Friday, August 29, 2014

Heinrich Plunges Into State Politics With Endorsement Of Early Childhood Amendment; "It's Raining," He Declares; Power Play Raises Questions About Future Moves 

Sen. Heinrich
For a member of the state's congressional delegation, Senator Martin Heinrich is taking a rare foray into state politics. He's publicly endorsing the years-long drive to use a portion of the state's giant Land Grant Permanent Fund (over $14 billion) to fund very early childhood programs. And Heinrich's announcement had edge--he made it before the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, the epicenter of opposition to the proposal:

I don’t think there’s any denying that expanding access to high-quality early childhood education would generate a significant return on investment for our state, and I think the time is now to take that investment seriously and look at how we can give a leg up to New Mexico’s next generation. . . I know that this proposal does not come without controversy. I recognize that many people view this fund, rightly so, as our rainy day fund. But I have news: It is raining. And it is time to think out of the box about how we lay the groundwork for our state for decades to come.

(Complete speech to the Chamber is here.)

The state's drift even further downward in the national rankings has given the Permanent Fund proposal--which would have to be approved by voters--more momentum. But the Governor who is presiding over the decline was quick to get her back up over Heinrich's aggressive move. Her office said:

It’s no surprise that a Washington politician, with the country nearly $18 trillion in debt, has no problem raiding our children’s savings account.

Clearly there is no love lost between Martinez and Heinrich, but is the slash, burn and attack message from the Governor really necessary?  If she had to say anything at this time, how about a genuine rebuttal based on the facts? Incessant campaign-style negativity is the hallmark of the Fourth Floor and it could be wearing thin.

According to one Dem who tracks such things, that recent TV ad from the Governor making fun of Dem Guv nominee Gary King by putting a crown on his head and saying, "It's good to be King" did not play well with the public and the ad was pulled. We can't verify that, but the fact that Martinez and the Republican Governors Association spent $1 million in negative TV ads to finish off King but couldn't tells us that New Mexicans may be ready for a more serious dialogue.

In that light, Heinrich's timing on supporting the early childhood amendment may have been right on the money.

And if she's re-elected, Martinez may find a public much less patient with her permanent campaign and looking for points on the board.


With the departure of political powerhouses like GOP Senator Pete Domenici, Dem Guv Big Bill and ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, observers have been looking at Heinrich to see if he is cut from similar cloth. His move on the early childhood amendment positions him at the head of the class in addressing the social conditions debacle. It is a center-left move in a state where the Democratic Party has been veering center-right--and losing. (Sen. Udall and ABQ Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham have not taken a position on the amendment).

Unlike much of his in-state party brethren Heinrich has not backed down in the face of the Martinez political machine. As we reported back in July, he came with this critique in a fund-raising letter on behalf of Gary King:

. . . A common question I get asked is: “Are you happy with the job Governor Martinez is doing?” And I’m going to be honest – I am not happy at all. In fact, I’ve come to conclude that the Martinez Administration is anti-economic growth. Time and again, she’s turned her back on opportunities to capitalize on our state’s private sector potential. . .

Heinrich is a freshman Senator only two years into his term and not up for re-election until 2018. Still, the future arrives fast. His push into the chief social issues will make a primary challenge from a Hispanic Democrat less likely and it also puts Martinez and her machine on notice that he will take them on--if she and they are still around then.

Ultimately, it is about leadership. Domenici, Richardson, Chavez and before them Senators Dennis Chavez and Clinton Anderson cast decades-long shadows across the state and city. Some of them could be said to have had "machines" of their own. Heinrich is currently the only active Democratic state politician showing any potential to do the same. His successful dive into the Sun Zia transmission line controversy and now his declaration for the early childhood amendment separates him from his risk-averse contemporaries.

It's too early to tell where Heinrich is going. At 42, maybe he isn't quite sure himself. His interest in the powerhouse model may or may not excite him. His occasional flexing of muscle occurs as the state drifts along in an era of minimalist leadership making the moves stand out. That will raise hope in some quarters and fear in others. This is a slow playing poker game that is best described by that old cliche, "Time will tell."


Jim McClure is a conservative reader who does not support the early childhood amendment. He comes with this:

Part of the problem is a poverty of ideas. Gov. Martinez’s efforts have chipped at the edges of the problem by emulating some of the factors of successful states. She’s made the tax and regulatory structure a little more business-friendly, although the legislature blocked worker’s comp reform, and is making a bumbling start on education reform. But there’s not much proactive work going on and the state economic development department is largely AWOL. It’s been a halfway effort: We’re still uncompetitive with other states and have failed to aggressively promote what we have.

But I’m not hearing any ideas from the Democrats, either. Gary King’s platform consists largely of rolling back education reform and sticking it to large companies: hardly a formula for attracting private employers. I could support a plan to loosen the purse strings for some infrastructure projects, but all King proposes is to plow more tax dollars into unaccountable school systems. His only plan to create new jobs is to launch an early education program--which will employ a bunch of adults whether or not it helps the kids.

I am not seeing any proposals from either party to capitalize on tourism, leverage the recreation potential of our new national monuments, partner with employers on workforce development programs or put the state on the list of best places to retire. What we most need is to attract new residents to New Mexico, either as employees or retirees. And some new politicians.


With  holiday weekend here, reader Eric Lucero is at the movies. ABQ show times here:

Calvary ( R ) ****1/2 “Agatha Christie channels Edgar Allen Poe…a lot is going on here…picturesque…Brendan Gleeson’s performance is his best.”

Guardians of the Galaxy (PG-13) **** “…This century’s "Star Wars.”

When the Game Stands Tall (PG-13) **** “…Inspirational, exceptional, and a moral commentary…”

Boyhood ( R ) **** "Unique technique…using same actor from adolescent to cusp of manhood…gritty, realistic portray of life.”

The Hundred Foot Journey (PG-13) ***1/2, “Helen Mirren delivers…supported by a wonderful international cast.”

Saints & Soldiers: The Void (PG-13)(2012) *** “Tries to portray racial conflict amid tank battles vying for control of Berlin at close of WWII…a potent warm up for Pitt’s epic Fury (2014).”

Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13) *** “As always, Woody Allen's comedic wit is an acquired taste…Colin Firth’s fine performance augments, but can’t carry…”

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) ***“…With the advent of Ebola, this re-booted franchise is topical, but far too preachy.”

