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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Los Alamos & Sandia Hit In Prez's Budget, But Do We Care As Much? Let's Take A Look, Plus: School Board Winners, And: My Bottom Lines 

"Save Los Alamos" just isn't the political rallying cry it used to be. Years of stories over security problems combined with an aloof culture that critics, including the current energy secretary, label "arrogant" has taken its toll on the storied nuclear weapons facility located "on the Hill." Sure, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) raised the flag when the President proposed a slight cut in the labs '08 budget, but with several congressmen actually calling for Los Alamos to be shut down, Energy Committee Chairman Jeff and the rest of our congressional delegation will likely be forced to swallow hard and accept at least some cuts.

The past savior of the labs, GOP Senator Pete Domenici, is now in the minority and under fire by colleagues for being too soft on Los Alamos and its sundry problems. The aforementioned culture of the labs is also not drumming up any sympathy. Public support for the facility could also be waning in light of the news that Los Alamos county has the highest concentration of millionaires in the nation. Folks have other things to worry about than a few scientists having to relocate to Harvard Yard.

Governor Richardson, a former Energy Secretary, didn't even bother to mention the proposed lab cuts in his initial analysis of the Bush budget, choosing to focus instead on a proposed four percent cut to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Granted, it's an issue that will play well for Bill on the Dem Prez trail, but it also, albeit unintentionally, seemed to capture a paradigm shift in which the axiom "what Los Alamos wants, Los Alamos gets" is being slowly but surely retired. Northern NM U.S. Rep Tom Udall dubbed the proposed cuts "unfortunate," signaling dismay, but short of the outrage that would be needed to fully reverse the cuts.

SANDIA'S MOUNTAIN

The other half of the New Mexico defense establishment, Sandia Labs in ABQ, would take a hit of $120 million to its $1.4 billion budget. Still, the energy department proposes to spend over $4 billion here in fiscal '08. That, along with other federal largesse, keeps us at the top of the list of states receiving the most federal funding per resident.

There's no denying that the feds are the key to the economy here, but the private economy has become much larger than 20 years ago, distancing a larger percentage of the population from the impact of the labs. (It was noticeable during the congressional campaign when Dem Patricia Madrid failed to work up a lather over Sandia and Kirtland Air Force Base in responding to a query by GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson and did not appear to pay any price for it.)

Sandia, with a long record of community involvement and no recent major scandals in its management, has a stronger standing with the public than Los Alamos, but it too can no longer expect to automatically escape the budget axe.

Our congressional delegation will still be expected to do heavy lifting for the labs, but the first signs of the post-Domenici, post-Bingaman era may be surfacing. New generations could start looking beyond the care taking of the feds to provide them with economic security, especially as the lab budgets come up against the strain of ever-increasing Social Security and Medicare spending. The labs won't be the only programs feeling the knife.

Ironically, right now it is war--the founding idea of the giant labs--that is hurting them. The uncertain future mission of the facilities in the new century and the immense expense of the Iraq folly is coming home to roost, not only in the immeasurable cost of human life, but in the very measurable bottom lines of Los Alamos and Sandia Labs.

CANNON CAN-DO

The last time a major NM federal installation was seriously threatened was last year when Clovis's Cannon Air Force Base was proposed for closure. The Guv and the congressional delegation did a good job keeping Cannon alive, although with a different mission. Now comes word that the '08 federal budget is good for Cannon as it provides plenty of construction money to get the eastern NM base ready for its new mission.

ELECTION RESULTS


In the sprawling ABQ school district Tuesday it was attorney Marty Esquivel taking an open seat on the board, securing the win with nearly 39% of the vote in a five way race. Incumbent Robert Lucero, often a lightning rod on the board, was re-elected. Dolores Griego prevailed over former State Rep. Richard Ray Sanchez to take an open seat. A proposed mill levy also passed, but fell short of 60% approval. Message to APS? Complete election results here.

THE BOTTOM LINES

From the ABQ Journal letters to the editor section comes this rib-tickler from ABQ's Jose Montoya. Commenting on John Dendahl's announcement that he would be leaving the state for Colorado, Montoya penned: "By chance does he have room for Coach Ritchie McKay in his moving fan?" And if you don't get that, read this...And it's $60,000 not $600,000 in the campaign kitty of ABQ GOP U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson. We left out one of the zeroes when blogging about the campaign yesterday...

