Thursday, February 11, 2010

While Santa Fe Stalls, We Hit The Trail; Weh Rails Against Pete; Operatives Sign Up For The Coming Action, Plus: Roswell Mystery Candidate Interviewed 

A NM Village
While they're still bogged down in Santa Fe trying to sort out the historic budget shortfall, let's head out to the campaign trail where things are always in motion.

GOP Guv candidate Allen Weh is stepping up his attacks on Pete Domenici, Jr. He says of the son of ex-Senator Pete Domenici and now Weh's GOP Guv rival:

He's an environmental lawyer...nothing wrong with that...but if people want a governor whose an environmental lawyer, they need to vote for him.

Guess that falls in the category of damning with faint praise, at least in a conservative GOP primary. Weh made his comments on KKOB-AM radio where the point was made that another GOP Guv candidate---Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez--was registered as a Democrat before she became the Republican DA in 1997.

That GOP Guv nomination became more valuable in recent weeks, so it's no surprise that Weh, already the combative type, is starting to unload on his competitors. From the WaPo:

Several national surveys released over the past few days show Republicans pulling even or surging past Democrats on the so-called "generic ballot" question, an early warning sign for the party in power as the midterm election approaches.

Veteran political consultant Mark Fleisher didn't think he would be back on the campaign trail after serving as campaign manager for ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez who lost his re-election bid last year. But Fleisher, who is associated with the lobbying firm Butch Maki & Associates, could not resist the lure of that crowded race for the Dem nomination for lieutenant governor. He says he has signed on as campaign manager for State Rep. Joe Campos, one of five Light Guv hopefuls.

Fleisher, 55, says he has now worked in politics in five different decades, including a stint as chair of the Arizona Dem Party. He knows a thing or two about preprimary conventions, too. He led the preprimary effort of Dem attorney general candidate Geno Zamora in 2006. Zamora finished first among three candidates. The June primary was won by Gary King.

Another veteran politico, Dan Sena, is managing the Light Guv effort of Brian Colon. And another consultant known in Dem circles--Brian Miller--has been hired to help run the Dem Pre-primary convention in March. His title is Pre-primary Coordinator.

Who is Cliff Pirtle and why is he running for the GOP nomination for the southern US House seat held by Dem Harry Teague when it is obvious former Congressman Steve Pearce will be the nominee? Well, Pirtle, 24, says he is running because he believes voters deserve a choice--an "ultraconservative" choice."

The Roswell native who works on his family's Chaves County farm says he wants "more power for the states" and "fair taxes." He describes himself as a member of the Tea Party movement which has been giving the GOP some headaches on its hard-right flank. But Pirtle says he has nothing against Pearce who he said he has voted for, but he adds that "people are tired of politicians" in Washington.

Pirtle says he filed about 600 petition signatures with the Secretary of State, about 200 more than required to be considered for a formal spot on the June primary ballot at the GOP preprimary convention next month, but his chance of getting the required 20% of the delegates to get that official spot are slim. He says he plans on filing additional signatures to win a ballot spot if party regulars reject him at the preprimary.

Still, Pearce doesn't have much to worry about. Pirtle has never sought office before and he says he won't be spending much money, other than on gas and incidentals.

Guess that about ends the conspiracy theory that the forces of Congressman Teague may have put Pirtle up to running. However, the young farmer did tell us he is a "friend" of a Teague nephew, but has never met the congressman.


A spokesman for Big Bill says the Guv refused to interview with KRQE-TV's Larry Barker because he believed he was going to be "screwed" by the report Barker was preparing on political hiring abuses. You can see the report here. Maybe they'll do a viewer poll and ask: "Screwed or not screwed?"

Marie "Sisi" Miranda
The foul-up of the DWI arrest of an ABQ cop by the Bernalillo County sheriff's department was like catnip to the candidates seeking the job held by Manny Gonzales who was appointed to the post in December.

Marie "Sisi" Miranda, an APD commander, challenging Gonzales for the June Dem primary nomination, says Gonzales "should have known better" when explaining why the APD cop was not taken to jail when busted:

Sheriff Gonzales’ apparent failure to understand the law is disconcerting and he should have known better than to make the statements he made..There is a clear requirement hat anyone arrested for DWI be booked and taken to jail. This is nothing new. He may want to review the Department’s Operating Procedures. The citizens of Bernalillo
County deserve to know why this has happened and what is going to be done about it. Issuing a statement merely stating that a new policy will be implemented seems disingenuous since the policy has been in place for the past ten years.

And Republican sheriff contender William Kurth, a former APD command officer, also took the opportunity to pile on with this email he sent our way:

...I find it unfortunate that the appointed sheriff did not make this a priority by setting a tone of zero tolerance within the department. The people of New Mexico have witnessed corruption and preferential treatment for those that have connections within the system for far too long...

Sheriff Manny has plenty of deputies. Looks like what he needs right now is a campaign manager.


The Rio Rancho mayoral race has dud written all over it when you hear that incumbent Dem Tom Swisstack has raised over $14,000 and former GOP Mayor Jim Owen hasn't even raised a hundred bucks. In fact, Owen reports raising only the $1.50 he gave to himself. Owen may win praise in some quarters for refusing to join the money race, but a competitive battle requires some resources.

The Rio Rancho news comes on the heels of a newspaper poll in Santa Fe showing incumbent Dem Mayor David Coss with a staggering lead over his two foes. We've seen and heard a lot about voter anger, but it apparently is not seeping down to the city hall level--or at least not at the city halls run by Democrats Swisstack and Coss.

Republicans were quick to paint last year's defeat of Dem ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez as part of a national wave of voter discontent, but many analysts were reluctant to agree, citing other factors for his ouster.

Early voting is now underway for the March 2 Santa Fe and Rio Rancho elections. Info here.

NMSU Homecoming
A university professor writes of the plan to merge the Higher Education Department with the Public Education Department, a proposal supported by Big Bill and his budget balancing task force:

How much money would we save by combining the HED with the PED--you would save one cabinet secretary's salary: $160,000? $170,000? The 19 Vp's at UNM get paid $4.5 million. But you would remove the one part of state government whose job it is to make objective recommendations about higher education and hold it accountable.

How New Mexico spends its higher educational dollars is a scandal: we are 29th in our per capita higher education spending, but 47th at the rate of our citizens getting college degrees, the largest gap of any state. Why? The lack of any real accountability and oversight of the universities by state government: states with better results spend more money on their equivalent of the HED, give it real teeth, and insulate it from political pressures...

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