Thursday, September 11, 2014

Race of the Day- New Mexico Governor

54 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2012 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

On an historic anniversary, where we as a nation look back with grief and sorrow, it is also worthy being appreciative of our country and it's freedoms. One of those is our free system of democratic government. In that spirit, we look toward the Land of Enchantment in the Southwest, and examine the contest for Governor.

There were few overall stories of the 2010 cycle that contained more of a Cinderella story than the rise of Susana Martinez and her election as the nation's first Latina Governor. The District Attorney of Dona Ana County, which is certainly not the population center of her state, she used her considerable political skills to run for Governor and solidly won a crowded Republican primary, then achieved a comfortable general election victory in a state that had moved considerably towards Republicans. Martinez is often one of the most talked about names in the national GOP, and her stellar speech to the 2012 national convention, only added to the speculation that she might one day blaze historic trails on an even greater stage. However, she seems pretty focused on her task at home and has not taken many steps to further raise her national profile. Despite the economic challenges of New Mexico, she has remained popular as Governor, and seems on track to prove that 2010 was not a fluke, as she heads towards a probable reelection victory.

Various Democrats stepped up to compete for their party's Gubernatorial nomination, but one aspect of the race is the fact that former GOP Governor turned Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, opted not to run as a third party candidate. Despite once being considered a conservative, Johnson's social liberalism and embracing of things such as drug legalization would have likely split opposition to Martinez to the benefit of the current Governor.

From the time he launched his campaign, the front-runner for the Democrat nomination was State Attorney General Gary King. The son of a former New Mexico Governor, King, once a State Representative had lost two races of his own for Governor, as well as a Congressional bid, before winning statewide office in 2006. While he won the June primary this year by double digits, 65 percent of Democrats still supported another candidate. Liberal businessman Alan Webber was second, followed by Lawrence Rael, once a state agriculture official, Albuquerque administrator, and unsuccessful Lt. Governor candidate, and then State Senators Howie Morales and Linda Lopez brought up the rear. After the primary, the defeated candidates pledged their support to King.

Under New Mexico law, separate primaries are held for Lt. Governor, and then candidates run together in the fall on a unified ticket. Running alongside King, an Anglo nominee in a state with large minority communities, is Deb Haaland, a Native American community and Democrat party activist. The GOP ticket (as well as some other nominees for statewide office) is all Hispanic. Incumbent Lt. Governor John Sanchez is once again running on the ticket with Martinez. Himself, as 2002 Republican nominee for Governor, the conservative Sanchez had run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, before dropping out after it appeared he could not win a primary. Now, he seems willing to serve another term as Lt. Governor while biding his time before what will probably be another bid for the top job down the road.

Democrats in the state and many around the nation are probably mystified by the political success of Martinez in a state where Democrats have won almost all of the big contests over the past decade. While the state's Hispanic population leans heavily Democrat, and will vote in a majority way for the white nominee of that party over Martinez, she has certainly made inroads into that community which have propelled her to victory in the past. Most polls have put Martinez several points ahead of King in the general election, as the incumbent runs at or above 50 percent of the vote. The one exception was a July survey from Rasmussen Reports which had both candidates tied at 43 percent. No other survey has seemed to back up the theory of the race being a tossup.

King's statewide political experience and the political dynamics of the state certainly prevent this race from being considered "Safe" for the GOP, but the Republican is ahead in the polls and will have a significant financial advantage over her opponent down the homestretch. It would be a huge shock if she does not win reelection in November. Once that happens, many from around the country might urge her to put her poltical star-power forward as a Presidential candidate. My guess is she will pass on that option, at least this time, but by the time there is a GOP nominee, assuming he is not also an Hispanic-American, there will be many eyes watching Santa Fe and the Governor in that capital.

Martinez campaign link:

Gubernatorial races predicted thus far: 10 D (1 Safe, 2 Likely, 4 Leans, 3 Tossup) , 13 R (3 Safe, 4 Likely, 6 Leans)
Overall totals predicted thus far: 17 D, 20 R


At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Conservative Democrat said...

I'm betting Martinez might run for the United States Senate in 2018.


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