Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Make Way For The Lady, Fellas; Lujan Grisham In ABQ House Race, Plus: Hector Makes Union Noise & Susana Calls The Special, Also: A Chimichanga History 

Michelle Lujan Grisham
When we want it to rain, we go wash the car. When the news slows to a trickle we pop into the movies, knowing that having the temerity to take a break will prompt a flood of news. So it was Monday when we skipped out on the trickle of late-summer political trivia to take in "The Help." (It's good.) As soon as the credits rolled we were hit with a monsoon of news and were off on yet another midnight rendezvous with La Politica. This time it was minus the Starbucks, but a serving of movie house Dreyer's gave us just the sugar high needed to keep pace with our intrepid politicos, so here we go...

Move over fellas and give a lady a chair. So it goes in the race for the Dem nomination for the ABQ US House seat. After mulling it over for a number of months Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham will announce today that she will join Eric Griego and Marty Chavez in the fray. That sets up a three way contest that looks pretty wide open.

This will be Michelle's second try at the prize. In 2008, she ran against Martin Heinrich for the nod, but placed third, running narrowly behind Rebecca Vigil-Giron who placed second behind Heinrich. However, her supporters believe her chances are better this time around because she will apparently be the only woman in the race, has appeal to both moderates and liberals and is coming off her 2010 win of a North Valley and West Side county commission district.

Heinrich is leaving the ABQ House seat to run for the US Senate.

Lujan Grisham, 51, is an attorney whose credentials also include service as cabinet secretary for the Department of Health and the Secretary of Aging. In 2008, she polled well among seniors and she will call on them again to form core support.

Her grandfather, Eugene David Lujan, was the first Hispanic New Mexican to serve on the state Supreme Court, winning election in 1945 and retiring from the bench in 1959. She is a cousin of the famed Republican Lujans--Manuel and Edward.

Fund-raising was an obstacle for Lujan-Grisham four years ago and that will again be a major challenge, but her supporters say she lacks the high negatives carried by former Mayor Chavez and State Senator Griego and that could convince big donors she would be the most formidable candidate to keep the seat in the Dem column in 2012.

At first glance, Lujan Grisham appears to pose more of a threat to Chavez than Griego because she has that moderate appeal, but not so much with Griego's liberal backers.

Lujan Grisham was slated to make her announcement today at a private home in the ABQ NE Heights.


There's a new wrinkle in the Dem race for the US senate nomination. The campaign of Hector Balderas say their man has split off important local AFSCME union support from Rep. Martin Heinrich. The congressman won the national AFSCME endorsement in April, but five local union locals are breaking with their national brethren and going for Balderas. They include locals that represent about 2,000 government workers around the state, mainly in the North.

Martin is still expected to benefit most from the AFSCME union muscle but Balderas says, "We always knew that we would not be the campaign supported by most of the Washington insiders...That’s why having the grassroots support of these locals...is so important to our campaign...

Balderas is also promoting another endorsement, saying he has received the backing of "veteran national and New Mexico organizer Cuauhtémoc “Temo” Figueroa. Figueroa...served as National Latino Vote Director for President Obama’s 2008 general election campaign and National Field Director during the primary campaign..."


This statement from the Guv regarding her heritage came about as she continues to strongly advocate for the repeal of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants:

I know my great grandparents on my mother's side came from Mexico, (but) my stance doesn't change. This is not an immigration issue. This is a public safety issue," Martinez said."Knowing all along (that) I am an American of Mexican descent, I still stand by my position that New Mexicans want me to repeal this law.

We didn't know that. It was recently confirmed that Martinez's grandparents on her father's side--not her great grandparents--entered the USA illegally:

Martinez's grandparents chose to leave what was familiar in Mexico for uncertain opportunity in the United States. A 1930 U.S. Census Bureau record lists Martinez's paternal grandparents, Adolfo and Francisca Martinez, and shows their citizenship status as "AL" for "alien," the census-form indication for "all foreign-born persons neither naturalized nor having first papers."

Martinez has made illegal immigration a banner issue, therefore, her own background is of more than passing interest. But her family tree has only trickled out. Why not just put the whole family history out there as it is understood? Surely those pushing her for the vice-presidential ticket know that the national media and others are going to want to know her exact roots.

As for the repeal of the driver's licenses, it is more than a public safety issue as the Governor avers. It is also an economic issue. A healthy portion of the state's rural economy is propped up by illegal labor.


The early gaming of the outcome of the Guv's push to again repeal those controversial driver's licenses has it probably passing in the House, but getting killed in a Senate committee. The Dem leadership is not going to want to again bring this bill to the floor and have it dominate the session on redistricting which the Governor on Monday called for Sept. 6. But nothing is guaranteed. Insiders say there is pressure on a number of Senators to reverse their opposition to the repeal, including Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings of Roswell. In the last regular session his leadership was instrumental in killing the bill. He supported compromise legislation that the Guv's camp rejected.

It was praised as brave move by the conservative Jennings and he would look weakened if he backed off his compromise position. But he hails from conservative SE NM where the move can cause particular grief--not that he is seen as vulnerable for re-election, having served in the Senate since 1979. Still, Tim will be closely watched for his actions on the bill.


This can't come soon enough for New Mexico and its billions in federal funding:

The reign of the Tea Party may be coming to an end in Washington, according to academic political experts who say polls show a backlash against the conservative movement. Two national polls released this month showed the Tea Party’s unfavorable rating at an all-time high. Political scientists say the data shows a backlash of independent voters against conservative lawmakers who have taken a hard line against bipartisan compromise in Washington...The CNN poll showed the Tea Party’s favorable/unfavorable rating grew from 37 percent in October of 2010 to 51 percent in August 2011....


We joked in Monday's blog that a hundred years ago they would have hung you for stealing some one's chimichangas. That was in reaction to the news that Public Regulation commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. is accused of misusing his state credit card by making multiple gasoline purchases as well as billing taxpayers for two chimichingas. Author Herb Romero in Florida, always with an eye on history, comes with this:

There were no chimichangas (deep fried burritos) in New Mexico 100 years ago. Tamales, enchiladas and tacos were the original Mexican foods that were introduced by Mexicans into the area--and that was less than a hundred years ago. It happened in the early forties when Mexicans were welcomed as guest workers to help fill jobs in our defense plants and shipyards. Beans and chile had been around more than one hundred years--a popular dish of both Native and Spanish American peoples. It's all a simple matter of history, Joe, and it's all in my book, "Always North."

Thanks, Herb. Let's catch up over some historic green chile the next time you're in town.

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