Friday, May 07, 2010

Corruption Concern Subsides; Jobs Now Big Issue In Dem Poll, Plus: Land Commssion Primary Battle Updated, And: Longtime Lobbyist Robert Rivera Dies 

What looked to be a banner issue for the GOP in the 2010 gubernatorial derby has faded fast as the state wrestles with a jobs crisis that still shows no signs of relenting. A poll of 400 registered Democrats conducted last week ranked jobs as far and away the #1 issue on their minds. 41% said that was their primary concern. Government corruption ranked third with only 8% citing it as their top issue. Education came in second with 27% and the environment was fourth with 8% calling that their number one issue.

R's have latched on to the multiple corruption probes that have engulfed the Richardson administration, hoping to ride them to victory. But the survey of members of the state's majority party conducted for the campaign of Dem land commission candidate Sandy Jones indicates that will not be enough for them to capture the Fourth Floor.

Leading GOP Guv candidates Allen Weh and Susana Martinez have recently come with jobs messages, indicating that NM Republicans also put the issue at the top of the heap.

And the hopefuls are hammering it on the campaign trail, too. Weh came with this headline of his latest events:

Weh talks jobs, economy in Northern New Mexico. Weh: I’ll run state government like a business.

Martinez, the Dona Ana County district attorney, at first leaned almost exclusively on corruption as her premier issue, but in her latest TV spot she links corruption to attracting jobs here. And soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish has been on the road for weeks touting her job creation plan for small businesses.

The jobs issues has traditionally broken toward the Dems, but if the R's can craft a populist message--more than cutting taxes and less regulation--maybe they can gain some advantage. With the corruption issue fading in the rear view mirror, they have no choice.


Trying to get something started, Dem land commissioner candidate Sandy Jones comes with a poll that says his race with former land commissioner Ray Powell Jr. and Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya is competitive.

Jones, who is leaving the Public Regulation Commission to seek the land slot, says his phone poll conducted of 400 registered voters April 30 to May 2 has Powell leading with 23.5%; Jones getting 22.4% and Montoya 9.1%. 45% were undecided

Powell has held the land commission post for ten years, longer than anyone in state history. Republican Pat Lyons took it over in 2002. He has statewide name ID from that tenure and also reported $55,000 in cash on hand in his April finance report. Jones reported less than $10,000. Montoya had about $3,000.

Insiders peg Powell the front runner based on his blow-out performance at the Dem March preprimary convention. In a four way contest (Mike Anaya has since dropped out) Powell garnered 44% of the vote and was the only candidate to get more than the 20% required to win a spot on the ballot without filing extra petition signatures. Jones received about 19% and Montoya also came with about 19%, just shy of the magic number.

No candidate has ever won the primary without getting 20 percent of the vote at the preprimary convention.

In 2006, Powell ran for the Dem nomination for land commissioner against Dem Jim Baca and was beaten when the Hispanic northern counties went overwhelming for the former ABQ mayor. Powell's supporters are confident he is positioned for the win this time because Montoya is not seen as strong as Baca in the north.

Jones is from the south and hopes Montoya can cripple Powell up north, but the battleground will likely be the ABQ metro area. Powell is from here and his cash report says he has enough to buy TV. The new money reports come out on the 10th. Will Jones have the cash for the tube? And will Montoya's muscle grow?

After his 2006 primary debacle, Powell can feel better this time around, but can't take anything for granted.


The battle to shape the perception of the ABQ congressional race continues. Yesterday Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich came with a poll showing him trouncing GOP challenger Jon Barela 55% to 38%. Now the Barela camp comes with this from the national R's:

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced that Jon Barela has advanced to the top level of its three-level Young Guns program.

By achieving ‘Young Gun’ status, Barela’s campaign has proven its ability to meet fundraising and operational goals, and takes its place among the most competitive congressional races in the country.

We've explained how our experts don't quite see the ABQ race as the national pundits do, but the national R's have done a good job for Barela in pushing back against that perception. But they will have to come with cold hard cash for their man if they hope to win the spin war against the Alligators of La Politica.


The state is going to have to continue to do more of this as the budget crunch continues:

Attorney General Gary King's Medicaid Fraud and Elder Abuse (MFEA) Division succeeded in obtaining grand jury indictments on 26 felony charges against three individuals and one business in an alleged long-term Medicaid fraud scheme in Dona Ana County.

Defendant Juana Barba is accused of fraudulently billing the New Mexico Medicaid program for counseling services she never provided. She allegedly billed the state for 54 hours of counseling in a single day.


A reader drops a note of Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the office:

Just wanted to let you now that Sheriff Gonzales received AFSCME’s endorsement.

Gonzales has six primary opponents for the nomination.


Well-known Santa Fe lobbyist Robert Rivera is dead. Friends of Rivera tell us he apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday. He had been indicted the same day on tax evasion charges. (New Mexican report here.)

Rivera, 61, was a close friend of NM House Speaker Ben Lujan.

Rivera ran into trouble in early 2009 when it was reported he owed over $210,000 in state gross receipts taxes. He is not listed as a registered lobbyist in the most recent list compiled by the secretary of state.

Rivera's past clients included Ruidoso Downs Racing, the NM Propane Gas Association and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District.

We last spoke to Rivera when he called during the last legislative session. Ever the loyalist, he reported on a speech given on the House floor by Majority Leader Kenny Martinez in which Martinez effusively praised Lujan. Several years ago Martinez lost a very public battle for the speakership to Lujan.

"Joe, I just thought you ought to know what Kenny said," Rivera ribbed.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sign Of The Times: Tagging A Bank, Plus: Heinrich Poll Says He's Way Ahead, And: More New Mexico Politics For A Blogging Thursday 

We don't think we're headed for riots in the street as they are in Greece but the economic strain in New Mexico is apparently giving rise to some illegal protest activity. We snapped this pic over the weekend at a Bank of America branch that had just been tagged. But this was not ordinary graffiti. This was dollar signs juxtaposed with the sign of the devil--"666."

KOB-TV says it received this email explaining the tagging:

"We the working class are tired of being slaves to the credit system and financial institutions...we must take direct action against the institutions that have failed us... through peaceful acts of civil disobedience, our first action has been to target these same financial institutions that have robbed the people blind.

The incident comes as ABQ is experiencing record unemployment, officially put at 9.2 percent, but unofficially much higher. The city is also suffering widespread home foreclosures that you see in the legal sections of the papers as well as a commercial real estate crash.

The Great Recession's blow has been cushioned by unemployment insurance that lasts for many months and plenty of cheap home entertainment in the form of video games and Netflix. But eventually the frustration and anger pour forth. We've seen that reflected in the public polling. Now we're seeing it in broad daylight--on the side of a bank building in the middle of the city.


Now layoffs appear likely in the Las Vegas, NM school system.

Rep. Heinrich
How vulnerable is ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich in his first race for re-election? Not very, if you believe his latest poll. It shows Heinrich trouncing Republican challenger Jon Barela 55% to 38%. The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research, which we have found to be pretty straight shooting over the years, says Heinrich's job approval is also at 55%. The survey was taken among "500 likely general election voters" April 28 to May 2. You can read the polling memo here.

This is the first poll of the cycle that we've seen that puts Heinrich over the magic 50% re-elect mark. It comes at an important time. Respected DC political handicappers Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg are now saying Heinrich's district is "lean Democrat" not "likely Democrat." That's an important distinction, especially for fund-raising. But this poll calls into question the claims that Heinrich's seat is in serious play for the GOP.

While the R's argue that Barela will do well with Hispanics in the district, the Heinrich survey shows him beating Barela 68% to 24% with Hispanics. Among Anglos, Heinrich wins over Barela 48% to 44%.

If this poll has it right, Heinrich has lost hardly any traction since he scored a 56% win in 2008 over Republican Darren White to claim the seat held by the R's for 40 years.

A February Public Policy Polling survey had Heinrich beating Barela 45% to 36%.

No incumbent congressman has ever been defeated in the history of the ABQ district. Democrats outnumber R's in the district 197,000 to 133,000. Analysts here say the district has taken on a more liberal hue, demonstrated by the Obama and Heinrich landslides. Also, in 2006, Republican Rep. Heather Wilson, an accomplished campaigner, barely kept the district from swinging to the Dems. Given this backdrop Heinrich polling at 55% is not extraordinary.

Barela's best hope is for a low turnout election in which the Democratic base is unexcited about Heinrich and an extremely sour national mood penetrates the ABQ district. But with no evidence of that yet, the betting money remains heavily on Heinrich.


A reader thinks they have busted Public Regulation Commissioner candidate Teresa Becenti-Aguilar for violating the $500 limit for contributions to a PRC candidate. They appear to be right.

According to Becenti-Aguilar's finance report filed with the Secretary of State, she accepted a campaign contribution of $1,000 from Santo Domingo Pueblo on December 16, 2009.

Becenti-Aguilar is ruuning for the Dem nomination for the District 4 PRC seat, along with Andrew Leo Lopez, Hank Hughes and George Galanis. It is the seat currently held by Dem Carol Sloan who leaves the post after being convicted of felonies in a jealous rage case. The district takes in most of Indian County in NW NM.


A reader writes from the Bernalillo County District Attorney's office:

(Democratic Bernalillo County) sheriff candidate Sisi Miranda has requested my personnel files, and those of dozens of other employees of the District Attorney’s Office. In addition, she has requested copies of all of our communications, which seems to include phone records, emails and more...

..She asked for records of her opponent, Pat Davis, who works in our office, as well as records for lots of other employees in our office...I can’t imagine what purpose such a request could serve except to engage in a fishing expedition for scandal against Pat and/or our office...

A spokesman for Miranda says her request is nothing for employees at the DA's office to worry about, and that it is not as invasive as our correspondent asserts. The campaign says it is seeking information on Federal funding for the office to see if Davis is in violation of the Hatch Act which prohibits political activity on the part of workers who receive most of their pay in federal monies.. They say the request for info will not violate the privacy of the DA's staff.


Former NM GOP Governor Gary Johnson knows how to grab a reader's attention. From a Salon piece on the likely 2012 presidential candidate:

"It's never been a consideration that I would enlist the services of a prostitute, myself personally," he says. "But if I were to do that, where would I want to enlist that service? Well, it would probably be in Nevada, where it's legal, because it would be safe."

Johnson continues to drive the GOP establishment crazy, but his support of abortion rights and gay unions may resonate with the next generation of R's. The legalize drugs thing, however, may not be too popular with young parents of either party.


This is something we'll keep our eye on in light of the legal troubles of Dennis Montoya who is challenging Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi in the Dem primary. A reader informs:

The state Constitution says to be seated on the state court of appeals you have to have the same qualifications as a member of the Supreme Court--be a lawyer. If Montoya isn't a lawyer, he can't be seated on the court regardless of what the voters might decide.

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court is looking into allegations of misconduct against Montoya.


Rod Kennedy has company. In an early draft Wednesday, we blogged that Kennedy was the lone R on the 10 member NM Court of Appeals. There are two, the other being Jonathan Sutin. We're glad to hear that. We hate to think of Rod having to eat lunch alone.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Weh Winds Up For Knockout Punch With Big TV Bucks; Martinez Braces For Hit, Plus: Barela Says No To Arizona, And: Rio Rancho Push Back On Solar Doubts 

Allen Weh is winding up to deliver a knock-out in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial contest, upping his TV buy to a hefty $82,000 a week, but Susana Martinez is hanging on, coming with $51,000 of her own TV this week as she braces herself to block Weh's power punch.

The determined Weh started with about $50,000 in TV a week some six weeks ago and has been chased for a month by the scrappy Martinez, but unless she has raised a lot more money, she is not going to be able to keep pace with the former state GOP chairman. After this week, my media mavens report Weh will have spent $328,000 on the air, compared to $221,000 for Martinez.

Not that TV alone gets you the primary win. With a lower voter turnout than a general election, there's direct mail, free media and voter turnout efforts that can play a larger role, but no one is delusional in these campaigns. They know that Weh going to over $80,000 is probably a prelude to a finish where he takes it to near $100,000 a week. And with no one throwing any nails in front of his pick-up truck, that's what we'd call a lot of unfiltered messaging.

This $82K is going to look like an onslaught to the state. That's because other than Martinez, there are no other heavy candidate media buys out there. The duo has the field to themselves.


If Weh's four rivals choose to go after Weh, what do you attack him for in a GOP primary? We posed that question to several consultants and there were no easy answers.

Several said they would use the electability issue, citing Weh's allegedly limited appeal in a general election in a year when the R's have a decent chance to take the Guv's office. Others said his insider millionaire status and tenure as a former state party chair don't play well in the current climate and that might be something to take him down several notches. As we said, there were no easy answers.

One other thing. Some of the Alligators think Weh could be the first to go negative if his polling shows him hitting the ceiling and Martinez still threatening.


As the absentee balloting and early voting begins this week GOP Lt. Guv candidate John Sanchez is basically running unopposed. He is burying his opponents in a wave of TV ads. Here's his second one of the cycle.

Like Weh, Sanchez is basically self-financing.

Former State Rep. Brian Moore and ABQ state Senator Kent Cravens are no slouches, but the money advantage of Sanchez, who is a roofing contractor, is now taking hold. Moore loaned himself $100,000 and can still go up on broadcast television, but by that time will Sanchez already be gone and hiding the ball?


This is important to the ABQ congressional race. Republican hopeful Jon Barela tells us he is against the anti-immigration law recently signed by the Arizona Governor and which has caused so much opposition in the Hispanic community.

"I have concerns about the Arizona bill..about its applications." He said.

And would one of those concerns be that the law could lead to racial profiling in the "Yes, that would be one of my concerns," he replied.

That statement is not unexpected as support for the Arizona law in the ethnically diverse and moderate ABQ district could knock Barela to the canvas. Even conservative southern GOP congressional hopeful Steve Pearce is hedging on the Arizona law, decrying security at the border, but not saying whether he supports the new measure. That's a sure sign that the issue is political dynamite for the R's.

Barela also spoke to us of his fund-raising efforts, saying we have not mentioned that Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich, who he is challenging, "had a $450,000 head start" on him. OK, we've mentioned it.


A reader writes of our blog about GOP Guv nominee Allen Weh being the first to go negative with phone polling and says it was actually Susana Martinez who was first with the tactic. These polls are often described as "push polls" in which the caller is given negative and sometimes inaccurate information about one or more candidates to push them away from supporting their rivals. Pollsters for Weh say he was testing negative messages but was not conducting a classic push poll. Meanwhile, our reader says Martinez was apparently unaware of what a push poll is when questioned recently on the radio:

Joe, I've got to correct you. It appears that Susana Martinez was actually the first candidate to conduct a push poll that attacked her Primary opponents. Listen to the attached audio. It's from an interview with KKOB-AM radio a few weeks ago.

The caller says he received a call from a polling company and that the pollster said awful things about every candidate--except Susana. In fact, the pollster said some nice things about her. Hmm.

The best part, however, is how Susana responds: We're not doing a push poll. We don't do polls where someone has to push a button; we do conversational polls.

Apparently, she doesn't understand what a push poll is. She believes a push poll is something where you, uh, push buttons on your phone.

God forbid we elect a Sarah Palin as our governor!

We've listened to the audio and Martinez does say: "We have not a done a push poll, but it was a conversational poll. It was not something that we just push buttons....

Martinez may not know much about negative phone polling, but her campaign consultants apparently do.

Of course, the rich polling firms will give you what you want. Sworn off of "push polls?" No problem, Mr. Candidate. Here's a close facsimile that you can spin as being just a negative test. Just be sure to send the check on time!


There is a ton of negative out there about Dennis Montoya who is seeking to oust appointed NM Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi in the June 1st Democratic primary, but it's anyone's guess how much if it is sticking. Vanzi supporters fear big totals for Montoya in northern counties could overwhelm her. The judge comes with this news:

The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association (APOA) has endorsed Judge Linda Vanzi for the New Mexico Court of Appeals. The APOA represents over 900 officers..The APOA is the largest police association in the State of New Mexico. They rarely endorse in Judge’s races.

Vanzi has won a slew of other union endorsement and if they mobilize their membership on her behalf it could be a deciding factor. However, retired cop Mark Bralley says APOA may be large, but lets Judge Vanzi know it is not the largest police association in NM:

APOA is not the largest police association in New Mexico. The State Fraternal Order of Police is with over 2,000 members, followed by Albuquerque FOP Lodge # 1 which represents Federal State County and City law officers. The FOP often also makes endorsements.

Attorney Montoya and Vanzi tangled over legal cases when Vanzi was a district court judge, causing much bad blood between the two.

The court has 10 judges. There are currently five Anglos and five Hispanics. Rod Kennedy and Jonathan Sutin are the two Republicans on the panel which has offices in ABQ and Santa Fe.

And here's a Journal piece from today outlining the latest legal woes of Montoya.


Also on the legal beat today, the AP comes with the report on the first news conference of the new NM US Attorney. Democrat Ken Gonzales takes over from Republican Greg Fouratt who had a big run when it comes to prosecuting state corruption cases. He is expected to stay at the office and work under Gonzales who was confirmed for the position by the US Senate last week. He is a former aide to Senator Bingaman.


There really was no choice. The NM Gaming Control Board nixed the license for the proposed Raton racino Tuesday after months of delays and financial problems from the Canadian investor. Now investors who wanted the state's last authorized racino in Tucumcari are excited about getting another chance. But gaming board Chairman David Norvell, his colleagues and the state racing commission needn't be in a hurry. They need to take an extra hard look at any proposal for expanded gambling. Remember, the Downs at ABQ had a plan to expand to Moriarty that fell through because of money issues. Now the Raton deal. Financial waters remain treacherous during this bear market and the last thing we need is to start up a racino that fails to get started.

We're among those in the sceptical column when it comes to that proposed giant solar manufacturing plant for Rio Rancho, and we outlined why Monday as well as linking to a newspaper piece that also expressed concern over financing for this deal. That drew the attention of Rio Rancho City Manager James Jimenez who pushed back with this:

Joe, Your post comparing Green 2V to Eclipse Aviation was misinformed. There are very significant differences between the Eclipse Aviation project and the Green 2V project. The biggest difference between the two is that unlike Eclipse, there are no public funds being invested in Green 2V.

The company is buying land from the State Land Office (SLO), through the City of Rio Rancho, at the appraised value.
The "investment" by Rio Rancho taxpayers is $7.2 million in public infrastructure adjacent to the site; no public funds are being spent on the Green 2V property...

If Green 2V should fail, the city taxpayers will still have the public infrastructure and the site will be immediately usable by another company. The infrastructure investment will in no way be lost.

With respect to the industrial revenue bond (IRB), those bonds are repaid solely by the company, not by Rio Rancho taxpayers. Under an IRB, the investors have no recourse to public assets, and the IRB is not included in the city's credit rating.

I'm a bit surprised that, despite your daily rant about how tough things are for Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico, you would be so critical of a public-private partnership that is scheduled to bring 1,500 jobs...In a capitalist economy, people take risks and are sometimes rewarded, sometimes not...W
e recognize that there are limits to what a governmental entity should do and that is why we limited our investment to public infrastructure.

Lastly, the city has been very open from the beginning that Green2V is a start-up company and that they are being backed by private equity.

Fair enough. Eclipse got a direct taxpayer appropriation and this solar outfit will not. But Rio Rancho is putting up that indirect money that Jimenez mentioned, and the city's good name is going to be used to market the industrial revenue bonds. As for those 1,500 jobs, forgive our scepticism, but we'll believe it when we see it--and not before.

More important, why are Rio Rancho officials seemingly unconcerned about the many questions being raised about the ability of this outfit to deliver? Are city officials overselling this deal to the public and the many unemployed? And what about this other outfit that says its will be buying the $500 million in bonds from Green2V that are getting a low interest rate because Rio Rancho's name is on them? Why doesn't the city or anyone else know anything about them? Who are these people?

We are asking for competence and accountability on the behalf of our public officials who have in the past done such a substandard job when it comes to economic development i.e. Eclipse, Lions Gate Advent Solar and other failed projects. That responsibility can't be casually dismissed as part of the "risk" in a capitalistic society. It is the job of the publicly paid manager and mayor of Rio Rancho to avoid needless risk before committing the credibility and the good credit of the taxpayers of their city. Or deciding to spend over $7 million on "infrastructure" to attract a company.


And news of that risk keeps coming. NM Watchdog has posted more troubling information about this highly-touted start-up, asking why the company that says it will buy the $500 million in bonds is not listed in any public records in California where it tells Rio Rancho officials it is based.


And one of our readers sent us this interesting Securities and Exchange case from 2005 regarding Bill Housley, mentioned in the weekend ABQ Journal piece as the Green2V Executive Vice President and co-founder.

As for our "daily rant" on behalf of the state's unemployed and other victims of the Great Recession, if that is making some among the government and privileged classes uncomfortable, then maybe we're doing our job.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Primary '10: The Voting Begins Today, Plus: New Susana TV, But No Hit On Weh, And: Heinrich's Home Office; Over The Top? 

All the hand-shaking, TV and radio ads and yard signs won't be worth as much after today. That's because this is the day that starts the clock on early and absentee voting. Withe each passing day the candidates are faced with a shrinking voter pool to persuade. More than half the vote for Primary 2010 will likely be cast before the actual Election Day on June 1st.

Today the first round of absentee ballots get mailed out and the first in-person early votes will be cast. In Bernalillo County voters can go to the county clerk's office at 6th and Lomas to cast an early ballot. Things really blast off on May 15th when multiple early in-person voting locations open across the state.

Here's early voting info for Bernalillo County and for Santa Fe County.

Even though the voting is already underway, you still have until the end of today to register to vote and take part in the primary election. Only Dems and R's are eligible to vote in the June 1st balloting.

So far, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver reports 1,508 voters have turned in applications requesting absentee ballots--771 Democrats and 737 Republicans. R's are expected to vote in larger percentages because of their governor race.


We're getting word now that there will likely be at least one broadcast TV debate for the five GOP Guv candidates. The Rio Grande Foundation will sponsor the one hour face-off set to be aired on KOB-TV at 7 p.m. May 27th.

That's interesting timing. Most of the early and absentee vote will have been cast by then and Election Day is only four days later. And then there's the Memorial Day weekend following the Thursday night debate.

In other words, none of the campaigns are taking any chances. If a hopeful puts his or her foot in their mouth, the opposing contenders will be hard pressed to make much of it.

Not that there is really much room in a five way debate to make a costly gaffe. Even with sixty minutes you don't get to say much.


It's still all about corruption for Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez who comes with her third TV spot of the cycle. It's a fast paced look at some of the more prominent corruption cases that have graced the headlines in recent years, including the $3 million embezzlement at the Jemez school district.

Martinez makes the leap that corruption costs jobs. "We need good schools to attract good jobs," she declares, before launching into a description of the Jemez corruption case and others.

Corruption alone is not moving the needle for Martinez who our senior analysts see as locked in a battle, but lagging behind Allen Weh for first place for the GOP Guv nomination. She needs to link her premier issue to the issue that most matters to voters--jobs.

Martinez also asserts in her ad that "a crippling energy regulation made insiders rich, but drove our jobs to Texas."

She is referring to the "pit rule" which deals with cleaning up oil and gas exploration sites. But whether the rule cost our state jobs is a point of intense debate.

The candidate posted a script and supporting documentation for the ad on her web site.

If you were waiting for Susana to unload on Weh, you will have to wait. The closest she comes to contrasting herself with the former GOP state chairman is when she says, "I'm the only candidate that has taken on corruption and that's the difference."

Martinez uses the ABQ area Sandia Mountains to close out her spot, a none too subtle appeal for votes in the metro area where she can't afford Weh to separate himself from the pack.

Martinez's style continues to provide a contrast with Weh's TV. He is somewhat laid back as his director goes for an avuncular attitude to make him more likable and not the stereotypical old angry white guy.

Martinez is in your face, energetic and dead serious. As a female candidate in a male dominated party, it may be the advisable route to travel. She is pugnacious in the sense of being a willing fighter. Weh was that way when he was chairman, but now with his open collars and occasional on-camera smiles, he approaches grandfatherly.

Martinez can give this latest ad a chance to work and take a look at the polling numbers. If she isn't closing, she will then have to decide whether to hit Weh directly. Time is no longer her friend.


Maybe we're too old school, but we don't quite get this "giving up your apartment and sleeping on the office floor thing." It has become part of the culture of the United States House of Representatives. Now ABQ freshman Congressman Martin Heinrich has joined the ranks of this peculiar club that he estimates numbers about 50 of the 435 US House members:

Heinrich said he works out and takes a shower every morning in the Longworth gym.

"I eat most of my meals in the Longworth cafeteria anyway — breakfast and lunch," Heinrich explained. "Then I'll go out and grab a bite someplace (for dinner). I used to be an outfitter guide, so I sleep basically on a camping mat and a sleeping bag."

Heinrich says he is saving $1,400 a month in rent by sleeping on the floor. But he makes $174,000 a year and his wife Julie has a good paying government job in ABQ at the Mid-Region Council of Governments. The couple is pulling down well over $200,000 year. Also, a congressman gets a tax deduction for the cost of maintaining a primary residence.

When we worked on the Hill in the early 80's it was common for some Members to rent an apartment together--places where the refrigerators contained mostly beer and cigars. But it worked. They saved money and also had camaraderie. What happened to that?

