Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clinton Coming For Di--Again, Plus: More Answers To Our Susana Questions, Also: APD Shootings, UNM Vs. APS On Budget, & Readers Pour It On In Guv Water Debate 

The race for the New Mexican governorship, already hotter than a Tucumcari parking lot in July, will attract former President Bill Clinton for a second visit on behalf of Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish October 14. That word from the all-ears Alligators who say the original Big Bill will take his charm to the Hispanic North with a stop in Española. It is critical territory for the Dems, as GOP Guv nominee Susana Martinez tries to get into Democratic precincts where R's have rarely gone before.

Insiders say Denish's northern offensive could be complemented by a visit from President Obama who is still polling well there. If not to the north, Obama could be used in inner city ABQ and/or Las Cruces. Bill Clinton was last here in May for a closed door Di fund-raiser, but we found these pics of the event.

On the Susana front, an extra early effort is underway by her campaign and state Republicans to bank as much of the early vote as possible. Our GOP readers report receiving robocalls from the state GOP notifying them that they will be getting absentee ballot applications shortly. From the robocall:

I'm calling to let you know you will receive an application to vote absentee. Together, we can end the Richardson-Denish administration and reverse their failed policies such as giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants..

That's the red meat that Martinez hopes will motivate the R's to get that vote in early. And with good reason. Peak enthusiasm appears to have been reached. The attack campaign against her is bound to drain some of the lifeblood. The earlier she can get her vote in the better. Absentee voting starts Oct. 6.

Readers continue to answer questions we had in the wake of Sunday's ABQ Journal profile of Martinez. One of them was: What was her mother's maiden name? The answer--Paula Aguirre, according to Ancestry.com. She passed in 2006. Martinez said her mother was an El Paso native. Also, a check of records at the El Paso County clerk's web site shows that Martinez's first marriage to attorney Hugh Brower which ended in divorce after three years, was performed on May 23, 1986 when Martinez was 26. She is now married to Dona Ana County Undersheriff Chuck Franco.

The Journal will come this Sunday with an in-depth profile of the much better know Denish


"She avoided the question" said the ABQ Journal when they asked GOP Guv hopeful Susana Martinez if she felt like a trailblazer for Hispanic women as she seeks to become the nation's first female Hispanic Governor. We wondered about that. Now comes this piece from the Washington Times in which Martinez takes a different tack:"

"It's exciting," Miss Martinez said recently about her possibly history-making campaign. "I'm hopeful that I can be a positive role model for Hispanic girls, letting them know that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve. But more importantly, I'm concerned about turning things around here in New Mexico."

What's with the "Miss Martinez?" Anyway, in the New Mexico press Martinez has studiously avoided having her candidacy framed as a Hispanic breakthrough, but outside of the state and in national R circles the candidacy is being hailed as a breakthrough for the GOP which has fallen far behind the Dems in fielding minority candidates.


We put on our pundits hat and talked the 2010 Guv money race with KRQE-TV's Kim Valles Tuesday. She reported:

Denish's camp is quick to point out that Martinez has earned $850,000 of that $2 million from big out-of-state contributors such as the Republican Governors Association, which gave Martinez $500,000.

Monahan said while the Democrats are using this issue to try to sway voters away from Martinez and towards their self-proclaimed grass roots effort, it's not uncommon.

"Remember, this is a state with a lot more Democrats than Republicans," Monahan said. "In order to raise money to be competitive you are going to have to go out of state."

And there's a trade-off for going so heavy on the out-of-state big conservative cash when you are a native of El Paso--They start calling you a "Tejano."


ABQ freshman Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich has opened up a six point lead over Republican Jon Barela but that isn't making him rest any easier in this volatile year. He comes with a direct hit on Barela in his first attack ad, even mentioning his opponent by name which is not the usual approach. The ad follows third party TV attacks on Heinrich.

The producers use some clever imagery--an SUV decorated as a Barela campaign vehicle, replete with the candidate's name and logo. The SUV keeps going backwards as the announcer intones how Barela would take the nation back "to the polices of George Bush and Dick Cheney." At the end Heinrich looks at the parked SUV--now resting on flat tires--turns to the camera and smacks Jon directly:

I'm Martin Heinrich and I approved this message because we can not afford to let Jon Barela take us back.

The R's retorted:

Heinrich launched a false and desperate attack ad against Jon Barela..The move was not surprising, given Heinrich's efforts to avoid, duck, and dodge any discussion of his toxic and costly voting record in Congress that has only worsened our economy since he took office 19 months ago....

The dodging is a reference to Heinrich's refusal to take part in the KOAT-TV-ABQ Journal congressional debate. Now the media rumor mill has a possible debate between the pair on KOB. The duo has confirmed a debate for public TV KNME.


Could some of the same big out-of-state conservative money that has poured into the Susana Martinez Guv campaign also find a home in the coffers of GOP Secretary of State candidate Dianna Duran? We're picking up some intelligence to that effect. In 2006, out of state GOP interests gave hundreds of thousands to GOP SOS candidate Vickie Perea who still lost to Dem Mary Herrera.

