Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Exclusive First Pic: Di Meets Val, Plus: Progressive Rout Continues At Roundhouse; Partners Bill Dies, And: UNM Daze: Schmidly Hits Back 

Maybe Di and Val can run together? Here they are--albeit a bit blurry---Lt. Governor Denish and actor Kilmer meeting in public for the first time since Val floated his name last year as a possible Dem Guv candidate for 2010 (Click to enlarge). We had wondered if they schmoozed at that weekend event they both attended and the pic tells the tale.

Di seems to be sizing Val up rather closely in this snapshot taken by one of our Alligators who might have had a few hits of champagne before focusing. What's she thinking? Maybe: "You're going to beat me with hair that long?" And what does Val have on his mind? "So you're the gal who makes my buddy Bill see red?"

Next to Di is hubby Herb Denish who seems to be fixated on anything but Val. The pic was taken at Saturday night's La Noche Encantada in ABQ--the annual black-tie social bash of the Hispanic biz community that drew 2,000.

Will this be the first and last meeting of this duo? Or could this be the start of something big?


Let's clarify the rules for the 2010 Guv run. We blogged Monday that a candidate will need 20 percent of the delegate vote at the March pre-primary convention to make the ballot. And that's true. But we did not mention that a candidate who fails to reach the 20 percent threshold can still get on the ballot by gathering additional petition signatures. It's confusing because for a time the extra petition route was not on the law books, but it is back on and that means theoretically we could have a crowded ballot. The law was reinstated in the 2008 Legislature, in time for the epic election that followed.

But a long shot is still a long shot. No candidate for Governor--to our knowledge--has ever gone on to win the June primary when they failed to make the ballot at the pre-primary.

The importance of this is really in the math for the Dem nomination. The more candidates on the ballot, the more votes will be split up, perhaps giving longer shot candidates a chance of pulling off the upset, or playing spoiler to one of the favorites.


There is nervousness in the camp of Light Guv Denish over the state pay-to-play federal investigation. She doesn't want it sticking on her Gucci's. So today in Santa Fe:

...Denish will lay out three bills in a Good Government Package aimed at improving transparency and reducing corruption in state government. Bills specifically address campaign ethics reform and transparency in the state contract process...."

The Kilmer candidacy, still dismissed as a joke in many quarters, is starting to get the top political pros thinking--if only for their own amusement. This one agrees with the conventional wisdom that Denish is the odds-on favorite, but adds:

If a Hispanic gets in (the Democratic Guv race) because of Kilmer, we may have a different situation on our hands A three candidate race with one Hispanic would make it harder to predict. But from what polling I have seen, Diane remains quite strong, and I think she's avoided fallout from the pay-to-play scandal. But you're right to say it's all interesting. If Kilmer starts hiring some real pros, and that leads to somebody jumping in, Who knows?

Who knows? Our favorite question in the never dull world of our beloved La Politica.


It is the irony or ironies, After electing more "progressive" members than ever to the NM Legislature, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is having one of its worst years ever at the storied Roundhouse. Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee body slammed them with a defeat of a domestic partners bill that conservatives labeled a gateway to gay marriage. And they scored the bill's sponsor, ABQ Dem State Sen. and committee chairman Cisco McSorley, for bragging before the vote that this one was in the bag:

"...Senator McSorley seriously underestimated the determination of the people to have their voices heard," said Pastor Steve Smothermon of Voices for Family Values...Most of our legislators know that their first responsibility is to the majority of New Mexicans.."

The Cisco Kid has tried and tried again to get a domestic partner bill. Maybe it's time for a chief sponsor who doesn't push the hot buttons?

The defeat of this bill comes on the heels of legislative action that is widely seen as signaling the death knell for significant campaign finance reform this session, another progressive cause. In addition, the progressives were routed when their candidate for Senate president pro tem, Carlos Cisneros, was beaten by Sen. Tim Jennings. But there may be a consolation for the progressives. Free audio webcasting of the Legislature is now reality--maybe even video webcasting soon. That way they can sit and watch their bills go down in flames from the comfort of their computer chairs.


The aggressive progressives appear to have misinterpreted the results of the November election. In New Mexico, it wasn't a move to the left; it was a move from the center-right back to the center. Liberals have failed to craft a legislative strategy taking that into account. Maybe they can get it together before adjournment and revive a bill or two.

"UNM Day at the Roundhouse" came Monday amid turmoil at the state's largest university. The somewhat embattled president of that institution, David Schmidly, used the occasion to release another of his "open letters" to the university community--this one to try to extinguish a burgeoning blaze over his leadership. Schmidly wrote that a faculty vote of no confidence in him, UNM Regents President Jamie Koch and Executive Vice-President David Harris that is now on the fast track comes from only a "small minority."

Schmidly repeated his defense of UNM's administrative costs, saying they are comparable to other institutions but he would still look for ways to trim them. Of course, if administrative costs are too high at "comparable institutions," they're re too high here.

The president did not address one of the main controversies at UNM--cronyism and payroll packing with involvement from the Guv's office with the assistance of Koch and Harris. He did, however, make mention of the politics of the UNM Presidency:

"When I was first approached about serving at UNM, I was told I would be the sixth President of this University in the previous 10 years --the highest turnover of Presidents at any of the flagship universities. We aren’t doing our students or ourselves any good with a revolving door at the President’s office. Without consistency and stability, there can be no direction or leadership.

The key issues at the university remains whether it has become unduly politicized, has lost its academic bearings and is under the direction of the governor, his operatives and UNM Regents president and former Dem Party chairman Jamie Koch. If Schmidly and Koch are not able to extinguish the fire, they may be sacrificed or have to offer one to save themselves. David Harris has to be wondering who that might be.


A number of readers, including Edl Schamiloglu, UNM Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, sent along this higher education blog where faculty from here and elsewhere are using the comments section to voice their concern--and in some cases--their rage, over top-heavy university administrations.

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