Thursday, August 05, 2010

Campaign Mood: Dems Morose; R's Buoyant, Plus: News & Analysis From Indian Country Election; Impact On NM Guv Race? And: State Budget Chopping 

Democrats are morose and Republicans are buoyant. That's a generalization but it best sums up the prevailing mood at this still early date in the 2010 Guv campaign.

There has been no public polling on the race between Dem Diane Denish and Republican Susana Martinez since late June (a new one could come at any time) when Martinez was a point ahead, but R's are floating rumors that Susana's internal numbers are much better.

Of course, internal numbers can be floated to raise badly needed campaign cash. Still, the current email is running along these lines:

Can't they see the tidal wave from the top of the Tram? It's difficult for experts to understand what's going on out there--the people with pitchforks are coming to get them--French Revolution style.

That missive was in part a reaction to our Alligators making Denish a slight betting favorite over Martinez. While the most confident R's see a tidal wave and this Guv race already in the bag, the Gators see it as more fluid and leaning slightly Dem because of the state's basic political nature.


If Denish is freaking out over the unsettled atmosphere and polling rumors, she is not showing it. Her latest TV spot released Wednesday continues to show Di as a cool cucumber--and with no direct attack on Martinez. In the ad titled, "What Really Matters," she takes to the screen and says:

...Even while my opponent attacks me, I'll stay focused on what really matters--fighting for you, your family and New Mexico's future.

In the new ad Denish cites her work "taking on" predatory lending and for expanding pre-K education.

The Dems, say veteran analyst Steve Cabiedes (once a Green now a Dem), are getting closer to what their core message needs to be--that times are hard and that Denish recognizes it and is willing to be on the side of regular families. Gone is the talk of business tax breaks and the like.

Cabiedes still sees Denish positioned and sees no reason for panic "as long as they do the work."

Denish recites her copy to a background of soothing piano music. It is part of her continuing effort to build up her favorable ratings. She made a brief foray into hard-hitting negative ads immediately after the June primary, but has since taken the positive road.

If Martinez's latest spot accusing Denish of abusing the state jet and using stimulus funds for Christmas cards is causing heavy damage, you wouldn't know it by watching Denish's ads.


Former NM Secretary of State Stephanie Gonzales says she is not supporting GOP Guv nominee Susana Martinez, despite the campaign listing a Stephanie Gonzales as a member of "Democrats for Martinez."

Gonzalez checked in from Santa Fe to say:

I am 100 percent with Diane and have been working my tail off to get her elected She is a native New Mexican and a class act who always stands up for our families and is the best candidate to be our next governor. Nobody contacted me from the Martinez campaign and this is false information.

We left a message for Martinez campaign manager Ryan Cangliosi asking if there were another Stephanie Gonzales who is also a Democrat who the campaign was referencing. We did not hear back.

We noted in that Wednesday blog that there were hard feelings between Denish and Gonzales following a bitter primary between the two years ago for the Dem nomination for lieutenant governor, but that rift appears to have mended.

There has not been a Republican secretary of state in New Mexico since the 1920's, so a Gonzales endorsement of Martinez--even if it was due to a long ago rivalry--could be seen as a political coup.


There will soon be $126 million less for New Mexico lawmakers to worry about. The US Senate is well on its way to approving the additional funding for the Medicaid program. The House will go back next week to finish the job. Without the money, the state budget shortfall for the current fiscal year would skyrocket even further.


We have some expert analysis for you on how the Navajo presidential election--to be held the same day as the NM balloting--could possibly help the Dems. The primary was held Tuesday. Now to Indian Country and an Alligator report:

The news from Tuesday's Navajo Nation primary election is that the winners could help New Mexico Democrats in November. The unofficial winners are State Sen. Lynda Lovejoy of Crownpoint (with more than 16,000 votes) and Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly of Thoreau (with more than 7,000 votes). Both are of New Mexico and were chosen in a field of 12 candidates.

Both Lovejoy and Shelly are Democrats from McKinley County and now move on to the November election. If enough voter interest is drummed up in this presidential race, this could increase turnout in both the tribal and state elections, which are held on the same day.

Navajos generally vote Democratic and it could be a record turn-out if enough interest is garnered with what could possibly be the first woman elected to the Navajo presidency.

Lovejoy bested her last attempt at this office by more than 6,000 votes; this is attributed to the disqualification of Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, who beat Lovejoy four years ago. Shirley attempted a third term, but that was ruled out by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court which cited term limits.

McKinley County has the heaviest concentration of Navajo voters. Sixty-five percent of the approximately 36,000 registered voters there are Dems.


Mayor Berry
ABQ Republican Mayor RJ Berry is learning he can't count on Republican on the city council to vote in lock step. The R's control the nine member panel for the first time in years, with five Republicans and four Dems holding forth. But Berry this week lost a big battle over a proposed contract for a labor negotiator with GOP Councilors Winter and Lewis joined with the Dems to reject the deal on a 6 to 3 vote.

Earlier, Lewis bolted on the nomination of David Campbell as chief administrative officer and Republican Councilor Harris has expressed concern over how Berry is handling budget cuts when it comes to the city work force.

The council and mayor's office is officially nonpartisan, and while that hasn't been much more than a fig leaf in recent years, the mayor is discovering that this council--now with a number of veteran members--does not roll over and play Rover on his command.


And the NM Dem legislative leadership is taking note of city politics. House Speaker Ben Lujan and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez want Berry to reconsider the salary cuts for police and firefighters and instead implement furloughs as requested by unions for those employees. From their letter to the mayor:

It is our understanding that the concessions proposed by the Albuquerque Police and Fire Fighters will result in greater savings than requested by your administration. We urge you to accept their offers to ensure the City meets its balanced budget mandate and honor all other obligations under the current collective bargaining agreements. If their offer truly resolves the immediate fiscal year's financial issues, as the City Council has indicated it does, then we urge you, in good faith, to revisit the Memorandums of Understanding to facilitate their concessions for fiscal relief...

The firefighters are in court over the pay cuts.


We welcome aboard Carroll Strategies as a blog sponsor. We asked them to tell our readers a bit about themselves:

Carroll Strategies is a full-service PR, advertising, and communications firm. We create public relations and advertising campaigns. We're experts at web site design and marketing. We manage crisis situations and repair reputations. We provide top-level online services. We create quality videos and films. We are, in short, a highly experienced communications and strategy company that uses the newest and most powerful selling tools to help you win.

The company president, Tom Carroll, is no stranger to politics. He served as an executive director of the state Republican Party and as a campaign consultant for a variety of political candidates. You can read his "Strategy of the Week" here.

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