This time around Herrera has a bunch of controversies to deal with and the R's may feel its worth a shot to get Dianna up on TV. Recent campaign finance reports show the incumbent with $74,000 cash on hand, not very much if the out-of-state R's come with a couple of hundred thousand. Duran reported about $34,000 in cash in the bank. The downside for Duran is that New Mexicans may look askance at a campaign paid for by outsiders,

The photo posted of Herrera today was taken by photog Mark Bralley at a recent ABQ Isotopes baseball game. He's been snapping Herrera since her days as Bernalillo County Clerk and before. We've also know her for years and did some professional PR work for the SOS office in '08 on a get-out-the-vote project.

Duran is a state senator and former Otero County Clerk. She was the GOP SOS nominee back in '98 and lost to Rebecca Vigil-Giron. The TV advertising could give her a shot at making the race competitive, with the caveat that the Dems haven't lost it in 80 years.


Read this and ask how the Legislature can exempt the public schools from future budget-cutting as Martinez and Denish propose:

The Board of Regents discussed the University’s fate in the face of grim 3.2 percent budget cuts at a meeting in the SUB Tuesday. The cut amounts to about $9.6 million less from the state.

“Unfortunately that pales in comparison with what may be coming,” Regent Don Chalmers said. “Potentially another 5 percent. We also have to fill the hole (from) that one-time money we got from the stimulus package … I think that number is close to $12 million.”

Denish and Martinez have set themselves up for a major confrontation with budget hawks like state Senator John Arthur "Dr. No" Smith if they stick to their guns and say no public schools cuts, even as we continue to slash funding for the state's universities. Maybe they avoid it by simply flip-flopping after they take the oath.

The ABQ Public Schools was not exempted from the recent 3.2 percent across the board budget cuts mandated by the Legislature, but federal stimulus money drastically reduced the hit. That money won't be around next year.

Matt Rush
Ray Powell has never been a prolific fund-raiser and that's the case again this cycle as the former Dem land commissioner has been outraised by Republican challenger Matt Rush who reports getting $125,000 over the summer months to Powell's $54,000. Matt had $123,000 in cash on hand when reports were filed Monday. Powell lagged with $71,000. Powell supporters are sensitive to this. One of them came with this email:

How about a little more info on this--like the fact that Rush got the bulk of his $125,000 from sources that do business with or are attempting to buy future influence. His supporters are majority ranchers or oil companies. That's major conflict!

Yates Petroleum - 2 gifts totalling $11,500; Mac Energy - $10,000; Out of state Texan Rancher (Skiles) - $10,000; Out of state California Rancher (Singleton Properties LLC ) $5,000; Another Texas Rancher (Harper) - $5000; Another Oil Company...

Okay, we get the point. We'll pass on any rebuttal we get from the Matt camp.

And just as we finished up this piece, we saw a new fund-raising plea from Powell that gave us a chuckle. The spin machines are in high gear:

My opponent was expected to receive a windfall of contributions from big oil and gas companies who want to control the Land Office. Even though he was able to out-raise us (thanks to a number of huge contributions from special interests), he was not able to overwhelm us! At the end of the day, the incredible generosity of our grassroots supporters has made sure that we can run an extremely competitive campaign.


Now eleven officer involved shootings this year with seven of them fatal. That threatens to erode confidence in the ABQ police department. Mayor Berry has said he will have a police organization look at what's happening. Are the shootings a fluke? Is it an officer training issue? Are ll of the shootings justified? What about tasers over bullets?

We don't know. the answers APD Chief Schultz recently fired an officer who was involved in a fatal shooting in 2009--before Berry took office. It demonstrated some backbone by Schultz, even as the decision drew fire from the police union.

APD is overseen by Public Safety Director Darren White who assumed authority previously held by the city's chief administrative officer. City Councilor Ken Sanchez reports city lawyers are of the opinion that the switch does not violate the city charter. But this is the first time in modern city history that the police chief has referred to the safety director, not the CAO as "his boss." Can the lawyers explain that?

Who knows if this change in the command structure has anything to do with what's going on, but isn't it time for the quiescent ABQ City Council to start asking some questions about all aspects of these shootings?

Darren White, Mayor Berry, Chief Schultz and Chief Administrative Officer David Campbell (remember him?) are no doubt deeply concerned, but the time has come to have more eyes examine this baffling, but too often deadly mystery.

TV news is starting to hit the police shootings harder and the Alibi comes with a cover story this week. The ABQ Journal has not shied away from the story. From the Alibi:

APD has not instituted any special de-escalation training due to the the high number of officer-involved shootings this year. The Tuesday, Sept. 14 shooting in Downtown Albuquerque was No. 11. In 2009, there were only six.

Lt. Ray Torres, director of training at the police academy, says the spike in shootings is not the result of an education problem. If it was determined that officers couldn't identify targets properly, for example, that might be the kind of thing that would require additional drills. "To date, with the shootings we've had this year, I have not heard of any training issues that have been identified so far...

