Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Former GOP Guv Candidates Still MIA For Susana, Plus: The R's Confident Campaign Vibe Is Analyzed, And: TV Ad Attacking Pearce Pulled From Airwaves 

Martinez & Lujan
Susana Martinez and Manuel Lujan look like old pals in this recent pic as they share a big laugh but Lujan, a former ABQ GOP US Rep and Secretary of the Interior under the first President Bush, was actually an early supporter of Allen Weh who came in second to Martinez in the GOP gubernatorial primary June 2.

So if the 82 year old Lujan can endorse Susana, why not former GOP Chairman Weh? And what about the other primary foes of Martinez--businessman Doug Turner, attorney Pete Domenici Jr. and Janice Arnold-Jones?

Only State Rep. Arnold-Jones appears to have given a formal endorsement of her onetime rival. Or at least she's talking to her on the phone, say our Alligators. Weh, who is known for his fund-raising ability has remained silent on Martinez since the brutal primary in which Martinez unloaded on him for being soft on immigration.

Doug Turner is still miffed over what he considers personal attacks on his family by the Martinez camp and is also mum when it comes to a formal endorsement. He is also a possible contender for state GOP chairman if Martinez does not win in November.

Domenici, Jr, son of the famous retired Senator, might be able to help Martinez with moderate minded voters if he were tapped for service.

Martinez has strong polling numbers with R's and they are not expected to falter because of the reticence of her old foes to climb aboard her Guv train. But, as they say, the more the merrier.


Add to your summer hit list on Martinez one on how she handed out handsome bonuses--nearly $500,0000 financed mainly with Federal border security money-- to her Dona Ana County district attorney staff. That doesn't go over well when you are accusing Dem Guv nominee Denish of fostering out of control state spending. It was another front-pager and came on the heels of two other newspaper reports that we covered on Monday's blog and that recounted how Martinez appeared to award a sweetheart contract for office supplies to one of her employees.

This after Susana accuses Di of using Federal stimulus money on Xmas cards and riding too much on the state jet. Looks like the Great Equalizer is visiting Martinez headquarters.

The use of those Federal border funds for staff bonuses reminded careful campaign watchers of Martinez's earlier boast in paid TV that she has "taken on members of the most violent Mexican drug cartels," a boast that the press found to be wanting.

All this has the tongues wagging that Susana's press honeymoon is over. Or is it just taking a breather?

Maybe the upside for her is that these hits are coming relatively early in the campaign. The problem with that is the Dems are sure to remind everyone of these stories come October, even if the press has moved on to other matters.


The vibe we are picking up from Republicans who count themselves as confident is that the Guv's race is all but over and that Martinez has a lock on it. These negative newspaper reports, they say, don't matter. They see the job as keeping Martinez from saying anything dumb and anything that reeks of the hard-right conservatism espoused by Sarah Palin and company who campaigned for Martinez in the primary.

They say get her through the debates with minimal fuss and she'll be up in Santa Fe doing a Gary Johnson imitation and vetoing bills faster than Billy the Kid handled a pistol.

It is a jarring narrative for Dems, but one based in the belief that a national GOP tidal wave is forming and is certain to wash over New Mexico and Denish. These R's contend that the Dems, also wounded by eight years of "Richardson-Denish," are helpless to prevent what they see as the coming debacle..

Some of that makes sense, but keep in mind what former Territorial Governor Lew Wallace said about our quirky state:

"All calculations based on experience elsewhere, fail in New Mexico."

Clearly this is a year favoring the R's, but no year ever favors overconfidence.


Denish continues to plod along, maybe like the tortoise to the Martinez hare. She has got to bring home the Democratic base if she is going to avoid a sentence to political oblivion. We think we are going to see a more direct play for that vote in the weeks ahead with rhetoric like this:

Susana Martinez, on the other hand, supports policies that will take money from our public schools and give it to private schools. Her economic plans will allow the powerful corporations to be more focused on profits and less accountable to families.

Di the populist? Maybe she did a poll and found out that voters of a variety of a stripes are fed up with the divisions between the have and the have not. Up until now, she has been slow in awakening.

