Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is Guv Race Getting Framed Early? Looks That Way, Plus: New Face For Bernco Commission, Also: Obama Visit Update And Lobbyist Barros Claimed by Death 

Somebody moved up the start time for the 2010 party. We thought we had at least a couple of months, but already this race is starting to get framed as a possible Diane Denish vs. Heather Wilson face-off. We hit with the analysis Tuesday about former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather appearing to inch closer to a campaign for the GOP Guv nod as she authored this critical op-ed piece on the state's juvenile justice system. We also mentioned Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White's weekend press hit on the same topic. Now the state Dems are slamming back and the party is on. They came with this:

Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colón condemned Heather Wilson and Darren White's decisions to launch their campaigns for a yet to be determined public offices last week with spurious attacks on the public servants tasked with managing New Mexico's juvenile justice system. Wilson's politically motivated op-ed overlooked the fact that her term as the Secretary of the Department of Children Youth and Families (CYFD) was marked by mismanagement, a failure to remove children from dangerous situations, secrecy, and retaliation against detractors.

Sorry Allen Weh and Greg Zanetti (the already announced GOP candidates for Governor). You guys aren't chopped liver, but Heather has the name ID. The Dems are going to try to preempt any momentum she may try to build, even if it does help her with her own party and at the expense of her possible primary foes. But don't go sprinting away just yet, Heather. ABQ PR agency owner Doug Turner says he is mulling over a GOP Guv run. And he's been in the neighborhood before. Doug managed Gary Johnson's succcessful 1998 Guv re-election campaign. Turner would run from the middle if he did get in, competing with Wilson for moderate votes.

As for Denish, the putative front runner for the 2010 Dem Guv nod, she goes along her merry unopposed ways. For how long, who knows. A check of state finance reports shows State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has $59,000 in his campaign account that could be used for a Dem Guv run. Di has $1.7 million. However, a lone Hispanic candidate would get some natural primary support. Meantime, Denish will not be forgotten when President Obama touches down in the Land of Enchantment. Her staff confirms that she will be at Obama's Town Hall as will Governor Big Bill.

And, another day, another article about Val Kilmer running or not running for NM Governor.


Commissioner Hart Stebbins
The Guv came with his appointment to fill the vacancy on the five member Bernalillo County Commission Tuesday, naming a woman unknown to the public and many insiders. Maggie Hart Stebbins is the fresh face. She's a special projects planner at the Mid-Region Council of Governments and was tapped by the Guv to fill out the term of Southeast Heights Commissioner Deanna Archuleta who has taken a job with the Obama administration. The new commissioner was sworn in Tuesday afternoon, ending weeks of fun speculation on who would get the political plum. The Guv left Judy Espinosa on the bench, opting for new blood. The former NM Expo head was one of those who had applied for the slot.

Stebbins is an '86 Harvard history grad and an '80 ABQ Academy grad. The Guv called her a "conservationist" and described her as "working on issues ranging from transportation to water policy." Politicos noted that Lawrence Rael, head of MRCOG where Hart-Stebbins works, is close to Richardson and a probable candidate for lieutenant governor. But Bill was given credit for coming up with a new face in a time when the electorate is welcoming new people and ideas.

It is Maggie's older sister, Ellen Hart, who has spent a lot of time in the spotlight of La Poltica. Ellen Hart, a world-class runner, married then-Denver Mayor Federico Pena in 1983. He later became Sec. of Transportation under Bill Clinton. The couple divorced in 2001. A TV Movie: "Dying to be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Peña Story" was made of Ellen's life in 1996.

It will be Hart Stebbins' approach to growth issues that will be of special interest. Archuleta campaigned for the environmental vote, but on the commission was business friendly, supporting incentives such as TIDD's. Hart Stebbins said she is interested in bringing "clean jobs" to the area.


The new commissioner will have some time, but not an over abundance of it to carve out a niche if she decides to stand for election in the Democratic leaning district. The term she fills out runs until 2012, but there will be a primary election next June to begin the process of filling out the last two years of Archuleta's term. That primary could get crowded and the winner is very likely to score the abbreviated term in the November election because of the district's Dem tilt.

We and others were a bit confused because it has been a while since so much of a single term was left to a Guv appointment. But a check with Legal Beagle and NM elections expert Daniel Ivey-Soto confirmed that the state Constitution (Article 20) permits the Guv to appoint to the next general election in 2010, not the entire three and a half years left on Deanna's term. We questioned the Guv's office on this, thinking the new commissioner would serve through 2012. We should have known better. If there's one thing Big Bill knows very well it is what power he has and doesn't have.

