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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Even Saint Pete Is Praying: Prepares State For Lab Layoffs, Plus: Need To Talk To The Guv? Got 25 Bucks? And: Pearce Toes Line On Iraq 

Even Saint Pete is praying now. In a gloomy conference call with NM radio reporters Monday the state's senior senator all but predicted significant layoffs at Los Alamos and Sandia Labs saying, "We are looking at one of the most impossible situations that I have ever seen." He described the House and Senate as being "desperately far apart" in the battle over funding for the nuclear installations. "We are just going to have to hunker down, fight our best and see how it works out," reported a clearly exasperated Domenici.

The worst case scenario is now a $350 million hit to Los Alamos and 2,500 lay offs. For Sandia, doomsday would mean a $220 million budget slash resulting in 900 jobs lost. My Alligators on Capitol Hill say that Domenici should be able to restore some of that money but not all of it: "The House is dug in. The Senate energy bill restores the labs' budget under the deal Domenici cut there, but when the House and Senate conference committee meets, we expect major cuts. How much? Not the $570 million the House wants, but something significant."

That's better than the doomsday scenario of 3,400 layoffs that lab officials are warning their workforces about, but it would still mean the loss of hundreds of jobs, a prospect Pete, the guardian angel of the labs, seemed to be preparing the state for on Monday. This view contrasts with that of Democratic northern NM US Rep. Tom Udall who said he expects the House-Senate conference committee to fully fund the "mission of the lab" and there will be no jobs lost. But if Udall has cut a deal with someone, so far he's keeping it to himself.

There will be several major twists in turns in the complicated labs budget story in the weeks ahead. The experts tell me we won't know for sure how many jobs will be lost until near the holidays, so If you work at Los Alamos or Sandia you might want to make an early visit to Santa Claus and pray to Saint Pete.

POLL CASH

The appetite for political money is ravenous, and is reflected in an e-mail from the campaign of Light Guv Diane Denish. Just hours after Monday's release of the ABQ Journal poll showing her beating ABQ Mayor Marty Marty Chavez in a 2010 Dem primary by 20 points (50-30-20), the campaign was taking advantage and pitching the numbers for campaign cash.

...We cannot take anything for granted, which is why Diane is working hard every day...The results of her efforts are reflected in this poll...Working with Governor Richardson, Diane is committed to continuing her efforts to move New Mexico forward...(She) will not rest just because of strong poll numbers, which is why we continue to need your help. You can show your support..by going to www.dianedenish.com...

And the primary election is still 33 months away.

BILL ON THE CHEAP

The king of the New Mexico fund-raisers, Big Bill, actually has one scheduled where you don't have to cash in your CD's to get inside. It's in ABQ September 21 and just 25 bucks a head, so this one is where job seekers from the soon-to-close ABQ Tribune can hit the Guv up for a PR job, or state employees can do some kissing up so they are not prematurely retired. The cheap seats fundraiser is at the home of Joe and Kathy Duffy. More info at (505) 828-2455

THE PEARCE POSITION

Don't look for conservative southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce to break with the White House on the Iraq war as Election '08 approaches. He writes in an op-ed piece:

Many have argued for Congress to push for a date certain for withdrawal. Putting Congress in charge of deciding troop deployments is no way to run a war.

Pearce advisers feared the unpopular war could cost him votes in the '04 cycle, but his down-the-line-support did him no damage in the conservative region. He took a 60% victory. Pearce's conservative consistency has given him a strong image in the district.

If only Senator Domenici were so lucky. He is getting pounded again by anti-war spots in the big ABQ media market. I saw this one on KOB-TV as I wrote to you Monday night. Domenici said in July he wanted the troops to start to get out of Iraq next year but, like Pearce, refuses to back a timetable, leaving the door open for war opponents to walk through. He said Monday he is "encouraged" by the Petraeus report. Will he take a firmer position on ending the no-end-in-sight war as the 2008 election draws near? Keep your dial tuned to this station.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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