Friday, October 06, 2006

Pat Lyons Roars, But Jim Baca Avoids Deadly Bite, Plus: Politicos Pause For One Of Their Own 

With a second poll putting him in the lead, partisans for Dem land commissioner candidate Jim Baca are feeling more confident that the often controversial former ABQ mayor can bring this one home, despite a vigorous campaign being conducted by GOP incumbent Pat Lyons.

The latest ABQ Journal poll has Baca ahead by four points--43% to 39%--and time is growing shorter for Lyons to move the numbers. His best chance would appear to be in Bernalillo county where he trails Baca, himself a former land boss, by only two points. Much of Lyons' strength is in conservative SE NM where the pros believe turnout could suffer because of no big competitive GOP races. Baca is the heavy favorite in the Spanish North which has helped put him over the top in the past.

Lyons has been up with negative radio for several weeks, but not TV. He may have to go there in order to get voters' attention, but it could be risky as the electorate is already being bombarded with hyper-negative messages in the Madrid-Wilson congressional race.

History is blowing wind in Lyons' face. It is rare for any R to win a down ballot race in our state. His 2002 election over Dem Art Trujillo was possible because of Trujillo's DWI record and other political events that Lyons effectively highlighted. But Baca, while having a reputation for his prickly personality, is qualified for the job and does not have naerly the baggage Trujillo had.

Lyons, a former state senator form the east side, is the GOP's best hope to avoid a complete Dem ballot sweep. It appears he will raise close to a million dollars, compared to $300,000 for Baca. But with momentum with the Dems and their registration in the state overwhelming, Lyons needs to come roaring strong to turn this one around.


The Patricia Madrid congressional campaign will hold its fire for the time being on TV spots linking GOP congresswoman Wilson to the seamy House page affair. So says an insider, calling the topic "too hot." Which means the thing could backfire. But Madrid will continue to use the issue on the campaign trail. TV could also come toward the end if the campaign polls say it is needed and would work.


The partisanship of Campaign 06' took a breather Thursday as word came that Paige McKenzie, spokeswoman for GOP Guv candidate John Dendahl and a fixture at the Roundhouse during recent legislative sessions, was the victim of a horrific and outrageous attack Wednesday at a parking lot in Bernalillo. Governor Richardson issued this statement:

“I am shocked and disgusted by this brutal, senseless attack. Our thoughts are with Paige and her family and we pray for her full recovery. I have also offered the resources of the State Police to assist with the investigation, should they be needed.”

McKenzie's family arrived in ABQ Thursday and said: "We hope that those responsible for this despicable act will be brought to justice soon. We appreciate your prayers and support during this very difficult time."

All can agree with that statement and join in wishing Paige a full recovery and for the rapid capture of the perpetrator.

Paige McKenzie was the subject of a recent profile in the ABQ Trib which
you can read here.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another 1st CD Stunner: Zogby/Reuters Has Madrid Up by 10; Big Spread Disbelieved, But Not The Momentum; Patsy's Got It; What's It All Mean? Read On 

AG Madrid
More shock waves rolled through the New Mexican political community Wednesday as the Zogby/Reuters poll hit the Worldwide Web showing a startling 10 point lead--50.4% to 40.3%--for Patricia Madrid over ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Could that really be? Probably not was the nearly universal answer from the political pros, but nearly all agreed that the survey does confirm that momentum in this campaign is now indisputably with the challenger and that any complacency on the part of the incumbent needs to be ditched fast.

It was the psychological impact of the new poll that was most noticeable. Our email box was flooded as readers alerted us to the survey (thanks to all) with Dems going into a feeding frenzy and R's, already reeling from the House page scandal, astonished that any survey distributed by one of the world's leading news agencies could show such a spread.

The Zogby poll came on the heels of the ABQ Journal weekend survey showing the congressional race a dead heat at 44% each. But pollster Brian Sanderoff said the momentum was with Madrid. Wednesday he told me: "I feel Zogby is picking up momentum regardless of the Foley scandal."

