Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mitt Has A NM Moment Today, Maggie Urged To "Go North," Susana's "Espionage," And Reader Pushback On Ballot Measures 

Early in the campaign we thought we might see some big Democratic names campaign in the state, but only a visit by US Senator Elizabeth Warren came close. Today the R's pick up the slack and bring to town Mitt Romney to campaign for Gov. Martinez and the GOP ticket. He will do a high-dollar fund-raiser but also have a free public rally with Martinez. The duo will appear at 2 p.m. at Martinez headquarters located at 12000 Constitution NE.

Martinez had some mild criticism for Romney following the 20102 election which he lost to Obama, but national R's continue to embrace Martinez for her fund-raising ability and status as the nation's first female Hispanic Governor. Will Mitt run in '16? It's visits like today's that keep the tongues wagging. . .

The Romney visit is not going unnoticed by state Dems who slashed away with this:

Like Mitt Romney, Governor Martinez continues to show her contempt for poor and middle class New Mexicans by failing to create jobs, failing to solve the education crisis she promised to fix and now using Mr. Romney to solicit contributors at $2600+ per couple.


Go North, Maggie. So say the pundits, wall-leaners and Alligators closely watching the close race for NM secretary of state. Following our Tuesday night poll that showed Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver narrowly trailing GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran 47.6% to 45.0%, we heard a Gator crack:

The poll showed that Duran is getting way too much Hispanic support--over 45%. Oliver needs to do a swing through the Hispanic North, come with a TV spot that is more compelling than she has on the air and buy more TV time. And, of course, do some Spanish media.

Oliver's campaign points out that most of the undecided vote is Democratic and Independent and in the end that could put her over the top.

Duran is shy of the critical 50% mark, but the poll buoyed her supporters, some of whom pointed out she could benefit from the big lead Martinez has in the governor's race in more ways than one. One R came with this:

Ballot position could work for us. The secretary of state's race is right below the race for Governor. Some of those crossover voters supporting Martinez could stick with Duran. In a tight race--like this one appears to be--that could make a difference.

The secretary of state's race is rated "toss-up" or as Dan Rather might say, "This thing is as tight as the rusted lugnuts on a '55 Ford."


This is making some of our readers nervous:

Two ballot-tabulating machines malfunctioned Tuesday during early voting at the Doña Ana County Government Center. . . However, county election officials assured the problem--which is still under review--won't harm the integrity of the election. That's because paper ballots counted by the affected machines can be fed into different, functional machines, they said. Doña Ana County elections supervisor Scott Krahling said election workers at the site noticed Tuesday morning that ballots weren't being accepted by the machines as readily as in past days of early voting. Voters often would insert a valid ballot, only for the machines to reject it. Then, one voter whose ballot was rejected more than once noticed that a counting device on the machine he was using increased by one each time he attempted to insert the paper ballot. In the case of a rejected ballot, the machine's tally isn't supposed to increase.

The Sun-News also reports that "the county's series of ballot tabulators are relatively new. Purchased by the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office, they were used for the first time in the county's primary election in June. They've worked well up until now, said the Dona Ana County elections supervisor."


You have to wonder if Gov. Martinez is re-elected if these sticky allegations of illegal political espionage in her 2010 campaign are going to haunt her. A witness has now emerged;

In a recent interview with a former staff member, the Santa Fe Reporter exposed alleged evidence of Martinez’s unlawful political espionage in an article published Tuesday. Anissa Ford, the former staffer, told the Reporter that Martinez asked her take a picture of an anti-Martinez bumper sticker on a car and send it to an investigator in Martinez’s Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The bumper sticker read, “Say No To Susana la Tejana,” a phrase used by Democrats at the time as a dig against Martinez. The investigator used law enforcement databases to trace the vehicle’s owner using its license plate number in the photo, Ford told the Santa Fe Reporter.

And the response from the Martinez camp:

"It is simply reckless and bad journalism to try to breathe life into baseless smear by a disgruntled hack whose home was raided by the FBI for her involvement in federal crimes and from a politician whose campaign benefited from the federal crimes for which his operative is now going to prison," a spokesman said.

