Friday, October 29, 2010

Private Prison Cash

Check out my story in today's New Mexican on contributions to the gubernatorial candidates from the sin and punishment industries

Long and short of it: Diane Denish is leading in gambling, liquor and cigarette money. But Martinez is ahead in private prison cash.

NPR ran a story yesterday about the private corrections industry -- including companies that run some prison facilities here -- helping draft Arizona's controversial immigration law.

Locking up more undocumented people means opportunities for more business for the private corrections industry.

While the GEO Group -- which has given $33,000 to Republican  Martinez and $2,500 to Denish -- was not the main focus of the NPR piece, it's mentioned at the end of the piece. GEO presdent Wayne Calabrese is heard telling investors, "I can only believe the opportunities at the federal level are going to continue apace as a result of what's happening. Those people coming across the border and getting caught are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there's going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do."

We'll see during the next legislative session whether GEO and other prison companies push such a bill in New Mexico.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Adding to the Discord

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 28, 2010

Was a local union leader looking to create a dramatic YouTube moment at the expense of Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez?

That’s what an e-mail sent this week to members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees might seem to indicate, though the man who sent it denies that’s the case.

“A campaign is looking for 3 or 4 people to attend Susana Martinez events and generally add to the discourse,” IATSE business agent Jon Hendry wrote in the e-mail sent Tuesday. “There is a stipend available, expenses will be paid, and know that you will be making a difference. Hopefully someone will take offence (sic) and we will get it on camera.”

Boy, maybe it could turn out like the footage of that incident in Kentucky, where supporters of Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul knocked a young female protester to the ground and one of them stomped on her head. That really would add to the discourse.

But Hendry told me Wednesday that he wasn’t trying to get anyone to disrupt Martinez events. “Adding to the discourse” wasn’t a euphemism for creating discord, he insisted. He was just looking for some volunteers to ask the candidate her positions on the issues.

“Nobody’s had the chance to ask (Martinez) hard questions, not just about the film industry but about labor in general,” he said. “I don’t think (Martinez’s advisers) want her to answer any questions. We sent her a list of questions and didn’t even get a polite response.”

Martinez’s campaign manager, Ryan Cangiolosi, sent me a polite response when asked about the e-mail.

“Diane Denish’s allies are just as desperate as their candidate and appear to be engaged in a coordinated smear campaign. We won’t be bullied.”

Even though he’d just sent the e-mail the day before, Hendry said he’d abandoned the idea to have volunteers confront Martinez. “I don’t think she’d answer any questions,” he said.

Speaking of unions: I talked to another local union leader Wednesday. Arcie Baca, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says he’s supporting Gary Montoya, the Republican candidate for Public Regulation Commission in PRC District 4.

“He’s a union brother,” Baca said of Montoya. “He cares about state employees and respects them.”

Baca stressed that while he is personally endorsing Montoya, AFSCME hasn’t endorsed anyone in that PRC district. But, he added, incumbent Theresa Becenti-Aguilar is the only Democrat not endorsed by the union.

“We reached out to her, but she wasn’t interested,” Baca said. “She said she’s inclined to support management.”

Becenti-Aguilar was appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson this year to replace Commissioner Carol Sloan, who was convicted of felony assault. District 4 covers part of Santa Fe County, stretching from Eldorado to the northwestern region of the state.

(The print version of this column also has an item about former Gov. Gary Johnson's vote for Susana Martinez and comments about the negative tone of the campaign.  I blogged that HERE Wednesday.)

Johnson Disappointed in Martinez Campaign -- But He Voted for Her

Former Gov. Gary Johnson dropped by the Roundhouse just now. When asked about the campaign, the first thing he said was how sick he was of all the negative ads from all sides.

"Didn't I see an ad about Martin Heinrich feeding sharks off the coast of California who might then want to eat children?" he asked. "It's pathetic."

"I just want to throw up," he said.

"It would have been good to be able to hear what Susana Martinez stands for instead of what Diane Denish doesn't stand for. And vica versa," he told reporters.

Asked about Martinez's stance against the medical marijuana, he said he was disappointed. "It's a no-brainer," he said."People in pain should be able to have marijuana. It's less dangerous than prescription painkillers."

But he added that he cast his absentee ballot for his fellow Republican Martinez, mainly because of what he said were the excesses of the Richardson administration. Denish, he said, would be a continuation of those policies.

Johnson, a Taos resident, also said he voted for Republican Tom  Mullins over incumbent Democrat Ben Ray Lujan -- though he had to be reminded of Mullins' name.

Medical Marijuana Law Namesake Speaks Out

Erin Armstrong lobbied the state Legislature for three years to pass the medical marijuana law. Arnstrong, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 17, is the "Erin" in the "Lynn  & Erin Compassionate Use Act." She's the daughter of Debbie Armstrong, former state secretary of Aging and Long-term Services.

"It's not just a drug issue," she said at a news conference during the 2005 session. "It's a patients-rights issue. Patients should not have to decide if keeping down your next meal is worth getting arrested." 

She said at the time she dreaded the day she would be taken off her parents' insurance plan. At the time she was taking a drug called Zofran to control her nausea. It worked well, she said, but without insurance it would cost more than $3,000 a month for the drug.

