Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Campaign Withdrawals? Then Get Ready For Campaign 2012; New Heinrich Challenger Surfaces, Plus: Roundhouse Intrigue Awaits 

Councilor Dan Lewis
We know it's been a full two weeks since the election and some of you are having anxious days and restless nights as political junkie withdrawal symptoms strike with a painful vengeance. But fear not. We have a fix. Campaign 2012 here we come.

And it looks as if ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis is going to be the first to ease the unease of those who can't live without the action. Word is spreading rapidly over the Metro (alright, at least among the Alligators) that Councilor Dan is ready to take on (drum roll, please) none other than Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich.

Lewis represents northwest ABQ (across the river) and was first elected in 2009. He hasn't had much of an opportunity to make much noise on the nine member council as the city is cash-starved and nothing much is happening. But he is well-liked in conservative circles and his brother Tim Lewis was just elected to a Rio Rancho House seat, giving rise to wisecracks about a "Lewis dynasty."

Lewis and his wife founded the West Side’s Soul Rio Church, where they say they "helped counsel troubled marriages, encouraged and supported parents, and promoted strong families."

The church is a congregation of hundreds of adults and children where Lewis serves as Pastor. The Alibi dubbed the conservative Christian "the preacher councilor."


The 40 year old will have his work cut out for him against Heinrich who just won a second term in what was one of the unfriendliest environments imaginable for a Dem candidate. Heinrich got by Republican Jon Barela 51.7% to 48.3%. While most observers see Heinrich strengthening his position by winning a race he could have easily lost, Lewis backers see opportunity.

Political consultant and attorney Doug Antoon, who managed Lewis's council campaign, points out that Lewis has attracted the support of many Democrats in his sprawling city council district.

"He's well-respected and his district could give him a large base of support to begin with," opined Antoon. The consultant added that he expects Lewis to soon form an exploratory committee and start raising the millions it will take to run an effective congressional campaign.

Heinrich showed everyone what a strong city council base could do on Election Night. He mobilized supporters in his old SE Heights council district and blew the doors off of voting precincts he once represented. That in turn blew away Jon Barela, who is not expected to come back for a second bit out of the apple.

Lewis should be a strong GOP primary contender, if he draws any opposition. He bucked ABQ Mayor Richard Berry when the mayor selected Democrat David Campbell as his chief administrative officer. That move drew criticism from corners that found it too partisan, but praise from hard-core R's who will be key in awarding the GOP nomination in June of '12.

Heinrich hasn't even raised his hand yet to take the oath for a second term and already they're getting ready for Round Three against him. But it's never too early for political addicts looking around the bend. Some of them will probably send Lewis Christmas cards thanking him for the fix.


Pull up a chair and get your brain in caffeinated mode as we go deep--very deep--into the real world consequences of the Republicans picking up eight new seats in the NM House. Former ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle games the action now that there are 33 R's and 37 Dems. We think we get it--now that we've had our Starbucks:

Think about this scenario. A nine member House committee with five Democrats and four Republicans. Two Dems are out of the committee room and a vote comes up on legislation. There is a motion to table it with the intent that when the two missing Ds return they could move the legislation back from the table. I believe that only requires a simple majority vote. However, if the four R's vote against the tabling that leaves three D's to vote for tabling and the motion fails. Then the Rs can move to defeat the legislation and they would have the majority. Now if I am right, one of the remaining D's would have to vote for the defeat so they could move for reconsideration when the two missing D's return. However, in a motion to reconsider they would have to win the motion by 3/5ths which means six votes--the motion and legislation would die.

A whole lot of legislation that would have made it to the floor in previous years could die in committee and never make it to a floor vote. If I am wrong let me know. Democratic management and Republican management of the next two sessions is going to be critical.

Sounds right to us, Rory. And quite Machiavellian.

Jay Miller
And we're not done. Santa Fe graybeard and "Inside the Capitol" columnist Jay Miller, who has probably attended more legislative sessions than anyone else still around, contributes this special report to the blog on the outlook for a coalition between R's and a handful of Dems to take hold in the state House, like it once did long ago:

When it comes to coalitions don't just look in the obvious places, such as banding along philosophical lines. In the coalitions of the 1980s, in both the House and Senate, the so-called "conservative coalitions" included northern liberals, who saw an opportunity for better committee assignments and maybe some vice-chairmanships.

My guess is the only type of coalition the House Republicans might be willing to form is one such as in the Senate now, in which a more conservative Democrat is speaker but Democrats are still in control. In the 80's, Rs took control and chaos reigned. Rump groups of dissatisfied Rs formed in both houses and in the end, the GOP came out pretty bloodied.

Good stuff there, Rory and Jay. They don't call this place the home of New Mexico politics for nothing.

This Saturday House Dems meet in caucus as Speaker Ben Lujan works to persuade them to keep him in charge of the gavel and not stray into a coalition with the R's.

Brady, Amanda & Snow
A reader sends this snap of two well-known news gals. KOB-TV news anchor Nicole Brady is shown with NBC News "Dateline" correspondent Kate Snow, who became acquainted with New Mexico viewers during a stint at KOAT-TV before moving on to CNN and ABC News. In the middle is Amanda, who was a "Little Sis" to Kate when she served Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central NM. Nicole is also a "Big Sister." The trio was attending a recent ABQ event for the group whose purpose is to provide mentoring for youngsters facing adversity.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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