Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Campaign '18 Goes To The Dogs; Worst Spot Ever? Or A Winner? Plus: More Ad And Debate Watch, Busy In Española And UNM Willpower  

The "Puppy" Regulation Commission? Yep.

Campaign '18 definitely goes to the dogs with this ad from Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones.

The spot features a group of canines touting Sandy's service. A Chihuahua gives him this shout out:

He's always looking out for the little guy.

And another of our four legged friends is shown nostrils to the ground, saying:

He's always sniffing out ways to save money for the consumers.

Well, you get the idea. . .

One of the Alligators panned the cutesy ad, which is titled "Consumer Watch Dog," with this:

This might win the worst ad of the year, or decade. Who did it and did someone actually pay for this? It appears the campaign has gone to the dogs.

But another differed:

It's a Great Commercial. Thought you might find this fun to watch - please send it on to anyone you think might enjoy.

Terrific or terrible. We'll leave it up to you. Or let your dogs watch it and let us know what they think.

Meanwhile, the person most interested in these media antics is former Dem State Senator Stephen Fischmann of Las Cruces. He is challenging Jones for the Dem nomination for the PRC District 5 seat in southern NM.

In his April report Jones reported $30,000 in cash on hand. Fischmann reported $5,000.

Also watching closely is Republican Ben Hall, who was ousted from the Commission by Jones in 2014. Hall has two opponents but is expected to win the GOP nod. Yeah, it will be a real dogfight if we get a Jones-Hall rematch.


Now some tamer TV ads from the ABQ Dem congressional hopefuls that started airing this week. The debut ad for former UNM Law Professor Antoinette Lopez Sedillo is here and the first ad from former former US attorney Damon Martinez is here.

We blogged Monday that Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham was in the camp of congressional candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and while that is indeed the case, according to an array of insiders, it should be noted that Lujan Grisham has not publicly endorsed any candidate.


Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca continues his light TV buy heading into the June 5 primary. For the week starting April 17 he bought about $16,000 worth of broadcast and cable, according to our media watchers.

The three Dem contenders for the Guv nomination--Apodaca, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Joe Cervantes--will meet in at least one televised debate. KOAT-TV will host the trio Sunday, May 20 at 6 p.m.

As we mentioned Monday, KOAT will also host the six Dem candidates for the ABQ congressional nomination, but that will be pre-taped and air Sunday. May 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. We had it airing in the afternoon.


There's a lot going in La Politica in Española, writes retired political reporter John Robertson on Facebook:

Sure is a lot going on politically in Espanõla: A new gay, Republican mayor shaking things up; newly empowered local leaders consider removing Spanish colonial icon Oñate from, yes, the Española Fiesta; new mayor removes old police chief; Dem State Rep. Debbie Rodella is being challenged in the primary by a progressive woman candidate, Susan Herrera. I don't know if the high school sports administration scene has settled down or not. Or the heroin scene.

Rodella is a Roundhouse powerhouse who chairs the House biz committee and the biz interests are out in force to protect her. In her April report Rodella reports $79,000 in cash on hand. Herrera reports $16,000.


Reader Levi Fetty writes:

Joe, last week ended with a 15-year old shot twice and his 20 year old friend murdered in the streets of the ABQ Barelas neighborhood, another 20 year old was gunned down on 98th & Central, then another murder victim was dumped on the doorstep of Lovelace Medical Center near downtown, closing out the week with 3 murders! What's the murder count at? Pathetic!

Media reports say there have already been 24 murders in ABQ this year. But, hey, the fountain on Civic Plaza has been fixed!


At UNM the question is one of willpower. A reader writes:

It will be most interesting to see if UNM can actually find the political will and public support to withstand the enormous pressure that will ensue when a final list of sports to be eliminated is announced this summer. Recall that UNM tried unsuccessfully to kill the ski program a couple of years ago. You would think that it would be easy to drop a program with almost no public visibility, two-thirds of its athletes are foreigners (but stellar students), a warming climate and less snow each year at NM resorts, and, most damning, not one single meet was held in New Mexico last year. But no! There were protests, letters to all the papers, and much condemnation in the electronic media, all of which gave UNM a very public black eye. There were important lessons in that experience. I hope UNM learned them.


A reader writes of our reference to former Oklahoma US Senator and longtime New Mexican Fred Harris:

When you correctly referred to Fred as "legendary," I had to smile because it reminded me of a wonderfully tone-deaf headline that ran in the newspaper recently. The story was about Fred being the last living member of the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders.

Here's the newspaper headline: 

Corrales man recalls work on LBJ’s Kerner Commission

Those of us who know and love Fred have been calling him "Corrales man" ever since. It's gotten to the point where he does, too. Then he laughs a lot.

The 87 year old "Corrales man" still likes to get the last laugh.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

ABQ Congress Clash: Candidate TV Starts This Week As Top Three Contenders Start Primary Countdown, Plus: What Happened To Pat Davis? And: In My Time: Reflections On The Riordan Tragedy And The State Of The City  

Sedillo Lopez
The most competitive high-profile New Mexico Democratic primary race will move into high gear this week. The three leading contenders in the six person field for the ABQ congressional nomination will put up their first TV spots starting today.

Deb Haaland, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Damon Martinez will be introducing themselves to most primary voters. None of them have been elected to public office and while well-known among Dem insiders, they are mostly unknown to most voters. That means the TV ads will carry more weight than usual. (Haaland's ad starts today and is here. )

But it's not all TV. Sedillo Lopez is the mailing leader, already dropping three pieces to likely Dem voters, with special emphasis on the critical female vote. Haaland and the others will have to play catch-up.

Our media watchers report Haaland and Sedillo Lopez will put up TV buys of about $35,000 for their first week. Martinez is coming with a buy in the low 20k area.

The other three hopefuls--Pat Davis, Damian Lara and Paul Moya are dark.

The race is starting to come into focus and the tension between the campaigns is rising. That's because the stakes are as high as they can get. The Republicans are not targeting the district which means the winner of the Dem primary has a better than 90 percent chance of becoming the next U.S. House member from ABQ.

