Monday, April 30, 2012

All the Way With Johnson/Gray?

Judge Jim Gray
Former Gov. Gary Johnson, who most believe is set to win the Libertarian Party presidential nomination this weekend, has made public his choice for running mate: Judge Jim Gray of Orange County, Calif.

“The process all along has been to find somebody that can articulate libertarian ideals and beliefs and I’ve thought all along that he would be a really solid pick,” Johnson told Reason magazine Sunday.

Gray, like Johnson, has been a long-time critic of The War on Drugs. In fact Gray has been a vocal opponent since the early '90s. He even wrote a book about it back in 2001.

The party itself has the power to choose its vice presidential candidate. But Reason notes that there don't seem to be any other candidates for the position.  The party will decide that, as well as the presidential nomination, on Saturday at its convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

TV War Begins in U.S. Senate Race

Actually, "war" is way too strong of a word. Both the Heather Wilson ad, which was released today, and the Martin Heinrich spot, released last week, are soft-focus, introductory spots stressing the background and biographies of  the respective candidate.

(Don't worry. Both sides will be ripping each other to shreds on TV before you know it.)

Republican Wilson's stresses her experience -- and her family's history -- with the U.S. Air Force, as well as  applying what she learned in the military ("leadership, responsibility and integrity") to Congress.

Heinrich's commercial stresses his working class roots and his learning about the "dignity of work."

As some state and national pundits have noted, neither Wilson nor Heinrich directly mentions being a member of Congress in this first round of ads.

Heinrich mentions "extending unemployment benefits…" which, as a Congressman he voted for. I happened to speak with Heinrich earlier today on another matter today. He said he's not running away from being a member of the unpopular institution. Future spots, he said, will focus on specific issues he's pushed in Congress.

I haven't spoken with the Wilson camp about this yet, but I suspect they'd say much the same thing.

Anyway, see for yourself. Here's both ads below:

Here's Heinrich's: (If for some reason you can't see this on your browser, the direct link to Heinrich's campaign Facebook page is HERE.)

Roundhouse Roundup: Who Will Carry the Americans Elect Banner?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 29, 2012

Just a few months ago, a new political organization called Americans Elect seemed to have establishment     partisans from both sides worried.

Could this mysterious upstart group with the stated purpose of involving ordinary citizens in the presidential nominating process tap into the frustrations of those fed up with hyper-partisanship and actually blast through the gridlock?

Could the promise of Americans Elect’s Internet-based system launch a political revolution that would cast out the special-interest weasels and the uncompromising zealots who make up the bases of the major parties?

Well, six months out from the general election and only days before the Americans Elect nominating process is set to begin, it sure doesn’t feel like anything momentous is about to happen.

Americans Elect has been successful in getting on the general election ballot in 25 states — including New Mexico — and more are bound to follow.

But there have been well-publicized problems with Americans Elect. As the Washington Post recently noted, the online voting was supposed to start earlier this month, but AE postponed the online voting until May because of anemic participation.

Many critics, including AE front-runner Buddy Roemer, have complained about a lack of transparency, specifically the group not disclosing its contributors. (It’s classified under the tax code as a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” group).

Some don’t like the fact that AE has a Council of Druids — actually called the “Candidate Certification Committee” — that must approve any candidate selected by the participants.

No, not THAT Buddy!
And some have complained about the clunky, hard-to-navigate $9 million website and the complex nomination process.

But the main question is who’s going to be the candidate of this uprising of moderates?

Of the declared Americans Elect contenders, in first place so far, with less than 4,000 supporters (as of Thursday afternoon), is former Louisiana Gov. Roemer. He’s best known recently for being one of those Republican presidential candidates like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was snubbed by media companies and left out of the Republican debates last year.

Laurence Kotlikoff
Before that he was best known for losing the GOP primary in Louisiana 20 some years ago to former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. In second place is former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson with just over 2,400 supporters.

