Damon Martinez Leads In Congressional Race; Attack Ads To Commence

The Albuquerque Journal has now released its first and long anticipated poll in the First Congressional District being vacated by Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Journal poll is the fourth known poll taken over the last two months in the First Congressional race to replace Michelle Lujan Grisham who is running for Governor.

The main reason the Albuquerque Journal poll is so important is that it was released two weeks before the election.

You can read the full Albuquerque Journal article on the poll here:


The 6 Democrats running for congress are:

Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis
Former Democratic Party Chair Debra Haaland
Former UNM Law School Associate Dean Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
Immigration and tax attorney Damian Lara
Former United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Damon Martinez
Albuquerque businessman Paul Moya

The poll was conducted by Brian Sanderoff, President of Research and Polling.

Research and Polling has the most impressive track record of any New Mexico polling company with over 40 years of polling in New Mexico races.

Research and Polling has an impressive 98% track record of accurately predicting political races in New Mexico.

Research and Polling conducts polls exclusively for the Albuquerque Journal and no longer does polling for political candidates.

The Albuquerque Journal Poll conducted by Research and Polling was of 395 registered Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional District who cast ballots in the 2014 and/or 2016 Democratic primary elections and who said they were very likely to vote once again in this year’s June 5 primary election.

The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points, making the race “too close” to call by pollsters

The Journal poll results are as follows:

Damon Martinez: 22%
Debra Haaland: 19%
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez: 17%
Pat Davis : 5%
Damian Lara: 4%
Paul Moya: 3%

What is surprising is that 29% of the voters are still undecided.

According to the Albuquerque Journal poll, with four Hispanics in the race, Damon Martinez is the clear favorite among Democratic Hispanics polling with 25% of those respondents vowing to support him at the ballot box.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez polled at 19 percent among Hispanic respondents while Debra Haaland had just 9 percent support among Hispanics.

Across the country, more and more woman are running for elective offices and are winning, with New Mexico being no exception.

Both Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Debra Haaland have emphasized greatly their gender and background in their candidacies, but the Journal Poll suggest they are splitting the female vote and that Damon Martinez also has significant female support and a lead with male voters.

According to the poll, Debra Haaland secured 21% of the females polled, Damon Martinez tied with 21%, and Antonette Sedillo Lopez secured 18% of the females polled.

Damon Martinez, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Debra Haaland are also splitting the male vote but Martinez has more male support than the two women.

Debra Haaland secured 16% of males polled, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez secured 16% of the males polled and Damon Martinez secured 24% of males polled, 8% above Haaland and Sedillo Lopez.

All three top tier candidates split and received the lions share of likely voters with respect to age groups and education.

The Journal poll when compared to three other polls that have been released clearly show that Damon Martinez has momentum that is going to be difficult to stop.


A poll was conducted the weekend of Friday, April 13, 2018 to Sunday, April 15, 2018 and consisted of contacting 508 registered democrats with the poll having a margin of error of 4.4%.

It was Pat Davis who commissioned the “auto-phone” opinion poll with Public Policy Poll (PPP) with the link to the full poll here:


The PPP poll results were as follows:

Debra Haaland: 15%
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez: 15%
Pat Davis : 11%
Damon Martinez: 7
Damian Lara: 4%
Paul Moya: 4%


A poll commissioned by VoteVets was conducted on May 13 and 14 by Lake Research in Washington, DC.

The organization that commissioned the poll is promoting Damon Martinez.

Notwithstanding who paid for the poll, it should be considered highly reliable.

The poll was of 390 “likely” Democratic voters and the poll used professional phone interviews as opposed to the “auto-phone” poll conducted by PPP and commissioned by Pat Davis.

Professional phone interview polls are considered more reliable and far more expensive than “robo-call” polls.

The poll showed an extremely tight race between three candidates with “undecided” voters still winning.

The margin of error for the poll was 5%.

The results of the VOTEVETS poll are as follows:

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez: 25%
Damon Martinez: 23%
Debra Haaland: 20%
Pat Davis : 5%
Damian Lara: 5%
Paul Moya: 5%


On Thursday, May 24, New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan released a “robo call” poll showing Damon Martinez winning but calling the race too close to call.

The poll was taken of 305 likely Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional Disitrict.

The margin of error of the Monahan poll is 5.6% which is slightly higher than most polls which usually come in with 4% to 5% margins of error.

The results of Monahan Poll are as follows:

Damon Martinez: 27%
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez: 23%
Debra Haaland: 19%
Damian Lara: 5%
Paul Moya: 5%
Pat Davis : 4%

The fact that 19% of the voters were still undecided makes the race to close to call.


On May 22, 2018, the Albuquerque Journal did a solid and positive endorsement of Damon Martinez that could not have been any better, even though it made mention of Paul Moya.

The full Albuquerque Journal editorial can be read here:


Progressives, especially Bernie Sander supporters, would say that the Albuquerque Journal endorsement is a kiss of death to them, but it is not when you have at least 4 progressives in the race with older, more conservative Democrats who still read the Albuquerque Journal and who still vote.

The Journal editorial gave a summary of Damon Martinez’s impressive record of public service, pointing out that he is an Albuquerque native who earned a bachelor’s degree, Master of Business Administration and law degree from the University of New Mexico, and served as New Mexico’s U.S. attorney from 2014 to 2017 until he was fired by Donald Trump and has been an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces for 15 years, enlisting after the September 11 attacks.

