Thursday, June 02, 2005

New Mexico's Economy: It's A Gas (Oil Too) But Will It Last? Plus: More Mayoral Musings, And: Who Makes What Toiling For Your State 

Times are pretty good in New Mexico. And they've been that way for quite a while. Despite the continued predictions of a crisis to come, the money continues to flow into state coffers at record levels, thanks to the oil and gas industry. Still, there's another canary in the mine chirping a warning. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claims the NM Legislative Finance Committee has it right and that the state may be headed for a deficit in fiscal 2007. The center, which says it pushes issues of importance to lower income families, assigns blame to Big Bill's tax cuts for the wealthy, among other things, for the coming problems which they warn could hit a year after a new Guv is elected in 06.'

State officials expect a 10% budget surplus this fiscal year and oil and gas prices remain in the stratosphere, helping the good times roll. The political implications of a severe price drop are obvious. Not that NM Republicans would ever hope for such a thing. Would they?


Some reaction and feedback worthy of note to our Wednesday blog analyzing the 05' ABQ mayor race. The polling junkies tell me the GOP poll we quoted with Mayor Marty getting roughly half the vote and GOP City Council Prez Brad Winter garnering 25% was likely a two man poll. They say it looked forward to a possible run-off between the pair after the initial round of balloting October 4 which will include other candidates. It assumes they will be the top two vote getters but neither will hit the magic 40% mark to avoid the run-off. Assuming a two man poll, the Chavez number of 50% is right on the borderline of vulnerability. It's where Bush was with Kerry. A number below 50% signals vulnerability.

All of this reminds me of the last ABQ mayoral run-off back in 93' when Chavez defeated "soft R' Dave Cargo. Cargo, like Winter, did not appeal to the bedrock GOP conservatives who did not come out in force. Marty got in with a victory of less than 600 votes. If the GOP poll we reported has it right, it shows another tight race is possible as an incumbent's numbers are not likely to rise much in the campaign as he is already well-known to the public. The challenge could be for Dem Chavez to hold on to his appeal to GOP voters. For Winter, the challenge would be to move the entire GOP, including the right-wing, behind his candidacy.


Another Alligator reacting to the mayoral action commented: "I would argue that it is WAY to early to be sending out direct mail. No one voting in October is going to remember something from their mail box in May." Good point. But Chavez and company may have been trying to scare a candidate out of the race. And, more important, if you have a half-mil to spend in four months, you might as well start spending, early or otherwise. One other thing. Absentee voting will start in early September, moving up the timetable for grabbing voters.


Big Bill has the power, but he doesn't have the money. At least not when it comes to his official salary. The Guv, according to a recent report, actually ranks quite far down the wage scale. The highest paid guy in state government now pulls down north of $200 grand, while Big Bill checks in with a yearly take of $110k. But somehow we don't think he’s going hungry. Not with $3 million in his re-elect account, free plane rides everhwere, a darn good cooking staff at the mansion, and plenty of fundraisers to go to that cost a grand a pop. What else could a guy ask for? More.

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