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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

06' State House Hopefuls Declare; We've Got You Covered; A Road Trip From Chama to Chaparral With The Alligators In Tow; It's All Here & Only Here 

First, the big picture. Based on candidate filings for the 70 seats in the New Mexico House of Representatives Tuesday there should be no dramatic change in the party balance of power in 2007, but there will be some significant June 6 primary battles to watch. That's the assessment from my Senior Alligators who monitored the filing actions from all four corners of the state. (Bernalillo county candidates are here. House candidates and other offices that represent more than one county filed with the secretary of state.)

"We are looking at the Republicans possibly picking up a seat, maybe two. But that is not certain. What is certain is that the Democrats will remain in firm control of the House," remarked a Dem expert with long ties to his party and the Roundhouse.

Another Alligator in the pool, a Republican, agreed. "If we get the perfect storm it looks like we could pick up three, but one seat is more likely and perhaps no change at all," he said.

The Dems currently control the chamber 42-28. The 42 member state senate is not up for election until 08'. The Dems are also in control there.

TO THE ACTION


Controversial Roswell GOP State Rep. Dan Foley is in the crosshairs of Campaign 06'. The least favorite legislator of Governor Big Bill, Foley drew Republican opposition Tuesday from Roswell Wal-Mart assistant manger Steve Gavi. The Dems have fielded convenience store owner Wanda Valentine, but they are ready to help anyone who will help them rid the House of Foley.

"The Foliator" is in our sights and his opponents will get Democratic help," declared NM Democratic Party Executive Director Matt Farrauto as he scanned the freshly minted primary list from his ABQ war room.

Foley, an insurance executive, took hits when he had the NM National Guard conduct a fly over for the opening of a Roswell car dealership whose owner is a major Foley campaign contributor. He has been an ardent critic of the Guv who has repeatedly vetoed major portions of capital outlay projects for Foley's district. He was also aligned with a renegade faction of the GOP in 2004 when it ran candidates against fellow R's.

Can he be taken out? "If his opponents play it right, the race is in play. He has a lot to account for and his constituents could be tiring of the controversy," offered an in-the-know Gator.

THE DEAN IS DONE

Rep. Luna
The longest serving member of the NM House, Valencia county Dem Fred Luna, called it quits Tuesday after a 35 year run. His district has grown increasingly Republican in recent years and he has had a couple of close races. Can the R's make this one theirs?

"I think the Dems got a break when the same Republican (Jackie Farnsworth) who has failed to beat Luna is back again as their nominee. I would say this one leans D," said another Dem Alligator.

Salomon Montano and Elias Barela are the D hopefuls, Montano is a former county commissioner and the presumed frontrunner. We would be remiss not to pause and thank Fred for his lengthy service to all of New Mexico.

BOB IS BACK


Bob White, who lost his ABQ GOP NE Heights House seat in 04' to newcomer Justine Fox-Young, set up a rematch Tuesday. He said Justine voted against the death penalty even though she campaigned for it.

In 04' Fox-Young ran with a slate of candidates against fellow R's that were backed by her then-employer, lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett. The Dem declaring Tuesday was John McWaters III, who reportedly has ample financial resources, but the seat is seen as solid R.

The Barnett-Foley alliance of two years ago that caused so much turmoil in the party was nowhere to be seen this time. In fact, the tables were turned. Roswell State Rep. Keith Gardner who unseated Earlene Roberts in 04' with the help of the renegades drew GOP primary opposition along with Foley and Fox-Young. Gardner is considered safe but will now have to work it.

Ironically, there was a Barnett who filed for a House seat Tuesday. Republican James Maxwell Barnett is running against R State Rep. Tom Anderson of ABQ's West Side. We are told James is no relation to Mickey.

THE SOUTHERN SWING

Down south GOP State Rep. Ed Boykin is giving up his seat and that opens the door a bit more for Dem Jeff Steinborn who almost beat Boykin in 04'. With the incumbent gone, Steinborn is seen as one of the more promising possibles for a Dem pick up. However, in November he will have to get past retired Navy captain Scott Witt of Las Cruces who comes in to bat for the R's.