Regardless of the Foley scandal? What happens when that is weaved into the next round of polling?


Zogby has an iffy track record here from 2004 when he utilized Internet surveys to track the presidential race and was all over the map. But this was not an Internet poll; it was a field poll with 500 phone calls into the district. However, Zogby used a random telephone sample that had respondents telling pollsters whether they were registered and likely voters. Sanderoff prescreens for definite voters. That identification process probably explains some of the wide gulf between Madrid and Wilson.

Still, the trend is your friend. The Zogby numbers back up the momentum for the Democratic attorney general picked up by Sanderoff and earlier by Democratic pollster Harry Pavlides. There is simply no denying now that the race is drifting from the toss-up column to "lean Democrat." It may not be there yet, but that is the present direction.

Zogby's poll was taken from September 25 thru October 2. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5%. Even employing the full margin of error, Madrid is ahead 1.1%. And there were plenty of analysts Wednesday saying that's where they really see this exciting contest which could help determine the party that controls the U.S. House. Zogby also polled other key congressional races around the country and found that in 11 of 15 of them the Dem was ahead. He warned of a "Republican freefall," but added that the time is there for the R's to mount a recovery.


Rep. Wilson
The Alligators chipped in and put up the $199 for the critical "cross tabs" of this poll in our continuing effort to bring you comprehensive coverage of perhaps the most important state congressional race in history.

What we found was not good news for Wilson. On the vital question: "Do you think Heather Wilson deserves to be re-elected, or do you think it is time for someone new? Fifty-eight percent said it was time for someone new and only 38.5% said Wilson deserves re-election. Even if the margin of error on that question is the full 4.5%, Wilson remains well below the magic 50% mark.

We jumped immediately to how Heather was doing with the R's. If she was losing them, we thought, that might actually be good news since she would have a good chance at winning them back at the end. But it was not to be. Zogby had her getting 85% of the R's, about where Sanderoff had her. No, the bleeding is clearly with Democrats (82% for Madrid) and Independents, voters that are moving to the Democrat and will be harder to get back. Independents went overwhelmingly for Madrid 64% to Wilson's 23%.

The poll assumes 10% of the electorate will be Independents, but pollsters Sanderoff and Pavlides said it will be more like 15 or 20%. Pavlides' poll also had Madrid leading in this group, but by 10 points less. If there is a flaw in the Zogby poll, besides identifying who is a definite voter, we think it is too big a lead for Madrid among the independents. That number is key in taking her to the 50% mark in the horse race. Still, with momentum continuing for her after the Journal survey, she certainly is moving toward the 50% mark.

While the poll may have been low in weighting the Independents, it was a bit high with Republicans, weighting them at 40% of the survey when other experts say they will comprise about 38% of the electorate.

Zogby will poll one more time in this race, releasing it November 2nd. The Journal is expected to come with another poll October 22. You can go through the age and gender groups to learn more on Zogby's poll and you can refer to my Sunday blog for the PDF of the Journal poll. But the main point remains: For Madrid the trend is her friend.


The utter disarray in the scandal-plagued Republican-led U.S. House means Wilson will get no momentum this week. She will go into the early voting either tied or behind, depending on how you read the polls. The fact is there is not that much longer to go. November 7 is a somewhat perfunctory deadline. Thousands of actual votes will start to be cast following October 10, the date absentee ballots will be mailed out.

I checked on this all-important aspect of Campaign 06' for you with Bernalillo County Elections Administrator Jamie Diaz. He told me that so far he has a list of 13,000 voters who will be mailed absentee ballots on the 10th. Those votes will start coming in a few days later.

Diaz said the lion's share of the mailed out absentees will start coming in after the 16th, with the big rush coming around October 20-23.

"Voters don't mail them back right away. I think they have learned to wait a bit for any further campaign developments because often things have happened that would make a voter change their mind, but they have already voted." He explained.

Early, in-person voting at various sites around the ABQ area begins October 21. That is just over two weeks. Well over 50% of the vote will be cast early, not on November 7th. What this means for Wilson is obvious. She must stop Madrid's "Little Mo" now, and then start building her own head of steam. If Madrid can hold a good chunk of conservative Dems in the early voting--Heather's past key to victory--Wilson would likely lose.