And there was more populism. Di came with this headline on that extra pay Susana awarded her staff out of federal funds:

Statement from Diane Denish on Susana Martinez's Wall Street-Style Bonuses for State Employees

"Powerful corporations?" Wall-Street-style bonuses?" That sounds like the Democrats used to talk. Remember?

Just when it looked as if embattled southern NM Dem Congressman Harry Teauge was getting a break, he has the rug pulled out from under him. But that's the way it's been going for Harry lately as Republican Steve Pearce emerge as the early front-runner to take this contest.

The latest Harry downer is about that negative ad on Pearce produced by the Defenders of the Wildlife Action Fund. It began airing last week on NM TV but now one of the major stations is pulling the ad because it agrees with Pearce that some of the charges in it are false. From the Pearce camp:

KOAT-TV confirmed that it was pulling an ad off its airwaves by Teague supporter and liberal attack group, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. The ad, which began airing Thursday, contains blatantly false statements about Steve Pearce, which were documented in materials provided to stations airing the advertisements.

We commend KOAT-TV for removing this false and misleading ad...The ad cited a report by CREW, which later admitted it botched its investigation. Furthermore two years ago, newspapers examined these charges and also said they were false. Even the Democratic Chair of the House Ethics Committee signed a letter saying Pearce followed the law...

The ad will continue to air on other stations, but has taken a major credibility hit with KOAT's decision. We're told the wildlife group is spending over $100,000 on the ad.

You may ask how a TV station can pull down an advertisement it determines to be false. Well, if the ad had been produced by Teague's campaign, the station would not be able to cancel the buy. Federal rules require federally-licensed stations to carry any ad it is presented with by an authorized candidate committee. The key is "candidate." The TV stations have more leeway with third party ads like the one in question attacking Teague.

One of our informed Dem analysts is still predicting the Teague-Pearce race will be a "nail-biter" come Election Night, but with Teague getting no breaks so far, we're not so sure.


Just how much are we going to rely on the regressive gross receipts tax to finance local governments? We get a clue from Taos where the town council there today will consider raising the sales tax from 8.1875% to 8.4375% effective January 1.

Is it time to ask which NM town or city will be the first to impose a punishing 9 percent gross receipts tax on sales and services?

We continue to have some of the lowest property tax rates in the nation. To make up for it cities rely on the gross receipts levy which takes a higher percentage of money out of the pockets of the lowest paid. Also, the tax is a downer for businesses which have to add the 7 or 8 percent (and soon maybe 9 percent) to all its bills. Not so in neighboring states.

The resistance to increasing property taxes and relying so much on the business and jobs killing gross receipts is rooted in the deep ties native New Mexicans have to their land. It is understandable after the many attempts over the centuries to steal it from them by a variety of characters and governments.

But understanding why we have an upside down tax structure isn't putting us in the direction we need to go which is a gradual increase in the tax on commercial and residential properly and a reduction in the soaring gross receipts tax.


Still more clean-up to do on that complicated budget legislation we've been tackling and that gives the Guv the power to institute across-the-board budget cuts to balance the state budget while the Legislature is out of session.

In a first blog draft Monday, we wrote:

What the Guv can do is decide how much or how little needs to be cut, but not where.

But that's not quite right. From Santa Fe we get this:

Actually, Richardson has little control over how much or how little needs to be cut. The General Appropriations Act requires consensus between executive and legislative economists on revenue forecasts and financial outlook and specified that the governor must reduce budgets by the amount of the projected deficit...Richardson's only way to affect how much needs to be cut would be to have the executive economists try to persuade the legislative economists toward more optimistic revenue projections.

So it turns out that Richardson has been given less discretion than many thought when it comes to the 3.2 percent budget cut that will come soon. They must be across-the-board and they must be based on projections from the Legislature's economists.

There's more details on this in this report.

The problem that started this discussion still stands--the politicians walked away from deciding priorities and opted for across-the-board cuts to avoid the issue.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Email your news and comments. Interested in advertising here? Drop us a line.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign