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Monday, February 14, 2011

Susana's Valentine: Honeymoon Still On; She Gets 53% Approval, Plus: Gary Johnson Gets No Love, And: Foley Vs. Bregman in Spat Over Guv's Performance 

Susana's honeymoon was not interrupted by the Great Gasser of 2011, according to the first poll of her popularity taken since she assumed office January 1.

The Dem polling firm PPP finds Susana maintaining an approval rating of 53%--the same percentage she won election by last November. 29% disapprove. The survey was taken Feb. 4-6--the weekend when the gas crunch hit.

Like any new Governor, Martinez has the benefit of the doubt from the public. Also, she has not expended major political capital on hot-button issues. She has had a few setbacks, notably a Supreme Court ruling that went against her, but this is not the stuff that rouses vox populi from their sofas.

In addition, the Democrats in the Legislature are stifling controversial issues--stuff like abortion, repealing the death penalty, civil unions and the like. Even though those issues and more are red meat for her GOP base, it's good for Martinez that they are not going to come to her desk in centrist New Mexico.

Look for the action in this administration to be behind the scenes where deregulation will be pursued vigorously--out of the public limelight. Enviro groups will be kept busy outing these plans.

By the way, you won't hear the R's complaining that the Martinez poll is a weighted with Dem respondents as they did when Senator Bingaman got good numbers (56% approval) from PPP using the same set of voters. When Susana gets a nice showing in a poll heavy on Dems it brings a smile to their face.

Meanwhile, back at the Legislature, it is a session on cruise control---a nonevent. Martinez has risked little and is going to walk away with little.

Again, look for this administration to try to make its mark by executive authority when the 112 lawmakers are far away from Santa Fe.

DRIVE TIME

Martinez and the Republicans are pushing some on one issue that cuts across party lines--the issuance of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. She held a news conference to urge the end of the policy. The NM GOP is helping her out. A Republican voter reports a robo call sponsored by the state party went into the ABQ NE Heights district of Dem State Rep. Bill O'Neill on Friday. It urged voters to call O'Neill and get him to support revoking the licenses. His is one of the few remaining "swing" districts in the state. O'Neill was re-elected by 50.9% to 49.11%.

The R's only need to crack O'Neill and a couple of others to get to the magic 36 in the House. They already have 33 of their own. But getting this kind of thing out of committee is another matter. So far, it's been roadblocked and its chances look slim.

O'Neill felt the heat and came with this response:


I can assure you that I have, in fact, introduced legislation increasing the restrictions for receiving New Mexico licenses, and adding strict penalties for the abuse of this privilege. As always, I am open to ideas on how this legislation or any of my legislation can be improved upon.

NO HEAD START


State Dems have a long four years ahead of them, but if they can bring Susana down a notch or two, it will make the time go quicker. To that end, Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales unveiled a new site--
susanasbrokenpromises.com. It features what the party considers the Guv's early flubs--the Schmitt nomination gone bad and her executive order on immigration. And there's also some pics of Susana with Sarah Palin. Not bad, but it's no substitute for the real power Martinez now has. The Dems will have to wait at least another 2014 to taste that again.

NO SHOWS

If the Dems are going to derail Susana early on, they might stand for a touch more enthusiasm. Alligators report that this past weekend's ward and precincts meetings for the Bernalillo County Democratic Party drew anything but a standing room only crowd. They tell us there were 455 vacancies to fill, but only 447 Dems participated.

NO LOVE FOR GARY

Gary Johnson, the last GOP Guv ('95-'03) before Martinez, isn't getting much love this Valentine's Day. Despite coming in tied for third out of ten candidates in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll of possible GOP prez candidates this weekend in D.C., Gary did not even merit a mention in the analysis of "winners and losers" put out by WaPo blogging guru Chris Cillizza.

Not even a mention, Chris? We know Gary's chances of winning the GOP Prez nomination are about as likely as the UNM Lobos getting an invite to the NCAA this year. And Johnson's speech at CPAC that glorified the legalization of marijuana doesn't help him broaden his GOP base. But that Gary beat out the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin and earned 6% of the vote is at least worth a drop of ink. That is, if you can see beyond the Beltway.


Libertarian Ron Paul came in first in the poll, followed by Mitt Romney. They were the only candidates to score in the double-digits.

SKANDERA'S SNUB?

Did new Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera snub the state when she ordered up an advisory panel composed entirely of out-of-state consultants to take a look at the troubled education system here? State Dems think so and pounded her in a news release and said she should have had some New Mexicans on the team. (The consultants will be paid $152,000. Skandera says the money will come from not filling exempt positions at the department.)

We get the dig about Skandera being a Jeb Bush clone and assume she is smart enough to know that at this point in her career she is going to have to come with ideas that are not simply a replica of the Florida model.

But a Dem Governor had his shot--for eight years. Skandera and Martinez are going to be given as much running room as they need--for now. New Mexico parents are desperate for results. If the new administration can find answers from Timbuktu, they will be receptive.

On the other hand, come late 2012 or so, if the "No New Mexicans Needed" attitude doesn't deliver, Skandera could see the natives getting restless and looking like the Egyptians in Tahrir Square.

FLORIDA UPDATE


Blog reader Scott Gullett sends this recent news from Florida which questions the advances made there in public education under Governor Bush who Skandera served.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP


Talk about an achievement gap. The unemployment rate among high school grads is 9.4%, while the jobless rate among college grads is 4.2%, according to the feds. We assume the rate is similar in New Mexico.

THE KIDS

Here is a disturbing look at the sad history of trying to protect New Mexico's children from abuse and the role of the Children Youth and Families Department. If ever there was a mandate for a Governor to clean house at an agency, this is it.

FOLEY VS. BREGMAN

You want color in your politics? Confrontation? How about if we put the voluble Democrat Sam Bregman in the same room with the equally garrulous Dan Foley, the former House Minority Whip from Roswell? Hey, we're here to please. Here's Foley getting on Sam over his negative comments on Friday's blog about Governor Martinez's performance during the gas crunch:

Joe, What would he suggest she do? She called up roughly 400 National Guardsmen, received help from Mayor Berry and his Emergency response team, went directly into the communities and solicited the help of plumbers and others from Union Halls and had FEMA on site and in her office within 48 hours.

These comments from Sam Bregman highlight why the Democrat party is losing ground in New Mexico and people like Gov Martinez continue to climb in the polls. Gov Martinez is about getting things done while Sam Bregman and his cronies are about playing party politics even at the expense of these people who were without heat.

What did Sam Bregman do to help the situation from his office in Albuquerque? Oh wait he stayed put in the freezing cold, in his heated office and thought of ways to complain while Gov Martinez went to work to make things happen. Sam that is real leadership!


Well, if this feud gets legs, the local Hard Rock Casino may put these two on one of its boxing cards. We wonder if Dem State Chairman Javier Gonzales, who Bregman is challenging, wants in on the action.

Incidentally, former NM GOP Gov. Dave Cargo ('67-'71) gave Martinez a grade of "B" for her handling of the gas shortage. Okay, Dave. But that baloney sandwich you were looking forward to having with Chuck Franco at the Guv's Manison may have just gone by the wayside.

COLLEGE LIFE

Things change:

ASUNM voted to install free condom distribution points around the (UNM) campus in an effort to promote safe sex. Sen. Greg Golden said the resolution reminded him of his freshman year at UNM. “They used to have more access to condoms,” he said. “I remember when I was a freshman they were, well, everywhere.”

Well, it is Valentine's Day.

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