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Monday, March 07, 2005

Manny: He's Not In The Valley Anymore; Alligators Circle As NM Legend Falters; Plus: Truth Tracking On Death Penalty Vote, And: TV News Ratings Seesaw 

Manny Aragon
NM political legend Manny Aragon has been the master of getting out of political fixes. The down side is that he's also a master at getting into them. And this time he is swimming in foreign waters that threaten to engulf the political wizard and end his historic run at the top rungs of New Mexican political power.

A mini revolution is taking hold at NM Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM where Aragon assumed the presidency in July of 04' after a 30 year run in the state senate where by sheer will and often intimidation, he rammed thru some of the major legislation of our times. But he's not in the senate anymore and the diverse power centers of a state university are starting to haunt Aragon whose politics were born in the Valley of ABQ and does not resonate with academics and students used to a more collaborative approach.

LIVING WITH MANNY

The problem leads directly to the Fourth Floor of the NM Roundhouse and Big Bill who engineered Aragon's ascension to Highlands. Because of what he was about to be awarded, Manny played meek for Big Bill and the Guv got a willing Legislature. But insiders have long speculated that the Guv wanted to get rid of Aragon because of the immense power he had in the Legislature and could possibly use to thwart Big Bill's will. The Highlands job, the speculation goes, gave the Guv an easy way out.

But with Aragon imploding there may be a price to pay for the Guv. The GOP effectively demonized Aragon and then-House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. It may be a long-shot, but now the R's are watching with interest the Manny Mess and thinking they may yet another chance to tie the Aragon baggage to another political traveler--Big Bill. Aragon's survival chances may depend on the outcome. Don't say we didn't tell you.

THE DEATH DANCE CONTINUES

What happened to that "reconsideration" of the death penalty vote in the state House that I blogged freshman ABQ GOP State Rep. Justine Fox-Young was “preparing" after shocking conservatives with her vote to abolish the death penalty? Blogger Steve Terrell and others are among the curious because when asked by Terrell about the reconsideration report Fox-Young replied: "Not on your life, babe." Well, "babes" and others interested, reliable sources report the move was indeed close to occurring, but the fact that it was published here beforehand may have caused it not to happen. Geez, we thought they didn't care.

The fact remains that Fox-Young and four other Republicans did vote to abolish the penalty and that the districts they represent are overwhelmingly in favor of the penalty and their votes were instrumental in it passing the House.

No, we don't have a beef with the Barnett-Dendahl-Fox-Young-Foley-Adair-Youngberg wing of the NM GOP. To paraphrase Harry Truman: "I never give anybody hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell." May it ever be so.

TV TALK

It was good while it lasted, but it didn't last long. Ratings for the 10 p.m. newscasts in the big ABQ market are out and they show KRQE-TV's historic breakthrough to the number one spot last November is history. But the race is so close that no one really has bragging rights to the top slot. In the February "sweeps" KOB 4 finished with a 9.8, KRQE 13 was second with a 9.1 and KOAT 7 came in with a 7.8 average at 10. A 9.8 rating means out of all the TV sets in the viewing area 9.8 per cent of them were tuned to KOB.

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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Friday, March 04, 2005

Our TGIF Edition: The "Unknown" Guv Candidate Is Unmasked, Plus: Henry Cisneros Is In The House, If You Have A Grand 

Palace Of The Guv's
Thank you, Dr. James Damron. Thank you very much. No, the Santa Fe radiologist did not cure me of a serious ailment, but he did ease the shapeless and featureless political landscape of the 06' Guv's race. It's been giving me serious heartburn. Damron is our "unknown" candidate we blogged of yesterday. The beauty of writing this thing is that within 24 hours I can get an answer by e mail to just about any question I pose except, of course, whether the stock market will be going up or down the next day.

Senior Alligators in the GOP bailed us on this one and pointed us to the phone to dial in to Damron who promptly informed me that yes, he is taking a "very serious" look at running for the GOP Guv nomination in 06'; that he's a "conservative to moderate" Republican with a deep interest in health care and education; that he's 60 years old and will use some of his own dough to launch his gubernatorial bid if he does decide to go. A decision will come by summer. Is Dr. D a stalking horse for any particular faction of the GOP? With so few prospects, he may be the candidate for all the factions.

The 60 year old affable medical doctor is a political newcomer having never sought office before, just like the GOP's Gary Johnson in 94'. He shied away from attacking Big Bill directly, but said he does disagree with the policies of the incumbent. Wow, someone who disagrees with Big Bill and says so publicly! This guy is definitely not a member of the NM Legislature. Potential contender Damron joins Dem Bengie Regensburg in the Guv's race. Thanks fellas, I almost had to get a life.

