Friday, November 10, 2006

Roundhouse R's Set To Name Farmington's Taylor As Leader; Fiery Foley To Be Whip, Plus: Heather Says It's Hers; Expands Lead In Count 

A new face will be leading State House Republicans come January. GOP Alligators say Rep. Tom Taylor of Farmington is set to be anointed as House Minority Leader by his fellow 27 House R's when they confab this weekend. Fiery Dan Foley of Roswell is expected to get the nod to become the new House Minority Whip.

The question of whether this leadership team will be more assertive than the previous one in dealing with powerful Guv Big Bill remains to be seen. Taylor, a former Farmington mayor, will replace retiring Ted Hobbs who was respected by his colleagues, but in his final years at the helm seemed to drift. The Governor's budget passed with few GOP squeals as hundreds of millions continued to pour into the Roundhouse via oil and gas royalties.

Taylor, 57, is a the ranking R on the House Taxation Committee and in private life is involved in real estate and investments, giving him the financial background to perhaps try to give more than lip service to "fiscal responsibility" in pork-engorged Santa Fe .

Not much of the billions in extra gas and oil royalty money has flowed directly back to taxpayers. Will Taylor start to make some serious moves--like trying to persuade conservative Democrats that tax rebates should be considered? Or will the R's simply keep their seats at the table, gorging quietly with everyone else?

As for Foley, there's no love lost between him and the Governor who even supported a write-in candidate against Foley in last Tuesday's election. But Foley's temperament and approach has not sold statewide, especially in the media center here in the Mid-Rio Grande Valley. If he can find a tone other than slash and burn and looks at a map of the entire state, not just conservative Chaves, he might potentially give Big Bill more serious headaches.

It's going to be like a break-up around here trying to imagine life without a daily dose of Heather and Patsy. But the ABQ congressional race is sputtering to an end and the scenario I laid out yesterday for Wilson's eventual victory over Democrat Madrid remains unchanged. In fact, Wilson declared victory last night after 4,500 hand-tallied ballots were counted and showed her lead widening to 1,607 votes. It was Heather 104,575 and Patsy 102,968. Dem Party Chair Wertheim said Wilson's victory speech was "obscenely premature," but with only some 4,000 provisional and other ballots left to count, many of which will be disqualified, only a recount that uncovered major irregularities could change the result. Such recounts rarely do.

Wilson, who is escaping with her political life by the skin of her teeth, seems to finally be waking up and smelling the coffee on the no-end-in-sight Iraq war which caused her party to be tossed out of the majority in both the Senate and House and has Wilson demoted to backbencher. Last night she implied that she has been critical of the war directly to the president, but doesn't voice that criticism publicly because she does not want to lower the morale of the troops.

If that sounds like a statement built upon a Democratic landslide, it is. Whether she likes it or not, there's going to be a new Heather Wilson. The in-your-face defiance over Iraq by the GOP--some would argue arrogance--has now been tempered by the voice of the people. Like President Bush, Wilson has no choice but to listen and change or else the next tidal wave that comes will not spare her.


Here is more on the not so pretty picture facing Heather from reader Dave Hawiger:

"If Congresswoman Wilson wins,...Albuquerque would have a minority party congresswoman who is in a swing district that will be a prime target for Democrats in the next election. She will be heavily pressured by national Republicans to follow the Bush line in order to delay or thwart Democratic initiatives. This will interfere with her independence."


Mary Herrera has to be the most tired lady in New Mexico. Just take a look at the photo of the red-eyed Bernalillo county clerk and secretary of state-elect taken by Mark Bralley yesterday as she continued to preside over the counting of the remaining votes from Election 06'.

Herrera has become a human punching bag for partisans on both sides as the Wilson-Madrid count goes on, but she is following procedures laid out in state law. If the Wilson and Madrid camps think she is doing such a crummy job, why don't they come up with more volunteers to count the votes? For the citizen volunteers who are over at the warehouse doing the tough, thankless work of hand-tallying, please accept a thank you from this corner. As for Mary, she's earned her paycheck, and soon, a good night's rest.

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