Gov. Slimes Firefighter

The Associated Press ran a story this week about Gov. Susana Martinez’s efforts to flood many New Mexico districtswith super-PAC-funded attack ads so next week’s election-day outcomes will prove favorable for Republicans. 

“Democrats have controlled the New Mexico Legislature for decades, but Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is waging an unusually aggressive and costly battle to change that in the general election to overcome Democratic opposition to her legislative proposals,” the AP reports. 

The story continues: “No recent New Mexico governor has pushed as hard as Martinez to influence the outcome of so many legislative races. Her predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson, at times flexed his political muscle in primary elections to ensure the election of Democrats loyal to his agenda, but he never tried to oust large numbers of GOP legislators to beef up the Democratic majority.” 

That means if you’re a Democrat running for office this year, you’ve probably been slimed by the Reform New Mexico Now PAC, operated by the governor’s “top advisor” Jay McCleskey with funding mostly from oil interests. 

Emily Kane, an Albuquerque fire captain running against Christopher Saucedo for the District 15 seat, said there have been at least 10 hit pieces put out on her by Reform NM Now. 

“The one I laugh the most about shows President Obama and Gov. Martinez and it says something like ‘They both agree, so what is Emily Kane’s problem?’” Kane said. “’Why doesn’t she want parents involved in educational decisions?’”

That’s an interesting approach, since the governor is proposing state-mandated retention for 3rd graders if they fail reading tests. Kane said she favors an approach that allows educational institutions to develop their own retention policies. 

Basically, the flier distorts Kane’s stance into the governor’s, and then attacks it. There are many more like it. 

“It’s kind of surprising,” Kane said of the attack ads. “I figured there’d be some negative campaigning, but I had no idea. At first I was shocked and kind of offended, thinking ‘Can they really publish this stuff?’ ‘Can they really lie like this?’ You wonder if you can sue them.”

She’s not going to sue. She said she’s going door-to-door in the district, trying to talk with voters and address the fliers, which she does believe will have an effect on the election. 

“I believe it does work or they wouldn’t be spending the kind of money they’re spending on it,” Kane said. “People who don’t know you read that, and it’s difficult to get out and tell all 30,000 voters it’s not true. … I can’t compete at that level. I don’t have the finances to run ads and counter all their attacks.” 

The governor’s statewide power play might prove effective in stacking the legislature, but Kane lamented what it says about governance. “It seems as if there’s some move afoot to override natural checks and balances and try to make everything a slam dunk for her,” Kane said. “… I’m a little new at this and trying to learn what all the issues are and it saddens me, because I don’t believe this is how the system is supposed to work.” 

Like other candidates targeted by the governor, Kane said she is “hopeful Reform New Mexico Now has underestimated the intelligence of the average voter.”

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