Furthermore, the improving chances that the national Democrats could take back the House from GOP control means a new Dem congressional representative could be in the majority, giving them more power and prestige.

Insider polling is starting to trickle in on the race. The primary electorate is seen as more heavily female than past cycles, with a tilt toward older women. That has been reflected in the fund-raising and at the Dem preprimary convention which Haaland and Sedillo Lopez have dominated.

It's more difficult for the men. Former US Attorney Martinez has been able to come in third in the fund-raising but fell well short at the pre-primary where he garnered only 10 percent of the delegate support and finished fifth.

The Clintonistas are lining up behind Haaland, the former chair of the NM Dem Party who would be the first Native American woman to win a House seat. The Bernie Sanders brigade does not hold up Haaland as one of their faves. Sedillo Lopez is hoping to capture more of their hearts and votes.

The current congressional delegation is low key on this one. But outgoing US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for the Dem nomination for Governor, is firmly in Sedillo Lopez's corner. Can Sedillo Lopez tap into the Lujan Grisham base to pass Haaland? A key question.

Martinez once worked for Senator Udall and he is seen as favorable to his former employee but not on the radar with any support.

Unlike Martinez, neither Haaland or Sedlillo Lopez has experience on Capitol Hill where billions of dollars for the military and the state's energy complex are divvied up. But the now deep Blue nature of the district has made that experience less of an issue. Likely Dem voters are hungering for a progressive champion, not a centrist.

We know of only one TV debate scheduled so far in this six way race--a KOAT/ABQ Journal face-off scheduled for mid-May. However, it will air on a Sunday afternoon. That, combined with so many candidates vying for attention, will make it difficult for it to make a major difference.


Pat Davis 
Davis, an ABQ city councilor, has come with a poll of the congressional race that is pretty good news for him, but it may be the last of his good news. He commissioned a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey that showed Haaland and Sedillo Lopez each with 15 percent of the vote and himself at 11 percent. Martinez had 7 percent. 43 percent were still undecided. The automatic phone poll was conducted April 13-15 among 508 likely voters and has an error margin of 4.4%.

Other campaign polling shows Davis has the highest name ID of any of the hopefuls, but also with high negatives. And with only $61,000 in cash on hand in his last report, he is going to have to pull off the major upset by using his sophisticated ground game.

The trouble for Davis has been that he is a male candidate in a female year and his association with City Hall at a time when the city has descended into crime chaos is hurting him. Also, he played footsie with former GOP Mayor Berry on the budget and other issues and fellow Dems accuse him of being a Republican collaborator, not the true blue progressive he has been positioned as. And in a staggering blow to his candidacy, Davis, who is gay, was passed over for an endorsement by Equality NM which went with Haaland.


Marg Elliston of Corrales, a retired state employee and chair of the Sandoval County Dems, was selected over the weekend as the new state Dem Party chair. She was unopposed for the post and was approved by the Dem Central Committee. She replaces Richard Ellenberg who was forced to resign over how he handled sexual misconduct allegations against Jon Hendry, a prominent union Dem and ally of Ellenberg.

Elliston comes aboard at a fortuitous time for the Dems with the odds favoring them taking the governor's office, retaining the US senate seat on the ballot and picking up a couple of seats in the state House. But there's still a long way to go.

Elliston is the wife of legendary former US Senator Fred Harris. We said on Twitter that her term runs until the end of the year but it will actually go until next April.


The Legal Beagles say this will be only the beginning for the Riordan family of ABQ who lost 43 year old Jennifer Riordan in lat week's air mishap that claimed her life:

Southwest Airlines Co. is providing $5,000 checks and $1,000 travel vouchers to passengers who were on a flight this week when an engine broke apart, killing a woman on board. “We value you as our customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said in a letter to the customers.

Because she was young and the mother of two youngsters the settlement that Southwest eventually reaches with the Riordan family could reach into the $5 million area. Maybe more, speculated one of the Beagles.


In a week long period of unofficial mourning over Riordan's untimely death there seemed a near desperation to celebrate the good she performed as a community volunteer and as an inspiration to friends and neighbors, perhaps because ABQ has become such a hub for gloomy news of all sorts. Its quality of life ranking among major metro areas has been sliding for years. Riordan exemplified the opposite and in her tragedy the city sought its own redemption.

The crushing crime wave has been so brutal and desensitizing that to insulate themselves the upper strata of city society has enveloped itself in a defensive shroud, as it watches the ghoulish and often unbearable events unfold day after day. Compared to the relatively innocuous past it is a Dantesque Inferno that they not only don't recognize but can't bear to confront.

Riordan was not a well-known public figure, appearing only irregularly in the media and never holding elective office. She was most widely known in business, political and philanthropic circles, the very circles so anxious today to have the city seen as it once was in the heyday of Domenici, the Labs and the "Lets move to ABQ!" boom.

It's a community now glued together ever more tightly as the pie shrinks and the seemingly insoluble social dilemma here widens. It's a community that rushes to reinforce what's good about the city but has few, if any members, who break ranks and lead a call for action on what's not so good--or actually awful. That approach defined the long 8 years of Mayor Berry who came from that community and who arguably presided over the worst years in the city's modern history.

Jennifer Riordan's light shines bright. Now we need leadership with the fortitude and resolve to point that light at the Albuquerque that has been allowed to slip ever deeper into the darkness.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reader Vox Populi, Raul And The Newspaper And A Warning Flag For Film Incentives 

Time again for another edition of the always enlightening Vox Populi, where readers unpack the news of the day with élan and imagination. And away we go. . .

So much has been said about the chaos and crisis of the UNM Athletic Department but this comment from Melanie Evans on Facebook cuts through the clutter and, we think, gets at the crux of the problem:

There's a lot of evidence that the generation coming up behind the millennials cares a lot less about sports, in general, and can't be counted on to support athletics in the future. Football, in particular, is probably going to die out or become a shell of its former self within 15-20 years. Not very many parents are willing to let their kids get CTE so they can play football. With the pipeline of players drying up, and the number of fans dwindling at all levels, how much longer will UNM be able to justify having a program at all? That would be the first thing I'd cut, especially considering the dismal records for both winning and player/coach behavior that have been set in recent years.

