Friday, October 24, 2008

Our Swing State Swings; Obama To Host Saturday Night Live NM Style; McCain Here On Same Day, Plus: More State Coverage As We Get Ever Closer To E-Day 

It may have happened before, but we can't recall the two major party candidates for president of the USA both campaigning in our state on the same day in the final stretch. If you are willing to fight the traffic and crowds, you could see both Obama and McCain within hours of each other in ABQ Saturday. We imagine a lot of New Mexico parents and grandparents will take a deep breath and maybe a Valium as they gather the little ones and take them out to be a part of history. The photos a nine or ten year old will get Saturday will be memories of a lifetime. Imagine them taking those pictures out of an old dresser drawer in the year 2070 and reliving from 2008 that special day in their personal life as well as the life of the state and nation. Is it hyperbole to say that this election will influence what America will be in 2070?

Obama logistics. Stuff you need to know if you are planning on attending the Obama rally. McCain is at the NM Expo grounds where parking and such will not be a big issue.


The first major presidential nominee I ever saw was a President. It was 1972 and Richard Nixon made a brief stop at the ABQ Sunport. He was opposed by South Dakota Senator George McGovern. Prophetically, several in the large crowd held signs asking, "What about Watergate?" But the scandal that was to bring down Nixon would not unfold until after his successful November reelection.

Of course, watching Air Force One roll in was surreal. Seeing it set against the Sandia Mountains made it even more so. Seeing Henry Kissinger waddle off the plane was another lasting image. Nixon gave his speech just yards away from the most famous plane ever built. That packed more punch than any TV spot I've seen in the intervening 36 years.

In 1972, I also saw McGovern close-up. He came to campaign in ABQ in June and stayed at the ABQ Hilton at University and Menual which had opened a year earlier and where I was working as a busboy. He was ushered into the high-end restaurant of that era where he met with union representatives and others. Word rapidly spread among us working stiffs that McGovern had left either a $10 or $20 tip, an immense sum at the time. The minimum wage then was about $1.60 an hour. The prices and the world have changed much since then, but the indelible impressions left on a youthful mind linger. What a comfortable place to go when cynicism makes a run on idealism.

Lujan, Cargo & Nixon
Our nostalgia trip got us talking to photog Mark Bralley who supplies us with this photo he took of President Nixon's 1970 ABQ visit. A young Governor Cargo and an even younger first term ABQ GOP Congressman Manuel Lujan accompany Nixon who spoke that day at ABQ's Highland High School. Thirty eight years later Bralley will be taking the picture of the future President, providing us with pics from the McCain and Obama Saturday visits which we'll post over the weekend. Do you think he'll send a few of proud moms and dads with kids on their shoulders enjoying the spectacle? And maybe some cool black and white ones, too?


The race for US Senate is sputtering to a close. Our exclusive poll of Bernalillo County Tuesday night showed Democrat Tom Udall getting nearly 60% of the vote. He leads the ticket here as well as in Dona Ana County, the state's second most populous, and which we polled Wednesday night. In Bernalillo, it's Dem Udall at 59.4% and Republican Pearce at 35.3%. Just 5.2% of the 729 likely voters polled were undecided. Dona Ana, where Las Cruces is located, the results were almost identical. Again, Udall polled 59.4%; Pearce received 40.7% and 5.2% undecided. 221 likely voters were surveyed. We commissioned Positive Contacts Consulting to do the poll.

Our experts started the campaign projecting a 53% to 47% Udall win based on the initial Dem trend and historic turnout patterns. But that changed with the economic calamity that struck the nation and benefitted Democrats, including Udall. He now seems positioned to take the seat by double-digits, or at least 55% to 45%. One analyst who was spot-on before the economic crisis struck was Tim McGivern, who told us in July that he believed Udall would approach 60% of the vote. We'll know for sure Election Night if he got it right. The MOE for the Bernalillo poll was about 3.6% and 5.9% for Dona Ana. We'll have more polling results next week, including the favorability ratings for ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.


D.C. insiders say the poll we commissioned this week and which showed Democrat Martin Heinrich ahead of R Darren White in Bernalillo County in their race for the ABQ congressional seat played a role in the decision of the nonpartisan and influential Cook Political Report to change its rating on the ABQ race from toss-up to lean Democratic. The report said:

Polling shows the Democratic lean of this district finally allowing Heinrich to overtake White. Ads highlighting White’s position as chair of Bush’s 2004 Bernalillo County reelection campaign refer to White as “Bush’s favorite sheriff” and have clearly taken a serious toll on GOP chances of holding this open seat.

Our poll of 772 likely voters conducted by Positive Contacts Consulting showed Heinrich leading White in Bernalillo County 52.20% to 40.63% with 7.16 undecided. MOE is 3.65%. Cook is also calling the Prez race for Obama.

Big Bernalillo makes up over 90% of the congressional district. The outlying areas, like Torrance County, lean R, but if Heinrich wins Bernalillo County by only a few thousand votes, he is likely to take the seat. The political community awaits the most scientific poll of the bunch--the ABQ Journal poll from veteran Brian Sanderoff. We think that one will be released the Sunday before the election and will pick up any final days movement.


