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Thursday, June 18, 2009

How About A GOP Light Guv Contender? Looks Like We've Got One, Plus: NM Journalism: What's Going On Or Not 

J.R. Damron
While the race for the Dem nod for lieutenant governor could turn into a mini-mob scene with a baker's dozen testing the waters before the top contenders emerge, there's been nary a peep about the contest for the 2010 GOP nod for light guv. Now it appears that someone is about to break the ice, and it's a name that made headlines in the 2006 Guv battle. In fact, Santa Fe radiologist J.R. Damron was, for a short time, the official GOP nominee for Governor, having secured the nomination in the June primary. But Damron, who is now treasurer of the Santa Fe County GOP, withdrew as the party's nominee and was replaced by John Dendahl who went on to lose to Big Bill. At the time, insiders said Damron did not think he was getting the financial support from the party apparatus he needed. But some powers in the party felt he was falling short as a candidate and pushed for Dendahl.

But that was then. Today Damron, apparently recovered from that brush with the hot fires of La Politica, is ready to face the flames again. He is telling friends that he will soon get going on a race for the state's number two position. Damron, whose wife Barbara is on the GOP State Central Committee, is saying that he would help balance the GOP ticket because he is from the north. But first he will have to erase any bad memories that linger from the 2006 Guv race which the R's lost in the biggest landslide in state history.

BARELA ALL IN

Attorney, real estate investor and former GOP Vice-Chair Jon Barela will become the first announced GOP congressional candidate for one of the two NM US House seats that the party sees as competitive in 2010. Barela filed paperwork with the FEC after he raised $5,000, but this morning he goes all in with a formal announcement. He will make that announcement in the heavy ABQ Hispanic South Valley at DRB Electric, 3601 2nd Street SW. That is not being lost on observers who see that area as a potential battleground. Freshman Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich has been working to shore up his support there.

Barela has hired Sara Lister as campaign manager. She also managed Darren White in his unsuccessful run against Heinrich. That was the cause for complaints among R's Wednesday night who are not aligned with White and who noted his criticism this week of moderate ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice-Arnold Jones. But Barela said he wants to leave the bitterness and division behind and "move forward." That may be a challenge if the personalities of the past are set up to clash over the direction of his campaign.

Barela would be the first GOP Hispanic nominee for the ABQ seat since Manuel Lujan left the position in 1989. But first Barela will apparently have to get past funeral home owner Kevin Daniels who is indicating that he will launch his own GOP bid for the House seat next month.

WATCHDOGS WATCHING

From ABQ Journal investigative reporter Thom Cole:

Read with interest this line from your blog Wednesday: "To our way of thinking, the big New Mexico journalism story is how the state could practically be carted away in pay to play schemes while the journalism watchdogs failed to give us a clue about what was happening."

As far as the Journal goes, I think you need to review the record of the past 6 1/2 years
.

The Journal has traditionally had a strong and respected investigative team and that tradition continues today. The campaign finance coverage in the early Richardson years (2002-2005) was lighter than today and news reports about contributors getting contracts with the state would quickly fade after the Guv returned the money. Little follow-up occurred by law enforcement or the press. And here we are today. There's not much more to analyze than the Journal which in the past year has been hitting on all cylinders on the pay-to-play scandals. The ABQ Tribune is gone and there is little other media with either the financial wherewithal or the desire to do in-depth reporting. Most are struggling to meet daily news diets.

Driven by funding from national nonprofit groups, the state lately has received a large dose of agenda-driven, progressive journalism and blogs. But now New Mexico faces the prospect of big nonprofit money flooding into political campaigns without full disclosure or accountability. Because of their financial ties to the nonprofits, this new wave of journalists is seriously compromised and hard-pressed to investigate with credibility what appears to be the next big ethics and money story. That leads back to the Journal which (along with KRQE-TV's Larry Barker) is the last vestige of independent investigative reporting. But in a small and financially challenged state and with the business model for all newspapers under severe pressure, that may be as good as it gets.

DICK MORRIS ON BILL

The pay to play scandals in the state have become fodder for Republican consultant and commentator Dick Morris. He uses Big Bill's troubles to help promote his latest book, "Catastrophe," which Morris says will tell:

How Senator Roland Burris and his patron Gov. Rob Blagojevich have made money through pay to play schemes. And how Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and New Mexico's Bill Richardson are following their example.

The investigations into Richardson's administration center on pay to play for campaign contributions, not his personal use. But books must be sold...

FROM THE E-MAIL
Lew Wallace
A reader writes on the appointment this week of Los Angeles native Sergio Garcia as the deputy executive director of the NM GOP:

The Republican Hispanic bench must be so thin they need to import party operatives from out of state. (GOP Chairman) Yates should know better than to expect anyone from out of state to do well in New Mexico.


"All experience gathered elsewhere fails in New Mexico."-- Gov. Lew Wallace. circa 1880.


Actually, the precise quote from territorial Governor Wallace is: "Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico."

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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