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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Names Start Circulating To Replace U.S. Attorney, Plus: Vote Count Revealed In Speaker's Race; Lujan Said To Score Big 

U.S. Attorney Iglesias
David Iglesias is out as U.S. Attorney so who's in? Within hours of the news that Iglesias was headed for the exits, the legal community began surfacing names as possible replacements. Among those making the list: Santa Fe's Jim Bibb who lost his battle for NM attorney general to Gary King in November; Pat Rogers, an attorney with the ABQ Modrall firm and a longtime Republican party attorney; Paul Kennedy, a heavy hitting criminal lawyer with a background in GOP politics and maybe just for fun, the name of Pete Domenici Jr., son of NM GOP Senator Domenici, is also being tossed around.

There appeared to be little question as to why Iglesias, who is appointed by the President, is on his way out. His two prosecutions of the state treasurer scandal were widely criticized and resulted in Vigil being convicted on only one count. There were other high-profile cases that also left Iglesias's Justice Department bosses unhappy and led U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to pull the trigger on Iglesias.

There was another angle that surfaced too. That one had ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson egging on Justice to axe Iglesias. Was she unhappy with the Vigil prosecution that played a role in her campaign? Was she displeased that the U.S. attorney failed to come with indictments in the investigation of the construction of two Bernalillo county courthouses in time for her to use in her difficult re-election battle with Democrat Patsy Madrid? Those were the questions being posed in light of her rumored involvement in the Iglesias matter, coming as it did from reliable legal sources.

But it's Senator Domenici who has held the keys to the U.S. attorneys office whenever there is a GOP President and an appointment to be made. If Heather is unhappy, one presumes Pete is as well. The U.S. attorney is appointed by the president and does NOT require confirmation from the U.S. senate as we blogged early Tuesday. Domenici will have major input into who gets the position.

Since Iglesias is going to say on for several months, the speculators see that as meaning there is no obvious frontrunner to replace him. They also wondered who would want the job since it could be for less than two years. If a Dem is elected president in 08', you are out the door. But those concerns would be minor for someone with political ambitions, particularly the 35 year old Bibb.

As for Iglesias who came highly touted, some insiders say he simply lost interest in the position. He is expected to be around when the indictments in the courthouse investigation are announced, but not when any trials that result get underway.

LUJAN'S LANDSLIDE

Apparently the defeat of Kenny Martinez for state House speaker was worse than it first appeared,. Reliable sources who say they are not spinning for Speaker Lujan report that Martinez of Grants lost the speakership to Lujan in the House Democratic caucus Monday on a vote of 29-13.

We were told Monday it was at least a three vote win, possibly more. The caucus did not release the vote to the public. In gong over the caucus list with seasoned veterans, the 29-13 vote is entirely plausible and no one was moving to shoot it down as it circulated Tuesday.

The apparent rout of Martinez means Lujan is in an even stronger position as he organizes the committees of the House for the next legislative session and also detracts from the argument that he was "sent a message" by a significant number of the members. 29 votes translates into 70% of the caucus, a landslide by any measure.

The results again highlighted how far off the Martinez camp was in assessing opposition to Lujan and support for their man, or at at least how they were positioning him publicly. The first rule of politics is to learn how to count the votes. Martinez and company now have plenty of time to do that as Lujan continues to hold the reins on the most powerful position in the NM Legislature.

JERRY'S PACE
Gov. Apodaca
Here's a guy who has counted his share of votes. It's former NM Governor and former Dona Ana county state senator Jerry Apodaca. I snapped this pic while Jerry of Santa Fe was making the Christmas party rounds and drawing compliments from old and new friends on how well the 72 year old looks. "I've stopped running, but I still walk four or five times a week and quite a few miles," remarked Jerry who ran in and completed the fabled Boston Marathon while serving as governor back in the 1970's.

And from the present Governor, here is the official spin on his appointment of Herb Crosby, President and CEO of Avtec, Inc. in ABQ as the new Secretary of the NM Department of Labor:

“...Crosby knows what New Mexico is facing because he has been on the front lines of business recruitment and employee training efforts..Herb has also been extremely active in the local business community, helping him to understand the needs of small businesses as they recruit, and many times, struggle to find trained employees.”

African-American Crosby replaces outgoing Native American Labor Secretary Conroy Chino.

QUOTABLE QUOTE

This has got to be our quote of the week. It's from the Boston Globe:

“I am at two percent -- for God sakes let me stay and answer some questions.”

At a New Hampshire house party Sunday, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson jokingly told his staffers to quit telling him he was late to the next event. Thus far, Richardson has gotten only single-digit support in his run for president among Granite State voters.

Another visit from us before we take a Holiday break, so come back again tomorrow and unwrap some more political presents.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
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