Thursday, June 11, 2009

Denish Amid The Scandal Tornado: Pushing Ahead, Plus: Heinrich's Medal & His Search For The Center, And: Even More On Manny's Party 

Diane Denish reminds you of someone polishing the furniture during a tornado. Amid a swirl of rumors over the federal investigation into state pay to play allegations that often borders on a frenzy, the state's lieutenant governor goes about her business, implementing her plan to take the Governor's chair. The winds from the myriad of scandals blowing across the Land of Enchantment are rattling the windows in Denish's political home, but the foundation seems to remain strong. Now with less than a year to go before the June 2010 Dem Guv primary and nine months before the crucial March pre-primary convention, the Light Guv continues her housekeeping, gradually increasing her profile and emphasizing an identity separate from Big Bill whose future popularity remains unknowable.

In recent days Denish launched a new campaign Web site and stepped up what seems to be a systematic plan to make headlines on topics that keep her far way from the scandal beat. For example, this week she crusaded for a better missing persons data base. That comes in the aftermath of the discovery of the bodies of 11 women on ABQ's Southwest Mesa. She also announced she will work with NM legislative leaders to develop a package of bills for the next session that address border security issues.

Denish's gradual but persistent effort to increase her name ID and carve out a distinct political identity took on a bit more urgency this month when State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez announced he would form an exploratory committee for Governor. But that was not unexpected and it appears the potential celebrity candidacy of actor Val Kilmer will be a nonstarter. No other significant threats to her nomination loom on the horizon--at least not yet.

The great unknown remains the outcome of the various investigations. If there are indictments, how will they effect Denish? Well, the answer will come in due time. Meantime, best to keep on polishing that furniture and hope the storm soon passes.

The hot potato of whether there will be indictments in the CDR bond pay to play case is now indeed in the hands of US Attorney General Eric Holder. That's been reported, but has now been stated in public by Stephen Flance, chairman of the New Mexico Finance Authority.

Flance told state lawmakers that the FBI had completed its investigation and that the findings were with Attorney General Holder...Flance said that the agency’s general counsel, Rey Romero, had informed him of the news. Romero...wouldn’t say who he had talked to or how he had gotten the information. But when asked if he trusted the source and the information that person was telling him, Romero said, “Yes.”

Big Bill has got to be as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. If there are any indictments and they result in trials, the rest of Bill's term will be engulfed in pay to play stories. Even if the CDR case goes away, there are multiple remaining investigations that are going to make it mighty hard for the Governor to improve his standing with the public.


He's only been in office five months, but already ABQ Dem US Congressman Martin Heinrich is getting this:

The League of United Latin American Citizen (LULAC) of New Mexico recently issued the Medal of Honor and Valor to Rep. Martin Heinrich. The medal is awarded to those outstanding LULAC members or individuals who have contributed to the Hispanic community with significant impact. This is the highest award given by New Mexico LULAC.

Hey, LULAC. Should you be handing out your highest award so soon? Maybe you start with stuff like a free trip to Disneyland and let these guys work their way up to to the Medal. You gotta keep them interested, you know.


It's a fascinating time for us NM congressional watchers. When we will ever again see our three congressmen all learning the ropes at the same time? For Heinrich, who the R's call a love child of the Left, job one has been to make a smooth transition to the center so the Dems can hold on to his congressional seat that the R's protected from them for forty years.

Heinrich's latest venture on that score has been the attention he has given to struggling car dealers in the ABQ area. He has held a roundtable with the dealers, signed on to a letter to President Obama highlighting Their concerns and is co-sponsoring the Automobile Dealer Economic Rights Restoration Act which addresses the loss of Chrysler and GM franchises as the government bails out the big auto giants.

The dealers have deep ties in the state and the loss of their franchises and associated jobs is a bipartisan issue. Heinrich's action on this one continues his move to the center, a place where Republicans and the districts numerous independent voters can feel comfortable with him. (Although it could be argued the car dealers are moving to the left as they embrace a bailout.)

Dems of all stripes are overjoyed to have one of their own in the congressional seat and the left wing of his party is going to give him plenty of room to run, but even if they don't, Heinrich must continue to fight for the middle ground. It's good for his political career but more important it's good for ABQ to have someone who--when need be--can cut a deal with conservatives, liberals or moderates. And, along those lines...


Of course, what is on the far left and what is far right changes with the times. For example, this news item from the Bernalillo County Dem Party might have been a shocker a dozen years or so ago, but it's a yawner in 2009:

The Democratic Party of Bernalillo County will have a float in the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday, June 13. We will meet at the Democratic Party HQ Friday at 6 PM to decorate the float and on Saturday meet at the Democratic Party HQ at 7 AM to head over to where the parade route begins.

However, we don't think you will see the Lea County Democratic Party decorating any Gay Pride Parade floats.


That going away party last week for former State Senator Manny Aragon who began a five and half year prison term on corruption charges Tuesday, continues to touch a nerve. We ran reader e-mail yesterday criticizing GOP attorney Pat Rogers for attacking those who attended attended the party. The reader pointed to the Rogers role in the US attorney scandal that drew a federal investigation and said given that background the Republican had no business criticizing the Manny party. That brought a round of reader response supportive of Rogers, including this one signed by James Ramirez of Pojoaque:

It's amazing that someone can actually compare the US Attorney scandal to Manny Aragon's case. This man stole huge amounts of cash from taxpayers! It does make me sick that he had a "going away" party. Good riddance! Public servants are in office to serve people, not their own interests, and when they violate that public trust it overshadows anything good they have ever done. If the Dems want to continue to have these type of parties, I say let them. Richardson and Jerome Block had better start calling caterers for quotes soon.

Now that's an economic recovery program for New Mexico--jobs for caterers for going away to prison parties. Can Obama work that into the stimulus?


The all but asleep race for ABQ Mayor was jangled awake by some anti-Mayor Chavez automatic phone calls last week that were sponsored by the Bernalillo County GOP. They scored Chavez over his support for a modern streetcar system in the city. The party, not the campaign of Republican mayoral hopeful RJ Berry, paid for the attack. The party has registered with the city and previously helped Berry qualify for public financing. Chavez says RJ is really responsible for the attack, not the party. Insiders think Marty has a blow-out lead in the three way race, so it's not surprising that someone has decided to get an early start and try to soften up his support.

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