Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Election Results: Mayor Owen Ousted In Rio Rancho And More, Plus: Mickey Barnett Goes Postal; GOP Lobbyist In The White House Sights 

Rio Rancho Mayor Jim Owen was turned out of office last night by Kevin Jackson, fellow conservative and founder of the evangelical group, the New Mexico Family Council, providing the highlight of city elections around New Mexico. In Santa Fe, as expected, the liberals regained control of City Hall with David Coss taking the prize. Checking in near midnight with John Foster of the Rio Grande Sun in Espanola, we received the news that not only had Joseph Maestas bested Floyd Archuleta to become the new mayor, but that his slate will now control all eight city council seats in the northern NM city. Archuleta was hurt by allegations of vote-buying. Here's a complete list of all the Election Night results.


He's controversial and he's tenacious. ABQ GOP lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett, ousted by fellow R's from his national committeemen post in 04', has found some friends in the White House and has been nominated by President Bush as a governor of the U.S. Postal Service. His friends will be rooting him on, and his enemies promise to hold his feet to the fire when he goes before the U.S. Senate for confirmation hearings.

Insider R's report that former GOP state legislators Earlene Roberts and Ron Godbey are prepared to testify, or submit written testimony opposing Barnett's' nomination to the 11 member board. Roberts was defeated in 04' by fellow R Keith Gardner who was backed by the Barnett group. ABQ's Godbey easily defeated several Barnett backed foes in GOP primaries before leaving the Legislature and moving to Texas.

The postal service term is for seven years and pays $30,000 a year plus $300 for each meeting. The board is powerful, overseeing postal service employees across the nation. The employees are unionized. That was one of the issues covered when this postal service blog (There's a blog for everything!) reported on the Barnett nomination.

Barnett has been a longtime ally of Bush. Scott Jennings, White House Deputy Political Director, managed Bush's 04' re-elect effort in NM.

Barnett's nomination will be voted on by the Senate Homeland and Government Operations Committee of which NM GOP Senator Domenici is a member. Barnett served as a legislative assistant to Domenici during the senator's first term in the early 70's. It is rare for this type of nomination to be rejected but, according to one R familiar with the process, "it is not a slam-dunk."


Barnett's profile has been lowered from the raucous days of 03' and 04' when he led a faction of the GOP to oust State GOP Chair Ramsay Gorham. Gorham was eventually ousted, but Barnett paid a price as his fellow R's then voted him out of his prestigious national committeeman post. Also, the legalization of drugs, which Barnett backed and which tore the party apart, is no longer on the radar.

The last time Barnett made news was earlier this year when it was reported that he had become the personal lawyer for Big Bill favored lobbyist Butch Maki. That association with a prominent Dem brought renewed criticism of Barnett by his longtime GOP foes. Barnett also was in the public eye as the lobbyist for payday loan companies.

Barnett continues to host a weekly Republican luncheon. Insiders say Legislators aligned with him include Justine Fox-Young, his former legal secretary, State Rep. Dan Foley of Roswell, Eric Youngberg of ABQ and Roswell GOP State Sen. "Lightning Rod" Adair.

Unlike 2004, Barnett so far has not fielded any candidates against incumbent GOP state legislators. But party insiders will closely watch this month's filings to see if Barnett again goes after lawmakers not to his liking. If he does, it could complicate his efforts to become a postal service governor. Also, party operatives, exhausted by the infighting of the past two years, are hoping that they can finally put the divisions behind them.

Barnett, a former state senator from Portales, will have plenty to do if he is confirmed. ABQ's slow-mail woes hit the news recently, and if a New Mexican becomes a postal governor, he can be sure to get an earful.

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