By the time the law passed in 2007, Armstrong told The New Mexican that her symptoms had quieted down and she didn't need medical marijuana. 

Armstrong, a Santa Fe High and UNM grad now in her last year of law school in Berkeley, emailed me this morning with a comment about the recent Drug Policy Alliance tv ad aimed at  Republican gubernatorial Susana Martinez.

I am proud to have worked for years to help enact the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. I was deeply honored when legislators chose to amend the bill to include my name in its title. I continue to believe in the cautious, patient-centered, medical structure of the program. Most of all, I'm proud to be from a state that refuses to participate in the arrest of our most vulnerable citizens. Surely their quest for relief is not a crime. Surely their punishment is not worth our tax dollars or the blight on our collective humanity.

Whether or not one believes in the merits of medical marijuana, every New Mexican should care about Susana Martinez's desire to repeal this law. Martinez’s stance shows not only a stubborn allegiance to bad policy, it represents a fundamental disrespect for our political process. This law is the result of years of testimony and public education. Its safeguards are the products of deliberation and compromise. Martinez’s intent to dismantle this program not only ignores patients, it ignores deliberative democracy at its finest. Surely New Mexico deserves better.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rasmussen Has Martinez by 10

The Rasmussen Reports has a new poll of New Mexico showing Republican Susana Martinez winning support of 52 percent of participants and Democrat Diane Denish at 42 percent.

The organization interviewed 750 likely voters on Sunday. The margin of error is 4 percent.

The poll is in line with other recent independent polls. For what it's worth Rasmussen is moving the race from "Leans Republican" to "Solid Republican."

The exact phrasing of the question asked was:
If the 2010 Election for Governor of New Mexico were held today would you vote for Republican Susana Martinez or Democrat Diane Denish? (Please note that we split the survey to rotate the order of the candidate names, so while half will hear the Republican candidate first, the other half hears the Democrat mentioned first.)

The poll has a sliver of good news for one Democrat. Gov. Bill Richardson has a 39 percent approval rating according to the new numbers.

Not great, especially for someone who won re-election with nearly 70 percent of the vote four years ago. But other recent polls have shown the governor's approval numbers in the low 30s or high 20s.

Medical Marijuana Advocates Take On Susana

Drug Policy Action New Mexico will begin running ads today about gubernatorial frontrunner Susana Martinez's opposition to New Mexico's medical marijuana program.

My story in today's New Mexican  on that is HERE.

Check the ad below.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Internal Poll

Just a few minutes after I blogged about the latest Diane Denish poll, which showed Denish only one point behind Republican Susana Martinez, the Martinez camp sent me their own latest poll which shows their candidate leading the Democrat by 8 points.

Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP firm, spoke to 800 likely voters on October 20-21 & 23-24, 2010, including 100 cell phone interviews. The margin of error is 3.48 percent.

This is closer to the Real Clear Politics average of 9 points I mentioned in my previous post. Oct 20-21 Martinez Poll

Internal Polling

It's been rumored for awhile that polls by both Secretary of State candidates are showing Republican Dianna Duran leading Democrat Mary Herrera. I just got evidence of such a poll. It's a couple of weeks old, but it claims a 12 point lead for Duran.

According to the poll, Duran had 46 percent to Herrera's 34 percent. That leaves 20 percent undecided (which might look high, but this is a down-ballot race that's seen only minimal television advertising by either candidate.)

The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP firm. They interviewed 800 likely voters on October 14 & 17-18, 2010 including 100 cell phone interviews on October 16th. The margin of error is 3.4 percent. Duran Poll Oct 14 Meanwhile, the Diane Denish gubernatorial campaign also released an internal poll today. This one shows Denish, the Democrat in the race, just one point behind Republican Susana Martinez.

It has to be noted that the only recent polls showing a close race have all come from the Denish camp. Real Clear Politics  shows a 9-point average Martinez lead, though the latest poll listed there was done on Oct. 14.

Denish's poll was conducted October 20 – 24 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democratic firm. They talked to 603 likely voters. Margin of error is 4 percent.

Oct 25 Denish Poll

I'm Back ...

I think I finally whooped the flu or whatever that was that whooped me sometime Thursday night.

I somehow made it through the final Martinez-Denish debate (maybe I could blame my illness on the debate). But I missed work Friday. As I try to catch up, it doesn't look like I missed that much.

Cindy Adams of the New York Post had this little tidbit about Bill Clinton's recent trip to Espanola:

(Clinton) was recently in New Mexico, whose governor is also named Bill. Bill Richardson. In the Clinton White House, Richardson was our UN ambassador. In the Clinton White House, Richardson was secretary of energy. In the Clinton White House, Richardson was a favorite. Then comes our last presidential election. Clinton's former pet supports not Hillary but Obama for office. As you may realize, Bill Richardson is no longer a Clinton buddy. 

So William Jefferson was in New Mexico stumping. Richardson shows up. The event didn't invite him in. Per a very inside insider, Clinton aides, well aware of President Clinton's feelings, on their own turned Richardson away. The Gov was politely told: "Sorry, governor, this is a ticketed event." 

