Joe Monahan’s Analysis On November 6, 2018 General Election; Early Voting Surges For Democrats

On October 29, 2018, one week before the November 6, 2018 general election, Joe Monahan on his political blog New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan, posted an excellent update giving the status on New Mexico’s general election.

Following is Mr. Monahan’s October 29, 2018 blog article:

“NM GOP Has Major Cracks; Who Will Pick Up The Pieces? Plus: Fresh Polling Has MLG Leading; Is There A Path For Pearce? And: Yvette And Xochitl Tied, State Of The Governor’s Race; It’s Not As Bad As The TV Ads Say

This one flew under the radar but is of note.

Gov. Martinez made a quiet appearance last Friday in Roswell and greeted Vice President Mike Pence there as he prepared to rally the GOP troops for Republican Guv hopeful Steve Pearce and southern congressional candidate Yvette Herrell. But she did not attend the rally that Pence conducted at the Roswell Airport and she has not publicly endorsed either Pearce or Herrell. This trio of top R’s are actually bitter foes. Martinez also refused to embrace the Trump candidacy in ’16.

Martinez’s popularity has plummeted to the low to mid 30’s. Her appearance at the rally would probably not have been welcome. But her solo sidebar with Pence speaks to the more important question of the state of the NM GOP. And it’s not good.

Martinez took the party to new heights, scoring re-election for herself and helping her brethren gain control of the state House for two years. But her popularity crashed along with the economy and her constant fighting with the legislature. Combined with the failed tenure of ABQ Republican Mayor RJ Berry, the GOP has been left in tatters.

If Pearce and Herrell were to both lose next week who would rebuild? There is no apparent answer. Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is spent and also out with Martinez at year’s end.

The stakes for the state’s minority party couldn’t get much higher. They need at least one major winner next Tuesday.


Just as we said the public polling had stalled out, here comes one. And the numbers look familiar. In the Governor’s race the Emerson College poll conducted Oct 24-26 of 936 likely voters has it Michelle Lujan Grisham 53 to 44 over Republican Steve Pearce. That’s exactly where an internal poll for MLG’s campaign had it that was conducted Oct. 22-26 and that was released over the weekend.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff is in the field this week for the ABQ Journal and will report his final results Saturday and Sunday. But right now it looks as though MLG is closing in on the prize. Pearce spokesman Kevin Sheridan begs to differ:

Anyone telling themselves this is a 9-point race is going to be in for a shock on election night.

The margin of error in the Emerson Guv poll is 3.4 percent.

As we’ve blogged, Big BernCo is Pearce’s problem child. He is underperforming here and must move some numbers. But he doesn’t seem overly interested. Monday he was campaigning in Farmington and today he is headed south to Tatum, Lovington and Hobbs. The strategy is to hype the southern numbers and others outside the Metro in hopes of overcoming MLG’s ABQ advantage.

President Bush did something similar in October 2004 when he scheduled stops in Farmington, Hobbs and Alamogordo. Hobbs had never had a presidential visit. Bush defeated Dem John Kerry here in a squeaker, 49.84% to 49.05%.

Bush lost BernCo that year by only 51.5% to 47.3. The losing margin was only12,000 votes. (He appeared in ABQ on Election Eve) But Bush carried Lea County where he had visited by a stunning 80% to 20% margin or nearly 11,000 votes, nearly the same margin he lost BernCo,

Bush’s statewide popular vote win over Kerry was only 5,988. But he won. That appears to be the needle that Steve Pearce is trying to thread as the campaign comes down to its final intense hours. The issue is whether it is too late to get BernCo closer so the south can rise again.

Emerson also did a Guv poll in August. That survey had Pearce at 42 and MLG at 40, but that one is looking more like an outlier. No other public poll has had the race that close. The Journal had it 50-43 in it’s early September survey.


The survey showed a nip and tuck race for the southern congressional seat, with Republican Yvette Herrell and Dem Xochtil Torres Small tied at 47 percent among 238 voters polled.

However, the margin of error was a quite high 6 percent. Also, most of the survey was conducted before the VP Pence rally in Roswell for Pearce and Herrell which drew widespread coverage.

This one has been tough for either candidate to put away, with over-the-top spending from the national partisans. Historically it breaks toward the R’s. We’ll see where it lands Election Night when we call the action on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ and on


The US Senate race fizzled long ago. Emerson has it for Senator Heinrich with 48 percent. R Mick Rich garners 32 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson comes in third with 16% and 6% is undecided.

What this tells us is that Rich has consolidated some of the GOP vote and likely will take second place. Johnson is fading, as third party candidates are prone to do during the final days.

The undecided may be more likely to go with Rich or Johnson since they already know incumbent Heinrich. The question is can Heinrich reach 50 percent in this three way race?


In the ABQ congressional race Dem Deb Haaland garners 51 percent to 41 percent for Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. Libertarian Lloyd Princeton gets 1 percent. This seat has been a safe Dem hold for a while and this poll confirms that. The margin of error is 5.7%.