Still, there is a sense of complacency about the Wilson campaign, even denial. One of the GOP Web sites describes the Sanderoff poll citing Madrid's momentum as a big "yawn." Heather supporters also reject criticism for not having her "Another Home for Heather" signs dotting the landscape as they have in past successful campaigns. They say signs don't vote and the focus is on TV. But signs, as anyone who has been playing this game for more than six months knows, are the telltale signs of organization, passion and personal ownership of a candidacy. They help galvanize the all-important GOP base.

The campaign also seems intellectually exhausted, having spent millions attacking Madrid on ethics and still failing to put the race away. Yet, they keep coming with the same TV theme and it is looking tired. If Wilson has a bombshell ready to drop on Madrid, then look out below. The momentum in this thing could go back to her in a snap. But if she is looking for it with what she has up on the air now, opinion I consulted said it ain't gonna happen.


Several political pros urged change. Perhaps they're overreacting, but they have done many, many campaigns, seen the shift of power over the generations and see significant trouble for the incumbent. They do not live in denial. They have had real power and real responsibility in the real world. They have brought home winners, hung with losers and always play for keeps. One of them summed up this way:

"Yes, if the bombshell is there, drop it. If not, then she needs to mix this thing up. Sure, the attacks will continue and they need to, but in a different form. Heather is a classy, intelligent, well-studied congressperson; an image that is nowhere to be seen in the wall-to-wall negativity of this campaign.

"The multimillion dollar mud is piling up on her. She has done a lot for the district. She needs to tell that story, not just build a bigger mud pile, but get her base enthused and get waffling Dems to seriously question abandoning her." Said our campaign vet.

Recognizing your weaknesses and correcting them. Wanting it more than the other guy (or gal). Those are the traits of success and they will help decide this congressional race as they have in countless contests of the past.

When it comes to Campaign 06' we're kickin' you know what and takin' names. This is indeed the home of Campaign 06' bringing it to you fair, balanced, nonpartisan and with readers across the USA aboard for the ride. Help us cover it by sending your email from the link at the top of the page. Thanks for your support!

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good News For Beleaguered R's? They Could Pick Up Some Roundhouse Strength, Plus: Dateline Otero County; Guv Goes For Kill In Little Texas 

The Roundhouse
Even though all 70 State House seats are up for election this year it's pretty easy to follow the action because the political pros tell me only a handful are in play. And there could be a glimmer of good news for the R's whose top of the ticket team is being overwhelmed by the Dems. These insiders say the GOP could actually pick up a House seat or two, despite the expected landslide for the D's in the U.S. Senate and Guv's race. Here's the Legislative tip sheet.

The most likely R pick up is in Eddy and Otero counties where Dem Joe Stell is retiring. The candidates are Dem Christy Bourgeois of Carlsbad and R William Gray of Artesia.

"This district is really Republican. Joe held it because of his personal popularity, but with him leaving this is a very likely R pick up," explained one of several legislative experts we consulted.

In Las Cruces, there is concern among Dems about State Rep. Andy Nunez, but they expect him to hang on. Also in Cruces is the battle to replace R Ed Boykin. Dem Jeff Steinborn is trying to put the seat in the D column against R Scott Witt. Lt. Guv Denish recently held an ABQ fundraiser for Steinborn, but the seat is seen as lean R, but one to keep your eye on.

The most action is in Valencia county where two incumbent Dem legislators--Kandy Cordova and Fred Luna--are retiring. Both are possible R plays.

R Jackie Farnsworth is running for the third time for the Luna seat, but with no incumbent to battle, insiders are saying this is a true toss-up. The Dem is Elias Barela of Belen.

In the Cordova seat, it is Andrew Barreras of Tome battling Republican David Young. This is a swing district that the R's will have to fight hard to pick up. Dem House Speaker Ben Lujan can be expected to go to work, and so can GOP state reps who will be seeking leadership spots in the next session and will try to pick up allies for that future power struggle.