UNM is considering what sports to cuts as it grapples with deficits brought about by mismanagement and growing public apathy toward its once big money making basketball program. The new president doesn't seem to have the stomach to challenge the football program, but in the years ahead will that decision be forced on UNM?

An ABQ attorney writes of the city crime crisis:

According to the 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report El Paso has a population of about 687,000 and in 2016, 812 reported incidents of auto theft. In the same  period, Albuquerque had a population of about 561,000 and in 2016, a stunning 7,710 reported incidents of auto theft.

This remarkable difference is more reflective of whatever is going on here in ABQ as opposed to whatever is happening in El Paso. And “that” in ABQ is a systemic issue and most definitely not what we’ve been hearing in terms of the cause: the courts, the laws, the mayor, the governor, or whatever. We need to get our act together and own this mess as a community because it’s bad. “Owning” it requires holding those officeholders, past and present accountable for contributing to this debacle just as much as the criminals out on the streets today....enough is enough.

Reader Ron Nelson comes with his take on the city report that for the first three months of the year crime in ABQ was done compared to the first quarter of 2017:

You will find that the reason the real reason statistics are down is that people are no longer bothering to report many property crimes. The police won't even take reports on thefts anymore unless enough was stolen to make it a felony. There have been cases where burglary suspects have been caught on camera, but the police don’t have any interest in pursuing the case. I can’t blame them though, why should I waste time chasing a thief who is just going to be released ROR in 30 minutes. This report is shameful because it shows that the citizens of the city have given up, and no longer have confidence in their elected officials or city institutions.

There may be something to the "give up" theory. We'd like to hear more about that and how and why it may have happened in other cities


The ABQ newspaper has grown more insular and emboldened in pursuing its own agenda in recent years so we're unsure whether this excoriating review in the respected Columbia Journalism Review about how the paper tried to protect BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez and a prominent politico will play over there.

The report centers on the story first brought to public attention here--that Democrat Torrez's office worked strenuously to reduce the DWI charge of politically connected Ryan Flynn, a former cabinet security in the Martinez administration and that the reward could very well have been the Governor's support for a  hefty increase in the DA's budget. It was not a story that the Journal felt was worth it's time but other media uncovered the somewhat sordid details.

Reading of how the paper has so openly aligned itself with those in power (with prominent exceptions) rather than pursuing a traditional adversarial relationship will come as no surprise, but the machinations to do so--and unabashedly--makes for an interesting read.


Time to wave a warning flag about state film incentives. Depending how much taxes the latest oil gushers bring to the state treasury, the tax breaks for the film industry here may have peaked. Here's why:

By 2009, 44 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C., offered some form of film and television production incentives. However, the popularity of these programs has waned, and support for the film industry has decreased in recent years. In 2018, only 31 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue to maintain film incentive programs, and several of these states are tightening the requirements for qualifying expenses and reeling in per-project and annual program caps.

We can't imagine this picturesque state without film incentives, but we can see the state keeping them flat or make a play to rein them in.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Keller's Crime Count; He Says It's Down In Many Categories But Skepticism Lives And Patience Is Thin, Plus: Pearce's New Poll And More On McCamley's Money  

Keller & Geier (Brose; Journal)
Good news! Mayor Keller and APD Chief Geier report crime in many categories was down in the first quarter of this year compared to 2017. Guess that means we don't need Tim's tax increase to hire more cops after all. We can get crime down with what we have. . .

Well, before City Hall breaks out the organic Kool-Aid or whatever the Millennials up on the 11th floor celebrate with, be assured that the crime stats that the mayor now says will be released every three months will jump around more than a roadrunner on a hot Tucumcari highway.

Still there is cautious optimism that new APD leadership is inspiring some of the existing force to get after things more aggressively. And then there is the question of how many cars can continue to be stolen when you're already the stolen car capital of America. You have to peak sometime.

While auto burglary and auto theft--subjects of recent special attention by Chief Geier and his force-- showed a significant decline over last year's first quarter, the drop in commercial and residential burglary was not very significant. That signals that the shortage of officers and the continued drug epidemic are sticky problems that aren't going away anytime soon.

Most revealing is the increase in the murder rate from 12 homicides in the first three months of 2017 compared to 18 this year, a 50 percent rise.

Human life is getting cheap, too.  A 15 year old killed another 15 year old earlier this month over a $40 debt. And only a few days ago a 24 year old was gunned down in the North Valley in a dispute over the same amount. That's stark evidence that the drug trade is robust and still at the heart of the public safety crisis.


Anyone who enjoys a breakfast burrito can tell you it will take years to reverse the slide into criminality that the city has endured but patience is not a surplus commodity for Mayor Keller. Take this from V.B. Price, the longtime liberal writer and ABQ observer who was an ardent back of the Keller mayoral candidacy:

Why is Tim Keller seeming more and more like the former mayor — invisible and uninspiring, despite his flurry of good moves following his election victory? Who’s leading the substance and image of....the town these days?

And readers continue to vent over the seemingly everyday violence that has redefined the quality of life in the Duke City. Here's an example:

ABQ “civilization” has become a Hobbesian nightmare where life is “poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” That hasn’t always been the case and, while it’s a relatively new dynamic, that’s where we are now. And there are no signs that it’s going to get better in the foreseeable future. This is primarily because no one in a position of leadership  (especially the ABQ City Council) wants to be honest about how far we’ve fallen and how far we’ve defined deviancy downward, especially while RJ Berry was mayor. 

While It’s true that he inherited one hell of a mess, Mayor Keller appears to be taking the same laid-back, easy-going approach to governing the city that Berry did. Which is incredibly disappointing to a number of his supporters who hoped Keller would be much different than his predecessor. Laid-back and easy-going is not going to turn Albuquerque around. All it will do is ensure that we continue to experience more of the same. A place where lives are cut short over $40 debts.