Also, ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino is no longer on the Senate Rules Committee as we blogged Tuesday. Committee assignments underwent changes when Senator Tsosie recently resigned. Meanwhile, the Alligators are saying Ortiz y Pino may have lost his nerve when it comes to introducing that redistricting bill that could make it harder for Heather to get re-elected. They say the lawmaker stood tall when he introduced a resolution asking that President Bush be impeached, but there was no local heat on that one. Hitting Heather, on the other hand, takes some moxy, especially since the redistricting bill has little chance of passing. We'll keep you posted. As for Wilson, she is doing what she needs to--softening up on Iraq and currying favor anew with West Side voters and Hispanics. We often ask: "Who wants it most?" When it comes to the ABQ congressional seat, it's Heather and the R's.

Your news, comments and corrections are always welcome. Send them via the email link at the top of the page and help us keep the politics coming. I'm Joe Monahan, reporting and blogging to you from Albuquerque. Stop by again soon.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bill Flatlines In Latest Prexy Poll; Plus: Seeking Candidates For Congress, And: My Bottom Lines For A New Mexico Tuesday 

Governor Richardson remains flatlined in the key Democratic Prez states of Iowa and New Hampshire, apparently getting no bounce from his January Prez announcement, according to the latest ARG survey. In Iowa he remains the favorite of just 1% of the prospective caucus goers and in New Hampshire he garners only 2% with likely primary voters.

Richardson has said Nevada, which holds a caucus between Iowa and New Hampshire next January, will be key for him. It will have to be if the other early critical states don't wake up to him. But there's plenty of time and plenty of mistakes to be made that could and likely will shake up the political landscape between now and next year.

The ARG poll has Hillary Clinton ahead in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

NEW DEM FACES


Voters across our state will trek to the polls in very small numbers today to elect school board members, but at least there seems to be plenty of candidates. How about some for the U.S. Congress? Is there a possibility that the ABQ school board candidates you see advertising on this blog for today's election--lawyer Marty Esquivel or 29 year old Vanessa Alarid, former executive director of the NM Dem party--could take the plunge? Both are fresh political faces who could hold their own on a stage with incumbent GOP ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson, who despite almost losing her seat last November, has yet to draw a challenger.

Esquivel told me he has been asked about a the possibility and found it intriguing. Alarid comes from a political family and has the type of profile that could also attract votes. The duo is running against each other today, along with two other candidates.

Whether Esquivel or Alarid decided to make a congressional run, they would face the always well-financed Heather who reports a cash balance of over $60,000 in her campaign account.

And what about Ray Powell, Jr. running for the ABQ seat? In one of our idle moments we floated the former Dem land commissioner's name and he recently responded: "I have a real appreciation for how many people read your column and then talk with each other. Your comments generated a lot of inquiries. You have me thinking about it now." emailed Powell.

Come on gang, everybody jump in and let's party!

ON THE HILL


Heather sure isn't running to the right after her narrow victory in the moderate ABQ district. On last week's big budget vote in the U.S. House she was on the side of Dem NM Rep. Tom Udall in approving a $463 billion 2007 budget measure. NM GOP Rep. Steve Pearce voted against the bill which passed on a 286-140 vote. Earlier, Wilson started moderating her hawkish position on the unpopular Iraq war, a move predicted here and we believe you will see more in the months ahead.

IN THE ROUNDHOUSE

Meanwhile, up in the City Different, ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Pino is still inclined to introduce a bill that would keep the heat on Heather by redistricting her seat now and not waiting for the scheduled redistricting in 2011. If they could field a strong candidate, Pino's tinkering could tilt the seat toward the D's. The bill is not expected to go very far, but insiders say it should be able to at least get one hearing. You can bet Heather will want a full report.

DON AND DOMENICI

It was Big Bill who got a bunch of unwanted attention from shock radio talk jock Don Imus recently for refusing to appear on the national radio and TV program unless Imus apologized for earlier criticism of the Guv. However, NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici did appear on Imus in late January. A blog about the Imus program wasn't too kind to the senator, but we didn't hear anything very odd during the gab session. You can judge for yourself.

D.A. DINGED

Let's take a trip up to Farmington where District Attorney Lyndy Bennett is getting hammered by the Farmington Daily Times over his handling of a big meth case. It caught our notice because we don't see much coverage anymore of what's happening in our district attorneys offices, especially here in big Bernalillo county. Why is that?

MY BOTTOM LINES

Governor Richardson turned the tables on the pundits who are insisting that he is really running for vice-president, not president. He did so at this weekend's winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee when he fired off this one liner to the party activists:"Anyone of these candidates would be good in the White House,” said Richardson. “As my vice president.”

