Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Action Seekers Look South; Teague Vs. Pearce Now New Mexico's Headline Race, Plus: Readers Continue Kirtland Debate, And: Our Wednesday Bottom Lines 

Less than a month to go and early voting is under way so we check in on the conventional wisdom. It has Republican Susana Martinez headed for the Guv's office, Dem Rep. Heinrich winning re-election in ABQ and all the statewide offices going to the Dems.

For now, a political junkie looking for excitement looks south. That's where Dem Rep. Harry Teague is putting up a spirited defense against the aggressive challenge of Republican and former southern Congressman Steve Pearce.

Teague has come with his response to what could be one of the most deadliest hits of the cycle--that his oil business cancelled health insurance for 200 employees after Teague took $3 million out of the business. The ad sears Harry this way:

What kind of man would pocket $3 million but cut off his employees health care four days before Christmas?

Teague, now one point behind Pearce in the latest ABQ Journal poll--48 t0 47-- and hoping to stop this ad from turning the race, came with this 30 second retort. He speaks directly into the camera and says:

For the last 21 months I haven't accepted a penny from our company...We're in tough times and like a lot of folks we had to make tough choices to keep from laying off 200 people. We made cuts but we kept 200 people working so they could take care of their families.

Not bad, Harry. But Pearce's camp points out that Teague did take $3.3 million out of the company in 2008 before he was elected that November, and that leaves open the question why Teague could not have used that money to pay for the insurance. The Politico broke the story back in May. The money lines:

In 2008-2009, his holdings in Teaco assets yielded more than $3.3 million in dividend payments and provided him and his wife an additional $255,000-plus in salary from the company, according to his financial disclosure form.

The Pearce health insurance spot could be his best bet to take out Teague. Why? Because an ad like that could cost Harry support in Democratic Dona Ana County which will deliver 25 to 30 percent of the district vote.

The race is as close as a too-tight swimsuit. That's because in the ABQ Journal poll Teague is leading Pearce in Dona Ana 50 to 40. (The margin of error is nearly nine percent for those county results because of the low number of voters polled).

Pearce can afford to lose Dona Ana but not by much. That's why he has another ad up trying to turn back Teague's attack on him over privatizing Social Security. He tries to turn the tables and accuses Teague of endangering the program. That ad, like the one on cancelled health insurance, is also aimed at those Democrats who are keeping Teague in this race.

Teague was left for dead earlier this year--his corpse pumped with Republican formaldehyde. But he fights on to the bitter end, forcing Pearce to pull more rabbits out of his hat. The national Dems like what they see. The Pearce camps confirms that the Dems have come with a $300,000 TV and radio hit on Pearce.

Somebody put a fresh batch of popcorn in the microwave. This thing is getting good.


You want to get things hopping even more in that southern House race? Start talking about the veterans. Reader Annette Price of La Luz writes:

Enclosed is the The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) By-Laws; It is a Federal Law the VFW cannot and does not endorse Politicians.

Please correct your blog that said Harry Teague was endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The picture is the six (6) Veterans that live in Alamogordo that endorsed Harry Teague, as a VFW Political Action (PAC).

And Joe Price adds:

The Alamogordo newspaper reported: "Teague said he appreciates the VFW's endorsement."

The VFW is non-partisan and does not endorse political candidates because it would violate our congressional charter. However, for sake of clarification, the VFW Political Action Committee is a separately incorporated organization that does selectively endorse candidates for the U.S. House and Senate who advocate for our nation’s veterans and for America’s security.

As a Vietnam veteran and a lifetime member of VFW Post 7686 I would like to make it clear that the local PAC does not speak for me..I have done my research and I know that the false allegations made by Teague about Steve Pearce’s voting record concerning veterans affairs are just that, false !

I really wish you would correct the statement that Teague was endorsed by the VFW...

Okay, Joe, the correction is there. But why is Steve Pearce, a Vietnam veteran who flew cargo planes into the combat zone, not getting this endorsement? Well, Teague has worked hard for it as a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.


The US Chamber of Commerce comes with a $160,000 TV buy for Republican challenger Jon Barela in the ABQ congressional race starting today. That led the campaign of Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich to point out that the Chamber is raising money for its TV ads from the dues of foreign corporations.


We heard the first media from Secretary of State Mary Herrera this week--a radio spot touting her record. Herrera is seeking a second four year term and has been caught up in a series of controversies. However, her GOP opponent has not done any media yet and insider R's who previously talked of raising big TV money for Dianna are talking about a more humble contribution.

Also, Republican land commission candidate Matt Rush is up with a TV bio spot. Dem nominee Ray Powell, Jr. is on radio, but no TV yet. Better get some make-up on, Ray. Matt is looking camera-ready.


