Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dems Have Different Takes On Death Penalty In Two Key House Races, Plus: Candidate TV Ads Begin In Earnest 

This is why they call them "swing districts." Take a look at this answer from Dem Ane Romero on capital punishment as she campaigns to overtake freshman GOP state Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes in their hotly contested ABQ North Valley and NE Heights district.

(Capital punishment) is not a proven deterrent, nor a fiscally sound policy. However, for rare and extreme cases I believe capital punishment would be appropriate. Prioritization should first focus on reinstating the extreme state funding cuts made to behavioral health, CYFD and programs established to prevent abuse and reduce crime.

In the recent special legislative session last House Dems voted against the Governor's proposal to reinstate the death penalty for cop and child killers. Romero's stance breaks with the caucus position as the Guv's political machine pounds any Dem who does not support the penalty.

Romero's position will disappoint some Dems but if she beats Maestas Barnes it could be instrumental in the Dems regaining control of the House. That's why Romero has carved out that narrow exception open to much interpretation on exactly what kind of death penalty she would vote for.

Meantime, in the other ABQ House seat designated a swing district, Dems appear more confident that they can withstand an assault on the death penalty. Former Dem State Rep. Liz Thomson, who lost the seat to Republican Conrad James but who is now retiring, rejects the death penalty:

While I am outraged by recent events, this is not the answer. It is insanely expensive, which the state cannot afford. It has not proven to be a deterrent to criminals. Many wrongful convictions make it untenable. The Legislature needs to be focused on fixing the economic disaster.

That answer reflects the higher confidence the Dems have for the Thomson district. She has won this seat before and is opposed by GOP newcomer Christina Hall, not a GOP incumbent as is Romero.


Northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan is getting excited about the possibility that the Dems could make major gains in the US House in November. He's the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee so any progress made will reflect favorably on his leadership.

As for his campaign for re-election to his district, you can't say the heavily favored Lujan is excited, but he appears to be happy. His first TV spot features him with his mother Carmen joking about his strong work ethic as he goes about feeding horses and mowing the lawn. The ad is airing in both English and Spanish.

Lujan is opposed this cycle by Republican Michael Romero, a retired police officer from Taos County. Lujan is seeking his fifth, two year term. The sprawling district is ranked safe Democrat.


We watched KOAT-TV report again that Governor Martinez is not "supporting" Donald Trump, but will they or someone in the media (hello AP) please ask her if this means she will not vote for Trump? Come on, man.


Dem Secretary of State candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver is first up with TV ads in her race against Republican Nora Espinoza. In her 15 second spots she brings up former GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran who was forced to resign the office and served a month in jail on a corruption conviction.

Duran was the first GOP Secretary of state since the 1930's. Polling has shown Oliver, the two term Bernalillo County Clerk, with a healthy lead in the early going. Espinoza, a Roswell state representative, is expected to try to catch up with a wave of attack ads. The race is ranked lean Democrat.


While TV ads are still a mainstay of the modern political campaign, they sure aren't what they used to be, at least when it comes to price. Not long ago a 30 second ad on the 10 p.m. news on KOAT-TV in ABQ often went for well over $1,000. Not so today. Contracts we have gone over have candidates getting the 10 p.m. news for a mere $650 for a 30 second ad. It makes sense. Today TV news has to share the audience with the Internet, plus the economy here has kept a lid on the demand for advertising.


Reader (and Republican) Tony Schaefer writes to lament what he sees as the lack of leadership from Gov. Martinez

Joe,  New Mexico has the second highest rate of opiate drug overdose in the nation. This mirrors the rise in violence we see as our state and communities languish in one of the nation's worst economies.

Drug use is fueled by desperation created by no jobs and the failure of social programs designed to provide a safety net for those most at risk. Our schools fail to demonstrate relevance in education, whether 3rd graders are retained or not. And now, we have no money and face the prospect of further cuts to education and social programs.

Why is it that the Governor failed to see the impact of the fall in oil prices upon state revenues? Why is it that the executive branch failed to mend the agencies charged with promoting child and family welfare? Why did the Governor fail to even make a proposal to address the budget shortfall during the special session?

Susanna Martinez has consistently failed to articulate or advance policies aimed to improve the plight and lives of any constituency, much less those she occasionally espouses, children. Her single agenda is increasing the ranks of Republicans in government. Sadly, even as she has succeeded, there remains a dearth of worthwhile proposals that she will support. So, what is the point?

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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