Tuesday, November 06, 2012

To The People It Goes; Election 2012 Ends Today; Our Coverage Is Tonight At 6:30 PM ON 89.1 FM, Plus: Gaming The Legislature; Where Will We End? Also: Top Politicos Predict And Our Election Day Musings 


They are coming around the corner and into the final stretch. This is Election Day 2012. All the anticipation and angst will be resolved tonight. We'll be with you every step of the way with live continuous coverage on KANW 89.1 FM and streamed at KANW.COM. Our panel of experts is at the ready:

Santa Fe Democratic State Rep. Brian Egolf; former New Mexico Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim; Republican Doug Turner who sought the 2012 GOP gubernatorial nomination;
Republican Bruce Donisthorpe who supervises polling of Manzano strategies and is a former top aide to NM Governor Garrey Carruthers; Democrat and attorney Pamelya Herndon, executive director of the Southwest Women's Law Center; Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino; former Bernalillo County Commissioner Lenton Malry; Republican consultant Bob Cornelius of the 90 Degrees Agency; Republican Jamie Estrada, VP of the Agenda PR agency and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce; veteran field organizer Steve Cabiedes and Dem attorney David Bucholz.

What a group! What a night! It's our 24th consecutive year of anchoring Election Night coverage on public radio and we look forward to having you with us for all the excitement.

We'll have reporters in the field and live reports from ABQ Government Center where Bernalillo County races will be tallied. Steve Morgan will be at the Democratic HQ and Monica Rodriguez will be at GOP HQ. We'll also have exclusive early results from select voting centers in Bernalillo County.

Thanks to our sponsors for making possible this comprehensive coverage by New Mexico public radio: PNM, Griffin and Associates, JD Bullington Government Affairs, ABQ Teachers Federation and IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 480.

Now let's get back on the 2012 campaign trail one final time...


It's Election Day 2012 and in this state Democrats are set to sweep the contests for the presidency, the open US Senate seat and two of three US House seats. The suspense will come over the outcome of hard fought battles for several state Senate and state House seats.

We're forecasting a turnout of about 68 percent of the electorate or a total of 853,000 New Mexico voters. That will be a dip from 2008 when Obama mania took hold, but still a healthy number.

While Dems control the top of the ballot with Obama set to secure the state's five electoral votes, Dem Martin Heinrich is positioned to beat Republican Heather Wilson for the Senate seat. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a heavy favorite to win the ABQ congressional seat over Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. The R's are hanging all their hopes on improving their standing in the 112 member state Legislature.

Conventional political wisdom as we prepare for the count tonight has Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez surviving his challenge from GOP State Rep. David Chavez, a challenge egged on by Governor Susana Martinez who argues she needs to rid the Roundhouse of Sanchez as well as Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings in order to advance her legislative agenda.

Dem Jennings is locked in a ferocious battle with 27 year old farmer and tea party sympathizer Cliff Pirtle in Roswell. The district is heavy Republican, but Jennings--in the Senate for 34 years--is popular with many of them. The race is close. Predictions below.

The Senate will remain under Dem control after tonight. It currently has 28 Dems and 14 R's The GOP could pick up a couple seats but the political landscape doesn't change. In fact, analysts say the Senate could become more liberal if Jennings is defeated tonight because it would likely mean the end of the conservative coalition of Republican and Democrats that have made him president pro tem.


In the House, outright control by the R's for the first time in nearly 60 years is possible but still a long shot. The current breakdown is 36 Dems, 33 R's and 1 independents.

One of our Senior Alligators comes with the scenario for a GOP take-over:

It is possible for the Republicans to take control of the state House. It's a stretch, but here is how it would have to play out.

First we assume, Democrat Felipe Archuleta takes the seat held by Dona Ana County independent Rep. Andy Nunez and that  Republican Monica Youngblood takes the new ABQ area seat that was formed when the northern seat of Thomas Garcia was eliminated in redistricting.

If nothing else changed all night, we would end with Democrats 36 and Republicans 34. This assumes the Republicans keep these Republican seats: Rep. Alonzo Baldonado in Valencia County, Rep. Jim Hall of Los Alamos, Rep, David Chavez of Valencia, (Chavez is leaving the seat to run for Senate) Rep. Conrad James in ABQ, Rep. Rep. Terry McMillan in Dona Ana, Rep. Dianne Hamilton in Grant County, Rep. Rick Little in Dona Ana and the ABQ area seat being vacated by Rep. David Doyle who is running for state Senate,

Keeping all those seats in their column is no small feat, but it is essential that Republicans pull it off or their chances of taking outright control are going south.

If they can do that, they have a shot at a House majority by having Chris Saucedo beat Dem Emily Kane in District 15 in ABQ. That would make it a 35-35 tie. Then, if they could knock off Ray Begaye in District 4 in the Four Corners, they would take control with a 36-34 majority. It is a very long shot but not impossible.

Thanks for that. So if any of the current GOP state reps bite the dust as listed above, the Dems will very likely retain power.

The D's say they would be elated if they picked up two seats tonight. That would give them a 38 to
34 majority assuming independent Andy Nunez is defeated.

