Monday, July 25, 2005

"One Rodella Down, One to Go," State Rep Targeted, Plus: Judy Espinosa: On Endangered List? It's Petition Panic, Plus: Political Newspaper News 

Rep. Rodella
"One Rodella down, one to go," chided a critic of the husband and wife team who are keeping the political buzz going across our Enchanted Land this summer. First, Big Bill forced magistrate judge Tom Rodella, husband of State Rep Debbie Rodella, to hand in his walking papers after questionable ethical behavior. Now comes word that Debbie has drawn a serious challenge in next year's Dem primary for her District 41 seat up North.

Not a few seasoned observers think it was Rodella who cast the most significant vote in the history of the New Mexico legislature. Her last minute switch made possible Indian casinos, an industry that now generates a half billion dollars a year, making it one of the most powerful economic forces in the state.

Rodella will need all her political skills and more as she faces the legendary Moises Morales in the primary. He goes way back and is a former Rio Arriba county commissioner. Others could join the Dem primary against Debbie, diluting the opposition and increasing the odds she could hold on to the seat she has held since 1992. Still, the recent damaging headlines about her husband have put her seat in play and the movida masters of the North are unleashed and hunting.


Is Judy Espinosa on the endangered list? Could be. She sent out an urgent missive late last week urging her supporters to sign her petitions so she can make the October 4 ABQ mayoral ballot. Judy is not the only one having trouble reaching what seems an onerous 5,811 signatures, or two percent of the city's registered voters. Even R Brad Winter has had to hustle to get signatures, paying pros to hit the streets. Winter should get the number, but David Steele, like Judy, is a question mark. Mayor Marty and Eric Griego appear to be OK. If Judy doesn't make the cut, Griego's campaign will get a major boost as the two liberal Dems could be expected to divvy up many of the same votes. The petition deadline is 5 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, over at the ABQ Trib reporter Erik Siemers and I kicked around the prospective mayoral candidacy of 20 year old Dominic Gallegos. I weighed in with the view that we may need to revisit how many signatures we require to run for the city's top job. Candidates are spending too much time getting the signatures and hopefuls who may not be able to win, but have something valuable to say about the city's future, are being excluded. How about lowering the requirement to one percent of the registered voters? Just a thought.


Andy Lenderman, the young and aggressive ABQ Journal politics writer, is headed out the door and into a new newsroom. The 31 year old will leave the state's largest newspaper to take up a new position for the Santa Fe New Mexican, covering Los Alamos and the science beat. No word yet on who will replace Lenderman. He had the politics beat for about 15 months. His predecessor, Loie Fecteau, went to work for Big Bill. The beat has been a short-lived one in recent years, not like the old days when the late Bob Beier held forth for decades, followed by a lengthy stint by John Robertson who is now state editor and oversees the paper's political coverage.


Poking fun at New Mexico politics is an age-old pastime and it reaches it's zenith at the annual Gridiron Dinner in October. It's put on by the NM Broadcasters Association. You may have noticed their banner here. The dinner proceeds fund scholarships for deserving New Mexican students. It's a fun night featuring the likes of Big Bill and company, skits and music. Get your tickets now by clicking on the banner. And enjoy.

Thanks for stopping by. See you manana.

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