Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Prez Pitches Plan; Dem's Rise To Occasion, Plus: Name Surfaces for New Sec.of Higher Education; Welcome, You've Landed In La Politica 

Rep. Udall
Perhaps like you, I did not find myself overly absorbed in the latest NM Prez visit. After all, the adrenaline of the campaign is long gone and what Bush was telling us he had already said at other town hall type meetings. What did catch my ear, though, was the Prez's repeated assurances that people currently getting Social Security will continue to get their checks. As soon as he finished his rap--delivered in a picture-perfect TV studio-like atmosphere at the ABQ Kiva Auditorium--the TV news talkers came on screen and immediately repeated those assurances as the highlight of his appearance. If you are working to "reform" Social Security, but the lead is that the status quo will be preserved for millions of recipients, you may be a bit behind the curve.

The Dems sense the opportunity and trotted out a radio ad in response to TV ads that the Bush backers ran here on the eve of his visit. Also, the profile of liberal Congressman Tom Udall was upped as he tore into the Bush plan. "It would take the security out of Social Security," declared Tom of the Northern district who will now barnstorm the state to fight some more. It was a well-run spin effort and made you think that if the Dems were as sharp last November as they were Monday it might have been John Kerry visiting here.

Dr. McClure
A nice new padded chair awaits someone at the Governor's cabinet table now that the Legislature has approved the addition to Big Bill's stable. That someone will be the Secretary of Higher Education. The Guv will appoint a search committee to fill the job, but already the Alligators are reporting there may be a frontrunner. She is Dr. Beverlee J. McClure, president of Clovis Community College. "Beverly is well-liked and her name was mentioned when this bill made the rounds. She has won praise for the job she has done in Clovis," reported our Gator. She also said Anglo McClure has good relations with the Hispanic community and that puts her in good position to get the job. Prominent Hispanics Louis Caldera and Manny Aragon head up two of the state's universities.

If not McClure, any other names? "Maybe (former Governor) Toney Anaya. He headed up the task force that led to creation of the position and served on the Highlands university Board of Regents. But Toney is a lightning rod and having him and Manny Aragon in high-profile education posts might be too much for the governor to handle," analyzed our Gatorette. Stay tuned.


Meanwhile, over at the University of New Mexico, they have to be wondering just what they got for the big taxpayer bucks they spent on their new high-powered group of lobbyists that included former State Senator Richard Romero and ex-state Rep Joe Thompson. "If they brought back something to President Caldera's office that he wouldn't have gotten without them we have yet to hear of it. I give them a C-," a Legislator with an interest in the university told me recently.

Veteran lawyer/lobbyist Phil Larragoite grabbed notice in La Politica when he left the post. Some insiders say he was ousted, others that he resigned. My best source on this one says: "Phil and Caldera clashed." I guess you might say how Phil left is academic now. While we are on the subject, whatever happened to Louis Caldera? Just asking.

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