Thursday, June 30, 2022

Part One of Election Year 2022 Is In The Books; What Did We Learn? 

Thanks for stopping by. A quick reminder. We take a break from blogging for the upcoming July 4th holiday week and will be back with you on July 11. Happy Fourth! Now on to the trail. 

So what did we learn from the first half of election year 2022? Here are the takeaways.

--When it comes to the lower statewide executive offices it appears the Democrats will once again have a sweep. The races for Secretary of State, Attorney General, Land Commissioner, State Treasurer and State Auditor are all safe for the Dems as the GOP does not appear to be mounting a serious challenge for any of them. That's not unexpected. Most of those offices have been Dem-controlled for decades with only an occasional R sneaking in. 

--In the race for Governor, we learned the MLG's edge over Republican rival Mark Ronchetti has been sharpened in big Bernalillo County thanks to a US Supreme court anti-abortion ruling that will help motive her voters here. A consultant working for a pro-life group in an Oklahoma GOP US Senate primary this week surprised us when he informed that some Republican women approached at their doors did not want to hear their pitch, citing the repeal of Roe by the high court. If some GOP women are balking over that ruling it shows it has political punch.

--We didn't quite learn what the make-up of the state House will be in 2023 during the first half of this year but we do know that there is a reasonable chance that when the counting is done for the 70 seats, there probably wont be a big party change. Republicans are hoping for a pick up of two or three on a goiod night and Dems would be happy to hold their own or pick up one. That means the large Dem majority in the House is likely to run into 2023-24.

--We learned from the first half of the year that voter turnout does not appear headed into the cellar. Despite a lackluster primary ballot, total turnout was 25 percent of registered major party voters. That may sound low but it's only a couple of points lower than usual. Based on that result look for at least an average turnout in the November election. Yes, that usually benefits the Dems.

--It's what we didn't learn about the battle for the southern congressional seat that stands out in the first half. As we reported this week, there is much wondering over how much the national Dems will come to the aid of Dem nominee Gabe Vasquez in his campaign against first term GOP US Rep. Yvette Herrell. That answer alone could decide the contest. As for the other two congressional seats, they are considered likely Democrat, but that doesn't mean Reps Stansbury and Leger Fernandez aren't running a bit scared. Stansbury is seeking her first full term after winning a special election last year to fill the vacancy left by Deb Haaland. Fernandez is seeking her second term, always a perilous time.

(An earlier version of this report incorrectly said Rep. Stansbury was seeking election for the first time and that Fernandez was serving her second term.)

--We learned in in the first half that there will be another major campaign on the ballot that few are aware of. That will be a multi-million dollar media campaign on behalf of the proposed constitutional amendment that would tap a portion of the state's $22 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for early childhood education as well as the public schools. That is a lot of money and could motivate more turnout. 

Now La Politica heads to the second half of '22 and we'll be here from our front row seat to report all the twists and turns. Stay with us. 

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan and. .  .

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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

State Waits For Signs of Life In Southern Congress Battle; 2020 Was Epic; 2022? Not So Much; Vasquez Vs. Herrell Slow Out Of The Gate; Will National Dems Come In? Plus: Latest Downtown Bailout Plan From ABQ Mayor Draws Fire  

Gabe Vasquez
When it comes to the battle for the southern congressional seat the state is waiting for a foot to drop--any foot. The race between freshman GOP Rep. Yvette Herrell and Dem Gabe Vasquez has flown under the radar for this first month of the campaign (if you can even say flown; there were few signs of life).

That contrasts with 2020 when, believe it or not, the contest for the mostly rural district turned out to be the most expensive House race in the nation, with an incredible $37 million in candidate and outside funding being spent as Herrell faced off with Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and took the prize 54 to 46. 

With a full month of this campaign almost gone, that kind of frenzied spending seems unlikely this time. In fact, the low-key nature of the race thus far has raised questions about how passionate the Dems are about flipping the seat. 

The race is on the list of key ones kept by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). They have issued a "a research book" heavy with negative information on Herrell and this week slammed her in a news release for urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe which they have now done. 

The issue is money and whether the Vasquez candidacy will be supported in a big way. 

Herrell operatives are circulating word that Dems are preoccupied trying to keep so many threatened incumbent seats in play that they may essentially take a pass on Vasquez and let the chips fall where they may. Those incumbent Dems are called "frontline members" and there are now about 40 on the list, including northern US Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, although her race is not yet seen as competitive. 

Vasquez is on the DCCC's "Red To Blue" program list which promises financial support and other assistance but that is not a guarantee.

The DCCC not going all in would be surprising since under redistricting CD2 moved from being a GOP performing district to one where the Democrats should outperform the Republican by two percent. And the national pundits all rate the race a toss-up. 

