits Predict Today At 5 p.m. On KANW 89.1 FM, And: Fun Stuff From The Trail 

Less than twenty-four little hours. That's all the candidates have left to convince Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico that they deserve a place on the brightly lit stage of La Politica. The verdict of the people will be carried out dispassionately and, in some cases, mercilessly, as they decide who deserves to advance to November's main event.

Recently, emotionalism has developed over the incompetent distribution of those state voter ID cards; cards that are not required to vote and should never have been approved by the Governor and the NM Legislature. The mishap should not lead New Mexicans to believe the legitimacy of this election is in doubt nor discourage them from casting their ballots. Our election process, like every other human undertaking, contains flaws, but it is not riddled with fraud.

Republican U.S. Attorney David Iglesias formed a special task force to detect voter fraud in the 2004 NM election. It found nothing significant. He should continue his work in that regard. But "vote-buying" and counting the votes without glitches are the more serious concerns our state faces. Now, let's get out on the campaign trail...


Well, the fun stuff always comes at the end, doesn't it? Take a look at this flyer (part one) for district judge candidate Betsy Musselman up in Taos. Do you think it's hard hitting enough? (part two) This is a five way race for the Dem nomination for the judgeship vacated by the well-respected Peggy Nelson.

Big Bill appointed former Taos D.A. John Paternoster to fill the vacancy in April. No R is running in November so the winner Tuesday takes the whole enchilada. It should be a fun one to watch Election Night.


I'll see if I can get some top politicians to commit to predicting the key races when we present our traditional pre-game show at 5 p.m. today on KANW 89.1 FM, heard throughout north-central NM. ABQ Dem State Senator James Taylor, who lives and breathes campaigns, will be paired with GOP State Senator John Ryan who has the inside scoop on all the GOP action. Billy Sparks, former press aide to Big Bill, has lengthy experience in national and state campaigns and we're also anticipating his insights.

Top lobbyist Scott Scanland has worked NM elections with me as our chief political analyst for at least 15 years. A native New Mexican, Scanland has keen insight into the legislature and an enviable record for predicting winners. Tune in today and see how Scott and the rest of panel fare this time.

KANW-FM Election Night Coverage begins at 6:30 Tuesday and goes all night long. We thank our sponsors--Enterprise rent-a-car, Ladera Golf and the Bill Campbell Agency, Realtors for their support of public radio.


Those campaign reports due Thursday at the secretary of state's office could not be posted on the Web for the political types anxiously awaiting them. Here's what went wrong. The reports are now available for publci viewing.


Bob Schwartz has ended his political career with $523.82 in the bank. You probably won't see it donated to the Republican party which dissed him at its pre-primary nominating convention earlier this year when not enough R's voted to give him a place on Tuesday's ballot. Schwartz might consider giving his leftover funds to Big Bill who has rehired him to a state government position. But with over $5 million in the bank, the Guv might not notice. How about a donation to the Marty Chavez for Governor Committee? You can never plan too early, Bob.


"Jerry the Cat"
While some of the major statewide candidates are making nasty in the final hours, Dem land commissioner contenders Ray Powell and Jim Baca are actually making nice. Well, mostly Powell. In his final missive, Ray e-mails that "regardless of who the winner is, it will be a unified Democratic effort to take back the Land Office in the general election. We have both committed to support the winner whole heartedly."

In perhaps a new low in pandering for votes, Baca claims that his pet, "Jerry the Cat," has finally agreed to endorse him. This after I reported that Baca was risking the support of animal groups by complaining on his blog that he was lonely when his wife was out of town because "only" Jerry and the dogs were around.

In a news release, Baca said, "Jerry the Cat predicts a comfortable margin of victory for his beloved master. 'My most gracious master and provider will win his race for land commissioner because his opponent left 50K sitting in the bank rather than using it to secure more votes.'" Jerry allegedly said.

It seems the cat has the same prickly personality as its owner. A spokesman for "Avians for Powell" doubted the veracity of Jerry the Cat's endorsement. "That statement is for us birds." They said.

So concludes the catcalls and birdcalls of Primary 06'. Let's get together again tomorrow and get ready to count the votes.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Attacks Roil GOP Senate Race In Final Hours; Carraro, McCulloch Clash, Plus: We're Bringing It Home; The Late News Of Primary 06' On A Sunday Blog 

The three way race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination has played out in a placid pool, but waves splashed in the final hours of the campaign Saturday as Allen McCulloch let loose a hit piece against ABQ State Senator Joe Carraro to which Carraro responded with a vengeance.

The Farmington urologist, the perceived front runner in the contest, released a mail piece accusing Carraro of taking a taxpayer funded "junket" to Hawaii. The hit piece showed a photo of a man and woman in swimsuits lounging on the beach. The photo was not of Carraro.

Carraro defended the trip which he said was sponsored for state legislators by the Homeland Security department and took place shortly after the 9/11 attacks. He calls McCulloch's last hours attack "slimy desperation."

"I am saddened that Allen McCulloch would attempt to turn my attending a meeting of utmost importance, into a farce. I am surprised and disappointed that the McCulloch campaign has sunken to the depths of slimy desperation in their attempts to mislead and deceive New Mexicans." Blasted Carraro.

And ABQ GOP State Senator Kent Cravens got in on the action as he rose to defend his fellow senator.

"I guess the McCoullochs don't know about dignity and respect...He knows even less about how state government works. The truth is that New Mexicans really lose out when officials don't travel, network and learn from other leaders," so slammed Cravens as he joined the late-breaking fray in a race which also features David Pfeffer.

McCulloch also accuses Carraro of voting to increase the pensions of state legislators. Carraro did not address that charge.

Is the McCulloch hit piece a sign that this race is closer than the Doc's camp was hoping? We'll see Tuesday night when we bring you the results on KANW 89.1 FM starting at 6:30.


No TV ads from Governor Big Bill who has no Dem Guv primary opponent. But his campaign volunteers were busy at his downtown ABQ headquarters Saturday preparing door hangers telling Dems to vote for him and that provide voter info. Meanwhile, Light Guv Diane Denish, also unopposed for the Dem nomination, joked to Dem land commission hopeful Ray Powell that she senses "a landslide building." Not necessarily for Ray though. He is in a tight fight with Jim Baca for the Dem land office nod.


The insiders are pegging ex-Secretary of State Stephanie Gonzales and Bernalillo County Clerk Mary Herrera as the favorites in the four way race for the Dem nomination for secretary of state in Tuesday's balloting. But several Alligator types e-mail in that these insiders are missing out if they don't keep ex-Secretary of State Shirley Hooper on their radar. Here's how one of them puts it:

"Have the 'experts' forgotten how ethnicity plays out in Demo primaries? Hooper will benefit from the same force of NM nature that (Dem attorney general candidate Gary) King will; a ballot with more than one Hispanic surname, and only one Anglo. I'll bet you lunch on it!"

Good point and maybe a good bet. The other contender in the race is Santa Fe's Letitia Montoya.


What was indicted ex-Treasurer Robert Vigil up to when he spent nearly $20,000 of campaign funds on a March poll shortly before his federal trial on corruption charges got underway? According to a source close to the Vigil camp, Robert's wife was urging him to consider yet another run for the Treasurer's office--as an independent! If so, it gives new meaning to the saying: "Never say die."

The KANW 89.1 FM Election Eve Special is just hours away. Join me and my guest panel Monday at 5 p.m. for a full hour of La Politica. Election Night Coverage starts at 6:30 Tuesday.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign