Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9-17 New Mexicans escape attack ads this year

91712 not marginal

SANTA FE – Good news. New Mexicans will not be deluged by nearly as many negative campaign ads this year as in the past. That's because we don't have any close federal races this year.
We already are being bombarded with some attack ads but, with the minor exception of one race, these ads are not from candidates or national campaign committees. The negative ads are coming from right-leaning super PACs and left-leaning non-profit organizations primarily representing environmental interests.
The one exception is the U.S. Senate campaign in which Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Martin Heinrich are running moderately negative ads combined with positive ads about themselves.
Wilson is having to use her own campaign account to finance her ads because the National Republican Senatorial Committee has pulled $3 million originally allocated to Wilson's race.
The problem is that NRSC polling indicates Wilson isn't running a sufficiently competitive race at this point. The money will go to closer races elsewhere.
Wilson says the national GOP committee will make $1.8 million available in case the race tightens. And it could tighten. Wilson and Heinrich have agreed to four debates. Wilson has been quite effective at debates in past congressional campaigns.
As a result, Heinrich has a similar problem. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee cancelled a planned weeklong TV blitz for him. No doubt it will be standing by in case the race tightens.
The three U.S. House races have been eerily quiet. The Congressional District 1 race normally is very competitive but this appears to be a Democratic year. The state and national Republican parties have not been able to get excited about Janice Arnold Jones.
Former state Rep. Arnold-Jones was an effective member of the state House, championing government transparency causes during the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson. She also has a strong technology background.
Arnold-Jones outlasted her primary election opponents but just wasn't conservative enough to win approval in today's Republican Party. She has had major problems raising money as a result.
Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic candidate, has served as cabinet secretary of two different departments of state government. She received major help from national women's organizations in defeating two formidable primary election opponents.
Both Arnold-Jones and Lujan Grisham have discussed a wide variety of campaign issues with reporters. Either can go to Congress well-armed to represent the district. But we apparently won't see much of them during the next six weeks.
Congressional Districts 2 and 3 are the usual runaways with incumbents Steve Pearce, a Republican and Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat far outdistancing their challengers. Don't expect to see much of any TV time for either race.
The presidential race also has been quiet this year. For the first time in quite a while, New Mexico is not considered a swing state. President Barack Obama carried it handily four years ago.
This year polls have shown him well ahead again in New Mexico so money has not been rolling in for a major effort. Last week's Albuquerque Journal poll showed Obama with only a five point lead but as of this writing, there is no evidence that either party has now targeted the state.
The Journal poll did include former Gov. Gary Johnson who is running on the Libertarian ticket. The seven percent Johnson received in the poll may account for much of the apparent tightening of the race.
The poll was taken before the end of the National Democratic Convention so Obama's convention bounce is not totally factored in. Nonetheless those who profit from New Mexico being a targeted state are hoping negative ad money will start rolling in.

Recently I asked if all this intercepting of state emails is within limits of the law. The answer is we'll be hearing much more on the subject.


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