Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Di's Challenge: We Open The Suggestion Box, Plus: Susana's Roots Pondered, And: Teague & Barela Get On Tube & Allen Weh Resurfaces 

The challenge for Diane Denish is to prevent the constant brooding over her candidacy from becoming fear and panic. The Democratic gubernatorial nominee has time for the turnaround, but there is now a palpable sense of urgency. Her six point deficit against Republican Susana Martinez in the late August ABQ Journal poll has created a crop of armchair campaign mangers who say Denish needs to start galvanizing this electorate--now. To the suggestion box:

--When traveling to the heavily Hispanic communities ask folks there: "What do you need?" That's not deal making or pay-to-play, but the way things are done.

--Go with a Spanish TV ad but don't just put it on the Spanish TV stations. Put it on the 10 p.m. news on the big broadcast outlets and say a few words in Spanish. Pandering is not a crime.

--Line up President Obama for a trip to the north where Hispanic crossover voting threatens your election. (The Pres remains popular in the north) And don't wait until late October. You need energy now.

--Don't listen to the consultants who say "signs don't vote." The Denish candidacy needs buzz on the ground. Get the signs up--everywhere you can.

--Either Di should get tougher on Susana on TV or one of those third party groups should. What about Martinez's early embrace of Sarah Palin? How long is the peanut gallery going to have to wait to see that spot? Early voting starts in early October.

As for Martinez, the suggesters in chief argue she and running mate John Sanchez should plant themselves in northern New Mexico for the next two months and continue to cultivate crossover Hispanic Dems--one vote at a time.


Right now the Democratic voters don't see Susana Martinez as a threat. The Dems have taken shots, but wasted ammunition. They are calling Martinez a Republican every chance they can to remind Hispanic Dems that they are crossing over for a conservative. That seems effective, but now they need to roll out the heavy artillery.

With the summer gone, we can now say that Martinez was more successful in defining Denish than in being defined by her foes. If you think you've already heard "Richardson-Denish" too much, get ready for another dose.


The election results already seem to be in on University of New Mexico football coach Mike Locksley. The fans are calling for his head after Saturday's embarrassing 72-0 Lobo loss. That was the season opener, following last year's downer.

But it's the entire athletic department that needs a reshuffling and a complete redefinition for the decade ahead. The enormous resources poured into athletics may no longer be sustainable. Are we planning for that?


We speculated last week that a Republican Governor like Susana Martinez might be in a good position to clean up the mess at the University of New Mexico because she lacked political ties to the school. That comment served as launching pad for this reader--identifying himself as Emilio Sanchez-- to question Susana's ties to New Mexico:

Joe, You say "..but a Governor Martinez, lacking any deep ties to UNM." Don't you mean deep ties to NM? She was born in El Paso, went to school there and in Oklahoma. Her father enlisted in the Marines out of El Paso.

She has not come clean on her roots. Most New Mexican Hispanics will tell you details of where they are from. For example, one abuelita was from Puerto de Luna, another from Anton Chico. My abuelito's came from Anton Chico and Chimayo. My ancestors came with Onate, De Anza, etc.

I believe she doesn't provide this information because her grandparents were from the other side of the river and there is concern on their immigration.

We've pointed out that there have been no news articles detailing Martinez's family background, even though she would be the nation's first Hispanic female governor. And it's not about finding a "gotcha" in that background. It's about knowing the people and places that formed the characters of the candidates. Not to say that there would not be a "gotcha" moment if Martinez had close relatives who had questionable immigration in their backgrounds. The GOP candidate used illegal immigration to put away the GOP primary.


But Allen, where's that formal endorsement of Susana Martinez who trounced you in the GOP primary? Not that we would ever put the needle in you. The news:

New Mexico businessman Allen Weh announced today that he has formed a political policy organization called For Country. Weh said For Country aims to build awareness of the nation’s challenges and support for the principles the United States was founded on: limited government, free enterprise and a strong national defense. Along with the organization, Weh launched a new website: www.allenweh.com.

Weh will spend money raised to help candidates who share his group's views. We don't think that includes Susana. Weh told the newspaper he hasn't decided who he will vote for in the Governor's race.