In a distant third, with 1,498 supporters, is some guy named Laurence Kotlikoff, who is an economics professor at Boston University. On his campaign website, he touts The Purple Tax Plan, The Purple Healthcare Plan, The Purple Energy Plan, etc. Maybe he’s going to choose Prince to be his running mate.

I signed up to participate in Americans Elect, though that does not mean I’d actually vote for the eventual nominee in November.

I answered about 160 of the 200 questions in the website’s mind-numbing and tedious questionnaire before I couldn’t take it any more. Jason Linkens of The Huffington Post recently confessed he was only able to get through 43 questions “before I started to have existential worries about my own mortality.”

Are you ready for the Blake bandwagon?
According to my answers, my best candidate match — someone with whom I allegedly agree with 62 percent of the time — was one Blake Ashby. 

No, I’d never heard of him either. He had a whopping 188 supporters on the AE site.

I found a campaign website for him and learned he’s the president and co-founder of a medical software company in St. Louis. I read his platform and agree with many but not all of his points.

The first thing Ashby says on his site is, “The Americans Elect candidate isn’t going to win this election.” Hey, something we really agree on.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rest Easy, New Mexico, Gov's Grandpa Was Legal

Here's a nice non issue for a Friday afternoon: Gov. Susana Martinez's grandfather -- who she never really knew and who died back in the '70s -- was not an illegal immigrant, the Associated Press said.

"Her Mexican-born grandfather was lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident in 1918 and became a citizen in 1942," Barry Massey said in a story published today. "Martinez was surprised at the news, but maintained that his status, citizen or not, didn't affect her political views. `I embrace lawful immigration," she said. "I think it's what makes America wonderful.' "

Read the story HERE

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It Don't Mean A Thing If NM Loses That Swing

New Mexico is no longer a swing state in the presidential contest.

Obama in Santa Fe 2008
Photo by Anton Terrell
That's the conclusion of the latest Public Policy polling survey of New Mexico voters. According to the PPP news release:

Barack Obama defeated John McCain by 15 points there in 2008, and the polling so far suggests a similar outcome is likely this fall. PPP's newest poll finds Obama ahead of Mitt Romney 54-40 in the state. That's changed little from when we polled the state in December and found Obama up 53-38.

And even though our GOP governor Susana Martinez is one of the nation's most popular governors,"A Romney/Martinez slate still trails Obama/Biden by a 53-42 margin," PPP says. (Martinez has repeatedly said she's not interested in the nomination.)

But, to take the poll, by the Democratic Party affiliated PPP with a little Republican salt,  a spokeswoman for GOP Senate candidate Heather Wilson told me yesterday that the company underpolled Republicans in the state.

Of the registered voters interviewed for this poll, 32 percent were Republicans. But Republicans accounted for 37 percent of the turnout in New Mexico's general election in 2010, and 34 percent in 2008.

However, saying that difference accounts for  Obama's 14-percent-point lead here would be a harder argument to make than in the Senate race, where PPP showed Wilson trailing Democrat Martin Heinrich by only five percentage points.

When Libertarian Gary Johnson -- a former New Mexico governor -- is included, Obama receives 48 percent to Romney's 35 percent. Johnson would receive 15 percent of the vote, the poll indicates.

Obama's good statistics are due to high support among women, Hispanics and young people, PPP says. Also his approval rating has gone up among Democrats since December. Then only 72 percent of Democrats approved of the job he was doing. That's risen to 83 percent now, the poll says. Among all NEw Mexico voters, 53 percent approve of Obama's performance while 44 percent disapprove.

PPP calls Gov. Martinez's approval number's impressive. Fifty four percent of those interviewed said they approved of her performance while 38 percent disapproved. This makes her the 9th most popular governor in the nation out of the 40 governors the company has polled, PPP says.

PPP interviewed 526 registered New Mexico voters between April 19 and 22. The margin of error is 4.3 percent.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heinrich Has Big Lead Over Balderas, PPP Says

Martin Heinrich has a near 2-1 lead over Hector Balderas in the latest Public Policy Polling survey of New Mexico Democrats.

