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Friday, September 30, 2005

High Political Drama; Supremes Pave Path For Historic Impeachment; Indicted Treasurer Flaunts Big Bill As Crisis Grows; Power In The Balance 

New Mexico Supreme Court
Hesitation by key Democratic party leaders to directly confront the largest scandal in New Mexico history has opened the door to a full-scale political crisis that could dramatically alter the balance of power in the Land of of Enchantment. So say veteran politicos monitoring the escalating drama that has indicted Treasurer Robert Vigil threatening to return to work, the NM Supreme Court ruling that Big Bill’s plan to get Vigil to step aside does not pass muster and Republicans waiting in the wings readying an impeachment war to pin the Democratic Donkey to the wall.

“We are at the end game. (House) Speaker Lujan made a serious error when he tried to slow the drive to impeach by saying he did not think there was enough time in next week’s special session. The scandal is an outrage and it is is the kind of stuff that could tip the balance of power to the Republicans in key races next year,” offered one Senior Alligator.

Big Bill, firmly rebuked Thursday by the five member, all Democrat State Supreme Court in his effort to have two treasurers, immediately indicated support of Vigil’s impeachment by the House.

“The Governor is no fool. The flames are spreading and they are soon going to start engulfing the Fourth Floor. It is imperative that he get the party out in front of this. Like Lujan, he hesitated at the outset by not using all of his powers to get rid of Vigil. Now they are paying the price. Since Vigil won’t resign, impeachment is the only way out,” analyzed a longtime Dem.

VIGIL DEFIANT
Treasurer Vigil
Vigil continues to issue defiant and, some say, arrogant statements indicating he wants to go back to work for the office that the U.S. government alleges he and his predecessor, Michael Montoya, ripped off to the tune of millions of dollars. “Bill is going to take a major, major hit across the nation if he cannot get a handle on this right away. The laid back atmosphere here, even in times of crisis, is deceptive. I wonder if he realizes just how vicious the attacks will be if it appears a renegade Treasurer appears to be running the state,” analyzed a wall-leaner with decades of experience.

Meanwhile, Republicans finally had an issue they could unite behind. “This one is a no brainer. Even our party infighting can’t stop this train. We have them by the balls and we are going to squeeze. Watching the Governor and Lujan squirm gives us unending joy,“ crowed a top R.

What could gives the R’s even more joy is a delay in impeaching Vigil. “If Vigil steps foot in that office or returns to work in any way, shape or form, the credibility of Bill Richardson and the Democratic party is out the window. Yes, it’s that big. I think it could even have us taking a more serious look at the Governor's re-election prospects,” argued an aggressive R.

But ABQ State Rep. Larry Larranaga appeared to offer something of an olive branch, or at least a last chance to the D’s on last night’s TV news broadcasts. He said the impeachment should move forward with “bipartisan support.” Larranaga is one of the few Hispanic Republicans in the Legislature, providing the mostly Anglo R’s cover from hits that the Vigil impeachment is in any way race based.

THE FINAL ACT?

The Governor's statement giving the impeachment his blessing will likely be heeded by the Dems in the State House. And, according to one expert, once the House impeaches, Vigil loses his power to conduct the business of the office. A trial would be held later by the State Senate. “It is my reading of the constitution that once Vigil is impeached he no longer has his powers. That should solve the matter.” He said.

It should. But the lingering by the Governor and key Dems, combined with the ill-advised Hail Mary pass rejected by the State Surpeme Court, has taken them to the brink. Any missteps in the days ahead and they could topple over the edge.

MY MAYORAL MEDIA MARATHON

We'll have the latest on the ABQ Mayor's race today around 4:20 p.m. when we sit down for a live interview with veteran KRQE-TV news anchor and NM political junkie Dick Knipfing. We are back on this blog Sunday with my analysis of the ABQ Journal's final poll. On Monday, my all-star mayoral team handicaps the races for mayor and city council. On Monday at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM radio we'll have a full hour of analysis and predictions. On Election Night top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland and I hit the KANW airwaves at 6:30 p.m for all-night results. Thanks to our public radio sponsors: BWD Global and Bruce Donisthorpe, Ladera Golf, and Bill Campbell Agency (Realtors)) in Albuquerque.

And thanks to The Morning After team, John and Rebecca at 93 KOB-FM for an interesting on air election chat Thursday morning. And thanks also to the New Mexico Public Relations Society for having me for lunch Thursday to talk blogs and La Politica. Hey, it's our busy season around here, and we are glad you are with us for the ride.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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