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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Judy Espinosa Named Diane D's New Staff Boss; Mayor Marty Plays Some More; Patsy To Answer Heather, And: Mickey Gets His Mail on Your Big Tuesday Blog 

Judy Espinosa
NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is adding some political muscle to her staff in the form of the diminutive but feisty veteran government player Judy Espinosa. Insiders report Judy, a two time NM cabinet secretary and an 05' candidate for ABQ mayor, will assume the title of chief of staff to the state's number two effective next week. Current chief Chris Cervini will continue on staff, specializing in communications.

Espinosa, a longtime enivornmentalist, is currently head of the University of New Mexico's Alliance for Transportation Research Institute, with other government experience as long as the barely five feet she stands. (Complete bio here.)

As a Hispanic woman Judy brings to the Denish table valuable ties that Diane needs as she looks ahead four years to when she plans to seek the Dem nomination for governor. Denish has previously run campaigns against Patricia Madrid and Stephanie Gonzales, campaigns that got rough and left a bad taste for the Light Guv in some Hispanic circles. Espinosa's hiring is a clear signal to them.

Espinosa never did make it on the mayoral ballot, failing to gather the necessary signatures. But she remains a respected figure in state Democratic party circles, with her name being mentioned as a possible state chair last year when some D's were questioning the leadership of current chair John Wertheim.

The New Mexico native is also an attorney (UNM Law School) and holds a masters degree in public administration (University of California) and has been called a pioneer in the advancement of NM Hispanic women (and women in general) to the upper reaches of government since being named NM's secretary of transportation in 1983.

JUDY'S POLITICS

Espinosa drew intense criticism from fellow Democratic liberals for trying to get in last year's ABQ mayor's race, with supporters of fellow progressive Eric Griego accusing her of being a spoiler of his candidacy, of having a stubborn streak and being driven by ego. Griego went on to lose to Mayor Chavez.

Interestingly, it is Mayor Chavez who is already being touted as a rival to Denish for the Dem Guv nomination four years hence. Denish was Marty's running mate when they lost the big prize to Gary Johnson in 98.' Do you think Judy's run against Marty had anything to do with Diane picking her? Well, maybe just a little.

Espinosa's addition to Team Denish pairs two of our state's most formidable political players who will face the challenge of carving out a more perceptible identity for the Light Guv while not stepping on the toes of the Big Cheese, aka, Big Bill. It appears the decorated and decades long resume of Judy Espinosa is about to be put to the ultimate test under the harsh, bright lights of La Politica.

SPEAKING OF MARTY

Will Marty get the last word? The ABQ Mayor endorsed fellow Dem Madrid last week and in doing so demanded that Heather repudiate the "radical" candidacy of GOP Guv nominee John Dendahl. Heather's supporters fired back that Madrid went soft on investigating Chavez's ABQPAC and that Chavez's endorsement was payback. Now Chavez sympathizers fire yet another round, asking where is Heather's answer to Mayor Marty's question about Dendahl. "Does she support Dendahl and his platform or not?" pushed one of them. To be continued?

THE WOMEN WE LOVE


It will stay tit for tat in the hotly contested race for the 1st congressional district seat, with Dem nominee Patricia Madrid set to unveil a new TV ad today replying to Heather's latest ethics blast. Wilson opened up round two as she came with a spot claiming that Madrid ignored a letter from state officials that asked her to investigate corruption charges in the state Treasurer's office. Madrid says she never received such a letter.

More importantly, will the Dems be able to move the campaign beyond the ethics issue and will Heather be able to stop them? "Wilson will not get the early knockout on ethics. This one is going to go the distance because Madrid is already well-known and well-financed. It's tough to define a candidate who is already defined," argues Democratic pollster and politico Harry Pavlides. "Heather is doing what she has to do, but Madrid will be there for the late rounds because the issues this time are so big." He further analyzed.

The pollster believes incumbent Wilson holds a couple point lead in the early going.

MICKEY'S GOT MAIL

Mickey Barnett proved far less controversial to the U.S. Senate than he has to some fellow NM Republicans. His nomination to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors was approved by the senate before it broke for the August recess. Barnett's nomination came under fire from ex-State Reps Earlene Roberts and Ron Godbey who wrote letters to senators urging a rejection. But Barnett, a former legislative aide to NM senior GOP senator Pete Domenici, had Pete's muscle and that was more than enough to insure his confirmation.

Roberts and Godbey cited Barnett's support of drug decriminalization and his spearheading of the movement to put up candidates against fellow Republicans in the 2004 primary as reasons he should be rejected.

The attorney-lobbyist and former NM GOP national committeeman was most recently in the blog headlines when it was revealed that he helped give birth, along with Domenici Chief-of-Staff Steve Bell, to the GOP Governor candidacy of John Dendahl because they wanted stronger attacks against Big Bill than initial GOP nominee J.R. Damron was willing to deliver. Bell has denied playing midwife, but Washington sources insist otherwise. Sources close to Governor Big Bill reacted to that news by warning that Senator Domenici could face a Richardson recruited foe in 2008.

Barnett, along with John Dendahl, led the movement to oust Ramsay Gorham from the state GOP chairmanship two years ago, a move that symbolized the divisions in the state's minority party.

And so it goes. Your email of news, comments and criticisms are always welcome. There's a link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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