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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Big Chunk Of Guv's Cabinet Jumps To Rael, Not Colon; What's Up With That? Plus: Weh TV Takes It To Di While Domenici Debuts Ads, And: Reader Mailbag 

Homans & Miller
Conventional wisdom has it that Big Bill and his political acolytes are all lined up behind the lieutenant governor candidacy of former NM Dem Party chairman Brian Colón, but as it often the case in La Poiltica there is intrigue over that notion.

Take a look at the names hosting this fund-raiser for Dem Light Guv hopeful Lawrence Rael. They are all Richardson cabinet secretaries: Ron Curry, John Garcia, Jon Goldstein, Rick Homans, Katherine Miller, Ken Ortiz & Joe Williams.

Scuttlebutt practically being shouted from the rooftops is that soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee and current Light Guv Diane Denish is not an ardent supporter of Colón, believing he would bring baggage to a Dem ticket because of his sometimes controversial association with Bill's campaign fund-raising.

But Denish knows better than to publicly favor any of the Light Guv hopefuls. So the conspiracy theorists ask: Are all these cabinet secretaries acting on their own, hoping to hang on to their plum jobs with a new Dem administration and therefore signing up with Rael, the #2 hopeful they believe Denish favors? And, are they being given a push toward Rael by the Di camp? And what about Big Bill? You have to think he at least knew of what his secretaries planned. Did he call Brian and tell him about the big bone being thrown to Lawrence? Well, everyone needs a job in these times, especially cabinet secretaries who want to continue to serve at the pleasure of the Governor--including the next one.

The cabinet secretaries and other hosts are charged with raising at least $500 for Rael for his May 13th evening fund-raiser at Santa Fe's Rio Chama. And he needs it. Colón leads in the fund-raising and is still seen as the favorite to take the nomination unless Rael comes on hard and strong in the final month. Will he?

WEH STRIKES DI


Allen Weh must feel pretty comfortable with his position for the June 1 GOP Guv primary. He levels an attack in his latest TV ad, but it's not aimed at any of his Republican rivals, but at Diane Denish who will be the Dem Guv standard-bearer. He faults her for using federal stimulus funds from several years ago to pay for the state jet for a ride to Gallup. Weh swipes:

As governor, I’ll run the state like a business… I’ll get rid of the jet… and bring fiscal sanity to Santa Fe.

Di's rejoinder: This cheap attack is somewhat ironic coming from Allen Weh, given that he owns a private jet company (CSI Aviation) that has made more than $225 million on the backs of taxpayers through government contracts.

That Weh is going after Di and not Susana Martinez or Pete Domenici Jr. speaks volumes about where he feels this campaign stands. He is trying to make it appear that this is a done deal and that the 2010 race for Governor is between Di and him.

He has a case.

Weh has been designated the GOP front runner by our Senior Alligators because he is coming with an essential Republican message delivered with high production values and a satchel full of cash to get that message delivered. The TV, produced by Dawson McCarthy Nelson Media, a Republican ad firm in DC, stands above the field. In the latest spot they go to work not only on Denish but on the retired Marine's prickly personality. They show a picture of a shiny pick-up truck and Weh nearly snickers: "This is how I'll get myself to parades."

That unanswered sassiness is enough to have the Alligators jumping out of the river ready to wrestle this fella and drag him into a real campaign. But they're not on the ballot.

The Dems insist that Weh is a crazy old man who as GOP chairman brought the party to the brink of ruin. They think he'll crack open like Humpty-Dumpty in the heat of a general election. Maybe so. But that's then. For now the old solider soldiers on, executing his battle plan and without much interference from his four rivals.

PETE'S PLACE

Pete Domenici Jr. came with his first round of TV ads Monday and he isn't going to lay a glove on Weh with them. Domenici, who shaved his beard for his Guv announcement back in January, apparently tired of the consultants telling him politicians who wear beards in the campaign don't win. The beard is back.

But while there is a new beard there is not a new Domenici when one is sorely needed. He narrates the ads, but it sounds too much like he is reading them. And the message lacks edge when edginess is now imperative to break through.

