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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Kenny Martinez Does Not Appear To Be Gearing Up To Again Challenge Speaker Lujan, Plus: Hate Email & The Newspaper 

Alligators clicking their iced-tea glasses this Fourth of July week continue to game the outlook for NM House Speaker Ben Lujan who had a near death political experience June 1 when he won his Dem primary by just 85 votes, a wee margin indeed for such a powerhouse. But the wall-leaners at the Roundhouse are now saying that State Rep. Ken Martinez who initiated an unsuccessful palace coup against Lujan in 2006 will not take on the venerable speaker when the House Dem caucus convenes at the end of the year following the November election.

Lujan became Speaker in 2001. The 2011 60 day legislative session would mark his eleventh year, long by historical standards. And while the bench to replace him is seen as light, few believe that 2011 won't begin Lujan's final two years in the second most powerful position in the New Mexican government.

The deniers in chief at the capitol are still trying to wish away the near fatal wound to Lujan, even as the fresh blood still stains the hallways. There is a lot at stake for the speakers allies---in politics and business. They don't want any change. (Lujan is unopposed for re-election in November.)

But with the speaker's son, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, hoping to establish himself with a first term re-election and a new Governor coming in who will not be as friendly with him as Big Bill, the thinking is that Ben may finally try to pave the way for a successor.

Many point to Martinez as that successor, but he was wounded by his failed challenge to Lujan and some of his colleagues question whether he has the fire in the belly for the demanding position.

What Kenny has going for him is the presumed desire of the speaker to keep the leadership job in the hands of a Hispanic northern Democrat and no other obvious choices.

Republicans are watching with interest form the sidelines. What if they could pick up five or so House seats? An unlikely prospect, but nevertheless worth some conjecture as the Gators loll in the summer heat. That would give the House a decidedly more conservative tilt and even prompt speculation of a coalition with conservative Dems banding together with the R's.

It all makes for fascinating poolside banter as New Mexico politics transitions to new faces and new more frugal times.

THE BIG HOLE

The money hole keeps getting deeper for New Mexico. A new state projection says that we are in line to be another $80 million short for the budget year that started July 1. That's after the Legislature plugged hundreds of millions in the budget hole earlier this year.

Meantime, GOP Guv nominee Susana Martinez is still talking up tax cuts. Well, the good news for her is that the Democrats are so afraid of the "T word" in any form that her questionable platform in these deficit-ridden times may go unquestioned.

NOT WHAT THEY WANTED

Denish Democrats wondered aloud if the editorial pages of the ABQ Journal would be as punishing toward Susana Martinez and that hate email forwarded around by a member of her DA's staff as they were when a pro-labor email was passed around using state computers. Well, they got their answer the other day when the Journal took up the subject. But the Dems did not get the condemnation of the GOP Guv hopeful they were looking for. Rather than take on the content of the email--a joke in which an illegal Mexican immigrant is murdered at a bar--the newspaper's opinion writers wondered whether asking that the assistant district attorney in Martinez's office who forwarded the email deserved to be fired. The paper did not seem to think so.

Denish and the D's got the point--the Journal editorial pages are and will remain Martinez country.

NEW PRC COMMISSIONER

Let's hope she does better than the last one.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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