Friday, November 07, 2014

The Eventful Week That Was: Blame Game Gets Inflamed; Some Argue It's All King's Fault; Not Kenny's, Plus: Looking For A Minority Leader; Stay With Kenny Or Shake It Up? And More Reader Thoughts On Election '14  

NM House Speaker Kenny Martinez came in for a scorching this week for presiding over the loss of the 70 member chamber to the Republicans for the first time in over 60 years. The pushback from his camp is that the whole thing is the fault of Dem Guv hopeful Gary King who by everyones account ran a lackluster campaign. They say he was the one who brought everyone down, including the House candidates. No doubt King hurt and hurt the Dems badly, but could not the Dems up the turnout by a couple of hundred votes in the critical House districts to overcome King's drag?. . .

It seems that ousted Speaker Martinez is positioning himself to be the House Minority Leader, but not everyone is pleased. Grants area Representative Eliseo Alcon tells us that he is eyeing a challenge to Martinez. "Kenny tried, but now is the time for a fighter, a time for a change." He said.

We posed the question that if it isn't Martinez to lead the House Dems, then who? The Gators come with another name: Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard. She blew away her GOP opposition despite being targeted by the Guv. Martinez machine, scoring over 57 percent of the vote. That is a huge win in a Republican dominated year.

As a Hispanic woman Richard could be the right face for the Dems to present to the state. She is entering her second term and knows the ropes. Her mention may be greeted with derision by the cynical wall-leaners in Santa Fe becasue she is a newbie and isn't up to challenging friend Kenny, but this Democratic Party is a wreck with a weak bench. If it's going to go anywhere there is going to have to be some new ways of thinking. . .

Garcia Richard
The minority leader does not need to be some kind of legislative genius. The R's have the votes to pass anything they want. The next Dem leader has to be playing to the crowd outside the chamber--in the media and on the stump. The moves that leader makes will be symbolic and lay the groundwork for the '16 campaign.

Garcia Richard joins Mimi Stewart on the Alligator list of possibles who could put  a new face and new messaging on a majority party that has so lost its way. . .

Okay, now to the defending Kenny crowd and the blaming Gary gang and other thoughtful emails from the readers on the outcome of Election '14.

Dem activist Theresa Trujeque says:

Wow! So much Monday morning quarterbacking going on regarding the House races. I was surprised that you glossed over the impact the Governor's race had on the election. As you know, people have to be excited about the top of the ticket in order for them to vote. Sadly, Democratic voters were not excited about Gary. Consequently, the turnout was much lower this year than it was in 2010 which was also a non-presidential year. It is absurd to blame the Speaker for the loss of the House.

Absurd to blame the speaker when it was he who presided over the House campaigns? Iindependent Patriot Majority PAC also spent big and wasted a bunch of money on radio and TV).

For sure, Gary deserves a kick in the pants but the Speaker knew for months that he had a problem on his hands with the King candidacy. Did he do something about it?. . .

Reader Robert Behrendt has the solution to the Dem woes:

Dems need straight ticket voting to come back!


Dem Mike Folsom writes:

Blame for this disaster belongs to Gary King. He owes Rocky Lara, Ray Powell, Maggie Toulouse Oliver and many House members along with the entire Democratic Party his apologies for his non-existent campaign. I can't tell you how furious I am with him. He helped to simply destroy (southern NM Dem congressional hopeful) Rocky Lara - 65% to 35%! How can she ever run again? Ray Powell, a decent and honorable man, would have cruised to victory if King had lifted a finger to get some votes in southern New Mexico! And wonderful Maggie Toulouse Oliver--look at what the lack of any real campaign on Gary King's part did to her secretary of state candidacy? I simply can't say this strong enough - this disaster belongs to Gary King and Gary King alone!

But Mike, land commissioner Ray Powell saw Republican Aubrey Dunn's negative apple orchard TV ad running heavily for weeks and did absolutely nothing until the last days when he finally came with response TV. Was that King's fault?

And the Alligators pounded the table for Oliver to get up on broadcast TV with an Hispanic oriented TV spot--not just radio--to appeal to the North. She didn't and she lost a narrow race largely because she failed in the north. Did Gary King make that decision?

As for Rocky Lara the national Dems raised her a million dollars but when they saw her campaign against Republican Steve Pearce was going nowhere, they pulled the plug. What did Gary King have to do with that?

The point is that the damaged inflicted by the hapless King candidacy could have been mitigtated--if the right moves had been made at the right time. And they weren't.


