On Sunday, May 15, the Albuquerque Journal ran on its front page the anticipated report of the Democratic race for Attorney General. The below the fold front page article was written by long time Journal Investigative Reporter Collen Heild and entitled:
“Attorney General’s Democratic primary pits two heavy hitters”
The link to the full report is here:
The Albquerquerqu Journal also ran two separate profile articles on each candidate also written by Collen Heild including its traditional candidate questions and answers.
The stories and links to the candidate profiles and Question and Answers are here:
Colón: Getting people to sit down together can solve big issues
Q&A: Democratic attorney general candidate Brian S. Colón
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: https://colonfornm.com/
Torrez: Willingness to ruffle feathers is an asset, not a liability
Q&A: Democratic attorney general candidate Raúl Torrez
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: https://www.raultorrez.com/
KOB CHANNEL 4 POLL
On May 12, KOB Channel 4 released a poll it commissioned with Survey USA in the Democratic primary race for Attorney General between New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colón and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez. The state wide survey was conducted of 583 likely registered Democratic voters and has a plus or minus margin of error of 5.7%. The results of the poll came did not come as a surprise to many political observers given the negative advertising by Raúl Torrez.
The poll results were as follows:
Raúl Torrez: 34%
Brian Colón: 28%
The link to the quoted KOB story is here:
On March 5, nearly 1,000 Democrats attended the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention and cast their voted for the office of Attorney General of New Mexico and the vote was as follows:
Brian Colón – 61.46%
Raúl Torrez – 38.54%
OTHER POLL RESULTS
On the issue of no pretrial release for people accused violent crimes and “rebuttable presumption” to hold an accused pending trial, the KOB 4/Survey USA poll showed broad support for the idea with 71% of likely voters surveyed saying it should be more difficult for people charged with violent felonies to be free until their trial. Only 8% of those polled said New Mexico’s system of pretrial release needed no changes.
The poll showed 57% of New Mexicans felt confident their local police department could keep them safe. That general support of law enforcement flipped when it came to use of force by police during arrests. In the poll, 60% of people were either somewhat or very concerned about how police treat the people they arrest. That concern ran across the urban-rural divide that separates many political opinions, including in suburban areas like Rio Rancho and Corrales. Even 43% of self-identified conservatives were worried about use of force during arrests.”
In urban areas, 47% of those surveyed had little or no confidence in their police department’s performance. White survey respondents were more likely than non-whites to say they felt safe, 63-54%.
In a question about whether people felt safe in their daily lives, just 27% said they did not. Party affiliation also had an impact on how safe people felt and the 2020 presidential vote. Supporters of former President Donald Trump felt unsafe at nearly double the rate, 36%, of those who voted for President Joe Biden at 19%.
The link to the quoted KOB 4 story is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
There is little doubt that the KOB 4 poll showing Torrez in the lead was a wakeup call for Colón to start to get far more aggressive. The only comfort Colón can take from the poll is that the Torrez lead of 6% points falls within the polls plus or minus margin of error of 5.7% making the race a likely tossup with 38% undecided.
After the March 5 Democratic convention, Colón was thought by many politico observers to be the clear front runner in the race for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. Colón has also raised more than $1.4 million while Torrez’s has raised a little over $1 million. The race for Attorney General was considered Colón’s race to lose. That is no longer the case and the race now appears to be a toss up.
Voters always complain about the proliferation of negative ads in political campaigns, but the candidates continue with them. The reason why is that they work and often tip the scales for a win.
The likely cause of the KOB poll results that “undecideds” now lead both candidates and that Torrez leads Colón by 6% is that Bernalillo District Attorney Raúl Torrez has outspent Brian Colón in TV advertising thus far and started his political ads way before Colón. Torrez has been relentless at repeatedly hammering and faulting Colón as a “career politician” who lacks “experience in public safety.”
Thus far, Torrez has run a slick advertising campaign running at least 4 sperate commercials featuring him alone and negative ads against Colón. The TV stations first run Torrez campaign ads then run unrelated commercials followed with commercials featuring Senator Martin Heinrich endorsing Torres.
Traditionally, US Senators stay out of party contested races, but not Martin Heinrich who is said to be planning on running for Governor in 4 years. Heinrich likely views Colón as running for Governor in 4 years after serving as Attorney General and it’s better to defeat Colón’ now and to end Colón’s political career than to deal with him in 4 years.
Torrez said of Colon on May 9, in a one-hour debate on KRQE-TV:
“One of the things that defines this race is whether you want a career prosecutor or a career politician. … He has not prosecuted a single case, not even a parking ticket. … You know I saw Mr. Colon at the round house taking selfies with his friends, taking selfies with the Speaker [of the House]. I never heard him speak up, I never heard him step out and support publicly our fight and the governor’s fight for “rebuttable presumption”. That’s the difference between a career prosecutor and somebody who lives and dies with politics.”
Colón thus far has run 3 campaign commercials. The first was an emotional one where Colón describes his personal struggles, being raised in poverty and having to hock his dad’s wedding ring. In the second ad, Colón talks about a “shield and sword” approach to prosecutions and protecting the general public. Although well produced, both of Colón’s ads were considered by political observers as weak and ineffective with the “shield and sword” ad bordering on juvenile.
The third and far more effective TV ad is where Colón goes negative for the first time and goes into great detail about Torrez’s “failed prosecution rates” as Bernalillo County District Attorney. Statistics prepared by the District Court reveal the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office under Raúl Torrez has a 65% combined dismissal, acquittal and mistrial rate with cases charge by grand juries. The ad highlights major homicide cases botched by Torrez, including the murder of UNM baseball player Jackson Weller. Darian Bashir killed Jackson Weller outside a Nob Hill bar in 2019. Two years before the murder, Bashir was arrested for shooting a man outside a downtown bar. But Bashir never went to trial in that case. A District Court Judge found that Bashir never went to trial in the case due to the District Attorney failing to comply with deadlines, not interviewing witnesses on time, and not responding to motions.
It’s a theme that Colon used during the May 9 KRQE debate when Colón said:
“What my opponent has is a failed track record of prosecution. A lifelong career as a prosecutor, yet at the end of the day, the numbers are abysmal. Our community is less safe than it has ever been before. … The best way to get Torrez to the office is to have a T.V. camera present. … At some point you gotta quite pointing fingers, ya gotta take responsibility. … I’ve got a failed prosecutor standing beside me. … At the end of the day, we’re not safe.”
FOLLOW THE MONEY
Brian Colón has raised a total so far of $1.452 million in his race for the nomination against Raul Torrez who has raised $1.066 million. It’s the cash on hand on May 2 that the candidates reported that makes the race still wide open. Colón reported $911,000 in cash on hand to Torrez’s $382,000. The most recent AG Race Campaign Finance Reports can be found here:
The fact that Colón is running second and not running stronger can be directly attributed to the Torrez negative campaign ads that have taken a toll. Colón may have reported $911,000 in cash on hand to Torrez’s $382,000, but it’s likely the money gap will also be closed by Torrez because when you lead in the polls, fundraising becomes a lot easier, especially when you have the backing of a United States Senator interfering in a primary race.
The race between both Colón and Torrez was bound to be hard fought in that both have expressed they are interested in eventually becoming Governor or going on to serve in congress. Both State Auditor Brian Colón and District Attorney Raúl Torrez are well-funded and their personal attacks on each other will likely continue until election day.
Notwithstanding the KOB poll results and the Albuquerque Journal profiles, the race for attorney general is considered a tossup. For that reason, you can expect much stronger, hard-hitting ads from Colón and Torrez.