Baseless smear or not? Attorney General King says he is investigating the disappearance of emails from the Dona Ana County DA's office. Now we have a person on the record who says Martinez appears to have ordered a license plate check on an opponent.

Current Dona Ana DA Mark D'Antonio may be the man to watch here if this stuff is going to get legs and find its way before a grand jury or other legal venue. Still, it does seem as if alleged abuse of federal databases would also be of concern to the feds.


This week we came out against all five of the constitutional amendments on the ballot as well as an advisory proposal in Bernalillo County that calls for raising property taxes to finance mental health programs. Not everyone agreed. Here's Jeff Greene on Amendment #2:

Dear Joe and readers, I was the 2011-12 Student Senate President at Northern New Mexico College. Our student government worked very hard to get a constitutional amendment passed through the Legislature and on the 2014 ballot, which would create a student regent position on the college's Board of Regents for the first time. Currently, NNMC is the only 4-year public college or university in New Mexico that is exempt from the constitutional law requiring each public institutional of higher education to include a student representative, appointed by the Governor, serving on the Board of Regents. This  amendment would empower NNMC students by giving them a voice and a vote in the shared governance of the college, on par with every other public college in New Mexico.

For the students and community of Northern New Mexico, this measure is incredibly urgent and important. We feel strongly that student representation on NNMC's governing body will create increased accountability and transparency. In recent years, NNMC's Board of Regents has come under intense criticism for its role in creating an atmosphere of financial crisis, raising tuition beyond what many students can afford, cutting academic programs, driving students away from the college en masse. . . NNMC is the only college in the area, but hundreds of students in the last few years have been dropping out or transferring to more distant schools, thanks to the mismanagement and incompetence of the current Board of Regents and administration.

Passing this constitutional amendment for a student regent is a small but very significant step toward reclaiming NNMC for the interests of the students whom the college is supposed to serve. 

And on the BernCo advisory measure proposing a property tax hike for mental health programs, reader Tom Gagliano pushes back with this:

This is not just an advisory question--it is a vote showing the County Commission the public supports solutions for much needed services for mental health (12.5 cents gross receipts per $100 spent). Those afflicted with behavioral health issues, an affliction they do not invite, are worth at very least that. It does not slam lower income people disproportionately, but will help communities invest proportionately in services that will benefit all populations. I would guess that both high and low income families would be willing to support 6 cents for every $50.00 they spend for this moral purpose.

A positive outcome on this vote will create a deeper awareness of the problem because it will show the good will of the voters—voting is a public opinion poll, and I believe the FOR vote will be the beginning of a movement for badly needed social change. On top of its original purpose, the polling at this election will also send a message to the state legislature that informed voters care highly about making changes in mental health services, so it’s time they do too. The mentally ill and homeless have been long neglected, ignored, misunderstood and abused, or killed for sport by teenagers--while they wait for decisive action.


Did you catch this one?

A local church is blurring the lines between religion and politics after it handed out sample ballots to members with specific candidates highlighted. Parishioners at Legacy Church in Albuquerque said they were given the highlighted sample ballot after service on Sunday. The church is a nonprofit.

“Churches have a 501 c3 status with the IRS, so they are actually prevented from taking any political positions one way or another,” Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said.

Some names on the sample ballot have been highlighted, including Sheriff candidate James Scott Baird. Baird is a member of the church and beat out current Sheriff Dan Houston in the primary. Legacy pastor Steve Smothermon once endorsed Houston from the pulpit, but Houston left the church after a rift between the two. That led to Smothermon supporting Baird.

Republican Scott Baird is opposed by Dem Manny Gonzales in the race for Bernalillo County sheriff.


The ABQ Free Press--which we write a column for--has a beefy issue now on the newsstands.

Valerie Plame speaks out on the Guv race and other matters. There's articles on APD's advance weaponry and whether they need it and another on whether the new police oversight board is already toothless. We come with a column on some of the negative ads of the election cycle. Available at ABQ newsstands.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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