Tuesday, November 02, 2010

To The People Now; State Awaits Selection Of New Governor; Our Radio Coverage Tonight, Plus: Best And Worst Moments Of The Long Campaign That Was 

Click here for our live, continuous Election Night coverage on public radio KANW 89.1 FM. It starts at 6:30 p.m. NM time and 8:30 on the East Coast. Coverage is made possible by PNM, The Garrity Group, Serrano & Sons and Cordova Public Relations.

For a change the question on the minds of Mr. & Mrs. New Mexico this Election Day isn't "Red or Green?" Instead it's: "Heinrich or Barela?" That's because among the major races the contest for the ABQ congressional seat remains the most ambiguous. Barela had late campaign momentum, putting the race in play, but no one can say with certainty whether it was enough to oust freshman Heinrich.

Republican Jon Barela will do his nail-biting at the ABQ Hilton tonight where the state GOP will hold its watch party. Democrat Rep. Martin Heinrich will pace the floor at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown ABQ where Democrats--including Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish--will gather to witness the voters' verdict.

Republican Susana Martinez will break with tradition and be in Las Cruces, not ABQ, tonight. Her party begins at 5:30 at the Hotel Encanto. Admission is free, but online registration is required. Credentials will be handed out to each guest upon arrival. And after you go through all that, you still have to pay for your own booze.


Martinez ends her long campaign for Governor where it all began--in Las Cruces. At noon today she rallies the troops at Dona Ana County Republican headquarters. Maybe after that she shops the Tiffany catalogue for a big diamond ring that all the job-seekers can line up to kiss tonight.

Diane will spend her final campaign hours at schools around the University of New Mexico as she pursues base Dem voters. If she wins this thing the old saying, "Those who live by the crystal ball end up eating glass" is going to have a whole new meaning in New Mexico.


We asked for a last minute prediction and comment from Oren Shur, campaign manager for Diane Denish. The cutting response was not unexpected:

On Election Day pundits will get a new day job, pollsters will check their methodology and Alligators will retire to Florida, where they belong.

Retire to Florida? But the Gators do so like their muddy Rio Grande. Well, there are some good real estate prices down there.

We also asked Jay McCleskey, media strategist for Martinez, for a final election prediction. He did not respond, but why do we think he feels the same as Oren about those pesky Alligators?

Well, whoever thought Oren and Jay could be brought together to agree on something? Hmm. Probably the Alligators.


Republicans Larry Larranaga and Greg Payne threw caution to the wind on our Election Eve special Monday on KANW-FM and boldly predicted a landslide win for Martinez. Larry calls it 56 to 44 for Susana, while Payne says it settles at 55 to 45. ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino gamely predicted Denish would win. "It will be 50 percent plus one," declared Jerry.


With the help of our experts, we're pegging New Mexico turnout today from 575,000 to 600,000. That would be about a 52 percent turnout of the 1,153,000 registered voters. The numbers guys say a drop below that 575,000 number would favor the fired-up Republicans.

For Bernalillo County we're looking for a turnout of 190,000 to 200,000 or about 50% of the registered. Early voting--in-person and absentee--totaled 114,000 with another 6,000 or more absentees expected to be returned.

The early in-person vote in the state's largest county was 39,073 Democrats, 31,223 Republicans with 9,891 independents and others. R's made up 38% of the early in-person vote even though their registration in the county is only 32%. Dems made up 49% of the vote while their registration totals 47%. Independents and others make up 18% of the registration. However, their turnout was only 13 percent. Barela was beating Heinrich among independents in late polling so a dip in that number could be troublesome.

In the absentee voting in Bernalillo County so far, R's had returned 15,421 ballots, Dems 14,521 and independents and others 3,303. That dovetails with history, but again the independents seem to be running low.

Negative campaigning is more of a turnoff to the independents than it is to partisan Dems and R's. And we had plenty of that to turn them off.

Statewide, over 200,000 took advantage of early in-person voting so far. When the final total is in and combined with absentee ballots we expect over 300,000 total early votes, or over 50% of the statewide total.


Both candidates in the tense battle for the southern congressional seat will retreat to Hobbs to get the election results. Both Dem Rep. Harry Teague and former GOP Rep. Steve Pearce are from the southeastern NM city in Lea County that usually delivers a big Republican majority. Republican analyst and State Rep. Larry Larranaga does not expect Teague to be blown-out. He says it will be 52 to 48 Pearce. Dem John Wertheim is holding out hope for Harry, saying he thinks Pearce's polling numbers have been weak for a guy who was expected to put the race to bed a long time ago.


Here's the final campaign wrap from the New Mexican the ABQ Journal and Journal North.


There were few, if any, inspiring moments of Campaign 2010 and we won't miss it. The campaign ads seemed sillier and meaner and there were no rhetorical flourishes offered on the trail as consolation.

The best ads of the campaign came from Martinez and Rep. Heinrich. Martinez dug up old tape of Denish praising now unpopular Governor Big Bill and set it to jaunty music. It was amusing without being mean.

Heinrich's ad featuring 69 year old Liz of the South Valley saying she did not trust Republican Jon Barela was another hit. That's because Liz was one of the very few "real" people to appear in the multitude of TV spots that cluttered the screens. There was a run or two at discrediting her, but Liz emerged unscathed and an election winner.

The best political debut of Campaign 2010 came from 35 year old Republican attorney general candidate Matt Chandler. He proved to be photogenic and informed, just what Democrat AG Gary King didn't need, but the old buck handled the challenge well. Chandler's father is an old time politician and it appears the son got the gene.

Northern congressional candidate Tom Mullins gets an honorable mention in this category. Who would have thought a tea-party sympathetic candidate like Mullins would force Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan to cut negative ads against him? But he did.

The worst moments of the campaign came during that nasty KOAT-TV debate when Denish and Martinez seemed to lose themselves in their personal animosity for one another. It was a new low in low, but the way the campaigns go next time something worse will probably come along.

On the other hand, the best moments of the campaign came in the debates between ABQ congressional candidates Martin Heinrich and Jon Barela. Both had done their homework and brought some passion to the table.

Too much of the past year was contrived, canned and consulted. There were no real or human moments to take away and perhaps savor in the years ahead. In a year when New Mexico faces unprecedented risks, her politicians were unwilling or unable to take any chances.


Let's finish up together tonight on the radio. See you tonight at 6:30 on KANW 89.1 FM. We'll try to have the blog updated with a full election report and analysis by the time you get up Wednesday. And we'll do a recap of the election with KKOB-AM radio host Bob Clark Thursday at 9 a.m. You can e-mail me while I am on the air tonight with info and comments.

From Albuquerque on Election Day 2010, I'm Joe Monahan reporting.

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