You can see the Guv's entire speech. It is worth a look as it is one of his better efforts. He is animated and loose which is not always the case...In a Superbowl evening interview on KRQE-TV with New Mexico TV news dean Dick Knipfing, the anchorman asked the Governor what would be his first official act if he was indeed elected President. Not missing a beat, Big Bill wisecracked: "Give an exclusive interview to you!" Knipfing chuckled, but quickly retorted: "I will hold you to that." One suspects that could be one crowded "exclusive interview" before Bill finishes up on the campaign trail..

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dateline Santa Fe: Lobbyists In The Spotlight, Plus: Senator Martinez's Movida, And: Bug The Roundhouse! 

What is a top gun from the giant electric company, PNM, doing lobbying for the Governor? Inquiring minds wanted to know since PNM has a stake in a few pieces of legislation pending at the capitol, not the least of which is the Renewable Energy Transmission Act. The PNM heavy doing the backslapping on behalf of Big Bill is Art Hull, but the Fourth Floor says this is not a case of conflict:

"Hull is participating in PNM’s Loaned Executive program by working as a senior staffer in the Governor’s Office, which enables him to gain direct experience in how state government works...Because of his relationships with many legislators, Art is a valuable resource who acts as a liaison for the Governor on a broad number of issues. With the exception of the Governor’s proposed Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, Art is not lobbying on behalf of any of the Governor’s energy package." Says Fourth Floor officialdom.

The renewable energy act passed both houses of the Legislature last year, but a final bill combining both versions got lost in the last minute crunch, thus the do-over. It would position the state as an exporter of renewable energy sources such as wind, but opponents say it would also promote nuclear and coal power.

THE LOBBYING LONG HAUL


Lobbyist Ed Mahr may be second in seniority in that category, just behind his former partner Bob McBride. Mahr is working (or enduring) his 28th legislative session. He burst into the headlines recently when it ws reported he was hired by the Lottery Authority to help with their legislative package which included opposition to forcing the authority to spend an increased amount on educational scholarships and less on administration. Big Bill pulled the plug on Mahr's deal, but there's no hard feelings says the longtime wall-leaner:

"The Governor realizes I was in the middle on this. He and I spoke recently. We get along just fine" reports Democrat Mahr.

Oldtimers will remember that Mahr was the managing editor of the states largest newspaper, the ABQ Journal, back in the 70's. The gray-hair set will also note that the lobbyist served a stint as Secretary of Corrections. (The Mahr photo is courtesy of Jim Baca's blog.)

WHAT RICHARD WANTS, RICHARD GETS?

What does Espanola Senator Richard Martinez want? He certainly has asking rights of Big Bill after taking a walk on the controversial cockfighting issue and allowing it to pass the Senate Conservation Committee. If he had hung around and voted, there would be no chance for the controversial activity to be banned, thus giving prez hopeful Bill a campaign migraine. (Maybe Senator Richard had a bad cold, a family emergency or forgot the hearing!)

We're probably late in asking what Martinez wants for his Northern NM district. This cockfighting deal looks neatly pre-planned by the Guv and his legislative allies. And you have to say they have played a smooth political hand. Even Conservation Committee chairman Phil Griego is off the hook, getting to vote against banning cockfighting which he says is popular in his district, while having his committee vote for the ban.

Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dona Ana) is getting accolades for sponsoring the bill, as she should, but if a ban makes it through, as expected, history will likely record this one as "The Martinez Movida." Our bottom line? Senator Martinez has either already gotten what he wants, or it's on the way.

WHERE'S OUR WEBCAST?

There was $75,000 put up last year so all of you Legislature addicts could see your lawmakers in action just by turning on your computer and tapping into a video stream of the floor sessions. That way you could sit in your pajamas eating a jelly doughnut and not have to put on a tie or a dress and step foot in the Roundhouse. (Not that we don't do that already) So how come it hasn't happened? I checked with ABQ GOP State Senator Mark Boitano who has been key in getting this one going.

"...The Legislative Council Service said it wasn't going to happen this year. They are still working on designs, getting bids, etc. and intend to make it happen for the '08 session. Government works slowly." Boitano blogged.

We do look forward to seeing Senator Pinto singing the "Potato Song" live on the World Wide Web and the visage of Senator Carraro showing up for "Italian Day" draped in an opera cape. With characters like that, high ratings are guaranteed.

