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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Revolt Of The Senates: Richardson & Bush Reined In; Rebel Yell In Santa Fe Shakes Roundhouse; Sets Showdown With Guv. Plus: Wilson Target Of Dem Radio 

Democrat Bill Richardson doesn't often find himself having much in common with President Bush, but they were both in the same sorry spot Tuesday as the great Constitutional tradition of checks and balances took hold in their respective senates, setting the stage for showdowns they stand a good chance of losing. In Santa Fe, the Senate stuck its collective thumb in the eye of the Governor refusing, on a 24-14 vote, to stay in special session as he had ordered. In Washington, the President was refusing to have his staff honor soon-to-be-issued subpoenas in the U.S attorney scandal, threatening to turn a firestorm into a conflagration.

Even though Big Bill has repeatedly pulled rabbits out of his hat, this time the wall-leaners sense it could be different. While the House did abide the Guv's wishes and went to work on the special agenda, all of which they approved in the regular session and most of which the senate rejected, at best it seemed only some face saving measures might emerge at the last minute to end this donnybrook.

There is no constitutional crisis, only a crisis in the Governor's judgment. He went politically tone-deaf when, after a quite successful regular session, he insisted on a special. The Constitution says the Senate will have to go back into session by Saturday because the House will not adjourn. Most of Bill's bills may make it over to the Senate by then where they can be decided, or where the Senate could again vote to adjourn.

LOSING INTEREST?


The powerful chief executive didn't win any brownie points from the 38 senators (four were absent) with news that he would not even be around to guide his agenda, opting instead to stick to a West Coast fund-raising schedule for his presidential campaign. That Bill was unwilling to cancel his prez plains spoke volumes to the exhausted and grumpy lawmakers, and to the New Mexican electorate too.

Still, the Fourth Floor put on a brave face and issued this statement in reaction to the Senate's decision to immediately adjourn : "Governor Richardson is encouraged that the House continues to work on this important agenda for the people of New Mexico. It appears the Senate will have to reconvene by Saturday to begin its work."

The Guv sounded there like he holds the high cards, but does he? He could use the veto threat on bills already passed, or warn Senators of consequences when they hit the campaign trail for re-election next year. But does he really want to go there, with members of his own party who control both chambers and who have done so much to give him so much success? Could he be sure it would work and that there would not be retaliation against him? And remember he needs them for the sake of his prez ambitions.

In 2003, when he faced a similar situation, Governor Richardson, with the help of House Speaker Lujan and his own considerable charms used on a recalcitrant Senate, was able to rebottle the spilled milk, but this time with fewer legislators willing to look the other way when he butts up against those hallowed checks and balances, he might be advised to give himself a reality check and try to end this as gracefully as possible. Ditto for President Bush.

BUT WHO WILL RUN?

They'll be the first ads in the nation for the '08 political cycle and they will target our very own Heather Wilson. The New York Times (Register) has the story on the radio ads that we in the 1st Congressional District will soon be hearing, as the GOP's Wilson is scored for her role in the U.S. Attorney scandal. The radio ad demands that Heather release phone records of her contacts with then-U.S. Attorney Iglesias. This ad comes 20 months before the election and demonstrates the power of the scandal. But the Dems still have no candidate to run against her! It is one of the biggest political holes in state politics. Who will fill it?

IGLESIAS WATCH

His foes are doing their best to paint former NM U.S. Attorney David Iglesias a bumbler and an incompetent in an effort to offset his charges that Senator Domenici and Congresswoman Wilson called him in October to pressure him to speed up indictments in the investigation of the ABQ Metro Court and caused him to be fired when he refused. Trouble is, good news about Iglesias keeps popping up. Take this, from the big document dump from Justice Monday night.

And today Iglesias penned this op-ed piece for the New York Times in which he again takes a bite out of Pete and Heather. He concludes the op-ed saying: "President Bush addressed this scandal yesterday. I appreciate his gratitude for my service — this marks the first time I have been thanked. But only a written retraction by the Justice Department setting the record straight regarding my performance would settle the issue for me."

Iglesias has played his hand well, hitting back at each and every charge. This party goes on.

SHUTTER THE CAMERAS?

Should you just consider ending the red-light program and cut your losses, Mayor? The alternative? More cops writing more tickets at speedy intersections,.

JUICY STUFF

From Cindy Adams of the New York Post:

I AM a fan of New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson, whom I knew when he was here as Bill Clinton's ambassador to the U.N. Smart, tough, doesn't shirk a fight, he's also a delicious dinner partner. Anyway, as our maybe first Latino chief of state, Bill is in the cast of thousands running for president. However, I mentioned he secretly figured he could better nail the No. 2 spot. Richardson called after I printed that. He clearly wants it known he's clearly running for the top job. Clearly. OK by me, hon. I love you. I'm a friend. It's just that three - three - Dem apparatchiks told me that. Separately. On different occasions. Reporting it was what he, Richardson himself, told them."

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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