Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Polling Surprise: King Trails Guv Rivals As Dem Preprimary Convention Test Nears; Still Many Undecided Delegates, Plus: Election Results; It's Javier In Santa Fe, Kintigh In Roswell And A Run-off In Rio Rancho 

Alan Webber, Howie Morales and Lawrence Rael top the field of Dem governor candidates in an insider poll conducted of delegates who will be attending Saturday's Democratic Party preprimary convention. The big surprise is how Attorney General Gary King trails the field. He's the best known contender and was the first to announce but in this survey he came in last. State Sen. Linda Lopez is in fourth.

Webber had a very slight lead over Morales and Rael who were virtually tied. None of the candidates polled over 25% in the survey that was conducted Monday by automatic phone calls and asked about 360 of the 1,700 delegates eligible to attend for their candidate preference. Key point: The biggest vote-getter was undecided. 32 percent of those polled said they were still on the fence.

The poll was conducted by a group that has proved reliable in the past and is not associated with any of the Guv campaigns.

Webber, a Santa Fe businessman, has been busy courting delegates across the state and has signed up a bevy of consultants to help him in his maiden political contest.

Morales recently gained an endorsement from the NM branch of the American Teachers Federation (ATF)--an important Dem interest group. He also won a court battle over rival Lawrence Rael who had challenged Morales' petition signatures in an unsuccessful bid to knock him off the ballot.

The critical number Saturday is 20 percent. Only those who reach that number will be rewarded with an official spot on the June 3 primary ballot. A candidate who doesn't get there can still get on the ballot by filing additional petition signatures. However, no candidate in state history--Republican or Dem--has gone on to win a party's primary without first crossing the 20% preprimary mark.

King can treat the poll as both a blessing and curse--a curse because it shows him in trouble and a blessing because he has several days left to turn the tide.

An ABQ forum featuring all five Dem Guv hopefuls will be held tonight at 6 at Carpenters Union Hall, 3900 Pan American Fwy NE.


Mayor-elect Javier Gonzales
Money talked loudly in the Santa Fe mayoral race last night. Javier Gonzales didn't just beat fellow Dem Patti Bushee, he nearly pummelled her into third place.

Each candidate was given $60,000 in public financing but Gonzales benefited from an additional $60,000 spent on his behalf by third party groups--mainly big labor. Much of it was used to attack Bushee.

It was a controversial move because it nullified the city's public finance system, but it paid off big time. Gonzales, 47, a former Santa Fe County Commissioner and chairman of the NM Dem Party, won with 43.31 percent of vote. Councilor Bushee came in at 28.70 percent. City Councilor Dimas garnered 28.0 percent.

NM pollster and Republican Bruce Donisthorpe did polling for the Bushee campaign. He said:

The Election Day turnout was higher than expected and that made the difference. We had about 17,000 total votes cast and some 14,000 of them came Tuesday--not early or absentee. That is one of the lower early voter turnouts we have seen in recent cycles. The Election Day vote is weighted more Hispanic and it went mainly for Javier and some to Bill Dimas. The extra money  from third parties helped him get that vote to the polls on Election Day. If the turnout had been lower, the race would have been closer. 

GOP analyst Bob Cornelius added that conservative Democrat Dimas also made headway by capturing the Republican vote.

A ten point win gives Mayor-elect Gonzales a lot of goodwill to get his programs through, but it will still take much political acumen to win over the city council. As Inez Russell Gomez of the Santa Fe New Mexican tweeted:

Can you imagine being mayor with the two people you beat watching your back--eyes bored in?


No surprises at all in Rio Rancho. Republican Greg Hull will go to a mid-April run-off election with Dem Mike Williams. They led the four way battle. Hull, a small business owner, claimed 43.47% and Williams took 29.70%. Two other Republican contenders trailed.

With that showing Hull will be favored to take the prize, but a late flap over his Rio Rancho residency could cause headaches. Donisthorpe, who did polling for Hull, analyzed Hull's victory this way:

He was the best organized and best financed candidate. It's not supririsng that Williams made the run-off as he was the only Democrat in the four way race.


Mayor-elect Kintigh
A familiar face on the state political scene is back in the game. Former Roswell GOP state Rep. Dennis Kintigh is now Mayor-elect Kintigh after ousting incumbent Mayor Del Jurney in one of the evening's biggest blowouts. Kintigh captured 69% of the vote. Donisthorpe, who polled for Kintigh, told us:

Dennis is a retired FBI agent and a former Roswell police chief. Widespread crime and gang violence is the #1 issue in our Roswell polling and voters saw him as the man of the hour to deal with it.

From Taos, reader Helen Laura Lopez reports:

There is a new mayor in Taos: Dan Barrone. The incumbent mayor, musician, and radio entrepreneur Darren Cordova was beaten 2 to 1. It is a small town with a small electorate but the mayor has a big impact on northern New Mexico.

Mayor Cordova's brother wasn't too pleased with the decision of TaoseƱos. He told the newspaper the voters had a "lack of appreciation for proven results."

Darn the people. There they go again.


Some 101 municipalities had elections on Tuesday. Some of the results are posted on the secretary of state's website. Election watcher Steve Cabiedes reports: "Of the 80 NM communities that had a direct election for Mayor Tuesday, 38 were unopposed or 47.5%.

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