According to the poll of 270 registered Democrats in the state conducted late last week, Heinrich is leading by 51 to 27 percent.

Asked about those crushing numbers, a poker-faced Balderas said he's not concerned. He said he's started out as the underdog in every office he's ever run for.

"Many voters are just getting to know us and our record," he said. "I'm confident that once voters begin paying attention closely in this election and they hear out message, they're going to respond very favorably."

In PPP's poll of 526 NM voters in general Heinrich leads Republican Heather Wilson 48-43 percent. Balderas has a 1 percentage point edge over Wilson.

The company didn't do a horserace poll of  Republican voters on how Wilson is doing against her  long-shot  primary challenger Greg Sowards.

PPP is a Democratic polling company based in North Carolina. The margin of error for the general election poll is 4.3 percent, while the Democratic primary poll's margin of error is 6 percent.

"Wilson is staying competitive with Heinrich and Balderas in this increasingly Democratic state by peeling off 16-17 percent of the Democratic vote while losing just 4-5 percent of the Republican vote," a PPP news release for the new poll said.

"What's keeping her from the lead right now is a lack of appeal to independent voters," the news release said. "Her favorability with them is (36 favorable/45 percent unfavorable), worse than her overall spread of 40/45, and she basically ties both Democrats with (independents)."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gladiator Blues

In declining an invitation from the Santa Fe County Democratic Party for a debate, legislative candidate Carl Trujillo said he would be happy to debate his opponent Mayor David Coss “in a forum that is not run by or beholden to the Democratic Party Machine.”

However, on Monday, Trujillo said he has decided against debating Coss at all in the Democratic primary contest to replace retiring House Speaker Ben Lujan in House District 46.

In a blog post, Trujillo wrote that the “increasing focus on gladiator style debates that pit one candidate against another in an adversarial format may do more harm than good to our democracy. ... In this election, we aren’t going to participate in debates that pit one person against the other in a gladiator-style arena.”

In an interview Monday, Trujillo stood by that position, saying he believes that modern politics have become “bitter, toxic and polarizing.” Instead of debates, he said, he plans to focus on “listening parties” and town halls with constituents. Listening to voter concerns, he said, is more productive than adversarial debates with an opponent.

“I want to put the people’s voice back in the Roundhouse,” Trujillo said.

Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, on his Twitter account Monday said Trujillo’s refusal to debate was a “bad decision.”

Egolf, who said he’s neutral in the District 46 primary, said debates have been part of the American political process since the Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debates of 1856. “Did Carl Trujillo figure out something Abraham Lincoln didn’t know,” Egolf said.

“Debates give voters a lot of information,” he said. “They show how you think on your feet. A legislator is a debater. Granted you have to work together and compromise in committees, but when a bill goes to the floor, you have to debate it.”

Egolf is unopposed in both the primary and general election this year. But in 2010 he debated at least once with his Republican opponent Brigette Russell, he said.

Both Trujillo and Coss will be appear at events tonight. Trujillo is hosting a “listening party” 6 p.m. at the O Eating House in Pojoaque.

Coss will be appearing at the same time at the Santa Fe County Democratic Party forum at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road.

There is no Republican running in the heavily Democratic District 46, so the the winner of the primary in all likelihood will be the net representative.

Interesting Take on Secret Service Scandal

My favorite spam email of the weekend was one from a new "travel website" that has an interesting spin on the Secret Service prostitution scandal.

"In the past week, the media has been buzzing with news of an overseas “sex scandal” involving the hiring of Columbian prostitutes. While the `sex scandal' was brewing, a new US-based travel website that could have prevented such scandals was quietly launched."

As Jon Stewart would say, "Go on ..."

"Over 30% of Americans travel overseas, many are businessmen, executives at Fortune 500 companies, and officials traveling on official business. While traveling overseas, the traveling man, lonely because he is far away from home, may visit local entertainment clubs or night clubs where he is propositioned by countless numbers of prostitutes. An innocent act powered by temptation may later blow up into a national sex scandal that taints reputation and destroys careers. This however could have been prevented if these men sought out healthy relationships like the ones formed using (this new service)."

