Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Departure of State Marijuana Man Explored, Plus: Polling Susana For VP, Pundits Take On Senate Race And Al Park's Place 

This AP lead out of Santa Fe grabbed the attention of the Gators:

The head of the New Mexico's medical marijuana program has quietly resigned and nobody is saying why. A state health department spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that Dominick Zurlo gave the state his notice about two weeks ago.

We asked for reader help in figuring this one out. One who knows Zurlo put the story together this way:

The administration made Dominick's his life as Medical Cannabis manager so hellish he chose to leave rather than deal with the unrelenting antics of an administration intent on killing a program they don't like but can't cancel. The administration has been managing the Medical Cannabis program to death by reorganizing it, physically moving it and otherwise making life difficult for the people running and using the program. From inside the Department it is clear they intend to manage the program down until it can't function anymore. And they will probably have their way, no one I know will take that job...

Gov. Martinez has made clear she does not support the medical marijuana program.


Governor Martinez says she isn't interested in the 2012 GOP VP nomination, but her political team keeps positioning her. Witness the roll out this week of her embracing her family roots and her visit to Mexico to celebrate her great-grandfather. And the Hispanic media is on the beat. Univision News/Latino Decisions comes with the first national polling on the NM Guv:

Martinez is not well known, as nearly half of the sample indicates that they have “never heard of” her, with another 30% indicating that they do not know enough about her yet to have an opinion. Furthermore, although slightly more Latinos view Martinez favorably when compared to the full sample, a robust 38% have “never heard of” the first Latina to be elected governor in U.S. history. Latino voters in the Southwest are more familiar with Martinez, 34% of Latinos in this region have “never heard” of her, and 23% are either “very” or “somewhat” favorable. These data suggest that Susana Martinez does not have the name recognition, at least at this point, to mobilize Latino voters if chosen as the GOP Vice Presidential candidate.

Susana is indeed a longshot, but don't think her political advisors (Hi, Jay) are not pushing for her behind the scenes and pushing hard.


How's the Dem US Senate race going here? The latest take from the WaPo on the Martin Heinrich-Hector Balderas match agrees with the conventional wisdom:

This race has yet to really heat up, but right now it’s not looking good for state Auditor Hector Balderas in the Democratic primary. Rep. Heinrich has been solidifying support and has twice as much cash-on-hand...Balderas will have to raise his profile nationally if he wants to compete. On the GOP side, Rep. Heather Wilson (R) still dominates in fundraising, although tea party candidate Greg Sowards’ campaign collapse will make it easier for Lt. Gov. John Sanchez to solidify tea party support. That could force the moderate Wilson to run further to the right, complicating the general election in this blue-leaning state...

With conservatives still wary of Heather, Sanchez can't be ruled out but front runner Wilson is not giving him any more opportunity than he already has.


Some may think he is shooting too low, but speculation is already circulating that retiring ABQ Dem State Rep. Al Park will make a run for higher office if he gets elected next year to the state Public Regulation Commission (PRC). He announced this week he will seek a seat on the powerful five member panel.

Park has put in ten years at the Roundhouse.
He toyed with a run for attorney general a couple of years ago, but stuck it out in Santa Fe, often the dead-end for political careers. The last we checked he had close to a couple of hundred thousand dollars in his campaign coffers, much of which he raised during his abortive AG run. He could use that money for the PRC race or take public financing. If he hangs on to the loot, he could use it for a run for attorney general in 2014, the slot that most observers think he would go for.

Park, 41, probably won't get a free ride for the Dem nomination for the ABQ PRC seat currently held by Dem Jason Marks. Former assistant city attorney and ex-City Councilor Pete Dinelli is mulling a run as is Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya.

Lopez & Best

Taos attorney Helen Laura Lopez tapped into her ABQ base--she is a city native--as she raised funds recently for a run for a district court judge seat in the Taos area. She is pictured with her "mentor," longtime ABQ attorney Hannah Best. Lopez specializes in Social Security cases. She's been highly active in the Dem Party, but faces two primary opponents for the judge nomination. Gov. Martinez this year appointed two women to fill vacancies in the 8th Judicial District. Lopez is running for one of them. Best is one of the founders of the national Women's Political Caucus as well as the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association.


Ticket sales are up to about 500 for $200,000 suborbital space rides to be launched from the southern NM Spaceport, and there's a "wow factor" in how that number was reached:

A Singaporean businessman, his wife and two children have paid $1 million to become the first Asian family to fly together on space-tourism airline Virgin Galactic, the company announced Monday. "I had lunch yesterday with a guy who got in touch with us in Singapore, and over lunch he signed his contract for not just a seat, but for a whole flight," Virgin Galactic commercial director Stephen Attenborough said. The customer handed over a cheque for $1 million and asked to remain anonymous because "apparently he hasn't told his wife yet. So he is going to become, or he and his family will become, the first family from Asia to become astronauts together...

Space flights are about two years out, according to Virgin Galactic.


We talked with KOB-TV about the Guv's latest comments on whether her grandparents entered the USA illegally or not...ABQ congressional candidate Dan Lewis confirms that attorney Doug Antoon, his longtime political consigliere, is no longer on his campaign's paid staff, but remains a "senior advisor." We reported on campaign shake-ups in the ABQ GOP congressional campaigns on Tuesday....

A couple of restaurant notes. We've stepped into La Provence near UNM several times since it has been under new management and there is no disappointment to be had...Old reliable Yanni's, near UNM, hadn't been so reliable, but a recent stop there recently showed it to be back in gear.

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