Thursday, May 12, 2022

MLG Vs. Ronchetti Poll Match-Up; She Leads But Is Below 50 Percent; Both Have Work To Do, Plus Dow Gets Final Poll Shot At Changing Perception Of Guv Primary, And Latest AG Money Reports  

Now that Mark Ronchetti appears to be closing in on the '22 GOP gubernatorial nomination the conversation includes how vulnerable Governor Lujan Grisham is to a challenge. The answer for now is a mixed bag.

In a SurveyUSA poll conducted for KOB-TV in late April and early May among more than 1,400 likely voters, MLG led Ronchetti 47 to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided. Error margin is plus or minus 3.9 percent. 

That's below the key 50 percent mark for the incumbent. On the other hand, she is leading and if she was in immediate peril she would be expected to be tied or behind.

For example, SurveyUSA also polled over 1,400 likely voters in May of 2010 when Susana Martinez was on her way to winning the GOP governor nod. That survey pitted her against Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish and she beat her in that first poll 49-43. 

Martinez never looked back, winning the election in November with 54 percent. Denish was strangled from the start by the deep unpopularity of Gov. Richardson. 

So, MLG has a bit of a hole to dig out of but not a crater, but so would Ronchetti if he were to be the nominee. In 2020, he spent millions against Dem Ben Ray Lujan for a US Senate seat but came up six points short, getting 46 percent of the vote. Now he has spent over $500,000 on media in this primary and gets 43 percent in a head-to-head with MLG. 

Her job is to get above 50 percent in the months ahead and his is to try to break through a ceiling that keeps him in the low to mid 40's against Democratic opponents.

MLG led in the poll in big Bernalillo County 52-39. Ronchetti won voters concerned about the economy, 49 to 40 but the Dem Governor carried those concerned about crime, 46 to 44. She won moderate voters 52 to 34. 

In a separate question, MLG's approval rating among those surveyed was 48 percent with 46 percent disapproving. 


There will be another and final polling opportunity for Rebecca Dow to show that she still has a shot at the GOP Guv nomination and that Ronchetti is not a done deal. Ronchetti flattened the field in the SurveyUSA poll released this week, leading his closest rival by 32 points. 

The opportunity for Dow will come when the ABQ Journal conducts a poll of the five way race. Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff confirms that the paper will continue their tradition of polling the primary race. The poll will be scientific using in-person phone interviews with the proper mixture of cell phones. The poll will be released May 22. The election is June 7. 


Many are wondering about the financial impact of the wildfires that have ravaged large swaths of the north this summer. Dem northern US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez says

 The federal government compensated the residents of Los Alamos county harmed by the (2000) prescribed burn-induced Cerro Grande wildfire – we must do the same for the residents of Mora and San Miguel counties harmed by the Las Dispensas prescribed burn.

Leger Fernandez, Sens. Lujan, Heinrich and Rep. Stansbury introduced The Hermit's Peak Fire Assistance Act that would "require FEMA to design and administer a program for fully compensating those who suffered personal injury, property losses, business and financial losses resulting from the Hermit’s Peak Fire."

About 200 homes have been destroyed so far. Some of those homeowners will have insurance that will help defray the impact. Those without insurance would be entitled to full compensation from the Feds whose Forest Service set the prescribed burn that led to the historic blaze. 


Dem attorney general candidate Brian Colón has a reputation as a prodigious fund-raiser who sharpened his skills under Big Bill and through many of his own campaigns. That reputation carries into this campaign as Colón has raised a total so far of $1.452 million in his race for the nomination against BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez who has raised a not so shabby $1.066 million. 

It's the cash on hand on May 2 that the candidates reported that makes the race a steeper climb for Torrez. Colon reported $911,000 in cash to Torrez's $382,000.