Then there's Sen. Heinrich. The First Endorser is firmly in the camp of former Las Cruces Councilor Vasquez who once worked for him and can be expected to champion his cause with the donor class. 

But if congressional reps with major seniority are fighting for their lives it may be difficult for Heinrich or anyone else to persuade the party to get anywhere near the level of spending of 2020.

The National GOP Congressional Committee has taken notice of Vasquez, painting him as anti-law enforcement and calling him "one of the worst recruits of the cycle."

Rep. Herrell
Herrell is acting like nothing has happened. She has doubled down on her ultraconservatism on guns and abortion, signaling that she plans on landsliding Vasquez in the many conservative areas of the district to make up for his likely win in Cruces and perhaps the westside precincts of ABQ that are in the new district.

Vasquez thinks he has a howitzer to fire over Herrell's vote against certifying the 2020 election for Biden and that the Dem faithful will respond to that with a rebuke of the incumbent. 

But there is skepticism about Vasquez. He is not a known name and obviously not a woman as was Torres Small which some consultants believe would make a better fit against Herrell. Dem State Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill toyed with the idea of running but backed off when Heinrich made the move for Vasquez.

There has been no public polling on the Herrell-Vasquez contest.

In July Vaquez will have to start persuading donors that the national Dems will do what it takes to take back the district. If another month goes by with no clear signal that DC really cares, Herrell's operatives may start whispering "we told you so."


Rob Kurz
There were four more homicides in ABQ this past weekend putting the city on track to match or exceed the record 119 slayings of 2021. That's the same weekend that ABQ Mayor Tim Keller delivered his state of the city address. That he can't catch a break in the violent crime fight is an understatement. 

He admitted as much in his speech, saying that crime casts a shadow over the city. He pointed to COVID as a reason ABQ's crime fighting progress has not been as robust as he hoped, but the city was not knocking the cover off the ball pre-Covid when it came to the violence. 

We seem to be in a new era where drug infestation has become a part of everyday life for thousands of residents and is now entrenched in the local economy thus the many murders involving drug use and dealing. 

Against that backdrop Keller last November scored a resounding re-election win, raising the question of how effective the Republican effort to make crime and punishment a major issue in the Guv's race will be. 

Have citizens become numbed to the ongoing murders? Do they feel insulated from them since so many of them take place among criminals or criminal circumstances and don't directly impact their neighborhood? 

Meantime, Keller is once again trying to scale back the crime that haunts the hopes of a comeback for Downtown ABQ. But asking property owners there to pay more for extra police protection to help that cause has caused a backlash. After all, at Keller's urging the city raised a public safety tax when he first came into office and city coffers are surging with excess revenue. 

Reader and businessman Rob Kurz is one of many who describes himself as "livid" over the proposal and comes with this:

The ridiculous "plan" is based on several false assumptions: That providing police protection to businesses downtown is for the benefit of individual business owners and not the safety of the community as a whole. We either want a thriving downtown area or we should abandon it. 

Based on the commitment of the City, business owners should abandon downtown forthwith. Business owners and citizens are already paying taxes for police services--$255 million or one-third of the entire ABQ budget. That is $454.99 per resident compared to $341 per resident for the city of Phoenix. 

There is enough money, just terrible mismanagement or worse, incompetence. If business owners must pay for policing over and above their taxes they should hire their own police department, manage it themselves and get a tax rebate.

I see no plan stated as to how the money will be used or what will actually be done to police the downtown area. As usual, there is no plan. 

Keller's statement: "We're here to help them and we're going to get started, but they cannot be dependent on the City of Albuquerque to continue to do everything for them every year" is an expression of complete ignorance. 

Safety, order, and protection are among the most basic reasons for the existence of government. The City takes us for idiots. More money is not the issue, there is a lack of will and commitment as evidenced by the statements of both Keller and APD Chief Medina. It is time for them to simply do their job., 

The only other question is, why is the ABQ Chamber of Commerce supporting such insanity?

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Governor Game Changer? MLG Presses Bet On Roe; Signs Off On Executive Order That Lowers Hammer On Pro-Life Crowd, Plus: NM "Abortion Tourism" Or Vital Medical Care?  

Signing Off: MLG & Sen. Lopez
MLG sported one of her all-white women's suffrage outfits from the gubernatorial closet Monday as she pressed her bet that the US Supreme Court's controversial abortion ruling could be the game-changer she's looking for in her '22 re-election bid. 

