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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Surprise Forecast: No New NM U.S. House Seats In Next 30 Years, Plus: Paying Or Not Paying For The Not So Special Session 

Get used to it. New Mexico will likely gain no new seats in the U.S. House for the next thirty years. That's the surprising conclusion of political guru Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia. New Mexico's House delegation went from two to three in 1982, and has been static since. If Sabato has it right, the next generation of New Mexicans, despite witnessing steady growth in state population, will gain power in the House only through seniority, not additional reps. But neighbouring Arizona and Texas over that long period are projected to make solid gains because their rate of growth will remain higher than ours. Colorado is in the same boat as NM picking up no seats through the 2030 census, according to Sabato.

Meanwhile, ABQ Mayor and aspiring Governor Marty Chavez proclaims: "Heather Wilson will no longer be elected in New Mexico." The mayor's bravado may be justified by the ABQ GOP Congresswoman's Wilson's recent problems, but didn't Marty just get done predicting that Patricia Madrid would narrowly defeat Wilson? And didn't he have trouble predicting that his plan for a $270 million street car would be killed by citizen wrath?

There is a way Marty could raise the odds on having his latest prediction come true--by running against Wilson. But he won't, citing the grind of the job and the constant fund-raising.

For the record, I am quoted recently in Congressional Quarterly as saying "the first casualty" of the U.S. Attorney scandal is Heather's hopes for a U. S. Senate seat. While I think it harms those chances greatly, I meant to say her Senate hopes could be the first casualty. With NM Democrats having such a weak bench at the Congressional level, even a damaged Heather could still be a threat.

There may be emotion involved in the mayor's hit on Heather. Remember, she supported R Brad Winter in the '05 ABQ mayor's race. But Chavez retains much of good will with ABQ Republicans. His proposal this week to cut taxes is a reminder why. Trouble is, Democrats, who he needs to nominate him for Governor in '10, might want to use that tax money for other purposes. But then there is a race for mayor in '09 for Marty to consider, just in case.

HEATHER'S HEADACHES

It's not just the U.S. Attorney scandal giving Heather headaches. The still no-end-in-sight and ultra-unpopular war, which almost cost her her seat last year, still looms large. She is out with a lengthy explanation of her vote against a narrowly approved House measure to begin the withdrawal of American Troops. "It was an odd bill. It spent money to fight a war while attaching strings to virtually ensure we lose it. She declares.

Of course, many military and other experts believe the war is long lost. When will R's fearful for their re-elections start peeling away from the White House and Congressional leadership? Perhaps if the troop "surge" proves ineffective.

FRAUD ON THE PUBLIC?

Columnist Ruben Navarrette hits hard for ex-NM U.S Attorney David Iglesias.

"One of the most distressing aspects concerning the eight fired U.S. attorneys is what happened to David Iglesias of New Mexico, and what it tells us about how allegations of voter fraud have become a proxy for anxiety over illegal immigration...First, try this: Whenever you hear the phrase "voter fraud," substitute "surging Hispanic political power."

SPECIAL UPDATE

Here's a video report on the talks conducted in Santa Fe Monday to get the going nowhere, do-nothing special session of the Legislature moving. And here's Terrell of the New Mexican ripping into Big Bill. "...he’s out of state all week. Apparently he wants to be in Santa Fe about as much as the state Senate."

And on the Governor's secretive scheduling practices and just announced Wednesday interview on Comedy Central: "Funny how we find out the governor’s whereabouts from entertainment (network) press releases well before the governor’s office or his campaign staff informs us."

Somebody call Ticketmaster. I want a ringside seat for Round Two.

PAY OR NO PAY?
Senator Carraro (napping)
Just what is the elongated special session of the NM Legislature costing us? I blogged Monday that it would be about $50,000 a day, according to news reports. But ABQ GOP State Senator Joe Carraro has a different take.

"The session hasn't cost anything yet--we haven't passed the feed bill. Senators are understanding that we probably won't get paid since we haven't stayed. House members can get paid for time worked--if they choose to--by having leadership go before the Legislative Council and ask that interim committee funds be diverted to pay for time spent at special session that would then also include payment for staff present at special session. Since we are not getting paid there is no pressure for us to have to put in a full day of passing bills." Explains Carraro.

Well, we'll see if in the end the lawmakers don't in fact vote themselves a "feed bill." But it's not just the money; lawmakers are paid to act, not adjourn. Yes, the Governor screwed up by calling the session, but take an hour and vote up or down his program and go home. Paid or not, that's what the Senators are elected to do.

It was the Governor out campaigning for president that really teed off many senators and giving impetus to the multiple adjournments. But it hasn't stopped Big Bill from pursuing the Dem prez nomination with ardor. With the end of the first quarter around the corner, he's making a last minute push for more money to show that he is in the campaign to stay. Finance reports will be filed in a couple of weeks, revealing who has mojo and who doesn't.

THE BOTTOM LINES

As you can see from the photo posted, photog Mark Bralley caught Senator Joe napping during the prelude to Saturday's brief Senate meeting. Rumor has it that he had cooked meatballs and sausage for twenty the night before and was justifiably exhausted.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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