Among the contributors Colón reported was $1,000 from state Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart. And the campaign committee of current attorney general and Colon BFF Hector Balderas donated $10,000. But Colón was passed over by former Lt. Governor Diane Denish. Colón was the lt. governor nominee on the 2010 Dem ticket when Denish was the governor hopeful, but Torrez reports a $1,000 contribution from her and $500 from her husband Herb. Auto dealer Eddie Corley came with $1,000 for the DA.

The winds of La Politica are always shifting.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Key Dem State House Primaries Analyzed With Arrival Of Fresh Finance Reports; Moderate Dems Clash With Progressives Around State, Plus: Mailbox Hits Start, And: Ronchetti Pleased With Guv Poll 

Will the state House take on a more conservative tinge following this year's elections? The primaries that feature both a moderate and a progressive Democrat will give us some clues so let's take a look at the latest money reports in key races that could impact state policy.

In District 40 in the Rio Arriba county area the election of former one term state Rep. Joseph Sanchez over incumbent freshman progressive Dem Roger Montoya is now widely expected. But a large swath of the district is impacted by the wild fires and campaign mail can't yet be delivered in some areas. Montoya reported $23,000 in cash on hand for the final month of the race and Sanchez $56,000. Dem consultants say Sanchez has a clear edge. The general election will not be competitive in this heavy Dem district so the primary winner goes to Santa Fe. 

In District 38 in the Soccoro area moderate Dem and Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker is up against progressive Tara Jaramillo. She had $33,000 in cash and Bhasker $19,000 in state money reports filed Monday. Abeyta says because Bhasker has been mayor for over 30 years he has an edge but the race is hard fought. The Dem primary winner will be favored for the November election.

Back in Rio Arriba in District 41 Dem progressive Rep. Susan Herrera is up against moderate Marlo Martinez. Herrera is running for a third term and has solid name ID. She had $39,000. Martinez is a former probate judge. He had $11,000 in cash. 

In District 42 in Taos county progressive Rep. Kristina Ortez faces moderate Florence Miera but the race has not taken off, with Ortez overwhelming Miera in the money race. Ortez reports $111,000 in cash on hand for the final month while Miera reports $13,000. 

In Santa Fe area District 46 progressive Rep. Andrea Romero has moved past moderate and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal. She reports $69,000 in cash to Roybal's $10,000. Two other candidates did not raise significant money. Romero is seeking a third term. 

In ABQ westside District 26 moderate Cherise Quezada is competing against progressive and former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez for the westside seat that will be vacated at the end of the year by Rep. Georgene Louis. Chavez had $31,000 in cash and Quezada $27,000. The race appears competitive. 

Quezada has been outraised overall but started the final month before the June 7th primary with more cash than Chavez--$27,000 to $19,000. The race appears close.

Also on ABQ's westside in District 17, an open seat,  former moderate City Councilor Cynthia Borrego is challenging progressive Dem Darrell Deaguero who is a union leader. She reports $19,000 in cash for the final push to Deaguero's $31,000. Borrego lost her re-election bid for the council seat. Deaguerro is making his first run for office. 

Political pros see the possibility of two of these moderate Dems prevailing and going on to win in November. If so, they could join with moderate Dem reps already there on certain policy votes. And if the Republicans pick up a couple of House seats the progressive majority could be in for numerous policy challenges. 

The best chance for GOP pick-ups are in the ABQ NE Heights where there are challengers to first term Dem Rep. Marian Matthews and Rep. Pamelya Herndon who was appointed to her seat last year to fill a vacancy.

The money reports cited here can be seen at the SOS website


Once again it's the season to check the mailboxes where the hits are even harsher than the TV attacks.

Here's one freshly arrived that is being mailed out to 84,000 Dem households by the Working Together NM PAC supporting Dem attorney general candidate Brian Colón over BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez. 

Not only do the headlines on the pics scream that Torrez "failed to keep us safe" and "It's not safe to promote Raul Torrez," you get a photo of the DA clearly meant to present him as effeminate with his hand to his face and looking more than a little worried. 

A good mail piece has to connect emotionally and the picture is often the only thing voters see before they quickly dispatch the campaign mail to the circular file. 

