Thursday, May 10, 2012

Showdown In Clovis: Guv Backed Senate Contender Behind In Early Polling In Premier GOP Battle; We've Got The Scoop, Plus: Obama Gay Marriage Bombshell; State Impact 

Woods Vs. Spears
It's shaping up as the most critical state senate primary in the 2012 cycle and if the early going is any indication, Governor Martinez and her political team are going to have to step on the gas if they are to avoid a major embarrassment. According to insider polling we've obtained rancher Pat Woods leads Governor-backed Angie Spears 44%-33% in the early going in this Republican Senate primary that has caused a political firestorm on the east side and whose flames are now being watched statewide.

The polling is from one night's worth of phone calls, but makes clear that the meddling of the Governor and her political adviser Jay McCleskey has already caused a major breach among east side Republicans. It all started when GOP State Senator Clint Harden decided not to seek re-election and word went out that he was forced out by the Guv's team. It's a story that the Clovis News-Journal was on this week like white on rice:

(GOP State Senator Clint) Harden said (Clovis area) District Attorney Matt Chandler called him two days before the legislative session ended. Harden said Chandler told him he was planning to endorse Republican Angie Spears, a clinical director for TeamBuilders Counseling in Clovis, in the 2012 race for Harden's Senate seat. Harden said Chandler also told him a conference call had taken place involving Chandler, Gov. Martinez, Spears, Public Regulation Commission Chair Pat Lyons and former state Rep. Brian Moore, and all had agreed to endorse Spears.

Chandler and the others alleged to have been on the conference call all on Tuesday denied such a call ever took place.

Woods is now apparently going to be subjected to the scorched earth policy of McCleskey and company. Jay heads the SusanaPAC as well as playing a major role in the day-to-day affairs of this Governor. Our insiders report political operatives have been making inquires about Woods at the Curry County assessor's office, a sure sign that they are looking for dirt on Woods who is the first major Republican candidate to take on the Guv and McCleskey since she took office.

And that's what makes this a contest with statewide ramifications. If Woods manages to prevail, he will weaken Martinez and McCleskey who now have an iron grip on the GOP, a grip that a number of veteran GOP legislators are known to be chafing under.

Spears, 38, a niece of Pat Lyons and related to DA Chandler through Chandler's wife, is seen as being more compliant with the Guv's agenda than Woods, but in reality there would be little difference in their Senate votes.

Both candidates are expected to be well-financed for the final crucial weeks of this banner contest.

Angie might be viewed as a Susana puppet, but she's no lightweight. She is a native of Tucumcari, a mother of four and clinical director for TeamBuilders Counseling Services, a nonprofit children's mental health agency.

If the race is already framed in voters' minds as a choice between a homegrown candidate and one being imposed on them from the outside, Woods, 62, could win in a walk. And even if Woods loses, Martinez's standing with east side Republicans is bound to take a beating.

We know Martinez knows how to make war, before this one is over we may find out of she knows how to make the peace.


President Obama's bombshell announcement that he now supports gay marriage will harden opposition against him among social conservatives in southern New Mexico, but create more enthusiasm for him in the urban center of ABQ. Conservative Democratic Catholics--especially up north--will be displeased with the Prez, but this is not going to be a make or break issue for him here.

Both Dem NM US Senate candidates and all three ABQ Dem congressional candidates supported gay marriage before Obama made his switch. (By the way, Balderas beat Heinrich out of the gate on this one).

Statewide support for gay marriage was at 45% in a December 2011 PPP poll.

There still has never been an openly gay male elected to the New Mexico Legislature but that could change if Jacob Candelaria wins the Dem nomination for the ABQ west side Senate seat being vacated by Senator Bernadette Sanchez. He is opposed by Carlos Villanueva. No Republican is running.

For those who grew up in the 60's and 70's and before, the President's announcement was a demarcation line between the generations. Such an announcement was unthinkable back then, but polls show younger citizens are overwhelmingly in favor. Soon it will be their country and Obama is ratifying that future today. Still, this action by the Prez qualifies as political bravery. He is going to be hit hard.


Veteran pollster Brian Sanderoff tells us he will do a poll of the major congressional primary contests for the ABQ Journal. He doesn't release when he will do the survey but a good bet is at or toward the end of the month. He's been doing polling for the Journal since the 80's and is known for getting it right. He was recently asked about the role of Hispanics in the Dem primary:

"In a Democratic primary, Hispanics play even a bigger role because most Hispanics register as Democrats, so they'll be up to 50 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary, and on the Republican side, they'll play a smaller role because fewer Hispanics register as Republicans," said Sanderoff.

Sanderoff, head of Research & Polling, is also an analyst for KOAT-TV.

TV news coverage of the primary is getting rolling. KRQE-TV's Katie Kim comes with this report on the hotly contested ABQ Dem congressional race and...

Radio ads are hitting in that two way race for the GOP nomination for the northern Congressional seat held by Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. Jefferson Byrd of Tucumcari is up with these two spots touting his conservative credentials. Rick Newton is the other candidate in the race.


Reader James Meiers writes:

I was just watching TV news about scenes from The Avengers that were shot at Albuquerque Studios. Given its stupefying success, do you think that this will be used to try and convince Gov. Martinez and others to reconsider their opposition to the film credits program here in New Mexico before all the movies go off to Louisiana and Michigan (especially with In Plain Sight and Breaking Bad wrapping up)?


Reader Jacob Trujillo weighs in on Congressman Martin Heinrich emphasizing in his latest TV ad for the Dem US Senate nod that he often spends weekends not in DC, but camping with his wife and kids:

The theme that D.C. politicians no longer live in their home states has become more and more media powerful (as it has become, for a number of reasons, less meaningful). How times change. Years ago, before I left politics in California to go into academia, Rep. Philip Burton (Nancy Pelosi's predecessor) was the powerhouse congressman of San Francisco politics.  For years, Phil had been registered to vote at the Townhouse, a motel on Market Street in San Francisco. I don't know whether Phil actually ever lived there, or even stayed there. The Townhouse, like the motel at the ABQ Winrock Mall, had once been respectable but had deteriorated as had the neighborhood around it.  Still, even when it was little more than a flop house, Phil maintained that it was his voting residence. Although it may be apocryphal,  the story goes that, in fact, Phil stayed registered to vote at the Townhouse for several years after it was torn down and made into a parking lot...

Thanks for the reminisce, Jacob.

Not only doesn't Heinrich live in DC, but he is one of the representatives who sleeps in his office and showers at the House gym. That was pretty much unheard of when we worked on the Hill in the early 80's, although there were plenty of congressmen who shared an apartment and whose refrigerators were stocked with cigars and beer and little else..

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