Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Clippings From The Newsroom Floor: Guv Debates Still Up In Air, The Campaign Mood Of The Moment And "Hungering" To Debate 

Late Friday KOB-TV announced it has confirmed a live debate between Denish and Martinez from 7 to 8 p.m. October 21. So far, that is the lone confirmed TV debate.

Media insiders report that the Guv candidates continue to clash over details of possible TV debates and that as far as they can tell no agreement has been reached for any such confrontations. There is nitpicking, they say, over a variety of issues, including which topics will be covered and when the debates would air.

The first absentee ballots for the election go out October 5, raising the question of whether the very early voters will see Democrat Diane Denish and Republican Susana Martinez face-off with one another in a prime-time telecast. It would be nice to have one in late September and another around Oct. 16 when the in-person early voting begins.

Then there is the absence of any joint appearances by the two candidates. Traditionally, governor races have featured a number of forums where the candidates have appeared together and debated. Not so in Campaign '10. At least not yet. As far as we can tell only a couple have been booked. Are both sides afraid? They have been invited to make many joint appearances. Well, they aren't getting any medals for valor, that's for sure.

It is now to Denish's advantage to have debates....let me rephrase that...Denish now needs the debates and joint appearances. She has to start tripping Martinez up or Susana is going to do a slow dance into the Governor's Mansion.

It has been two weeks since the ABQ Journal took its poll showing Susana leading Di 45% to 39%. That survey is getting long in the tooth and we await new numbers to test the latest volley of campaign ads. But the race does seem static right now.


Jay Miller, veteran politico and author of the Inside the Capitol column, captures the mood of the moment:

New Mexico’s gubernatorial contest has become Susana Martinez’s race to lose. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish can still win it but unless Martinez stumbles over a pile of kryptonite, she’s the favorite...

Despite Lt. Gov. Denish’s overwhelming advantage in experience and resources, Martinez managed to pull ahead in internal polls conducted by other candidates throughout the state all summer long...

Denish is down. She’s not out. She has been in many tough statewide battles before. But this time is different. She has an opponent who is younger, peppier, more animated than any she has ever faced.

Meanwhile, Dems are promising that the state will be learning more about Martinez in the days ahead, seeming to signal that that we are going to hear a tougher tone when it comes to the Guv frontunner.

Maybe they will come with something like this--dishonestdiane.com.

And aren't you glad you aren't running?


The news isn't that the crowd estimates for Martinez gatherings in the Hispanic Democratic north may be inflated by the press up there, the news is that she is getting larger crowds than usual for a Republican candidate. Whether there are 150 folk or 500, the fact stands that her appeal in the north is a threat to the Dems.

On the other hand, it is not news if a large crowd greets a Dem candidate for Governor. If they don't get a crowd, that's news. The Dems can quibble with the numbers or they can do something about them.


Top Dems said at the start of this campaign that Denish's financial advantage would prove short-lived. They appear to be right as the Republican Governors Association came Thursday with another $500,000 for Martinez. That's on top of $250,000 they gave her right after the June primary.

The latest money reports are due to be released in Santa Fe Monday and will show us where the candidates stand cash wise as we head for the final stretch.

The Democratic Governor's Association has come with its second ad hitting the Dona Ana County district attorney. They use a former border security official to make the attack:

She took border protection money, steered it to friends in her office--Special bonuses for her favored employees...

That's it, DGA? Maybe the polls and focus groups show this stuff is working, but show it to us again and we're headed to the hammock for a late summer snooze.

Denish came with this following the announcement of the RGA donating Susana that half million:

...And if you thought Susana Martinez does business any differently than the national Republicans, think again.

Susana Martinez handed out a $60,000 no-bid contract to a friend and political ally in her office. She also gave that same employee and many others in her office tens of thousands of dollars in Wall Street-style bonuses using federal border funds--taxpayer funds!

Hey, give us another one of those exclamation points because we're not getting it. Wasn't all that stuff already in the papers before they took that poll showing Susana up by six points? Hey fellas, if you missed it we'll have the Alligators buy you a subscription. (I know when folks see it on TV it will be different. Not.)

Meantime, frontrunner Susana was back on the illegal immigration beat in Farmington Friday, speaking of the evil of driver's licenses for illegals. The issue resonates better in the conservative rural areas than it does in the cities.

And here's a yawner from a third party conservative group hammering ABQ Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich for being a "Washington liberal" who "voted for Nancy Pelosi's agenda 97% of the time."

Obviously, the producers of that one are not going for an award in originality. But they are spending $250,000 for four weeks to air the commercial.


From the Las Cruces Sun-News and Dem Daniel Balke on the Teague vs. Pearce congressional battle:

Harry will need to work hard to consolidate support among progressive Democrats in Doña Ana County, whose backing, tepid from the outset, became even more lukewarm after Teague's controversial vote against President Obama's health care plan.


Since neither Di or Susana seem anxious to debate, we doubt the scenario blogged about by NM PR guru Tom Carroll will play out here. Maybe Republican Jon Barela, who is having trouble getting Rep. Heinrich to debate, can benefit from it, but he may want to fatten up before he does:

Political candidates often have trouble getting their opponents to debate. When you’re ahead, why debate? At least that’s how the conventional wisdom goes. But in California’s 52 Congressional district, two candidates had had enough.

Democrat Ray Lutz and Libertarian Mike Benoit both went on hunger strikes to get Republican Duncan Hunter to debate, which he was refusing to do. Lutz went two weeks, losing 15 pounds and said he would go until Hunter agreed to debate. Did it work? Well, after huge media attention, Hunter gave in and granted one debate, in October. Lutz wanted more, but he wanted to live too, so he gave in and started eating. This past weekend he went back to food, starting with salad and fruit juice, sort of like Gandhi after his fasts.

Wherever Hunter goes, there are signs that say, “Hungry for Debate.” Hunter is going to win, given that he’s in a safe Republican district, but Lutz and Benoit really turned up the heat. “Without the hunger strike, I don’t think we would have even this single debate,” said Lutz. No word yet on Benoit, but he’s probably at IN-N-OUT Burger right now making up for lost time.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

From Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan reporting

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