In the heavy Dem northern congressional seat Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is set to win in a walk. He leads R Gerald McFall 54% to 37 percent. Undecided is 5 percent. Lujan is headed to his sixth, two year term in the US House.

Emerson also asked about favorable ratings. They have Trump at 40% favorable, 55% unfavorable; Lujan Grisham 43% favorable, 39% unfavorable and Pearce 43% favorable, 43% unfavorable. Obviously, the negative campaigning in the Guv’s race has put a lid on the candidates favorable ratings. But winning has a way of putting a halo on a hopeful and the ratings of the Governor-elect should go up after the election.

The Emerson college poll was conducted using automatic robo calls and on line surveys.


Given the onslaught of campaign ads accusing Pearce and Lujan Grisham of being little better than corrupt mob bosses, the hands of Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico might be trembling as they approach their ballot to make their choice. What to do?

Well, rest assured the two contenders are not in line to be honored by the Mother Teresa society but the charges against the pair are actually garden variety. They hit them for fudging and misleading statements–not an exchange of cash for services which would take them from the garden to the jailhouse.

The awarding of state contracts is inherently a political process. The contractors are always looking for an edge and the politicians are looking to keep their friends happy. Sometimes the line gets crossed and you have pay to play and perp walks. Remember the metro courthouse scandal or those involving two state treasurers?

In the case of MLG and Delta Consulting there is a case to be made that the contract was politically tinged. There’s that report that Delta was the only one submitting a bid to run the high risk insurance pool and continuing questions about how much the contract was advertised. Also, the fact that the congresswoman was indeed politically connected to Governor Richardson. But the more important questions are: Was Delta qualified? Did Delta deliver the services promised? Did Delta or MLG embezzle funds? The answers so far are that the company was qualified and there was no illegal activity.

As for Pearce, it’s true he prevaricated (to use a fancy word for not telling the truth) when he listed a company on his disclosure form as engaging in party rentals when it was actually an oil and gas company. Why he felt the need to cover that activity is perplexing given that Pearce is well known to have gotten rich from the SE oilfields. It’s not behavior that engenders confidence but is it evidence of a quid pro quo in which Pearce received direct payments from the oil and gas industry (not only campaign contributions) to influence his congressional votes? In other words was he on the take? So far, the answer to that question is no.

The aforementioned Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico don’t have to worry that they are putting in office a modern version of Al Capone as the TV ads infer. What they do have to worry about is how the power will shape whoever eventually wins. On that score. . .

The past two gubernatorial administrations ended in a sea of corruption charges. Gov. Richardson was nearly indicted. Governor Martinez’s chief political adviser Jay McCleskey narrowly escaped a federal indictment. Both Governors came under scrutiny for awarding contracts to political allies. After Big Bill state investment procedures had to undergo a radical overhaul because of pay to play scandals over the state’s billions in savings. Under Martinez the behavioral health system was destroyed and has to be rebuilt because she brought in out of state contractors to run the system.

The corruption charges in the incendiary TV spots against Pearce and MLG are far from disqualifiers but they are markers for the government watchdogs. If Pearce is elected they will follow the oil and gas money and look for signs of any outsized influence in the administration. If MLG wins, all eyes will be on her relationship with Gov. Richardson and his allies and for any movidas to secure state contracts under her.


To keep corruption at a minimum you need accountability. But the past two Governors have seen little of it. Both won re-election in historic landslides and went on to crash and burn, ending with dismal approval ratings.

Bruce Donisthorpe, the late pollster, consultant. congressional staffer and decades-long veteran of La Politica had a favored solution: “Elect them. But never re-elect them,” he would often declare.

He had a point. If Richardson, Martinez and Johnson left office at the end of their first terms they would have left as heroes.

I’m often reminded of our old friend Bruce, especially in the final stretch when we would call on him and others with exceptional political acumen like consultant Harry Pavlides and Andrew Leo Lopez, the original Senior Alligator of the ABQ South Valley. All were brilliant and all of them made me shine. Thanks, fellas. We’ll carry on. . .


State Republicans may or may not have something to party about Election Night. Whatever the case, they will gather at the ABQ Crowne Plaza as the returns roll in. The State Dems will gather at the Hotel ABQ. . .

Southern GOP congressional candidate Yvette Herrell has raised a total of $1.2 million for her campaign, not the $1.6 million we had in a first blog draft.”


Early voting numbers show a major surge with thousands flocking to voting booths ahead of Election Day.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, Democrats are dominating early voting across New Mexico.

Two very recent KRQE new reports revealed that the latest numbers showed Democrats accounted for 56 percent of early ballots, despite the fact they make up 46 percent of registered voters.

In Bernalillo County, Democrats came up with 71 percent of the early vote and Republicans with 16 percent.

As of last Thursday, statewide, there were more than 162,000 ballots cast.

That includes more than 29,000 absentee ballots.

In Bernalillo County alone, nearly 60,000 ballots have also been cast.

Early voting ends November 3, 2018.

Joe Monahan publishes reports on his blog 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday.

The link to New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan is

You can also email Joe Monahan directly at his email address

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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.