The crime wave and the many APD scandals has implanted a hard-core cynicism in the city. As an example this reader questioned the veracity of the numbers showing crime going down:

If crime went "down" it's because they monkeyed with the numbers. They won't be able to hide it forever. I don't believe crime is down for one second and neither does the public. 

It should be noted that the city report on crime for the first quarter says the stats are "subject to change" and the numbers do not represent official Uniform Crime Reporting numbers given to the FBI.

Three months of improved crime stats is good news for the city as well as Mayor Keller and Chief Geier but raising hopes after what this city has been through and is going through is like trying to raise the Titanic from the ocean floor.


GOP Guv hopeful Steve Pearce comes with a poll that he hopes convinces both the donor class and the public at large that he has a real shot at defeating Michelle Lujan Grisham, if she is the Dem nominee:

Pearce and Lujan Grisham are tied within the margin of error on the ballot test in this recent survey. This represents a tightening in the race from our poll in 2017. Currently, 45% of voters say they would prefer Pearce and 47% of voters Lujan Grisham, Undecided is 8 percent. Lujan Grisham starts this race with significant structural advantages, including national headwinds and a 14-point party registration differential, yet her inherent weakness with voters and Steve Pearce’s underlying strengths continue to show up in the numbers.

The Tarrance Group, a longtime national GOP polling firm, conducted the survey via telephone interviews with 608 registered “likely” voters throughout the state. Responses  were gathered April 9-12. Margin of error is + 4.1%.

Michelle won't be upset with Steve for showing a potential race between the two to be close. She'll use it to raise more cash.

More worrisome for her will be the attacks on her past record as as a state government official. And they have started to dribble in. This report from the  NMSU student newspaper runs down a variety of issues that have trailed the ABQ congresswoman and which no doubt you will be hearing more about in the days ahead. They include her time as head of the state aging department as well as Sec. of Health.


State Auditor hopeful Bill McCamley came out swinging when the Guv's political machine questioned his campaign finance report, saying it didn't add up that McCamley, 40, reported no income of over $5,000 on his disclosure form yet gave himself a $45,000 campaign loan. He said the loan came from an inheritance and money he had saved when he had well-paying employment.

But McCamley didn't quite get it right. A new report reveals he did receive income of over $5,000 a year but failed to disclose it. The money came from a rental property. The news has McCamley playing defense:

. . . The Democrat wrote on Facebook that he lives in a studio apartment. But that only raised more questions because the address McCamley has listed on financial disclosures is a ranch-style house. McCamley (said) he lives in a studio apartment adjoining the house but rents out the three-bedroom residence. The price: $800 a month, or $9,600 a year. State law requires public officials such as legislators report any sources of income over $5,000. McCamley said he would file an updated disclosure form with the Secretary of State’s Office. “I was given some inaccurate information,” McCamley said, adding he believed it was not necessary to disclose the rental income because it was not a commercial property."

Brian Colón, McCamley's opponent for the Dem auditor nod, has so far remained quiet about his rival's woes. We did receive email from McCamley supporters vouching for his  frugal lifestyle and dedication to public service. Here's one from Marla Painter:

The man lives like a monk. He is an organizer more than a politician. In the past, we have put him up at our home when he was up north on legislative business. We have gotten to know him. A very good man. And my standards are very high. He depends on the kindness of his friends to keep his costs down to a minimum. He is his own campaign manager, scheduler, campaign communicator. He works continuously and tirelessly for his constituents and the common good of the entire state. His pleasures seem limited to one beer an evening if any at all (he rarely accepts an offer of a beer), a good meal, vigorous political or philosophical discussions, conversations with everyday folks and talking about his girlfriend in Las Cruces. The man seriously lives like a monk. He is a certified policy wonk, addicted to ideas and talking about them.

GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson will run against the winner of the Dem primary.


Mayor Keller issued this statement following the untimely death Tuesday of prominent ABQ businesswoman and longtime community volunteer Jennifer Riordan:

Albuquerque lost a thoughtful leader who has long been part of the fabric of our community. . . This is a tremendous and tragic loss for Jennifer’s family and many others throughout our city. Her leadership and philanthropic efforts made this a better place every day and she will be terribly missed. We are holding Jennifer and her family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Jennifer Riordan was 43.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Congressional Cash Contests Provide Clues To Eventual Winners; Haaland And Sedillo Lopez Take ABQ Lead; Newman Turns Up Heat On Herrell, But She Sticks Around, Plus: The National Labs And Their Long Term Future  

Two exciting primary congressional battles are more fully formed today after the release of quarterly fund-raising reports. Here's what you need to know. . .

Yvette Herrell, the feisty state representative from Alamogordo who is locked in a do-or- die battle with former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman for the GOP southern congressional nomination, has been battered and bruised. But she's not down and out.

As expected, Newman outraised Herrell in the first quarter and reports a hefty $369,000 in cash on hand as of March 31 for the final weeks of the June 5 primary. But Herrell,who was prohibited from raising money during the 30 day legislative session, still reports $256,000 in cash. That's enough for a considerable media buy that will keep Newman on his toes.

Remember Herrell was the overwhelming choice of the delegates at the preprimary convention where she scored a landslide win over Newman. But she took a hit when an ethics charge against her was recently broadcast across the district.

Newman is being consulted by the controversial Jay McCleskey who handles Gov. Martinez. The campaign has become somewhat of a proxy war between the two wings of the GOP--those who support Martinez and those who don't.

The Herrell ethics charge and Newman's money edge have him in the pole position for now. Herrell is going to have to give Monty and Jay a taste of their own medicine to regain steam.

Newman or Herrell will face the winner of the Dem primary in the R leaning district but you can turn out the lights on that one:

On the Democratic side, Las Cruces water attorney Xochitl Torres Small reported getting $313,332 in contributions and has $243,409 in available campaign cash. Her lone Democratic rival, Mad Hildebrandt of Socorro, had not yet filed a report as of late Monday.

Hildebrand has put forth a decent effort but the national Dems are calling the shots and they think it is Torres Small who stands the best chance to pull off the upset in November.


