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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Libs Score Heinrich On Health Care; Breaking With Obama? Heather Wilson Lite Or New Leadership? Plus: First Mayor Face-Off & ABQ Housing Prices 

Rep. Heinrich & Friend
Hold on tight, Mr. President. You're team is entering some Class IV rapids on the Rio Grande but there are more placid waters ahead, as long as you don't flip over during this health care debate. And by the way, Mr. President, it appears some of your buddies here think Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich could be doing more to keep the raft afloat. You're approval rating in Rio Grande Land is a very healthy 61% in the SurveyUSA released Wednesday night. That's up from 53 percent in June for a two month average of 57 percent. It's not as if Martin has a real good reason to jump ship, but he's been spotted paddling in the opposite direction on your key issue of the day--health care--and it's causing some grimacing among those who really believed in your "change" message. Let's check it out.

Agree or disagree with the politics, this is an important presidency we are witnessing and if Obama is going to avoid the fate of Jimmy Carter he needs his crew at his back. But liberal critics here are calling out Heinrich, whose historic election to the ABQ US House seat was authored in large part by Obamamania. They are upset that he is not more upfront in the fight to reform health care and specifically for dumping on the President's idea of taxing families with income of more than $1 million to help pay for reform. Here's the money graph that has them talking:

Congressman Martin Heinrich says he's not happy about a potential tax hike.

"...We have to be committed to providing health care reform this year to stabilize a very problematic system, but it's still a work in progress and I think we need to reduce costs before considering other options."


But how many families in Martin's district make over a million bucks a year? You can count them on your toes--probably on one foot.

Even the liberals understand that Heinrich has to keep the ball in the center of the field to hold the ABQ district in 2010, but some Obamaites are asking when did it become politically deadly to advocate for a tax increase for millionaires, hardly any of whom live around here? (Not that all the Obamaites are entirely happy with Obama as he veers to the center on certain matters).

MARTIN'S MEMORY

Memories may not be very long in modern politics, but folks haven't forgotten how Obama embraced the Heinrich candidacy in front of a record crowd of nearly 40,000 in ABQ just days before the November election. Not to mention the money and organization that was sent his way. Now the Heinrich watchers wonder where Martin is now that the President's chief agenda item is on the line. They score the record this way: He's against the millionaire tax, has authored no prominent op-ed pieces promoting the plan and done no push back against aggressive R attacks.

As the President prepared for his news conference Wednesday evening, it was Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon and liberal ABQ Dem State Senator Eric Griego carrying water for the President in the ABQ media market. Heinrich was not seen on TV advocating for the plan, an arrangement easily put together in the satellite age, nor heard on radio or seen on the Web.

Those watching this raft trip from a progressive perspective have particular questions: Has Heinrich gone overboard in worrying about his personal re-election chances thus throwing the President overboard on an easy political lay up like raising taxes on millionaires? Is this the promised new Democratic leadership on health care for the First Congressional District of New Mexico or is this Heather Wilson lite, the politics of Heinrich's GOP predecessor? The Congressman may hear these concerns more directly during the long August recess. In fact, before this health care debate is over, the new representative may hear them from those charged with protecting the captain of the ship residing in the White House.

THE CITY BEAT

A Senior Alligator reports on the first face-off among the three candidates for ABQ mayor held before business groups Wednesday morning:

No surprises today. Marty spoke forcefully about his accomplishments, (Richard) Berry promised change without specifics and (Richard) Romero read from his notebook of talking points. No questions from the audience.

And on the city econ beat, the dead-tree boys are starting to pick up on what the business Alligators here have been blogging for months: ABQ housing prices are heading lower and no amount of spin is going to stop it.

THE BOTTOM LINES

This is an important addendum and correction to the Santa Fe power scene we talked about this week in regard to the anticipated October special session of the Legislature. It comes from a Capitol Corridor Alligator:

Joe: Your July 21 edition mentions Sen. John Arthur Smith as the
Legislative Finance Committee "co-chair." Just wanted you to be clear that he currently is the "Vice-Chair" and that Democrats State Rep. "Lucky" Varela is the "Chairman." Big difference between a co-chair and a vice-chair, don't you think? Want to clarify that if a special legislative session becomes necessary, the "Chair" of the LFC will and should take the lead on this!

Yes, Lucky will indeed take the lead, but we think he and John "Dr. No" Smith read largely from the same page. Thanks for the clarification.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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