Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's All Over For 226,000 Of Us; Early Voting Packs 'Em In, Plus: Hail Mary Passes Thrown, And: We "Rock Around The Block" On The Big Wednesday Blog 

Today in this fair state of ours there are 226,000 citizens who are at peace with themselves. They smile knowingly when the TV and radio blare the latest political ads; they give a knowing look when they hear their neighbors argue over Obama and McCain. The attitude of these citizens is eerily preternatural as they go about their business, oblivious to the rest of us who fret over the fate of the nation and the state of the state. Who are these throngs of the self-satisfied? Why, they are the early voters of New Mexico.

Osama bin Laden comes out for Obama? Who cares? Bush invades Iran? Not a problem. Steve Pearce calls for world peace and an immediate withdrawal from Iraq? Fugghedaboutit! They've already voted. There's no turning back now. But we can't blame them for bailing out of the final frenzied days of Campaign '08. Bliss is hard to come by in this world. If it takes early voting to get it, who are we to argue?

If early voting does indeed settle the soul, the residents of Lincoln County are as at ease as your grandma in a rocking chair on a summer night. Over 30 percent of voters in that county have already cast early ballots, the highest rate of any county in the state. There's a glimmer of good news in that for the beleaguered Republican Party. Lincoln is a majority R county. But it's only a glimmer of good news because registered voters there total just 14,000. In Big Bernalillo, TV news reports over 104,000 have already cast ballots, about 26% of the 393,000 now registered. Overall, Dems are outpacing R's in the early and absentee voting.

While the early voting is heavy, my experts predict between 70 and 75% of NM's 1,184,000 (updated number) registered voters will end up casting ballots, short of the over 80% who went to the polls in 1992 and set the state turn-out record.


You think the rhetoric is getting heated in the final days? For sure. ABQ Dem congressional candidate Martin Heinrich's camapign unloaded on Darren White's latest TV ad that calls Heinrich "disgraceful" "dishonest" and "extreme." It is an old-fashioned, hard-hitting Hail Mary that comes in the final hours and sometimes finds a receiver. Here's the punch back from the Martin spinners:

(ABQ GOP congressional candidate) Darren White released an outrageous, extreme television ad personally attacking Heinrich and echoing McCain's failed Swift Boat-style attacks. In this final week, White has escalated his vicious, unfounded attack ads rather than talking about his vision for what he would do in Congress. His campaign has consistently taken the low-road and hid behind hateful attacks and lies..."

White's nuke ad says years ago Heinrich hung out with radical enviro Dave Foreman who the ad says tried to shut down a nuclear power plant. If Heinrich does make it to Congress, he is going to have to carve out moderate positions on the environment and other key issues or face problematic re-election.

On this year's election KRQE-TV news anchor Dick Knipfing, in the game now 46 years, talked about the race Tuesday. We agreed that Heinrich appears headed to victory, but both of us believe White still has a shot at the upset. This district knows how to deliver a surprise, said the news legend. Just ask Congresswoman Patricia Madrid.


Southern GOP congressional hopeful Ed Tinsley is taking one more pass at closing the deal against Dem frontrunner Harry Teague, and it's a Hail Mary. Rancher Ed hits Harry over a sexual harassment suit filed against an employee of Teague's Hobbs oil field services company. Tinsley says the case is still pending; Teague said in a TV debate that it has been settled. The campaign also released radio ads attacking Teague for not being pro-gun, the sex harassment suit and one that mocks Teague's communications skills.

The Tinsley campaign also moved to strike down speculation heard here that Ed has basically pulled the plug on his campaign and will use his leftover campaign funds to pay back money he has lent himself.

"The Tinsley for Congress campaign wants to silence anybody who would doubt our commitment to this race..New and targeted ads districtwide are based on our opponent’s words and actions and his self-admitted inability to communicate a clear message.” Said Tinsley press aide jim Pettit.