In the increasingly interesting race for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham we still have no public or insider polling. But that's okay. The public is still largely unacquainted with the contenders and the TV and mail campaigns are going to be decisive.

The money reports, combined with the outcome of the Dem preprimary convention, indicate the likely winner is either former NM Dem Chair Deb Haaland or law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. Former US attorney Damon Martinez is a dark horse and the other three--Lara, Davis and Moya are in the political ICU.

Sedillo Lopez is reporting $457,000 in cash at the end of March but the Haaland campaign says they do not see payments for polling or a mail campaign that Sedillo Lopez conducted during the quarter. Including that could take her cash count down toward the $400k level. Haaland, whose numbers we previously reported, raised $297,000, double that of her nearest competitor. She reports $347,000 in cash in the bank. Martinez is in it with $277,000 in cash but the big defeat he suffered at the Dem preprimary looms.

The Haaland campaign now says a super PAC composed of tribal money will help her, presumably with TV. She would be the first Native American woman to be elected to the US House. And so far that's really the only narrative that has stuck in this race. Sedillo Lopez is going to have to change the conservation if she is to take the prize.

The trailing three in the race are Pat Davis who reported $61,000 in cash; Paul Moya who reported $162,000 in cash, most of which he loaned himself, and Damian Lara who came with $139,000.

Thanks to Martinez campaign manager Abigail Collazo for providing the links to the Federal reports. New Mexican coverage here. ABQ Journal here.


The blog recently covered the differing views of leading Guv candidates Steve Pearce and Lujan Grisham on the security of Sandia and Los Alamos Labs in NM going forward, and that got us mulling over their recent budgets and their impact on Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico.

A NM Senate staffer sends this from Exchange Monitor which specializes in coverage of the nuclear weapons complex.

It shows that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget for Sandia and Los Alamos has grown considerably over the past decade, not that there weren't a couple of years when the budget actually went down and the economy here took a hit. But the drive to modernize the nuclear stockpile that started under Obama and that is gaining traction under Trump has sparked bigger budget increases.

The proposed FY 2019 NNSA budget request for Los Alamos is $1.906 billion, up from 1.394 billion in FY10. For Sandia the NNSA requests $1.924 billion for FY19. In FY09 the budget was $1.008 billion.

The Exchange Monitor further reports: "In its 2019 budget request, the agency included a five-year budget projection that shows annual funding climbing more than 14 percent to around $17 billion by 2023."

Including all missions and not just NNSA weapons funding, such as work for Homeland Security and other agencies, the total Sandia budget is now over $3 billion. The Los Alamos total budget is $2.55 billion.

That's over $5.50 billion in spending on the two labs. There are those who abhor the fact that New Mexico is so dependent on nuclear weapons for its economic well-being. They are joined by others who dislike government spending in general and want to diversify our economy with more private sector activity.

Meantime that money is going to be spent somewhere, if not here. That's why the proposal to take nuclear pit production from Los Alamos and send it to Savannah River is headline news.

Diversifying away from nuclear weapons based on moral objections can be understood. But claiming you can significantly diversify the ABQ and north central NM economy away from $5.50 billion in federal funding borders on lunacy.

Right now New Mexico is out of position with the Trump administration which--to use an ironic phrase in talking of nukes--makes the peacemaking ability of the state's mostly Dem DC delegation and our next Governor of paramount importance.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Talk Of The Town: Ambassador Sanchez? Here Comes The Mail, Looks Like Joe Is A Go And BernCo DA Torrez Busted Again Over Flynn DWI Wire Job  

Here's what they're talking about as the new week kicks off.

Not long ago we picked up on chatter about Lt. Governor John Sanchez possibly getting an ambassadorship from the Trump White House. But where? How about Panama?

That's the latest from the rumor mill on John, who is finishing up an eight year stint as Light Guv under Gov. Martinez. But a Panama posting wouldn't be all Piña coladas and sunshine. The US has had a troubled relationship of late with the Latin American nation. But for Sanchez it couldn't be more troubling than dealing with a Governor who doesn't even want to lay eyes on you.

The mailboxes are going to start getting cluttered soon in that multi-candidate battle for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat.  Readers report Dem congressional candidate Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has already hit with two mailers that appear to be aimed at women voters. No candidate is up yet with broadcast TV ads.

On it goes but it will soon end. We speak of that battle by Dem Guv contender Jeff Apodaca to keep rival Joe Cervantes off the June 5 primary ballot. For a second time a district court judge has turned back Apodaca. He'll make a final pitch to the NM Supreme court but it appears Joe is a go.

Mediocre. That's the best description of the most recent approval ratings for Dem US Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall. Heinrich, who is seeking re-election this year, comes with an anemic 41 percent approval rating and Udall manages only 44 percent. But they are not alone. Washington politicians aren't the most popular species these days. For example, both of Colorado's senators score approval ratings below that of ours. Ditto for Arizona. The pundits continue to rank Heinrich a heavy favorite for re-election. He will face Republican Mick Rich and Libertarian Aubrey Dunn, Jr.

Governor Susana's approval continues to be mired in the 30 percentile bracket. She scores 37 percent approval in the latest survey.

The national polling of all senators and governors by Morning Consult was done from online surveys conducted with about 275,000 registered voters from Jan. 1 through March 31.


Thanks to our Alligators it was this blog that first questioned how the office of BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez handled the DWI case of politically connected Ryan Flynn, a former cabinet secretary under Gov. Martinez who is now the executive director of the NM Oil and Gas Association.

Torrez's office didn't take kindly to the questioning, went into bunker mode and lashed out at us for daring to question him.

But between this piece in the Santa Fe Reporter and this more recent piece by NM In-Depth, the Democratic DA is thoroughly busted. It is more than clear that Flynn's DWI was reduced to careless driving because of his political stature and interference by the DA. And that's a miscarriage of justice. Also, we reiterate that the Governor's support for a huge increase in the DA's budget during the last legislative session could very well have been a result of the Flynn/Torrez deal.

