Thursday, June 09, 2022

Primary Election Night Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor  

On KANW Election Night
We couldn't squeeze all the action into the blog or on our Election Night radio coverage so here are some clippings that fell to our newsroom floor. . . 

Even the most ardent followers of politics may have been hoping for a reprieve after an intense primary campaign featuring nonstop TV ads. But these days that's not to be. No sooner had primary Election night ended when the Republican Governors Association announced it was going on the air with a negative hit on MLG that would run through early July and cost in the six figures. 

The RGA says:

The ad knocks Governor Lujan Grisham for "using your tax dollars like her personal piggybank" while families struggle is the opening salvo of what is expected to be be a tight race against the incumbent, scandal plagued Democratic governor.

The RGA is filling a cash void for GOP Guv nominee Mark Ronchetti who spent down his $2.5 million campaign kitty to $470,000 and faces a dilemma: If MLG were to stay on the air through June with her positive spots she just might get her approval rating up to the crucial 50 percent mark or more. The RGA will try to keep her in check while Ronchetti works to reload his cash kitty. 

One problem: The RGA is not a candidate so the rate it pays for TV ads will be higher than what the Ronchetti campaign would pay. Also, rules prohibit Ronchetti from appearing in the RGA ads. Political pros point out that means the ads are often not as effective as ads run by the candidate's campaign. 

Still, the RGA involvement is a lifeboat for the Ronchetti campaign as it seeks a new injection of funding. funding. (Ronchetti's full Election night speech is here.)


Voter turnout hit 25 percent of major party registered voters for Primary '22. With only a few competitive races that wasn't so bad. Most primaries draw around 30 percent. But in 2014 when the action was really low-key turnout crashed to only 20 percent. 


Now that Raul Torrez is headed for the attorney general's office, the question is who will replace him as BernCo district attorney if, as expected, he wins in November and takes office January 1? 

Well, given the unforgiving nature of that job and the ongoing crime wave, don't expect a long line to form outside the Guv's office seeking the appointment. No, we don't think State Auditor Brian Colón, whose term concludes at year's end and who Torres defeated Tuesday, will seek the post. 


NM House Speaker Brian Egolf proudly boasted on Election Night that all the House Dems seeking nomination won but he forgot one. Rep. Roger Montoya was defeated by former Rep. Joseph Sanchez in the north. But then Egolf did not support Montoya, the only member of his caucus on the ballot who did not get his blessing. 


John Block
In an upset Tuesday night twentysomething blogger John Block beat Rep. Rachel Black in an Alamogordo area state House primary, and will take the seat in November As there is no Democrat running.

Block, a pro-Trumper, America-first Republican who is gay, was ceaseless in his attacks on Black who he called a Santa Fe "swamp creature" and worse as he won the support of several former Trump administration officials. 

Expect Block, author of the conservative blog Pinon Post, to be New Mexico's version of outspoken US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene when he arrives at the Roundhouse seeking attention for his causes before the TV cameras. 

And House Minority Leader Jim Townsend already thought he had plenty of problems. 


So much for the beard theory that held that sporting one was usually a one way ticket to defeat in a statewide race. This year Raul Torrez broke the taboo and won the Dem nomination for attorney general while showing off his well-manicured beard to the TV audience. His nomination is tantamount to election in November for a Democrat. No R has won in decades.

Readers pointed out that Torrez joins former Dem Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. in the exclusive club of politicos who have now won statewide office while bearded. Will there be more hirsute contenders as a result of the Torrez breakthrough? Keep it right here for the latest.

Thanks for joining us on the blog and on the radio this week. It's been fun. 

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Torrez Cruises Past Colón To Take AG Prize; Ronchetti Crushes GOP Guv Field, Progressives and Incumbents Hold their Own in Key State House Races; Election Results And Analysis Up Next  

Torrez (ABQ Journal)
The most watched race of Primary '22 fizzled fast last night as BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez cruised past State Auditor Brian Colón, scoring a 53 to 47 win. That nearly guarantees Torrez the AG prize as no Republican has been elected to the post since the 80's. 

It also sends Colón and his BFF AG Hector Balderas into political exile and tightens the grip of Senator Martin Heinrich, their longtime rival, on the state's majority party. 

All primary election results here. 

The early returns gave hope the rough and tumble battle would be as tight as predicted when Colón was tied with Torrez but that was in northern NM precincts that he should have been winning easily. Soon the death blow was delivered when the early vote was posted in Big BernCo and Torrez derailed his rival with a decisive double digit victory.