The company, for a fee, I assume, matches "generous travelers" with "attractive travel partners."

I'm not really familiar with all of the Secret Service's policies and protocol, but I'm pretty sure  they don't allow agents to travel with "attractive travel partners" obtained through some website.

Roundhouse Roundup: The Ethnicity Card

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
April 22, 2012

After a full year of running for Senate, Hector Balderas still finds himself well behind Democratic primary opponent Martin Heinrich in terms of polls and fundraising in the race for U.S. Senate. What does Balderas need to do to finally break out?
Hector Balderas

There’s not a dime’s worth of difference — to use an old George Wallace saying — between Balderas and Heinrich on most of the issues. It’s safe to say that either would be a reliable Democratic vote in the Senate.

The typical underdog response would be to “go negative” against his opponent. Find some questionable vote or quote by Heinrich, blow it insanely out of proportion and run attack ads portraying Heinrich as a dangerous lunatic or traitor to the Democratic cause. It’s an old trick, but sometimes it works.

But something tells me Balderas won’t go that route. For one thing, Republican Senate contender Heather Wilson has a united Republican Party behind her in the GOP primary. (Her only challenger is longshot Greg Sowards, who has never won an election.) If Heinrich does win the primary, Balderas wouldn’t want to be known as someone who launched attacks that ended up helping Wilson win a Senate seat.

But Balderas might have found a way to distinguish himself from Heinrich and tap into a natural Democratic constituency — without scorching the earth. Let’s call it the Ethnicity Card.

We saw it first on Twitter last week. Balderas and his supporters began tweeting about how the Hispanic population is under-represented. The tweets linked to a new Web page called “Hispanics for Balderas.”

There, in a section called “Hector’s Message to Young Hispanics,” he points out economic disparity between Hispanics and the general population, saying, “Now imagine of the difference we could make by electing more Hispanic leaders — people from your community who can fight to make sure we close these gaps.”

Martin Heinrich
Hispanic leaders like, say, Hector Balderas?

Elsewhere on the page, Balderas says, “There are 50.5 million Hispanics living in the United States today. Yet just 7 Hispanic Americans have ever been elected to the United States Senate in our nation’s history.”

The implication: This won’t change if we send Heinrich to the Senate.

“Think of the impact one Hispanic person can have just by running for office,” Balderas says on the page. “While we’ve made a lot of progress on equality in this country — the struggle is still far from over. On many fronts, we’ve stalled.”

Will this strategy be enough to ensure Balderas’ campaign doesn’t stall?

The question of ethnicity in the Senate race has been discussed ever since last year when Bingaman announced he wouldn’t run again. Early in the game, some supporters pointed out that New Mexico hasn’t had a Hispanic senator since Joe Montoya left office in the 1970s.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff told me in April 2011, “The vast majority of Hispanics are Democrats. The Hispanic vote is a high proportion of the votes cast in the Democratic primary.” New Mexico voters tend to vote for candidates of their own ethnicity, he said.

However, Sanderoff said in high-profile races, that’s less true. The more voters learn about the issues and the candidates, Sanderoff said, the more they cast votes based on issues and the candidates’ likeability. But since there’s no real difference on the issues in this case, Sanderoff said Tuesday that it makes sense Balderas would “play up things in his personal background” that set him apart from Heinrich.

“Typically you try to identify a group that’s persuadable,” Sanderoff said. “It’s a perfectly good strategy.”

In a few weeks we’ll know how good it was.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trujillo Still Won't Debate "The Machine"

A planned political forum for the two Democrats seeking retiring Speaker Ben Lujan’s seat in the state House of Representatives apparently will be a one-man show.
Beware The Machine!

Candidate Carl Trujillo’s campaign manager said Friday that Trujillo had declined the invitation from the forum organizer — the Santa Fe County Democratic Party — almost a month ago. Trujillo is competing against Santa Fe Mayor David Coss for the District 46 House seat.