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the holiday. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday Political Potpourri: NM And The Lists, The Jobs Beat, Down Ballot Races Get Attention And More 

Blogging New Mexico
Welcome back. Here's some political potpourri direct from the Starbucks that happens to be without air conditioning. For those who think we can get too long-winded, that won't happen today.

Who says New Mexico can't soar to the top? Well, practice makes perfect:

U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque is recognized as the most efficient bankruptcy court in the country during 2013 in a recent analysis of information in consumer filings from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

And we have more chart-topping NM news for you. This study says we're #2 when it comes to fatal police shootings:

Arizona leads with 5.2 deaths per million, followed by New Mexico (4.1 deaths per 1 million), Florida (3.9 deaths) and Texas (3.9 deaths). Note the broad swath of dark red running across the Southwest. The West Coast follows closely behind, with Utah (3.5 deaths), California (2.9 deaths) and Oregon (2.8 deaths).

You don't have to wait long around here, do you? The latest:

Authorities say Bloomfield police have fatally shot a man following a report of a domestic dispute. . . The man was shot Wednesday and died after he was transported to the San Juan Regional Medical Center.

Crime is one reason the state has been undergoing an outmigration of people in recent years, but the lousy economy is far and away the prime reason many folks are heading for the U-Haul lot.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico had an outmigration of 9,750 people between April 1, 2010 and July 1, 2013. It means that more people left the state than came here. New Mexico was the only southwestern state that suffered an outmigration. Albuquerque Business First talked with more than a dozen former New Mexicans to find out why they left. The main reasons were economics and more opportunity elsewhere, followed by high crime and bad schools.


Susana did announce there will be 250 manufacturing jobs coming to Los Lunas but when you read the fine print it goes like this:

About 100 permanent jobs will be created within the first year, and about 150 temporary construction jobs to build the plant, said Ralph Mims, the village’s economic development manager.

So that 250 that played so well on TV is really "about 100."

The state has bled tens of thousands of jobs during this Great Recession which the Bookings Institution says is now a double-dip recession in the ABQ metro. Funny, we haven't read anything in the local paper about that Brookings finding. Maybe the new business editor over there might want to read the Business First article or, of course, yer little 'ol blog. And then they could go ask Mayor Berry what he thinks about the recession here. And then we woke up from the dream. . .

And Gary King what are you waiting for? How much ammo do you need before you start firing? Okay, you need cash. Still, it must be hard to pass up this kind of news happening on Martinez's watch:

The Albuquerque metropolitan area’s unemployment rate ticked up to 7.7 percent in July, as the area lost 1,500 jobs from June, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. The month-over-month jobless rate rose in Farmington, decreased slightly in Santa Fe and was unchanged in Las Cruces, according to the BLS’s figures. . .

My Lord, if the Dems don't get moving soon, Ron Bell is going to sue them for political malpractice. . .

Here's just what we need. Not.

The city of Albuquerque is tapping Dr. Paul Guerin with UNM’s Institute for Social Research to run a comprehensive $50,000 study looking into lapel camera use at APD. “An audit to look at how on-body video should be used by patrol police officers and other police services, whether it should record everything or select items,” said Albuquerque chief administrative officer Rob Perry. The study will also look at whether APD can better enforce its lapel camera policy.

Okay, Rob, you are ripe for an Alligator strike on this one. To the Pond:

I thought the city already had a policy. When the lapel cameras make APD look good, turn them on and get the video out immediately. When the video makes APD look bad, turn the damned things off or find some way to get rid of the tape.


The lower ballot races like secretary of state are starting to come into sight as the contenders pick up their campaign activity. Today in Santa Fe those interested will get a chance to get a close-up look at candidates in at least three of the major down ballot races--secretary of state, land commissioner and state auditor. The NM Business Coalition is sponsoring a "job interview" session for the hopefuls. The event starts at 5 p.m. at the Santa Fe Women's club. More info here. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie T. Oliver faces GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran; Land Commissioner Ray Powell faces GOP rancher Aubrey Dunn and ABQ State Senator Tim Keller faces ABQ attorney Robert Aragon for state auditor.

As for the other down ballot races not featured at today's forum, former ABQ State Sen. Tim Eichenberg faces Republican Rick Lopez for state treasurer and Dem Hector Balderas is facing off with Susan Riedel for attorney general.

Currently, the only down ballot office occupied by the R's is secretary of state. That contest is getting some national attention with the liberal site Daily Kos putting it on its list of key SOS races to watch.

R's hope a low turnout and a conservative leaning electorate will hold them in good stead. But Dems say they have fielded strong candidates and believe they are set up for a down ballot sweep.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stuck In Austerity? Not Much Change In Santa Fe's Thinking Even As State Drifts; Our Commentary, Plus: Talk Radio Ratings Crash (Part III) 

Will the right wing think tanks learn anything from this period of state history? The Martinez administration reports the state is projected to end the budget year next June with a cash surplus of nearly $700 million or 11.3 percent of the state's over $6 billion budget. In addition, the state work force has been reduced and the Republican administration has done away with numerous environmental and other regulations.

That, in essence, was the program the public was told would give New Mexico robust private sector growth. Clearly, it has failed. We rank even worse in most economic and social conditions standings than we did four years ago, And you can't blame it all on cuts in Federal spending. Economic activity--apart from the oil fields generating that state surplus--is lackluster or nonexistent. So what do the austerity hawks say now? More austerity?

The right-wing think tanks--desperate to hold their ground--are now floating that old canard that a "right to work" law will bring a free market explosion of jobs. Remember, a couple of years ago when the mantra was cutting corporate taxes and economic paradise would result? Well, we did but we don't see any Fortune 500 companies jumping the gun to get here. Expect the same with a right to work law on the books: nothing. In a state with few union employees outside of government, it is an irrelevancy. We challenge the far right to name one significant company that has decided not to locate to New Mexico because it does not have a right to work law. Just one, please.

You can't blame Democratic control of the legislature for the state's economic failings. The opposition party shares in those failings. Martinez's economic package featuring corporate tax cuts was embraced by the Democratic-controlled legislature.

Santa Fe's four year austerity program has run its course. The intellectual exhaustion is palpable. The policy rigidity that marks the modern Republican Party, the Martinez administration and the Martinez Senate Democrats has left them nowhere to turn. There they sit, stuck in a rut hoping for something--anything--to magically come along and finally prove them right.

