Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gaming The US Attorney Slot; Insiders Think They've Spotted A Favorite, Plus: Domenici Legacy Debated; Press Too Glowing? And: Di's New "Friends" 

The race is not on the ballot, but a campaign is underway for the high-powered slot of US Attorney for New Mexico. It will be filled by Obama early next year with heavy input from Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman. Many names are floating, but one informed and reliable insider details to us that Santa Fe civil rights attorney John Pound, 62, a co-chair of NM's Obama campaign, has emerged as the favorite.

Pound has longtime ties to Senator Bingaman and Bill Richardson. His law partner is Nancy Long, who is a close adviser to Richardson. Big Bill recently appointed her husband to the court of appeals (Tim Garcia). Pound was also an early state leader for Obama. Pound's law practice has...done a lot of work for the state. His highest profile case is the GOP lawsuit to get driver's license info from Motor Vehicles. His firm is defending the state...A review of his clients in federal court cases going back to the 1990s doesn't show any real potential conflicts with the federal government. The only thing going against him is that he is older and wouldn't be groomed for a political office. But the Dems have a very deep bench and don't really need the spot right away to "groom" someone for elected office.

The NM US attorney's office has been anything but a backwater in recent years. It burst into the national headlines when then-US Attorney Iglesias says he was pressured by Senator Domenici and Congresswoman Wilson to speed up the indictments in the ABQ Metro courthouse scandal so they would benefit Wilson's '06 re-election. And then there was the successful prosecution of the courthouse case this year that saw former NM Dem powerhouse Manny Aragon get prison time.

Current US Attorney Greg Fouratt who won kudos for the courthouse caper prosecution landed in the position through happenstance and was appointed by the state's federal judges. The new US Attorney will be named by the president and stand for confirmation in the US Senate. Insiders say Fouratt is likely to stay on as a prosecutor. A reminder of the power of a US attorney is the major political news story in the USA as politicos everywhere track the scandal involving the Illinois governor.

The 36 year old US Senate career of Pete Domenici--the longest in state history--comes to an end in early January and the press coverage of his tenure has been pretty glowing. That has caught the eye of Jim Hannan of Santa Fe who briefly ran for the Dem nomination for the Domenici Senate seat but got out when fellow Dem Tom Udall got in. Hannan fires at the press with his contrary take.

Yes, Pete was a good procurement senator. He managed to continue massive funding for two weapons labs that had largely lost their mission by the late 1960’s. He did bring, like every other Senator, water, sewer, and other projects to his poor state. But he also has a very disturbing 36 year legacy. As Budget Chair under both Reagan and George W. Bush, he is largely responsible for our current $11 trillion national debt.

He never supported working people. In the current session, he worked against the minimum wage increase.. As Energy chair, his only legacy is a failed attempt to push more nuclear power plants...He unconditionally supported the invasion of Iraq, perhaps the worst foreign policy decision in memory. It is unfortunate that there is not one newspaper in New Mexico that has the courage to take an honest look at Pete Domenici.

Domenici and his record now belong to history. Whether for or against, all can agree it is a career and record worthy of study. A rebuttal to Hannan? E-mail it in.


The newspapers are lucky to have critics like Hannan. It means people are still reading them, not an easy feat as it seems a paper a day is either sold or goes under. We wondered what the latest circulation figures were for NM"s largest daily--The ABQ Journal--and the media mavens--former ABQ Trib reporters Dennis Domrzalski and Dan Vukelich helped dig up the numbers.

Journal Monday through Friday circulation for the period ending 9-30-2008 is 102,266, up a bit from Sept. 30, 2007 when it was 101,981. Journal Sunday circulation is at 134,110, down a lot from Sept. 30, 2007 when it was 140,395. Saturday circulation is 109,646, up a bit from Sept. 30, 2007 when it was 108,658.

The Sunday circulation drop is notable because insiders estimate about 40% of the Journal's profits come from that edition. The paper recently announced staffers would not receive year-end bonuses because of the advertising recession.


Governor to be Diane Denish showed up last night to a packed house at ABQ's Yanni's Restaurant for her first fundraiser since it became apparent she will be the next governor. "I didn't know I had so many friends," she is said to have joked. The $250,000 she is reported to have raised at the party is no joke. That takes her campaign kitty to about $1.7 million. As one wag reacted: "There's no recession in New Mexico politics."


From Governor Richardson's executive order to have flags flown at half-staff in honor of former first lady Alice King who died this week:

...WHEREAS, Alice King was not only an advocate for children, but served as a political partner and supporter of her husband. Once, when a rattlesnake threatened the former Governor, Mrs. King “clobbered” the snake with a shovel...

We seem to recall that Alice did the same to a few of Bruce's political foes...


From reader Daniel Balke:

...The Democratic crew in Dona Ana County hangs its collective head over the passing of Sherry Rebert, whose dedicated service...contributed mightily to the electoral success of 100% of Democratic candidates who stood for office in '08. Moreover, Sherry played a leading role in the annual Dona Ana County Democratic Party Labor Day Breakfast which served as our party's major annual money maker..We would not be where we are as a party today without the tireless
efforts of Sherry Rebert...

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