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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Big Bill's Critics: Some Get It, Some Don't, Plus: 1st Poll Out In 1st CD, And: The Holloman Hit; An Insider Report From Your Home For NM Politics 

Sen. Grubesic
Is that all there is? That's the question being asked in the wake of the bizarre and rambling letter from Dem State Senator John Grubesic criticizing the ways of Big Bill. It was a missive so disjointed that the rookie politico had to preface it by saying he was not drunk when he wrote it. So it goes in a capital city so cowed by the heavy hand of gubernatorial power that they rejoice over any critic of the Fourth Floor, even if it's only one complaining that everyone kisses the Governor's ass or, as political analyst Grubesic puts it, engages in "bootlicking.”

But calling the Governor a "flabby king" ain't going to get you more power, Mr. Legislators. But there they were, so overjoyed by the thought of anyone daring to challenge the powerful chief exec that they were passing the Grubesic letter around like boys in a locker room thumbing the new Playboy. This is substantive policy debate and criticism?

Not that there's nothing to criticize. How about that eight percent plus increase in the state budget unanimously passed by the House? Not one "conservative” vote against it. Seems the Grubesic memo hit a nerve. The legislators doing the ass kissing are frustrated and resent it but are too fearful to say anything and risk their share of pork pie from the immense surplus.

All this makes the phrase "Legislative heavyweight" an oxymoron. The Senior Alligators of La Politica had it nailed from the start. These guys (and gals) are going to split the pot and head for the exits. Maybe they can frame that Grubesic tirade and pretend it was a law they passed.

THE REAL DEAL

If you are looking for someone who will actually stand up to the Governor and challenge him in a serious manner and without fear, you have to turn far away from the Nervous Nellies at the Roundhouse. You might try turning the pages of the Rio Grande Sun which has played some real hardball with Big Bill. I asked Sun news editor John Foster to explain:

“We've written about his relationship with the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and about him signing a bill that allowed elk to be classified as cattle. (Thus benefiting the Jicarillas and putting a tax burden on average Rio Arribans.) We wrote every major story on the Rio Arriba County magistrate judge fiasco. We had to get an opinion from the AG to get the governor's office to release the names of people who applied for that post. (And then there was time he walked out of a press conference when I asked if he owed the people of Rio Arriba an apology for the whole Rodella mess.)

We wrote about him not campaigning for Kerry in Rio Arriba. We've written about his decision to overrule his then-health secretary's decision to withhold state funding from ineffective drug treatment groups. (The groups were politically connected.) We've written some hard editorials about his decision to raid the permanent fund. We've written extensively on the failing schools here, despite a 2003 Richardson pledge to make Española a "test case" for his school reforms. Then there are the airplane stories, which we decided to do because we thought someone should do it.

“I think his office is not used to the kind of skeptical, tough, hard-nosed reporting that we do on every story, not just the stories about him. He gets a pretty sweet ride from most of the state's press corps, so I think it stings when reporters ask tough questions."

The Sun has a long, rich history of tough reporting and is led by the venerable Bob Trapp.

CAUTION: POLLS AHEAD

It’s Campaign 06' so here come the pols and not far behind are those ubiquitous polls. With the customary caution that you lend a skeptical eye to any poll done by any campaign, we report the first one out in the must-watch ABQ congressional race featuring incumbent GOP Rep. Heather Wilson and Dem challenger Patricia Madrid.

Madrid’s numbers say the race is a dead heat. Surprise! But seriously, the poll was conducted January 25-29 and gives Heather 44% to Patsy’s 43% with 13% undecided. (400 calls MOE + -4.9%) And before the R’s cry foul, we should point out that a poll done for the ABQ Journal in the last election cycle did, at one point, show challenger Richard Romero also just one point behind Heather. The Madrid numbers were done by Dem Celinda Lake’s D.C. research firm which is no fly-by-night operation.

Despite the closeness of the poll, it also says 52% of the electorate give Wilson a positive job approval rating, above the critical 50% level and enough to maintain her frontrunner position. That will be the number Madrid will be shooting at in the months ahead since it often correlates with the Election Night results.

Some R’s tell me Heather was also polling recently. If so, she has not released the numbers. If she does, we will post them here. Remember, we don't support candidates. We do support vigorous and hard-fought campaigns and fair and balanced analysis.

THE HOLLOMAN HIT

There's suspense over Holloman Air Force Base’s future, and I have a direct report from Larry Morgan, former chief of staff to the late Congressman Runnels as well as a top aide to ex-U.S. Sen. Schmitt. Larry attended the Monday news conference announcing the changing mission there. I will monitor the jobs situation and seek more for you from Larry and others as needed.

THE BLOGGING LIFE

Apologies to all of you who have had trouble getting on our site the last day or two. Blogger.com had major problems but fixed them, so welcome back to those who were shut out. Check out Monday's blog about GOP State Senator Sue Wilson Beffort signing up for the Light Guv race. I think you’ll enjoy it.

And I enjoyed having you here today. Send me your comments and political news via the e-mail link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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