We get the feeling that Heinrich, 38, isn't really relishing his sack time on the floor. But with DC housing prices the way they are, he may be saving his coins for a down payment on a place. Republican Jon Barela, who is challenging Heinrich in November, hopes to have something to say about those future housing plans, but the way Heinrich is harvesting his money, Jon may have already lost the fiscal conservative argument.


Heinrich has carved out a middle of the road record on national defense issues by sitting on the House Armed Services Committee where he can keep an eye on funding levels for the state's national labs. But Heinrich, a true-blue liberal when he served on the ABQ city council, is still true to those roots in Washington. The Hill lawmaker ratings have Heinrich scoring 100 from the nation's leading pro-choice group and another 100 from the League of Conservation Voters, a prominent enviro group.


Meanwhile, on the Heinrich political watch, DC handicapper Charlie Cook has apparently sat down for a beverage with fellow handicapper Stu Rothenberg and now calls the Heinrich-Barela race "lean Dem" instead of "likely Dem."

He says Barela is the "perfect candidate." But we're going to have some of what Stu and Charlie are drinking before we sign on to that take, or at least a set of polling numbers that push us in that direction.

Why? Because we believe if Barela were the "perfect" candidate" he would have close to a million bucks in the bank like Heinrich, or the $700,000 southern Republican congressional hopeful Steve Pearce has. Barela's latest cash total is about $390,000. Heinrich's is $1.044 million.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Dem Light Guv Battle Goes To Tube; Colón Opens Air Game, Plus: ABQ Mayor & Immigration, And: Solar Sceptics Surface On Rio Rancho Deal 

Brian Colón
The first major TV buy in that five way race for the Dem nod for lieutenant governor is up on the air, and not surprisingly it comes from fund-raising leader Brian Colón. The thirty second ad is pretty busy, but well-produced. It mixes Colón's biography with a message on education and finishes with an attack on the Republicans and a line in Spanish. The ad is posted here. Some of the script:

Search ResultThe former chairman of the state Democratic Party comes with a pretty busy 30 second ad as he makes his debut on the statewide stage. He mixes his biography with a message on education and polishes it off with a line in Spanish. The ad is posted here. Some of the script:

When I was young, I never knew we were poor. I'm Brian Colón and I realized later when it took my father's live savings to open this flea market....It taught me the importance of going to college. It's why I worked to increase teacher pay and reduce class size. As lieutenant governor I'll fight to stop the Republicans who are hurting the public schools.

At the end the ad pictures Colón with his wife and young son and saying of the education system, "I have a stake in it too."

One of our Alligators comes with the instant analysis:

He seems to be trying to appeal to Hispanics and I'm trying to decide if that means he has the Anglo vote locked up or maybe someone else does. The ad is...light on who he is and what he's done. Maybe the more emotional appeal works but I think he leaves open the chance for an attack on his qualifications.

Maybe he's got it locked and he just wants to be positive and solidify the Hispanic vote for (soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee) Diane Denish...

The Dem light guv race features five Hispanic candidates which is why that Gator wonders if any of the candidates is rounding up more Anglo votes than the others. This won't be the candidate's only spot, so voters will see other sides of him. Colón, an attorney, says he will stay up on TV until the June 1 primary.

Colón may not have the race locked up, but he has campaigned relentlessly, raised money and no one has attacked him--yet.

The onus is now on Lawrence Rael and Joe Campos to keep up with him. Linda Lopez and Jerry Ortiz y Pino do not have money for TV.


ABQ Mayor RJ Berry says the city continues to review its policy regarding how police should check a person's immigration status. Berry ran to the right on this in last year's election, calling ABQ a "sanctuary city" and pledging to take a look at making police procedures more stringent when it comes to suspected illegal immigrants. But there is now an emotional explosion over the anti-immigration law next door to us in Arizona and its shock waves are being felt here.

It would seem the last thing Berry would want is to move in the Arizona direction. Our economy is bad enough without our local businesses being subjected to boycotts. And why needlessly divide our community at this time?

As for the review, Mayor, you might want to keep that going--for another four years.


Our TV team (thanks, Gina) comes with more pricing info for us on TV time for Primary '10, revealing that prices for one of the most coveted time slots has taken a dive from past years. That would be the 10 pm news, where politicos like to place their ads to reach a politically engaged audience more likely to vote.

A price for a 30 second spot on KOAT-TV at 10 pm has slumped to $480 this cycle. KOB is even cheaper at $400 a pop and top-rated KRQE is selling the 10 pm news for $700.