When they later related this to Clinton, I am informed he "laughed delightedly."

However, Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos just told me, "The story is wrong. I just sent a request for a correction. The Governor was invited to the Clinton event, but he and the First Lady were in Paris for the Robert Redford event." (Redford received the Legion of Honor award from French President Nicolas Sarkozy that same day Clinton was wowing Rio Arriba County.)

Just a week and a day until it's over. Hang in, gentle readers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun With Attack Ads

"This isn't an attack ad," the spokesman said. "It's just a comparative ad."

The first one is from Jim Terr.



I saw this one on the Democracy for New Mexico blog. I don't think it's really paid for by Swiftboat Veterans for Truth ....

 And then there's this ...

Roundhouse Roundup: Melissa Loves NM Govs

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 1, 2010

Former Gov. Gary Johnson better hope there's no such thing as a "Melissa Etheridge curse."

Johnson is scheduled to appear with singer Etheridge, actor Danny Glover, comedian Hal Sparks and others today at a Hollywood news conference in support of Proposition 19, the California voter initiative to legalize marijuana.

It's not the first time Etheridge has appeared at a public event with a New Mexico governor.

Back in August 2007, Richardson, then running for president, appeared at a candidate forum sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group active in Democratic politics, and Logo, a gay-oriented cable TV channel run by MTV. Etheridge was a member of the panel questioning the candidates.

She asked Richardson whether he thought people were born homosexual or if it was a choice. He answered, "It's a choice." Etheridge rephrased the question, but the governor again said he thought it was a choice. At one point in the exchange, Richardson said, "I don't like to answer questions like that."

The reaction in the progressive and gay blogospheres was quick and harsh. "What a freakin' moron!" wrote a live-blogger on The Huffington Post that night. "He just lost every semblance of gay support. It is OVER. Take him off the stage. ... I'm done listening to him and so is the rest of LGBT America."
Former Gov. Gary Johnson

Republican Johnson, who was governor from 1995 through 2002, in recent months has been looking more and like someone preparing to run for president — although I noticed that the names of Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty were not on the Proposition 19 news release.

Just be careful if Etheridge starts asking you questions, Gary.

Domenici endorses: The state Republican Party mailed a full-color card to voters around the state featuring former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici giving his full support to GOP gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez.

"For over 30 years, I have fought for our state," reads the text. "I've seen good leaders and bad. Take it from me, Susana Martinez is a person of the highest character and one of the finest leaders I have ever met."

There's a photo on the mailer of Martinez and Domenici, both smiling in front of a New Mexico flag.

It's really not that surprising that Domenici, a Republican who served in Washington, D.C., for 36 years, would endorse the Republican nominee for governor.

It's just that Martinez wasn't his first choice for governor. He originally backed a guy named "Domenici."

It seems like ages ago, but when Pete Domenici Jr. — an Albuquerque lawyer and son of the former senator — made his surprise entry into the GOP gubernatorial contest in January, many assumed him to be the front-runner on name recognition alone.

There were some polls at the time indicating he was in the lead. Which only shows what early polls are worth. Just ask President Rudy Giuliani.

The Domenici 2010 balloon quickly was popped.

At the Republican pre-primary convention in March, Domenici came in dead last with less than 5 percent of the delegate vote. He did only slightly better in the June primary, coming in a distant fourth place out of the five candidates.

On the night of the primary, Domenici the younger was the only governor candidate to show up at the state GOP's watch party in Albuquerque (Martinez celebrated her primary victory in her hometown of Las Cruces). He told reporters then that he would support the Republican ticket.

But so far he's the only one of Martinez's primary rivals to do so, at least in public.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Duran Launches Ad for SOS Race

Just one day after state Democrats announced a television commercial for embattled Secretary of State Mary Herrera, the state Republican Party sent notice of an ad for its SOS candidate Dianna Duran.

Hacking Al

If you get a desperate e-mail from state Rep. Al Park saying he's stuck in London and needs some quick cash -- Don't believe it and don't send him any money! 

The Attorney General's office just sent out an e-mail sayingt hat Park "is the focal point of a scam after having his personal email account hacked and his contact list used to send a mass email message that asks for money in his name. The email that went out early this morning was even sent to Attorney General Gary King and members of his staff."

The news release goes on to explain that Park is not in London "Park says he is sorry for any inconvenience or needless worry this may have caused friends and colleagues. He has reported the incident to authorities, including the Attorney General's Office."

Santa Fe Area Legislative Races

In this morning's paper I did a quick look at three legislative races in the area in which incumbents are facing challengers.

As I noted in my story, in this neck of the woods we're used to sending incumbents back to the Roundhouse without even a token fight. This year it's different. I'm not endorsing anyone, but I think it's healthy for voters to have a choice.

In District 43, which includes Los Alamos County and parts of Santa Fe and Sandoval counties, 10-term incumbent Republican Jeannette Wallace is facing Democrat Stephanie Richard.

In District 47, which roughly is Santa Fe's East Side, freshman incumbent Brian Egolf, a Democrat, is running against Republican Brigette Russell.