Surrounded by an all female cast of supporting players, the Governor signed an executive order that lowered the hammer on the pro-life crowd:

. . .(This order protects) access to reproductive health care services in New Mexico, protecting medical providers from attempts at legal retribution and establishing that New Mexico will not entertain extradition attempts from other states relating to receiving or performing reproductive services. “Today we have once again declared that we will take every available action to protect the rights and access to health care of anyone in New Mexico. As long as I am governor, abortion will continue to be legal, safe, and accessible in New Mexico.” 

Full news conference here

This is the type of decisive action that Democratic voters--overwhelmingly pro-choice--have been looking for in the wake of the repeal of Roe. The NMGOP called it "political theater" but for now it's a box office hit. 

Thousands of women are expected to come here in the wake of the high court ruling that gave states the power to enact and enforce stern anti-abortion laws. Texas is chief among them and our state's abortion clinics are already bursting with clients from there because of a new law that caps abortion at 6 weeks of pregnancy. 

It was a mild surprise that pro-life GOP state Senator Crystal Dimond did not come with a lament that the state was about to become the nation's "abortion capital" and also decry the late term abortions that are permitted here. The state GOP did exactly that in its reaction but Dimond took a different tack:

. . . By using her executive order pen today, she is ignoring the tidal wave of issues our healthcare system is facing under her watch. Thousands will now flock to our state for abortions at a time when we are already struggling to provide care to those who need it most. It is time for the Governor to stop pandering to donors and out of state interests, and put the needs of New Mexicans first.

That's a far cry from the red meat being thrown by GOP Chairman Pearce and company, but Dimond is a woman and sees how women are lining up--if they are not Republican they are not toeing the GOP line.


Sen. Dimond
The headline above the Dimond statement released by the Senate GOP caucus said New Mexico will now be an "abortion tourism destination." That is a message MLG and the Democrats are going to have to deal with, opines analyst Greg Payne:

The Democrats have to add to their message that women coming here are not looking to go to a day spa or the Ojo Caliente hot springs. They are here for serious medical care--often potentially life saving. It's not only about "rights and access." On the other hand, if Mark Ronchetti tries to play that card and blame women, it could be an epic backfire. 

The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino comes with an angle rarely explored but addresses this point--one that women voters will fully grasp:

Pregnancy is more than thirty times more dangerous than abortion. . .Some of the women who will die from abortion bans are pregnant right now. Their deaths will come not from back-alley procedures but from a silent denial of care: interventions delayed, desires disregarded. They will die of infections, of preëclampsia, of hemorrhage, as they are forced to submit their bodies to pregnancies that they never wanted to carry, and it will not be hard for the anti-abortion movement to accept these deaths as a tragic, even noble, consequence of womanhood itself. In the meantime, abortion bans will hurt, disable, and endanger many people who want to carry their pregnancies to term but who encounter medical difficulties. Physicians in prohibition states have already begun declining to treat women who are in the midst of miscarriages, for fear that the treatment could be classified as abortion. One woman in Texas was told that she had to drive fifteen hours to New Mexico to have her ectopic pregnancy—which is nonviable, by definition, and always dangerous to the mother—removed.

Not exactly an abortion vacation, is it?

MLG did have an answer for Sen. Dimond on the flood of patients that could pressure healthcare providers, saying extra help for them will be on the plate for the next session of the state legislature in January. 

But the Governor did rule out a special session of the legislature to deal with possible holes in New Mexico's legal structure concerning abortion. And why wouldn't she? The Supreme Court ruling is breaking completely her way. If you are holding three aces, you rarely need a fourth.

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Monday, June 27, 2022

Roe Rage: What's Next? New Mexico Not Hit By Supreme Court Abortion Ruling But What About Future; Debate Over Taking Action Begins, Plus: Historic Ruling Causes Dust Storm On Campaign Trail As MLG And Ronchetti Stake Out Positions  

Protesting in ABQ (Journal)
What happens now? 

Perhaps nothing since New Mexico is not directly impacted by the Supreme Court abortion ruling and legislative power is in the hands of pro-choice Democrats who also support same-sex marriage and contraception. However there is an issue. That is the uncertain future hanging over those rights in the wake of the culture-shaking ruling abolishing a woman's right to choose and sending the matter to the states to decide.

With Democrats firmly in control of the NM House, Senate and governorship, the status quo that permits abortion here is not in jeopardy. As attorney and ABQ state Senator Katy Duhigg points out that reality rests on current case law not an explicit state statute. She is not certain there needs to be such a law but others--looking to a future when Republicans or a conservative legislative coalition could return to power--want to close the door on any possible threat to rights that now seem to be the target of the high court--or at least Justice Clarence Thomas

House Speaker Brian Egolf, also an attorney, says the state needs to tread carefully in pursuing any laws guaranteeing the right to abortion because of possible unintended consequences. 