The Martinez corruption ads against Diane Denish aren't passing anyone's smell test. The ABQ Journal knocks down the latest one this way:

A television ad...implies Denish used her influence as lieutenant governor to move the solar equipment manufacturing company Advent Solar onto land being developed just south of the Albuquerque Sunport in 2007.

In fact, Denish's husband was a lobbyist for the developer seeking to lure the solar company and Denish spoke at the firm's groundbreaking, calling it a "momentous day." But there is no proof she played a role in helping get state money for the project or directing it to Mesa del Sol.

So this ad, like the previous one involving Mesa del Sol, was essentially discredited by the Journal and more aggressively so by the nonpartisan group factcheck.org.

So why are the ads still on the air? Well, the press has not pressured Martinez. nor her campaign. She is not being asked directly why the ads are still on. And only one story is being written about the erroneous ads and there is nothing on the editorial pages. The paper would need to launch a mini-campaign to get the Martinez campaign to own up to the error of its ways. But they aren't and the Denish response to Martinez in her own TV ad is not hard-hitting enough.

Until New Mexico candidates are forced to pay a price for putting up false information on the tube, they will continue to ride roughshod over their opposition--and the truth.


It seems way too early to say that Susana Martinez has started her closing media. But it sure seems that way. This week she moved into her media mix an ad she first came with in the GOP Guv primary. It is a spot about how the Dona Ana DA pursued the Carly Martinez murder case. Carly was an 18 year old university student who was raped and killed in 1998.

This is one of the few positive ads that Martinez has run in recent months. If the polls continue their current trajectory expect to see more of them in the final weeks,

Of course, if we were in Denish's position--running six points behind in a state where your party has 50 percent of the registered voters--we'd be tearing our hair out, throwing eggs at the electric fan and kicking our computer. And we'd be putting up a new strategy. But that's us. For Di, nothing much has changed since the Sunday Journal poll that had political analysts from coast-to-coast lowering the odds of her winning this race. Tuesday night she was running the same TV spots that she had on before the poll. Well, maybe today.

TV news reported Tuesday that so far Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver has had requests for 33,000 absentee ballots. That's an above-average number. Our insiders are reporting that the Martinez campaign made a strong mid-September push to get voters to request absentees. We think we are seeing some of the results in these numbers.


The blog debate over Kirtland Air Force Base continues, with reader Mick responding to a broadside against the base leveled Tuesday by Feroza Jussawalla. The action got started when we blogged about the four Democrats on the ABQ City Council voting for a resolution (that didn't pass) that called for shipping nuclear weapons said to be stored at Kirtland over to Texas. Here's Mick who was stationed at the base in the early 50's:

Feroza doesn't have a clue about KAFB's relation to Albuquerque and to the neighborhoods nearby. KAFB has created some problems for neighbors to be sure, and KAFB has worked to help ameliorate them. Not always too swiftly or in the manner that we would have liked, but problems have not gone untreated.

Homeowners near KAFB who complain about KAFB must not have done their due diligence prior to spending a lot of money for their homes. Now they want KAFB to move or shut down. Their other option is for them to move somewhere else. This is not a new comment, to be sure. But it's still valid.

Removing the "nukes" from Kirtland will give BRAC (the base realignment commission) another reason for looking favorably toward its closing. It would take some time for the economic dust to settle after that closing, but the landscape would be bleak indeed after such an event.

I can't imagine that anyone likes the idea of using the nukes in any manner, but they are a part of the American defense strategy--not to be used until someone is foolish enough to launch an attack on America. But they have to be stored and maintained somewhere and Albuquerque is the location of choice, both by historical precedent and by virtue of the fact that it has the talent to do the maintenance and the location to insure their safety.

Kirtland's and Sandia's contribution to the development of Albuquerque as a great place to live and work is well-known to most of us. These installations have provided outstanding jobs to generations of people who have come here from all over the world. (They) have changed the face and the economy of Albuquerque for the better overall...

The question to me based on Feroza's comments is: Move the nukes, dismantle KAFB and put Albuquerque and New Mexico's economy in the crapper; or, keep working with KAFB to keep Albuquerque as a place devoted to peace, both with its physical neighbors and by its support of the national effort to maintain a strong posture in the diplomatic world.


Our Alligators report that Susana Martinez headed for a late supper at an ABQ Olive Garden restaurant following her Monday night fund-raiser with possible 2012 GOP prez candidate Mitt Romney. Considering the state of the Guv race, we wonder if the waiter handed Susana a menu or a résumé...

Arizona Senator John McCain returns to ABQ for a fund-raiser with Martinez Saturday night at the Los Lunas home of GOP state rep candidate David Chavez. He's the trial attorney who is challenging Dem Andrew Barreras for the Valencia County seat. McCain was here earlier in the cycle for GOP congressional candidate Jon Barela. Ticks for this McCain visit are $100. Info at rsvp@susana2010.com...

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