And in District 48, (Santa Fe's West Side, again, roughly) Luciano "Lucky" Varela, a Democrat who has held the seat since the  mid '80s is looking at a challenge from Republican Bob Walsh.

read all about it HERE

Monday, October 18, 2010

Herrera Runs First Ad of the SOS Race

According to the state Democratic Party, this spot will begin running on Tuesday.

UPDATE: 10-22-10 As Edward points out in the comments below, this video has been removed. I just searched for another version with no luck. If anyone alerts me to another version of this ad, I'll post it.

Hope NM Politicians Don't Get Any Ideas

Even in informal New Mexico some politicians are getting more obsessed with micro-managing their media image and campaigns are getting more and more protective about letting their candidates make a possible misstep in front of reporters.

But let's hope it doesn't get to the point that handcuffs and goons become part of a candidate's media team in this state.

That's what happened in Alaska yesterday when an online journalist started asking Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller questions he didn't want to answer. The Alaska Dispatch story is HERE

Below is a Chicago Tribune video report.


Catching Up

I had a couple of political stories published over the weekend.

I wrote about the race in CD3 between Ben Ray Lujan and Tom Mullins. It can be found HERE.

The sidebar on Lujan and Mullins' fundraising efforts are HERE 

My coverage of Sunday's gubernatorial debate is HERE  

Below is the video of the Mullins/Lujan debate Saturday on Channel 4.

Channel 7 has Sunday's gubernatorial debate, but it's spread over 13 separate videos (really, guys ...) You can find the whole baker's dozen HERE.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Herrera Responds to Critics

Embattled Secretary of State Mary Herrera is fighting back.

She appeared yesterday at the Bill Clinton/Diane Denish rally in Espanola. And despite fears by some Democrats that Herrera's problems could be a drag on the rest of the ticket, the state Democratic Party just e-mailed a news release including her, along with other Dem candidates lieutenant governor nominee Brian Colon and Attorney General Gary King as headliners for early-voting rallies Saturday in Albuquerque, Los Lunas and Rio Rancho.

And her campaign just sent this new release rebutting some of the accusations that have plagued her in recent months. (It's the same thing that was published as an op-ed on Heath Haussamen's site earlier this week.) Nothing much new here, though she does take a stronger term with her former employees who are now accusing her of wrongdoing. She calls them "disgruntled employees" and their "continued antics and staged incidences." (sic)

And she lambasts reporters: "If reporters haven’t done their homework to determine the credibility of allegations by disgruntled employees, they have contributed to the unfair character assassination of a dedicated public servant."
Press Release on Responses to Accusations 10 15 10 (2)

Clinton Comes to Espanola

Bill Clinton & Diane Denish Bill Clinton came to Espanola Thursday to give a rousing speech for Diane Denish.

The crowd at Espanola Plaza wasn't nearly as big as it was for Barrack Obama two years ago. But hey, it's a mid-term election.

Clinton is the best speaker the Democrats have, next to Obama. But Clinton's clearly the most popular speaker they've got.

He said he's been to 80 events all over the country in recent days. His voice was hoarse, but he clearly loves this part of his retirement.

And no, his old "football buddy" Bill Richardson didn't show up. In fact nobody on stage even mentioned his name.

My story for The New Mexican on the rally is HERE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Rape Jokes and Christian Nations. Another Day in NM Politics

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 14, 2010

When Texas oilman, rancher and Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton “Claytie” Williams made an crude joke about rape in front of reporters 20 years ago, it immediately had an effect on the governor’s race in Texas. And now it’s created a stir in the 2010 New Mexico gubernatorial race.

Back in 1990, Williams quipped that rape was like bad weather. “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

On Wednesday, following several hours of indignant e-mails, press releases, Tweets and blog posts from state Democrats, Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez decided not to hang on to $20,000 in campaign contributions. Her campaign manager, Ryan Cangiolosi, told my colleague Kate Nash that Martinez would donate the contributions to a rape crisis center in Las Cruces.

Just two years ago, GOP presidential candidate John McCain canceled a fundraiser scheduled at Williams’ home in Midland, Texas, after reporters started asking him about the rape joke. McCain said at the time he was unaware. Democrats in that instance also demanded McCain return campaign contributions — Williams had raised $300,000 or so. McCain declined to do that, saying the contributions were from people other than Williams.

The Old Wildcatter: Williams in Texas has a reputation as a colorful, irascible character. The rape joke is Williams’ most notorious utterance. But it wasn’t his only one. During the 1990 Texas gubernatorial campaign, he compared his Democratic opponent, Ann Richards, to the cattle on his ranch, bragging that he’d “head her and hoof her and drag her through the dirt.” Richards won.

Williams was quoted in a 2001 story in The Dallas Observer admitting that he’d frequented bordertown brothels as a youth.

“It’s part of growing up in West Texas ... it was a lot different then. The houses were the only place you got serviced. It was kind of what the boys did at (Texas) A&M.”

The Associated Press in 2007 ran a story about Williams’ biography Claytie: The Roller-Coaster Life of a Texas Wildcatter, written by former AP correspondent Mike Cochran. Cochran called Williams  a “remarkably unsophisticated and charmingly flawed West Texan.” The author argues it would be a shame if Williams was remembered only by his campaign gaffes.

