Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Indys Flex Muscles For R's In Jersey & Virginia; Can NM GOP Get Them? Plus: Balderas In Clash With DA, And: Pumping The Spaceport 

Heather, you may have spoken too soon. So opined our Alligators Tuesday night as they eagerly monitored election results showing independent voters breaking for the Republican Guv candidates in New Jersey and Virginia. That is also the only path to power for this state's contracting GOP--an appeal to independents who are tired of the same faces--(Light Guv Diane Denish?)--the same old political corruption and what is becoming the same old economy--meaning lousy. But former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson, perhaps the R's best choice to build a coalition of R's, conservative Dems and the crucial independents, has passed on the Guv race.

Denish, the presumed 2010 Dem Guv nominee, isn't oblivious to the jumpy independents whose growth in size matches their frustration. Today, only hours after the Tuesday election, she will unveil what she is calling "reform proposals" that she says would save the state millions. After eight years as Big Bill, Light Guv Denish has her work cut out for her to define herself s an agent of change, but she does have the odds on her side.

What is left of the state Republican Party is simply not positioned enough in the center to attract independents. Their two strongest candidates Allen Weh and Susana Martinez--are arguing over who is the most conservative, while Janice Arnold-Jones and Doug Turner send a message that appeals to independents, but is too moderate for the nominating wing of the GOP.

Last night, with Indys moving to R's on the East Coast, New Mexico Republicans looked like a starving man behind bars, staring at a rib-eye a foot away, but unable to get their hands on it.

Point of information--no self-identified conservative has been elected Governor of New Mexico. (No, Gary Johnson was a libertarian, not a conservative. Maybe Ed Mechem in the 50's came close, but he got in on an anti-corruption platform.)

And that brings us back to Wilson who could have won the nomination and then pivoted toward the center for November's main event. The question now is whether the two independent minded Republicans ratchet up the rhetoric and use New Jersey and Virginia as a calling card to persuade the conservative and marginalized NM GOP to give them a listen.


In Las Cruces--the state's second largest city--three progressive candidates swept to victory in a low turnout city council election. That could bode well for Dem US Rep. Harry Teague who is facing a stiff challenge from Republican Steve Pearce. Teague's margin of victory in Dona Ana County--home to Las Cruces--will be critical to overcome Pearce's East Side strength. Having Dems in charge in Cruces will continue to help, unless those Dems try to push Harry too far to the left. Sun-News coverage here.


We told you Tuesday about VP Joe Biden coming to ABQ to raise money for US Reps Heinrich and Teague. Now the confirmation:

Congressman Heinrich’s office says the VP will be in town on Monday, Nov. 16 at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque. It’s part of a fundraiser for Reps. Martin Heinrich and Harry Teague, who are also Democrats. This will be Biden’s first visit to Albuquerque since taking office.

Balderas vs. Pacheco
An interesting face-off is underway between State Auditor Hector Balderas and northern District Attorney Angela "Spence" Pacheco and breaking in the pages of the Rio Grande Sun. Balderas is claiming Pacheco is dragging her feet in bringing charges against former Jemez Mountain School district business manager Kathy Borrego for allegedly stealing over $3 million in public finds. Pacheco continues to gather evidence, but Balderas who accused Borrego over two months ago says:

I understand the delay, but you know (Second District Attorney) Kari Brandenburg (in Albuquerque), (Eighth District Attorney) Donald Gallegos in Taos, their styles on a huge case like this would have been to commit to a time frame and try to stick to it...

We're sure DA Angela relishes the comparison with DA Kari. Not!

She says Hector's report was a starting point and that the FBI and other agencies need to complete their investigations before any charges are brought. in other words, she's saying Hector's word is not the be all end all.

Balderas is up for re-election next year. He has no announced opposition. Pacheco was elected in 2008 as DA for Rio Arriba, Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties.


If ABQ State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino is not the most "progressive" candidate in the race for lieutenant governor then Mike Locksley doesn't know how to throw a punch. From Pino's entry statement as he opened his ABQ campaign headquarters last week:

In the Senate since 2005, Ortiz y Pino has pushed for universal health care, gay rights, children's issues and alternative energy, among other things.

I stand today as not just a Democratic Party candidate for lieutenant governor, but as a leader of all New Mexicans no matter how they vote, how they live, how they work or how they love...

Pino is also for another key progressive plank--rolling back the 2003 personal income tax cuts, a position not shared by the other light guv hopefuls. That's a 100 percent batting average for him with party liberals. Will their support follow?


Dem Light Guv contender Lawrence Rael will retire--not take a leave of absence--from his job in charge of the Rail Runner. Details here.


There is much to commend in this opinion column about the state budget crisis from Tony Barajas, an official with the state labor union, AFSCME. For example, he cites the abundance of highly paid exempt employees, the need to roll back the 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest New Mexicans and the waste in many capital outlay projects. But Mr. Barajas lost us with this assertion:

They (the Legislature and Guv) have failed the citizens by overspending on high-dollar projects that no average New Mexican could possibly benefit from; the spaceport is one that comes to mind!

Maybe we drank the Kool-Aid on this one, but the $100 million in capital outlay we put up to build the Spaceport in southern NM seems to be one of the better gambles taken by our Governor and Legislature during the boom years. The state has a long association with all things scientific and the Spaceport dovetails nicely with the national labs and the military bases.

One of the problems with New Mexican culture is the tendency to stare at its belly button and not the world at large. That has retarded efforts to improve education and build a robust economy. And often when we have looked outward, we have been shortsighted or gullible.

The Spaceport is so much more than the now defunct Eclipse Aviation which shredded so many taxpayer dollars and so much more than various call centers which have been generously subsidized by the state. And the timing just feels right. The national laboratories--Sandia and Los Alamos--appear to have reached a plateau. What will be the next big thing? Might it be space exploration and development? If so, the Spaceport could one day rival the size of Los Alamos and Sandia. Maybe some third graders sitting today in a T or C classroom will be in charge. That's worth an investment buck or two.

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