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Monday, April 17, 2006

Light Guv To Do "Light" TV Buy, Plus: Mayor Marty Again Minimizes Minimum Wage, And: State Scandals In Motion 

NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, unopposed for renomination in the June primary, won't let voters forget that she is again on the ticket with Big Bill. I bumped into her at my ABQ neighborhood Starbucks where Diane checked in with the news that she had just shot a campaign commercial at an area park. Expect a "light TV buy" from the Light Guv in the weeks ahead.

Getting into campaign mode, I checked out her Web site and saw where she says the administration is "putting people above politics." Didn't former GOP Guv Gary Johnson campaign on the slogan, "People before Politics?" Well, I guess it's the kind of politics you are talking about.

While she has no urgent need to go up on TV, supporters of the Hobbs native point out that she is laying the groundwork for her own future gubernatorial bid and that name identification is a key issue. Believe it or not, there are many voters who can't name the officeholders below Big Bill.

DIANE'S FENCE-MENDING

While the Denish campaign may be unwittingly borrowing Governor Gary's slogan, she has not mended philosophical fences with him, but she has mended old wounds within her own party. She joined with Dem congressional hopeful Patricia Madrid to form a voters education group called
emergeNew Mexico, part of emergeAmerica, which is dedicated to recruiting Democratic women to run for elective office.

It's worth noting because Denish and Madrid staged an epic battle for the Lt. Guv nomination in 94' and Patsy even flirted with taking Diane on for Light Guv this year. Madrid beat Diane in 94' but she and Bruce King lost to Johnson.

Denish also recently gave a generous quote in a news release announcing the candidacy of Stephanie Gonzales for secretary of state. That duo staged a tough battle for the Lt. Guv Dem nod in 98. Diane won, but the D ticket again lost to Johnson.

One of the interesting things about New Mexico politics is that the Lt. Guv position does not lead to the Governor's Mansion. Ex-number two's Walter Bradley, Casey Luna and Roberto Mondragon all tried and failed. Denish will try to be the exception to the rule, but first the campaign at hand and getting re-elected.

MARTY MINIMIZES MINIMUM

Meanwhile, the man Denish teamed up with to form the Dem's 98' Guv ticket, ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, has the Alligators wondering again if he just might someday switch his party affiliation to Republican. This in the wake of his announcement that he is "inclined to veto" an ABQ minimum wage bill because the proposed $6.75 an hour wage is a quarter more than he would like.

Chavez switching parties may be far-fetched, but when even the R oriented ABQ Chamber of Commerce, hardly one of those "radical" groups the mayor says he is worried about, is on board with the $6.75, it gets the talk going. Others speculate that the mayor is not one to let any proposal go through without his personal stamp, thus his bolt out of the blue on the minimum.

If the compromise wage, crafted by ABQ Councilor Heinrich and labor groups, breaks down, advocates pledge to again take it to voters and ask for $7.50 an hour. It would have a good chance of passing too. So by fighting for a quarter less, the mayor could see a buck more. Perhaps the mayor is betting that if the compromise can be broken and council goes for a $6.50 minimum, a referendum would lose steam.

KEN THE CLONE?


The mayor is not the lone Dem bucking his party on the minimum. When he took over his West Side city council seat, populated with scores of low-income, hourly wage workers, Ken Sanchez, who served as Treasurer for the mayor's re-elect, said he would not be a clone of the 11th Floor. But Sanchez has joined Chavez in opposing the $6.75, renewing City Hall chatter that as the mayor goes so goes Ken. How does his wage stand play in Sanchez's heavily Hispanic, Dem district? The same way it plays for Chavez. And how will it play if Sanchez someday seeks the mayor's chair? You don't need a calculator to figure that out.

The city council is set to take up the wage proposal April 20th.

SCANDALS IN MOTION

Will the federal kickback trial of ex-NM Treasurer Robert Vigil starting today in ABQ involve other prominent politicos before it's over? Here's a set-up report on the trial from the AP's Barry Massey.

Then there's the latest chapter in the long running saga of state insurance boss Eric Serna. The ABQ Trib's Kate Nash and I mulled over the charges against Serna as she was compiling a timeline on his career and the latest on what has become known among some insiders as "The Con" of Con Alma.

I told Nash many politicos believe Serna may resign to avoid the corruption charges becoming an issue in the election. They also said don't be surprised if he finds yet another state government job.

And catching up with another development. The wife of GOP Guv candidate J. R. Damron, Barbara Damron, is charging that politics forced her off a Santa Fe hospital board. Big Bill's camp denies it. Steve Terrell of the New Mexican has more on that one.

And we'll have more here tomorrow so be sure to drop by. And thanks for e-mailing me your news and political tidbits. There's a link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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