Thursday, February 21, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in 2014 ...

Gov. Susana Martinez
Gov. Susana Martinez
While most of the state's political junkies are still mired in the current Legislature, a couple of national political sites are looking ahead at the 2014 elections -- including New Mexico races.

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has this to say about our governor's race.

Like (Gov. Brian) Sandoval in Nevada, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) of New Mexico is a Hispanic Republican governor in a state that Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012. But over the last few years, the Land of Enchantment has moved more sharply in a Democratic direction (though it did elect Martinez in the 2010 national Republican wave), making it less safe for a Republican incumbent at the statewide level than swingier Nevada. Perhaps in recognition of this fact, Martinez recently came out in favor of a Democrat-sponsored bill that requires background checks at gun shows in New Mexico, winning plaudits from progressives in the state. It appears that Attorney General Gary King (D), the son of former New Mexico Gov. Bruce King (D), will probably challenge Martinez in 2014. He may or may not get a clear shot at the Democratic nomination. While New Mexico has become bluer, Martinez is still a relatively popular incumbent, so this race is LIKELY REPUBLICAN.

In another section of the article, Sabato lists King, State Auditor Hector Balderas and lawyer Sam Bregman as possible contenders. Bregman, who is running for state Democratic Party chairman has said flatly he will not run for governor if he gets elected to the chairmanship. I haven't asked Balderas lately, but most say he'll run for attorney general rather than governor. King already has announced his candidacy for governor.

Sen. Tom Udall
New Mexico also has another U.S. Senate race next year. Or is it a race? The New York Times' Nate Silver seems to think not.
Silver, who was a lot closer in predicting last year's presidential race than, say, Dick Morris, gives Udall a 97 percent chance of winning next year. That's the second-safest Democratic seat up for grabs next year.

The disappointing performance of former Representative Heather Wilson, the Republican candidate in New Mexico’s open-seat Senate election last year, suggests that Republicans have little upside against the reasonably popular Democratic incumbent, Tom Udall.
Also this week National Journal rated Udall as one of the two most liberal members of the Senate. The publication noted:

Yet the liberal label will likely have little effect on Udall's reelection bid next year. He is one of the most secure incumbents in the country, something he owes not just to his first-term record or his well-known name in Western politics, but to a changing New Mexico that now rests solidly in the Democratic column.

Still, I predict we'll hear the phrase "most liberal senator" in untold numbers of GOP campaign ads next year.