Friday, March 12, 2010

R's Prime House Targets For 2010 Revealed, Plus: Mayor Berry & This Lousy Economy; Does He Have A Fix? Plus: "Lonesome Dave;" Ex-Guv's New Book Out 

Dem Reps. Thomas, Rodefer & Giannini
State GOP operatives have their chalkboards out and are toting up which Democratic House seats are most vulnerable this election cycle. The Dems are in total control of the state House--45 D's to 25 R's--after picking up some seats in the 2008 Obama landslide. The R's think there will be a rubber band effect, with some districts that should never have gone D coming back to them in November.

The Dem seats insider R's think are most likely to flip are Karen Giannini's ABQ NE Heights seat and that of Rep. Ben Rodefer on the West side. But it gets dicier after that.

For example, Rep. Jack Thomas is in a swing Rio Rancho area seat, but he is a former Sandoval County Commissioner with good name ID. R's point out he only won by 278 votes in '08 and that his opponent is likely to be a the widow of a law enforcement officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty.

The Bill O'Neill ABQ NE Heights House seat is another on the R target list, but it won't be easy. Same for the Las Cruces area seats of Reps Jeff Steinborn and Nate Cote. There will need to be a big R trend to pick all of them off.

South of ABQ the R's will target Rep. Andrew Barreras. Here's the news on that:

Republican and small business owner, Tim Lardner declared his candidacy for New Mexico House of Representatives, District 7. Lardner is President of Belen based New Mexico Travertine Inc, and CEO of Santa Fe Marble, specializing in the mining and fabrication of stone and marble. Once elected, Lardner is committed to reigning in irresponsible government spending while working to cut taxes on our small businesses and families.

The conservative estimate is that the R's pick up at least two or three House seats this November. The 42 state Senate seats aren't up for election until 2012.

Mayor Berry
The 8.9 percent ABQ metro January unemployment rate reported by the state Thursday may be the highest in the city's post WWII history in this government oriented economy.

The rate jumped from 8.5 percent in December and while there are seasonal factors involved, ABQ Mayor RJ Berry has to be increasingly concerned. He only took office December 1 and his honeymoon is still in progress, but soon these depressing stats will be owned by him as well as the political heartburn they represent.

We're now only a tenth of a percentage point away from the psychologically important 9 percent mark. What may keep us from getting there is that many folks simply stop looking for work or move away. It's not as if there's enough job creation to make up for the positions being lost.

And that's what is most worrisome. Where will the new jobs come from to replace the thousands being lost in the state's largest city? Many of them were in construction and
manufacturing. Then there's the hiring freeze at city hall and state government.

Berry's administration is already facing the prospect of the largest budget shortfall in the city's modern history--$54 million for the budget year that starts July 1. This jobless report tells us that economic activity is unlikely to pick up and generate the gross receipts taxes needed to put the city on a more even keel.

So while the new mayor mourns the continued losses in the job market, he faces the most unpleasant task of possibly adding to the hurt by being forced to layoff city workers, or at least cut their pay by making them stay home from work under a stern furlough plan.

There's nothing more that Berry would rather do than cut taxes for business and call it a jobs creation program. But he can't cut taxes because the city is broke. He and his economic planners need to think outside the box. Republican tax cutting orthodoxy is not going to do the trick. And while mayoral cheerleading for the economy is permitted, it will not substitute for real job creation.

We've suggested recently that ABQ might invest in being aggressive in attracting more federal interest in the city. Not that city fathers should throw the towel in on wooing major private employers, but it makes sense to recognize that the city's modern strength is owed to the large federal presence. As Martha Stewart would say--that's a good thing.

Berry is a Republican and the White House and the state's congressional delegation is all Democratic. That might make for some awkwardness, but when we saved Kirtland Air Force Base from being shuttered, we did it with Democrats and Republicans working together. Maybe it's time for that spirit again. This time to save our economic future.


We'll give up our weekend vices (the sacrifices we make!) and post a blog for you Saturday afternoon updating the results of the Democratic and Republican preprimary convention and we'll have additional analysis for you Monday. And how about a final prediction on that five way Dem race for lieutenant governor. It takes support of 20 percent of the delegates to get an official spot on the June 1 primary ballot. This Alligator thinks four of the five are going to pull it off:

My wife has been making lots of phone calls to Delegates across the State on behalf of her favorite candidate and based on those calls I would see the results for Lt. Governor as Brian Colon 27.48%, Gerald Ortiz y Pino 24.10%, Lawrence Rael 21.17%, Joe Campos 20.72% and Linda Lopez 6.53%.

Let's see how close that Gator comes. There should be some excitement at both party confabs.


Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya, a Dem candidate for state land commissioner has been busy on the endorsement front. His campaign says:

These elected officials have endorsed Harry Montoya--State Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas; Espanola Mayor-Elect Alice Lucero; Santa Fe County Commissioner Virginia Vigil; Hobbs City Commissioner Joe Calderon and Guadalupe County Treasurer Marcos Salas....

Also vying for the Dem nod for the land slot is southern Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones, Santa Fe County Commissioner Mike Anaya and former land commissioner Ray Powell, Jr.

Wonder how they will all do at Saturday's preprimary convention?

Ida Jo & Dave Cargo
Capitol news correspondent Lorene Mills writes us from the Roundhouse:

Hi Joe, I loved your piece about 1980, Manuel Lujan and Bill Richardson. I am deeply grateful for your "institutional memory."

I thought you might enjoy my interview with former Governor Dave Cargo this Friday night at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 5. He discusses his new autobiography "Lonesome Dave," and even explains how he got that moniker. He tells wonderful stories about politics of yore--back in the 1960s. And of course, the more things change, the more they stay the same...

Thanks, Lorene. That Cargo interview is tonight--Mar. 12.

We've just started in on Dave's book--I pressed Dave and he coughed up an autographed copy. The book is available for purchase here.

What first struck me from "Lonesome Dave" were the photographs of Cargo's wife, Ida Jo. She was about 25 in 1966 when Cargo won the first of his two, two year terms. Cargo was 36 when he was sworn in as the youngest governor in state history. I imagine Ida Jo was our youngest first lady. I took a snapshot of one of the photos from the book so you could see for yourself what a striking appearance she made. The book version is more clear, so forgive the quality here.

The Cargos were quite the glamor couple of 1960's New Mexico, although media coverage was nothing like it was today and there's not much of a film record of those years. Ida Jo died of cancer when she was in her 50's.

Lorene Mills credits us for having "institutional memory." However, our memory doesn't stretch back to the Cargo years. When he became Guv we were 11 years old and had just started our first job as a caddy for six bucks a round at Pennsylvania's Elmhurst Country Club. But reading "Lonesome Dave" transports you to that time and place when a youthful governor and first lady led a young state in turbulent and passionate times. We'll have more on Cargo's book in the days ahead.

Thanks for sharing time with us this week.

Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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