Thursday, September 23, 2010

El Paso City: Susana's Dad Owns A Nice Chunk Of It, Plus: Martinez Ad Misfire; Fact Group Shoots Down Di Scandal, And: Dueling Polls; Susana Claims Big Lead; Di Says its Close 

Susana Martinez's family may have grown up in modest circumstances in El Paso, but it doesn't appear it stayed that way as she became an adult. A check of the records at the El Paso County Clerk's Office by one of our intrepid Alligators shows that Jake Martinez, father of Susana, has accumulated over 70 properties in the El Paso area since the mid-70's. Here's a list of them. We don't know what they are worth or if they are encumbered in any way, but it does indicate that Jake was making good money from a security firm he started.

In her Journal profile, Susana described growing up:

We lived in a pretty middle-class, lower middle-class kind of neighborhood...My parents always had to work. It was the only way we could get by.

She has modest roots, as the youngest child and "latchkey" kid of Hispanic parents who worked full-time jobs and at one time kept a lock on the freezer to ensure the food supply didn't run out.

Jake Martinez is now 78 and in ailing health,  but these records show he was a go-getter in his prime years and accumulated a lot of property. Martinez's mother passed in 2006. She has one sister and one brother.

Neither Martinez or Dem Diane Denish have released any details on their personal wealth or that of their families. Because corruption is such a big issue this cycle, there is talk that come October release of tax returns by the contenders could become an issue. Both candidates have called for more transparency, but Martinez has trumpeted it especially loud, saying:

...All appointments in my administration would be subject to comprehensive financial disclosure statements.

Meanwhile, back on that dusty campaign trail Denish came with a couple of new TV ads as she works to catch frontrunner Martinez. One of them is in Spanish and attacks Martinez on education. The other showcases school teachers who support Denish. (We don't think Martinez convicted any relatives of these teachers, but stay tuned.)


We wondered about the Guv candidates and whether we would see their tax returns. Reader remind us that Susana Martinez released her latest tax return to KOB-TV during the GOP primary. In 2009, Martinez's family earned about $153, 000 in taxable income and paid about $31,000 in federal taxes and $7,500 in state taxes. Diane Denish has not released her latest return.


Bad news for the Martinez campaign and its media mavens. Factcheck.org says their ad claiming that Denish was emeshed in a "scandal" with the Mesa del Sol development south of ABQ "falsely accuses" the lieutenant governor:

In New Mexico’s governor’s race, Republican Susana Martinez accuses Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish of giving a $500 million "special tax deal" to a developer who contributed to her campaign and hired her husband as a lobbyist. But Martinez, a district attorney, uses circumstantial evidence to make her case in an ad that falsely accuses Denish of "hiding a scandal."

The evidence cited by the Martinez campaign fails to prove that Denish misused her office to help the developer get a tax break or that the tax break was connected to her husband’s lobbying job or her campaign contributions.

A variation of the original "scandal" ad is now the centerpiece of the Martinez corruption campaign against Denish. Given that it presents much the same thesis, you can asume it too doesn't stand up to the smell test.

It could be an expensive error for the political newcomer. What if it becomes a character and judgment question on why a possible future Governor and current prosecutor would allow an advertising theme to continue to air when it has been proven false?

Earlier, the ABQ Journal fact-checked the scandal ad.


The Martinez campaign pushed back Wednesday against talk heard this week on "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan" about insider campaign polling showing Martinez stalled out in the mid 40's and Denish in the low 40's (Not that we like to cause any trouble :). The campaign came with their own survey showing Susana beating Di by ten big ones--50% to 40%. Shortly after, Denish came with her own poll that has Martinez leading by only five percent-- 49% to 44%.

The Martinez poll was taken Sept. 11 thru 13. The two mid-September insider campaign polls we've been told about--one for an R and another taken for a Dem--have Martinez below the critical 50% mark. One had her at 48% and the other at 47%. We've been calling those numbers "the mid-40's" but you could quibble and say they are in the high 40's. Still, our original contention stands that Martinez has not yet closed this deal and there are signs that Tortoise Diane is doing some nipping at the tail of Hare Martinez. It was that contention that seemed to prompt the Martinez campaign to release their internal data Wednesday morning (even if somewhat dated) which then prompted Denish's camp to come with data of their own (also somewhat dated).

Di's poll shows her trailing Susana by five points--49% to 44%. They say their Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll was taken Sept. 12-14, basically the same timeline as Martinez's. It should again be noted that all the polls being quoted are getting long in the tooth for this fast moving race and may not reflect current political reality.

That Camp Denish is putting out their own poll showing her five back and calling the race a "toss-up" demonstrates the good fortune Republican Martinez is having in this majority Dem state. And it's interesting to see Susana just one point below the magic 50% in a Democartic poll.