 On March 22  Trujillo released a statement in which he said, “Because I am passionately committed to restoring honest, open and fair democratic values to our community, I would be happy to participate in a debate with Mayor Coss in a forum that is not run by or beholden to the Democratic Party Machine, and with scheduling and format mutually agreed upon by the two candidates rather than presented fait accompli by that Machine.”

The statement concluded, “... if Mayor Coss would like to attend the ‘debate’ you propose, I expect he'll be debating with himself. But that's probably okay — that's pretty much what the Political Machine here in New Mexico does most of the time anyway.”

Carl Trujillo
Trujillo’s campaign manager Faith McKenna said in an email Friday that the party “made no real, credible efforts to negotiate with us on those concerns.” Therefore, “we proceeded with our own plans for the evening.”

She also said the county party “subsequently released the inaccurate information that we were attending.” Trujillo’s name has been listed in news releases about the forum.

But county Democratic chairman Richard Ellenbeg said Friday that shortly after Trujillo declined the invitation, he emailed the campaign. “The format we use has been used numerous times with success and without complaint,” Ellenberg’s email, released Friday to The New Mexican, said. “If you have some specific suggestions for improvement we would be happy to consider them.”

In early April Ellenberg emailed both Trujillo and Coss about the event’s proposed moderator, KSFR radio’s news director Bill Dupuy. “If there is an objection to him, please let me know,” the message said. But Ellenberg said that he’d never heard back from the Trujillo camp.
David Coss

The event will go on as scheduled even if Trujillo doesn’t show,  Ellenberg said. “At least they’ll know one candidate’s views on the issues,” he said.

Coss said Friday that he will go to the forum, even is he’s the only candidate there. “My campaign tells me I do a better job answering questions than I do giving speeches, anyway,” Coss said. “I’ll be happy to answer whatever they ask.”

Trujillo in 2010 came close to unseating Lujan — who later revealed he couldn’t campaign as hard as he wanted to because he was suffering advanced lung cancer.

During that campaign there was some bad blood between Trujillo and the Democratic establishment. For instance the state party refused to sell him access to a voter database because of a policy of not giving access to challengers of Democratic incumbents.

The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road.

My Favorite Political Story of the Day

It's from the Rio Grande Sun. And it's about a politically-charged (alleged) barroom brawl at the Saints & Sinners in Espanola.

According to The Sun, the row was between a supporter of state Sen. Richard Martinez and a supporter of Rio Arriba County Commissioner Alfredo Montoya, who is challenging Martinez in the Democratic primary for Senate.

Martinez was at the bar on April 11 when the incident occurred.

The Sun quotes Espanola City Councilor Robert Seeds, who was with Elias Fresquez, the Montoya supporter involved. Fresquez got into an argument with Leo Marquez, a field coordinator with Martinez's campaign.

From Seeds' account in the paper:

Before long Fresquez — who is supporting Montoya and who supported the candidate who beat Marquez for a seat on the City Council in March — and Marquez started talking political smack. Marquez blamed Fresquez and Seeds for his loss in the Council election and said Martinez was going to badly beat Montoya in the June primary.

As the exchange became more heated Marquez allegedly asked Fresquez if he wanted to fight. Fresquez ignored the invitation until Marquez grabbed him by the collar, at which point Fresquez punched the other man in the face, dropping him to the floor.

When Marquez fell to the floor, Martinez grabbed a beer bottle and was ready to use it as a weapon until Robert Seeds, (his wife) Laura Seeds and Saints and Sinners employees broke up the fight.

Marquez denies that a physical fight took place at all. And Martinez told The Sun that "when he saw the verbal altercation begin he walked away. He also denied grabbing a bottle and trying to enter the fight."

And people wonder why I love New Mexico politics.

(Full disclosure: I love the Saints & Sinners. It's the first bar in which I ever played music, back in 1977.)

Mary Herrera Back in the News

Former Secretary of State Mary Herrera was the center of not one but TWO stories in this morning's New Mexican.