The first TV spot from ABQ GOP congressional candidate Jon Barela is serviceable Republican boilerplate that focuses on the $13 trillion national debt, not specifically his opponent. He will use this positive start to build up his name ID before beginning the inevitable attacks on his frontrunner foe--Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich.

Barela carries the spot well, but he will need more emotional intensity to catch Heinrich who he trails by six in the latest Journal poll and by seven in a non-media survey. And how about a spot telling us about Jon Barela? Memo to his consultants: The public doesn't know the guy.

One other thing. We hope Barela's diligence in addressing the national debt would not constrain him when it comes time to bring home needed federal funds to ABQ. He points out in his commercial that the Great Recession has cost the state 55,000 jobs, but if our federal funding is jeopardized by obsessing over the national debt, we could lose even more jobs--those plum federal slots that help keep ABQ's shaky economy humming. Not to mention the millions in federal contracts that many of our area businessmen depend on and which provide badly needed employment.

Barela calls for shedding the national debt and "focus on creating jobs right here in New Mexico." That's a laudable goal but it could take years to achieve. Meanwhile, we need to protect what we have. Barela has worked on Capitol Hill so he gets the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn't mean a lot of us don't get nervous when we hear a possible future ABQ congressman making debt reduction a campaign centerpiece.

We don't know how much Barela is spending on his first media buy, but we do know that Heinrich holds a major edge in the money department. National GOP money will be key for Jon. If he can move the numbers with his first round of ads, he could get some. Otherwise, he will be left to his own devices.


From Rep. Heinrich:

On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, at 10 a.m., U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Heinrich will announce the completion of Phase I for the Camino Don Tomas Recovery Act project and highlight the beginning of Phase II. The Camino Don Tomas project was funded in large part by a $1,530,487 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Welcome back, Steny. You campaigned here for Martin in 2008. But if you think a puny $1.5 million is going to get our attention, we've got news for you. This federally dependent state uses $1.5 million like you hand out $5 tips to the the Capitol Hill wait staff. Now put a billion next to that $1.5 and you own us. But do enjoy your stay. Maybe you and Martin can stop by KOAT-TV while you're here. We hear they miss him.


Congressman Harry Teague's first TV spot follows the national Democratic template--it talks about all the time he spends in the district. That's the same theme Rep. Heinrich came with in his first ad. Both incumbents don't want voters to be thinking about the ugly things going on in Washington.

Teague goes further. He says in his 60 second spot: "I’m going to represent the people of the 2nd Congressional District, not represent a party..."

But Teague voted with his party on the controversial "cap and trade" bill--aka--climate change. That vote has prompted the first wave of negative TV against the Hobbs oilman.It comes from a third party group calling itself Americans for Job Security and rips Harry hard.

Even though the bill passed the House, it never made it into law. But that isn't stopping Teague from being called a"job killer" in this fierce attack piece.

Teague comes across as such a nice guy, it's hard to imagine him killing even a fly-- unless it was a fly that landed on the top of Steve Pearce's bald pate.


Reaction to that casino fight story involving Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza and the ex-wife of Santa Fe County Manager Robert Romero. A reader writes of this statement on the Tuesday blog:

"Valerie now says she only has an "official relationship" with Romero. Right. And Lady Gaga is a virgin."

I do not know for sure that Espinoza and Romero are not having an affair, but I think it rather unlikely, and she explicitly denied it. In any case, you should not suggest they are doing so without some kind of evidence, and there is no evidence or hint of any evidence in your piece (or in any of the several other pieces I have read on the encounter).

She is not a friend of mine but she is an acquaintance and I have long had considerable professional respect for her. She has been a conscientious public servant and done a good job as Santa Fe County clerk, making several innovations in the office and responding to constituent concerns. She would have made a good secretary of state had she stayed in the race.

Point taken, but if the pair were not emotionally involved then why did the ex-wife of the Santa Fe manager get so emotional and attack Espinoza when she saw her with her former husband? The newspaper reports:

Espinoza told The New Mexican that she and the city manager have only a professional relationship. But Felicia Romero said that she believes the relationship is more than professional. She also said in an e-mail that she used to work at the county and blamed Espinoza for the loss of her job.

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