The problem is not just economics, it's trust, The austerity hawks--not without some cause--have argued that Santa Fe is so incompetent it is incapable of spending money effectively so it's best to hoard it or we could face an even worse fate. Unfortunately, some of this is tinged with racial politics--that Hispanic politicians in particular are prone to throwing money around and padding the payrolls.

The state is truly at a crossroads. We don't see much fight out there yet to tackle the immense issues that have shadowed NM for so long. And because of the long-standing economic drift those issues are now crushing an even larger percentage of the population.

Maybe what we see is what we get for the next couple of decades--stagnation featuring low-wage jobs punctuated by periodic wails for even more tax cuts, a right to work law and other red herrings that distract us from looking at the elephant in the room. For the "haves" that are so well represented by the  right wing think tanks and their corporate media allies, that's fine. Not so much for everyone else.


Speaking of Martinez Democrats, ABQ School Board member Marty Esquivel is a charter member. And he keeps his bona fides intact with the Fourth and Fifth Floors by resigning from the board of the open government group FOG. Why? For putting some heat on Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera over the recent resignation of Winston Brooks, ABQ Public Schools superintendent. Skandera must approve a $350,000 APS board approved buyout for Brooks, but FOG says she shouldn't do it until the APS board releases the results of the probe that led to Brooks' resignation.

An irony here is that Esquivel is the attorney for KRQE-TV and often argues open government cases on behalf of the station.

ABQ GOP City Councilor Brad Winter was recently named interim APS superintendent so with Marty on the board and Brad heading up the super's office, APS is definitely Fourth Floor friendly. We will be well-advised to analyze major APS decisions to come in that context.


Is last night's primary election defeat of Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly signaling an anti-incumbent mood? Well, maybe partially. The man who came in first in the 17 candidate field was a semi-incumbent--former Navajo President Joe Shirley. He advances to the November general election along with second place finisher Chris Deschene. It was a resounding defeat for Shelly. He appears to have finished 7th in a 17 candidate field. Results here.


First there was the news that 50,000 watt conservative radio talker KKOB-AM had crashed in the ratings, garnering a mere 4.9 percent of the ABQ area listening audience in the latest ratings--a modern day low. Then there was the explanation from reader Paul Donisthorpe who said many are getting their talk radio fix from satellite radio and on the Internet. Now reader Bill Peifer weighs in with Part III:

While it’s true that many devotees of right-wing talk radio can now get their talking points on satellite radio and streaming live, the same thing is true for lefties who want to listen to Thom Hartmann or Ed Schultz and it can also be said for music lovers of all genres. The reality is that all traditional media outlets are taking hits in this digital age, so Donisthorpe’s view doesn’t even begin to explain why KKOB’s ratings are dropping. I propose a different explanation:

KKOB has moved further and further to the right over the years. Producer Richard Eeds was an avowed liberal, but he's long gone. Moderate Jim Villanucci is also gone, both of them replaced with local right-wingers that are much further to the right. Their syndicated programming was always pretty far to the right, with Limbaugh, Hannity and Michael Reagan, but what was once the typical right-wing diatribe has been replaced with blatant hate speech, with Limbaugh declaring that liberals “need to be destroyed,” Michael Savage calling for them to be “taken out and shot” or “hung by their necks” and Mark Levin screaming similar sentiments. Most New Mexicans are too tolerant of each other’s points of view to be attracted to that type of extreme rhetoric, and as long as KKOB-AM wants to keep airing it they’ll keep losing listeners.

Radio personalities are fast becoming a thing of the past as management turns the microphones over to the back-benchers in order to save money, but a few mainstays are still around. Among them is Jack Nixon in Las Cruces who is in the midst of a very long run:

Jack Nixon will begin his 35th year of calling the play-by-play action of NMSU football and basketball. In January, Nixon was enshrined into the U.S. Bank New Mexico State University Athletics Hall of Fame. 

It's not to true Jack takes anti-depressants when calling all those losing NMSU Aggie football games, but he does binge on sugar. . .


We mixed up the debate times on the blog this week. The KLUZ-TV Guv debate is October 6 and the KOAT-TV debate is October 19. No other TV debates have been announced.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Debating That Spanish Debate; Readers Have The Angles, Plus: A Busy Fund-Raising Circuit And An Oil Gusher For Santa Fe 

Readers come with a number of different angles on that unusual Spanish language TV debate that Gov. Martinez and Gary King will take part in October 6 on ABQ's KLUZ-TV. Martinez says she will debate in Spanish while King says he will use an interpreter.

While the pundits said it could be awkward for King using an interpreter and give Martinez the advantage, this reader says it is Susana who needs the debate more than Gary:

After reading your blog about the debate I reviewed the ABQ Journal's poll to confirm what jumped out: King leads Martinez by 20 points with Hispanic voters. He leads Martinez by 29 points in the north-central region. The reason Gov. Martinez agreed to this debate, while dissing others, is that she knows she is losing the Hispanic vote and she can't win without it. The Hispanic vote, especially Northern Hispanic vote, is what got her elected during her first campaign. The current numbers cited above make it clear that that mistake will not be made again.

We would add that it is not unusual for Martinez to be losing the Hispanic vote. She received around 40 percent of it in her 2010 election which is a strong showing for a Republican. That recent Journal poll showed her getting 36% of the Hispanic vote in the early going. A strong Dem candidacy could be expected to hold her to the low 30's. So far, that's not happening. . .

Her decision to debate on KLUZ is low-risk. It will not be heavily watched but sends the right signal to the Hispanic community. But her decision is not completely without risk, says this reader:

It won't be as easy for her as people many think. Martinez's Spanish will pass for a greeting but she does not have educated Spanish and technical jargon and that could trip her up. There is a chance that King will come across more prepared to lead.

Well, it would be a sight to see if Susana had to depend on the interpreter after pledging to conduct the debate in Spanish. . .

Reader Preciliano Martin writes from Raton:

I have no idea why Gary King would go on "Spanish language TV" to debate Martinez. It is a mystery to me. Is he trying to reach the new immigrants who vote in NM, certainly he is not reaching for the old Hispanic families. He was iffy for me after his going after former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron and his problems with State Auditor Hector Balderas. I wish I could support Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Deb Haaland, but I will forgo voting for governor in November. Can't vote for Martinez and won't vote for King.


The fund-raising circuit is bustling now that we are that much closer to the heat of the campaigns. Southern Public Regulation Commission (PRC) contender Sandy Jones will hold a bash at ABQ's Chama River Brewing Company Wednesday at 5 p.m. He aims to oust GOP incumbent commissioner Ben Hall. Jones, a former PRC member, is asking $500 a pop but "any amount is appreciated."