The wire service story said Williams “climbs mountains and hunts big game. He’s known for his big grin, his love of a good drink, occasional barroom brawls and a fondness for belting out songs in Spanish.

“He learned Spanish as a teenager working alongside Mexican farm laborers,” the AP said, “and he openly uses the disparaging label ‘wets’ in one of his journal entries quoted in the book.”

Some believe Williams lost to Richards not because of his rape joke or other earthy gaffes. Instead, some say, he lost because he refused to shake Richards’ hand at a public event.

Onward Christian soldiers: If you’re a Voodoo priest who wants to officiate at a gay wedding on state trust lands, apparently you can forget about it if Republican Matt Rush gets elected as land commissioner.

A video that Rush apparently made for some church group has been popping up on several blogs lately. (Including this one now, scroll down) In it, Rush encourages Christians to get involved in politics.

“If we want to be a Christian nation again, Christian people have to start standing up, running for office again ... if we ever want to become a Christian nation again,” he says. “That’s the reason I got involved in politics.”

Rush goes on to say, “For those of us who are Christians and we are proud to say we are Christians, we need to start standing up being proud of it again and we need to take the fight to the enemy. ... We’ve got to start standing up because we are one nation under god and we need to make sure we take that back to our legislative process.”

In a prepared statement, Rush wrote, “Last summer I was more than happy to participate in a student-produced video with the idea of encouraging younger members of the church to get involved in a wide variety of activities including politics and community service. This video was shown to a youth group at the church with the hope of motivating them to move beyond their traditional circles and at the same time to take pride in their faith.”

But he didn’t answer my questions about whether he planned to use the Land Office to espouse his religion and just who “the enemy” is or where “the fight” should be taken.

Cook on CD3: "Likely" -- But Not "Solid" -- for Lujan

National political analyst Charlie Cook this week has moved the Congressional race between incumbent Ben ray Lujan and challenger Tom Mullins in northern District 3 -- what, on the national level might as well be considered the forgotten race -- from the "Solid Democratic" column to the "Likely Democratic" column.

Tom Mullins Not earthshaking news by any means, but it's one little ray of hope for Republican Mullins.

Here's what Charlie says:
Republican polling claims that gubernatorial candidate and GOP District Attorney Susana Martinez is now leading Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish in the 3rd CD, and a recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Lujan leading GOP businessman Tom Mullins 49 percent to 43 percent. Advertising is so heavy in the state’s two other congressional districts that even the heavily Democratic 3rd could be feeling some of the effects, but probably not by enough to put Lujan in serious jeopardy. Mullins, generated some unwanted headlines over the summer by bringing up the idea of placing land mines along the U.S.-Mexico border to deter illegal immigration (this district is just 41 percent Anglo). 

Ben Ray Lujan, Dem The only reason a Republican represented this heavily Democratic northern New Mexico district between 1997 and 1999 is that a flawed Democratic candidate allowed a Green Party nominee to siphon away a large share of Democratic votes in a special election. Democrats here joked that the Green Party stood for "Getting Republicans Elected Every November." Luckily for Democrats, that dynamic isn't in play this year as Lujan runs for a second term. Still, given Democrats’ flagging numbers across the state, we are adding it as a long shot to the “Likely Democratic” column. 

Here's the PPP/Daily Kos poll Cook refers to.

That "flawed" Democrat he speaks of was Eric Serna. In the special election to replace Bill Richardson, who had gone on to the Clinton Cabinet that year, Serna, hurt by Green Party candidate Carol Miller lost to Republican Bill Redmond.

The Cook report is HERE (but you'll need a subscription)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The SOS Race

Pollster Brian Sanderoff hasn't done any polling on the Secretary of State race. But he's got some thoughts about what might happen in the race between incumbent Mary Herrera and challenger Dianna Duran.

Read about that in my look at the race for Secretary of State is in Wednesday's New Mexican. You can find it HERE 

A detailed look at the fundraising efforts by Herrera and Duran is HERE 

Quick biographical facts on the candidates are HERE 

And if you ever wondered what the secretary of state is supposed to do, check THIS.

Three GOP Candidates Winning in the Cash Race

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 13, 2010

With three weeks remaining before the 2010 general election, three statewide Republican candidates report raising more funds than their Democratic opponents.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez; Dianna Duran, who is running for secretary of state against a Democratic incumbent; and GOP land commission candidate Matt Rush each reported getting more campaign cash than their opponents during the past month, according to reports filed Tuesday. (Find 'em all HERE )

Perhaps more importantly, Martinez, Duran and Rush have more money in the bank for the final push of the campaign season.

Martinez, the district attorney in Doña Ana County, raised more than $1.4 million during the past month, compared with $820,595 for Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Martinez had $1.3 million cash on hand as of Oct. 4, compared with Denish’s $951,000.

Denish, who has been raising money to run for governor since 2007, had a huge money lead over Martinez going into the campaign. But by the end of the summer, Martinez, who has been leading in polls, began to catch up with Denish in fundraising.