Well, Jim, we can understand your desire to silence the Alligators. Trouble is, Ed is placing these targeted ads only on cable TV. That's not a whole lot of cash. Meanwhile, the southern race remains lean Dem. One other thing, Jim. It's near impossible to silence an Alligator. They have pretty big jaws that they just love to open.


Tim Cummins, trying to buck the tide and take the ABQ Public Regulation Commission seat back in the Republican column, has come with an attack on incumbent Dem Commissioner Jason Marks. He tries to tie Marks to former state Insurance Superintendent Eric Serna who resigned under an ethical shadow. Insiders say polling in the district shows Marks keeping the seat, despite it being set up for the Republicans. Much of the problem is straight party voting that is boosting Marks, an attorney and chairman of the PRC. The seat was once held by longtime GOP politico Herb Hughes. And just a minute go I saw Marks on one of the network affiliate TV news programs.


From the northern Dem congressional contender:

Ben Ray Luján, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 3rd District, will attend an event today in Clovis with U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Clovis is home to Cannon Air Force Base which was threatened with closure, but rescued by the state's congressional delegation. Reyes' ties to the military community seems to be the point of bringing him in as Lujan tries to show conservative Dem Anglos in Clovis that he can deliver for the area on Capitol Hill and make sure Cannon's new mission endures.

Lujan is starting to close out the race and comes with this spot. It shows him addressing a group of supporters and he carries the entire spot. His youth may be appealing in this year when voters want change. Lujan, son of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan, may be a little zesty in this one but it ends up working.


Insiders are giving Sandoval County Commissioner Jack Thomas a pretty good chance of keeping in Dem hands the state House seat being vacated by Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack. He is being challenged by Paula Papponi. The district has leaned R in the past, but Swisstack, a popular figure in the city, moved the district to D. One election Tom won by less than 20 votes. But the Dem trend could help Thomas keep it for his party.

Meanwhile, the NM Dem Party has been going over the state finance reports and finds that SE NM oil gazillionaire Harvey Yates of the Republican Yates family is playing in several state legislative races.

New Mexico Turnaround, a Political Action Committee (PAC) funded almost exclusively by oil man Harvey Yates, reported having funneled over $140,000 into six New Mexico legislative campaigns, practically underwriting the entire costs of these campaigns.

The seats Harvey has been helping with are the aforementioned Rio Rancho battle. According to state D's, he has given Papponi $27,840; Mike Tellez running against Dem. Rep Nunez in Dona Ana received $21,700; Cathrynn Brown up against Rep. Heaton in Carlsbad got $24,630; Kent Evans trying to unseat Rep. Steinborn in Las Cruces received $24,630; Tim Lardner going after Valencia State Rep. Barreras was given $15,000 as was Matt Rush who is running against Rep. Jose Campos of Santa Rosa.

Insiders tell us GOP State Sen. Rod Adair of Roswell is helping to execute Yates' legislative campaigns. Adair's demographic research firm has received $48,000. The president for the Yates PAC is former ABQ GOP Rep. Garth Simms. Yates may have a long Election Night. All the Dems he is up against are favored to win.

Thank the man (or woman) upstairs for Kari and Lisa. With the political races closing out faster than a coffin lid on Dracula at sunrise, we need action for the final hours. And our gal pals are giving us some. Here we go....

GOP Bernalillo County District Attorney candidate Lisa Torraco says she does have TV ads up, but they seem to be mainly on cable. We did see some 15 second spots on KASA, Channel 2 in ABQ which is an over the air station. The spots attack Brandenburg. Lisa e-mailed in following our report in which we wondered where she was on the tube as incumbent Dem DA Brandenburg has made a pretty hefty buy, spending $70,000 of her own money. Torraco did not respond to our question if she was buying the major stations--CBS, NBC and ABC--which consultants say you need if you are to move the voters in a big way at this late stage.