The "Our NM PAC" is hosting a reception at the Backstreet Grill in ABQ's Old Town today at 5:30 p.m. to promote the state House candidacy of attorney Matt McQueen. He's the Dem seeking to oust GOP Rep. Vickie Perea who was appointed to the East Mountain/Santa Fe County seat to fill the vacancy created when Rep. Stephen Easley passed away. McQueen is heavily favored to recapture this Dem leaning seat. Hosts for the event are Dem State Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Reps. Mimi Stewart and Rick Miera. All of them are from ABQ. . .

The race for Bernalillo County sheriff should get hot as there is no incumbent running. Sheriff Houston was defeated in the June primary by fellow Republican Scott Baird. Manny Gonzales who served briefly as an appointed sheriff is the Dem nominee for the post. Baird is having a $250 a pop fund-raiser Wednesday night at Tanoan Country Club hosted in part by GOP City Councilors Don Harris and Tim Lewis. Gonzales and Baird are both experienced lawmen and both sides agree each could end up spending over six figures. . .

National labor is hosting a Sept. 9 DC fund-raiser for Gary King, hoping to raise some big bucks for his cash-starved candidacy. Former Governor Big Bill is among those pushing the event. Will any big spending groups form independent PAC's to advocate for King? We'll keep watching. . .


Everyone talks about the state's dependence on federal government spending, but what about its dependence on oil and gas revenues? It's getting to be over the top. The Martinez administration predicts the state will have some $285 million in new money for the fiscal year that starts next July 1 not because of an improving overall state economy but because of the long bull market in oil prices in SE NM.

There's never been an oil boom in state history that didn't end in a bust so when will the next one come and what will it mean to state finances? Well, enjoy the party while it lasts. .


Reader Gerald Schneider writes from ABQ's Old Town:

I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, NV. I was playing blackjack and the dealer was making conversation with the table. Someone asked where he was from. He mentioned a couple of places, then said, "Spent 5 years in Albuquerque." I said that I was from Albuquerque. His response was, "Are the cops still crazy there?" I sat there embarrassed. The other players were kind enough not to ask any questions. Couldn't help but think how that comment affected perceptions of Albuquerque. Certainly didn't do us any good!

Thanks, Gerald. There may be a few "crazy" cops at APD but numerous observers point to the culture of the leadership there that has brought chaos to the department and national embarrassment to our city.


We erred in a first draft in blogging the poll numbers Monday in the US Senate race from the recent ABQ Journal poll. The correct numbers are Sen. Udall with 53% and Republican Allen Weh with 35 percent.. . Some trail dust got kicked up when Weh on Monday came with his first negative TV ad on Udall. The 60 second sport faults Udall and Obama for the nation's foreign policy but in doing so uses a couple of frames of the masked killer of journalist James Foley. Udall called use of the photo "appalling" but Weh supporters hopes it cements his GOP base, peels off conservative indys and maybe raises some cash.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, August 25, 2014

King Slips On Debate Play But Finds Footing With Message, And: "NavajoGator" Reports On Navajo Prez Primary, Plus: Winter Takes APS Helm 

Say what? Gary King is going to debate Gov. Martinez on a Spanish-language TV station and use an interpreter while she addresses the audience in Spanish? Well, this is the kind of forced error that happens when you are 9 points behind and struggling to fund a campaign. Even the few Republicans who will watch this Oct. 19 face-off on ABQ's KLUZ-TV may find themselves having sympathy for King as he subjects himself to the awkwardness. Sometimes its best to just say no. . .

Meanwhile the Dem Guv nominee does seem to be getting his message tightened up and if he can package it right, it could resonate. In Farmington he said:

If we have a good education system in New Mexico, it'll drive a better economy, it'll give young people more job opportunities when they graduate. . . 

And in the ABQ Journal profile of his candidacy Sunday, he said:

We have no job growth, essentially, so that’s no way to deal with poverty.

But King has to directly indict Martinez for the lack of progress without letting the negative campaign splash back at him. It's really not that difficult. The trap for the Dems and their pollsters is falling for the belief that they are really close and that a careful, conservative campaign will get the job done. It won't.

The odds are long and risks--especially in attacking Martinez--will need to be taken if there is to be an upset. In his newspaper profile King refused to acknowledge he is the underdog, opting for the more optimistic "challenger" label.  But the underdog is the person expected to lose. That's King. And that's what he needs to embrace in order to be able to take chances to get the race in play.


Gary King
There are the two drivers for King--education and the economy. And for him the economy is the gift that keeps on giving. Look at these stats:

Since October, 155,000 New Mexico residents have joined the state’s Medicaid rolls, pushing total enrollment to more than 630,000, or nearly a third of the state’s population. On top of that, 410,000 New Mexicans are enrolled in Medicare, the federal health care program for the elderly. Together, total enrollment in those two federal programs are more than 1 million, or half of the state’s 2.1 million population. Medicaid is the joint state-federal program for children from low-income families and low-income adults. . .Medicaid rolls will swell to 720,000, or a third of the state’s population, in the next couple of years. That would put 1.1 million New Mexicans on the two government programs.

For King this is the low-lying fruit of the campaign. UNM economics professor Allen Parkman nails the talking point:

It’s shocking, and when you add that to the out migration of people and the lack of economic growth, it’s almost an incentive to stay poor.

Call it what you like--low-lying fruit or shooting fish in the barrel--the economic backdrop is made to order for a Dem candidate. Journalist Wally Gordon writes of the ABQ metro jobs recession:

. . .The lost jobs were mainly held by men supporting wives and children with skilled labor or high tech work. The new jobs are largely filled by single women struggling to support children on work that pays little more than minimum wage. It is more than symbolically significant that Walmart is the state’s largest private employer. Add it all up and the sum is that the city’s economy is even worse than it looks at first glance. 

King has all the opportunity in the world. What he apparently doesn't have yet is enough campaign cash to get an effective message out. In that regard Campaign '14 is the same old story: Is King able to make the race competitive with the well-financed Martinez?  Until he does, he's more likely to make questionable decisions like debating the Spanish-speaking Governor while he uses an interpreter. . .


Becky Weh does the heavy lifting in Allen Weh's first TV spot of the '14 US Senate campaign. She details the impressive military record of the former NM GOP chairman in a well-produced ad. The spot works to cement his GOP base while softening up female voters. But it may be one of the few positive ads we see from Weh. He trails Dem US Senator Tom Udall 53-35 in the latest polling and will have to fall back on his combat experience if he is to gain on him.