That is seen as a comfortable margin to elect State Rep. Ken Martinez of Grants as the new Speaker of the House to replace Ben Lujan. A House with fewer than 38 Dems could invite mischief, such as another attempt to form a coalition, with Republicans working to peel off a couple of Democrats to take control.

As we said, control of the state Senate is not in play. The Dems will control it, but the big story is the fallout from the highly negative campaigns sanctioned by the Governor and how that impacts the legislative process.  We've blogged of it extensively.


Rep. Egolf
Our KANW-FM Election Eve panel was unanimous in predicting that Dem Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings will survive a Governor-backed challenge to him that has turned into one of the nastiest and most expensive state Senate contests in history.

Jennings faces 27 year old farmer Cliff Pirtle who has received major backing from the Reform NM Now PAC run by the Guv's chief political advisor. But Santa Fe journalist Milan Simonich said Pirtle lacks the stature and experience as a candidate to take out Jennings. He along with the rest of the panel predicted a narrow win for Jennings.

On the other big race the Guv is trying to influence, the panel was again unanimous that State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez would keep his Valencia County Senate seat. Former Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim said a TV spot featuring Sanchez and his wife Lynn will be key to the victory.

Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Brian Egolf says we may not know the composition of the state House until Wednesday because of slow returns in the contest featuring Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye that includes a large portion of the Navajo reservation. He says returns from there could take time to come in.

Egolf, who had a political action committee to help Dem House candidates this year, said he thinks the House will grow from 36 Dems to at least 38 after Tuesday's election. "We have a shot at 40 if the turnout comes our way," he said.

The panel was nearly unanimous (with Republican Jamie Estrada the exception who said Wilson wins a squeaker) in predicting that Dem Martin Heinrich will defeat Republican Heather Wilson and claim the open US Senate seat.

Former City Councilor Miguel Gomez predicted easy passage of the measure to raise the minimum wage a buck an hour in ABQ and said Mayor Berry's opposition to it could be an issue in next year's mayoral race.

Republican consultant Bob Cornelius said GOP southern Congressman Steve Pearce will win re-election easily tonight, but don't expect another US Senate run from him. "I think Steve will look at going after a leadership post in the US House, but another Senate bid is not in his future."

So there, Tom Udall. You can stop wishing.


No sooner had the press found out that Big Bill was working for the California's Spaceport in Mojave, stirring native passions against the former chief executive--then it's disclosed that he pocketed $10,000 for two months work and he's all done. Bill helped California get liability legislation for the Spaceport that was approved in September.

Why we were not told of that in the initial press accounts is a mystery but in any event, it appears the former Guv is available now to help Susana get similar liability legislation for our Spaceport through the legislation. Say what, Bill? You don't hear your phone ringing?


While we all anxiously await the results, veteran Santa Fe television reporter Lorene Mills gives us an entertaining story sure to draw a grin and a chuckle from even the most nervous of the nervous on this Election Day:

Joe,  My show this weekend is with Santa Fe's Forrest Fenn, who started the famous Fenn Gallery, and he tells this story about Republican Governor Garrey Carruthers. This is right from the transcript and I thought you could use a good laugh! Enjoy!

At the gallery I had an alligator called Beowolf. And can I tell you a story about Garrey Carruthers? He was running for governor and staying in one of my guest houses. We were having a fundraiser and he was standing on a rock with his back to my pond, the pond is about one foot behind him. And a hundred or so people out there, he’s telling everybody how good he is and what a great governor he is going to make. And Beowolf thought that it was me talking and calling him to dinner. So clear across the pond, sixty, seventy feet, comes Beowolf

The crowd can see Beowolf, but the Governor can’t, so Beowolf came right up to the rear end of Garrey Carruthers and opened his mouth like that and the crowd went wild. Governor Carruthers thought he was making a good impression but then he saw what happened and he left. He was, he was good about that. You have to like Garrey Carruthers

Lorene: Well I’m very fond of Garrey Carruthers and they always say that New Mexico politics is full of alligators. So I am glad that the alligators did not get Governor Carruthers.

Hope that brightened your day a little. It's hard to have watched New Mexico politics for so many years and to see the bitter changes we see in this election cycle. Thanks for your perspectives and wisdom. All the best, Lorene...

And thank you, Lorene.

On the big political days like this one that we think of those who have come before us. Like your late husband, the newsman and commentator Ernie Mills. No one loved New Mexico more. There was Bill Feather of the Associated Press who thrived for decades. Bob Beier of the ABQ Journal, the crustiest of the crustiest political reporters. Kate Nelson of the ABQ Tribune, one of the gifted ones and Jerry McKinney, also from the Trib. Larry Calloway of the Journal understood the game better than anyone, and reaching way back we think of Fred Buckles, long ago author of the "Inside the Capital" column, whose musings from Santa Fe seemed so exotic and exciting for a teenager from Pennsylvania.

Politics here still seems exciting and exotic to us, despite nearly 40 years passing since we read that column. Before we take to the airwaves at 6:30 tonight, we'll pause to think about the long history that is La Politica and give a silent tip of the hat to those who once walked the path. Then we'll step on the gas and do what we're supposed to do....i

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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