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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wall-Leaners Say More Budget Delusion Expected In Special, Plus: Mayor Berry & Guv Race, Also: Obama Job For Big Bill Ally 

  • Update: Guv delays start of Special Session from Wednesday until Monday, March 1. Legislative leaders had asked for more time to come up with budget deal.
Nothing much has changed. As it has in two previous sessions, the NM Legislature appears poised to go three for three and kick the budget mess down the road yet again. Conversations with wall-leaners all contain the same thread--politicians will inflict as little pain as they can get away with. That means they will probably do their duty of producing a balanced budget for the year that begins July 1st, but it will very likely be based on faulty assumptions, setting us up for yet another special session.

Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, like the other 111 members of the Legislature, will ultimately participate in this budget illusion, but in a letter to the papers, he acknowledges the flim-flam:

Revenue..is projected to be $5.1 billion, or 6 percent more than the state is receiving this year. But no one I know who runs a business is planning on revenue growth of 6 percent, and no workers I know are counting on getting a 6 percent pay raise next year, so it is hard to imagine that state revenue will grow that much next year. If growth is only 2 percent, the state will be short $200 million...

So that could take the budget shortfall easily over $800 million.
But the rules of reality do not apply at the capitol and come somewhere around Sunday--voila!--the special session will have a balanced budget.

There's nothing like Santa Fe Kool-Aid to take the pain away. (Not for sale at retail outlets, available exclusively at the Roundhouse).

BERRY'S PICK?
Mayor Berry
A little subplot to the GOP Guv race is playing out at ABQ's City Hall. Will new Republican Mayor RJ Berry endorse Susana Martinez for the nomination or continue his neutral stance?

Darren White, former GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff, endorsed Martinez shortly before going on the city payroll as public safety director. Jay McCleskey was Berry's key consultant in his successful mayoral run last year and McCleskey now consults Martinez, the Dona Ana County district attorney.

And there's another twist. City Councilors Michael Cook and Dan Lewis are aboard the Pete Domenici Jr. train. Both of those new GOP Councilors opposed Mayor Berry's selection of David Campbell as chief administrative officer? Also, Doug Antoon, the campaign manager for the Lewis council campaign, is now campaign manager for Domenici. He egged on the opposition to Campbell.

Berry could deliver a blow to those councilors by going with Martinez, but so far has resisted pressure to endorse. He leads a city with a Democratic majority and there doesn't seem much in it for him--except grief--if he starts to become too partisan.

Also, to have the most impact, Berry's endorsement would probably need to come before the mid-March GOP preprimary convention. But if Martinez falters, Berry would be associated with a loser and shut out by the eventual GOP Guv winner.

Pay back to his consultant and twisting the knife in rebellious city councilors seem to be the only satisfaction Berry could get from making a Martinez endorsement. The safe course is to resist the pressure, wait and endorse the June primary winner. We'll see.

NOT A STONER

Pete Domenici Jr. fessed up to having snorted cocaine in his more youthful days, and now fellow GOP Guv contender Janice Arnold-Jones takes her turn in the confessional. But she says there's not much to disclose. She told KKOB-AM radio's Jim Villanucci that her drug experience is limited to having smoked one "marijuana cigarette." She also revealed that she once bought a pack of regular cigarettes and smoked nine of the 20.

No problem, Janice. As your penance, say two "Our Fathers" and three "Hail Marys." Afterwards, meet us at Starbucks and pony up those 11 cigarettes you didn't smoke and that you're still hiding in your purse.

PEARCE AND TEAGUE

We blogged Monday of how national political handicapper Stu Rothenberg has not listed the battle for the ABQ congressional seat featuring Dem incumbent Martin Heinrich and Republican Jon Barela on his races in play list. So what about that hot congressional race down south? That does grab the handicapper's attention. He has moved that race from "toss-up" to "toss-up/ tilt GOP." (Talk about nuance).

Dem freshman US House Rep. Harry Teague has to continue to worry that any conservative tide will wash across his district. GOP contender Steve Pearce, who held the seat before Harry, is well-known and well-financed. But Teague has avoided letting the race slip into the "lean Republican" column because he still has heavily Democratic Dona Ana County as a hole card and, if necessary, the personal funds to take the race to the finish line.

CONSOLATION PRIZE
Apodaca
This one caught our eye because there was an intense behind-the-scenes battle last year over Terry Brunner becoming state director of the USDA's Rural Development Program. Brunner, former state director to Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman, drew competition from Robert Apodaca, Local Government Director for the Department of Finance and Administration. Brunner won out, but now Apodaca, a native of Taos, and an ally of Big Bill, gets his own presidential appointment to the same department as Brunner:

Governor Richardson congratulated Robert Apodaca, on his appointment by President Obama to serve in the U.S. Agriculture Department. The President has appointed Apodaca to oversee the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the Western United States. The Service provides products and services that enable people to be good stewards of the Nation’s soil, water, and related natural resources on non-Federal lands...

Well, Terry and Robert finally have something they can agree on--getting Obama re-elected so they can keep their plum jobs.

So what about Obama and Bingaman filling the US attorney and US Marshal's positions here? The scuttlebutt has Assistant US Attorney Ken Gonzales, a former Bingaman aide, as the US attorney pick, but nothing has been announced and the administration is now 13 months old. The less controversial slot of US Marshall is also still held by a Republican. What's the hold-up there, Jeff?

ON THE TABLE

Out with some of the posse last night and here's some of what was on the table besides the prime rib:

--ABQ Dem State Rep. Karen Giannini was nominated as the most vulnerable state House member for 2010. The motion was seconded by our waitress and passed unanimously.

--Who will be first to launch negative radio or TV ads against fellow GOP Guv candidate Pete Domenici Jr.--Allen Weh or Susana Martinez? The answer is....Allen Weh

--The month for the next special legislative session to do the budget work that won't get done in the special session that will start Wednesday? It will be August, said the feasting Alligators

--Was that really Susana Martinez seen scarfing up the free fajitas at Pete Domenici Jr's hospitality room at the weekend Bernalillo County GOP convention? Yes, and it confirms her standing as a true fiscal conservative...

And the beat goes on...

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