Inside the Capitol

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5-19 It's a Two-Way Race for GOP

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- It's Allen Weh and Susana Martinez running neck and neck down the home stretch for the June 1 GOP gubernatorial primary, according to Sunday's Albuquerque Journal poll.
The two have been far out in the lead since the preprimary nominating convention in March. They were the only two to make the ballot. No one else got close
The newspaper's report used words such as surging, emerging and breaking away to describe the leads of Weh and Martinez but the truth is that they always have been in the lead.
Between them, they carried 73 percent of the delegate votes at the GOP preprimary nominating convention, leaving the other three to fight over the remaining 27 percent.
Yet all three submitted the extra signatures necessary to get on the ballot, including Pete Domenici, Jr. who garnered less than 5 percent of the delegate vote.
The performance of the candidates can be determined by the amount of money going into their campaigns and consequently the amount of TV time the candidates could buy. Domenici managed to pull himself up to 10 percent in this week's poll
Doug Turner fell from nine percent to six percent, possibly because he hasn't yet spent most of the big bucks he loaned his campaign. Janice Arnold-Jones slipped badly because of her inability to raise funds and he lack of personal resources to put into the campaign.
Arnold-Jones performance at the preprimary nominating convention equaled the combined total of Domenici and Turner. Delegates evidently saw potential in the state representative but the campaign donations never came rolling in.
The Journal poll showed 20 percent of the respondents still undecided. If any of the bottom tier of candidates were to miraculously pick up every one of those votes, it still would not be enough to win.
So what now? Do the three bottom candidates fold up their tents and save the rest of their money? Or has it already been committed? Do they pull out and endorse one of the top two candidates? That might get them a nice job in the next administration if they endorse the winner. But all three of them already have top jobs.
And therein lies one of the keys to winning this GOP primary. Weh has been traveling the state since last summer. When I interviewed him last September, he already had visited every county in the state but two. The others are more tied to their businesses or jobs.
It is a big advantage to the Weh, 67, who still lists himself as CEO of his company but who obviously doesn't have to stick to his desk. That advantage and the $1 million his has been able to loan his campaign may give him the ability to pull away from Martinez.
The Journal poll shows Weh at 31 percent of those polled to Martinez's 30 percent. Considering the 4.4 percent margin of error, it's a statistical tie.
It is an advancement for Weh, who scored 26 percent of the convention vote and a decline for Martinez, who carried 47 percent of the convention vote.
Surprisingly, the poll showed no gender gap in the Weh-Martinez race. Among male voters and female voters, the two remained statistically tied. Political analysts saw Weh as somewhat vulnerable among female voters because of his tough-talking style.
Campaign advisers for both candidates have done a good job by softening Weh's demeanor somewhat on television while Martinez has been portrayed as tough on crime and corruption.
An ethnic gap did appear, however. Anglo voters preferred Weh by a margin of three percent while Hispanic voters preferred Martinez by a margin of 13 percent.
It appears Weh has been gaining on Martinez. That could continue. But could an appearance and endorsement by GOP superstar Sarah Palin change that? Expect some excitement in the next two weeks.

WED, 5-19-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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