Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mood Switch: Anger Is Out; Anxiety Still In; What's That Mean? Plus: Latest House Coalition Talk, And We're On The Media Beat Today 

Things are changing. The anger of '10 has turned to the anxiety of '11. The demarcation line between the two may turn out to be this weekend's Tuscon shock. Anger turned voters out last year and put Republican Susana Martinez in the Guv's chair and nearly toppled ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich. But the new political landscape taking shape is likely to make it more difficult for those seeking to oust incumbents.

Governor Martinez has gone from angry to relatively low-key. She and the Legislature seem to be almost pining for compromise. Do they sense the public is not in the mood for hell-raising, that they had their fill last year? And did Tucson finish the deflating of the anger balloon?

For Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman, expected to announce a re-election bid in a couple of months, the shifting emotions could make life easier. Ditto for Martin Heinrich.

In addition to Tucson, there is a state economy that appears to have finally bottomed out--at least for the time being. There is still much anxiety about the future, but the raw anger that had voters pulling the lever for anyone who was not an incumbent may be slowly dissipating. That could mean the "ins" will have a more patience audience to sell their case to and the "outs" will have to jump a higher bar.


Readers wonder if R's and Dems form a coalition to take over leadership of the state House would it mean Republicans would actually be awarded chairmanships and vice chairmanships of committees. Our coalition watchers say the answer is "no."

The GOP House leadership is working to form a coalition with Dona Ana County Dem State Rep. Joe Cervantes. Whether the votes are there to topple longtime Dem Speaker Ben Lujan remains a question mark and fluid. The R's will caucus prior to the session and that should give some clues, but insiders say the final outcome will not be known until the vote on the speakership takes place on opening day.

Not all of the 33 House R's in the 70 member chamber are keen on a coalition. Our insiders report there is wheeling and dealing with their leadership to get them all on board.

A vote to put a Democratic speaker in charge could be particularly uncomfortable for new R representatives. It would be their very first vote and could be used against them in a future Republican primary.

Will R's want a coalition in which they get no committee chairs? Hard to say. That is the deal with the coalition in control on the Senate side. And are there more Democrats willing to join a House coalition than have been publicly identified?

All these questions and more will hang in the wind until next Tuesday at noon.


Also from the Roundhouse, we alert you to persistent Alligator chatter (well, at least two of them) that ABQ Dem State Senator Cisco McSorley, 60, could lose his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee at this year's legislative session. Insiders say Sen. Richard Martinez of Rio Arriba appears to be positioned to take it away from Cisco, one of the leading liberals in Santa Fe. Martinez is much more conservative on social issues.


While the state celebrates the election of its first female Hispanic Governor, we're reminded that there is one last political barrier to be jumped--the election of a Native American to high office. None has served in the state's congressional delegation or in the elected statewide offices such as Treasurer or Auditor.

Native Americans did not even have the right to vote in New Mexico until 1948. But strides have been made in providing higher educational opportunities for Indians. perhaps putting us on course to overcome the state's final ethnic barrier.


Here's a link to find out where to vote early in the ABQ school board election. Actual Election Day is February 1, but early voting is underway for the three school board seats in contention.

The news that former Big Bill spokesman Pahl Shipley, most recently with the state film office, will return to KOAT-TV as an executive news producer brought this comment from a media type:

How does a guy that was a mouthpiece for the Governor get a job as an executive producer where decisions are made on what stories get on and what stories don't get on, what kind of slant they have and more.

Shipley addressed that this way:

"Journalism isn't based on opinions. It's based on accuracy, fairness and balance."

Asked if it would be awkward to oversee news stories critical of Richardson, Shipley said, "I did stories critical of Richardson before I worked for government, and I'm sure there may be some down the road."

The journalistic revolving door---as we predicted it would be--is alive and well as the new administration takes over. besides Shipley coming back in, former KKOB-AM radio news anchor Larry Behrens is headed out. He is now the spokesman for the House Republican Caucus.

However, the revolving door won;t be getting jammed up. PIO positions in state government are going to be fewer than under Bill who had enough of them to produce his own 10 p.m. newscast.

From the WSJ:

The Internet is slowly closing in on television as Americans' main source of national and international news. Currently, 41 percent say they get most of their news about national and international news from the Internet, which is little changed over the past two years but up 17 points since 2007. Television remains the most widely used source for national and international news -- 66 percent of Americans say it is their main source of news -- but that is down from 74 percent three years ago and 82 percent as recently as 2002.


Freshman Dem US Senator Tom Udall may be winning plaudits in the national pressover his bid to change Senate rules that allow 41 senators in the chamber of 100 to block action, but that isn't the case with his hometown newspaper. The ABQ Journal panned Udall's efforts:

Udall's impatience with the proceedings of the august body he chose to join may be understandable, but it doesn't rise to a mandate for changing the rules just because his experience in the much more excitable House was different. With just two years as a member of the club, the junior senator is hardly in a position to declare the Senate "broken."

THE 60's

A reader writes:

You mentioned Monday that the radical left and people like H Rap Brown created turmoil in the 60s. Before the radical left in the 60s there was the John Birch Society rabble rousing with incendiary rhetoric in the advance of John Kennedy's visit to Dallas in '63. And the 60's closed out with FBI and CIA involved in actual acts of violence. So, it wasn't just the radical left and I would also suggest that the radical left was not encouraging political assassinations. Today there is no equivalence between right wing incendiary rhetoric and left wing trash talking. Just listen to Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin.


Reader and ABQ Dem State Rep. Al Park writes:

Schmitt was not the last man on the moon. The last man on the moon was Eugene Cernan. They were together. Schmitt returned to the capsule first. Cernan was the last man to get in, and thus the last man on the moon.


In our multi-thousand word midnight missive on the Guv's budget Tuesday we made a couple of errors. Her budget proposes a higher ed cut of 5.2%, not the 3% we first posted. And the Legislature meets starting next Tuesday, not next Monday.

We blame this on an ill-advised switch from Starbucks "bold" blend to its less robust "Pike's Peak." In addition, we had enchiladas at Garduno's with a group of Alligators Monday night and ordered them with all red--no green. We had not done that in years.

This was a clear message to us that when writing about the Fourth Floor that we need to get in tune with the prevailing customs so our writing is in the groove. So from now on its southern Hatch green chile and bold blend coffee--as in "bold change." Yeah, now we're bloggin'...

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