Thursday, August 18, 2005
Bush New Mexico Numbers Crater; Only R's Stay Loyal, Plus: Dateline Hobbs: Oil & Politics, And: ABQ Mayor Race,The Latest Comings And Goings
It's been a rough summer for the Prez. In New Mexico, a state he narrowly carried last year, his problems have come home to roost. The latest Survey USA numbers for July show the Bush job approval rating plummeting to 41%, the lowest of his tenure. That's a five percent plunge from the previous poll, showing the toll the war In Iraq and high gas prices are taking. And it could be worse. A stunning 81% of NM R's still approve of the Prez's job performance, while the exact same number of Dems disapprove. If the base starts to crumble Bush is headed into the 30's and that would raise questions about the vulnerability of congressional R's, including our own Heather Wilson. But for now the R's are hanging tough with their guy, hoping better days are ahead. So do most New Mexicans whose patience is obviously wearing thin.
We don't call it "New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan" for nothing. You regulars know we scour the four corners of our great state. Our latest foray found us on the long distance line with Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague who is in line to replace State Rep. Don Whitaker who our sources are reporting is set to resign for health reasons. Harry called in from Hobbs in reaction to the blog saying, "I can't deny what you wrote. I am very interested in the seat." And he responded to Alligators who said he might not live in the Whitaker district. "I have a house there and if I am appointed (by fellow county commissioners) I will live in the district," he responded.
And what about Hobbs and Lea county. With oil well north of 60 bucks a barrel are we minting new millionaires down there? "Not as many as you would think. Most of the oil business is now in the hands of the big conglomerates. There are not as many independent guys like Ben Alexander (oilman and former chair of the NM Dem party) or the Yates family," said Teague who has lived in Hobbs since 59'.
Three years ago the commissioner took over the oil concern run by Rep. Whitaker and is in touch with the local business scene. He told me the new Hobbs racetrack/casino has drawn no complaints from local businesses. "Judging by the license plates, I would say at last 50% of the business there is from Texas," He reported. That's gambling that works; Texans dropping their dollars in New Mexico.
And how about some Lea politics Harry? "The governor carried the county by just three votes in 2002. I think he'll do better next year. I have never seen the level of presence from any governor that Bill has had here. Most of his cabinet secretaries have made visits. We are not ignored."
Commission chairman Teague pointed out that Bush garnered an astounding 82% of the vote in the county, but he said he is a conservative Democrat like Rep. Whitaker and if he does replace him he will be able to retain the seat for the Dems in next year's election.
A final note on Lea. If the nation's energy woes are being caused by a lack of refinieries why not put another one in Lea county where they already have one and where they are also welcoming a nuclear energy concern with open arms? "That's a good question, Joe. I think I will have our economic development folks check it out."
Please do Harry. I have a V-6 and it's eating my credit card.
MARTY AND HIS TWO PARTIES
Mayor Marty is at it again. The lifelong Dem is currying favor with ABQ R's in hopes of preventing the GOP's Brad Winter from consolidating them behind his bid and forcing a run-off. Marty's latest play was a piece of lit to GOP households filled with nice quotes about him from the likes of Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White (Bush's Bernalillo County chairman) and ABQ NE Heights State Rep. Greg Payne, among others. But White is not endorsing anyone in the race and Payne tells me he also will not publicly endorse the mayor. The piece did not claim the duo was endorsing the mayor, it just left the impression that they did. Meanwhile, Brad was trying to fend off the raid on his base by having a fundraiser sponsored by Congresswoman Wilson. Trouble is it was only for $125.00 a pop at a time when he needs a quick cash infusion to offset the treasury of Million Dollar Marty.
Judy Espinosa, as expected, withdrew from he ABQ mayor's race Wednesday in light of her loss at the State Supreme Court. We wish this competent public servant all the best, but are moved to comment.
Yes Judy, the city requires too many petition signatures (5,811) and yes, the city clerk's method of checking them is not perfect and yes, there are a lot of "obstacles" to becoming mayor. But four other candidates were able to get on the ballot. Why blame the system when you raised $50,000 and failed to spend it getting adequate petition signatures? On this one the Supremes got it right. The rules of the game may need changing, but you don't change them in the middle of the game. So it is written in the never-ending book of our beloved La Politica. May it ever be so.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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