The Journal endorsement also said Martinez worked in Congress for former US Senator Jeff Bingaman and then former US Representative and now US Senator Tom Udall, serving as Bingaman’s legislative assistant and later as Udall’s legislative director and “for those reasons knows how the system works and would be able to hit the ground running if elected to Congress.”

Former US Senator Jeff Bingaman has also endorsed Damon Martinez and is helping him raise money and the endorsement should have a major impact on progressive democrats.


There have been no negative attack commercials by the candidates, until now.

It has been reported by Joe Monahan that a $200,000 ad buy from an independent expenditure group affiliated with EMILY’s List has been made to attack Damon Martinez.

(NOTE: The EMILY’ List ad is available on YOUTUBE and can be seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dd_PXguKr74 )

EMILY’s List is a political action committee (PAC) that has the almost exclusive goal to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office.

The sinister sounding ad criticizes Damon Martinez for not prosecuting any Albuquerque Police Officer for 27 fatal police shootings.

The ad is very misleading in that such prosecutions are the job of the Bernalillo County County District Attorney, not the US Attorney, as was the case when the Bernalillo County District Attorney charged and tried two APD police officers for the killing of homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia Foothills.

What is misleading is the failure to disclose that Damon Martinez as the United State Attorney for New Mexico was on the forefront and responsible for enforcement of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) that mandates extensive reform of APD and changes to APD’s use of force and deadly force policies.

The EMILY’S List attack ads is seen as an effort to stop the momentum of Damon Martinez and increase the chances of Debra Haaland and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

The negative ad is to commence running on television this Tuesday, May 29, 2018.


It is clear comparing the four polls that the media expenditures by the three top candidates have had a major impact on the race.

The most recent Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports show that Debra Haaland led all six Democratic candidates with $836,709 in donations, Sedillo Lopez ranked second in the race for total contributions with $706,954 received and Damon Martinez was the third-highest money recipient, with $699,263.

Damon Martinez is one that has had the best return on his investment coming in from a distant 5th at first to now leading in the race with significant momentum that will no doubt continue unless he has a misstep.

Immigration and tax attorney Damian Lara reported raising $324,068 and is running TV ads that are impressive, but his candidacy has not caught on and the amount he has raised and spent has not made him competitive in the race.


Albuquerque Businessman Paul Moya reported raising $191,539, he is running TV ads but his primary emphasis has been running a social media campaign running commercials on FACEBOOK to get his message out.


Mr. Moya has been very impressive at forums and debates, but the impact of his social media campaign is unknown, does not show up in the polls, despite the considerable number of “views” on his FACEBOOK page which consistently run in the thousands.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez had a minor setback to her campaign when it was reported out of the Journal Washington Bureau that she returned $2,750 in campaign donations given to her by seven attorneys who had cases pending in the Court of her husband, State District Judge Victor Lopez.


The Albuquerque Journal reported that Sedillo-Lopez has solicited donations from licensed attorneys and former students of hers at the UNM School of Law where she was a professor.

This should be considered a minor setback for Antoinette Sedillo Lopez for now but it has the potential of becoming a major setback and a black eye to her campaign if other such donations and solicitations are found and reported upon by the news media or any one of her opponents.

The one candidate that has had the biggest setback is Pat Davis.

Davis considered by many as the most progressive candidate in the race, he has high name recognition as a city councilor, but Davis has dropped in the polls, despite his use of vulgar language in a TV commercial to attack the National Rifle Association.

Davis’s embarrassing interview with conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson on FOX News about his use of vulgar language against the NRA and his understanding of automatic and semi automatic weapons did not help Pat Davis much.

The Carlson-Davis interview showed Davis is not at all ready for prime time in the United States Congress and calls into question his judgment for even appearing on FOX News.

The full Carlson-Davis interview, along with the Davis ad, can be seen at this YOUTUBE link:


All 4 polls seem to reflect that Debra Halaand and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez are splitting the more progressive and women’s vote and Damon Martinez is benefitting from that split.

Damon Martinez is considered a more traditional democrat, many progressives would say more conservative, than Debra Haaland and Antonette Sedillo Lopez despite the fact Damon Martinez has come out in favor of Medicare for all and banning of the manufacture of assault rifles.


Polls such as conducted by Research and Polling tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Polls taken and published two weeks in advance of any election have an enormous impact on a candidate’s viability and their ability to raise money.

The impact that the Journal poll will have on the congressional race is to add to the momentum Damon Martinez has as well as increasing his ability to raise and spend more campaign funds.

There are still two weeks left before the primary, and with 29% still undecided, many are saying the race is too close to call.

However, in the world of politics, momentum is the single most important factor, especially two weeks before an election.

Two major questions that will need to be answered is if Damon Martinez will be able to raise enough money to offset or respond to the EMILY’S list attack ad and if the attack ads will benefit the two women in the race.

At this point in time, it is more likely than not that Damon Martinez will continue with his momentum and will be the Democratic nominee presuming he continues with his fundraising and spending and there are no missteps on his part.

However, two weeks in a congressional campaign is an eternity.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.