Emails show prosecutors misled public about plea deal with former Martinez Cabinet secretary.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Boone wanted to reassure his boss. A political blogger was raising questions in February about why the DA’s office had agreed to plead Ryan Flynn’s aggravated DWI charge, leveled after a May 20, 2017, traffic stop, down to careless driving. In a Feb. 8 email, Boone told DA Raúl Torrez he believed the case against Flynn could clear an initial legal hurdle. Additionally, because Boone’s direct supervisor, Metro Division Chief Jason Greenlee, was “really good friends” with lawyers on Flynn’s defense team, Boone told Torrez prosecutors had removed Greenlee from making any decisions about the case. But the Santa Fe Reporter and New Mexico In Depth have found that Greenlee was intimately involved with assessing evidence and negotiating Flynn’s plea throughout the case. Further, Boone, Greenlee and others misled SFR and NMID about the strength of Flynn’s case.

Torrez has often blamed others for the crime crisis in ABQ--the judges, his office budget, etc.--but the self-proclaimed "progressive Democrat" appears to have entered the ranks of the old ways network and that his tough on crime rhetoric applies to some but not to others. The refusal of the ABQ Journal to hold him accountable--probably because he has gotten into bed with their favorite Governor--only makes matters worse.

When the NM In-Depth piece hit Friday, Torrez was quick to put out a news release about gun possession to divert attention. The newspaper gladly obliged him.

Will there be more Ryan Flynns for DA Torrez? Well, deals with the devil aren't usually one time affairs.


Well, as noted above the the newspapers can have their biases but we don't believe they charge candidates for news coverage yet. According to this Gator in Cruces not all of them appear to be aware of that:

Joe, Jaime Gonzalescastillo, the primary challenger of Dem State Rep. Doreen Gallegos, has an interesting notation on his finance report--a $250 "in-kind" donation from the Las Cruces Sun News for an article they published about him. Gonzalezcastillo reported no contributions nor expenses and was told by the Sun News not to report its coverage as a contribution.

Lucky that article about Jaime wasn't negative or else he might have sent the paper a bill for $250.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Under The Gun: Guv's Machine Targets Auditor Candidate McCamley's Questionable Financial Forms; Mystery Over His Income And Employment 

Bill McCamley
The Governor's political machine is going to work on Bill McCamley, the Dona Ana County state representative and Dem state auditor candidate, and it appears he has no one to blame but himself.

In his finance report this week McCamley reported he loaned his campaign $45,000 but on the financial disclosure form state officials are required to file, McCamley reports no employment, no source of income that provides him with more than $5,000 a year, no spousal income or employment and no financial interests that may present a conflict of interest.

So where did McCamley get $45,000 if he doesn't have a job or any assets? That was the question that former State Senator Rod Adair, a charter member of the Guv's machine, posed on social media.

McCamley, 40, isn't required to reveal if someone other than himself loaned him the money and he in turn loaned it to his committee, but for someone who is running for the position that audits agencies across the state and given his self-reported circumstances, how he came up with this loan will raise suspicions. Still, McCamley ignored a request for comment, leaving it to speculation whether he received a loan, for example, from someone who might do business with the state auditor's office and which could represent a conflict of interest.

McCamley responded to this report Thursday and offered an explanation for the loan, saying it was from personal funds. His full response is below.

But if McCamley loaned himself the money where did it come from? If he is being straight on his state financial disclosure forms for the past several years he has had no income or employment. And if it's true he had no employment during this long stretch what does that say about him wanting to become State Auditor? And if he has a trust fund and gets at least $5,000 a year from it, that must be reported.

We asked Brian Colón, McCamley's opponent for the auditor nomination, for comment but he did not respond. But current GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson, who was appointed by Gov. Martinez when Tim Keller was elected ABQ mayor and whose campaign for election we're told is being handled by none other than Guv Machine leader Jay McCleskey, jumped at the chance to take McCamley down. Seemingly out of the blue he issued a news release that compiled the financial disclosure statements required for elected officials. He said:

Certain candidates and elected officials are required to file Financial Disclosure Statements, which reveal their sources of income and potential conflicts of interest. Officials are required to disclose any income over $5,000 and identify its source, using a list of broad and general categories. The report found that not all elected officials have complied, concluding, “Despite this requirement, four (4) financial disclosures contain no reported sources of income at all for either the elected official or the official’s spouse in this category.”

And, of course, McCamley, a potential Johnson general election foe, is one of those only four officials who reported no sources of income. We get the point, Wayne, but in case we didn't Johnson helpfully posted all the disclourse forms, including McCamley's.

Johnson condensed the disclosure forms that are filed with the Secretary of State so to make sure his information was true we looked at the McCamley statement filed with the SOS and it matches what Johnson put out.

McCamley is a former Dona Ana County Commissioner. During his campaigns for the legislature we recall him reporting several jobs he had, including one in the solar industry. On his candidate website he says "he has had many diverse jobs."

Well, the political community eagerly awaits McCamley's explanation of his financial resources as they assess the candidates qualifications for the financially sensitive position of state auditor. Meanwhile, Rod and Jay have got Bill pinned to the mat. And he may not get back up.


Here is Rep. McCamley's explanation of the loan which came after our report was posted.

Yes, I’ve lived off of my legislative per diem and a few small contracts for the last few years. I’ve done this by keeping my expenses low. I live in a studio apartment, drive a used car, and haven’t had a vacation in a year and a half because I take my role as a Legislator seriously. I’ve devoted my time to work on serious policy issues and respond to my constituents when they have problems.

Furthermore, I’ve never hid the fact from my constituents and even documented how and why I do this in a 2016 Facebook video.

The $45k loan I gave myself to run for Auditor? That is half of my life savings. Some of it came from an inheritance I got a decade ago when my grandmother passed away. Most of the rest came from my work selling solar panels in 2014-15, combined with the markets growing in the last few years of the Obama administration. It did not come from anyone else but me. I view public service as one of the most valuable things we can do to make our communities better, and am proving it by being willing to put half of what I own into the process.

