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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"Governor Barnett?"; Senate Takes Up His Postal Board Bid, Plus: D.C. Group With NM Ties In Ethics Hothouse, And: NM's Stratton Leaves Big D.C. Job 

Mickey Barnett
Mickey Barnett is on his way to being Governor. No, not that Governor. But now that I've got your attention...Barnett, one of the R's who played a prominent role in bringing to life the GOP Guv candidacy of John Dendahl, is about to get his own taste of being a Governor. Despite a push by his foes to thwart him, Barnett is expected to win approval tomorrow from the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee to become a Governor of the U.S. Postal Service and later, the full Senate. We broke the story of his nomination back in March.

Barnett is a leader of a breakaway GOP faction which in recent years has primaried fellow R's. Former ABQ State Rep. Ron Godbey escaped being their victim, but in 04' Roswell's Earlene Roberts lost her House seat to the Barnett-backed Keith Gardner. The faction continues to exist and includes Roswell State Rep. Dan Foley and Roswell State Sen. "Lightning Rod" Adair. John Dendahl is also a member of the breakaways who ousted Ramsay Gorham as state GOP chair in 04'.

Godbey checked in from Texas saying he would like to see one of the committee's senators put "a hold" on the Barnett nomination because Godbey is being told that the lawyer-lobbyist is claiming the support of Governor Richardson. "I would like to know whether that is true or not," said Godbey who went to war with the breakaways over their drug legalization proposals.

BARNETT BACKGROUNDER
Ex-Rep. Roberts
Barnett has successfully lobbied Big Bill and Legislature on behalf of the payday loan industry which thwarted tough legislation this past session. Godbey put the needle in and wondered whether the Guv would now step forward and ask a senator to slow down Mickey's nomination in retaliation for Barnett's involvement in the Guv race.

But that may be unlikely. Dem U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, according to those in the know, has no plans to try to throw up a roadblock over Barnett.

Ex-Rep. Roberts wrote the committee chair to oppose Barnett. In a statement from Roswell she said, "He is a leader of a faction that is taking good government away from the people of NM." Roberts asserts that Barnett and company only support Republicans who support the positions of Barnett's lobbying clients. Barnett has previously said that his opposition to fellow R's is based on how conservative they are, not his checkbook. He has been an ardent backer of Indian gaming and drug legalization efforts.

ETHICS HOTHOUSE

Rep. Foley
Meanwhile, a group that Barnett and his allies have close ties to, Americans for Taxpayer Reform,(ATR), is under the ethics microscope in D.C. This dispatch from the AP:

"Blunt e-mails that connect money and access in Washington show that prominent Republican activist Grover Norquist facilitated some administration contacts for Jack Abramoff's clients while the lobbyist simultaneously solicited those clients for large donations to Norquist's tax-exempt group. Those who were solicited or landed administration introductions included foreign figures and American Indian tribes." Here's more from the Washington Post.

Norquist and ATR last year named Foley "Taxpayer Protection Caucus Chair" in the NM House and Roswell State Sen. Adair chair of the Caucus in the Senate.

ATR provided financial support to Adair-favored GOP State Rep. candidate Nora Espinosa in her Roswell June primary battle with Mike Kakuska, according to the Kakuska campaign. Espinosa won.

To join the caucus, legislators must sign and keep the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," which is a written commitment to their constituents to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes. Critics have dubbed it a straitjacket on government, and some R's have condemned it or backed off from the pledge.

DIANE AND DOMENICI

And how about Light Guv Diane Denish taking on Senator Domenici? That question from an Alligator reacting to our Monday blog on he rift between Pete and Big Bill over Pete's involvement in the Guv race, with Bill warning that he is preparing to field a candidate in 08' against Domenici as pay back.

"Joe, if you want to talk about a candidate, you should talk about Diane. She has run and won statewide, has great name ID, can certainly raise the money, and you have the revenge factor, since Pete beat Diane's father Jack by about 6,000 votes when he first ran for the Senate in 1972."

Boy, you Alligators have long memories, as well as long snouts.

STRATTON IN MOTION


And just when I thought I could wrap this one up in comes this e-mail from the national capital:

"I wanted to drop you a line to give you news that former NM attorney general Hal Stratton has resigned his position in the Bush Administration as Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. He plans to stay in the DC area and practice private law. The resignation is effective July 15th."

Thanks for that one. Stratton was our state's last GOP AG, winning the seat in the 86' election.

Gosh, will it slow down enough to join all of you on a Fourth of July break? Here's hoping so. Back at ya' manana.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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