Among Martinez’s largest contributor is the Republican Governor’s Association, which gave her $500,000. That’s on top of the $500,000 the organization already had contributed to her campaign.

Denish has tried to make an issue of Martinez receiving large donations from Texas residents. There were more such contributions in the most recent report.

Lewis Burleson Properties of Midland, Texas, contributed $75,000. Stanley Harper, a rancher and businessman from Mansfield, Texas, gave $20,000. Clayton Williams Energy Inc. of Midland, which according to the company’s website operates primarily in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico, gave Martinez $15,000. Clayton “Claytie” Williams was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Texas in 1990, losing to Democrat Ann Richards.

Several Texans contributed $10,000 apiece to Martinez. These include Houston consultant Michele Mosbacher; Legacy Reserves, an oil company from Midland; Fasken Management, another oil company from Midland; rancher John Brittingham of Athens; Houston developer Steve Alvis; and rancher Cliff Skiles of Dalhart.

Other big contributors to Martinez were Roswell accountant Ronald Miller, who gave $20,000; Richard Wickens of Albuquerque; Roswell insurance man Randall Miller; Ray Westall of Loco Hills, N.M.; and the Pfizer drug company of New York — each of whom gave the campaign $10,000.

One of the better-known names among Martinez’s contributors was former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, who gave $5,000. Domenici’s son, Pete Domenici Jr., was one of the candidates Martinez defeated in the Republican primary in June.

Denish’s largest contributors were labor unions — the National Education Association and The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, each of which gave Denish $100,000. AFSCME had previously contributed $100,000 to Denish’s campaign.

The Democratic Governor’s Association gave her $50,000. The DGA previously had given $181,000 to Denish. The group separately reported spending $385,000 for TV ads on behalf of Denish.

Emily’s List, a group that gives money to female candidates who support abortion rights, gave $20,000. The group previously has given $90,000 to Denish’s campaign.

The International Association of Fire Fighters and Harvey Operating and Production Co. of Colorado each contributed $20,000 to Denish. Her $10,000 contributors included Sundance Services, a Eunice water recycling company; The Design Company, an Albuquerque firm; Intrepid Production Corp., a Colorado mining company; and Molina Healthcare Inc. of Long Beach, Calif.

In the secretary of state race, Republican Duran raised more than five times the amount that incumbent Democrat Mary Herrera reported taking in last month. Duran received $54,121 in the past month while Herrera raised $9,425. Duran had nearly $85,000 in the bank as of the end of last month, while Herrera had $51,400.

Almost half of Duran’s contributions in the last reporting period came from the state Republican Party, which gave $25,000.

Herrera’s largest single contribution in the report filed Tuesday was $2,000 from Sierras Y Llanos, a sales company from Tijeras. She also got $1,000 from the New Mexico Federation of Labor and $500 each from unions representing carpenters and communications workers. House Speaker Ben Luján, D-Nambé, gave Herrera $500 last month.

GOP Land Commission candidate Matt Rush of Portales is outraising his Democratic opponent, former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, according to the latest reports. Rush in the last month collected more than $93,000, nearly three times the $33,352 that Powell took in.

Rush’s biggest contribution was $25,000 from the state Republican Party. The Eddy County Republican Party gave him another $10,000. Rush got $5,000 contributions from Shannon Kizer in Movesand, N.M.; the International Potash Corp. of Colorado; and Knute Lee of Albuquerque.

Powell also received $5,000 from the International Potash Corp. as well as $5,000 from Forest City Covington, which is developing the Mesa del Sol project in southeast Albuquerque.

In the race for attorney general, incumbent Democrat Gary King maintained his fundraising lead over Republican Matt Chandler in the latest reports. King raised $73,875 in the past month, compared with Chandler’s $54,976 in the same period. King had $139,00 in the bank while Chandler had about $109,000.
King’s biggest contributors were Albuquerque lawyer William Carpenter and his wife, Patricia Carpenter, who gave him a combined $25,000.

The Downs at Albuquerque racetrack and casino contributed $5,000 to King while track owner Paul Blanchard gave another $2,500. King also received $5,000 donations from the International Capital Asset Management firm of New York and the Pfizer drug company.

Unlike Duran and Rush, Chandler, who was trailing King in an Albuquerque Journal poll last month by 20 percentage points, didn’t get any money from the state Republican Party. His biggest contributions were $5,000 from Yates Petroleum of Artesia and $2,500 from RAI Services, a business from North Carolina.

In the state treasurer’s race, Democratic incumbent James Lewis held a huge money advantage over Republican challenger Jim Schoonover. Lewis reported more than $26,000 in the bank compared to Schoonover’s $458. The incumbent raised $17,700. His largest single contributor was Albuquerque lawyer Robert White, who gave $2,500.

Schoonover raised $1,300. Former Gov. Garrey Carruthers contributed $200 to his campaign.

Incumbent Democratic state Auditor Hector Balderas raised $22,789 for his race last month and had more than $150,000 cash on hand. His largest contribution was from Mansfield rancher Stanley Harper — who also gave to Republican Martinez’s gubernatorial campaign.