First, I did an article about the fact that a state district judge has dismissed a whistleblower suit against Herrera filed by her former spokesman James Flores. Flores claimed he was fired in 2010 because he had been interviewed by the FBI about alleged wrongdoing by Herrera.

The firings of Flores and former SOS employee Manny Vildasol and their accusations that Herrera had illegally politicized the office were major factors in Herrera losing the SOS race in 2010.

State District Judge Sarah Singleton threw out the suit because Flores did not respond to a motion by Herrera to dismiss the suit. (Actually, the judge waited until a few weeks after the deadline to dismiss the suit.) Singleton did not rule on Herrera's claim that the state Whistleblower Protection Act is unconstitutional.

A similar suit by Vildasol still is pending.

Nothing ever became of that FBI investigation. Herrera lost her re-election, but she never was charged with any crime.

But (in my best infomercial voiceover voice) wait! There's more!

My colleague Trip Jennings did a story that includes the fact that Herrera recently had her lawyer send a  letter threatening a lawsuit against her old political rival Valerie Espinoza, who is running for a Public Regulation Commission seat.

The letter claims that Espinoza, apparently at a recent candidate forum, made statements about Herrera that were "not based on any facts and were made maliciously, willfully and for the sole purpose of trying to humiliate and defame Ms. Herrera."

Lawyer Rudy Chavez wrote. "You are hereby put on notice that Ms. Herrera's friends and associates in the Democratic Party will be monitoring all of your communications to see if you continue this pattern."

According to Trip's article, "Espinoza acknowledged saying at last week's candidate forum in Eldorado that she had questions about the 2010 Democratic candidate for secretary of state's `integrity and ability to hold that office.' " Espinoza said she didn't mention Herrera's name.

Herrera also forwarded a copy of Chavez's letter to state Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales, telling Gonzales, "Stop ignoring the `Cafeteria Democrat' candidates who decide to support Republican and other party candidates at will. As Chair of New Mexico Democratic Party, I ask you again to do what is right for the Democratic Party."

Herrera isn't running anything, but it looks like she's still in the fray.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guess Who's NOT Listed in New GOP VP Poll

If you said Gov. Susana Martinez, you win a cookie.

I guess the folks who conducted the latest CNN/ORC poll believe Martinez, who has repeatedly said she's not interested in being vice president. Of course of of the people who were included in the poll have made similar public statements.

The  473 Republicans who were interviewed April 13-15 were asked to rate various potential running mates as favorable or unfavorable.

Of those possible Republican Veeps listed, the one with the best favorable rating was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Eighty percent of those polled rated her favorably, while only 12 percent said their opinion of her was unfavorable. Only 4 percent said they'd never heard of Rice.

In second place was recently withdrawn GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. His favorable number was 65 percent, while 19 percent gave the former Pennsylvania senator a thumbs down.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in third place for favorable numbers -- and the only other candidate who rated above 50 percent. Christie was at 55 percent, with 10 percent unfavorable rating. Twenty five percent of those polled did not recognize his name.

The pollsters then asked "which one would you most like to see Mitt Romney choose as his vice presidential running mate if Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination?"

Rice was the first choice of 26 percent, followed by Santorum, the choice of 21 percent. Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tied at 14 percent.

Four percent said "someone elese." Maybe these were Martinez supporters.

The margin of error for this poll is 4.5 percent. See the whole poll with crosstabs HERE

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's Official: Heather Had the Most Impressive 1st Quarter Fundraising

I'm back at work and ready to dive into New Mexico politics.

I was just looking at the U.S. Senate race campaign finance figures.

Martin Heinrich Running for Senate
It seems Democratic contender Martin Heinrich has raised nearly four times as much money as his primary opponent Hector Balderas in the first three months of 2012, according to reports filed recently with the Federal Election Commission.

But both Democrats were outpaced by likely Republican Senate nominee Heather Wilson, who last week reported raising nearly $760,000 in the first quarter of this year.

Hector Balderas
Balderas, who is state auditor, raised almost $127,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31 leaving just short of $395,000 in the bank, according to his report.

