Inside the Capitol

Friday, May 28, 2010

5-31 GOP Gov Candidates Wrap It Up

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- It appears fairly certain that New Mexico's next governor will be a woman.
The deciding factor evidently was state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates' announcement eight days ago that state Republican leaders determined Susana Martinez's political ads were factual and Allen Weh's weren't.
In the few days following that announcement, two independent polls found that the statistical tie between the two candidates two weeks ago turned into a double-digit lead for Martinez.
Blogger Joe Monahan's poll found Martinez with a 41-30 lead, while a Survey USA poll had Martinez over Weh by a 43-33 margin.
It certainly appears Martinez has the momentum to close the race with a victory tomorrow. Reports indicate Martinez is picking up numerous endorsements from individuals and groups that want to get on the good side of the winner.
Republican lawmakers appear to be coming to the Martinez side hoping she can save the day for them when it comes to redistricting state and national legislative seats next year. Without a Republican governor to stop them, a Democratic legislature can have its way with the redistricting process.
Republican leaders at the national level are very concerned with that possibility in the many states that have both a Democratic governor and legislature.
A possible pitfall Martinez may face if she wins the primary tomorrow is that lieutenant governor candidate John Sanchez is likely to win that race, thereby creating a Martinez-Sanchez ticket.
Election results clearly demonstrate the existence of ethnic politics in New Mexico. We don't know if it will make much difference in this race because neither party has ever had a ticket headed by two Hispanics.
Another piece of good news for Martinez is that the Survey USA poll paired certain Democratic nominee Diane Denish with each of the five GOP gubernatorial hopefuls and found Denish beats them all except Martinez who has a 49-43 lead at this point.
If Martinez wins tomorrow, we may not see any warm fuzzies between them about being New Mexico's first two female gubernatorial candidates. This is the first time we've even had one.
Martinez and Denish already are going after it, firing volleys back and forth. The general election campaign already has started.
Gov. Sarah Palin's endorsement of Martinez isn't going to hurt tomorrow either, She's had a good track record so far. But when Democrats and independents are added to the mix in November, the value of that endorsement may change.
On the other side of the political ledger, it will be interesting how the Hillary Clinton's endorsement of Lt. Gov. Denish is perceived in the light of Bill Clinton's split with Gov. Bill Richardson.
The 3rd Congressional District features a hotly contested Republican primary. Adam Kokesh got in the race early and has been running hard ever since, promoting his libertarian beliefs and his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I was assured in several emails that state GOP leaders would find an opponent for him because he would not be a good representative of the Republican Party.
Sure enough, Tom Mullins of Farmington got in the race several months later. And has criticized Kokesh's opposition to our wars. Kokesh has received some strong support from those who say two tours of duty in Iraq should qualify a person to oppose the war.
Kokesh's major problem will be whether enough of his defenders can vote in the GOP primary.
The one time the five Republican gubernatorial candidates faced off in public was televised by KOB-TV last Thursday night. All candidates did well for themselves. There were no embarrassing moments.
If that one debate were the only information New Mexicans were to have about the campaign, Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones would be the GOP nominee. She came across as strong, smart, witty and personable. Unfortunately she ran a low budget campaign so New Mexicans just didn't get to see enough of her.
MON, 5-31-10

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



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