Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Di Is Done; Denish Won't Seek ABQ Congress Seat, Chavez Announces Bid, Plus: Senate Poll Shows Indys Going Dem, And: More From Legal Beagle Corner 

Diane Denish won't be joining Eric Griego and Marty Chavez in the battle for the Dem nomination for the ABQ US House seat. Denish has told friends and political associates the race is not for her. It signals the end of the former lieutenant governor's political career which is bookended by her chairmanship of the Democratic Party and her eight years as the state's #2 from 2003-2010.

A nomination fight would have been particularly bloody with her old rival Marty Chavez. Chavez made his bid official Tuesday, saying:

“It really is about the economy and how perilous it is. And you can’t have a strong economy unless you balance the budget.” He also said he would work to balance the budget while supporting Medicare and Social Security to protect society’s “most vulnerable.”

Insiders report Chavez called Denish to tell her he is getting in the contest to replace Dem Rep. Martin Heinrich who is leaving the seat to run for US Senate. We broke the news of his impending announcement several days ago.

Chavez got a taste of what he is in for when his announcement was criticized by a number of Alligators for coming in the middle of the huge Los Alamos and other fires that are going to squeeze out his announcement. But then Chavez, with high negatives, doesn't want to set the world on fire with his announcement. He wants to wade in, not splash. Still, the usually media savvy mayor might have held off until after the holiday to get the best bang for his buck.

He made his announcement in an Internet video at his web site.

The political community never expected Denish to go. At 62, it is not a job that offered her much and after her failed 2010 Guv run against Susana Martinez, the opposition to her candidacy from the party's liberal wing would have been vociferous.

Denish will be remembered for her advocacy for children during her tenure under former Governor Bill Richardson. But she was ultimately undone by being associated with Richardson when his popularity plummeted. She sealed her fate by running a gubernatorial campaign that revealed her to be much less of the iron lady than was thought, yielding to operatives who played it too conservative in both tactics and policies.

Still, Denish has blazed trails and has won the respect of the state. But her trailblazing days are over.

The Denish departure leaves Dem pros concerned that Chavez and Griego will eat each other alive. Marty is already being dubbed a "Republican lite" candidate and it won't be long before he starts firing.

While the older generation embodied by Di begins to depart the stage, the newer generation is not showing the same hunger for the congressional seat. Negative campaigning, the huge amounts of money needed, the constant need to raise that money and the prospect of cutting services to citizens, not enhancing them, are all cited as reasons for some attractive Dem candidates staying out.

A Senior Republican Alligator says Chavez starts as the favorite, but not a prohibitive one.

Marty has an organization, but Griego is the guerilla warrior. A lower primary turnout will favor Griego. The liberal base he appeals to is more likley to vote.

Yep. Once again the key New Mexican political races are being framed right here, not by the spin doctors or operatives or those with an axe to grind, but by those with a long, long view of the game of La Politica.

On the GOP side, ABQ City Councilor Dan Lewis, 2010 GOP nominee Jon Barela and former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones are the main players. Lewis is already in, Barela is expected to come later in the year and Arnold-Jones will play if she can raise enough cash.


It's those often fickle independents that emerge as the headline makers in the first public polling of the 2012 US Senate race. They went for the R's big time in 2010, but in the early going of this cycle independents--who make up to a third of the electorate--are breaking Dem. That's good news for Dems Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas who are squaring off for their party's Senate nod and not so good for Heather Wilson and John Sanchez who are vying for the GOP nomination.

Democratic polling firm PPP came with these horse-race numbers from its auto-dial poll of 732 state voters conducted June 23-26 with an MOE of 3.6 percent:

State Auditor Hector Balderas and Rep. Martin Heinrich lead their potential Republican opponents. Balderas leads Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez 39-35, former Congresswoman Heather Wilson 45-39, and businessman Greg Sowards 42-28. Heinrich is leading Sanchez 45-39, Wilson 47-42 (Narrowing from 50-39 in February), and Sowards 46-34. While crossover support is either even or to the Republican’s advantage in each matchup, the Democrats have a significant advantage with independents aside from the Sanchez-Balderas race. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 51-32, that’s a recipe for a Democratic victory.

Another salient point from the polling is the high unfavorable rating for Wilson. It is now at 45 percent of the overall electorate. How does she get that down? Very hard when you are so well-known. The lesser known Sanchez has an unfavorable rating of 28%. Wilson supporters will argue she has always had high negatives and survived by raising her opponent's unfavorables.

Polling for the Dem and GOP Senate primaries is to be released later this week.


Our Legal Beagles continue to walk the Guv's recent defeat at the State Supeme Court around the block. Here's the latest:

Your Santa Fe Legal Beagle who was on your blog Tuesday should have listened to the argument in front of the Supreme Court--if so, he would not have made the following comment about the Governor striking a digit from an appropriations bill: "It has been done in other states with line-item vetoes and similar Constitutional provisions. It just didn't fly here."

The Governor's attorney tried that line on the Court and they smacked it down. Justice Bosson noted that the states that allowed it generally had specific provisions allowing for scaling down appropriations. Justice Chavez noted that not only was there only one state with similar constitutional provisions --Wisconsin-- that allowed scaling, but that the Alaska Supreme Court, in declining to follow Wisconsin's lead, had noted that no other state had taken that path. So the statement that this had been done in other states with similar constitutional provisions is simply wrong.

Given that your Legal Beagle kept referring to what the governor did as a "single-digit" veto (legally meaningless term), echoing the argument taken in the Governor's brief in the case, gives me a notion of where that Beagle might have its kennel.

If they keep it up, the Legal Beagles are going to give the Alligators a run for their money...


From the email on the news made here Tuesday that former State Rep. Brian Moore, deputy chief of staff for Governor Martinez, is out and taking a gig at the state's office in DC:

Is being moved to the NM DC office anything like being shipped to the Cerro Colorado Landfill if you work for the City of Albuquerque?

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