Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Carrying Olive Branches: Lopez Gushes Over Di In Her Light Guv Run, Plus: Chavez Follows Berry On Tube; See The Spot, Read The Analysis 

Lopez & Denish
Diane Denish and Linda Lopez getting along? The prospect seems as remote as Big Bill and Greg Fouratt sharing brandy and cigars. But this is politics--the game they never tire of telling us that makes for strange bedfellows. And so it was this weekend when ABQ Dem State Senator Lopez, chairwoman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, announced her bid for the 2010 Dem nomination for lieutenant governor. Linda, who made another run for Light Guv back in the 90's, but was kept off the ballot by Di's forces at a party pre-primary convention, was carrying olive branches this go around. She worked to make what sounds bizarre--a Denish-Lopez Dem ticket--as natural as Lennon and McCartney:

I am there from day one to help our Governor...She doesn't have to worry about me. I am there to help...I'm not the Governor. I will be there to support the Governor in (what) she will be working on...

And we bet Di really believes you, Linda. Really. No kidding.

Well, whether the duo will share a late afternoon martini at the Rio Chama will be a wait and see proposition. What really caught our ear is how Linda, who was first elected to the Senate in '96 and is close to Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, treated Di's 2010 Guv nomination as a done deal. Observers have long felt that she would be a more likely running mate for Sanchez than Denish. The wall-leaners and Alligators reported recently that Sanchez was a no-go for Guv. He is mildly protesting the notion that it's all over, but Lopez's attempted rapprochement with Di is really all we need to know.

(Video of Sen. Lopez's Saturday morning announcement is here. Her Web site is here.)


We've never had an all female Guv ticket in New Mexico. Could the state go all the way and make it Di and Linda for the Dems and Janice and Susana for the R's? (We'll let Guv hopefuls Janice Arnold-Jones and Susana Martinez argue who is on the top of that ticket.) The guys have had a long run as the heads of New Mexico's household and look at the budget mess we find ourselves in.


We wondered aloud last week whether the entry into the GOP 2010 lt. governor's race by former Clayton area State Rep. Brian Moore would give Santa Fe's J. R. Damron second thoughts about a run. Seems not. The Santa Fe doctor, who for a brief time in 2006 was the GOP Guv nominee, will announce his light Guv bid today at noon, according to a newsletter from the Santa Fe County GOP of which Damron is treasurer. That's the same time today that former GOP Chairman Allen Weh will get in the Governor's race at the University of Mexico.


Within hours of learning that GOP mayoral hopeful Richard "RJ" Berry had placed the first TV buy for the October 6 election, Mayor Marty Chavez also laid down some cash for tube time. Both candidates aired spots on the Fox News Channel over the long Labor Day weekend. We previewed Berry's spot Friday. Chavez's spots may have actually aired before Berry's, but it appears the ABQ NE Heights state rep was first to make the buy and Chavez reacted. It was a rare first for Berry as Chavez was atop the heap in getting his petition signatures, public financing contributions as well as his billboards in the ground.


As usual, Chavez looks and sounds solid. He carries this thirty second spot himself, with the aid of some video and still shots placed below him. His vulnerability in this election would seem to be an overall unease in the electorate with the state of the economy and their personal finances. It could give rise to an anti-incumbent mood at the ballot box and Chavez addresses the matter at the top of the spot.

We're facing challenging times with a nationwide recession and tough issues right here at home...

He then lists a series of initiatives to address the challenges---hiring 100 more cops and pledging to "strive to make ABQ the leader in alternative energy and recruit and grow good paying, high-quality jobs."

He also addresses the issue du jour--New Mexico's disappointing high school graduation rate.

I'm committed to improving our graduation rate and the quality of our education system.

The spot, one of eight the mayor's campaign says he will air, is finished off with a slogan aimed at calming any anti-incumbent feelings and turning the current bad times in his favor.

"Marty Chavez...Today more than ever." Intones a a female announcer.

Chavez also embraces the incumbency visually, seated in a formal setting with the ABQ and NM flags positioned behind his left shoulder. He's dressed in a dark business suit with a gray shaded tie. Early polling shows voters comfortable with him at the helm so show them what they seem to like.

The overall impression this ad leaves is that Chavez is in touch with current issues and not a long-in-the-tooth incumbent. He proposes mild changes, but speaks in a low-key and reassuring voice. Voters looking for a new Marty Chavez will have to look elsewhere. Chavez works in this spot to hold on to his base--the 40% who will give him the win without a run-off. If you like the status quo--with an occasional update--this is your candidate.

As for Democrat Richard Romero, his campaign will not give a definitive answer on whether he will do any television spots. Some insiders are speculating that Romero may forgo TV in favor of more direct mail. That strategy would carry some risk. Even in a low turnout election, TV ads play an important role with the most likely voters--those over 50. But if Romero is targeting young voters and leaving Chavez and Berry to tussle over the prune juice crowd, maybe an all-mail strategy will do the trick. Still, younger voters are notoriously hard to motivate. We would be surprised if Romero did not cut at least one or two spots for the final days of Campaign '09. Like the other contenders, he is receiving $328,000 in public financing.


We'll be hearing more about this in coming days, as the newshounds will want to know more details:

Gov. Bill Richardson was a passenger in a small boat accident Sunday at Elephant Butte Lake, KOAT reports. The State Parks Department told KOAT News that Richardson was in a boat that either hit a dock in the marina or another boat. No one was injured, but the Parks officials are investigating the incident, according to KOAT.


It's the last chance for a town hall to get wild in NM before the Congress gets down to business on Obama health care. But you will have to check in beforehand to take part. Rep. Lujan's office says:

(Northern Dem) US Rep. Ben Ray Luján will hold a telephone town hall tonight (Tuesday) at 7:00 pm. Residents can call Rep. Luján’s Washington DC office ((202) 225-6190) to RSVP for the call. Participants will have the opportunity to ask Luján their questions about health insurance reform.

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