Friday, September 28, 2007

Fallout From The Pete Poll; What They're Saying, Plus: Mailbox Mania in ABQ Election, And: Train Tax Killed In Crib; Banish Boredom & Come On In 

The political earthquake set off by Tuesday's Survey USA poll showing NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici's approval rating plummeting to 41% continued to reverberate at week's end. The assertion from Pete's camp that the Sept. 14-16 automatic phone poll was all malarkey was getting little support from the political pros who believe the senator is not as low as 41%, but that the poll has accurately captured his downward trajectory that began with the US Attorney scandal earlier his year.

Veteran ABQ Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff was one of those weighing in. "I’ve got quibbles with their methodology, but Survey USA has a pretty good track record." He said.

He also told the New Mexican it might be questioned whether Domenici's approval rating is quite as low as 41 percent.

“When you see a significant drop like that in one month, it makes you think twice." But he said Survey USA uses the same method every month, so even if 41 percent isn’t the correct number, it shows a trend that should concern Domenici."


Sanderoff's analysis dovetails with that of longtime Democratic pollster and consultant Harry Pavlides who made his comments on our blog Wednesday. He said he felt Pete was probably above 41% but below the critical number of 50%. Both he and Sanderoff agree that the war in Iraq and TV spots attacking Pete's handing of it are the main source of his recent spate of poor polling.

Pete's alter ego and chief of staff, Steve Bell, told the ABQ Journal he felt the poll was so out of touch that he'd "fire the pollster who...gave it to me." He said Domenici's own polling shows him at least 20 points above where Survey USA has him, but Steve was not releasing those numbers, leaving Survey USA as the lone public poll. That left the Alligators jawing that Pete and Steve need to be more worried about getting themselves fired by the voters, rather than any pollster losing his job.

Of special interest, for the first time in memory the Journal actually ran the results of the Survey USA. That the state's largest newspaper acknowledged the poll and did an accompanying article on Pete's re-election prospects only added to the poll's credibility. It was a sure signal that the earth has shifted and that 2008 is going to be a wild year. However, the question remains: When will the ABQ Journal, or another independent group, do a comprehensive poll on the senate race as well as the ABQ congressional contest?

Don Wiviott
Supporters of Dem US Senate candidate Don Wiviott email in that they think their guy is being given short shrift as the speculation intensifies over who will be the Dem nominee to take on Pete. Wiviott has put up $400,000 of his own money to start his run. His campaign has bought an ad here and the candidate has been pounding the pavement seeking support. Still, insider Dems look hopefully at Big Bill or ABQ Mayor Marty to show an interest in running. That gave rise to these comments from the Wiviott wing.

"He's got a lot more "weight" than the Alligators give him credit for. He's lined up a crack team of experienced New Mexico campaign staff. I think people are going to be surprised--and Democrats very pleased--to see how well Don's going to do. That's my $.02 from the sidelines, but seriously, give the guy a close look: he's smart, articulate, motivated, has vision."

As a political newcomer, Wiviott, a Santa Fe developer, has a long climb to gain the credibility he needs to excite Dems about his candidacy. But if no one better known steps forward, he will likely be the nominee, and that's something to think about.


All kinds of pieces are hitting the mailboxes in the final days of ABQ Election '07. Here's one (scroll down) we found interesting. It's from city council District 6 candidate Rey Garduño and goes after the Hispanic vote in the SE Heights. Garduño would be the first Hispanic to represent the district since its formation back in '74.


Debbie O'Malley has unleashed a couple of last minute pieces against challenger Katherine Martinez in the District 2 council race in ABQ's North Valley. They score Martinez for her ties to the ABQ development community and also for never having voted in NM. Martinez moved here from D.C. five years ago.

Why is Council Prez O'Malley unloading when it appears she has an easy win ahead of her? Insiders report Mayor Chavez's open support of Martinez and his recent criticisms of O'Malley are the major reason. "This shows Debbie is not going to put up with his crap" is how one of her operatives bluntly phrased it.

Martinez campaign spokesman Brian Miller responded angrily to the O'Malley hits.

"O'Malley's getting scared because Katherine has worked much harder and is going to win. It's desperate and will backfire. Katherine's never run from the fact that she's not from here; she's embraced it and looks at it as a positive life experience. O'Malley using taxpayer funds to wage a sleazy negative campaign is the issue here." Miller blasted.

O'Malley is using the new publicly financed campaign system. Martinez is privately financed. Martinez has hit O'Malley for being too critical of Mayor Chavez, as depicted in the cartoon posted here.


Councilor Brad Winter may be beating a dead horse, but he continues to beat away on challenger Paulette de'Pascal in council District 4 in the final hours. Incumbent Republican Winter hit Paulette with a mail piece Thursday calling into question her integrity. The mailer, among other things, sites her incomplete answers about her educational background on her ABQ Journal questionnaire. Winter also came with a piece that touts his record on enforcing immigration laws.


Councilor Don Harris, facing the prospect of becoming the first ABQ elected official to ever be recalled from office, was on TV Thursday night saying his constituents have been "violated."

Fighting to save his job and finish out the four year term he was elected to in '05, Harris and his supporters are going to ask the sheriff to look into allegations that a handful of signatures were forged on the petitions that make possible the recall. City Clerk Randy Autio has also been called on to investigate. He says the forgery allegations will not interfere with Tuesday's recall.


Big Bill is putting out a potential fire very early. From his press office Thursday night:

"Governor Bill Richardson said today that he will not support the idea of a gross receipts tax increase to pay for operations of the Railrunner. The idea was pitched by Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught as one way to pay for future operations of the Railrunner."

With the state piling up annual cash surpluses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, how the folks in Santa Fe could even consider asking you to open up your wallet borders on the bizarre. Big Bill needs to keep his fire extinguisher handy. By the way, didn't Rhonda check with Bill before talking up a tax hike? We're just asking...

Join me Monday at 5 p.m. for the KANW 89.1 FM Election Eve special. My guest experts will include ABQ Tribune reporter Erik Siemers and Terry Brunner, state director for Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Thanks to New Mexico's Enterprise rent-a-car, Ladera Golf, Bill Campbell Agency (Realtors) and Serrano & Sons Construction for helping to make possible public radio coverage of Election '07.

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