Thursday, October 11, 2018

Who's Got The Energy? Wave Or No Wave? Plus: Debating Johnson Vs. Colón, GOP Spooked Over Cabinet Rumors, Trump Sours On Heather And Your Blog Turns 15 

Who's got the energy? That's the perennial question when voting time comes around. It's especially intriguing now that absentee voting has begun in the state and it comes right after the tumult over the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Will it prompt a wave of Democratic women who don't normally vote in NM's mid-term elections to flock to the polls? Will it energize Trump Republicans in the conservative southern congressional district?

If the "Year of the Woman" creates a blue wave it could make the most difference in the race for land commissioner in which Dem Stephanie Garcia Richard appears to be locked in a tight battle with Republican Pat Lyons. Also, the southern congressional district contest could be impacted where Republican Yvette Herrell is favored but Dem Xochitl Torres Small could pull off the upset if she gets an unexpected bump.

The land commission race continues to be rated a Toss Up. The southern congressional race in our rankings moves from Likely Republican to Lean Republican in light of the new national developments.


Our ranking of the race for state auditor as "Likely Democrat" gets some push back from one of the Alligators friendly toward the candidacy of appointed GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson who is being challenged by Dem Brian Colón;

I disagree with your assessment. I do agree that it should be likely Dem, but it's not. Even the progressive and far left Daily Kos recently ranked the race as a Toss Up. Johnson has made this a race by doing an aggressive job of going after fraud and abuse that has been ignored for years. He's been on the news constantly working on high profile audits that actually impact New Mexicans. He's even matching Colón in fundraising. That's a huge feat given that Colón is a known as a fundraising powerhouse. Colón's candidacy is flawed. He's run for so many offices even longtime Democrats I talk to say, "Not that guy again?” He's the weakest link on the entire Dem ticket. For all these reason, this is a race to watch.

That Toss Up ranking from the daily Kos surprised us because in the early September ABQ Journal poll Colón was at 45% and Johnson at 39%. Also, no R has been elected auditor since 1966. And while they are pretty evenly matched on money, it would seem Johnson will need to outspend Colón with a negative campaign to peel Dems away from him. Johnson, a former BernCo Commissioner and ABQ mayoral candidate, is well known in the metro but this is also a big blue patch that is anti-Trump and that should help Colón. We rank the race Likely Dem not "Safe Dem" because of some of those argument for our Gator, but this one is still Colón's to lose.


Our blog mentioning that the rumor mill has two prominent liberals as possible cabinet choices should Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham win the Governor's race really spooked the state GOP. They came with this reaction:

Lujan Grisham has allegedly been floating names for potential cabinet nominees . . She’s signaled to New Mexicans that she will make absolutely no effort to work in a bipartisan manner by floating the names of far-left partisan insiders like radical environmentalist Garrett VeneKlasen and corrupt State Representative Bill McCamley.

“If Michelle Lujan Grisham needs a reminder about the dangers of measuring the curtains before votes are counted, she should ask Hillary Clinton,” said RPNM Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi. “Instead of laying out a vision to govern on behalf of all New Mexicans, Lujan Grisham has embraced far-left radical politicians and abandoned any dwindling illusion that she would be a bipartisan leader. Lujan Grisham and her would-be cabinet nominees are cut from the same radical partisan cloth. They would march arm-in-arm as Lujan Grisham leads the state toward bankruptcy.”

So Bill and Garrett don't make any plans yet for those state paychecks, okay?


Reader Janet Blair writes of the ad wars in the race for the southern congressional seat:

I think the prize for misleading ads this campaign cycle has to go to a RNCC PAC ad for (Republican) Yvette Herrell. The spot implies that (Democrat) Torres Small will eliminate employer-based healthcare and send all the premium money to DC with nothing in return. A low-information voter might reasonably be terrified by this assertion. It doesn’t explain that this proposal is  “Medicare or Medicaid for all” and that if implemented could mean even better benefits with lower administrative overhead---as compared to profit-making health insurance companies. I think that is a long way off, politically speaking, but this ad with its lopsided information is totally irresponsible. We now watch TV with the remote in hand---ready to mute these kinds of ads in a millisecond!

And here's some analysis of the race from a seasoned veteran on the Dem side who requested anonymity:

There indeed may be a blue wave, but the Republicans are very supportive of Trump in this district and Republicans feel strongly about immigration issues and guns (hence the Xochitl gun ad).

Yvette easily dispatched Monty Newman in the GOP primary, but some of Monty’s people were not pleased with her treatment of him. Will that result in them not voting in this race? Maybe, but is the number significant? Yvette will get help from Steve Pearce as he needs maximum votes out of this area if he has a chance to win.

There may be a blue wave, but I think Republicans here will stand up for their candidates. That being said, Xochitl may be banking on the fact that this district is 40% Democrat, 36% Republican, 23% declined to state and 1% Libertarian. She is well-funded and comes across as intelligent, articulate and humble. She will need to maximize her vote among Democrats and the “decliners,” especially in Dona Ana County (52,770 Democrats vs. 30,193 Republicans). I still give Yvette the edge, but it may be close.


Heather could get the hatchet. That's the word circulating as Wilson, a former ABQ GOP congresswoman who is now Secretary of the Air Force, is having trouble navigating the Trump White House:

President Trump is peeved with Heather Wilson over her handling of his directive to stand up a separate Space Force in the U.S. military, and he’s considering ousting her after the midterm elections, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Foreign Policy. Wilson recently angered Trump as well as Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Defense Secretary James Mattis’s second in command, with what is seen as a campaign to undermine the Space Force effort, the sources said.

Not even her Republican friends on Capitol Hill will be able to save her if Trump warms up his "You're Fired" mantra.


We joked of the low dollar amount--$25--for a fundraiser for Dem congressional hopeful Torres Small hosted by former Governor Big Bill who is known far and wide as one of the state's most prodigious fundraisers. That brought this from Joni Gutierrez, a former Dem national committeewoman, who attended the event:

Hey Joe, I agree with you and do believe Gov. Richardson could bring in a crowd at a high dollar event but for crying out loud we are a low income county, in a low income state. Our goal was to have access for our voters to not only see Gov. Richardson but more importantly Xochitl. 

Well, Bill can be frugal when need be. We'll always remember an ABQ South Valley fund-raiser he had for his second run at Governor in 2006 where the price was something like $100 bucks. And for that he served bottled water and peanuts. But he did win, scoring the biggest landslide--68%--in state gubernatorial history.


It's been so hectic we forgot to pause and celebrate our 15th anniversary of bringing you New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan. We achieved that mark earlier this month. But it's still hectic around here so let me simply say thank you to all the readers and advertisers who have been supportive of my efforts these past 15 years as well as to my critics who make me better. And join me November 6th for our 30th consecutive year of Election Night coverage on ABQ's KANW 89.1 FM and on kanw.com.

That's a lot of time on the clock and worthy of a final quote for today from author Henning Mankell writing in "The Man from Beijing":

The passage of time was relentless and capricious, and one would lose the battle with it in the end. The only resistance a man could offer was to make the most of time, exploit it without trying to prevent its progress.

Thank you, New Mexico.

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