The consequences could include debating a time limit with opponents of late term abortion that is performed in New Mexico. Currently our state is just one of seven with no time limit on when a woman can have an abortion and has become a magnet for women seeking abortions from states with more restrictive laws. That could be a sticking point in drafting any new law. Polling shows the public is skeptical of late term abortion:

When abortion support drops: The further into the pregnancy, with AP/NORC finding 61% believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, but only 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third, and an April Wall Street Journal poll finding more Americans approve of 15-week abortion bans than disapprove.

New Mexico has codified same-sex marriage legislation. A bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate in March of 2019 and was signed into law by MLG. Previously the NM Supreme Court upheld same sex marriage in a 2013 ruling but the added protection of a statute firmed up the state's position. The US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015.

During the long march toward that '13 court ruling, Egolf at one point proposed a constitutional amendment to recognize same sex marriage. That was defeated in the House as was a conservative constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. 


A proposal to have voters decide a constitutional amendment to protect a woman's right to choose is likely to surface in light of the repeal of Roe along with a separate debate over codifying the right. A number of states, including California and Colorado, have already enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions.

The constitutional amendment path is perhaps politically more palatable. It does not require the approval of the Governor and when approved by the legislature sends the debate directly to the voters who decide. That amendment could include language permitting later term abortions (post 27 weeks) or not. And repealing a constitutional amendment is a rarity. 

Lawmakers and the Governor need time to weigh the consequences of the Supreme Court ruling but if need be they should be prepared to act aggressively in a majority-minority state that has a strong historical record of advancing and protecting individual rights. 


MLG at ABQ protest Friday
As for the here and now, the Supreme Court bombshell caused a dust storm on the campaign trail. 

MLG immediately declared the ruling a "war on women" while GOP nominee Mark Ronchetti tried to thread the needle by supporting abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy--when the great majority of the procedures occur--while decrying "late term abortions."

MLG's clear cut message was easy for pro-choice voters to embrace. Hundreds of them turned out to protest in ABQ following the ruling and where the Governor turned up the volume, promising to be "a brick wall" when it comes to protecting abortion rights. 

As for Ronchetti, if he were elected he would face a brick wall in the form of the Democratic-dominated legislature over a 15 week abortion bill. Like Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, he would wave the anti-abortion flag but it would never get planted in the ground. 

The high court ruling was telegraphed by a leak weeks ago but when it became reality the shockwaves were not muted. The issue will matter in November, the question is how much? Former ABQ city councilor, state legislator and attorney Greg Payne is providing blog analysis for this election cycle:

Albuquerque is more blue after the ruling and it is there where the Governor's race will be decided. This gives the MLG base a jolt of energy and could help with turnout. The economy will dominate but a historic ruling of this nature is not going to fade away. It will be part of the debates and it will be part of the paid messaging that we will see in the fall. 

Payne also said independent voters who support Roe could also be targeted by Democrats in key state House races. 

In addition to ABQ there were notable protests over abortion rights in the liberal bastions of Santa Fe and Taos. A healthy turnout in those three locales would pose an existential threat to the GOP Guv hopeful. He must have low turnout to score the upset.

Until now it was Ronchetti who had the playing field to himself when it came to nationalizing the election around the unpopularity of President Biden and economic pain of high inflation. The abortion ruling now gives MLG a national issue to fight back with--and raise campaign funding from.

In 2018 MLG defeated Republican Steve Pearce by over 58,000 votes in Bernalillo County as statewide turnout inched toward 700,000. That number is not expected to repeat this year but it showcases the importance of Dems motivating their ABQ base to vote. The Supreme Court ruling will now be an integral part of that effort. 

The ruling will also be felt in some of the state House races. All 70 seats are up for election with one of the best opportunities for a GOP pick up in District 28 in the ABQ NE Heights where appointed Dem Rep Pamelya Herndon faces Republican Nicole Chavez. It was no accident that Dems pushed Herndon into the TV limelight to comment on the abortion ruling, giving her valuable face time on an issue she can play offense on.

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Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Little Village That Couldn't; Chama Water Woes Result Of Years Of Neglect  

The tiny Village of Chama is out of water and has declared a state of emergency. 

That's a declaration that gets a whole lot of attention from residents of our high desert climate state, even if it is impacting a tiny enclave of about 1,000 nestled close to the Colorado border. Lack of water is always on the subconscious here as we fall in and out of drought. 