Another key race is in ABQ where R Teresa Zanetti is being challenged by Traci Jo Cadigan, wife of ABQ City Councilor Michael Cadigan. This is a lean R district, but the race watchers say Cadigan is working it hard in the mainly ABQ North Valley/NE Heights area which Zanetti has won twice.


Overall, the legislative wall-leaners are conservative in their projections with the consensus leaning towards a pickup of perhaps one seat for the R's. But if the top of the ticket punishment they expect for the GOP isn't as bad as expected and R's come out in better numbers than currently expected, they could do a bit better.

A hole card for the D's is Big Bill and his big war chest. He has never shied away from involving himself in these contests and one suspects if he sees things slipping too much, the Dem candidates will get a little extra help.

If the GOP picks up a couple of seats, the Dems would still retain power with a comfortable majority. (They currently lead 42-28.) However, one insider pointed out that the number of R's on the legislative committees would increase and that could make things interesting. That might give them a bit more bargaining power, especially with conservative D's who often share their views."


While the R's may have hope for some good legislative news, the depth of their overall problems could not be illustrated better when looking at how their R Guv candidate, John Dendahl, is running against Big Bill in the heart of Republican country--the East and southeast side of the state., The latest ABQ Journal poll has the Guv garnering 47% of the vote in that region to Dendahl's 36%. This in the most conservative section of the state. I asked retired Dem congressional staffer Larry Morgan in Alamogordo if it was possible that Richardson could actually carry Otero county.

Gary King for Attorney General"Dendahl has appeared here several times, but has not drawn large audiences. I wouldn't be surprised if he did not carry Otero which is a Republican stronghold.

"The Governor recognizes he didn't have much popular support here previously. However, he has reached out over the past two years. He has made several trips to Alamogordo during the past year and is personally given credit for two major projects which have resulted in increased employment opportunities.

The Governor is, however, getting negative comments about all his out of state travel, as well as his refusal to have a TV debate with Dendahl."

Thanks Larry. Big Bill lost Otero in 2002 to John Sanchez 54% to 42% with the Green candidate getting 3%. If he is going to go over 60% statewide, he will have to improve as Larry indicates he will. It will be one of the stories we will be watching closely when we anchor Election Night Coverage Nov. 7 on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ/Santa Fe.


It didn't take long for the national Dems to put up a TV ad on the Foley scandal. I saw one on MSNBC last night for a D House challenger. Could one be coming soon in the Heather-Patsy congressional race? Expect sooner, not later.

Meanwhile, the Madrid campaign kept their heel on Heather's neck Tuesday, despite protests that they were going "over the top" to say that Wilson, who sat on the House committee overseeing the pages from 2001 to 2005, should be held responsible for Foley running amok with teenaged pages. But the Dems are going to cash in on all they can. They are chewing up news cycle after news cycle and reminding everyone that Heather belongs to the party in power. The next couple of days will be important. The R's need to stop the bleeding, and now.


For the record, Dem pollster Harry Pavlides' late September poll has Patricia Madrid running one point ahead of Heather Wilson in the hotly contested ABQ congressional race, not one point behind as was posted here for a time this week. It's Madrid 46.6% to Wilson's 45.6%. The ABQ Journal has it a dead heat at 44 to 44, with both pollsters saying the race has been trending Madrid...We expect another Journal poll around Oct. 22...I believe that at this moment Madrid is very narrowly ahead, but don't get vexed Heather fans, today is not Election Day...

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

October Surprise Sex Scandal Hits Heather; She Sat On Panel Overseeing Pages; Dems Strike; Details & Exclusive Analysis On The Home Of Campaign 06' 

NM Democrats became jubilant Monday as the October sex surprise got wrapped around ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson, just a day after the latest poll in her re-election bid showed her in a dead heat (44-44) with Dem challenger Patricia Madrid. It turns out that Wilson served from 2001-2005 in what is now one of the hottest seats in D.C.--the House committee that oversees the teenagers who work as House pages. Florida GOP Congressman Mark Foley resigned in disgrace when it was revealed he sent sexually charged emails {PDF} to a 16 year old male page, setting off a political firestorm that has the Dems hammering and the House GOP leadership running for cover.