"My life's work has allowed me to help solve natural resource and water issues all over the state. I know New Mexico. We need to create better jobs and give our children better schools and it's time to rid New Mexico of backroom politics." Domenici intones.

That's not exactly going to rock the boat.

And Daddy Domenici makes a cameo. The ex-Senator and son are shown at the end of one ad seated in chairs chatting away as an announcer says, "Domenici--A trusted name in public service."

Trouble is, these two thirty seconds ads so lack any sense of urgency that you might think the father and son are in rocking chairs.

We blogged yesterday that our insiders report Domenici has made a $70,000 cable buy for the duration of the campaign and purchased no broadcast TV. Now the campaign says the ads will be shown on the major over-the-air network affiliates, but don't anticipate anything significant there.

HOW THE RACE STANDS

With Janice Arnold-Jones broke, Doug Turner reluctant to pull the money trigger to compete and the Domenici ads falling flat, the state now awaits the next move from Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez. She seems to be the only obstacle left on the battlefield for Weh to overcome as he slowly marches toward his objective.

THE READER MAILBAG

Lots of cool stuff in the email we want to bring your way, so off we go...

Reader David Baltz writes of our Monday headline saying Arizona had taken a "hard-right turn" when it comes to immigration policy:

Wow! With 70% of Arizonans in favor of the crackdown, the “hard-right” must be growing! But seriously, it’s not about politics, Joe. It’s about JOBS and SECURITY.


David may have a point about our perspective. A national Rasmussen poll shows 60% of voters asked are in favor of the tough immigration law signed last week by the Arizona governor. 77% of Republicans favored the measure while Dems were equally divided. But what do you think polling would show in New Mexico? Probably the opposite of those Rasmussen numbers.

WHO'S TO BLAME?

Reader Vicki Osborne writes:

Sorry, Joe, but I can’t agree with you that it was solely Wall Street that brought down this country. It started way back with the Clinton administration pushing Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae & the banks to give subprime loans. If I understand correctly, the administration basically demanded the banks offer the same loans as Fannie and Freddie. Wall Street did plenty of damage itself, but the government regulators had a huge part in it by wanting people to buy homes that couldn’t realistically afford to.

Thanks, Vicki. There's plenty of blame to go around, for sure. But you can't dismiss the historic greed and gambling than engulfed Wall Street as solely the fault of government regulators. As I wrote Monday, we've seen this movie before--in the 1930's---and we'll see it again as long as we remain the emotionally driven creatures we are.

And speaking of the banks, First Community Bank, New Mexico's third largest, is hanging by a thread. The commercial real estate crash and the loans made when it was in a bubble are the reason. Is it time for those regulators Vicki wrote of to end this pain for all involved and engineer a marriage with a stronger partner?

CRUNCHING TACO NUMBERS

Rep. Martin Heinrich's office writes us in response to concerns expressed here Monday by a member of the NM National Guard's fighter wing known as the "Tacos." The storied wing is being disbanded and our Taco fears the replacement mission will not have jobs for all the nearly 1,100 associated with the Tacos at Kirtland Air Force Base:

Since Rep. Heinrich's inclusion of legislative language to require a follow-on mission for the Tacos...he has been in close contact with Air Force leadership...to ensure that as many jobs as possible are retained during the transition. The latest messages...from top military brass have been that the Taco's follow-on mission with the 58th Special Operations Wing will account for nearly all of the 1,072 guard personnel, and we are hopeful that the official agreement to be completed next month will reflect this understanding.

...Rep. Heinrich remains committed to growing KAFB, and will continue to explore potential additive missions.


We'll watch for that official agreement to see how firm the language is regarding all those jobs.

DARREN AND DINELLI

In our Monday blog we said former ABQ Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli was making less than current Public Safety Director Darren White. However, a city records check shows Dinelli was getting $62.29 an hour vs. $60.10 for White. That means Pete was making a couple thousand more a year than his successor. Not that either is starving. Darren's salary works out to about $125,000 a year.

We invite your email, signed or anonymously.

This is it---the home of New Mexico politics.

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