But Chama's water woes were not caused by a lack of water, they were caused by incompetence and a lack of caring about maintaining the water system:

Village mayor pro tem Matthew Gallegos said they did not have an estimate on when water would be turned back on but a company to help identify the leak in the water line would be available on Thursday. “We did the water plan three years ago and we secured money to fix that water plant,” Gallegos said. “I don’t know who dropped the ball but the new design of the plant imploded and we had to spend our own savings account to fix it. It’s never worked, we’ve always been behind the ball and it’s just gotten worse and worse.” 

But it wasn't only three years ago that things "imploded":

A 2016 report by the New Mexico State Engineer’s Office found the village of Chama’s water system frequently struggled with “bacteria and other organisms in its surface water,” and cited turbidity as a common issue in the Rio Chama area. . . In the past decade, the Environment Department has found the village in violation 21 times, mostly for failing to report samples of dangerous substances in the water. 

It seems a culture of apathy took hold in Chama, a serene outpost that attracts thousands of summer visitors and a fair share in the winter as well. We've also seen that attitude take hold on occasion in the village's big brother neighbors.

In Santa Fe multiple administrations have presided over sloppy financial practices and in ABQ’s APD a years-long culture of anything goes brought in the US Justice Department to supervise the department.

Two years ago Chama residents were forced to boil their water to keep it safe. Now they don't even have that option and are relying on water brought in by the state. And it's not like Chama is broke. They have $800,000 in state capital outlay approved for their water problems but it has sat there---until now. 

Chama is a village that holds much charm and is a jewel in the New Mexico crown. If you go be sure to say hello to the mayor and village councilors for us--after you wake them from their naps. And remember to BYOB.


ABQ Mayor Tim Keller delivers his state of the city address Saturday morning in a party like atmosphere at the downtown Rail Yards. . . GOP Guv candidate Mark Ronchetti has released a plan to fight crime while MLG continues her advertising blitz defending her crime record. . .The AP takes a look at the growing political divide between rural and urban New Mexico, accentuated by the reluctance of the Otero County Commission to certify the county's primary election results, 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Brook Backs Off; City Councilor Feels The Heat And Sees The Light; Abandons Homeless Encampment Concept Amid Constituent Outcry; What's Next As City Wrestles With Growing Homeless Dilemma  

Homeless in the 505
"When I feel the heat, I see the light." 

So said the late great US Senator Everett Dirksen and so it is for our very own ABQ GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan

In one of the more high profile cases of a politician touching a hot stove Bassan has backed off from her support for city sanctioned homeless encampments for each of the nine city council districts. 

The decision came after she was scorched by her constituents at a meeting that drew 150 from her NE Heights district. Bassan will now propose repealing the legislation that would have made possible the encampments and was approved by Council on a 5 to 4 vote. Here's her mea culpa:

I initially supported sanctioned encampments based on the understanding that existing vagrancy, loitering, trespassing and overnight camping laws would be enforced once we created the sanctioned encampments. However, upon hearing Mayor Tim Keller’s recent press conference statements, it has become clear that this enforcement is highly unlikely to occur. That means creating sanctioned encampments won’t work. Additionally, I have heard your voice in opposition to sanctioned encampments. I have always promised to listen to my constituents and then act on their behalf. I have always promised that, if I ever made a mistake such as this, I would apologize and work to correct my action. I am sorry for not registering your opposition to this idea sooner. Moving forward, I will work even harder to represent your voice in city government.

Bassan's reversal is also a defeat for Mayor Keller who, like mayors around the nation, has struggled to deal with a a ceaseless flow of homeless in major metro areas. Anecdotal evidence suggests the problem here is worsening. And no wonder with the aftermath of the pandemic and skyrocketing rents. 

With Bassan backing away the council is expected to join her in reversing approval for the encampments. Then it's back to the drawing board. Meantime the tide is turning away from tolerance for the homeless toward a get tough attitude. 

Councilor Bassan
Keller and his police chief Harold Medina insist the federal courts have tied their hands in dealing with the homeless population that commits illegal offenses, but others heartily disagree and say laws on the books offer the administration plenty of opportunity to alleviate some of the worst public behavior that is making the quality of life dive in sections of the city. 

As for Bassan, she came on the city council as a bright light of moderation and remains so. Her reversal may spare her a stiff election challenge next year. But that's not a given. 

Keller must now think about pulling a Bassan and at least somewhat altering course from the progressive path in dealing with the homeless, as have his counterparts in California and elsewhere. 

The ultimate solution for the vast majority of the homeless population is housing, housing, housing (and addiction treatment). The city is already spending tens of millions annually on affordable housing and services but if there was ever a time for Keller to look to Santa Fe for relief, it's now. 

The state is awash in billions in surplus funds from the oil boom. In addition more billions are set to flow into the state in the next several years from that mammoth federal infrastructure bill. Can the Mayor, Governor and legislators talk about the possibility--remote or not--of employing any of those funds for housing? 