The latest polling in the hottest state Senate race this cycle continues to show Democrat Tim Eichenberg leading incumbent Republican Diane Snyder who is spending over $100,000 to try to get a third four year term to the Roundhouse from the ABQ NE Heights district. Eichenberg is also spending a boat load. Diane is pulling out all the stops, as you can see from the piece of literature posted here (click to enlarge) and which was mailed to her district. It points to a 1975 discrimination case Tim lost when he was Bernalillo County Treasurer.

In a response to the hit, Eichenberg said: "My opponent is on the attack because she is far behind in the polling...She's been reduced to dredging up ancient history--an incident from 33 years ago (Back when Gerald Ford was President). A year after the events described by my opponent, I was re-elected overwhelmingly with 63% of the vote...My commitment to civil rights, human rights and employee rights is total and unwavering....

The southern portion of the district extends down to the San Mateo and Menaul NE area, where my experts say a lot of Reagan Democrats and independent voters live. Obama and Udall are also running ahead in the district.


Dem Martin Heinrich and R Darren White went up against each other and the World Series last night. In their second TV face-off, we are told there were no big hits or errors, unlike the game between Tampa Bay and Philly which the Rays won 4 to 2. The AP's Sue Major Holmes gave up her World Series viewing to file this report.


John Lennon once famously sang, "I know what it's like to be dead." Do Ed Tinsley and Darren White? They should say joyous Democrats who are circulating a "Death List" of seats they say national Republicans have compiled and that they are writing off. If Ed or Darren, who both made the list, manage to win, will they have risen from the dead? If so, are there spirtual implications? Someone get us a priest.


It appears State Senator Lee Rawson, the Senate minority whip, is losing ground to his Dem challenger Steve Fischmann in the Las Cruces area district. Polling shows Rawson several points behind, never good for an incumbent. Rawson is now expressing concern about possible voter fraud, a sure sign that he is in deep trouble. In a big Dem trending year, we are now rating the seat lean Dem.


From the Guv's office:

Governor Richardson will travel to Gallup and Farmington Friday to meet with high school students who are using the state’s newly adopted Navajo language textbook and to discuss the importance of native language instruction.

Some Native American dominated precincts in McKinley and San Juan will go for Obama by upwards of 70% or more, but you have to get them out.


We helped out with USA Today's coverage of the GOTV effort in key swing states like New Mexico. Here's the scoop.


What?? Steve Pearce is serving hot dogs and potato chips at his Saturday "Rally in the Valley!?" When did they stop serving the chicharrones and beef? No wonder the Democrats always carry the ABQ Valley; Republicans aren't feeding them properly.

Not that Dem Tom Udall who leads R Pearce big in the race for the US Senate has not had his missteps in the storied South Valley where politics dates back centuries. Back in 1988, Tom was running for the ABQ US House seat against Republican Steve Schiff for the right to succeed Manuel Lujan Jr. Tom also had a "Rally in the Valley" but he invited the state's most unpopular political figure of the time--Governor Toney Anaya. News of Toney geting on stage and urging a vote for Udall fell like a dud in the ABQ NE Heights. After that Tom could have gone door-to-door with enchilada casseroles and still would not rid himself of Toney's shadow. Schiff won and held the seat until his untimely death in 1998.

I remember calling that Udall-Schiff election like it was yesterday. It was our first year of Election Night coverage on public radio station KANW 89.1 FM. We celebrate our 20th consecutive year of Election Nights on the station November 4th. One of my guest analysts who started with me that night in '88 is still donating his time to the cause. Former NM legislator Lenton Malry, aka, "my cousin," will be back with us for year twenty. Scott Scanland was working with lobbyist Odis Echols in '88 when Odis was our chief political analyst. Scott took over from Odis in the 90's, and will be back again to, as he puts it "play Ed to your Johnny Carson."

To do anything 20 years running is a stroke of serendipity. But I guess if Tom Udall can keep running for political office, we can keep calling elections. Join us Election Night and for our pre-game show Monday, November 3 at 5 p.m.


Back to the US Senate race, the bird is back. That's Polly the Parrot who now rudely ribs Steve Pearce on behalf of Tom Udall. Polly has a speaking part this time around. She sounds as good as some of the stuff we've heard on the floor of the Senate. As we've asked before, can we write in the bird?

Meantime, Pearce is letting the Farmington Daily Times do some of his talking. They've endorsed the GOP contender.


A reader who describes himself, as "Dr. LFC," (Legislative Finance Committee) writes us from Santa Fe:

"How come no one has come up with the idea of stopping the issuance of rebate checks? Is it because most of the legislators voted for them and still think it's a good idea? It was a lame idea then and it's worse now. It's just like the (Wall Street) bailout. The public needs to know what's going on but no one seems to want to tackle this political issue and get someone to explain how all this stuff evolves behind close doors. That's why our country and state is in such hot water.

Thanks, Dr. LFC. Maybe we should check with "Dr. No." That's the nickname given to Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman John Arthur Smith and see how he feels about canceling those rebates. (Big Bill also supported them.) But we think John Arthur and the rest of the Legislature are all "Dr. Yeses" when it comes to handing out money to taxpayers before they cast their ballots. All 112 lawmakers are on the ballot this year.


From a reader in the ABQ South Valley:

"Joe, I have news. Turnout at the San Jose cemetery is higher than usual. Even the dead are voting early this year!"

Now that's bloggin'.

I'm Joe Monahan, reporting to you from Albuquerque, NM. E-mail us here.

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