There is another photo in this piece that may grab views. It is of the child Victoria Martens, the victim of a heinous 2016 murder which became one of the most publicized in state history. DA Torrez had to drop murder charges against the girl's mother and no one has been charged with killing Victoria, although one suspect associated with the crime has been sentenced to a long prison term.

In any event, be careful when you open the mailbox in the next month who knows what will jump out at you. (We'll labor to get a Torrez piece on his opponent up soon.)


It would be an understatement to say Mark Ronchetti is very pleased with that SurveyUSA poll released this week showing him with a 32 point lead over his closest challenger and Rebecca Dow in fourth place. Ocourse, he is using it in his fund-raising:

We can’t let up on the accelerator now. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a war chest she is sitting on to try and defeat me in November. I’m asking for your most generous contribution. Recent polls also show us neck-and-neck with Governor Grisham at 46%-46%. And her recent approval ratings have dipped to less than 50%. But, I fear that interest groups and dark money will pour into MLG’s coffers after seeing these primary polling results. Democrats would like nothing more than to have a weak Republican opponent to go up against in November.Even with this good news we can’t let our guard down. We need everyone who is tired of the status quo to contribute to our campaign and turn out to vote in the upcoming primary election!

Most analysts we spoke with question that Dow, who has spent hundreds of thousands on TV ads, is in fourth place. They speculate that the poll may have oversampled ABQ where Ronchetti is strongest and under sampled rural areas where Dow has muscle. But none is disputing that Ronchetti has a lead over his challengers. SurveyUSA did not release the county by county polling numbers that would show any ABQ oversampling, if indeed there was any. 

This is the only public primary poll so far. The ABQ Journal usually conducts one for the primary and one for the general election.  


Like Ronchetti, MLG isn't waiting for the GOP nomination to be settled before starting her general election media outreach. For her it's about showing the money and making those voters who are facing an economic crunch more comfortable. To that end her campaign comes with an ad promoting the Social Security tax cut enacted at this year's legislative session and another short ad on tax credits for lower income households.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Ronchetti Continues To Hold Large Cash Lead As Primary Enters Final Weeks; Dow Second And Will Remain TV Presence; Other Contenders Lag; Plus: MLG Money Machine Grinds On  

Mark Ronchetti takes a commanding cash lead into the final month of the '22 GOP Guv primary but  Rebecca Dow will remain a presence in the final weeks of the contest. 

Ronchetti, who has been relying in part on the fund-raising apparatus of former GOP Gov. Susan Martinez, reported $1.495 million in cash on hand as of May 2. Dow reported $495,000 in cash.

Latest fund-raising reports here

The former KRQE-TV weatherman has no intention of deploying all that money between now and the June 7 primary. If he is victorious, he could start the general election campaign against MLG with close to $1 million, even after matching whatever Dow spends and then some. 

But he still must defeat Dow who has run an underdog campaign with hard messaging that has raised her profile but Ronchetti has heavily outspent her on TV ads. That could make the difference. 

A SurveyUSA poll released by KOB-TV Monday had Ronchetti handily leading the contest (44%) with Dow running a surprising fourth with only 9 percent, despite being the only candidate other than Ronchetti with paid broadcast media. 

Our political pros say the survey may have it right "directionally" with Ronchetti in the lead but were dubious of some of the other numbers, wondering about the geographic sampling of ABQ vs. the rest of the state. 

Dow has been subjected to a massive negative campaign by Ronchetti. 

The survey, which said 23 percent of GOP voters remain undecided, was done via robo calls to landlines and online participation April 29 to May 7 with a margin of error of 6.4 percent. There has been no other public polling in the contest. 

Late Monday Dow had this statement:

We know from the enthusiastic response we're getting all over the state that we're second and closing fast. That's why the Ronchetti campaign is distorting my record. The polls always showed President Trump losing when he was winning. There is nearly another month left in this campaign for many more speculative polls to be conducted and the only poll that will matter is Election Night."