Here in River City, the Madrid campaign wasted no time pinning the page problem on Heather's lapel.

"...as early as 2001, when Wilson was named to the House Page Board, pages were being warned about Foley's inappropriate behavior.

"We have another case of Wilson refusing to stand up and ask the tough questions. In 2001...pages were already being warned about the inappropriate conduct of Rep. Foley. But Wilson did nothing to protect teenage boys from this sexual predator... Why did Heather Wilson choose to do nothing to protect teenage boys from Mark Foley?"

Wilson, facing the roughest stretch of her political career, was quizzed on her knowledge of the page scandal by the AP:

"Foley's sexually explicit instant messages were sent in 2003. He also exchanged e-mails with another page in 2005.

"Although Wilson helped oversee the page program during part of that time, she told the AP that if anyone had a concern about Foley, it was never relayed to her.

"It's not clear to me what all the facts are," she said. "Certainly, based on what I saw last Friday, you (should) report it. The question is whether somebody knew, and when did someone know about those e-mails.

"If anyone...knew an adult was soliciting sex from a child and didn't report it, that person could have broken the law. "The obligation first and foremost is to protect children," she said. "I don't care if someone is a parish priest...or a member of Congress..." said the AP dispatch.


Reaction was immediate and widespread in the state's political community with the unanimous opinion that this can only hurt Heather, although to what degree is a matter of argument.

"This goes right to her base vote. Conservative Republicans will react strongest to this. They uphold the banner of moral values, and this strikes at their core. It is another reason they have to not vote this year," analyzed one Alligator monitoring developments.

And another: "Is this the straw that breaks Heather's back? I don't know, but it could be. It sure makes her TV commercials condemning Madrid for turning her head on the investigation of (ex-Treasurer) Vigil look dead. If Madrid turned her head on Vigil, it looks as if they can charge Wilson turned her head when this congressman was on the loose. I would look for Madrid or the national Democrats to come with ads linking the Foley scandal to Heather."

And another: "How long does this last? If it becomes a daily drumbeat it is going to keep the momentum with Madrid. If not, Heather should be able to move ahead, but this does work in Madrid's favor by offsetting the ethics attacks that Heather has made against Madrid."

It's been one thing after another for Heather; a bad poll, the guilty verdict on Vigil which diminishes him as a campaign issue against Madrid; her donation to charity of $8,000 that Rep. Foley's campaign contributed to her and now the revelation that she sat on the Page Board.


Right on schedule the long knives are coming out and slashing at the campaign Wilson is running, but the knives are being wielded not by Democrats, but by Republicans who are showing increasing frustration over the possibility that they could lose the seat. Here is a report from a GOP Alligator on the scene

"The many shortcomings of the Wilson campaign. Where do I start?!?

"No yard signs until September 25; the latest ad stating Heather voted to overturn Bush's stem-cell bill has outraged Right to Life; No positive commercials from Heather, with none in sight; Victory 2006 (the GOP get-out-the-vote effort) has been a waste of $40,000 a month; Next to no volunteer activity; Too many out-of-staters on Heather's campaign staff; Moving away from Bush is hurting Heather among the grassroots volunteers." Reports our upset campaign insider.

We've reported to you previously that it was hard getting direct info from the Heather campaign team, but the Alligators don't have that problem.

But what about the flaws in Madrid's campaign? Well, when you're ahead there are no flaws, but if Patsy slips you can be sure those long knives will get rust-free in a hurry. Meantime, maybe Madrid disappears for one of her favorite vacation spots, one where folks believe silence is golden.