GOP challenger Errol Chavez’s latest report wasn’t available on the Secretary of State’s website Tuesday evening. As of his previous report filed last month, Chavez had $12,677 cash on hand.

Best Fund-raiser Invite of the Day

I get a ton of email inviting me to or informing me about fundraisers for all sorts of candidates and causes.

But this one, from state Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, taking about her fundraiser at O'Neill's Pub next Wednesday, is my favorite of the day so far.

Here Stewart borrowed not only the Rosie the Riveter image, Photoshopping in her own face, but also borrowed, and slightly altered, a laugh line from Johnny Depp in one of my favorite under-rated movies in recent years, Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Are you a New MexiCAN or New MexiCAN'T?

Nothing wrong with going for the pop culture vote.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Case You Missed the CD3 Debate Saturday ...

... you can watch it here.

Hours of Entertainment

Tired of the incessant back and forth between Diane Denish and Susana Martinez? Or do you want more? You want to see these two pound the spit out of each other?

Then try NM Knockout a fun little game from a web site called This won't replace Pacman in the pantheon of video-game time-wasters, but it's more fun than reading their press releases.

Speaking of punches, Martinez landed another one via the latest  Rasmussen poll. This one shows her 9 points ahead with 52 percent of the vote.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Governor Candidate Profiles

My profile on Democratic candidate Diane Denish is in today's New Mexican.

You can find the main story HERE

A sidebar on Denish's campaign contributions is HERE

And another sidebar about issues with which Denish has differed wtih Gov. Bill Richardson is HERE

Kate Nash wrote our profile of  Republican Susana Martinez.

Her sidebar on Martinez's contributions are HERE

Friday, October 8, 2010

SOS: Burglary was Staged

Heath Haussamen had this first, but Secretary of State Mary Herrera told me the same thing later today.

She believes last week’s burglary of the Española law office belonging to her former elections director was faked to make her look bad.

Española police are investigating an Oct. 1 break-in of A.J. Salazar’s law office. Salazar, a former deputy district attorney who worked as state elections director for almost abruptly resigned in March, claiming that Herrera had violated laws and had politicized the office.

Police have not named any suspects in the break-in. The case remains open.

“I find it kind of strange that the only thing missing was his income taxes and documents related to the Secretary of State," Herrera said. "It sounds kind of suspicious to me.”

Asked whether she though Salazar had staged his own burglary, Herrera replied, “Yes.”

Salazar on Friday responded, “If Mary Herrera wants to pit her credibility up against mine, I’m more than happy to do so. She knows that I was unwilling to perpetrate a crime when I worked for her. That’s why I left her office. I’m not going to start perpetrating crimes now by filing false police reports.”

Salazar said he has never accused Herrera of being responsible for the burglary.

Herrera repeatedly has said that Salazar and other former employees who have accused her of wrongdoing are trying to hurt her re-election effort. She faces Republican Dianna Duran in the November election.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Dem SOS Tells PIO "Get Involved" with GOP

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
October 7, 2010

Did embattled Secretary of State Mary Herrera ask one of her exempt employees to “get involved” with the Republican Party to try to discourage the GOP from fielding a candidate for secretary of state this year?

That’s what former SOS public information officer James Flores, who was fired by Herrera last month, said Wednesday. Herrera, however disputes that.

If there was such a plan, it didn’t work. The Republicans nominated state Sen. Dianna Duran, a former Otero County clerk, to run for the office.

In a Jan. 21, 2010 e-mail from Herrera to Flores — a copy of which I obtained last week — Herrera wrote, “I asked you a long time ago to get involved in the R party, you didn’t and now they are looking for someone to run against me.”

Contacted Wednesday, Flores verified that e-mail was authentic. Flores, a registered Republican, said Herrera had repeatedly asked him to “get involved” in the party to talk her up and even arrange for her to speak at Republican events. However, Flores said, “I didn’t want to do that. I never did that.”

But Herrera said Wednesday that she’d only suggested to Flores he become active in the GOP so that Republicans would feel that her office was open to both parties. She said that Flores is one of four Republicans she hired.

If I don’t have a job ... The same e-mail from Herrera goes on talk about requiring employees to help with political campaigns — something that Flores and others have accused her of and that she repeatedly has publicly denied.

However, while chastising Flores for an apparent lack of “interest in helping me,” here Herrera doesn’t mention her own campaign, but that of another state official seeking re-election.

“As the Treasurer mentioned to me, he told all his exempt (employees), ‘If I do not have a job, neither do you.’ He said he told them (that) after November they can submit (a) letter of (interest) but he is only keeping (exempts) who helped him.”

Flores said “the Treasurer” was a reference to state Treasurer James Lewis.

Despite the e-mail, Herrera said Wednesday that Lewis never told her such a thing. She said if she wrote that, it might have been based on a conversation with Deputy Treasurer Mark Valdes, her boyfriend. But she also said that Valdes told her that Lewis didn’t require his employees to support his re-election.

Yasmine Dennig, chief counsel to the state Treasurer’s Office and a spokeswoman for Lewis, said Wednesday, “The treasurer never said anything like that to me. He’s never asked me to volunteer (for his campaign) or contribute and never even implied anything of that sort.”

