Tuesday, February 01, 2011

New Names Floated For Dem Chair As Bregman Circles, Plus: Grading Schools With Hanna & Susana, And: More Cool Political Stuff For A Winter Tuesday 

Lawrence Rael
New names are starting to float as possible candidates for the chairmanship of the New Mexico Democratic Party as establishment types worry that bombastic trial attorney Sam Bregman could pick up steam if current chair Javier Gonzales decides not to seek another term.

Lawrence Rael and Joe Campos, both Dem lieutenant governor candidates in 2010, are being mentioned by the Great Mentioners as possible contenders for the job if Gonzales goes.

Bregman must feel like he needs a bullet proof vest since he announced his bid. He has been bombarded with criticism, including a couple of anonymous web sites panning him as a poor choice for the party because as a defense attorney he has represented Democratic politicos charged with corruption.

They also say he is too boisterous and would get in the way of Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman and President Obama, both of whom are up for re-election next year. But Javier is taking hits for going Hamlet and saying he is now undecided about seeking another term after saying he was a go. Bregman backers say Sam is filling the leadership vacuum and has the political acumen to be party leader.

Supporters of a Rael or Campos chairmanship say they have solid managerial skills and would present a calmer face to the voting public than the sometimes caustic Bregman. They fear a backlash if Bregman becomes the face of the party.

Rael and Campos are both quiet types and both Hispanic in a party whose majority membership is Hispanic. Rael, a longtime government administrator, is retired. He once worked for Senator Bingaman.

Party chair is not a coveted job and Bregman's enthusiasm for the post plus his ability to raise money for the party have others giving him the once over. They are not convinced that Bregman's clients would be fodder for the R's, saying such info is more insider baseball than anything.

The anonymous attacks on Bregman also may be falling short of the mark with some Dems who don't see them as relevant as his positions on issues. From our email regarding the stopsam.com site:

The site has a private registration. This stinks. As they are hitting Bregman on ethics, it is incumbent on the publishers of this site to come forward lest be branded “hypocrites.” Inquiring minds would like to know who is hitting Bregman, and I’ll be bet he would too.

Javier is looking increasingly jittery about running. He is in line to become president of the NMSU Board of Regents and knows being party chair at the same time is not kosher. A decision on whether he will run is expected this week.

With well-known opposition like Rael or Campos, party insiders say Bregman faces an uphill battle, but with the shaky condition of the party, a victory is still possible.

Several hundred members of the Democratic Party State Central committee will meet in late April to elect a new chair.

One other note: We blogged in our first draft Monday that Bregman was born in New York and that he represented ex-NM Treasurer Michale Montoya. He was born in D.C. and he did not represent Montoya.

Skandera & Guv (AP)
Some may think it's like a Scarlet letter, but Gov. Martinez and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera may be on to something with their plan to hand out individual grades--ranging from A to F--for the state's public schools. If a community (especially parents) has been lackadaisical about their local school's performance, they might take a second look if that school was stamped with a "D" or "F." Also, the parents from these schools would be of a mind to demand extra attention from the state to get the grade up.

Supporters of the grading system say it also addresses a culture of apathy about education that has taken hold among some parents and has translated into generational failure.

Governor Richardson faced a similar dilemma with the state's chronic DWI problem. His heavy and continuous advertising and education program is credited with finally putting a substantial dent in the state's drunk driving rate. He made it uncool and used a bit of fear to improve the state's rankings. The hope is that if the school grades are handed out with impartiality, heavily publicized and followed up with intervention, they could get more New Mexicans concerned and involved in the fight to improve the public schools. As Richardson showed with his DWI crusade, changing attitudes is half the battle.