The Torrez win was the second time voters recently looked past the ABQ crime crisis in an election contest, the first being Mayor Keller's re-election last year as he grappled with a record homicide rate. Attorney and state Rep. Moe Maestas told our KANW 89.1 FM audience:

There are a lot of moving parts to the crime crisis, not just elected officials. Democrats seem to accept that more than Republicans and it showed in Raul's win. 

Heinrich and Torrez were featured together so often that they reminded you of rat packers Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.  Heinrich gets a boost for a possible long off gubernatorial quest but the downside he would have suffered from a Torrez loss could have been crippling. Say what they will, but Heinrich's chief political assest is his willingness to take risk and last night it again paid off. 

The Torrez triumph along with the success of all Dem state House incumbents was a warning shot at Mark Ronchetti as he celebrated his dusting of the field to take the '22 GOP Guv nod with a 58 percent landslide over his nearest competitor, Rebecca Dow who came in second with 16 percent. 

Ronchetti and the R's want to turn the electorate against MLG by hanging the ABQ crime wave around her neck, but getting to that neck in the state's largest county will be tricky, given last night's results, said attorney David Buchholz.


The Ronchetti win was a fait accompli but the margin was more than healthy, giving him momentum into the general election. However, he scored a 56 percent win in the 2020 GOP US Senate primary only to go on to lose to Democrat Ben Ray Lujan. 

In his victory speech he repeated his well-honed arguments about MLG being a member of the "political elite" and how it's time for an outsider to handle the state's stubborn ills. 

For her part Dow, whose inner circle last week signaled that she would not endorse Ronchetti on Election Night had a change of heart in the face of the bruising defeat and, according to GOP analyst Bob Cornelius, was probably pushed along by party leaders.  

Still, Paul Guessing the conservative director of the Rio Grande Foundation pointed out that Ronchetti has more healing to do than an ER doctor on the graveyard shift in a GOP that remains badly splintered:

The primary was hard-fought and more divisive than it had to be. In light of the final results, the race got much nastier than it needed to when the goal is to fire MLG.

For her part MLG was all about playing it cool. In a statement she nicked Ronchetti:

We face a choice. . .between a leader who has committed their life to. . .New Mexico and someone who has admitted they don’t know the challenges New Mexicans face, between someone with a track record of building consensus and delivering results and someone who has never run a business or served our state.

For now only a mild rebuke for the TV weather celebrity but the intensity of the campaign is sure to escalate when Ronchetti reloads his cash kitty and runs a nearly exclusive negative campaign to try to persuade Democratic voters to sit out the November election and give him a narrow victory. 

The bottom line is this: When and if does MLG get to 50 percent in the polls and dampen any GOP enthusiasm that could threaten a second term? The longer it takes the longer the battle. 


When it came to those hyped state House Dem primaries featuring moderate challengers to progressive candidates including some incumbents, it turned out to be a "status quo" election, analyzed attorney Buchholz. 

House Speaker Brian Egolf noted that not one House Dem incumbent he supported was knocked off and Buchholz pointed out the biggest progressive loss of the evening was telegraphed long ago--that of former Rep. Joseph Sanchez who defeated sometimes progressive Rep. Roger Montoya in a a northern battle (who was not supported by Egolf's machine.)

There was also a victory for moderate Dem Cynthia Borrego against Darrell Aguero in an ABQ westside district but that was balanced by the huge defeat of moderate Cherise Quezada at the hands of progressive Eleanor Chavez in another westside district.  

Moderate challengers going down included big name Socorro Doctor Ravi Bhasker who fell to challenger Tara Jaramillo in House District 38 losing in Sierra, Dona Ana and even Socorro where he has been the elected mayor for over thirty years, 

The question in the air before the results arrived was whether State Rep. Patricia Lundstrom would make a play for House Speaker by challenging usually liberal Rep. Javier Martinez as Speaker Egolf heads for the exits. After the mauling of the moderates, the betting is that she won't. 


Joe Maestas
In other statewide offices, no surprises. Joe Maestas handily defeated Zack Quintero--57-43--for the Dem nomination. There is no R running so Maestas was effectively elected. 

Former Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya easily handled Heather Benavidez, scoring a 59 to 41 victory. Dems are expected to keep the office in their corner in November as no R has been elected to the post in decades. 

In BernCo moderate County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty was aced by liberal Eric Olives in her East Mountain district. If Olivas can hold off a GOP challenger in November--and it could be tough--he will take the seat. 

In the North Valley commission district Barbara Baca easily dispatched political newcomer Erin Muffoletto and is on her way to replacing her buddy and Commissioner Debbie O'Malley who is term limited. 