Here's Phillip Muller writing from southern California:

Malpractice on the Dem side is the best way to describe it. Great work on the Republican side.
Where was that "courageous leader" Senator Martin Heinrich? Sipping coconut daiquiris with some wacko named Flake on Gilligan's Island. And forget about Mimi Stewart becoming leader of anything, The R's will rip her apart. What an embarrassment for a Democratic state. (Attorney General-elect) Hector Balderas has got a lot of work ahead of him to take back the state. Obviously it will take a young(er) Hispanic Dem to lead the charge. I enjoyed listening to you election night. Keep up the great work!

Thanks, Phillip. Heinrich and the rest of the Dem congressional delegation saw the train wreck coming and did little. Senator Udall tended to his own re-election needs. ABQ US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham did do work for the state House candidates but could she have done more? Ben Ray Lujan stayed north. Could the delegation--by putting more into King's campaign--made the landslide less malignant?

Reader Stan Fitch writes:

Forget for a moment the system of political prowess used to gain power, and the needless hatred spewed between the parties. Instead, could it be as simple as saying that the electorate is tiring of Dem leadership of the Legislature? Say what you will, but the opinions I hear indicate that citizens are tired of the dysfunction in Santa Fe.

Greg Lennes in Las Cruces unloads on the loss of Dem land commissioner Powell:

The oil and gas industry channeled all kinds of money to Aubrey Dunn. The Conservation Voters New Mexico also contributed to Mr. Dunn's campaign by not endorsing Ray Powell, who performed an outstanding job and by not contributing to Mr. Powell's campaign thru its Verde Voters PAC. A former health care industry executive and his wife donated $100,000 to this political action committee. The group violated its own mission statement: "In order to pass strong laws that protect New Mexico’s air, land, and water, we believe it is critical to engage in the electoral process." Its thoughtless lack of endorsement is ridiculous since it has opened the door to the election of  Dunn, who will totally weaken our laws to "protect New Mexico’s air, land, and water."  I am so disappointed in the CVNM.


And what would a recap of the election be without Senior Alligator analysis. Here it is:

It seems to me the biggest failure of the Dems has been to not fully grasp how even with control of both Houses and most statewide offices that Martinez turned them into the minority party. That was in large part due to the absence of leadership left because of the void following Gov. Richardson terming out and House Speaker Lujan passing away. Without leaders there is no direction and the party became rudderless. With no leaders the party is left trying to figure out messaging through pollsters. That didn't do so well this time around.

Take for example the single best shot the Dems had to derail the entire Martinez train--the clearly rigged Downs at ABQ racino lease deal. Were the shoe on the other foot the Republicans would have used that issue throughout the campaign. Yet pollsters told them it didn't poll well so don't raise it. And with the exception of Senator Linda Lopez, who took an initial foray into that arena, no one else did.

The party has also failed to account for the fact that the mainstream news media is now a wholly owned subsidiary of McCleskey Media that will play gotcha on Dems while adamantly refusing to dig deep into the numerous Martinez administration wrongdoing. If the media won't do it, the party and the officials must find another way. They should do so quickly too.


The political career of the son that former NM US Senator Pete Domenici fathered in the 70's with the daughter of US Senator Paul Laxalt and which was only disclosed after thirty years, is off to a promising political start:

Republican first-time candidate Adam Laxalt completed a major comeback Tuesday, defeating favorite Ross Miller, a Democrat, in the race for Nevada attorney general. Laxalt's own polling had him down by 17 points when he first entered the race early this year but he fought through some adversity to narrowly defeat Miller, the current secretary of state. On Tuesday night, he won with 46 percent of the vote to Miller's 45 percent -- a difference of 4,868 votes.

Adam's first statewide campaign outperformed father Pete's. In Pete's first statewide NM contest in 1970 he lost the governorship to Bruce King but rebounded with a 1972 US Senate win. . .

This word came to us about Robin Thymes, the well-known Santa Fe lobbyist and GOP activist who passed away recently at the age of 53:

In Memoriam: November 8, Saturday. 11:00 A.M. Memorial Service for Robin Thymes. God's House Church, 2335 Wyoming Blvd. NE, Albuquerque.

Thanks for stopping by this week and to everyone who tuned into our Election Night radio broadcast and pre-game show. I want to thank my guest experts once again--Jason Hefley, Greg Payne, Lenton Malry, Gail Chasey, Bruce Donisthorpe and Barry Bitzer. They were instrumental in helping us be first in the nation to break the news of one of the biggest NM political stories in decades--the takeover of the state House by the GOP.

What a week!

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