How do you tie state corruption into the threat of sexual predators? If you are GOP attorney general contender Jim Bibb you call them "corrupt sexual predators." OK. I don't know if I quite get that, but Bibb's latest campaign commercial is well-produced. The problem is so is Democrat Gary King's whose aides say is determined to heavily outspend political newcomer Bibb and close out this one...U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman continues to expand his lead over GOP challenger Allen McCulloch. The ABQ Journal poll released today shows Jeff getting 65% of the vote to Doctor Allen's 19%. If the numbers hold, Bingaman will easily lead the Democratic ticket this year...


Barbara Longeway is one of our most persistent critics, but I respect her passion, even if disagreeing with her conclusions. Here's her latest email, addressing our Monday blog where we wrote on how J.R. Damron was replaced as the GOP Guv candidate by John Dendahl.

"Check the facts, I spoke with J.R. and asked if he was "dumped from the ticket." After he stopped laughing, he replied "absolutely not." The truth is that J.R.. wanted to be removed from the ticket, and he personally picked John Dendahl as his successor. There was no "plot" as you call it."

"You may argue that you're just repeating what your "Alligators" tell you. Well, maybe you need to find better informed "Alligators." If you insist on writing about La Politica and really want to have "nonpartisan" credibility, use facts." Stings Barbara.

Thanks, Barbara. I am confident of my sourcing and firmly believe that Damron was pushed out by top operatives--in NM and Washington--who wanted to make life difficult for Big Bill by damaging his standing here and nationally. Clearly, it has not turned out that way. Public quotes from R leaders support our story. Just Google them and see where the road leads. As for "better informed" Alligators," no way. They have nailed just about every major NM political story here for three years. We're stickin' with those who brought us to the party.

Your email of news, comments, criticisms and corrections are welcome. Send them from the link at the top of the page.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Big Bill: He Keeps Getting Bigger; Hits 60% In Poll, And: Heather's Lost Weekend; From Bad To Worse, Plus: A Red Meat Brunch With The Alligators 

The Guv
Big Bill. He just keeps getting bigger, and if you're a forlorn R, maybe badder, too. The Guv has now hit the magic 60% re-elect number in the ABQ Journal poll as his GOP foe John Dendahl remains stuck in the mud at a meager 28%. (MOE +-3.7%) This isn't a race; it's a rout. And there's not much sympathy being expressed for the underdog who pledged a more aggressive campaign than that of J.R. Damron who was dumped from the ticket following the June primary for the alleged sin of not doing enough Bill bashing. But Dendahl is doing worse than anyone imagined J.R. doing, not growing even one point since the Journal's first survey in late August. The base Republican vote is in the mid-30 range and Dendahl, with just a month to go, has yet to even nail that down.

It's no surprise. His campaign has had no media presence, and the free media he earned was all wrong, with statements that offended Hispanics and school teachers. The recovery from foot-in-mouth disease has been slow and painful to watch. Combine that with the division over John in his own party and you have a recipe for Richardson to hit 60%, even in a state filled with as many conservative voters as ours.

The plot, or whatever you want to call it, to dump Damron and replace him with ex- party chairman Dendahl is looking like one of the great mistakes in the history of our storied La Politica, something that we will be talking about for years, certainly more than we will ever talk about the non-existent Guv campaign of 2006.

The silver lining in this cloud is that sometime you have to burn the village to save it. If the R's are swept away we may finally get some leadership that can purge and then unify the old elephant and restore a competitive two party system to the state.


Where should we start when it comes to describing Heather's hellish weekend? The Journal poll showing the ABQ GOP congresswoman in a dead heat with Dem foe Patricia Madrid? The guilty verdict against ex-Treasurer Robert Vigil, who has become Heather's poster boy for her allegations that Madrid has not been tough enough on ethics? How about the fact that she has to return $8,000 in campaign contributions from the Florida congressman who was hitting on a 16 year old male page and resigned Friday. Or maybe we should begin with the strange ABQ visit of Karl Rove, the Presidents chief political adviser who was here Saturday and acted like an undercover agent, not seen or quoted by any media, but meeting in unannounced locations. He did evade the protesters, but not the politicos, who see Karl's "cut and run" as a better indicator than any poll on how the R's are doing this cycle.