Covering the entire spectrum of La Politica, NM Politics with Joe Monahan now takes you direct to the Navajo Nation for the inside scoop on the 2014 primary election for the presidency of the Navajo Nation. Our corresponent is "NavajoGator:"

Joe: The Navajo Nation is set for its primary election tomorrow. Radio ads have been overplayed and campaign signs erected all over the dusty trails of Navajoland. Current President Ben Shelly of Thoreau, NM, is struggling to make a difference in a pack of 17 running for the executive seat in Window Rock. Also, former president, Joe Shirley Jr. is appealing for a third four-year term. 

Candidate forums around the Nation, the size of the state of New Jersey, have been playing to packed gyms and auditoriums, which could be an indication that the Dine electorate is shopping for a new leader. Dwindling revenue from federal and state resources, poor job growth and an ever-growing unemployed Nation population have each candidate trying to give us Navajos hope for a better tomorrow. 

From a grassroots standpoint, this year may be a lackluster year for politics after so much in-fighting between the Navajo Council and executive. This may translate poorly for the Democrats in the November general election. They sometimes benefit from election day spill over, when the Navajo presidential election excites a sometimes 80 percent turnout for Dine voters. 

There are a handful of presidential candidates who are under the age of 50, who are trying to motivate a younger electorate, but as always its harder to get them out to vote There could be some surprises in store tomorrow night night. Already this week, the Pueblo of Zuni, turned away its current leadership, as Gov. Arlen Quetawki came in dead last to six others, seeking a four-year term.

Here is the primary field for the Navajo Nation presidency.

Keeping you abreast, I am NavajoGator.

Nicely done, NavajoGator. We look forward to hearing more tomorrow night when the Navajo election returns come rolling in.


There's no law that says ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter has to give up his council seat now that he has been named interim superintendent of the ABQ Public Schools at an annual salary of $200,000. And the Republican lawmaker says he has no intention of vacating the Northeast Heights seat that will be on the Oct. 2015 city election ballot and that pays him $17,500 a year.

Serving two masters scan be tricky but then Winter, who is returning from APS retirement, is serving on one of the more lackluster and laid-back city councils in history. He's had a full-time APS job for all of the years of his council service.

Winter's appointment puts a close ally of the Martinez administration in the APS power seat, unlike the resigning Winston Brooks who was an arch-rival of the Guv. Winter's wife, attorney Nann Winter, also has close ties to the political arm of the administration. She was appointed by Martinez to the NM Finance Authority where she served as chair. Brad Winter says he will not seek to become the permanent super.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Clippings From Our Newsrooom Floor 

A reader reports in on former NM State Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon:

Manny Aragon has finally asked his girl friend, Barbara C de Baca to marry him.

Well, did she say  "yes?"

Other readers who have met with Aragon--who was released from Federal prison last December after serving five years on corruption charges--say he is dictating notes for a forthcoming book on his life and times.

That ought to be interesting. A number of you reading this will probably figure prominently in Manny's recollection of his years in politics. Stay tuned. . .


Not Richard Nixon. Gov. Nixon of Missouri. Reader Ken Rooney writes from DC:

I'm not one to be a defender of Martinez, but the attempt to compare Nixon's involvement in the fatal police shooting in

Ferguson with Martinez and the APD is a bridge too far. You commented that, "Martinez is somewhat of a national figure, so why shouldn't she be taking some heat like Nixon for the APD crisis being investigated by the Dept. of Justice?" Well, for one, Martinez isn't in charge of APD; that's a municipal entity. Gov. Nixon has drawn criticism in recent days because he called in state troopers and the state national guard to take control of security. I haven't seen any calls for Martinez to likewise activate the NM guard or have DPS supplant those at the top of APD. And let's be honest, that would require her to do something, like take responsibility. Love the blog.

Good point, Ken. Let's expand the conversation. Never has ABQ received such negative national publicity as it has over the violent crime here and the crisis in APD. The metro is the driver of the state economy. In that context should our statewide leadership be taking more of an active interest in how things are being handled here? Just askin'. . .

Okay, maybe right now it is actually the epic boom in the SE NM oilfields that is the state's chief economic driver. Get a load of this:

Next year, the Land Office expect another record-setting year, with conservative projections calling for $800 million (in oil and gas royalties)and up.

"Oil and gas production has been up 20 percent in the last two years, and we really don't have any signs of slowing in the next five," said State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, who is charged with administering public lands, including oil and gas leases. "So far it's been primarily focused in the Permian Basin (in the southeastern part of the state), but it's looking good for the Four Corners as well with the resources up there and the new technologies."

$800 million a year and we can't find an effective way to spend some of that money to get us out of the cellar in all these national social conditions rankings?


Joe Monahan
We opened the can of worms this week on whether "Burque" is a common nickname. Reading the mail has been fun. Here's some more:

Joe, It has to be pronounced correctly--"boood-keh"   not "berkey."

This reader says it's neither Burque or Albuquerque:

Ask anybody born raised in ABQ, or born in NM and grew up in ABQ, especially males from Manzano, Sandia, and Highland high schools, during late 50'searly 60's, and they'll tell you it's "Querque".v"Burque" is lame, lame, lame! We guess it was those carpet bagging imports that came up with Burque in the 70s.

Paul  Roybal writes:

A few years back while vacationing in Maui I was at a T-shirt shop making idle conversation with a  young gentleman when he asked where I was from to which I proudly responded “Albuquerque, New Mexico.” His wife, overhearing our conversation from afar, responded: “Burque bro!”.

Joseph Padilla writes:

I disagree with the assessment of the nick name "Burque." I was born, raised, and live here. I am of the working class and travel around the state for work. To sum it up, I hear the city referred to as "Burque" more than Albuquerque. Either way, I like your blog.

And we like having you with us, Joseph.

Thanks for stopping by this week.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

State Senators Sit Out this Cycle But Leadership Battles Lurk, Plus: Latest NM Rankings, And: To Burque Or Not To Burque 

None of the 42 state senators is up for re-election this year but that doesn't mean there isn't politically jockeying going on that will play out in the days after the November election. Our legislative experts have the news for you.