SI CISNEROS
Henry Sisneros
ABQ Mayor Marty will flex his big money muscle March 29 when he hosts a $1000 a pop dinner party with former San Antonio Mayor and Clinton cabinet secretary Henry Cisneros. I had to learn this from outside of the Chavez camp even though I attended the Mayor's 53rd birthday party the other night. I guess I got nothing because I did not pay to get in. Anyway, insiders on the outside tell me the party will be hosted by Downtown touter Leba Freed at her big house in the far NE Heights. Chavez has already raised well over $100 grand and will probably head north of the $400K level. His only announced challenger so far, City Councilor Eric Griego, was also raising money at a party in Santa Fe this week. Griego will need about $300K (my estimate) to get this one competitive. The election is in October. It will take a 40% winner to avoid a run-off.

Speaking of running off, I am outta here for the weekend. Thanks for tuning in, for your emails and for all those things you say about me. Right back at ya.
The caravan moves again on Monday. See you then.

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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Thursday, March 03, 2005

The "Unknown Candidate" For Guv Surfaces, Plus: More Death Penalty Plotting, And: We Take You To Marty's Party 

The Unknown Candidate
I don't yet have the name. But I do have the scuttlebutt on a possible Republican candidate for Governor that reminds me a bit of Gary Johnson back in 1994. The "unknown candidate" being talked about is reportedly a wealthy Santa Fe doctor, perhaps relatively new to the state. Alligators on the R side have not been able to fill in the blanks and these rumblings come from the D camp. Anyone would probably be welcome by the candidate starved R's. So far, only 2002 contender John Sanchez has really indicated much interest and even he has yet to take the plunge. State Rep. Foley is another possible but, like Sanchez, does not put fear in the hearts of the party of the Donkey,

Maybe a rich Santa Fe doctor is just what the doctor ordered. When Gary ran in 94' he was completely unknown but was able to use his own money and personality to take the victory. Beating Big Bill will be a tall order for any R, but new blood might at least throw the D's a curve.

DEATH PENALTY DANCE

Insiders deep in the bowels of the Roundhouse (no guessing, please) say freshman ABQ NE Heights State Rep. Justine Fox-Young, freaked out over the heat she is taking for voting to abolish NM's death penalty, is preparing to ask for the measure to be reconsidered so she can change her vote and get back in the good graces of conservatives who are aghast that she turned on them after declaring in a newspaper candidate questionnaire that she would vote to uphold the penalty. It was a rookie mistake for the 25 year old. One of her mentors, Rep. Dan Foley, is trying to help her with damage control. There are very few single votes that can cost a state legislator their seat. Fox-Young picked one of them.

MARTY'S PARTY

He may now be 53, but friends of ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez were not about to let him turn the calendar with a creak. They ensconced the city's chief exec in the ultra-hip atmosphere of the OPM bar in downtown Albuquerque last night and feted his honor who gracefully accepted the honor by foregoing the Grecian formula and letting the gray hang out.

The party had a quaint admission price: $53.00. But don't worry, my lifetime record of never paying to enter a political event is still intact. Posing as a delivery man never fails.

Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins was the big name R at the bash. And the Mayor didn't mind since the GOP has yet to field a serious foe against him. All the big dogs were there: Police Chief Gil Gallegos, Public safety boss Nick Bakkas and City Attorney Bob White. The incumbent's sole declared foe in the October election is City Councilor Eric Griego who is going to be mad when I report that the Chavez food was of high quality and there was plenty to go around. I reported that Eric's December kick-off party featured tacos and not enough of them. Of course, Griego could reprieve himself by throwing a free food bash to top his rival, but so far the food poll says Chavez is in the lead.

Marty's birthday buddies report that with his personal and political storms quieted for now and the opposition yet to show it has the muscle to take him out, he is much lighter on his feet and in a more relaxed frame of mind. Sometimes, it is good to be mayor.

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Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bloodsport Of La Politica May Take Ken Zangara Out As GOP Boss; C de Baca Waits In The Wings, Plus: More Insider Stuff From NM's Top Political Blog 

Zangara
The bloodsport of La Politica may be set to claim yet another victim. The insiders say GOP Bernalillo County chair and car dealer, Ken Zangara, appears headed towards the exits and Fernando C de Baca, a South Valley R who ran for state senate last year, appears to be in line to replace him. Zangara has been roughed up bad by his longtime political rival, Dem Attorney General Patsy Madrid. She drew out the long knives and a negative story on his dealership burst into the headlines. "Ken took a severe hit. Not only does it appear he will be exiting as chair, but any hopes he had to become a U.S. Ambassador under Bush are out the window," said one GOP source.

Zangara is one of the best GOP fundraisers in the biz having raised hundreds of thousands for Bush, but this is his second controversy with auto dealerships. In 1992 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges that he defrauded 80 employees of a previous car dealership out of more than $20,000 in wages and benefits. Zangara was put on a three-year probation and ordered to pay the affected workers $73,000 in restitution.

