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Thursday, September 01, 2011

State Cop In Sex Caper Has Deep Ties To La Politica, Plus: Why John Sanchez Embraced The Tea Party, And: Hectoring Hector 

The ties of La Politica go deep indeed and they are now surfacing in the notorious case of State Police Officer Bert Lopez. He's been identified by the press as the officer who had his way with a lady friend on the hood of her Honda while he was in full uniform . The sexcapade near Santa Fe was captured on security video and Lopez, Jr. awaits disciplinary action. Now to the officer's ties to La Politica from one of our Alligators:

Lopez is the grandson of Alex Armijo, a former Santa Fe politico and former Dem state land commissioner. And his political ties don't stop there. His mother, Raquel Lopez, is a close friend of Lenore Naranjo, the Chief Clerk of the State Senate and serves as a Senate clerk...Lenore Naranjo is pushing Bert Lopez Jr.'s nephew, Vince Torres, for Deputy Chief Clerk of the Senate. If this comes to pass, Vince Torres would be the first male to have such a post...

State Police have not said if Lopez was on duty while enjoying the open-air sex, but they do say that it was not related to his work as a cop. Not to say that it wasn't hard work to bed his damsel on the hood of that car. No question this is one officer who passed the State Police fitness exam with flying colors. And, of course, proof of his overall virility went viral on the Net when photos were released.

WHY SANCHEZ FLIPPED

He started off reticent, but has since fully embraced the label of "tea party" candidate. What made GOP US Senate candidate John Sanchez make the switch? Maybe
this:

Roughly six in ten Republicans and Republican-leaning independents identify themselves as tea party supporters and among that group Perry takes 35 percent of the vote--well ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (14 percent) and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (14 percent.)

Tea party fever may be weakening in the broader electorate, but among the sliver of NM Republicans who will cast votes in the Senate primary, the movement is alive and well. That's why the race between Heather Wilson and Sanchez remains an open question. We have to see if Sanchez runs a good enough campaign to captivate that tea party vote and sidestep early favorite Wilson.

HECTORING HECTOR

"Fiscal accountability" and "infrastructure." Are those really the hot button words that are going to get the crowds in the Dem US Senate primary excited about candidate Hector Balderas? He apparently thinks so as he came with this missive that makes you wonder how the fella fixing your car in Chama would react:

Hector knows that fiscal responsibility is the best way to ensure that we expand economic opportunity...As State Auditor, Hector protected taxpayers' money by cracking down on fraud and abuse in our schools, municipalities, and agencies...By going after waste in our schools, he helped make sure that money went back into the classroom to educate our children, where it belongs. Hector fights for this type of fiscal accountability so that we can invest in initiatives that create jobs such as education, infrastructure, and innovation."

Hector is indeed the state auditor and has to run on that strength as he faces off with Rep. Martin Heinrich for the nomination, but it sure comes across dry and somewhat complicated. You just don't hear voters talking this way, but maybe his focus groups say it works. We find Hector's personal narrative much more compelling, but that's just us. We ran it by an Alligator who minds these matters:

They must have seen something that they can use to differentiate themselves from Heinrich. I would imagine that they will say Martin has done nothing to save government money and Hector has hands-on experience with saving money and rooting out fraud.

Meanwhile, the endorsement chase goes on. Hector snagged some love from longtime Dona Ana Dem State Senator Mary Kay Papen, a pragmatic lawmaker who would understand every word that Hector says about "fiscal accountability." (Dona Ana State Rep. Mary Helen Garcia is also endorsing Balderas).

IN COURT AGAIN

Before it's over, the Martinez administration is going to see the inside of a courtroom more than Perry Mason. The latest:

(AP)--A New Mexico judge blocked Gov. Martinez's administration Wednesday from requiring tens of thousands of immigrants to recertify their driver's licenses and verify whether they continue to live in the state. Martinez last month announced the residency verification plan, which represents the administration's latest effort to focus attention on the state's politically charged license policy, which the governor contends poses a security risk.

Yep. Back on the illegal licenses. Maybe we should just have a special cabinet department--"Office of Illegal Driver's Licenses." Come to think of it, we already have one. That's the new name for the Office of the Governor.

SPEND IT HERE

Reader Alex Curas writes of the state's advertising contact to promote tourism:


I agree with you that $2.5 million is a paltry sum of money to allocate for the marketing budget of the entire state....We cannot hope to increase national (much less international) travel to NM with such an underfunded advertising budget. This is the face of NM we're talking about, the image we present to the world. We need it to be well funded and full of innovative ideas...

Also, what's the point of contracting these marketing services to out-of-state firms? Giving these dollars to a NM-based firm, paltry though they may be, will keep that money in-state and support talented workers ...It's the citizens of this state who know firsthand our beautifully diverse cultures and landscapes...That being said, someone must guard against simply rehashing the cliched tri-culture, turquoise-laden tourism strategies of the past and perhaps an outside firm is best suited to do that.
...

Thanks, Alex. We don't get overly xenophobic about awarding this small contract to an out of state company that may have a new spin on things.
It is, as you put it, the "paltry" amount of the tourism contract that is of concern. Can't Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson fight for more funding? This is a cornerstone business for NM and it is hurting, but she says she will not ask the Legislature to up the number.

Meanwhile, the move to merge the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments is back on the table and may be considered during the special session. It could work if the Tourism secretary heads the department and the cultural affairs head becomes deputy secretary.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Democratic women were checking in here late Wednesday with the news that Nili Lange, chair of the Bernalillo County Democratic Women, had been ousted at a special meeting that discussed her handling of the group's finances. One of those checking in says up to 60 women showed up at the special meeting.....

Talk about bipartisanship. Freshly appointed Bernalillo County Metro Court Judge Henry Alaniz was feted at a fund-raiser at Yanni's in ABQ last night. Pretty ordinary until you know that the Republican judge, a former assistant district attorney, had Dem State Rep. Al Park introduce him and noted Dem trial lawyer Sam Bregman cheering him on. A good night for Alaniz who so far is unopposed.

Also on hand was Governor Martinez's fresh appointee to the NM Court of Appeals.
Republican Miles Hanisee was named to replace Judge Robert Robles who resigned because of a drunk driving charge. Judge Hanisee admits he faces a tough election bid in this Democratic state when he goes on the 2012 ballot. But he says no matter the outcome, he is thankful to be able to serve. He won't get too lonely on the court. Fellow Republican Judge Rod Kennedy has an office near him.

Dem attorney Victor Lopez who is going to run for Hanisee's seat, was also on hand at Yanni's to support Republican Alaniz. Metro Court Judge Ben Chavez pointed out the pair appear ready for the campaign--Hanisee was wearing a Republican red tie and Lopez was appropriately bedecked in blue neckwear.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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