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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Filling The State House; We've Got The Latest, Plus: Big Bill Opens Fat State Wallet, And: A Media Move; This Blog Is No Turkey 

Hey, we've got action in the State House races. I know. I didn't expect much this year either. But here we go. With GOP State Rep. Greg Payne ready to resign his NE Heights seat to become ABQ Mayor Marty's transit director, names are percolating up for the Bernalillo County Commission to consider as a replacement for the high-profile Payne.

Bill Rehm, a Republican who Payne beat in a primary, is on the Alligators' list as is R Ward Camp who ran for the Public Regulation Commission last year. D attorney David Campbell who has run in the heavily Republican area is also making a play for the appointment, say the in-the know insiders. They also say don't look for the commission to go it alone. They may very well ask the GOP ward bosses in the Payne district to give them a pick to name. They did something similar when there was a South Valley legislative vacancy. Ernie Chavez was tapped for that slot.

Meanwhile, up in Santa Fe, news broke over the weekend that City Different Mayor Larry Delgado, finishing up an eight year stint, has his eye on replacing Dem State Rep. Lucky Varela who is making a run for State Treasurer.

PROGENY OF THE LEGENDS

Back in the City, what's this about the young grandson of former NM State Rep. Bennie Aragon, Dominic Aragon, wanting to replace Harriet Ruiz on ABQ's Westside? Harriet is not seeking re-election. And another of the new generation of politicos, Pat Baca Jr., son of legendary ex-city councilor and county commissioner Pat Baca, may be ready to run in a Dem primary against Aragon. Dan Serrano is already campaigning for the Dem nomination. R's need not apply in this big D seat.

South to Valencia County, friends of longtime State Rep. Fred Luna,(he goes back to the 70's in this seat) say this may be his last time around the track. But they've have been saying that for years. If Fred does finally call it quits, it could position R Jackie Farnsworth for the swing district. She's run a couple of strong races against Luna.

CASH FOR COLLEGE


The 2006 Legislative session fast approaches so Big Bill is whipping out the fat state wallet. Monday he pulled out a $50 million proposal for college scholarships for students who may not qualify for those given from state lottery proceeds. The R's are right if they try to make this an endowment fund that finances the scholarships out of interest income. But the program, at first blush, seems to be the kind of long-range use of the estimated $1 billion surplus that will make a difference. It definitely will for those who did not go to college right after high school.

Santa Fe is also talking about another $50 million. This for the pre-K program. That's up from an experimental $5 mil last year. But there are a lot more questions about the worthiness of that one than with the scholarship plan.

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES


Attention politicos. Put the name of Jeff Jones on your list. He's the new politics reporter for the ABQ Journal. Jones previously worked the gambling beat where I got to know him in my PR role in which I serve as a spokesman for a group opposed to off-reservation casinos. He is a straight shooter with no ax to grind. But his new job must be tough. His predecessors, Andy Lenderman, now at the New Mexican and Loie Fecteau, now with state government, each left the political beat in the last two years. Your blogger is in year 31 of New Mexico political coverage, but it has not been a straight line, there being a number of years when I would have nothing to do with La Politica. But you see, I have this problem...

Jones has 11 years under his belt at the Journal, giving him long-range perspective. He will need it as he is competing against, among others, Santa Fe AP veterans Barrey Massey and Deborah Baker, the ABQ Tribune's buoyant Kate Nash and the grizzled, but never grizzly Steve Terrell of the New Mexican who shares his war stories (Korea, Gulf I) with new co-worker and fellow Journal refugee David Miles.

I appreciate your company and continued support. See you again tomorrow for a pre-holiday blog after which we break to give thanks for being able to call this Enchanted Land our home.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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