Available ad inventory at the local stations appears to remain high during this recession. Also, we're told news viewership is also down so while ad prices have declined so has the audience. Media watchers say spots could get more expensive in the fall if the economy is stronger in the fourth quarter and the politicians are competing for space with more advertisers.

(By the way, the 9 pm news on KASA is going for $325.)


You say you're a candidate who doesn't want to mess around with targeting your audience? How about going up on the popular Fox show "American Idol?" It's all yours in the ABQ market for $2,000 a pop.


Since the collapse of highly touted Eclipse Aviation and with it the vanishing of millions in taxpayer dollars and subsidies, the media, wisely, we think, has grown more sceptical and less of a cheerleader of dreamy economic plans whose success is dependent on the public treasury. The newspaper came with a front-pager over the weekend, questioning how Green2V, a proposed Solar manufacturing plant the politicos are backing in Rio Rancho, will actually get off the ground. The article is eerily similar to early warnings about Eclipse as it is filled with quotes from industry experts warning of the hazards.

New Mexico is tired of being played for River City. We need real jobs with real futures, not more projects that promise but don't deliver--that tap our resources as they blindly gamble with an ante put up by taxpayers. We have record unemployment, cuts in public education and skyrocketing budget deficits at all levels of government. Real human needs are in competition for resources now, not like the giddy days of the long dead Bull Market.

Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack, Noreen Scott, president of Rio Rancho Economic Development Corp., City Manager James Jimenez, state Economic Development Director Fred Mondragon and Senator Bingaman, who attended the groundbreaking for this outfit, should be on notice that Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico want the tough questions asked and they want them answered when it is their good credit making possible these projects. We don't need another Eclipse, and if we get one there should be consequences for the public officials responsible.

As it stands now, Green2V and its CEO--former Intel executive Bill Sheppard--are looking shakier than cafeteria Jell-O. Don't say we didn't tell you.


Another take today on that 2003 coup of state GOP chairman Ramsay Gorham that we referenced Friday as a historic turning point in the tumbling fortunes of the NM GOP. From a reader who was involved at the time:

Looking back, I think that it was all about the money and consolidation of power. Gorham was able to come in as state chair as an outsider and owed allegiance to none of the old guard so they had no sway over the state party. It had nothing to do with ideology or ideas and everything to do with power and money. I doubt anything has really changed. Until they learn that this is about the state of New Mexico and the survival of America, the NMGOP will remain relegated to an insignificant minority party. There, now I feel better.

We disagree that the coup was also not about ideas. Gorham was attractive to those who wanted to see the party set off in a more moderate direction. It is true that she was a threat to the consultants and power structure of the GOP at that time. She took them on and that was probably the chief reason she was forced out. We're told Ramsay, a former state senator from ABQ, now lives in North Carolina.

It's funny how some see our call for moderating the GOP as a sell-out to the Dems. If you're old enough, you remember the ultra-liberal Democratic Party of 1972 led by George McGovern. That party had to moderate or perish--and it did. The rigid ideologues who wish to continue to model the GOP here after the Bush-Rove years act like we are in Alabama. They need to wake up and smell the enchiladas or continue to eat their grits at a very lonely table.


Allen Weh may have a shiny pick-up truck to trek around the state in search of GOP votes, but we think Dem Lt. Governor candidate Joe Campos may have him beat--at least on the days when the weather is warm.

Campos is pictured here on his spiffy motorcycle manufactured by "Victory." The company featured the Santa Rosa area state representative in
a recent article.

One of Campos volunteers says the bike is a "real magnet for gals from Hobbs." Wonder if he has someone in particular in mind?


It was Wednesday night when that negative phone poll went from the Allen Weh Guv campaign out hitting Susana Martinez. In our first draft Friday, we blogged it was Thursday night.

We also had some email questioning whether this was a "push poll" as we called it--one designed to move voters off of Martinez and over to Weh--or a poll to test negative messages against Martinez for use in future advertising. To us, it's pretty much a distinction without a difference. The news is that Weh is the first GOP candidate to go publicly negative in the race and is looking to peel votes away from Martinez, although some pollsters may nuance over technique.

One other note. George W. Bush won New Mexico once, not twice, as we first blogged. Bush lost to Al Gore here in 2000 by less than 1,000 votes. Hard to see how we forgot that. We were on the air that Election Night with former Mayor Marty Chavez and the gang until 4 in the morning....

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