Maybe we can kick the weekend review off with the ABQ comments of the Rev. Al Sharpton who Heather dubbed a "rabble rouser and anti-Semite" in her September debate with Madrid and wondered if Madrid would reject an endorsement of her candidacy by Sharpton, even though none had been offered. Sharpton, sharp-tongued as ever, had a response for Wilson when he touched down in River City Saturday for a meeting with African American activists:

"Why denounce Democrats when you can ask your own Republican leaders--Bush and Karl Rove--why they stood next to me at the Voters Rights Act signing at the White House this summer. I was invited to the White House and acknowledged by them, now I await sister Wilson to denounce them, too." He declared.

"Sister Wilson?" As the kids say, payback is a bitch. And how was your weekend?


There's been so much going on that we had to convene a special in-person session with the Alligators. Appropriately enough, we met where there is plenty of red meat--at Jerry Wright's Great American Cattle Company where, again appropriately, we ordered rare USDA T-bones to put us in the mood to discuss that Wilson-Madrid poll. Jerry wasn't around to comp us, so Steve Cabiedes and I nominated Republican and heavy-hitting lobbyist Bruce Donisthorpe for the honor. Pollster Harry Pavlides preferred to stay at his place, chain-smoking Marlboro's and comparing his poll to that of the Journal's Sanderoff. He joined us by conference call, pointing out that he had Madrid at 46.6% and Wilson at 45.6%, prior to the Journal dead heat survey.


Cabiedes, a former Green Party activist, now an independent (He'll work for the party that pays best.) has aggressively predicted where we are today and now he's getting more aggressive, saying "the race may be Madrid's to lose."

"Among the few undecided voters, there are many Hispanics and Dems. They have begun to break Madrid's way. As things stand today, the odds actually favor a Madrid victory. I think something big has to happen to shake it up for Heather. If it doesn't, as I said last month, she will need an all-out field campaign to get her vote out."

Republican Donisthorpe was nowhere near ready to throw in the towel, although he had a nice pristine one next to his hanging-over-the-platter T-Bone. Instead, he acknowledged that "we are in uncharted territory. We've never been here before. There is plenty of time for both sides to make a mistake, but the most likely determining factor is who is able to turn their vote out."

He also pointed out that millions of dollars will now be poured into each campaign. Will the R's have their traditional financial edge? He wondered. If so, that could also be a factor in the final critical days.


Cabiedes says Heather needs to find a new issue mix. "What is out there for her? Iraq and Bush do not work. What we got was a stem cell ad to show she is independent of the President. It was weak. And how about some positive ads, for Heather? I think the negative campaign may have gone too far and could be hurting her. She may have some more stuff on Patsy and will go negative with it, but it's not guaranteed to stick. She is going to have to be very careful now about a vote backlash."

Bruce feels the ethics attacks on Madrid are played out and he also says a new field needs to be plowed. "I wouldn't be surprised to see Heather go after some of Patsy's previous controversial statements. The Vigil guilty verdict may force her to reassess the ads on that subject," said Bruce as he sliced a healthy wedge of prime beef.

Dem Pollster Pavlides says Madrid is in good shape going into the final weeks, but will need to rally the base in the final days. "This election is about Democrats coming home to vote against Bush and Wilson. I think a visit by President Clinton would excite those voters. As for Heather: "She needs to stay on the attack, but I agree with Steve that she needs to be careful. You don't know when something is going to backfire."

Now that's what I call a meaty Sunday brunch.


When Big Bill last week said "my get out the vote operation" will put Madrid over the top, not all of the attorney general's supporters were jumping with joy. They said the statement ignored the intensive campaign they are mounting. One of them also took a mild jab at the Big Guy: "Patricia knows the Governor will be helping her a lot, but she is still supporting John Edwards for the presidential nomination...Ex-Treasurer Robert Vigil was found not guilty on 23 of 24 corruption charges at his retrial Saturday. His first trial ended in a hung jury. What happened? State House Majority Leader Ken Martinez thinks the feds overplayed their hand. He would appear to have a point. AG Madrid has charged key figures in the case with state charges. Will she have better luck, or is this a case not ready for primetime?