The fact that I am being attacked by Jay McCleskey and Wayne Johnson on ethical grounds is hilarious.

I have been known for my work on ethics as a legislator, co-sponsoring a bill to establish our first ethics commission. I also am one of two legislators that has not taken meals, ski or golf passes, etc, from lobbyists. Because of this, I have received the highest grade possible from New Mexico Common Cause.

Wayne Johnson was appointed State Auditor on Dec 1. Instead of resigning his seat on the Bernalillo County Commission immediately, he stayed on for a few months. This not only gave him two taxpayer funded salaries, it allowed him to vote on Dec 12th to give a $13 Million County contract to Yearout Electric. The company's CEO has been a large and regular donor to Mr Johnson in his races for County Commission and Albuquerque Mayor. The later is now under discussion with the City ethics panel.

It’s no secret I have been one of the toughest fighters against Susana Martinez’s terrible term as Governor and when information came out that she and the Jay McCleskey-run Susana PAC were possibly getting illegal campaign contributions last year, I asked the Attorney General to investigate. And this wasn’t the first time McCleskey has had run-ins with the law, being investigated by the FBI for similar problems in 2015.

So what’s happening here is obvious. Wayne Johnson has ethical issues and is scared that I am the strongest candidate who can defeat him in November. So he hired the Governor’s attack dog, with his own history of problems, to attack me in order to cover up his own ethical lapses.


From BernCo:

The County Commission is accepting applications from individuals interested in filling the vacant District 22 seat of the NM House. Governor Martinez will appoint a replacement for James E. Smith who resigned from the legislature to fill the Bernalillo County District 5 seat on the county commission. The County Commission District 5 seat was vacated by Wayne Johnson who is now the State Auditor. Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and Sandoval Counties will each send nominees for the Governor’s consideration. Nominations from interested individuals in Bernalillo County will be accepted until Tuesday, April 17, at 5 p.m. 

This week we identified Kristin Haase as the PIO for the Public Regulation Commission. Her correct title is assistant to PRC Commissioner Sandy Jones . . .

ABQ Journal reporter Dan McKay tweets out:

Cross another one off the list: NM Supreme Court rules former Representative Idalia Lechuga-Tena can't run in the ABQ district she hadn't lived in for a year.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Following Up On Filing Day; Readers And Operatives Weigh In, Plus: Apo's Fight Against Joe's Petitions Headed Back To Court 

The political operatives and Alligators have been busy mulling over the finance reports filed by the candidates this week and they have some filing day follow-up. . .

We pointed out that Dem land commissioner candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard has come in light in the cash count when compared to rivals Garrett VeneKlasen and George Munoz. Tarin Nix spins it for Stephanie:

Munoz has loaned himself everything but 48k. Garcia Richard has raised more in half the time. Loaning yourself 200k isn't proving viability with voters. VeneKlasen has raised a good amount and spent it on nothing. $131,000 wasted on consulting fees. None on advertising...not enough left for TV. Garcia Richard will win because we spend our funds correctly. Best ad of the year....40,000 door knocks...thousands in targeted advertising...with way more to come.

VeneKlasen, with $82,000 in cash and still raising money, may very well have enough for a TV buy in the campaign's final weeks whereas Garcia Richard with only $32,000 might be the one to find herself in the dark. But then there are those third party groups that sometimes emerge to help candidates out.

A reader poring over the reports from DC points out we came in low when we said Michelle Lujan Grisham's polling expenditures for the last six months were $72,000. Our reader notes she has spent $158,300 on polling. Her pollster is Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner which has a lot of experience in the state and they obviously get paid quite well for that.

In the Dem race for lieutenant governor we noted Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrey had a solid six months by raising $78,000. However, we should point out that  $25,000 of that was a loan Garrett made to himself.

And how about Hector? We didn't get into his financial report Tuesday because we concentrated on the contested races and Dem Attorney General Balderas has no primary opposition. But it's worth pointing out that he now has $891,000 in cash in his account. That's 20 times more than his Republican opponent Michael Hendricks who has $44,000 in cash on hand. Blair Dunn, the Liberation Party candidate for AG, reports having $7,500.


After his first effort to remove Joe Cervantes from the June 5 primary ballot failed, Guv hopeful Jeff Apodaca will make a last stand. His challenge to Cervantes' petition signatures was thrown out by a District Court judge on a technicality. Apodaca attorney Cate Stetson sets the stage for round two:

We have found case law that opposes the judge's dismissal and filed a motion for reconsideration in the District Court. The case he cited was not applicable to the facts. Also, we have other cases in New Mexico by the federal court and by New Mexico courts that. . . say the Attorney General does not need to be served notice by the party making a petition challenge. The fact that the attorney general appeared in court and entered his appearance on the record, and participated in the writing of the order kind of begs the question in my mind; however the motion includes this information and there is still time to go through the petition signatures if the court wants.

It is an uphill battle in New Mexico to challenge petition signatures, as challenges are disfavored by the courts due to our policy of encouraging as many people as possible to exercise their right to participate in choosing their political representatives. However, perhaps that should be balanced against the specter of blindly accepting duplicate signatures, signatures of deceased people, signatures of people from another party, signatures that are not made by the person whose name is signed, and incomplete signatures and registration information. 

The Cervantes campaign denies he has submitted bad signatures.

Veteran consultant Steve Cabiedes, who has specialized in petition gathering for several decades and who is not working on any Governor campaign, was critical of the decision to throw Apodaca's case out simply because the attorney general had not been officialy served notice of the challenge:

What are we to think? We've had petition challenges for years brought before the courts and the vast majority without notifying the AG of the complaints. The secretary of state does that. Are we to assume all those candidates who did not notify the AG with their challenges should have had them thrown out?


There will be some candidates this year who won't have the headache of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver  says:

(My office) has certified candidates for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and statewide judicial seats to receive public financing to fund their campaigns in the 2018 election cycle.

The full list of those candidates and how much public money they will receive can be found here.

