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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monty Newman Emerges As Front-Runner For NM GOP Chairman; We Game The Race, Plus: Harvey's Term, And: Big Bill & Guv Gary News 

Monty Newman
Some old fault lines are appearing as the newly resurrected state Republican Party prepares to select a new chairman Saturday. GOP Senior Alligators have been gaming the action for us and here's how it tracks.

Former Hobbs mayor, realtor and 2008 southern congressional contender Monty Newman has emerged as the late front-runner over Bernalillo County attorney and state GOP First Vice-Chair Nina Martinez. That's because the political arm of Governor-elect Susana Martinez is swinging its support to Newman. No other major contenders are expected.

Not everyone thinks the new Republican Governor should have the right to name the new GOP chair. Allen Weh and Doug Turner, both who were conquered by Susana Martinez for the GOP Guv nomination, are backing Nina Martinez, hoping not to have the party doors completely closed to them. Turner, in particular, still seeks a path to future political power.

Also, there are still some hurt feelings over the primary. Martinez has yet to heal those wounds. If she had, she might have been able to get Nina out early and Monty in unopposed. On the other hand, why are Weh and company not lining up when Susana received 90 percent of the GOP vote?

Newman's supporters claim he's the "true conservative" in the race and with the apparent backing of the state's #1 R, he is going to be formidable. Backers of Nina Martinez, a former assistant counsel to ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, assert that she has paid much more in the way of party dues than Monty and it is her turn at helm.

Fund-raising is a key duty of a party chair and in that department Newman brings an edge because of his business background.

Gov-elect Martinez is slated to speak to the delegates, but will go dark on the chair race. However, her chief political consultant for her Guv campaign, Jay McCleskey, can be expected to help whip the 331 GOP Central Committee delegates who will decide the contest. McCleskey's Lincoln Strategy Group consulted not only Martinez this past cycle but other prominent R candidates.

Susana Martinez had a blow-the-doors-off win at the party's pre-primary convention earlier this year. Many of those delegates will vote on state chair Saturday, giving Newman a decided advantage.

If you're looking for an ideological clash there is hard to glean one from this race. Newman is more conservative than Nina, but only nominally so. He does have deep tie to conservative Christians. But the race is about the new Guv-to-be and her political arm consolidating power. To the victor go the spoils and all that...

HARVEY'S TERM

Outgoing GOP Chairman Harvey Yates of the wealthy SE NM oil family leaves with a shine to his name. He took over in early '09 from Allen Weh who left to seek the GOP Guv nod after presiding over the GOP debacle of 2008. It is true that the times turned favorably for Yates, but he took advantage of it. He leaves with a Republican about to take over the Guv's office and with 33 R's in the state House. That's the most in modern history.

Yates lives in the ABQ home originally occupied by one of the state's most successful Democratic politicians--the late Senator Dennis Chavez. The gods do have funny ways of amusing themselves, don't they?

MAKE IT $450 MILLION

Susana, you can trim $2 million off that $452 million projected shortfall. That's the amount the University of New Mexico Athletic Department is getting from the state General Fund. If we can't cut that out with a dull-edged butter knife, we can't cut anything.

Do you sense that UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs and UNM President David Schmidly are on their last legs? It has been one disappointment after another at our Harvard at the Rio Grande and one assumes the new Guv administration has had enough. Their suggestions for change are going to be welcomed with open arms--and relief.

NICE WORK

How about $95,000 for managing a little city of 16,000 where the median income is $25,000. From down south and Sunland Park, NM:

Sunland Park has hired a former New Mexico Border Authority director as the new manager of the southern New Mexico community. Andrew Moralez of Anthony, N.M., succeeds Jaime Aguilera, who resigned in late September...

As Gershwin wrote, "Nice work if you can get it..."

STAYING HERE

But $95K a year wouldn't even pay a month's salary for the lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America---a job Big Bill is again rumored to be in the running for. We picked up on that Monday from the national press, but the Guv's office again says Bill is not in the running. From his office:

Just wanted you to know that the Governor is still not interested in it or any other Washington lobbyist job. He plans on staying in Santa Fe...

If Bill does stay in Santa Fe for any length of time after January 1, he would be the only recent Governor we can recall doing so. Hey, maybe he could set up a permanent lunch table at the Rio Chama where he could comment on all of Governor Martinez's action and prepare to run against her in 2014.

Now you'd love that, wouldn't you?

Bill's predecessor, Republican Gary Johnson, still nurtures comeback plans--but on a grand scale. He continues to try to drum up support for a 2012 bid for the GOP presidential nod. Johnson has always enjoyed tilting at windmills. He now lives in Taos.

FROM THE MAIL

Reader Charles Lehman writes about our Monday economy blog:

Excellent thoughts on the economy of the future in your blog--concentrating on education and stop demonizing government which is a major part of the economy and why we are not in even worse shape. A great opportunity for this state is in renewable energy. We are ideally situated by natural, research and manufacturing resources to be the national leader with the proper planning.

Thanks, Charles. We've had trouble attracting and keeping solar energy manufacturing facilities, but the Richardson administration has laid the groundwork for getting solar and wind power generated in the state onto the power grid and into our homes. That could be a big deal.

WE DIDN'T SAY IT

We received a lot of email about that "mission statement" from a conservative Senior Alligator that we posted Monday. In it he called for the new administration to "tame the teachers' unions" and "make government work for voters from the private sector who pay the bills and not the leeches who suck from the government teat."

Even though we clearly identified as it coming from a Senior Gator and used italics to denote it as a quote, some folks still thought the fiery missive was our personal opinion. It wasn't, but we'll let reader and teacher John Thayer vent over it:

On your mission statement for the new governor, you suggested "putting learning back into public education." Can you give us teachers some kind of a break? I have a masters degree in math and teach at one of the most widely ridiculed schools in ABQ. I have great successes with these kids. We work from bell to bell and most of them love math after they have been in my room.

I choose to be at a low performing school even though I get other job offers and I'm mot the only one! If you only knew how it felt to work this hard at something you love while constantly being laughed at and scapegoated by the media and politicians who have never set foot in a public school except for photo ops. I love your blog, by the way, keep up the good work...

Thanks, Charles--for that note and for the hard work you and our teachers perform.

THE BEST

We can now put up that cool logo from ABQ The Magazine now that the edition where its readers name us as the best blog in these here parts has hit the newsstands. Thanks much to those readers and to the staffers at the mag--photog Liz Lopez and the new editor--Dan Mayfield-- for the photo and write-up they gave us. Earlier this year the readers of the alternative weekly the Alibi also awarded us best blogger honors of 2010.

What's especially gratifying is that the recognition comes from the readers of two publications that appeal to entirely different audiences and age groups.
That'll keep us on our toes...

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