There was some grumbling heard downtown that the Guv did not go with a Hispanic woman for the appointment. He did say he wanted "gender" balance. However, the district is not carved out as an Hispanic district. It was represented by Tom Rutherford for eight years and Archuleta ran as Archuleta-Loeser when she won the seat in 2004. She later divorced and ran in 2008 as Deanna Archuleta.


Don't worry about missing out on the presidential visit to Rio Rancho Thursday morning. KRQE-TV says it will broadcast Obama's Town Hall on credit card reform live from Rio Rancho High School. The station will also stream the event live on its Web site. The forum is set to start around 10 a.m. This will be the first ever presidential visit to Rio Rancho. Tickets to the event went fast. "Tea Party" protesters are making plans to be there as is Governor Big Bill. Speculation in the press that Bill hooking up with Obama could be awkward because it's the first time the pair has met since Richardson had to withdraw his nomination as Commerce Secretary is interesting, but don't count on any awkwardness. These are two old pros who will act to the world as if nothing ever happened. If we're right, Richardson's appearance will be deftly squeezed in, leaving the press and your blogger with little to comment on. On the other hand, if they muff it, we'll all have plenty to say.

As for the purpose of his visit--credit card reform--the prez is finding some success. The Senate is moving a bill along that is opposed by bankers, but one the White House says would prove consumer relief.


State Invesment Officer Gary Bland has a point. The Legislative Finance Committee Tuesday beat up on him and members of the State Investment Council, but did not accuse them of any lawbreaking. But Bland has to understand that the bull market is over---dead and buried. People are mad about the excesses being uncovered, whether they cost the state money directly or not, the practices, as Santa Fe State Rep. Brian Egolf don't pass the smell test. : "This feels strange. It smells fishy." He observed. Indeed it does, Mr. Egolf, and it is time to deodorize.

State Senator John "Dr. No" Arthur Smith wants Bland's head on a platter as well as those of some of SIC members like David Harris. But why should he have to ask for them? What happened to honorable resignation? We can't say with certainty that Mr. Bland and Mr. Harris have lost the confidence of the New Mexican public, but we would take even money on the bet. It's true that Governor Richardson presided over the excess, but he can still help his legacy by being bolder in cleaning up the mess. Hanging on to the past is only go to make it that much worse. As the late, great Ernie Mills would say: Don't say we didn't tell you.


A Santa Fe heavy hitter has died. Riccardo Barros, 62, a veteran lobbyist whose clients included the Maloof Companies and the ABQ/Bernalillo County Water Authority, among may others, died Saturday. Friends say Barros had recently suffered a stroke. A presence at the Roundhouse for years, Barros was a longtime friend of former State Senator Manny Aragon, who was one of the state's most powerful senate leaders. The family says visitation will be Wednesday, May 13, from 6:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 5415 Fortuna NW, with a Rosary to be recited at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated at the church May 14 at 11:00 a.m. Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. Dan Lopez, Senator Manny Aragon, Randy Garcia, and Doug Cooper.

Gov. King
Reader Danny Hernandez was among several who reacted to our post lst week on the '94 Guv's race in which Dem Bruce King lost to R Gary Johnson and in which we noted the legislative leadership of Manny Aragon and Raymond Sanchez was a contributing factor in the GOP win. The R's made Raymond and Manny out as corrupt characters. But Hernandez and others wanted to make sure the major contributing factors were not ignored:

..Bruce King was "damaged" by fighting with his Lt. Gov. Casey Luna in the primary. I remember the party being split by this infighting. Roberto Mondragon running as a Green candidate didn't help either. So this was a special case. Then when Gary Johnson ran for reelection in 1998, he was opposed by Marty Chavez who polled great in Albuquerque and nowhere else (didn't Marty lose Bernalillo County anyway?).

Yes, Danny, Marty did lose Bernalillo County in '98 and as I recall it was in the vicinity of 20,000 votes.

And one more Guv note, Dave Cargo was 37 when he was elected Governor in November 1966 and turned 38 in January of 1967 shortly after he was sworn in. We had him elected at 36 in yesterday's blog. He is the youngest Governor in state history. But Reader Davy Jones of Antioch, Tennessee e-mails:

Republican Herbert James Hagerman who served briefly from 1906 until 1907 (appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt) was the youngest ever to occupy the office. He was born in December 1871, and was all of 34 when he was inaugurated on January 22, 1906.

Thanks, Davy. That would be when we were a territory and we were only counting the ages of governors since statehood in 1912. The youngest ever? We'd have to include all the Spanish and Mexican governors going back to around 1600. Wonder if any of them were younger than Cargo?

As for Bruce, he is now 85 and most mornings still enjoys talking politics over coffee at El Comedor, Mike Anaya's Moriarty restaurant. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

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