BUG THE ROUNDHOUSE!

In a similar vein, an emailer asks why doesn't some enterprising reporter, blogger or troublemaker find a way to secretly record one of those House-Senate conference committees that are closed to the public and press? Would it really be illegal to tape a bunch of public officials gathered in a public building discussing public business, even if you had to hide a recording device to do it? Just asking. Not that anyone around here is going to up up bail money for whoever does it.

Keep us posted. Send your news and comments, anonymous or otherwise, from the email link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Friday, February 02, 2007

Radio Don Unleashed On Big Bill; Imus Rips Guv And His Prez Staff; Tells Him: "Besa Mi Culo!" Now It's Getting Fun 

Don Imus
A "fat bastard" with an "idiotic" staff? Say what? There were a lot of double takes across our Enchanted Land as word spread of the tongue lashing administered to Big Bill Richardson by Don Imus on his national radio and MSNBC TV shows Thursday morning. Imus came uncorked when, according to Imus, the Guv canceled an appearance on his show and asked Imus to apologize for previous comments he had made. It was all downhill from there as Richardson, his staff and nascent candidacy were all scorched shock-jock style:

"That moron...Bill Richardson...That idiotic, yuppie, not ready for prime time staff of his..He was going to come on today. He wanted me to apologize...Me apologize? You get that fat bastard on here and let him apologize. If Bill Richardson is going to run for President he is going to to have to get rid of the staff he has...I actually got a phone message from his idiot communications director. This moron calls me and wants me to call him back. Me, call him back to discuss this issue! You're not talking to some nitwit at some radio station in Farmington, you idiot!

"The fat sissy canceled. Get another staff, Bill, if you are going to run for president...They jerked around and the fat Governor wants me to apologize? These folks are not ready to play...This is New York; this is the big stage. This is not Santa Fe...Get serious..."

And in a final assault, the radio host and his crew accosted the Guv in Spanish: "How about if I whip your fat ass, Richardson? Besa mi culo!" (Kiss my ass.)

You can listen to Imus's comments here. And you can see the video here. These are partial excerpts of the Imus rant.

INSIDE IMUS
Big Bill
A Richardson sympathizer, while acknowledging that demanding an apology from Imus was a misstep, rose to the defense of the Guv who he said was maliciously maligned by the microphone master.

"Imus is an old booze hound trying to stoke his ratings again. He does it at the expense of the dignity of others. In the big picture, he is not much of a factor, but no one wants to tell him," rebutted the Guv backer.

Maybe, but Imus, who lost the sauce and the coke years ago, is avidly listened to by the D.C. power brokers as well as a healthy dose of liberals who will be voting in the Dem prez primaries. Industry reports say his overall listenership has taken some hits of late, but he still reaches millions. Sounds like a factor to us.

The Imus radio program has only one affiliate in NM--610 AM in Albuquerque. Unlike most syndicated radio programs, stations must put up a hefty penny to access Imus which limits the number of affiliates but keeps profits healthy. The 66 year old Imus, who has grown more crusty and irritable with age, has beaten the odds by staying on the air in a media world geared toward the 25-54 demographic. He is amply rewarded with industry articles pegging his take-down at over $7 million a year.

The Imus diatribe came after weeks of adoring press notices for Big Bill in New Mexico and served as a rude reminder that the national stage, as Imus said, is a much different arena. Still, repeatedly calling the Guv "fat" seemed juvenile. Hasn't Don noticed the new and diet-improved version of our White House Hopeful?

BEHIND THE BLAST

Imus is known for roasting politicos and then kissing and making up with them. (NM GOP Senator Pete Domenici has been a frequent guest as has Big Bill.) Imus's ire has been sparked by his efforts to get a community center built in Ribera NM where he and his wife run a ranch for children afflicted with cancer and other serious diseases. Imus claims Richardson has "jerked around" on the matter. Comments like that had the Guv's staff asking for an apology before he would again appear on the broadcasts.

(The Imus ranch had some controversy of its own not long ago).

The Imus baptism by fire may actually do the Guv and his staff some good, reminding them that thin skin gets roasted quickly in the national theatre; that you are dealing with people who are not intimidated by any politician and who can send you back to Pasadena before you know what hits you. The Governor knows all this having dealt with Imus for years, but his ego, as it does all of us at one time or another, may have gotten the best of him. If nothing else, the tirade could have Big Bill brushing up on his renowned negotiating skills as he works to bring the grumpy media personality back into the fold. Look for a Richardson initiated make-up session soon.

GOVERNOR KING IN HOSPITAL

Former NM Governor Bruce King fell victim to the recent icy weather, injuring himself at his ranch. The AP reports:

Former Gov. Bruce King had surgery to have a pin put in after breaking his hip in a fall at his Stanley ranch, his son, Bill King, said Thursday. "He slipped on the ice and fell," Bill King said. "He was out feeding the cats and it was kind of icy yesterday."

Bruce King, 82, was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque on Wednesday. He was listed in good condition Thursday. "I think he's doing fine," his son said. "I talked to him this morning on the phone. He sounded good."

"He's tough," Bill King added.

Keep me posted. Send your news and comments via the email at the top of the page. I'm Joe Monahan, blogging and reporting for you from Albuquerque.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Likely New Dem Party Chair Scored For Lobbying; Olguin Responds, Plus: Waiting on The Feds For Two Big Stories, And: My Bottom Lines 

The coast appears clear for Michael Olguin to become the next chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, but some behind the scenes sniping is going on over Olguin's role as a lobbyist, particularly for the payday loan industry, and some foes have talked of coming up with an alternative candidate. So far, there have been no takers and Olguin is the odds-on favorite to take the leadership role when the election is held April 28th.

Olguin, 57, told me he had not heard of the concerns over his lobbying role until we rang him up at the Roundhouse Wednesday (Hey, we love spreading good news.) and while not brushing them off, he did not commit to abandoning lobbying if he assumed the chairmanship.

"If I were chairman, I would probably re-examine it to make sure there is no conflict-of-interest." He explained.

Olguin is a veteran power player, having served in the New Mexico House from Socorro from '84 to '98, garnering a reputation as a well-liked and effective lawmaker who capped his career as House Majority Leader. He was a loyal lieutenant to then-Speaker Raymond Sanchez. If Olguin had not lost his seat in '98 to Republican Don Tripp, he might have had a shot at leading the House. Instead, his ouster was a signal that the roof would also soon cave in on Sanchez who two years later lost his seat and the speakership .

THE OLGUIN FILE

While Olguin is taking hits over his lobbying, his main livelihood is his Socorro insurance business which he's had for 18 years. I first met him in the late 70's when he was an aide to the late NM Democratic Congressman Harold Runnels and I was working in D.C. For GOP Rep. Manuel Lujan. He says that his "political background and knowledge of the process" qualify him to succeed attorney John Wertheim as party leader.

"Fund-raising and party building are the crucial roles of a chairman," said Olguin who added that his history with the Legislature would also be an asset.

The lobbying issue is a touchy one because it was a major reason for the divisions that tore the NM GOP apart in recent years. When a faction of the party advocated legalizing drugs, lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett, also then the NM GOP National Committeeman, was a paid lobbyist for the drug cause which was opposed by most Republicans. His faction also fielded primary candidates against fellow Republicans who his critics said would favor Barnett's lobbying clients. Critics of Olguin, while not fearing a division on that scale, nevertheless believe Olguin should follow the example of Wertheim and another previous chair, Light Guv Diane Denish, and not lobby while serving as party leader.

As for the titular head of the party, Olguin, who has served the last four years as chair of the Socorro county D's, says he has met with Governor Richardson and describes him "as supportive of my efforts." The Guv has also run up against critics of the payday loan industry who claim he has been too cozy with the business. Olguin is lobbying during the current session on a payday loan bill sponsored by Rep. Patricia Lundstrom. Efforts to get the bill passed last year failed and are being fought again this time by State Sen. Bernadette Sanchez who calls the measure "an industry bill."

HIS SECOND ACT

It's been a while since a native Hispanic New Mexican has been party chair and that is enlisting support for Olguin. "I am glad to see him emerge. I don't think the lobbying issue has any legs. I would be pleased to see a party chair who understands business as well as politics," commented Sisto Abeyta, a young Dem from ABQ's South Valley who is active in party affairs.

Olguin takes the criticism in stride acknowledging that "when you stick your head out there" there are going to be hits. It is his practiced political personality that seems to win him the most support. "He is well-liked, glib, knows the issues and understands party politics as well as anyone. He can also carry the ball for us in the media," analyzed one party veteran.

It appears Olguin will have a chance to prove the merit of those statements. Written off as "a could have been" after losing his House seat and a shot at the speakership, he now prepares for a rare second act on the stage of La Politica. He is already being reminded that there, the lights always shine brightly.