Readers write to point out that the House energy committee, newly chaired by Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Brian Egolf who has opposed oil and gas interests, is evenly split among Dems and R's so his power may be diminished. But others point out that an even split also means the R's are not going to be able to advance an energy agenda--including deregulation--without spirited opposition. It will be interesting to see what, if any, legislation come out of this panel this session

Meanwhile, if the oil crowd thought Egolf might cool it for a while. Forget about it. He comes with this:

Egolf introduced a bill that would reduce the gross receipts tax for all New Mexico businesses and residents by ¼ percent. The reduction in the gross receipts tax would be paid for by eliminating tax loopholes and subsidies for oil, gas and other extractive industries.

"At a time when legislators and the governor are looking at taxes and demanding accountability, we need to closely examine whether the $200-400 million annual subsidy to extractive industries creates jobs.
" Egolf said.

Looks like Speaker Lujan found his needle to place in the side of Susana when he made Egolf a chairman.

And that needle drew blood Monday when Republican members of the energy committee walked out of a hearing Egolf called over oil and gas regulations. The R's grumbled that one of the "expert" witnesses wasn't an expert at all, so they took their marbles and went home, or maybe over to the Rio Chama for a couple of belts of 30 year old Johnnie Walker.

The public has little patience for stunts. If Egolf's panel is biased, get your own panel going for rebuttal.

The R ringleader on this one--Rep. Don Bratton--played it wrong. But then this is the gang that couldn't shoot straight when trying to put together a coalition with conservative Dems, even though they nearly took control of the House last November. Did someone say "Keystone Cops?"


Want to vote in today's ABQ school board election? Info is here.


Big Bill updates his activities in this email to friends:

Friends, Colleagues, and Supporters,

Thank you for your continued support as I make the transition into private life. I am pleased to announce that I am in the process of setting up a new office in Santa Fe. I wanted to take a moment to share my new contact information with each of you.

Office of Governor Bill Richardson
Phone: (505) 988-7140
Fax: (505) 988-7094
Email: Governor.Richardson@gmail.com

In the coming weeks we will be launching www.billrichardson.com. Until then, I continue to be available online at www.facebook.com/GovernorRichardson and via Twitter at GovRichardson.

Bill is also working to line up speaking engagements with a starting fee of around $25,000. But if you hang out at the La Fonda lobby in Santa Fe you can probably talk to him for free. (Does he still hold out hopes for a gig with Obama?)


Governor Martinez appears to have put the final nail in the coffin of a proposed casino at Anthony, NM in Dona Ana County. "I don't support it," she said. Jemez Pueblo has been fighting to bring a casino to the small town since 2004. They partnered with Big Bill business friend Gerald Peters to push it, but an Indian casino needs both federal and state approval. Without the Guv's signature the casino can't go forward. That is welcome news to Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino which has long opposed the project, saying it would harm its business and state horse racing.


A reader, reacting to Monday's blog, writes in saying those in the Santa Fe set comparing Susana political consultant Jay McCleskey to Butch Maki, a lobbyist who was close to former Governor Richardson, have got it wrong:

As you’ll see from Maki’s website, his business is built entirely on his ability to assist clients with government, whether through lobbying, or “consulting clients” by providing government relations assistance navigating government agencies and procedures...

McCleskey's firm will not be registered lobbyists or take government contracts and says it plans to be primarily a political consulting firm.


News comes that NM Dem US Senator Tom Udall will serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He's just in time to try his hand at helping solve the Mid-East imbroglio. Good luck with that.


The new boss at the state land office is the old boss--Democrat Ray Powell. He's profiled in this AP piece in which he says he will let the sun shine in on office operations. Okay, but were still going to miss ex-GOP land boss Pat Lyons who made more news than Charlie Sheen.


That $25,000 contribution made to Governor Martinez's inaugural committee by high profile ABQ lawyer Turner Branch caught the attention of KKOB-AM radio show host Bob Clark. He emails this zinger:

Turner Branch makes a max donation of $25,000 to Governor Martinez for the inaugural?? Interesting considering he supported Allen Weh in the GOP Governor Primary and then crossed over and very publicly supported Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish in the November election.

I guess he knows how to kiss and make up!

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