With Zangara on the political ropes enter Fernando C de Baca who told me: "If Ken does not run I will enter the race for county chair." Zangara is a close friend of C de Baca's, an ABQ native and retired businessman who came up short in 04' in his duel with Dem James Taylor for Manny Aragon's state senate seat. C de Baca says voter registration would be a top priority for him. But don't look for him to knock state GOP Chair Allen Weh, who he's backing for re-election. He does say, however, that the party at all levels needs to be aggressive in the fight against Big Bill and if Weh gets a two year term in April he expects to see the party turn up the heat either thru Weh or GOP surrogates.

DEATH WATCH

Meanwhile, feedback from our story yesterday on how some R's were stunned when self-described conservatives of ABQ's NE Heights, Reps Justine Fox-Young and Larry Larranaga, voted to repeal New Mexico's death penalty. A questionnaire Fox-Young filled out for the ABQ Journal in May of last year has her declaring she would vote NOT to repeal the penalty, unlike the vote she cast Monday. Larranaga was more consistent. He said in the questionnaire he would vote FOR repeal and that's what he did.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

It's hard to say what good it's doing for him with the liberal wing of the Dem Party, which often turns out to be the nominating wing, but Big Bill continues to win praise from such unlikely corners as the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Tuesday they called him the "best" Democratic Guv because he cut taxes for the wealthy in NM. The paper picked up their praise from the conservative D.C. Cato institute which also threw bouquets the Big Fella's way. Now, If Big Bill could just get some praise from all those Hillary fans. Aah, that's a much tougher row to hoe, isn't it?

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Death Penalty Shocker: "Conservative" R's Vote To Abolish; Dem AG Candidate Does Too, Plus: On The Weh Watch, And: The Baca Impeachment 

Rep. Fox-Young
Since when did conservative GOP Members of the state House support abolishing the death penalty? Since Monday, that's when. The eyebrows arched when it was noted that five R's joined with the Dems to abolish the death penalty on a 38 to 31 vote. Never mind that the measure will die before it gets to Big Bill. How could R's Justine Fox-Young of the conservative ABQ NE Heights, Brian Moore of redneck "Little Texas" and Larry Larranaga of the far ABQ GOP Heights take the liberal position on this litmus test issue of the conservative movement?

Fox-Young ousted fellow Republican Bob White in a bitterly contested primary contest last year after accusing White of being to close to "liberal" Big Bill. It was no surprise to hear White on the end of the phone line late Monday pointing out Fox-Young's anti-death penalty vote and telling me he is contemplating a rematch against her. If he doesn't run some other Republican surely will, claim my GOP watchers. The 25 year old freshman Rep has been held out as a future leader of her party. After her anti-death penalty stance the question now is which one, the D's or The R's?

Insiders were equally stunned by Rep. Larranaga's vote against the death penalty, but they say Larry may be an unlikely candidate for re-election and was simply voting the way he really feels, no matter how out of tune it is with his constituents. Brian Moore from the East side had an easy go of it last year, drawing no primary or General opposition. But against the death penalty in Little Texas? Is Moore's death penalty vote a death wish? Time will tell. R's Teresa Zanetti of ABQ and Dub Williams of Lincoln County were the other two House GOP anti-death penalty votes.

PARK'S PLACE


And what about Dem attorney general candidate Al Park of ABQ voting against the death penalty? Even a notable progressive like Al has to know he is playing with fire. Perhaps it's a vote that will go down OK with liberal Dem primary voters in 06, but it was also noticed that possible Park opponent and House Judiciary chairman Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces voted in favor of the death penalty. Whether Park is opposed the primary by Joe, or becomes the General Election AG contender, his vote on is going to be a major issue. Don't say we didn't tell you.

THE WEH WATCH
Chair Weh
Meanwhile, insiders report the Chairman of the NM GOP was not exactly firing up the troops at his recent meeting with House Republicans. They say Allen Weh was asked why he was not more aggressive in attacking Big Bill's policies and holding him accountable. Weh, according to my reliable sources, told the lawmakers that was not his job and that he was concentrating on voter registration.

House Republicans voting against the death penalty, the party chair giving a pass to Big Bill, no heavyweight candidates for Guv or U.S. Senate. That's the state of the NM GOP today. But hey, Bush won NM!

BEHIND THE IMPEACHMENT


Some stuff is briefly mentioned and too quickly forgotten. Take the impeachment resolution introduced in the state House against alleged pot smoking NM Public Regulation Commissioner Shirley Baca. It was only briefly noted, but the Alligators were quick to point out that it was two Native America Reps introducing the resolution. And who, they ask, has Baca been fighting tooth and nail the last couple of years? That would be fellow commissioner, former State Rep and Native American Lynda Lovejoy. Is she encouraging Rep's Begaye and Harrison? We're just asking.

Make our site, WWW.JOEMONAHAN.COM, one of your favorites and e-mail a link to interested friends. Interested in advertising to NM's large political community? E-mail me from the top right of this page, or call 505-243-4059 for details.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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