Thursday, March 24, 2011

Halting Heinrich; Early Effort To Crown Him Senate Nominee Draws Ire, Plus: John Sanchez Education Level Defended, And: Latest Darren Doings 

What appears to be an early push by national Democratic and environmental operatives to crown ABQ Dem US Rep as next year's US Senate nominee is running into the hometown buzz saw. A recent poll conducted by Defenders of Wildlife Action that shows Heinrich the front runner for the Dem nomination for the seat being vacated by Senator Jeff Bingaman started the push back. Dem activist Theresa Trujeque is one of those leading the charge:

Early polls do not mean much especially one with such a small sample. If you look at the Presidential race in 2008 most Democrats 14 months out thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the nominee and polling at that time confirmed that. In the Governor's race 14 months out no one thought that unknown District Attorney Martinez would prevail in her primary and go on to become Governor. I would not discount any of the mentioned Democratic candidates for the US Senate. What I would discount are organizations like the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund who are trying to frame the race for us.

Halting Heinrich's momentum for the Senate will be job one for any potential rival. Heinrich has not officially declared for the seat but all the money he collects for re-election to his House seat can be legally and easily transferred to a Senate campaign committee. That gives him a major advantage over other candidates looking at the race but who are not yet raising money.


The ABQ newspaper came with an eyebrow raiser when it did a round up of opinion about the situation in Libya with the state's congressional delegation.

The ABQ Journal not only included comments from the five members of the delegation, but also printed remarks and a photograph of former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson who they described as an "announced candidate" for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Bingaman.

But the Journal--to our knowledge--has never before included nondelegation opinion when doing such a roundup. What's changed? Is that an editorial lean towards Heather who may face a stiff primary challenge from Lt. Governor John Sanchez? Also, if former lawmaker Wilson deserves inclusion in such a story, what about the other announced GOP US senate candidates--Greg Sowards and Bill English? Shouldn't they be given equal opportunity to have their picture and comments posted with the delegation's?

Better yet, how about if a round-up of congressional opinion on major foreign policy moments is confined to the actual delegation--just as it always has been?


Sowards and English are gadfly candidates, but Sowards has experience running campaigns and he is now making the rounds in DC trying to lay claim to being the most conservative candidate in the race. That may be, but national conservatives with the money are going to go with Light Guv John Sanchez if he gets in a GOP nomination battle with Heather. But Sowards of Las Cruces is enjoying putting the needle in US GOP Rep. Steve Pearce who can be expected to play on the Sanchez side.

Sowards has the money to travel. He owns day care centers in Cruces.

More on the Senate outlook from a DC Alligator:

The Dem race for Senate will come into focus when the quarterly FEC fund-raising reports are released in mid-April. Of the possible Dem candidates, Heinrich is the only one with an active federal fundraising account. If he comes with heavy cash on hand, all of which can be transferred to a Senate race, it will force the hand of everyone else who starts out with $0.00.

If Heinrich posts a big $$ number, the Democratic senate committee will start subtly promoting him and let it be known from DC who their preferred candidate is. That won’t be decisive to clear the field, but will make it considerably harder for someone else to mount a successful campaign and raise serious $$.

Heinrich had about $55,000 in cash on hand at year's end, according to his latest FEC report.

Lt. Gov. Sanchez
On the Republican side, questions raised here about possible GOP Senate candidate and Lt. Governor John Sanchez lacking a college education draws this response from reader Tommie Newman in Clovis:

Lt Governor Sanchez’s "lack of a college education” might not be viewed as a negative by all New Mexicans. While I respect a college degree, I don’t see it as the ultimate qualifier for success. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln come to mind. We have plenty of “Highly Educated” folks running the country today....How’s that working for us? I’d be willing to give a proven, successful businessman a shot at serving in Washington. At the very least he knows what it takes to finance a business, make a payroll and pay his taxes.


Among those not on our list of possible Dem candidates for the ABQ congressional seat earlier this week was that of State Senator Tim Keller. But if Rep Martin Heinrich decides to leave the seat for a run at the US Senate next year, Keller will take a look at the contest. Keller has been floating his name as a 2013 ABQ mayoral candidate, but an open US House seat changes the dynamics for a number of young politicos, including Keller, a first term senator from ABQ's SE Heights.

Let's add a note on the R side of the equation. GOP Mayor Berry could well be an attractive candidate for the Heinrich House seat. He has not said anything about running, but we mention it just to have our bases covered.


It's never a dull moment with Darren White. Governor Martinez rewarded the former GOP Bernalillo County Sheriff and current ABQ Public Safety Director with an appointment to the State Judicial Standards Commission which investigates misconduct issues involving the judiciary. Predictably, that set of the alarm bells at NM Dem Party headquarters where they came with this:

(White) has recently faced serious questions over his role in helping a campaign contributor get a lucrative contract selling useless DWI-monitoring equipment to Bernalillo County...White has also been roundly criticized for supporting a controversial practice of seizing property and cash from people before they were even charged with a crime. A judge ruled that White and the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department overreached in their interpretation of seizure guidelines and the county will have to pay back $3 million it illegally seized.

"Talk about a bad appointment," said DPNM Executive Director Scott Forrester. "Here we have a Martinez crony with a track record of questionable ethical decisions being put on a board that oversees the behavior and practices of our judges....

White was recently slapped with a vote of no confidence by the ABQ police officers union.

He appeared on TV ads with Martinez in last year's campaign and is a close friend of Martinez political consultant Jay McCleskey.


Can Santa Fe bring down its record home burglary rate? Well, it's going to have to be under a new police chief:

City Manager Robert Romero announced that Raymond J. Rael will serve as Interim Police Chief for the Santa Fe Police Department. Interim Chief Rael replaces Aric Wheeler who stepped down as Police Chief into a role as a Police Captain...Rael will serve as Interim Chief while the City completes a search for a permanent Chief. Rael is a former Deputy Chief for the Santa Fe Police Department, where he was a law enforcement officer from 1978 to 1999.

Wheeler was recently given a vote of no confidence by the Santa Fe officers union.

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