They say with ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller favored to be elected state auditor and vacate his position as Senate Majority Whip is shaping up to be a battle to watch is shaping up.. As it stands now there are three main contenders to succeed Keller in the leadership post. They are freshman ABQ Senators Michael Padilla and Jacob Candelaria and Sen. John Sapien of Sandoval County. Padilla is pegged as the most progressive of the lot with Sapien the most conservative and Candelaria hewing most to the middle.

Meanwhile, our legislative watchers break the news here that State Sen. Phil Griego continues to weigh a challenge to Senate Majority Leader Micheal Sanchez. Whether Griego will pull the trigger or not remains to be seen, but over the summer he did fire a volley at Sanchez over the power the majority leader wields over bringing individual bills to the floor. Does that mean if Griego somehow manages to take the majority leader post away from Sanchez, he would relinquish some of his power?

By the way, with Senate powerhouses like John Arthur Smith supporting Sanchez we don't exactly see the leader shaking in his boots over the prospect of a Griego challenge.

Over on the state House side all 70 members are up for re-election in November. With the chamber closely divided between the D's and R's everyone is waiting to see who will be given control on Election Night. If the D's do hang on, the battle for majority leader will hold center stage as ABQ's Rick Miera decided not to seek re-election. That leaves House Minority Whip Moe Maestas trying to climb the ladder with Rep. Debbie Rodella also eying the plum post. Other possible majority leader wannabees are eyeing the action closely from the sidelines.


The economic news for NM has been so sour for so long that sometimes you take heart just to see that we don't rank 50th in something. Like in this survey by Business Insider. It says that we are 48th in the nation in terms of experiencing the economic recovery. Alaska will have to hold it's nose on this one. It ranks last in the USA.

But you don't have to wait long for us to get shoved back down to 50th:

Births per 1,000 teenagers (ages 15–19) range from a low of 13.8 in New Hampshire to a high of 47.5 in New Mexico, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics based on 2012 data, the most recent available for the states.

Meantime, neighboring Colorado had the biggest drop in teen births 15 to 19. How did they do it? Here you go Fourth Floor and Roundhouse:

State public health officials are crediting a sustained, focused effort to offer low-income women free or low-cost long acting reversible contraception, that is, intrauterine devices or implants.

And one more survey that keeps us at the bottom of the barrel. It's the rate of employment for people aged 25 to 54 since the onset of the Great Recesion:

The state with the largest decline is New Mexico, where 9.2 percent fewer people are employed today than they were in 2007. Vermont and Nebraska had the smallest decline, both less than 1 percent, and 19 other states had declines that were determined to be not statistically significant.


We broke the news here this week that right-wing radio talk giant KKOB-AM crashed through another downside barrier--scoring only a 4.9 percent share of the ABQ audience, according to Nielsen Audio. Long the #1 station, KKOB now ranks second. The decline has been several years in the making and conservative Republican reader Paul Donisthorpe comes with one good explanation of why it has happened:

As a Sirius subscriber with multiple units there is absolutely no reason to listed to what local radio--talk or otherwise--has to offer. For me Direct-TV has made this the same relating to local TV--including the local news. The only reason I subscribe to the "paper" version of the ABQ Journal is to get access to the online version which blessedly now includes access to the Washington Post. Many days the "paper" is thrown in the recycle bin still folded with the rubber band intact. Calculating my ratings are really simple: Dan Patrick Show from 7-10 (broadcast locally on AM 1600, but mostly listened to on Sirius), CNBC business programming from 11-4. End of story.


We weren't surprised to see the contrary email roll in after we said we really haven't heard much of anyone refer to Albuquerque as Burque" and we ran a billboard to that effect that is making the rounds. Among those begging to strongly disagree is ABQ attorney Mo Chavez:

Come on Joe, anyone who does not accept/acknowledge the term “Burque” must be one of those recent inhabitants that have lived in “Burque” about 10 minutes and doesn’t understand that you need to peel chile before you eat it. “Burque” is a term that is part of our community and culture. “Soy Burqueno!”
Veteran KOB-TV reporter Stuart Dyson piled on:

Hey Joe, “Burque” has been vato patois for a long long time. I can remember Hispanic friends using the nickname back in the early 70’s. Don’t recall Anglo use until maybe 20-25 years ago.

And and ABQ reader:

"Burque" may not have had widespread usage for decades, but I can attest from personal experience that it was used as slang among some native Hispanic Burqenos for decades.

Just sayin'...

David Alcon explained it with a personal twist on this blogger:

People from Albuquerque express themselves as "soy de Burque," ese. And you are from Philadelphia, and not from the neighborhoods where they are from "Philly". You get it? Good.

Actually, we're from Scranton, PA. not Philly. But as an Anglo from Pennsylvania, pretending to be a New Mexican we have not choice but to leave you today with a loud cry of "Soy Burqueno!" Was that loud enough?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Blogging: All Eyes On Turnout; Reasons It Could Give Dip, Plus: More Campaign Clippings, And: Can We Say Goodbye To "Burque?" 

All Democratic eyes are on turnout. It's not looking good, at least not yet. Pollster Brian Sanderoff sums up their problem this way:

In 2010 we had two heavily contested congressional races (Heinrich vs. Barela and Teague vs. Pearce) plus we had a hot, vacant governor’s race. We have none of them happening this time and we have the overall trend of dropping turnout due to voter cynicism. Add to that a 13% congressional approval rating and a president with low approval ratings at midterm in his 2nd term.

A back door way Dems could get a turnout bump is if Dem US Senator Tom Udall was seriously threatened by Republican Allen Weh and had to fight for increased Dem turnout, but Sanderoff's recent poll for the ABQ Journal shows Weh trailing Udall 53-35 so Dems will have to look for another way to close the enthusiasm gap. (Unless Weh starts throwing a ton of personal wealth at this thing).

Not that GOP enthusiasm is off the charts. That voter cynicism Sanderoff refers to is widespread. 2010 was a year of Tea Party rage that bumped conservative turnout. It could be hard for the R's to replicate that this time around. . .

It's one of the reasons you still see Gov. Martinez in her fund-raising letters talking about repealing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and slamming Big Bad Bill Richardson. She's working to spike excitement and turnout among those red meat Republicans. . .

Meanwhile reader Bryan Wilcox wants the Journal to release the "crosstabs" for their polls which include all the valuable data of voting by age and gender and the like. He says:

It is time that the Journal to make these data available to the public. If they continue their current practice, how much trust can we have in their findings? Reporting margins of errors, sample sizes, etc. is a necessary practice, but they tell us very little if we are unable to check the numbers for ourselves. As the 2014 election cycle heats up, it’s time to put pressure on the Journal for accountability, accuracy, and transparency. Is this really too much to ask?

Wilcox, a native New Mexican, is a grad student in poly sci at the University of Washington and representative of the next generation that grew up with the Internet and are not used to secrets. The Journal has been releasing more of this info in recent cycles. Is it time to go all the way?


Back on Udall for a second, his latest TV ad keeps him on the very soft side as he pitches a sentimental story of how he brought running water to a Navajo family. And why not? There's simply no need to go negative on Weh.

One line in the new Udall ad caught our attention:

Protecting our bases and national labs might get Tom more attention, but getting a water for a family means just as much.

Both this blog and the New Mexican questioned how the senator's "protecting" played out, given the widespread layoffs in recent years at Los Alamos National Labs, but that's Tom's story and he's sticking to it. . .

And good luck to everyone in keeping up with the TV ads as we head toward September and the airwaves start to get flooded. We'll probably go into highlight mode, picking the ones out that we think are making an impact. . .


A reader who follows the national scene and La Politica from Washington comes with this:

Hi Joe, It’s curious that Gov. Martinez appears largely to have received a free press pass for any culpability in Albuquerque’s police problems while Gov. Nixon in Missouri doesn't:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) finds himself at the center of a storm of unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. He has the near-impossible task of balancing the interests of local protesters outraged over the shooting of an unarmed teenager against the effort to maintain order. Late Monday, as protesters were gathered once again on the streets of Ferguson before a midnight curfew kicked in, he tweeted hopefully: “Let’s show the world that we can protest peacefully and passionately. Two minutes later violence erupted. The new attention comes just weeks after Nixon, 58, stoked rumors that he wants to be considered for the 2016 national ticket with a visit to Iowa and a trip to Colorado to huddle with major Democratic donors. . .

The difference in coverage by be attributable to the fact that Ferguson is a small city while ABQ is a large one with a high-profile mayor who can take the heat. Then again, Martinez is somewhat of a national figure, so why shouldn't she be taking some heat like Nixon for the APD crisis being investigated by the Dept. of Justice?


Don't get to mad at us Burque fans, but despite assurances that "Burque" as shorthand for "Albuquerque" has been in widespread usage for decades, it really hasn't. This billboard making the round sums it up.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Guv Debate You Might Watch, The Latest Guv Poll Reverberates, Talk Radio Ratings Crash Continues, And: Our Bottom Lines 

Here's a little pleasant surprise. Gov. Martinez and Gary King have agreed to a TV debate that actually may get some viewers. It will air October 19 on KOAT-TV from 6 to 7 p.m. While that is not quite prime time it is better than what the station has done with political debates in the past which is put them in the Sunday afternoon ghetto of 4 in the afternoon.

The two candidates have only one other confirmed joint appearance--a Sept. 22 forum before the NAIOP biz group. That, however, won't be televised and get this--the candidates will be supplied the questions a week in advance so they can prepare their answers. That's not a joke--but the joint appearance may turn out that way. . .

Martinez has rejected a debate at the NM Press Association and not responded to invites for ones before Congregation Albert and KNME-TV. It's called protecting the lead. If she stalls out look for more joint appearances. . .

And by they way, where are the debate invites from KOB-TV and KRQE-TV?


Expect Martinez to double down on her negative TV attack campaign against Dem Guv nominee Gary King. That Sunday Journal poll showing her right on the important 50 percent mark (King had 41%) but not over it, has recalibrated expectations among casual political observers and voters who may have thought she would have been higher. Some have speculated that Martinez's heavy negative campaign against King over the summer may have shaved not only some points from King but also few from her as voters recoil from the harshness. Her latest TV hit on King came late Friday as she again hearkened back to the 80's and his days in the Legislature to taunt him for voting for a tax increase. . . .


That Journal poll continues to reverberate. The liberal Daily Kos took a look and concludes that Martinez might actually be polling under the 50% mark the newspaper has her at:

There are a few big caveats regarding this poll. . .The survey only samples voters who turned out in 2010 and said they would likely vote again, which reflects a worst-case scenario for Democrats. The poll also weighs by "known distribution of age, gender, and party affiliation, based on the 2010 election." This is problematic for the same reasons. While it's very likely 2014 turnout will look more like 2010 than 2012, it's still a lot to assume this year will be a repeat of the last midterm. Longtime observers also know that weighting by party is a risky proposition, since political affiliation is much more fluid than gender or age.

Brian Sanderoff of Research and Polling which conducts the Journal's polls responds:

The sample we surveyed is not “the worst case scenario for the Democrats.” The worst case scenario for Democrats is that turnout will be even lower in 2014 than in 2010.

And given the lack of enthusiasm about this election thus far, that could happen.


In the radio business the poll that counts is done by the ratings firm Nielsen Audio. Regular readers will know we've been tracking what has been a breathtaking decline in the status of 50,000 watt KKOB-AM, the right-wing talk station that for years held the #1 market position. We have an update and it's more depressing news for the station. For the first time perhaps ever the station does not even command a five percent share of the audience that is aged 12 or older. Nielssen says its summer ratings show KKOB earning a 4.9 percent share.  The station has suffered a nearly 50 percent drop in its audience from its peak of years ago. The #1 ABQ station in the latest ratings is 94 Rock, KZZR-FM, garnering a 5.2 share of listeners.


Joel Gay, communications director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, writes of our blogging from Taos last week:

 I thought your comment about more "hunters, fishermen, skiers and rafters" keeping the Taos area afloat was right on. Outdoor recreation has always been part of what makes Taos unique and is why Taosenos strongly supported Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. Permanently protecting some 250,000 acres along the Rio Grande and in the plains above, from Ute Mountain to San Antonio Mountain and from Taos to the Colorado border, assures that future generations will have places with good hunting, fishing and rafting, not to mention livestock grazing, firewood collecting and pinon gathering. That means jobs and the ability to feed your family and keep your house warm. One reason President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the monument was because of the broad local support.

Does New Mexico have one of the best records in the nation when it comes to protecting our vast wilderness areas? Think so. And both Dems and R's have worked together for decades to achieve it. . .


Our summer reading of NM Governor Arthur Hannett's autobiography--"Sagebrush Lawyer," caught the eye of reader Dean Smith:

I'm happy to say that there is still one circulating copy of "Sagebrush Lawyer" available at the Albuquerque--Bernalillo County Library as well as a reference copy at Special Collections. And if you cannot borrow it to read in the comfort of your own home, what could be more relaxing than sitting in a leather chair by a Gustave Baumann decorated fireplace, on a Nancy Kosikowski rug and in the landmark 1925 'Old Main' Library on Edith and Central?

Try doing that on the Internet. Right, Dean?

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Monday, August 18, 2014

King In Gambling Territory; Guv Gets to 50% Against Him But No More; Does He Write The Check? Plus: Top Analysts And Insiders Weigh In On This First Major Poll Of '14 Guv Derby, And: Bye, Bye, Brooks 

Sunday's ABQ Journal poll showing  Governor Susana Martinez beating Democrat Gary King 50 to 41 percent with 9 percent undecided wasn't a stunner, but it did demonstrate that enthusiasm for the first term Republican Governor has peaked. The obvious is that she remains favored for re-election. But this is now a campaign that will draw more scrutiny than it did over the summer.

Martinez has thus far been blessed by weak opposition in King, but because this poll does not have the Governor closing out the race early, it gives him what could be a brief window of opportunity. With $4 million in cash, Martinez will move rapidly to close that window. King's campaign kitty was a mere $116,000 last month.

This poll appears to put him firmly in gambling territory. Is the race on the cusp of being winnable and sways him to write a check from his family wealth for $1 or $2 million? Or does he plod ahead hoping serendipity strikes?

(King came back on TV last week with an ad about his family's legacy of service to the state).


The pundits, Alligators and insiders were quick to weigh in on the first public poll of the '14 Guv derby that has widespread credibility and a long history of accuracy.

Pollster Bruce Donisthorpe had the Guv race at 53-to 40 in favor of Martinez in a June 10 automatic phone poll he conducted for the NM Republican Party. He says:

The Journal poll shows that all the Republican vote is now in and going predictably for the Governor. She has dropped some with independents and Democrats over the summer. Independents are the key for King to break the race open which is why you are seeing much talk about education from both sides. It is high on the list of issues for independents. 

The ball is in King's court. He has to make the next move. I would expect he would run a more aggressive TV campaign against her than what we have seen. Unless King interrupts the campaign and the turnout model, Martinez is trending toward the 52-53 percent mark.

Martinez won election in 2010 by beating Diane Denish 53.29% to 46.55%. In the 2010 August 23-27 ABQ Journal poll Dem Diane Denish pulled 39% to Martinez's 45%.


Former ABQ GOP City Councilor Greg Payne--now an independent--has consulted a wide variety of campaigns including GOP Governor Gary Johnson's 1994 winning effort. His take:

The good news for Martinez, she’s in the lead. The bad news--after spending heavily attacking her opponent and getting consistently favorable coverage from most of the media--she’s only at 50%. There’s no question she wants to be polling much higher than that, and ought to be in the high 50s.

Martinez is positioned well to win the election, but not because of her record or her campaign. She has a state full of disorganized and demoralized Democrats to thank for that. 

In a sense, the most important part of this campaign was the psychological war the Martinez machine successfully waged against Democrats, convincing them they could not win in 2014 and should just go along, play nice and position themselves for the 2018 election. These polls numbers show they could have won this November if they’d bothered to try.

The Journal poll is not a resounding show of strength from Martinez. If King were winning Democrats the way Martinez is winning Republicans, if Albuquerque--a Democratic city--were supporting King and not his Republican opponent, this would be a much different election. 

Dem pollster and consultant Harry Pavlides agrees with Donisthorpe on the trend and adds:

The goods news for the Democrats is that it appears a Democratic disaster will be averted. The bad news is that King still appears to be about 54,000 votes behind. He is going to have to motivate Democratic voters to change the turnout model. Martinez has peaked but projected turnout takes her to the 53 percent area. King needs to sweeten up Democrats who are not enthusiastic about him. He will need to spend heavily on TV and go negative in a big way. . . 

Martinez and her allies spent $1 million on TV over the summer--much of it attacking King--but she is not past 50 percent. That shows that everything isn't rosy over there. Besides jobs and the economy, King should look to social issues--like the right of women to control their health care--in order to get Democratic women to vote.


From the Alligator pond comes this from an insider Dem:

The Governor at 50% is the big story here. She has peaked out and it should be a wake up call to the Governor's people that she needs to change her image and policies to have a stronger November showing. If she wants to be a national figure, now is the time to show something special and run up the scoreboard on a lackluster Democratic candidate. But it looks like she is having a very hard time doing that.

King is surviving on the base Democratic vote  and not much more. He needs to win back Democratic Hispanic votes from Martinez and be more competitive in Albuquerque with independents. But we've all known this for months. The question is: What is Gary King doing about it? So far, the answer is "not much." There's 9% undecided and the rule of thumb is that 3/4 of that vote should go to the challenger, which means we are talking a 53-47 race which puts it well in the realm of King winning. But without a plan, without a strategy, that ain't gonna happen.

Does Martinez at 50 percent influence the down ballot races? This Gator thinks so:

The somewhat good news here for Dems is that the Governor is not safe enough for her to generate a lot of coattails or to start spending on the lower ballot races. This should make state auditor candidate Tim Keller and secretary of state candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver happy. It also might take some heat off state House Democrats.  But the bad news for Dems is the turnout model. This election is becoming a snoozer and Dems have to watch out for a low-turnout election dominated by conservative Anglo seniors voting Republican. Young people, Hispanics and women are less interested this year. If  party leaders want to avoid a black eye they need to generate some enthusiasm.


Well, they didn't exactly run him out of town on a rail, did they? In fact, ABQ Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks resigned Friday accompanies by glowing statements of approval as the APS Board appeared to shiver in sheer fear that he would sue the pajamas off them--for what we don't know, but something.

Then there's that weird legal clause involving his wife Anne that states no one at APS better say anything nasty about her--or else. It seemed to be the tip-off that the Board simply did not have the goods on Brooks. So they had to buy the 62 year old out with a plump $350,000 check, a letter of recommendation and that promise to see no evil and hear no evil when it comes to Mr. and Mrs. Winston Brooks. So what specifically are taxpayers paying Brooks $350,000 for? Inquiring minds would like to know but it may take a court battle to find out.

The Guv and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera--who long battled with Brooks--were no doubt glad to see him go. Whether they played a hand in his departure, we'll leave to the Black Helicopter crowd (of which we are a charter member). Now we wait to see if the APS turmoil spills onto the campaign trail. . .

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