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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top State Politicos Head To Holidays In Cheery Mood, Plus: He's Not Done Yet; Big Bill Delivers Big Movie, And: Merry Christmas, New Mexico! 

New Mexico's top politicos are headed into the Christmas holiday and the end of this often burdensome year of 2010 on a high note. And none more so than New Mexico senior Senator Jeff Bingaman.

The Democratic lawmaker is relishing a very big score for New Mexico--Senate approval of the START nuclear arms treaty with Moscow which could easily mean billions of more bucks and perhaps hundreds of more jobs for Los Alamos and Sandia Labs in the decade ahead.

In this budget year alone Bingaman says about $300 million more will flow to Sandia Labs because of START. The White House has pledged to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile even as the treaty reduces the number of those weapons. NM's labs will play a key role. (Bingaman floor speech on START here. Senator Udall's report on the busy lame-duck session is here.)

Over the next decade a $14 billion increase is expected for the National Nuclear Safety Administration which will be in charge of modernizing the nukes. Others will get their share of that funding as well, but the extra cash coming to NM is going to strengthen the foundation of the state economy and, boy, does it need strengthening.

These dollars have political implications as well. (Doesn't everything?) Obama and Bingaman face NM voters in 2012. This very meaty increase in lab funding puts some muscle on Jeff's political skeleton. And the state has been waiting for just that ever since the 2009 retirement of the king of pork--GOP Senator Pete Domenici.

(We just checked the betting odds in Vegas on Heather Wilson running against Bingaman. The odds are looking longer.)

MARTIN'S MOOD

ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich may be crying in his beer next year when he finds himself in the minority in the Republican controlled US House. But he too is heading into the holidays in a cheery mood. The new mission he announced this week for the flying "Tacos" at Kirtland Air Force Base keeps the 1,000 plus personnel on the payroll. Like Bingaman, Heinrich's political biceps are benefiting.

RJ, BILL & SUSANA


ABQ Mayor Richard "RJ" Berry may not be laughing like Santa Claus, but he finishes his first year in office in good polling shape and can enjoy his holiday without too much political worry. He is crossing his fingers that the outbreak of police shootings--14 this year--has ended.

Berry did have a misstep in reviewing his first year in a newspaper interview. He was asked to name a big failure and responded that having the zoo place the body of a dead giraffe in a zoo trash bin, rather than a landfill. No mention of the 14 persons shot--most of whom were killed--in 2010? Maybe that's not a "failure" but it has to be at the top of the mayoral list of regrets--whether all the shootings were justified or not.

And then there's Big Bill. He enjoyed yet another political resurrection with that trip to North Korea, even if the White House seemed to work overtime to distance themselves from the Guv. (More on another of his big moves below).

And the Guv-to-be will have a very Merry Christmas, indeed. Susana Martinez still basks in the afterglow of her historic win. Her transition was marred early on when it seemed the ugly Guv campaign would continue with her team publicly attacking Richardson. But she called off the dogs and things settled down.

With her promising pre-holiday appointment of a new secretary of education, Martinez has in place most of the major players for her administration. That should help her relax as she unwraps whatever surprises Santa has in store for her.

HIGHER ED SECRETARY

On Thursday, Martinez named New Mexico State University political science professor Jose Garcia as her Secretary of Higher Education.

THE MOVIES

It's an out sized Christmas present for those working to prevent the repeal of the tax incentives that attract movie makes to the Land of Enchantment. From Bill's place:

Governor Richardson and Marvel Studios’ Co-President Louis D’Esposito announced that Marvel will film the comic book Super Hero adventure film THE AVENGERS primarily in New Mexico. The production will be the largest feature film ever made in the state as well as the largest Marvel production to date. The film is estimated to employ hundreds of New Mexican based cast and crew, and use hundreds of local service and supply vendors. Pre-production is already underway, with principal photography scheduled to start in April 2011...

Gotta hand it to the Guv. He plays it large right to the end. We're going to miss that. So will you.

But he says he will be hanging around Santa Fe after he leaves office, trying to make the peace:

Richardson says he will establish a Santa Fe-based international peacemaking institute after leaving office at year's end...The institute will focus on brokering peace accords and rescuing hostages.The two-term Democratic governor has secured an office in Santa Fe's downtown area and plans to call the institute the Richardson Center for Peace and Dialogue.

HOLIDAY CHEER


Dan Vukelich writes and sends a video:

Joe, I figure you're a beach bar kinda guy. Here's what I was doing in Belize. I couldn't resist. The light way too good. Beach bars just don't get much better than this. I figure now that we're in the depths of winter, we could use a nice vicarious beach getaway. Here's the video.

Thanks for that, Dan. Glad you sent it because the only beach we've seen this past crazy year was Tingley.

Well, once again that time of the year has arrived for us to say "thanks" to you and our advertisers. Here's our annual Christmas card as well as Frank who will help us capture some holiday cheer.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. Merry Christmas, New Mexico!

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan (That's your cue, Frank).



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