Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Di's Vid Debut: Just A Small Town Girl, Plus: More On R Guv Rivalry, And: The Education Beat: Readers Have Got The Goods 

Diane Denish unveils her dialed down style in a three and a half minute personally narrated biographical video her campaign posted on the Web Monday, marking the beginning of a nearly year long and expensive branding effort that she hopes ends next November with her becoming the state's first female governor.

Old hands will tell you the path to the New Mexican governorship is less bumpy when you start it outside of Albuquerque and work your way in. So it is with Denish. Despite living and working in the Duke City for many years, for the purpose of this political campaign she will reclaim her roots in Hobbs where she was born and raised. She comes at it this way:

In a small town like Hobbs, people keep an eye on each other. You can bet if you're up to no good, you're neighbors will know it and then your parents will hear about it.

Being from a town like Hobbs is a good way to learn something else--every community matters

Another key point of the video--dissociate Di with the mess in Santa Fe. The two term Light Guv says:

As lieutenant governor I've made it a priority to get out of Santa Fe and focus on what happens in all of our communities.

Her references to open government are now routine as she continues Operation Separation and this video is no exception. Pay to play? Why, Di can't even spell it.

Big Bill is the player who largely made possible this Denish run, which she begins as the odds-on favorite in the face of an unknown Republican field. However, he is not mentioned in her inaugural video. Not that he minds. He knows how the R's are tyring to hang his dark side around her neck.

The video, produced by the national firm Laguens Kuny Klose, does not try to dress up Di. She approaches her narration chores in workmanlike fashion, using her flat, but conversational tone to tell her audience who she is.

This video is her first defense against what the R's see as their most potent argument--that electing Denish is simply giving Richardson a third term. Denish may not be radically different than Bill when it comes to policy, but their personalities are night and day. That may be among the deciding factors for many undecided voters and Denish has begun to spend her $2 million cash kitty to drive the point home.


The Politico's Josh Kraushaar will cover the New Mexico Guv race for the national audience from D.C. His latest report updates those readers about Di's efforts to avoid being pegged as Big Bill's little sister.


The dig that GOP Guv contender Susana Martinez made at fellow R contender Allen Weh---she said he could not beat Denish--is livening things up a bit in the GOP primary. Even the Dems are getting in on the fun. Here's the take of a top Dem political operative:

(Martinez) is basing her electability argument on the fact that she’s won in Dona Ana County (for district attorney). I am not sure that argument carries a lot of weight, considering that (a) she was often up against nominal opposition (b) in this race, she’ll be up against a better-funded opponent (presumably either in primary or general) (c) she’s appealing to a completely different electorate...

And it also makes you wonder, does a Martinez message of “Democrats like me” doom her in the primary? After all, she’s talking to the same voters who just picked conservative Steve Pearce over Heather Wilson in a US Senate primary. And this time it’s an off-year election with an even more conservative turnout. She’s putting a lot of stock in the voters being pragmatic this time around.

Keep in mind that the Dems, including our emailing operative, would love nothing more than to have Allen Weh as Di's November rival. They think he is way too conservative to get elected. Martinez is unknown and would be the first Hispanic woman nominated for Guv by a major party and is perceived as a little trickier for the Dems to handle.

Meanwhile, ABQ PR executive Doug Turner may turn his guns on Martinez soon, according to Alligators who take an interest in such things, but he's not pulling the trigger yet. Monday he came with another in his series of TV spots which you can see here.

The bottom line to all of this is that while Denish is steaming ahead toward the Dem nomination, the R's are entering a long infighting phase that will keep their guns trained on each other, not the Light Guv.


When we warmed to the idea of Big Bill's Hispanic Education Act, readers like Peter Ives wanted answers. Specifically, is the lagging high school graduation rates of Hispanic and Native American students a cultural issue or an income issue? We said we would look for the info with the state, but blog reader Craig Smith beat us to it and has some answers culled from a recent Legislative Finance Committee report:

The bottom line is that socioeconomic status appears to have a more consistent impact on student achievement levels, regardless of race/ethnicity. The achievement gap between all low income students and their peers is larger than any socio-economic gaps within racial/ethnic groups.

For example, for all students the achievement gap is about 28 percent between low income students and their peers. The achievement gap between low income Hispanic students and their Hispanic peers was about 22 percentage points for 4th grade reading. Likewise, the achievement gap between Anglo (White) low income students and their Anglo peers was about 21 percentage points.

Further analysis reveals that the overall gap in performance between all Anglo students and all Hispanic students is about 24 percentage points. However, after controlling for economic status, the gap is much narrower among low income Anglos and low income Hispanic students at about 15 percentage points.

Perhaps inquiring minds like Mr. Ives would have been more supportive of a “Low Income Student Education Act”?

Good stuff, Craig. New Mexico's permanently high rate of poverty takes its toll. Kids from these low-income homes can achieve, but it appears they need more targeted attention and early intervention than we've been giving them.


We noticed the over-the-top prices and so-so quality of the Gruet Steakhouse on ABQ's Nob Hill has finally played out. The restaurant has closed its doors. This is not an economy for $40 entrees accompanied by iffy service...

New ABQ Mayor Richard Berry may want to change a number of things, but we doubt if he will target the maintenance and support staff at the ABQ Sunport. A recent visit there showed the place spic and span, more so than other Western USA airports you travel through. A long line of city administrations has made the airport into a living greeting card and that is especially so this time of year. The great art, the aforementioned neatness and the overall ambiance continue to impress and demonstrate that government can sometimes do more than just deliver the basics....

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