NIMBY--not in my backyard--is now the clarion call for ABQ neighborhoods who see themselves as threatened by the homeless. Unless funding is found for additional housing--in combination with enforcing the law--there's no reason to believe the din will be quieted anytime soon. 


So long, Hector. It's Dem Attorney General nominee Raul Torrez now taking center stage as AG Hector Balderas finishes up his second term and Torrez has a lay-up in beating the Republican nominee in November to become the next AG. 

On that path, he is campaigning with Sec. of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver who also appears to be a shoo-in for another term 

As for Hector, he's been suffering some unkind cuts as he eyes the exits. For example, his office was fined $40,000 for failing to comply with a records request from former APD Chief Geir who asked for all correspondence involving him between the AG and APD. 

That from the office that tells other government agencies to comply with the transparency laws--and pronto. 

Toulouse Oliver has been in the spotlight over election integrity issues since the Otero County Commission refused without reason to certify the primary election results. In the face of possible criminal charges the three member all GOP commission finally buckled and certified the results. 

Their approval came at a bizarre twenty minute meeting (full video here) last week that had one commissioner still voting against the certification, arguing that he knew in his gut that something was awry with the voting. (Maybe it was just a bad hamburger?)

Another commissioner continuously waved a piece of paper, fanning her face as she announced it was very hot in the commission chambers. No one one else was fanning themselves but then no one was feeling as much political heat as Commissioner Vickie Marquardt. 

Hey, Vickie. You know what they say--if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen--or in this case the Otero County Commission. 

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Life And Death In Gallup New Mexico; Former Mayor Offers Up A Solid Summer Read On The State's Most Inscrutable City, Plus: Learning The Hard Way For Councilor Bassan 

Summer '22 arrives today so let's dive into the pool as well as a good book as we soak up the languid days under the New Mexico sun. 

Former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough comes with a page turner that chronicles his life in the city that he so accurately describes as "disproportionately wonderful and terrible." 

In A Place of Thin Veil: Life And Death In Gallup New Mexico, Rosebrough ponders his personal and political journey. His wonder for the eccentric Navajo reservation bordertown and its unique culture is evident throughout. So is his dread of the terrible, symbolized by an alcohol epidemic that came to define Gallup and dominated his struggles as mayor of the city that originated as a rail and coal town in the early 20th century. 

Rosebrough, an attorney and native of Farmington, settled in Gallup after college, a move he notes was reminiscent of another NM politico--former NM Governor Arthur Hannett of New York who disembarked in Gallup over a hundred years ago and like Rosebrough found himself dumbfounded and delighted and hung up his legal shingle. 

Rosebrough was doing fine as an attorney but the old ways of Gallup--chiefly the denial of its alcoholic personality by the old guard--gnawed at him and he eventually responded to the calls of his neighbors to run for mayor. He was elected to a four year term in 2003. It was an opportunity that he would come to both honor and regret. 

Mayor Rosebrough's efforts to change much of what turned out to be unchangeable left him intellectually and spiritually exhausted, but he seems too quick to point to his defeats rather than his accomplishments.

Mayor Rosebrough 
They included a ban on sales to intoxicated individuals that saw two of the worst drunk bars sell out after being cited multiple times; he met with success when he pushed bars to voluntarily ban early morning sales; he persuaded the state legislature to extend the period for detox holds from 12 to 72 hours and as an avid outdoorsman he advanced Gallup's opportunities in that area. 

Gallup's alcohol obsession demanded (and continues to demand) a 12 step program. Rosebrough got the city to swallow several steps but at the end of his term it was clear, he writes, that the "old guard" had waited him out. He gladly returned to private life. 

Readers will enjoy the many characters Rosebrough introduces as well as a look at his somewhat icy relationship with fellow Democrat and Gov. Bill Richardson. But it is his candidness describing his own inner demons as he wrestles with the challenges of the day that will especially resonate with a political audience.  

When his term ended Rosebrough recalls a constituent thanking him for ridding Gallup of its reputation as "Drunk City." He didn't eradicate that moniker entirely but looking back he was a man ahead of his time in a place where inscrutability conquers even the most ardent agents of change.

You can buy the book here


ABQ GOP City Councilor Brook Bassan found out the hard way that the city is not ready for homeless encampments in each of the nine council districts. A big crowd faced off with her as she shopped the idea to her mostly conservative NE Heights district. 

Clearly Bassan and Mayor Keller and company have much groundwork to do before this idea gets off the ground, even if the City Council has already approved the concept on a 5 to 4 vote. 