Flores was one of two exempt employees whom Herrera fired in September. He and former office administrator Manny Vildasol had spoken to the FBI about what they claimed was possible criminal behavior on Herrera’s part. Herrera has denied that was the reason for the firings. No charges from the accusations have been filed. Herrera has denied any wrongdoing.

Documents obtained indicate Herrera had accused Flores, who was responsible for sending news releases to reporters, of having an “altered media list.”

Some SOS sources say that Herrera suspected Flores of e-mailing news releases to Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza — who is a critic of Herrera — and to her former elections director A.J. Salazar, who resigned in March, accusing Herrera of several possible violations of law or policy, including having her staff do political campaign work in the office during work hours.

Herrera repeated her belief that the fact there’s various e-mails and other documents floating around in recent weeks is related to the election.

I’m not a crook: With last week’s burglary of Salazar’s Española law office I’d better add a disclaimer here before the Española police come looking for me.

Salazar did report that some of his documents from his secretary of state file appeared to be missing. But I received this e-mail at least a couple of days before that incident. It’s not the fruit of any crime.

Love Those Lt. Govs

Diane Denish's latest campaign commercial features her running mate, Brian Colon. In an obvious pitch for the Hispanic vote, he's hammering away at the "Susana la Tejana" theme.

Susana Martinez's latest also uses someone who's run for lieutenant governor in her latest ad -- Diane Denish. This apparently consists of footage from the 2006 election featuring Denish praising Gov. Bill Richardson.

Here's the ads:


Another Day, Another Poll

An internal poll from the Diane Denish campaign by the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner firm shows Denish only three points behind Republican Susana Martinez. The poll results were released first in Politico's Morning Score today.

This is better for Democrat Denish than last week's Albuquerque Journal poll by Brian Sanderoff's company. But it's not as good as another poll by another company released by Denish recently that showed her only one point down.

The poll intereviewed 602 likely voters between September 30 and October 4. The margin of error is 4 percent.

According to this poll, Martinez's disapproval level is on the rise. "The percentage of voters viewing Martinez unfavorably has increased 6 points since mid-September and 11 points since mid-August ... while Denish’s standing is static, Martinez’ negatives are on the rise." Thirty nine percent of those poll view Martinez favorable while 42 percent are unfavorable. Denish's numbers are nearly identical, 39 percent favorable -43 percent unfavorable.

According to the poll memo:

In a normal year in New Mexico where two candidates have the same standing, the Democrat wins. In this political environment where the normal Democratic advantage is muted, we will need extra firepower in paid communications and turnout to push ourselves over the top.

One weird thing about the poll memo is that it's dated Oct. 25, 2010. I hope time travel isn't involved. Denish Poll Oct. 4

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NRA Loves Our Dems

So you thought gun rights was a Republican issue and that the National Rifle Association, the largest gun lobby group in the country, is naturally inclined to endorse Republicans?

Think again.

The NRA’s political action committee announced Monday that it has endorsed all three incumbent House Democrats in the state’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of Santa Fe.

A rival gun lobby group, Gun Owners of America, on the other hand, endorsed the three Republicans running for Congress in the state, including Lujan's opponent Tom Mullins -- a 12-year member of the NRA.

See my story in today's New Mexican.

See all the NRA's endorsements in the state HERE. See the GOA's grades of the New Mexico Congressional candidates HERE

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Joyful Campaign

Joe Monahan might have hot it on the head when he referred to the 2010 gubernatorial campaign as a "joyless" campaign.

Well, as just a weekend goof, here's a clip from an era when politics was downright fun. Here's an old film of "live news coverage from the 1972 National Surrealist Party Convention, interrupted by news flashes from Monster Island, where the president is denied entrance to the forbidden city ..."

Yes, it's The Firesign Theatre's Martian Space Party, which I first saw at UNM's SUB Theater not long after it was released. The film quality's not great, but that kind of adds to the charm.

I don't think New Mexico politics was ever quite like this. But we can dream.

Have a joyous weekend.

Another Good Poll For Susana

This one from Rasmussen Reports, which shows Martinez beating Diane Denish 51 percent to 41 percent.

This number includes "leaners" -- people leaning toward one candidate or another. Without these, the number is 50 percent for Martinez, 40 percent for Denish.

Rasmussen interviewed 750 likely voters in New Mexico on Wednesday. The margin of sampling error is4 percentage points.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters in the state share a favorable opinion of Martinez. Thirty-eight percent (38%) view the Republican unfavorably. This includes 35% with a Very Favorable opinion and 25% with a Very Unfavorable one. For Denish, favorables total 48% and Unfavorables 49%. These numbers include 21% Very Favorable and 27% Very Unfavorable.  

The numbers are close the recent Daily Kos/PPP poll,  which showed Martinez with 50 percent to Denish's 42 pecent.

Gov. Bill Richardson fared a little better in this poll than he did in the PPP survey. But it's still bad for the once popular governor. Rasmussen found  34 percent approved of Richardson's performance while 64 percent disapproved. PPP showed a 28 percent approval rating -- but still a 64 percent disapproval.