Speaking of primetime, GOP secretary of state candidate Vickie Perea has booked a $90,000 TV buy with all that money national R's have been raising for her...She also has a good sign presence up in the South Valley of ABQ...The ABQ Tribune's Kate Nash also reports Vickie's Dem rival, Mary Herrera, has not yet booked any airtime...R AG candidate Jim Bibb is up with an $185,000 buy. His Dem foe Gary King is over the $225,000 mark...

Thanks for tuning in today. Send your email via the link at the top of the page.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oh My! As Close As It Can Get; Journal Poll Shows Dead Heat in Heather-Patsy Race; Fasten Your Seat Belts For Final Act Of High Drama 

The smell of blood turned into an actual sighting of the red stuff in the wee hours of Sunday as computer screens coast-to-coast flashed the news that apparently for the first time ever ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson failed to hold the lead in an Albuquerque Journal poll. The four term congresswoman, according to the survey, is in a dead heat with Dem rival Patricia Madrid with each garnering 44% of the vote, 7% undecided and 5% saying they would not vote for either.

"This is the real deal," longtime Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff told me. "There is real movement toward Madrid in key groups--Hispanics and Democrats."

The margin of error for the poll is 5%, but Sanderoff said because of the movement in the particular groups, the race is a dead heat. His survey showing the Dem drift toward the NM attorney general confirms movement in the same groups shown by Democratic pollster Harry Pavlides who Thursday released a survey to this blog showing Madrid ahead of Wilson by one point.

The polling stunner makes the battle for the ABQ congressional seat one of the tightest in the nation, if not the tightest, and makes more realistic the possibility that the seat could go to the Dems for the first time in history. The complete Journal poll story is here. {PDF}

"It is Iraq and the President's unpopularity. Those are the key issues. The race has become a referendum on Wilson and her ties to those issues." said Sanderoff of his survey which was taken Sept. 25-28.


Rep. Schiff
Wilson took the seat in a special election in June 1998 when she replaced GOP Congressman Steve Schiff who died of skin cancer. She won her first full two-year term in November of that year, defeating Dem Phil Maloof. Sanderoff said he could not recall Wilson ever being tied or behind in any poll he conducted in those contests, or the others Wilson has faced since. Neither can I.

Wilson's foe two years ago came within one point in a poll, but that race had a completely different set of circumstances and the race was not seen by analysts as truly in play. This time it's different.

Especially worrisome for the Republicans is the millions of dollars they have already poured into TV ads faulting Madrid for allegedly failing to pursue ethics problems among state officials. The ads may have helped keep Madrid from surging into the lead, but they have not stopped the slow drift toward her. In the first Journal survey, taken in late August, Heather had 45% of the vote and Patsy came in with 42%.

The stark reality of Iraq war casualties and the growing feeling in the district that the nation is bogged down in a Vietnam type, no-way-out conflict is preventing Wilson from defining the race.

"This race is clearly about the war and what is going on in the nation, not here," analyzed Sanderoff.


The R's can be expected to come with a full-borne attack operation to stop a death blow in the form of the majority Democrats coming home even more to their party's candidate.

In that regard, Sanderoff said the news is somber for Wilson as she failed to get anywhere near the 25% of D's she must have in order to win. She is now getting only 11% of them and Madrid is getting 74%, up eight points since the late August survey. Hispanics, a heavy Dem group, are also coming home, with Madrid garnering 58% of them--up four points--to Wilson's 29%, a drop for her of six points.

There is much time for much to happen. In the past the undecided has broken towards Wilson, but at this point they are not. If that trend continues only minimally, the seat will turn.

With a poll showing Madrid in a position to win, Wilson will not only have to worry about Iraq and Bush, she will also have to worry about the prospect of a Democratic Party becoming even more energized over a possible upset which could boost Dem turnout. In a district with 39,000 more D's than R's, that would be the nail in the coffin.

We'll have more on all this Monday, so be sure to stop by.

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