Progressive John Allen took the Dem nomiation for sheriff running on a police reform platform. The R nominee will be former GOP state Rep. Paul Pacheco. 

Thanks for joining us on the radio election night and on the blog through this primary campaign, and thanks to all of those who contributed to our KANW broadcast last night. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Primary Election Day '22 Arrives: Key Races To Watch; Our Election Night Coverage begins at 6:30 On KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM 

Join us tonight beginning at 6:30 for all the excitement and results of Primary Election '22 on KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM.

Will the state's majority party begin a journey to the center tonight as economic uncertainty takes center stage and suddenly makes all those "woke" issues look like possible nightmares for the Dems?

There will surely be talk this campaign season of gun control, abortion and MeToo that occupies the progressive wing. But the economy and inflation will be most on the minds of swing voters who will decide any close races that develop. 

We could get our first clues of  a more programatic Dem Party tonight by watching key House Democratic primaries. 

In District 40 in north central New Mexico, former state Rep. Joseph Sanchez may have a leg up on State Rep. Roger Montoya. Sanchez is the more moderate of the two and a win would signal a snapback to the middle of the road in that rural Hispanic area. 

The potential for a revealing contest is in Santa Fe area House District 46 where progressive Rep. Andrea Romero faces two opponents, the major one being moderate Dem and Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal. If Romero should fall or win in a squeaker that could be seen as another  back off from the progressives. 

In District 26 former Dem state Rep. Eleanor Chavez, another unapologetic progressive, meets decidedly moderate Dem Cherise Quezada. If the progressive candidate can't hold there it could be read as a swing back to the center. 

The Colon vs. Torrez race for the Dem nomination for AG has been a run to see who could get to the right on crime faster than the other guy. But Torrez remains the darling of the progressive wing. If he loses it will mean moderate Colon ate into mostly liberal Bernalillo County more than expected. 

In terms of policy a progressive state House would be more resistant to tax cuts and rebates while those issues, along with more emphasis on economic development, would rise in importance if moderate Dems add to their ranks. That's significant at a time when the state is awash in record surplus revenue but also with inflation ravaging middle and lower income New Mexicans.  

The pendulum will swing, it always does. But timing it can be like timing the stock market. We'll see in a few short hours on KANW what voters have to say. 

--In the GOP Guv race, the Alligators will look to see that Ronchetti eclipses the 40 percent mark he exceeded in the Journal poll. A finish below that mark and they start throwing shade. 

--In the state House Dem primaries, if moderate Dems beat more progressive opponents in at least 4 of the primaries, it will be a sign of encouragement for moderate Dem Rep. Patty Lundstrom to run against liberal Dem Rep. Javier Martinez for the House speakership.

--The election for State Auditor is effectively tonight. There is no Republican running and the Libertarians have fielded a write-in candidate. The race is between Dems Joe Maestas and Zach Quintero. 


We'll convene our traditional Election Night coverage tonight at 6:30 on KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM and look forward to having you with us for wall to wall coverage.

Our panel of experts are rarin' to go. Dem state Rep. Moe Maestas and former GOP state Rep. Alonzo Baldonado will be on hand and joined by ABQ westside Dem Rep. Joy Garratt

Attorney and political junkie David Buchholtz is back as is veteran GOP analyst Bob Cornelius. 

And look at this. . . KANW 89.1 FM is now the second most listened to radio station in the ABQ metro, according to the latest Nielsen ratings conducted in April. That's one heck of an accomplishment for a noncommercial station. 

The combination of traditional New Mexico music, a heavy news diet from NPR, a slice of local news and years of community involvement has vaulted the station to the top. But without leadership it could not have happened. Former City Councilor Michael Brasher has been General Manager for something like 45 years. (You read that right.) Brasher is complemented by an ace team, including program manager Kevin Otero. 

The station went on the air in 1950 and is heard across NM via translator stations. It is owned by the ABQ Public Schools and has had the steadfast support of Superintendent Scott Elder and the ABQ Board of Education, including President Yolanda Montoya-Cordova. 

Congratulations to all. We're proud to be a part of this great legacy for the people of New Mexico. 

See you on the radio tonight.

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, June 06, 2022

Election Eve Potpourri: Low Primary Turnout In Store; Big BernCo To Decide Colón vs. Torrez; Who Has The Mo? Plus: Scranton Joe To City Different, MLG & Ronchetti Cash Counts, CYA At CYFD, And: Dem AG Candidates Cursed? 

Welcome back. Here are your Election Eve headlines.

