Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why Curry Went For Sanders, Sapien's Big Primary Win; Big Enough? Handicapping The State House, Heat On Heinrich, All Koched Up, And: A Letter To Trump 

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What the heck was Bernie Sanders doing beating Hillary Clinton in conservative Dem territory in Curry County in the June 7th NM primary? The county, which shares a border with Texas, is reliably GOP in the general election so it was expected that democratic socialist Sanders would lose the county to the more moderate Clinton. Veteran pollster Brian Sanderoff says there's more to the story:

Don't forget that Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) has a large presence in the area as well as many young Air Force personnel stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis. The younger the voters the better Sanders performs and that appears to be why he won Curry.

We'll have more nuggets from Sanderoff in the coming days, the result of a post primary sit-down.

(In our initial blog headline we had Clinton carrying Curry. That has been corrected.)


When is a big primary win really not that big? Well, there's a debate about that. Dem State Senator John Sapien scored a 62% to 38% primary victory over challenger Jodilynn Ortiz and he immediately labeled it "a decisive victory," adding:

Anything over 55 percent is going to get you a nod that your constituents want you back.

Maybe, but others closely watching this Sandoval County area district which is being targeted by the Republicans point out that Ortiz only spent $193.39 to Sapien's $34,000 in primary expenditures. They think a more robust victory in the high 60's or low 70's would be in order.

So, does the 62% win tell us something new? Not really. Republicans have fielded Diego Espinoza to run against Sapien in what has always been expected to be a heated race. The results may show Sapien has a bit of weakness in his own party to overcome as well as the Republican challenger. In the cash battle, the duo is about even. Sapien starts the general election campaign with $66,000 to Espinoza's $64,000.

Not that Sapien, the chairman of the Senate education Committee, isn't used to a close battle. In 2012 he was re-elected by a tiny margin of 161 votes in a contest that saw some 23,000 ballots cast. And in 2008 Sapien won the seat from a Republican incumbent by an even smaller margin of 121 votes.

Sapien sharply disagreed that there was any weakness in his primary victory when we interviewed him on our KANW FM Election Night broadcast. He said anyone who disagreed would need to sit down with him for a cup of coffee and learn why.

Well, he seems ready for the coming confrontation and maybe even more than his opponent. Diego Espinoza refused several offers to appear on the air Election Night, never mind extending a coffee invite.


That Sapien-Espinoza battle will be intense but no political pundit worth his crystal ball is predicting that the GOP will take over the state Senate. And there seems to be a consensus beginning to form that the odds have gone from 50-50 to something a bit better for Democratic prospects to take back control of the state House from the R's which they lost in 2014. Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino comes with the reasoning that is making the rounds:

It looks difficult for the Republicans to hold on to their majority, currently 37-33. In that body 27 Democrats and only 15 Republicans are running unopposed. And of the 28 districts where there will be a contest, 13 are so traditionally won by one or another party that it would be a genuine long-shot victory if it were to flip. 

Eight of those virtually "safe" seats are held by Republicans and five by Democrats. Thus the Democrats likely start the electoral outcome with 32 seats while the GOP begins with 23. To reach a 36 vote majority the Democrats need win only four of the remaining 15, hotly-contested battleground districts while the Republicans would need to win 13 of them.

And what if it ends in a 35 to 35 tie? The Legal Beagles (and several legislators) say the state Constitution dictates that the Secretary of State presides over the House if members can't break the tie and elect a speaker with votes from both parties. They say she would also get to name the chairs of the powerful standing committees. Another reason to keep your eye on that race for SOS between Dem Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Republican Nora Espinoza.


In the wake of the Orlando terror attack that claimed 50 lives, Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich's stance on assault weapons could subject him to some political heat:

A spokeswoman for Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who voted against the 2013 Assault Weapons Ban, declined to say whether he would shift his stance, but noted that the senator did vote in favor of Senator Dianne Feinstein's bill to stop terrorists from buying guns last year.

Heinrich is an avid hunter whose somewhat conservative views on gun control have held him in good stead with many rural New Mexicans, but that could be put to the test in the urban areas in the wake of horrid attacks like Orlando. Heinrich is up for re-election in 2018. Senator Udall has also voted against a ban on assault weapons of the type used in the Orlando attack.


The economic opinions about New Mexico expressed by Matt Ryan, the associate professor of economics at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, struck us as so bizarre that it led us to wonder about his affiliation. Well, it's no surprise that Ryan, who told the newspaper NM made a  mistake by establishing its modern day economy based in large part on the federal government, has ties to one of the Koch Brothers, the far right, free market duo who also chip in to finance off-the-grid economic ideas about New Mexico via the Rio Grande Foundation.

For his part Ryan is affiliated with Learn Liberty, a think tank that describes itself as
"your resource for exploring the ideas of a free society. We tackle big questions about what makes a society free or prosperous and how we can improve the world we live in."

Learn Liberty is a project of the Institute For Humane Studies (IHS) which is supported by private donations:

In recognition of the long-time support of businessman Charles G. Koch, the Institute for Humane Studies makes an annual award, named in his honor, for outstanding achievement by an alumnus of IHS programs.  IHS supports the achievement of a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty and in advancing the principles and practice of freedom. We now celebrate thousands of IHS programs alumni working in the world of ideas as professors, policy experts, journalists, filmmakers, and more. 

Ryan's connection to the Koch brothers is vital to note since his economic analysis called into question the efficacy of government spending in the state while his benefactors are ardent small government advocates.


In the category of "tell us what you really think," we offer this:

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville, TX) took a poison pen to the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, in an open letter Monday. "Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass," the Brownsville Democrat wrote in a lengthy missive to the real estate magnate. . .

He added: "Before you dismiss me as just another 'Mexican,' let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather," His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first 'Mexican' federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench."

It's increasingly difficult to see how Gov. Martinez, the nation's first female Hispanic governor, can endorse Trump.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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