Heinrich in the first quarter, raised more than $490,000 and had more than $1.55 million cash-on-hand at the end of last month, his campaign said last week.

Balderas’ campaign manager Caroline Buerkle said that Balderas raised more than $100,000 of his total following the pre-primary convention in early March. At that convention, Heinrich, a Congressman from Albuquerque, won the support of about 54 percent of Democratic Party leaders while Balderas got about 45 percent of the vote.

Heather Wilson Supports Lawsuit to Stop Healthcare Bill
Wilson, a former Congresswoman from Albuquerque, reported having $1.45 million cash in hand, slightly less than Heinrich.

Her only GOP primary opponent is dark horse Greg Sowards, a Las Cruces businessman who, according to the Associated Press, reported $100,000 of which was a loan from Sowards himself. Nearly all of Sowards' campaign funds come from the $1.1 Million he has loaned himself. since last year. Sowards had almost $706,000 cash on hand at the end of May.

Lt. Gov. John Sanchez had been running for the Senate seat. However, under-funded and trailing in polls, Sanchez dropped out in February and endorsed Wilson.

UPDATE 8:29 p.m. My earlier version did not have new figures for Sowards. A corrected version used information from The Associated Press for Sowards' numbers.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sen. Adair NOT Seeking Re-Election


O.K., this one was big enough to get me out of my proverbial recovery bed.

Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, who just a few weeks ago said he would try to hang on to his state Senate seart, announced today that he won't be seeking re-election.

Because of redistricting, Adair was pitted against a fellow Republican incumbent, Sen. Bill Burt.

A 16-year veteran of the Senate, Adair is known as one of the most conservative legislators in recent history. He's also been a champion of government transparency, fighting for such measures as opening conference committees and publishing Senate votes on the Legislature's website.

From his email:

Adair has consulted on numerous Republican campaigns and has provided mapping and demographic analysis during the redistricting process. Through New Mexico Demographic Research he also conducted extensive polling and campaign consulting for state house races in 2010.

Adair said his decision will give him time to concentrate on the "great opportunity we have to help bring about real reform in New Mexico." Adair pointed out that the Democrats not only have 14 incumbent legislators retiring or not seeking reelection, but that there are also 23 incumbent Democrats who are being challenged in primaries. He notes that by stepping down, no incumbent Republican senator will be facing a primary. "This will conserve resources and create a focused and united Republican effort as we move to the general election," he said.

"Republicans have fielded more candidates in more competitive districts than ever before," Adair said, "Now is the time to try to effect change. I have determined that I can be of better service to my community and our state by concentrating my efforts on helping these campaigns be successful. That would bring about lasting change."

"For the first time in my lifetime we have a governor truly committed to change—to real reform—for our state. Because Susana Martinez blocked the Democrats' radically partisan gerrymander, the voters finally have a say in redistricting. As a result, we have the greatest opportunity we've ever had to free the state from more than 80 years of Democrat domination in the legislature. Freeing New Mexico from that yoke would benefit our state for generations to come, in every area of our lives. We could finally reform our tax system, attract industry and medical care professionals, reform our educational system and lay the groundwork for job growth and economic vitality. Now is the time to help effect change from the ground up."

"Just as was the case in the redistricting negotiations, it's clear to me that I can have a greater impact trying to help create a Republican majority, rather than trying to be a part of it. It’s an easy choice to make," Adair stated.

"I have greatly enjoyed my tenure in the State Senate, Adair concluded, "It has been a real honor to serve the great people of Chaves and Lincoln Counties, as well those of North Eddy County during my first term." (Adair was elected in 1996 from Chaves and Eddy Counties, and was redistricted to represent Chaves and Lincoln Counties in 2001.)

Tuesday afternoon Adair filed a statement with the Secretary of State withdrawing from the primary ballot.

UPDATE: 7:04 pm In the original version ogf this post I had the wrong name of Adair's erstwhile opponent. I blame the pain pills. (Tanks to reader Susan!)