Back in the Big Duke City, Traci Cadigan, the wife of ABQ city councilor and 2009 mayoral hopeful Michael Cadigan, filed for the Dem nomination for the House seat held by Republican Teresa Zanetti. The district is another solid R bastion.

Back in Dona Ana County, Dem State Rep. Andy Nunez will again have to fight hard to keep his swing district seat. Isaac E. Chavez, a salsa processor, will carry the R banner. It will be watched closely.

NAVA SAYS NO

I was mildly surprised to see that Dona Ana Dem State Senator Cynthia Nava failed to file for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) seat held by Dem Shirley Baca. I blogged recently that she was passing out petition signatures in preparation for a run. (Hey, no one's perfect.) In any event, NM State Fair Chair Sandy Jones, whose candidacy was announced first here, did indeed file to challenge Shirley. And it will be a heck of a race.

Shirley's arrest on pot charges in 04' went national and again when the charges were dismissed. Sandy is a friend of Big Bill and that will help with the money raising. Shirley, despite her penchant for controversy, cannot be counted out. She is one tough politico. Several R's filed for the nomination, perhaps thinking if Shirley gets the Dem nod they could pull the upset in the D district.

There's a bunch of Dem candidates running for the PRC seat being vacated by Lynda Lovejoy. The Alligators say Navajo Derrith Watchman-Moore is the favorite in the five person race. Steve Gallegos and Andrew Leo Lopez, both seeking the Dem nod, will kick when they read that, but maybe it will double their determination. Remember, this district was carved out for a Native American.

A NEW MEXICO FIRST


For the first time, at least in the memory of this blogger and his Alligators, two African Americans from the major political parties will face off in a general election battle. That after GOP State Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert filed and Dem Trish Stewart did the same for the Rio Rancho-Corrales district. The area is heavy Anglo. The race is an example of the healthy ethnic diversity in La Politica. The R's are favored because they have the seat, but this is also on the watch list.

Let's go back to Valencia county for a moment where we will have a Democratic party battle royale for the seat of Kandy Cordova who is retiring. It's a six way duel that includes Chris Martinez, a longtime aide to retiring Rep. Fred Luna. There has been talk that the R's, who will nominate David Young, could pick this one up, but some of my experts say a Hispanic Republican would be stronger in that district which is experiencing big growth.

HERE, THERE & EVERYWHERE


In the north, we'll have to keep our eye on Dem State Rep. Debbie Rodella who, as expected, drew primary opposition from onetime Rio Arriba county commissioner Moises Morales. The seat will stay D even if Debbie runs into trouble with Moises. The Rio Arriba county area is overwhelmingly Donkey. No Elephants need apply.

The most likely seat the R's will pick up, say my Gator experts, is that of retiring Carlsbad area Dem State Rep. Joe Stell. Bill Gray is the sole R contender and the probable new House member.

Up in the Four Corners GOP State Rep. Sandra Townsend did not file for re-election Tuesday. My insiders say the seat will stay R with Paul Bandy taking over. Sandra was a "moderate" R who survived repeated primary challenges engineered by then NM GOP Chair John Dendahl. In the end, she got to leave in her own way.

Finally, was that former 1980's era Bernalillo county clerk Dolores Waller filing as a Dem for the ABQ NE Heights seat held by Larry Larranaga? Yes, indeed. Dolores is one of several loyal Dems who will hold the party banner high in districts that are overwhelmingly R. They could increase Dem turnout for doing it.

A TIP OF THE BLOG HAT


There you have the highlights of House filing day 06.' Thanks to the AP's Barrey Massey in Santa Fe who I bugged while he was on deadline, but he still helped out; to Dem Sisto Abeyta for helping track the filings; to R Bruce Donisthorpe for navigating the Web on our behalf. And, of course, thanks to the Alligators of La Politica, who must go unnamed, but who I can assure you were well-fed for their services.

Comments, corrections and your news are always welcome. E-mail me from the top of the page.

Hasta manana, New Mexico!

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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