The legislation is called "Safe Outdoor Space" for the homeless but it's Bassan who now needs a safe harbor as her district turns on her. She has time to find one. She's not up for re-election until 2023. (Bassan has now introduced legislation to repeal the proposed homeless encampments).

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Monday, June 20, 2022

Photo Caption Contest Winners 

We pause this holiday for a bit of political humor and finish up our photo caption contest of MLG and President Biden chatting it up as they prepare to leave KAFB for Santa Fe for a wildfire briefing earlier this month. 

It was no surprise that the dramatic height difference between the political pair received much attention from readers competing for one of two free lunches. 

Reader Mary Darling came with this:

 Joe to MLG: "I mean no disrespect but, it's kind of hard not to talk down to you!"

An anonymous reader wrote:

Joe to MLG: "Would you like a booster seat?"

Reader James Bostrom had this caption:

"Michelle, when they ask me Red or Green, what should I say??"

MLG's Covid jewelry adventure drew this caption from an anonymous reader:

Joe: "Do you think I can I get the same discount as you at Lilly Barrack?"

And, of course, Crotchgate had to make an appearance:

"So you're saying you grabbed his crotch...and he didn't like it?" 

Reader Santana Salazar had this:

POTUS: “Can you see? I was this close to bringing a booster seat.” 

MLG: “Are you tired? I was that close to bringing you a neck pillow.” 

Larry Anderson wrote:

Joe: "I'm trying not to be recognized by wearing these sunglasses. I'm just not as good at it as you are."

Michelle: "Nonsense, Joe. Just leave the shades on and get lower in the seat like me."

Patrick Stewart captioned the photo this way:

POTUS to the Secret Service: "Can we get a booster seat, she can't see the smoke from the fires from back here!"

Cheryl Haaker wrote:

Joe: "So, where can we get some of this 'bowl of green' diplomacy that Bill Richardson always talks about?"   

Reader Rodger Beimer came with this:

Joe: “I’m a car guy. If they’d just let me drive, we’d be in Santa Fe in 30 minutes!” 

David Hadwiger had this caption:

Joe: "I don't understand, Governor. You want to add a question on the next Census for New Mexico, "Green or Red?"  

This reader joked about MLG's efforts to get a job with the Biden administration:

Joe: "What job was it that you wanted?" 

MLG: Ever had posole and red chile at Thanksgiving or seen the Santa Fe Plaza decked out for Christmas? Come back around then and we can talk. 

We thought Santana Salazar's sarcasm was on the mark and he wins a free lunch at Barelas Coffee House. And in a nod to the many height jokes, the second lunch goes to witty reader Patrick Stewart. 

Thanks to everyone for playing along. And Happy Juneteenth Day.

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Blog Photo Caption Contest; Scranton Joe Chats Up MLG; Free Lunch To The Winners 

An entire hour alone with the President of the USA. 

Just what did MLG and Joe Biden have to say to each other during that lengthy sojourn from ABQ to Santa Fe where last Saturday he was briefed on the state's wildfires?

There's been no release about the conversation so we turn it over to our dear readers to speculate on the give and take between the Guv and the Prez.

So email your captions. The best two win a free lunch to the famed Barelas Coffee House. 

Here's a starter:

Joe: Michelle, what do you say we make a run for the border while we're in the area? 

Michelle: Nah, Taco Bell is too far out, let's hit The Shed instead. 

Sure, you can do better than that. Email your entry to newsguy@yahoo.com. Good luck!

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

MLG Camp Makes First Foray Into Negative Territory: Defends Crime Record While Questioning Ronchetti Experience, Plus: MLG Plays Defense On Possible ABQ Migrant Influx, And: Off The Rails In Otero; Commission There Won't Certify Primary Results; SOS Heads To Court 

MLG has released her first negative ad aimed at GOP nominee Mark Ronchetti, the start of what will be a mind-numbing five months of nonstop TV spots from her and from Ronchetti as soon as he can raise enough money to go on the tube and stay there. 

MLG's first foray into negative territory begins with an ad featuring former Bernalillo police chief Tom Romero who wonders how Ronchetti--with no experience other than being a TV weatherman--can fight crime. 

Mark Ronchetti, a TV weatherman attacking the Governor on crime? Mark Ronchetti only knows which way the wind blows.

Of course, the metro area crime wave has intensified under the leadership of experienced Democrats like MLG but the ad touts her crime fight, saying she gave police "the funding they need."

The GOP is hoping to use crime as a gateway issue in the ABQ metro where they must cut MLG's margins to have a chance, although that messaging did not work against Mayor Keller who easily won re-election last year. 

There is a yawning gap in cash on hand between the Guv and her opponent. She last reported over $3 million in cash and he just $470,000 after swamping his four opponents in the GOP primary. 

