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Monday, May 22, 2006

Power To The Pete; He's Near Top Of Senate Power Rankings, Plus: Geno Slams Gary In AG Battle, And: The Serna Sayonara 

You would expect nothing less. NM GOP U.S. Senator Pete Domenici comes in at #6 in the category of "most powerful" senators in the 100 member body. That word comes from the nonpartisan site Congress.org which tracks such things. Pete in the top ten, they say, reflects his chairmanship of the energy committee and his membership on the powerful appropriations committee. The rankings are for 2005 and take into account if a member pushed through any legislation that year.

Domenici is the longest serving senator in state history, so if your NM group is seeking any federal assistance a trip to his Washington office is a good idea. If he says it will be tough satisfying your request, just tell him, "Hey, you're number six on the power list!"

And what about Dem Senator Bingaman? He's been in the senate since 83' and is seeking another term this year. But as a member of the minority, combined with his low-key ways, Jeff lands in the middle of the pack at #44 when it comes to power-playing in the "World's Most Exclusive Club."

HOUSE POWER

And how about our U.S. House members? After all, we don't send them back there to take photos of the cherry blossoms. Well, not too bad. Perhaps surprisingly, two-term southern NM Congressman Steve Pearce comes in at #145 in the House power rankings, inching out ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson who has been on Capitol Hill since 98' and is listed at #147 out of the 435 members. The rankers say she did not get any legislation thru Congress in 2005, the year used for the rankings and Pearce did.

And pity poor Tom Udall. Well, on second thought don't pity him. He's picking up $165,000 a year, has served comfortably in the House since 99' and is a cinch for another two years this year. But there's not much power where Udall is perched. As a minority Democrat and one who has an unabashed liberal slant, he doesn't get a chance to play many power games. His power ranking is the lowest of the NM House delegation at #384. But Tom, don't let your power muscles atrophy, you could be back in the game if the Dems take over the House in November as some pundits predict.

AG BATTLE HEATS UP

It was just a matter of time and that time has come. Santa Fe attorney Geno Zamora, trying to catch frontrunner Gary King in the three way race for the Dem nomination for attorney general, takes a bite out of King in his latest TV spot. "We don't need a politician attorney general. We need someone with the right experience," slams Geno as the clock ticks ever louder, counting off the critical days between now and Primary Day, June 6.

King is a former state rep who has twice unsuccessfully sought the Dem nomination for Governor and two years ago failed to unseat GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. Geno's relatively mild slam is aimed squarely at that resume, but a supporter of King's returned the fire. "Geno is attacking Gary for being a politician, while Geno was the lawyer for the biggest politician of them all, Bill Richardson." Said the King fan. The reference to Big Bill is Geno's service as his legal counsel, a political position.

Prosecutor Lem Martinez is the third candidate in the race. While he has not said much about his opponents, the danger for Geno is that in a three way race some of those who peel off Gary could go to Lem, not Geno. But that's the chance you take as the days grow shorter and the scramble for admission to the highest levels of political power grows ever more intense.

SERNA'S SAYONARA

The resignation of state insurance superintendent Eric Serna came as no surprise to readers of "New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan." We first reported the rumblings for Eric to go in late April. But while Serna will soon be gone, he won't be forgotten. He resigns under fire, but an investigation will continue. This editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican sums up the matter well, especially the line on how all this will impact the hotly contested ABQ congressional race between Attorney General Madrid and GOP Rep. Wilson. "Can an AG running for Congress afford not to find corruption?"

THE BOTTOM LINES


Some early morning Thursday readers pointed out that there are two contested Dem legislative primaries this year in Bernalillo county, not just the one I reported. ABQ SE Heights State Rep. Gail Chasey is being challenged by UNM Grad student Joseph Garcia. I should have known that because I ran into Gail on ABQ's Nob Hill recently while visiting with Silver City reporter Ave Maestas. Chasey, wife of former NM attorney general David Norvell, is heavily favored.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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