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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Rumblings Begin Over Light Guv Spot On 06' Ticket; Is It Now Or Never For Wannabe Future Guvs? You Decide, Plus: My Bottom Lines 

06' Ticket Or Not?
One insider with a soft spot towards Lt. Guv Diane Denish calls it a "medieval conspiracy" theory. But its been making the rounds loudly enough and long enough that it can no longer be so casually dismissed. And, if true, it could change the landscape of New Mexico politics in future years in profound ways. The "it" is the now persistent chatter among deep insiders that Lt. Guv Diane Denish could face a primary challenge next June in her bid for re-election.

At the top of the ticket, maverick Dem Bengie Regensburg has said he will challenge Big Bill, but that will be more entertaining than threatening. But in the case of Diane, as much as her supporters may not want to hear it, a Hispanic Democrat could challenge her. Here's another dose of reality: if it was a one-on-race the experts tell me she is not a lock.

PRE-K MEANS PRE-ELECTION

The talk of a Denish challenge has resurfaced in light of the Legislative debate over pre-kindergarten. The Guv gave Diane the measure to carry through the Roundhouse, but midway it became clear that it was not going to be easy. "Pre-k ran into trouble and the Guv had to step in and use his own political muscle to help Diane rescue it," a highly-placed source in Santa Fe told me. Also, Dem House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Cervantes raised eyebrows when he went public on Denish in his opposition, and while he is not eying a run at her job, the name of Diane's eternal rival, Patsy Madrid, has surfaced.

"Patsy is looking at running for the Congressional seat against Heather Wilson, but that looks like a tough battle. She really wants to be governor, but if Diane is re-elected with Bill, Diane will be solidly positioned to succeed him. Why not make the run against her next year and go for the kill," wondered one top Dem politico, echoing the thoughts of several NM political pros we consulted.

Far from being a conspiracy, this sounds like a realistic and sound political strategy for a Dem who hopes to someday occupy the fabled Fourth Floor.

THE HISPANIC FACTOR

"Diane has done a good job in Santa Fe, but she has never solidified her voting strength in the Hispanic North and as much as 50% of the vote in a Dem primary will be Hispanic. Madrid previously ran against Denish in one of the closest Light Guv races in history and the two have been intertwined ever since," analyzed one of the pros. Also, State Senator Linda Lopez, who was kept off the ballot by the Denish forces when she sought the Light Guv nod in 02,' is still around and could be another player to watch.

At first blush, A Big Bill-Patsy Madrid ticket sounds bizarre. Madrid has been the one Dem who has stood up to the Big Guy. But there is also news on that front. Big Bill himself has told associates that his relationship with Patsy has "improved" of late. At the same time, you get an inkling from the Madrid camp that peace is welcome. It is conceivable, if not likely, that Big Bill could stay neutral in any Dem fight for the second spot. That's another factor possible Diane opponents are said to be weighing.

Those who dismiss all this by labeling it conspiracy mumbo jumbo might take heed of that old axiom: "No one gives you power, you take it." Stay tuned.

MY BOTTOM LINES


No sooner had we blogged yesterday that NM was 46th in per capita income when brand new figures rolled off the press showing we've slipped back to 47th in per capita, according to hopeless political and economic junkie Harold Morgan. It's a stubborn number, isn't it?........Politician Greg Payne is posting on his blog the latest on the ABQ mayor's race and how it seems Dem Richard Romero may be giving a run serious consideration. Payne was one of those surveyed for a poll that had Romero's markings all over it. The former State Senator represented much of the same area in the senate that mayoral candidate Eric Griego has in his city council district

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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