Longtime NM pollster Brian Sanderoff says we're going low--maybe real low--when it comes to voter turnout for tomorrow's primary election. He reports that the recent average turnout for a primary has been 35 percent of the state's registered major party voters but the political seer warns: "We may not even achieve that."

The lower the turnout the better for State Auditor Brian Colón in his battle for the Democratic nomination for attorney general with Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez. That's the only major race still holding any suspense for the political pros. Colón's candidacy appeals to older and conservative Dems who are more likely to cast ballots in a low-key primary having little competition for congressional and other major offices. Torrez's appeal is deeper with progressives and younger voters. Colón's Achilles Heel is Bernalillo County where Torrez is expected to chalk up a win and appeared to have the momentum going into Election Day. If that win goes higher than about six percent, it could be lights out early for Colón's Election Night party. 

Our 34 year long tradition of providing wall to wall Election Night results continues tomorrow starting at 6:30 p.m. on public radio KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.comABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas and former Valencia County GOP state Rep. Alonzo Baldonado will lead our team of expert analysts. No wonder. It's a Baker's Dozen of Democratic House primaries that has the Alligators running in circles. Those races will provide major clues as to whether liberal ABQ Rep. Javier Martinez and moderate Dem Rep. Patrica Lundstorm of Gallup will compete for the House speakership being vacated by Brian Egolf. Lundstrom is hoping for more moderate Dems to win and Martinez the opposite. For that and much more join us on KANW Election Night. We guarantee voters will deliver at least one big surprise and probably more. 


President Biden will bring his entourage and low polling numbers to Santa Fe Saturday where he will assess the damage from the historic wildfires that have engulfed over 300,000 acres in northern New Mexico. The blazes are the fault of the US Forest Service for letting a "prescribed burn" get out of hand. The state watches to see if the President will take that agency to the woodshed for causing the disaster. At the least Biden can be expected to announce--at the behest of MLG--robust federal aid to the residents whose lives were upended by the flames. The big story would be if he didn't. 


In the anti-climatic race for the GOP Guv nomination, Mark Ronchetti tomorrow night is expected to score an easy win, but the waters get rougher--much rougher--after that. The latest money reports show the former TV weather celebrity had about $470,000 in cash on hand while MLG--unopposed for the Dem nomination--has $3.1 million--and that's after she spent a bunch on those ubiquitous 15 second ads for the primary election. 

Ronchetti foe Rebecca Dow may lose but she did force her rival to spend down his campaign kitty. Or you could argue Ronchetti erred by spending too much after the Journal poll showed him 28 points ahead so he could bury Dow instead of just soundly beating her.  


Will CYA at CYFD become a campaign issue in the Guv contest? The agency has been flailing for years and MLG has been unable to rein it in as scandalous child abuse cases continue. The latest sensational report has the troubled agency actually covering up a case of child abuse that could have been stopped by the agency but ended with the brutal death of a four year old boy. The Guv's first pick to lead the department was forced out under an ethical cloud. A retired state supreme court justice is now CYFD secretary but has no significant experience in the CYFD field. MLG does. But it isn't showing.


Take your pick. Will Michelle Garcia Holmes or Louie Sanchez (not the ABQ city councilor Sanchez) win the GOP nomination for the right to challenge Dem US Rep. Melanie Stansbury? Even the pros are stumped by this below-the radar contest. There's been no media to speak of from either. That, of course, sits fine with Stansbury who is just getting used to her new district that now includes a swath of rural territory, not just the ABQ area, but it remains dominant Democratic. She was first elected at a June '21 special election so '22 will be her first full election test. 


Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is taking some heat for setting up a Rumor vs. Reality website aimed at debunking election misinformation. But why? Former President Trump has indicted the election process over and over again and destroyed the confidence of so many voters. MTO should be faulted for not having the SOS website compatible with Safari web browsers, not her website on voter misinformation. 


Both Torrez and Colón have political curses on them, according to the keepers of legend of La Politica. (List of the keepers provided only to Alligators in excellent standing.) 

First, there is Raul's beard. When, oh when, has a first-time, bearded candidate been elected to statewide office? You probably can't think of any either. Then there is Brian with his last name which is not New Mexican but Puerto Rican. Will some generations-old families opt for the more familiar Torrez?

It comes down to this. The Dem primary is tantamount to the General Election since no Republican has been elected AG since 1986. So Raul, instead of going for an Election Day haircut, a ritual for many candidates, just shave the beard Tuesday morning and you may shed the curse. Then if you win you can regrow the beard for November. And Brian, just for this Election Day change your name to Brian Balderas. Folks will understand that you do what you have to do to get a political curse off your head. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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

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