Meanwhile, the ABQ Journal Tuesday endorsed Torraco, while Brandenburg supporters charged the morning daily of already doing that on their news pages. They claim that for the nearly eight years Brandenburg has been the county's chief prosecutor news coverage has been sparse, with months passing without any news of note. But Torraco's camp points out that it hs been recently that Brandenburg has made some of her most high-profile errors drawing the intense coverage.

Pat Rogers
The conspiracy theory circulated by some Dems is that GOP attorney Pat Rogers has close ties to the newspaper and wants Torraco as DA to turn up the heat on advocacy groups like ACORN that have registered thousands of new voters. Rogers, who played a major role in the NM end of the US Attorney scandal, is an attorney with the Modrall Law Firm and a member of the board of directors of the NM Foundation for Open Government (FOG), a group heavily supported by the newspaper. Torraco was asked about Rogers' support during an appearance on KKOB-AM radio this week. She said he is just another Republican supporting her.

The polling on this battle has given R's some hope that Torraco would be one candidate who would escape the Dem tidal wave. An insider poll taken a couple of weeks ago had Brandenburg about 10 points ahead. The race may have tightened since then, but Brandenburg remains favored. Still, this is a bad year for incumbents, especially long-serving ones like Kari. NM Politics with Joe Monahan will poll the DA's race Thursday and bring you the results Friday.


On the topic of polls, Brian Sanderoff of the ABQ Journal will come with his second and final poll of the political season Sunday and it will include the southern congressional race featuring Teague and Tinsley. The paper did not poll that contest in its first poll released in early October. Polling we've seen shows possibly fatal damage being inflicted on Tinsley in Lea, Eddy and Chaves counties. In a poll conducted for this Web site Oct. 22 Teague was beating Tinsley in vote-rich Dona Ana County 48% to 38%.


Michelle Obama worked a crowd of about 3,000 in Las Vegas in heavily Dem San Miguel County Tuesday afternoon, as the Obama campaign pushes hard for a turnout in this key area. Only 61% of the registered voters came out to vote in 2004. They should be able to bump that up to 70% with visits like Michelle Obama's as well as the field organization the Obama camp is fond of talking about. Let's see how they do in Vegas when the talking stops Election Night and the counting begins. (Thanks to Helen Laura Lopez for the pic from Vegas.)


We've been having fun pitting the Aggies against the Lobos over which city--ABQ or Las Cruces--can claim kudos for hosting the largest political rally in state history. We've pretty much nailed it down that it's the Lobos ball--the Obama Saturday rally was the biggest ever. But just so we aren't accused of being a referee favorable to our home city, we have more evidence for the call. Former Big Bill press secretary Billy Sparks calls with this report.

"Joe, I was working with the Democrats in '96 when President Clinton held his New Mexico State University rally. I staffed the event. I can tell you that the President mentioned in his remarks the crowd "of 35,000 or whatever it is" as he looked out at the sea of faces. It is clear that the Obama rally Saturday that drew 45,000 has been the biggest, although the president's visit was memorable."

Thanks, Billy. With a former NMSU regent verifying the Cruces rally numbers as well as KOB-TV's Valerie Castro confirming the crowd size through the station's archives and now Billy weighing in, we think even Dona Ana booster and State Rep. Joe Cervantes will have to agree Loboland takes this one.

For the conspiracy theorists--including the ABQ Journal's Bruce Daniels, a possible member of the Illuminati--we must tell you that Sparks works at the University of New Mexico. Would he dare twist the numbers in favor of the Lobos? Well, did Billy ever, ever do such a thing when he was press secretary for Big Bill?.....There, you have your answer.


Here we go, rockers. Santa Fe's Jim Terr is "Rockin' Round the Block." As in Jerome Block, Jr., the hyper-controversial Democrat for the northern Public Regulation Commission seat. Grab that gal over there and let's dance...

Ladies and gentlemen, now you're bloggin'.....

E-mail your news, comments and plantive cries for understanding.

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