GOP hopefuls Jay Block and Greg Zanetti remained stalled out in fund-raising, according to reports filed with the SOS Monday. 

Block had less than $35,000 in cash which means a wide-ranging media buy is unlikely. Greg Zanetti had less than $165,000 in cash. 

The low fund-raising totals for Zanetti and Block is good news for Dow who wants to avoid splitting the anti-Ronchetti vote with them but overcoming Ronchetti's cash and name ID remains a formidable task. 

Among those contributing the past month to Ronchetti was former TV news anchorman Dick Knipfing who gave $1,000 to his former TV co-worker. 

Former Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza of Santa Fe has crossed the aisle for this primary and donated $2,000 to Dow. She is also reported to be working the North for the T or C state rep. 


MLG, as expected, reported a hefty $3.7 million in cash in her latest report. Whatever her problems may be in an off year election, raising money isn't yet one of them. She has raised over $5 million so far this cycle. 

The Governor has been spending a good deal of time in fire-stricken areas of Northern New Mexico and that has enhanced her leadership image, but the aftermath of the fire and how the many dislocated people will handle the financial damage of the fires is a challenge that awaits her and other government officials. 


In the race for the Dem nod for state auditor, Public Regulation Commissioner Joe Maestas reported about $85,000 in cash on hand and enough for a bit of a TV buy. He comes with this spot that stresses his lengthy government experience. He does not directly mention his younger rival, 31 year old Zack Quintero, a former MLG aide, who reported $60,000 in cash on hand. 


It was a lively TV debate between Dem attorney general contenders Raul Torrez and Brian Colón Monday night. The two again sparred over qualifications with Torrez hammering away at his theme that Colón, the state auditor, is a "politician not a prosecutor." Colón attacked Torrez's "failed record" as BernCo district attorney. The give and take did not let up for the full hour which can be seen here

The winner of the primary is very likely the next attorney general. No Republican has won the spot since 1986. 


This is the first day of voting in the primary election with county clerk's offices across the state open for those wishing to cast ballots. In person voting at convenience centers in BernCo will open May 21st.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  


Monday, May 09, 2022

ABQ Politics Grabs Headlines From Primary: Fresh Murder Outbreak, Homeless "Lots", Garbage Rate Increase Proposed, Multi-Million Dollar Homeless Shelter Disappoints, Plus: More Colón Vs. Torrez Jabs 

The primary campaign trail has been getting some stiff competition from ABQ politics lately.

The city endured another murder outbreak over the weekend with at least four victims, has seen a Republican city councilor propose controversial "living lots" for the homeless, the mayor proposes an increase in garbage bills to clean up homeless sites and a multi-million dollar shelter built for the homeless now threatens to become a White Elephant

On the crime beat, APD Chief Harold Medina showed up near the westside Cottonwood Mall Sunday where a double murder and suicide occurred and said the scene--that included the bodies of two 16 year olds—combined with two other ABQ homicides in the city made for a "tough weekend."

That led to this blast from one of our Senior Alligators:

Medina seems to think these shootings are some sort of strange anomaly. "We've had a tough weekend." Tough weekend? Try tough decade. A triple homicide isn't something new to ABQ--it's old. It's the city's new normal, without being new. It's what ABQ has become and it isn't changing anytime soon, if ever. Especially with the likes of Medina and Mayor Keller sugar-coating everything the city is really facing. 

Then there's the proposal for "living lots" to contain the homeless problem and brought to the fore by GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan. Encampments would be placed in each of the nine city council districts in areas such as empty parking lots and equipped with toilet facilities. That drew this from retired APD Sergeant and city politics watcher Dan Klein. 

This is Councilor Bassan jumping into the political briar patch. No one is going to want these encampments in their backyard, especially in her NE Heights District, but they do want more law enforcement to deal with the problem. If she presses this, I wouldn't be surprised to see potential challengers surfacing.

GOP Councilor Dan Lewis parted ways with Bassan on the encampment plan, saying the city needs to get its new homeless shelter up and running at capacity. Speaking of that. . . 

