Tuesday, July 05, 2011
An Early Halloween Scare, Plus: R Hopes Grow For ABQ House Seat, And: Poking a Potential Political Player
It caught our eye that the bribery trial of Las Cruces Judge Michael Murphy is slated to begin with jury selection on Halloween. But so far the really scary thing about the case is the paucity of firm evidence offered up by the special prosecutor. Heck, even the alleged "bagman" who is said to have passed on bribes to Governor Big Bill in exchange for judicial appointments hasn't even copped a deal or been indicted. Now that's pretty scary--or it could be--for special prosecutor and Clovis area district attorney Matt Chandler.
Chandler may win or lose the Murphy case but he is winning the messaging war. New Mexicans have seen plenty of corruption in their time. And indicating, as Chandler has, that alleged judicial bribery might not be confined to Las Cruces, is an easy political win for him and his fellow Republicans who benefit. Of course, crying "boo!" is easy. Proving that ghosts really exist is another matter.
President Obama carried Bernalillo County by a stunning 60,000 votes in 2008 and the Republicans have high hopes that they can take back the ABQ congressional seat in 2012? That's right--and they have some convincing reasons.
Insider R's are quick to say that neither Dan Lewis, Jon Barela or Janice Arnold-Jones--their potential GOP nominees--are superstars of the local political galaxy--but the way things are shaping up in the early going any of them could take the seat against State Sen. Eric Griego or former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez--the two main players for the Dems thus far.
Optimistic R's foresee Chavez and Griego tearing themselves apart and have their fingers crossed that no Dem candidate of a moderate bent gets in the contest. They say if either Chavez or Griego is the blood-stained nominee, their chances for victory skyrocket.
The R's aren't fantasizing. The Chavez entry has elite Democrats worried who share the GOP analysis and lament over what may be brewing.
They pine for a third candidate who could run up the middle between Chavez and Griego, but the pickings are slim to none. State Sen. Tim Keller, an early hope for them, has ruled out a run. Ditto for State Rep. Al Park. Former Sen. Bingaman aide Terry Brunner and Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks are highly unlikely to wade in. State Treasurer James Lewis, now in his 60's, is another no go.
Those who believe in the "Dem debacle is brewing" scenario, say an Anglo Democrat on the order of Keller is the best bet to retain the seat. But who? National Dems are starting to take some back room hits over their failure to recruit a candidate that is seen as ideal for the district. Can't they put the heat on Keller or another fresh face to run, the critics ask?
So, what if the field remains static? Are the R's underestimating the political prowess of State Sen. Griego and former Mayor Chavez? We'll see.
A reader writes of our Fourth of July blog speculation about Governor Martinez's future:
Susana is not in the market for another job. Therefore, speculation that she is shaping policy in New Mexico to embellish her attractiveness as a VP candidate is groundless. I Have not seen one policy initiative that she did not mention on the campaign trail. Finally, I want you to name one policy initiative that grew from her post election notoriety among Republicans. She publicly has said several times that she is not interested. I believe her.
We had in mind the relentless pounding over eliminating driver's licenses for illegal immigrants as an example. But maybe that is solely for domestic consumption. Then there is the seemingly conscious decision not to compromise with the Legislature and her repeated unsuccessful lawsuits before the State Supreme Court. We see these positions and the tone in which they are pursued as appealing chiefly to Republicans--not independents or Dems. We also hear little serious engagement over the economy and jobs and more over the "wedge issues" that have emotional appeal to the R's and its nominating wing.
But then maybe we are stretching on the Veep speculation. We'll keep watching.
Now that his name has been floated as a possible for higher office, critics of Dem US Attorney Kenneth Gonzales are taking him to the wood shed. The charge? That he is a "do-nothing" US attorney and if he harbors any hopes for higher office he better get on the stick. They point to his non-involvement in the the ABQ police department fatal shootings, his silence on immigration even as the Republican governor makes waves on what is a federal issue and the lack of any corruption indictments over state government pay-to-play schemes.
Gonzales took over as US Attorney in May 2010. When he was appointed by President Obama he released a long list of priorities he would pursue.
He did not stick his head in the political waters--a supporter suggested him to the blog as a Dem up and comer. But that was enough to get the Alligators snapping at him. The upside for Gonzales is that they they take him seriously.
THE BOTTOM LINES
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