The Denish and Martinez polls disagree on the vital Hispanic vote. From Di:

Denish has begun to make up significant ground with Hispanics and now leads Martinez by 17 percentage points with Hispanics, up from a 9 percentage point lead in August.


The Martinez campaign polling is supervised by Nicole McCleskey of the GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. Her husband is Jay McCleskey, Martinez's chief media strategist and a longtime NM GOP consultant now with Lincoln Strategies. With Martinez spending millions, there's no recession in that household.

The poll was released through Las Cruces political reporter Heath Haussamen whose own financial prospects could improve if Susana wins. He's getting prominent mentions in political circles as a possible communications director for a "Governor Martinez."

The next ABQ Journal poll is expected to be released October 3, but that has not been confirmed by the newspaper. The Journal had the race 45% to 39% in favor of Susana in their late August survey.

Wherever the race is at, maximum pressure is now on the Democrats and Denish to hold Martinez in the next poll to that six point Journal lead or better yet--narrow it. If the gap grows there could be some D's tempted to start throwing in the towel. But if the next Journal poll shows Martinez not holding a lead in the vicinity of 10 percent--a margin now trumpeted statewide by the GOP--it could hurt Martinez's momentum. But the Martinez camp apparently felt the inside chatter on this blog posed a threat and decided to go with their numbers from 10 days ago to quell any concerns.

As for Susana, she says in her polling memo that there will be "tier one" messaging in October. We hope that means something about the economy, jobs and the budget. You know, the stuff a governor is supposed to be concerned with.

It probably will. Martinez's plan appears to be to pound Di into the ground so she can't move much and then come in October with a message addressing the economic issues as well as dropping in some personal highlights. At least, that seems the logical way. But the fact that factcheck.org is saying Susana's September corruption theme is half-baked doesn't help.

From the current polling you can assume that if there is going to be a blow-out in the 2010 Guv race--a victory of more than say seven points, it will done by Susana, not Di. Remember those blow-out wins of hers at the GOP pre-primary and again at the June 1 primary?


Democratic analyst and longtime pollster Harry Pavlides checked in to say he'd like to stick out his neck and make a prediction on what that second ABQ Journal poll will show when the fish wrapper is put on the new stands.

Denish will be three points behind. The Democrats are only now starting to pay close attention to the race. As they do, she will close the gap and then the race will be about who gets their vote out.

Pavlides says he sees Martinez in the region of 47% in the next Journal survey and Denish about 44%.Will he have to east some shattered crystal ball glass with his scrambled eggs the morning of the poll? We'll just have to wait and see.


We met up with KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson to talk about the latest Guv polling action. Here's that report.


Kicking around the political pigskin with veteran Dyson and it lands on the subject of first names.

"It's interesting how you hear folks already referring to Martinez by her first name. It reminds me of when we used to call Domenici "Pete" and Mayor Chavez "Marty." There's a likability there and I think that's helping her," Dyson said.

Of course, we rib the gals and guys in the press that they should disclose their obvious conflict of interest. A Martinez in Santa Fe would be potentially explosive while a Di regime would be more sedate. Who would they rather cover?


There's a little cottage industry that watches former Roswell GOP State Rep. Dan Foley and dutifully reports their finding here. The latest news is that Dan is now working for the Daniels Insurance Agency in ABQ where Democratic heavyweight Jamie Koch heads up the shop, That's an interesting business marriage.

And Dan, defeated for his Roswell area state House seat in 2008, and now a resident of Rio Rancho, is also on the screening committee for the Association of Commerce and Industry to decide which legislative candidates the business group will endorse. But Foley is not in line to become ACI director, says current ACI honcho Beverly McClure. She's doing just fine, thank you.

And then there's talk of Foley running for the chairmanship of the state GOP next year. Really? After he voted that time to make Democrat Ben Lujan Speaker.


Get rid of the ABQ economic development department because it duplicates other efforts? So wrote reader Fred Gurule here recently which means we're going to hear from the other side and this reader who wanted anonymity:

 Mr. Gurule's comments about the economic development staff at the city of Albuquerque are misplaced. I agree strongly that we are overpaying for duplicative economic development efforts, and that it is an area of low hanging fruit in any budget trimming, but the ED staff at the City are among those who actually have a real job to do and who have measurable accomplishments. Unlike the chasers and salesmen who live for the announcement, this staff actually has to do substantive legislative and administrative follow-through on real transactions. This includes seeing matters through the local legislative process, and following up on the enforcement of agreements when deals go south. It is this group that successfully negotiated and enforced the $13 million clawback from Phillips when they left town, and actually works day to day with the film industry when projects are here.

To my knowledge, none of the recent unfulfilled promises (Green2V, Signet Solar, etc,) have the fingerprints of this hardworking group.

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