Peter St. Cyr, a veteran news reporter and most recently the executive director of the NM Foundation for Open Government, has a new gig. He's the new public information officer for GOP State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. Kristin Haase has left the post to become assistant to for Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Money Race: Pearce And Lujan Grisham In Solid Shape; Joe Gives A Jolt And Writes A Million Dollar Check; APO Running Low On Ammo Plus The Cash Count In Other Big State Primary Contests.  

Where are most of the statewide candidates headed now that they've filed their money reports covering the last six months? Well, most of them will make a beeline to the desks of thankful TV executives who will have no trouble putting to work the hundreds of thousands raised by the contestants. Let's take a look at the cash hauls filed with the SOS Monday and start with the top of the ballot. . .

Steve Pearce is holding his own in the money department but can he continue his fund-raising pace with a Blue wind blowing in his face? That's a question that arose as the gubernatorial hopefuls filed their finance reports for the six months ending April 2.

Right now it's pretty much even-steven between the two leading Guv contenders. Pearce reports $2.1 million in cash on hand and Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham reports $1.8 million. Pearce raised $1.6 million in the period but that included a transfer of over $780,000 from his congressional fund.

Lujan Grisham came with $1.4 million raised in the period and has now raised a grand total of $3.6 million for Campaign '18. That means she has burned through half of her cash but she did score a landslide win at the Dem preprimary and remains the odds-on fave to take the Dem prize so her supporters argue it was not overspending but money well spent. The expenditures this period include $108,000 for TV production. Her campaign says her ads for the June 5 primary will start this month. She also spent $158,000 on polling.

(Full Pearce report here. Lujan Grisham report here. Joe Cervantes report here. Jeff Apodaca report here. AP coverage here. New Mexican here. Journal here.)

Pearce's campaign is not going to starve but the momentum is with the Dem candidate and she is on pace to outraise him, especially if polling shows the race tilting her way.  But with $2 million already in the bank and no primary opponent Pearce has a solid financial foundation to build on. A Dem consultant commented:

Steve Pearce will not lose the Governor's because of money. If he loses it will be because this turned out to be a Democratic year.

So it's unlikely the Dems will overpower Pearce financially. He has a long and successful record of raising money. He also has something else in his corner. The most recent ranking of the NM Governor's race from heavily followed pundit Larry Sabato has it "lean Democrat" not "likely Dem." That will help Pearce blockade the narrative that the contest is a done deal for the Dems--at least until when or if public polling shows otherwise.

Meanwhile Sabato's "Crystal Ball" has the US Senate race here featuring incumbent Dem Martin Heinrich as "Safe" and not the lower rank of "likely Dem" that GOP Senate hopeful Mick Rich may have been hoping for.


Joe Cervantes gave the Guv race a jolt as the attorney, state senator and agri-businessman wrote a check from his personal bank account for $1 million and plopped it into his campaign account. That's on top of an earlier $500,000 he loaned himself. And he hasn't spent much of his loot, leaving $1.4 million in cash on hand. Hey, if spent wisely that could do some serious damage. So will he?

That was the question on the lips of politicos statewide (including Michelle and Jeff) as they gave the multi-million dollar man another look. The other question being how do you apply for a job with the Joe Cervantes campaign and help him spend that pile?

His campaign says it's the real deal, with a spokesman predicting a TV buy in the area of $600,000. One thing for sure: Cervantes can now argue he's the man nobody  owns. 

Oldtimers will pick up on what we just said. When Jerry Apodaca ran successfully for Governor in 1974 his slogan was: "The man nobody owns." Now his son, Jeff, is trying to follow in Dad's footsteps but is having trouble gaining traction. He reports only $323,000 in cash on hand for the final two months. That's enough to get on TV strong for a couple of weeks but that's not enough to win.

Part of the problem is the spending. He raised $253,000 and spent $628K. Apodaca has loaned his campaign $450,000 in personal money. If elected, Jeff has promised to bring 225,000 jobs to the state. Judging by the numbers of hangers-on he has on the campaign payroll, he's down to 224,000.

And what's up with those "consulting fees" of $14,000 Apodaca paid to former Guv candidate Peter DeBenedettis who at the March 10 preprimary convention dropped out of the race and endorsed Apodaca? A couple of days later the $14k is dropped on Peter who was also named Apodaca's communications director. Well played, Peter. Even Jay McCleskey and Alan Packman would have trouble pulling off that deal.


Howie Morales led the Dem pack of lieutenant governor candidates in the fund-raising derby, raising $103,000, spending $52K and leaving him with $53K in cash on hand. He did that despite not getting started until December and by law not being allowed to raise money for 45 days during and around the legislative session.

The political committees of several fellow state senators of Morales kicked in considerable cash, including ABQ Sen. Ivey-Soto who came with $5,000. Amon Morales' major expenditures was campaign consulting provided by Jim Farrell.

Morales scored a big win at the Dem preprimary and is favored to take the June 5 nomination, but Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett had a solid fund-raising period reporting $78K. Former ABQ State Rep. Rick Miera raised $58K.


Las Cruces State Rep. Bill McCamley outraised his Dem rival Brian Colón, but Colón's camp was quick to point out that Colón got in the race late in the reporting period (in early January) and also that McCamley loaned himself $45,000 of the $111,000 he reported raising. Colón, known for his fund-raising prowess, reported raising $76,000 for the three months his report covered.

Appointed GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson will be the R nominee. He reports raising $43K and a cash balance of $37K.


Garrett VeneKlasen was the leading money raiser in this one but he also spent a lot of what he raised. He took in $145,000 and sent out $131,000. His cash balance is $82,000.

State Sen. George Munoz loaned himself $100,000 in the reporting period and has spent some on TV. He is reporting $160,000 cash on hand. Munoz fared poorly at the preprimary convention, getting below 20 percent of the vote. But with that kind of personal cash could he become only the second person in history to win the June 5 primary without getting 20 percent at the preprimary?

Stephanie Garcia Richard raised $55,000 spent $54,000 and had a cash balance of $30,000. That cash balance seems a bit low and gives Munoz hope that he will not split as much of the Hispanic vote with her as his supporters fear. We'll see.

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