The early TV brings that gap into focus as the national GOP tries to pick up the slack for Ronchetti and has a negative ad up against her.

In the only public poll released in the Guv race conducted in late April and early May, Survey USA had the contest at 47 to 43 with MLG leading. 

Ronchetti responded to the TV hit in a fund-raising missive by calling MLG's crime record "a disaster" and that she has "failed to end catch and release" and "changed the law to make it easier for cops to be sued."

He also attacked the newspaper for their coverage of the new ad:

She got the Albuquerque Journal to write an article about it without so much as asking us for a comment.

The Journal responded:

We have fairly and thoroughly covered this year's election cycle, including the Governor's race, and intend to continue to do so. 

The paper endorsed Ronchetti in the June primary.

MLG also came with this positive ad that touts her opportunity scholarship program for higher education.

Both of her ads feature Hispanic spokespeople, a group that has been a polling soft spot for the Governor. 

Meanwhile, Ronchetti announced an endorsement--not from Donald Trump--but from the other wing of the GOP--former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who is said to be eying a 2024 run for the presidency gave him her backing. Like Ronchetti, Haley is not a big fan of the "Orange One."

The NM Governor's race is rated "lean Democrat" by national pundits. 


MLG is playing defense on the prospect of the Feds sending more migrants from Mexico into ABQ. Immigration is a key wedge issue for Ronchetti and the GOP. Her news release on the hot-button issue:

(MLG) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas requesting the federal government delay planned or expanded efforts to transport migrants to New Mexico as they would dramatically affect the state’s capacity to provide ongoing humanitarian assistance to wildfire relief efforts. The letter follows the governor’s meeting with DHS Sec. Mayorkas last month, where she requested additional wildfire disaster assistance from the federal government through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

The governor’s request was recently granted by President Biden, who announced that the federal government will cover 100% of costs for emergency protective work and debris removal under New Mexico’s existing wildfire disaster declaration. In the letter, the governor emphasizes that both state government and local humanitarian organizations are focused on supporting the thousands of New Mexicans displaced by and affected by the ongoing disaster as numerous wildfires continue to burn throughout the state. 

“The existing emergency arising from these wildfires has severely taxed the capacity of our state to provide resources to non-New Mexicans. I cannot allow the governments and communities of the state of New Mexico to shoulder additional burdens falling squarely within the federal government’s purview,” the governor writes. 


Couy Griffin Vs. MTO
The three member Republican-controlled Otero County Commission in SE NM splashed into the national headlines when it refused Monday to certify the June 7th primary results because of distrust of voting machines. Now it falls to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to ward off the MAGA conspirators and ensure the integrity of the election process is protected and a precedent set for the future. Her office reports:

(The SOS) filed a writ of mandamus with the New Mexico Supreme Court seeking to compel the Otero County Commission to certify the 2022 Primary Election results after the commission illegally refused to certify the results, potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot and harming candidates seeking to have their names on the General Election ballot. 

“New Mexico’s 2022 Primary Election was conducted with the highest standards of election administration by dedicated county clerks and civil servants across our state. The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the Primary.” Toulouse Oliver said  

County canvassing boards have ten days from the election to certify the results. Under state law, county canvassing boards must certify the results of the election unless there is proof of discrepancies in the election returns. The Otero County Commission’s stated reason for not certifying the 2022 Primary Election results is that they do not trust the vote tabulators used in the election, though they offered no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns. 

New Mexico’s vote tabulator systems undergo a bi-partisan certification process by the voting system certification committee following every presidential election and this process was most recently completed in 2021. The Otero County Commission took their vote Tuesday over the objection of their County Clerk, who provided the commission with findings about the Primary Election proving it was conducted legally and securely and election returns were accurate. The Secretary of State’s Office filed this writ  to ensure state law is being followed and to ensure that the voices of every legal voter in Otero County are heard. 

This most recent action by the Otero County Commission is part of a disturbing trend across the nation motivated by conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that have been debunked time and time again (most notably in the failure of over 60 lawsuits filed in the wake of 2020). All county officials take an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of New Mexico. 

Because of these violations of their oaths, the Secretary of State’s Office is also preparing a criminal referral to the New Mexico Attorney General related to these willful violations of the Election Code by county officers and their willful failure or refusal to perform their duties under the Election Code. 

The state Supremes ought to make quick work of the renegade and unlawful action happening in AlamogordoAmong the members of the Otero County Commission are Cowboys for Trump co-founder copy Griffin. Enough said. 


ABQ Dem US Rep. Melanie Stansbury is celebrating her first year in office this week, having won her seat at a special election in June of 2021. She comes with this video highlighting that first year. She is opposed in the November election by Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes. 

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