WAITING ON THE FEDS
ABQ Federal court
Still no official announcement on who will be the next U.S. attorney for New Mexico. While initial insider betting was heavy on Jim Bibb, the tide has now turned to ABQ attorney Charles Peifer. NM GOP Senator Domenici has submitted four names to the White House to replace David Iglesias. Domenici chief of staff Bell said don't expect the job to be a "political plum," a statement read as a zing against Bibb, who ran for attorney general last year as well as at Iglesias who won the job after also running for state attorney general, but whose performance is known to have disappointed Domenici. Peifer, 46, if he does get the job, is not expected to take over for several months as he closes out private law business. All this is courtesy of the legal beagles who are being kept busy on this beat.

And what about federal indictments in the investigation of the construction of two Bernalillo county courthouses? The Alligators pinpointed the end of January as D-Day for those, but nothing has been announced yet. The indictments are still expected, but you are dealing in "government time." And maybe the reports that the indictments would come made the decision makers take another look at the calendar.

SPACEPORT DEBATE II

Wednesday's blog noting that not all in Dona Ana county are happy about the prospect of paying an additional quarter cent in gross receipts taxes to finance the Big Bill spaceport, drew response from politico Josh Geise who took took note of pickets that recently greeted the Guv in Las Cruces:

"The state has already appropriated $100 million and will do another $25 million. Like most major infrastructure projects the local communities are asked to contribute matching funds to show local support. It makes no sense to fund the entire project with state funds when the communities up north will see little benefit.

"The "picketers"--if you can call one guy and his children picketers--are upset because they'd like to see the money go to basic services. They're missing the point of economic development. When the spaceport begins operation the tax base of Dona Ana county is going to expand providing better healthcare, education and other basic services." Argued Geise.

The tax election will likely be held in early April. It could be spirited as some will counter argue that the spaceport is akin to big road and other projects that may mainly benefit one area of the state, but a special tax is not levied on those living near the road.

Interesting sidelight: Governor Richardson late Wednesday announced he will "highlight his support for several multi-million dollar infrastructure projects in Southern Dona Ana County during a press conference Thursday in Las Cruces."

It seems Big Bill is already campaigning for an expected April tax vote.

NOT ALL LOVE FOR LYNDA

The day State Senator Leonard Tsosie resigned the insiders pinpointed Lynda Lovejoy as the obvious replacement for the Native American leader. Wednesday Big Bill proved them right as he named Lovejoy, a former member of the state House as well as the Public Regulation Commission, to the Tsosie vacancy. Last year Lovejoy unsuccessfully sought the chairmanship of the Navajo Nation in an election at which Tsosie was elected to the Navajo Nation Council. This northwest NM senate seat is designed for Indian Country. Some wanted a Pueblo Indian to take the position which would have been a first in state history, but we got another first in that Lovejoy is the first Native American woman to serve in the Legislature's upper chamber.

Lovejoy is not getting any love, however, from liberals who resent her comments on abortion and homosexuality during her recent presidential run and which were circulated against her on the Net. Here's how the New Times of Phoenix wrote her up: "I''m anti-abortion on an individual basis," she stammered, with more umms and ahhs than The Bird has room to reproduce. "But I know families whose children have gone through abortion . . . but personally I would not tolerate it except when a person doesn't have a choice."

Safe enough answer, despite the Navajo pol's near incoherence. But her remarks on homosexual rights made her sound like some 19th-century eugenicist.

"I feel the same way about that as I feel about abortion," spat Lovejoy. "I know we are all . . . some of our children are born with physical impairments and it's not the baby's fault. That person is special. I feel the same way about sexual orientation."

Welcome back, Lynda. But we don't think you will be getting too many invites to campaign for Big Bill in those liberal Dem prez primaries. By the way, the annual Indian Day celebration will be celebrated Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the New Mexico Legislature.

JOE'S BOTTOM LINES

Here's a Roundhouse funny on the perennial issue of cockfighting from House Minority Leader Tom Taylor. It looks as if a statewide ban on the controversial activity might actually pass this year and perhaps anticipating it, Taylor comes with a "cock retirement" proposal in the form of a House Memorial. Don't get too cocky if it passes, Tom.

Nothing official yet, but we are hearing that former ABQ Journal reporter Charlotte Balcomb Lane has signed on as the new communications director for the state Republican party. An announcement is expected Monday. The search continues for a new executive director...

See you here tomorrow for the Friday blog. Meantime, send your latest news via email from the link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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