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Friday, June 11, 2010

The Teague Travails: Silence On Biz Problems Goes On, Plus: Saving Espanola, And: NM Politico Kurt Lohbeck Called By Death 

Rep. Teague
Where's Harry? That's what the state's Democratic establishment is wondering, a month after potentially devastating news was revealed about how the southern NM congressman was running his oil businesses.

Freshman Teague has been as quiet as a feather falling since a Politico article unveiled how his Hobbs-based energy companies dropped health insurance coverage for its 250 employees and how Rep. Teague, contrary to his public promise, has not yet divested himself of his energy holdings.

Dems ask: what gives? Does Harry want to win a second term or not? Democrats, especially in liberal Dona Ana County, where Teague must pull out a healthy victory to overcome Republican challenger and former congressman Steve Pearce, are especially itchy about Teague's failure to act. Why doesn't he pay for the health insurance coverage out of his own pocket and put the issue to rest? And he if he can't or won't sell his energy companies, why doesn't he explain why?

Teague is holding fund-raisers and putting out news releases and generally acting as if the inferno set off by last month's news is burning far away from his home. But it isn't and unless Teague starts some "splainin" he could see his chances for re-election slip away.

The congressman is worth over $40 million. Insiders say it would cost him about $300,000 to cover the health insurance for his workers. Libs are especially galled that he hasn't because they gave him a pass when he voted against the Obama health care plan, knowing it would b e a tough sell for Teague in the southern conservative district.

Teauge and his wife took in $3 million from the companies in 2008-09, further incensing not only libs but working class Democrats who struggle to keep health insurance and don't see why wealthy Harry won't step up to the plate.

As for his energy biz, maybe Teague can't find a buyer. Maybe he isn't ready to turn it over to his son? Whatever the reason, the pledge he made to divest, is hanging out there unanswered.

Teague can't serve two masters. He must go all in as a United States congressman or face forced retirement to Hobbs where he can count on having his millions, but not on having any lasting legacy.

SAVING ESPANOLA

It's going to take more of this from the Feds and new US Attorney Ken Gonzales to get a handle on the generations-old drug addiction epidemic in Rio Arriba County:

Gonzales said 20 defendants were charged in the EspaƱola Valley, 15 of which have already been arrested. They were charged with offenses such as distributing cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs and heroin. Gonzales said the dealers arrested were mostly longtime EspaƱola Valley residents.

Federal health officials say the Espanola area has the nation's highest per capita death rate from heroin overdoses. Someone ought to nominate that for the most under covered story of the decade.

While we're at it, can Senator Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan get us more funding for treatment and prevention up there?

CEASE-FIRE?

The pressure is on the Guv campaigns of Republican Susana Martinez and Dem Diane Denish to tone down the negative tone the campaign has already taken, only days after the primary. But judging from the give and take in a series of e-mails between the campaign managers for the two camps, the chances of a cease-fire are slim. You can read the political posturing here.

And we interviewed with KRQE-TV on how the very early negativity may be going down with voters.

KURT LOHBECK

Kurt Lohbeck will be remembered as one of New Mexico's most colorful political characters. He served a term in the NM House and he was a longtime journalist and author who worked for CBS News in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. Kurt was one of the few westerners to meet the notorious Osama bin Laden, and had the photos to show it.

In the early 80's, he served as a committee aide in Washington to former NM Congressman Manuel Lujan. Through it all he remained an involved and ardent Republican beginning with the young Republicans back in the 1950's.

Lohbeck, 68, died Thursday at an ABQ hospital, announced his wife, Barbara.

Lohbeck hooked up with an unknown Dave Cargo and helped make him Governor in 1966--a coup for a state where the GOP had so few members that they joked it could meet in a phone booth.

Lohbeck not only knew the tricks of La Politica. He was an accomplished magician who played the showrooms of Las Vegas, Nevada.

He was a raconteur with a quick wit and a martini and a cigarette as his near constant companions. He even owned several nightclubs in his lifetime. In recent years he and Barbara hosted an annual Xmas party that was packed to rafters with politicos and artists.

He loved New Mexico and its people and stayed current until the end. Shortly after the June 1 primary he called to rib me that he had "predicted before anyone" that Susana Martinez would win the GOP Guv nomination. He was right, but we had not mentioned it on the blog.

He would get a kick knowing that his prediction has now made print. He would probably chuckle and insist it came from a "Senior Crocodile," not a "Senior Alligator" as we referred to him. Kurt always did want to stay separate from the crowd. He certainly succeeded in his lifetime in our beloved La Politica.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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