Friday, February 27, 2009

The Trend That Doesn't End; NM Social Conservatives Triumph Again, Plus: The Stalled Racino, And: A Letter from Gallup 

Political trends come and go, but New Mexico's strain of social conservatism is not one of them. It has been with us since statehood and it asserted itself in 2009 in muscular fashion at the Roundhouse. A domestic partner bill--decried as a gateway to state sanctioned gay marriage-- fell like a dead weight to the floor of the state Senate.

The lopsided 25 to 17 vote Thursday against the bill reassembled the coalition and then some that placed Dem conservative Roswell Senator Tim Jennings in the Pro Tem position the day this legislative session convened. Jennings won the support of all 15 Republicans and eight Democrats. The partners bill was opposed by all R's plus ten Democrats--all but one of them from outside the urban areas of ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces.

Conservative coalitions have time and again kept liberals and their pet causes corralled in the big cities, stopping them from making inroads into the expansive swaths of our state where the deer, the antelope--and the roadrunners--play.

The only ABQ senator to oppose the partner measure was the west side's Bernadette Sanchez whose change of mind in committee allowed it to go to a full Senate vote. Her latest reversal mattered little, given the size of the bill's defeat, but the stamp of the Catholic church was seen in her decision.

Northern Hispanic Catholics, evangelicals and Little Texas and southern conservatives came together to form a powerful lobby loudly heard by their senators. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. As New Mexican political trends go, that is the granddaddy of them all.


Why there hasn't been much said about this is baffling, but as we have been blogging the proposed Moriarty Racino appears stalled. In the Legislature, ABQ Dem State Rep. Al Park has introduced a resolution to give the Downs at ABQ an extension of their lease at the NM Fairgrounds. The resolution would permit Paul Blanchard, Downs honcho and major Friend of Big Bill, to keep the Downs casino and racetrack operating there until January 2012. Blanchard won the right to move the Downs to Moriarty and open a brand-new racino with a price tag of up to $65 million and a scheduled opening of sometime in 2010. But does anyone see any cranes out there? How is the financing for this deal going in this economic environment? Is the Moriarty racino deal dead for now? It looks at least comatose.


Who is the state director for Dem US Senator Tom Udall? There doesn't seem to be one yet, a rather unusual delay. Insiders say political talent for such a position is not plentiful and that Udall apparently is still looking. Get your resume in now.


"These days, crazy seems normal and normal seems crazy." So summarizes the Politico's Ted Johnson in the latest national media piece on the prospective 2010 Dem Guv candidacy of actor Val Kilmer. Dissatisfaction with the political elite runs so deep, the pros wonder if fame can trump the many foibles of this 49 year old Hollywood fixture and part-time New Mexican.


Talk about rotten luck. First, NM journalist Phil Casaus serves as the last editor of the venerable ABQ Tribune before it shut its doors, then he ships off to Denver for a job as a top editor at the Rocky Mountain News in July of 2008. Now what happens? The News announces it's closing.

Of course, Phil is not the only one having bad luck in the newspaper business these days. Much of the moaning over the demise of the biz, however, is misplaced. A new generation of publishers and owners must adjust their profit expectations downward. They will still make money, just not hand over fist. And who says the paper has to be published seven days a week? Put the lesser read Monday and Tuesday editions on the Web and you save a ton of money. Finally, when did a five or six percent profit margin become un-American? Before the era of greed, it was quite respectable.


A friend, with a liberal bent writes from his home in Gallup:

Hi Joe, Gallup is covered by a layer of mud and dust deposited from trucks streaming in from the reservation and a layer of coal cinders deposited by city crews working the snow routes. We have had a long, cold, snowy winter and I am anxious for the spring winds to come blow the town clean.

Politically, we have a couple of City Council races coming up that are not of much consequence. I am glad that Senator Rainaldi is now out to pasture, but disappointed by the early indications about the direction our new Senator George Munoz is taking. Disappointed but not surprised.

Our newspaper publisher, Bob Zollinger, is now fixated on trying to run our golf course superintendent out of town because Zollinger is a buddy to our golf pro and the superintendent has been charged with supervising the golf pro and making him do his job.

In short, it’s life as usual in Gallup.


Jimmy Kimmel: "Last night, our President delivered his first State of the Union address. ... It was very well received. In fact, they're saying it was the best State of the Union address ever delivered by an African-American president."

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