The now somewhat infamous Gateway Center in the SE Heights is being financed by taxpayers at a cost of nearly $20 million and is now reduced to a shell of its former proposed self. It will start out serving only 50 homeless individuals, all of them women. That's instead of the hundreds of homeless the project was originally designed for.

And now residents are being asked to pay more each month for their garbage pickup because of the cost of cleaning up the many homeless camps around the city--camps that might be curbed if the Gateway Center had lived up to the billing of the city's politicos when they asked for and won voter approval of a $14 million bond issue. 


Louie Sanchez, the conservative westside Democratic city councilor, has turned out to be the media attraction of the new council that resulted from last year's city election. The former cop, however, has bull in the china shop tendencies. Those came out when he pressed an anti-union proposal at council and called members of unions "slugs" when doing so.

But the building and trades unions are nothing if not organized and they planted this flier in his constituents mailboxes, pointing out he sided with Republican councilors in trying to repeal project labor agreements for city projects. That stung because Sanchez's district is heavy Dem. 

The saving grace for him--at least for now--is that he is not up for re-election until 2025. That also gives him plenty of time to learn the limits of his power in his new post. 


Sen. Ben Ray Lujan comes with new details on the stroke he suffered and that sidelined him from his Senate duties:

. . . 5:45 a.m. Jan. 27. While staying at his mother’s home in Nambé, he’d gotten up to make coffee. Before long, the room’s four walls began losing their form.“I thought it was vertigo, but it was just spinning. And I didn’t feel anything before. Not the day before. Not the week before. Not even 10 minutes before.”. . .He called his chief of staff, Carlos Sanchez, who told him to immediately call his doctor. . .The next call went next door, to Luján’s sister, Jackie Valdez, who was staying with their mother, Carmen. By the time Valdez arrived, Luján was crawling.. . “My sister helped carry me to her car, just, like on her shoulders." As they drove toward Santa Fe, Valdez spotted a local fire station in Pojoaque and pulled in.. . . One of the firefighters or EMTs said, “I don’t like the way he looks.”. . . Luján was on his way to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. . . After a quick scan at Christus St. Vincent, he was headed to UNM Hospital. . .Luján’s medical team said he’d suffered a tear in his vertebral artery. . .On Day 4, Jan. 31, Luján underwent decompressive surgery, prompting the need to remove a piece of his skull and leaving him with 26 staples in the back of his head. 

Lujan now says he feels more than 90 percent recovered and is back to work in the Senate.


In an increasingly tense race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez is trying to put State Auditor Brian Colón on defense, coming with video of the father of a murder victim whose picture is in one of Colón's TV ads. The Torrez campaign says: 

Patrick Weller and Lisa Praeger-Weller, parents of Jackson Weller, a UNM baseball player who was tragically murdered three years ago, call on Brian Colón to take down his misleading and disrespectful ad using Jackson’s death for attempted political gain. (Full video here.) “This week marks three years since we tragically lost Jackson at the hands of Darian Bashir in Albuquerque,” said Weller. “(Now) a media ad has surfaced by Brian Colón. In the video, they’re using Jackson’s likeness without our consent, and I would ask that the video be taken down.” 

I find it deplorable that Mr. Colón would exploit a family’s tragedy for attempted political gain,” said Torrez. “The Colón campaign owes the Weller family an apology and must take this video down immediately.

But Colón didn't cave: 

I understand that Mr. Weller is deeply hurt by what happened to his son. I’m angry that the D.A. has been dishonest with the community by hiding his colossal failures in this defendant’s prior case. These failures, and others like it, have made Albuquerque more dangerous for the five years Raúl Torrez has been the D.A. New Mexicans deserve the truth, which is that due to the DA’s incompetence, the defendant was released into the community. 

As for the use of a murder victim's photo, that photo is in the public domain and there is no law or regulation that would prevent its use in a political ad.  

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  


website design by limwebdesign