Mayor Berry's approval rating is in the low 60's, but if he lets that lull him, he could be in for a rude awakening. Don't say we didn't tell you.


More on New Mexico water now from an engaged blog readership paying close attention to the Democratic hits on Susana Martinez on the crucial issue of water policy. Her Texas heritage and big Texan campaign contributions are being used as a launching pad for attacks that claim she would not be protective of NM when it engaged Texas on water matters.

Former Big Bill water advisor Bill Hume was on these pages Wednesday asserting that Martinez's El Paso background--where she was born and raised--was indeed relevant to the discussion. Now we have a rebuttal from one of the heaviest of the heavyweights on state water rights--former ABQ GOP State Representative and geologist Bob Grant:

Bill Hume, who until eight years ago was the straightforward, unbiased and relatively apolitical editorial page editor of the Albuquerque Journal, retired from that position and became one of the first of many news persons the newly elected Gov. Richardson hired. Bill recently retired from his exempt position in the governor's office after seven plus years as Richardson's "Special Director" for water issues at a salary of $109,584.38 plus retirement benefits of 15 percent of his highest pay.

Bill had the misfortune of working for or with a discredited administration that apparently routinely granted favors. Did his recent connections, responsibilities and job overcome what should have been his common sense and good judgment? Sure, the governor appoints and hires persons responsible for managing and regulating New Mexico's water. But he's responsible for a myriad of other departments and positions, too. And to imply that a gubernatorial candidate who lives south of Elephant Butte would be inclined to favor Texas over his/her own state of New Mexico in water issues or disputes is ridiculous.

Did Garrey Carruthers and Jerry Apodaca, both Governors from Las Cruces, favor those south of Elephant Butte in matters involving the Rio Grande and aquifers like the Salt Basin? Of course not. And neither will Susana Martinez.

Good to hear from you, Bob. Old timers will recall that he made a run for the GOP Guv nomination back in '78. For a number of years he was our Republican Election Night analyst on KANW-FM 89.1.

Hume's take also drew fire from a close associate of current State Engineer John D'Antonio who is the key player in state water policy. The writer asked for anonymity:

Bill has it totally wrong when he says:

The state engineer serves absolutely at the pleasure of the governor. Consequently the governor wields direct control over New Mexico's position in compact matters.

WRONG. Yes, the state engineer is appointed by a governor and confirmed by the state senate; however, according to statute, he or she can only be removed for "just cause." This statute was created to keep politics out of state water management.

Further, the governor of NM wields absolutely NO control over western water law or state compact matters, which were negotiated decades ago by the federal government. Water rights and compact agreements are governed by federal and state water law. Therefore, there is no way any governor can wield direct control in these matters. In fact, the state engineer's office is one of the few, if not the only, office that can not be controlled or manipulated by the governor.

I know that Bill Hume is a very nice guy, but he is also a strong supporter of Diane Denish and is now grasping for straws by coming up with these conspiracy theories about Susana. He definitely knows better...Never once over the eight years he has been state engineer has the Governor asked him to give his supporters water rights favors--he has always left John alone. And if he were to ask for favors, it would not be possible to grant them. The state engineer's office may be one of the last bastions of non-partisan politics. Again, because water rights and compacts are governed by decades of precedence set by the courts, it is fair to both Republicans and Democrats alike--to all New Mexicans. Hume knows better!

We're not done yet. Trudy Valerio Healy, water heavy from Taos and a Diane Denish backer, swings back to Hume's side:

Hi Joe. Bill and Ron's comments on the water in NM and the Governor's power over water were excellent. That power became apparent to me through the eight years that I have served on the NM Water Trust Board..I was also elected Treasurer by the board who represent all aspects of water in NM.,,During my tenure we have given over $200 million to water projects in NM.

My husband and I through the Healy Foundation have been funding water issues and programs for many years. We have sponsored conferences that brought experts from all over the U.S. to study the water compacts and water lawsuits in NM. We have been honored by the Navajo Nation, the OSE, ISC and others for continuing to seek water and accountability for water.

Diane does not have to come up with water policy, she already has. Diane and the Governor mandated a State Water Plan for the first time in NM history. Now each region and every type of water user has a voice in the State Water Plan. Diane's opponent grew up in the Rio Grande Valley. But on the Texas side. Texas is sending her millions of dollars to her campaign. What do they want with a NM Governor? Remember: Texas filed a lawsuit against us seeking our water and won!

With only two weeks to plan a statewide movement in Taos, the people who love the land and water gathered to support Diane on Sun. Sept. 12th. Over 1000 people signed on as co-hosts and names keep coming in. New Mexico water comes from the north. We the people of the north are responsible for the state's watershed. Gathering in Taos is a good start, let the movement spread, like the waters of all of New Mexico. This is about our water! Thank you, Trudy.

Well, thank you Trudy, as well as Bob Grant and our anonymous contributor. There are many disagreements here, but the passion and love for New Mexico and its natural bounty is not in dispute. Our next Governor, whoever it may be, must not forget that.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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