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Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year Starts With Old Faces; Wilson And Romero Begin 2009 Parade, Plus: Bill Safe In D.C? New Info On That, Also: Update on Hewlett-Packard Deal 

Romero & Wilson
The new political year in New Mexico began with old faces seeking to keep their fortunes alive, no matter the ravages Father Time has inflicted on them. Democrat Richard Romero, a two time congressional loser and Heather Wilson, who gambled for the Senate and gave up the ABQ US House seat Romero tried to take away from her, have both made moves to keep their hopes alive in 2009. Romero, a former ABQ state senator, who became Senate Pro Tem for a time by making a deal with the Republicans, made official his long-planned move to run for mayor of Albuquerque. He held a New Year's Day fund-raiser featuring the city's liberal elite, including Eric Griego who ran and lost for mayor in '05 and was elected to the state senate in '08. Republican Wilson, clinging to the drapes as she prepares to vacate her House seat this week, floated the idea of a 2010 gubernatorial bid.

Romero is one of three serious contenders so far for the mayor's post--incumbent Marty Chavez and City Councilor Michael Cadigan--both Democrats--are the other two. (Where's a big name Republican?) The new public financing law has some tough hurdles and that could keep the field to only three or four candidates. Chavez will be seeking his third term in a row and his fourth overall. If the field stays small, he will try to put the win away by getting 40% of the vote in the first round and avoid a run-off election.

Heather's hurdles are formidable. She told KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson that she is a proven fundraiser, having raised millions for her congressional campaigns, but she didn't mention that that was national money that won't be available for a governor run. And if she does pull the trigger, we told Dyson, she will likely face a contentious GOP primary. She lost the US Senate GOP primary to Rep. Steve Pearce. Don't expect any deference to her from other GOP hopefuls if she goes for guv. But if she can land a big high-paying D.C. consulting job, she probably won't be asking for any.

The fate of Romero, Wilson and other would-be challengers will be largely determined by how soon-to-be Guv Diane Denish (assuming Big Bill's Commerce Secretary nomination does not falter) and Mayor Chavez conduct themselves in the coming months.

BILL SAFE?

My Alligators know no holidays. While the cat is away--or the head blogger--they've been monitoring the situation in D.C and Big Bill's prospects to win US Senate confirmation as the nation's next Commerce Secretary. They sent a quote in from the Politico that Bill hopes has the mood right:

Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama's pick for Commerce, faces scrutiny over involvement in a San Diego-based software company that was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he seems unlikely to face a difficult hearing.

"Republicans are aware of the issue, but we're being cooperative with the majority," said one GOP aide who is involved with the planning for Richardson's hearing. "It's possible that it might come up, but it's not going to be a focus of the hearings."

A Senior Alligator reported here last week that his sources are telling him Bill's hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee will be held the week of January 12.

RIO RANCHO WATCH

Computer giant Hewlett-Packard isn't saying what they will do if the Legislature doesn't approve $12 million in capital outlay funds to help the company build a customer support center at Rio Rancho. Also, the groundbreaking for the facility, initially set for today, has been delayed. The Legislature begins a sixty day session January 20. (Friday morning the Governor's office announced the groundbreaking ceremony will now be held January 7. Earlier Rio Rancho spokesman Peter Wells told the press the groundbreaking had been delayed until late January.)

These are follow-ups to our initial report expressing concern that the Legislature might resist such a big capital outlay for the company in a tight budget year. Several Rio Rancho area lawmakers told the newspaper they share those concerns. Big Bill promised the capital outlay money in much sunnier times, and before the corporate implosions which are costing USA taxpayers billions.

HP said someone would be available to comment after January 1st. Well, the calendar has turned, so what happens if the Legislature doesn't come up with the money? Will HP cancel the center which it says could employ over 1,300 by 2013? Are they willing to take less from New Mexico's beleaguered taxpayers? Inquiring minds--and legislators---would like to know.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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