Monday, April 21, 2008

All Systems Appear Go On Spaceport Vote, Plus: Dunn Beats Tinlsey On TV, And: May Special Session Appears Dead, Also: The Great Gator Debate 

Bill & Branson
Southern NM grabs the blog spotlight this Monday as voters in Sierra County prepare to go to the polls Tuesday to help determine if NM is going to take a major step into the Space Age. We didn't waste time trying to figure out whether Sierra voters will join with their neighbors in Dona Ana County who narrowly passed a quarter cent increase in their gross receipts tax last year to help finance the $200 million spaceport. Instead, we went straight to Truth or Consequences realtor and southern GOP congressional candidate Earl Greer for a campaign report and prediction, He didn't hesitate:

"Joe, this is going to pass. I noticed recently where some homemade signs went up opposing the spaceport, but within a day there were homemade signs for it. This all about bringing jobs into the area, and people want that. It's that simple."

The actual spaceport launch site will be in Sierra County so that could be why it's getting more support there than Dona Ana. If it passes in Sierra, the tax hike is a done deal. If not, the issue goes to Otero County. Greer said campaign literature featuring Big Bill has been sent to voters.

"The Governor's support is helping. This is a bipartisan effort." Greer said.

There has been considerable bitching and griping that Virgin Atlantic and its billionaire owner Richard Branson are not putting up enough money for the project which would launch rich tourists into space. There's something to that, but the fact is Governor Bill had few cards to play. The spaceport would be located in one of the poorest areas of the nation. Greer says the state has to attract capital investment to get jobs, and you don't often get them without sweetening the pot. We'll see Tuesday night if he's right about his neighbors being ready to ante up.


Big Bill's short and unpopular flirtation with a possible May special session of the Legislature to deal with his stalled comprehensive health-care reform appears to be flaming out. Here's the latest from our Alligator close to the action:

During his trip last week, the governor met separately with (Finance Committee Chairman) Sen. John Arthur Smith in T or C and with (President Pro Tem) Sen. Tim Jennings in Roswell. They had good conversations about moving forward on discussions about universal health care. The temperature has cooled, and the governor is now leaning toward holding a special session later in the summer--not in May.

Well, that takes us back to whether we started right after the regular session failed to produce a deal. A May special session was never taken too seriously because all the legislators are up for re-election and would probably just meet and adjourn. Big Bill is bouncing the ball around quite a bit on this one, but it is still in his court. The more he talks about a special, the more pressure he is putting on himself to come with a deal. Stay tuned.


Hello, Ed Tinsley? Aubrey Dunn here. You may be booking time for a big ABQ TV buy, but guess which Republican Southern congressional candidate is the first to actually hit the airwaves with a spot? Why, it's me. Aubrey Dunn! And here I am...

Dunn's low-key spot fits his demeanor, and it delivers a nice punch for only 30 seconds. We're informed that Dunn has bought cable-TV around the district and KBIM in Roswell, the sister station of ABQ CBS affiliate KRQE. It, along with KOBR, which he also bought out of Roswell, reaches a large swath of the big district. We don't have a dollar figure on the buy, but the spots are going to wake up Tinsley who has booked TV time for May. He was endorsed over the weekend by former NM GOP Governor Garrey Carruthers, which is a nice feather in his cap. However, not striking first on TV when you have had as much time as Ed puts points on the board for Aubrey.

Tinsley is the establishment GOP candidate, and Dunn is the insurgent. Both have ranches in SE NM. Also seeking the GOP nod is realtor Earl Greer of T or C, former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman and Las Cruces day care center owner Greg Sowards.


23 year old Scott Darnell has been a bright light for the NM GOP in this busy election year. He has been handling the party's PR efforts, including keeping the propaganda fresh for the party's Web site. But Darnell says he won't be around for the main event. The Farmington native has scored a fellowship to Harvard University and will spend the next two years there getting a masters in public policy. The young conservative may have to watch himself. The Harvard Yard crowd may try to convert him to the other side. Meanwhile, Darnell's wife, 25 year old Alexis Valdez Darnell, is also a GOP politico. She will head up the NM GOP's 2008 "Victory" committee for the fall campaign and then head to Boston. Darnell plans to return here after school.


It doesn't look good for LA Times correspondent Mark Barabak who upon his most recent NM visit made application to this blog to become an "Honorary Alligator." E-mail is running against the notion, with an ABQ South Valley Alligator saying: "There should never be an honorary Alligator. One earns it by scarred combat from the give and daily take of La Politica on native soil..."

But Rodger Beimer says better an honorary LA Alligator than a New York one: "Given the political landscape of Llano Encantado this year, and our proximity to the LA Times vs the NY Times, the "times" call for this honor to be bestowed upon Mr. Barabak. (Not to be confused with the Democrat fellow running for President)."

But Carroll Cagle urges a veto of Honorary Gatorhood: "Joe, there are serious issues of management here. What can you discuss with an Honorary Alligator? The portfolio is too ambiguous for consideration. The application, unfortunately, must be denied."

This is one tough job, but someone has to do it.

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