Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: Who Would Be #2 To Susana Or Di? Staff Chiefs Contemplated, Plus: Bernco Commission Races Updated 

  • Denish-Martinez debate on KANW 89.1 FM Sunday at 5 p.m. Click here to listen.
Never mind who is elected Governor, who will run the government? We mean who will be named to the all-important and often all-powerful position of chief of staff under the next chief executive? The guessing game is well underway as Big Bill's staff puts the office paper shredder into overdrive and gets ready to head for the exits.

For the Dems the talk has centered on Lawrence Rael for months and it still does. The longtime government executive ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor this year, but lost to Brian Colon. However, his relationship with Diane Denish is said to be in good shape. Rael gave up his stint at the Mid-Rio Grande Council of Governments to run for Light Guv and is available. He is described by insiders as shrewd, knowledgeable and capable. He previously served as chief administrative officer for the city of ABQ supervising some 6,000 workers. One other thing--Rael would be able to keep an eye on a lieutenant governor Brian Colon. Never a bad idea for a New Mexico Governor.

There is no obvious staff chief for Republican Susana Martinez should she take power, say insider R's. But many of them are wondering aloud about Darren White, the current public safety officer for the city of Albuquerque and the former Bernalillo County sheriff. Often a lightning rod, the choice of White  might surprise but he is close to the candidate, having cut campaign commercials with her and he also has close ties to her consultants. White served as cabinet secretary for the Department of Public Safety, a position he resigned over differences with Governor Johnson over drug legalization.

Not many other names are circulating for this top power position, but they will as we get closer to the new administration. Stay tuned.


It doesn't look as though there will be much change in the partisan makeup of the five member Bernalillo County Commission following the Nov. 2 election. Republican Wayne Johnson is expected to take the commission seat in the far ABQ NE Heights and East Mountains held by retiring GOP Commissioner Michael Brasher. Maggie Hart Stebbins, a Dem appointed to the commission to fill a vacancy, is expected to win her first election over Republican Robert Applegate. The district is in the ABQ SE Heights. Some R's are pushing us hard over attorney Simon Kubiak who is in a race with Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham. She's a former Big Bill cabinet secretary. Both are good candidates, but we don't recall the ABQ West Side seat held by retiring commissioner Alan Armijo ever going R.

If all of the above is the case, the commission would keep its three Dem and two R composition. The question is whether controversial county manager Thaddeus Lucero will keep majority support with the new commission in order to keep his $155,000 a year job. Insiders say it looks pretty good.


Tom Mullins doesn't want his race treated as a foregone conclusion. He says a recent poll taken in the northern congressional district shows him trailing incumbent Democrat Ben Ray Lujan by only four points--43% to 39%. That sounds good, but most of Mullins' support at this stage is from Republicans and the district is overwhelmingly Dem. He will need a lot of crossover voting to be a threat.

Mullins, 41, is an engineer in the oil industry from the Four Corners. This is Rep. Lujan's first re-election attempt in the heavy Dem district. He's expected to come with TV soon, but he obviously does not see a need to rush.

Sounds like a movie: Tracking Jon Barela:"

A Democratic Party of New Mexico employee tried to play undercover agent last weekend but ended up with a lecture from an Albuquerque police officer.

The employee, who was working as a "tracker" for the party, was following Republican U.S. House candidate Jon Barela as the two drove through the streets of Albuquerque--before Barela pulled over his 1995 GMC pickup and called police.

You mean Republican Barela drives a 1995 truck? Now that's how you go for that crossover vote.


Allen Weh and Doug Turner are co-chairing a committee for a statewide candidate. Must be for Susana Martinez who beat these fellow Republicans in the Guv primary, right? Nope. Their relationship with Susana remains rocky, but they are teaming up to try to raise money for GOP secretary of state candidate Dianna Duran. They will be co-chairs for the state senator's campaign. GOP State Senator Rod Adair is Duran's consultant. They think she has a chance to oust Dem Secretary of State Mary Herrera who has had buckets of controversy. The duo will try to rise $250,000 for Duran so she can get up on TV. We previously blogged that there was talk of trying to get Texas money for Duran. Turner says this is part of the mix.

Weh and Turner said in an email that the polls are close in the sec of state's race. The polling we've seen shows a large pool of undecided voters, but no R has been elected SOS in 80 years. Former Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim pushed back against Turner and Weh, predicting Herrera will retain the post for his party. "These down ballot races--all of them--are looking good for us this year as they usually do," he declared.


Penning up pedophiles and protecting seniors. It must be time for the race for attorney general to get going. Incumbent Gary King takes to the TV field


The way the newspaper has been bashing Big Bill over a couple of million dollars he wants to spend in federal stimulus money to buy a horse ranch has got us in a contrary mood. Nice job, Guv:

Governor Richardson announced that the film “Bless Me, Ultima” will shoot in the Santa Fe area beginning next month. The production is expected to hire 150 New Mexicans.. Carl Franklin is directing...Based on Rudolfo Anaya’s novel of the same name, “Bless Me, Ultima” chronicles the turbulent coming-of-age story about Antonio, a young boy growing up in New Mexico during World War II, and his relationship with Ultima, an elderly medicine woman who helps Antonio navigate the dangerous battle between good and evil... 

Look, it's a time-honored tradition to kick a Guv on his way out the door, and the papers are particularly peeved at this one because of the way he ran circles around them and didn't play nice. But Bill Richardson's first term as governor of this state will probably go down in history as the best gubernatorial term ever. That's not partisan. It is a fact--one they could even print in the paper.


Don't know about you, but we were surprised that this was so high:

Albuquerque consumers have an average credit card debt of $27,097, according to a report from information services company Experian. The Duke City posted an average credit score of 727 in the annual “State of Credit” report.

And if folks are looking for a job to pay off that debt, it isn't very easy. The latest jobless report shows 8.3 percent unemployment in the state.


Quick, who is the Republican candidate for State Treasurer? What? You don't know? Why, it's Jim Schoonover, of course. You mean you didn't know that and you call yourself a political junkie? Yeah, old Schoonie and me go way back. That Schoonster is one heckuva a guy. (Okay, I didn't know his name either).


Lorene Mills checks in from Santa Fe promising that you will see sparks fly between land commission candidates Ray Powell and Matt Rush when her interview with them airs on KNME-TV tonight (Friday) at 10:30 and again Sunday at 7:30 a.m.

As the late, great Ernie Mills would say: "Don't say we didn't tell you."

Thanks for stopping by this week.

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