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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Gingrich: Another Goldwater? How He Plays Here, Plus: Bill's Pals Are Back & Hanging With The New Gang, And: My Bottom Lines 

Newt Gingrich? Really? The stunning rise of the former House Speaker from down in the dumps to top of the heap of the 2012 GOP presidential field has NM Republicans wondering how he would play here. Not all are sanguine. They see Newt as having less appeal in the ABQ area than Mitt Romney, the other leading candidate. That could make it difficult for Gingrich to carry the state, even if he turned in a solid southern performance. They also worry over the unpredictability of Gingrich and how having him atop the ticket would impact the US Senate race and ABQ congressional contest, both of which are up for grabs.

One sidebar: Newt has a more moderate approach on immigration than his rivals. That could help him here.

Gingrich carries more baggage than American tourister (or Louis Vuitton for you sophisticates). Can the R's really be serious about making him their standard bearer? The blow-out polling numbers he is posting less than a month before the important Iowa caucuses can't be ignored.

Is Gingrich the Goldwater of 2012? Are the R's about to make New Mexico a lay-up for Obama and probably most of the nation? Handing the crown to Gingrich is something you imagine as one of three wishes the Dems would ask a genie to grant. Heck, they'd forget about the other two wishes if the gentle genie gave them Newt.

THE VOICE OF OBAMA

President Obama came into office somewhat meekly, unable to articulate the Wall St. vs. Main St. divide that is the defining economic issue of our time. A number of analysts say Obama found his voice on that this week while delivering a fiery speech in Kansas. An excerpt:

...The basic bargain that made this country great has eroded. Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people. Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefitted from that success. Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren't -- and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.

KEITH AND JERRY

They're back! Bill's, old gang that is. Alligators check in with this eyebrow raiser. They say at the recent Lobo-Aggie basketball game in ABQ they spotted Keith Gardner, chief of staff to Governor Martinez, enjoying the contest with none other than Gerald Peters, the major friend of Big Bill who donated over $100,000 to Bill's campaigns and let him use his private jet. Peters was at the center of one of the many pay-to-play stories that made headlines during Bill's tenure and which became a centerpiece of Martinez's campaign for Governor. But there he was chumming it up with Keith.

That sighting comes on the heels of what's been called the down and dirty Downs deal where another friend of bill's--Paul Blanchard-- cozied up to the current administration and is about to have finalized a controversial 25 year racino lease at NM Expo.

Are these old pals of Bill's penetrating her inner circle what Susana had in mind when she promised "bold change" last year? Just asking.

A LETTER FROM SANTA FE

The trial over the future boundaries of the state's three congressional districts was
held this week in Santa Fe, one of several that will decide the state's political boundaries because the Legislature and Governor could not come to an agreement. One of our Alligators was on hand for the trial and came with this insider take:

The courtroom is the old Senate chambers in the Bataan Building. It seemed small for the 42 senators we have today, but we only had 32 back then as each county had one senator. This was prior to the implementation of the "one person, one vote" principle of the voting right's act.


Judge James A. Hall is sitting at a table in the front to the left. The witness sits at a table in the front to the right with the stenographer in the middle.

The room has a slight angle upward similar to a lecture hall. Where the Senators sat decades ago is now filled with practically a "who's who" of NM's legal community.


The prominent lawyers involved include Stephen Durkovich & former District Court Judge David Thomson (Rep. Maestas Plaintiffs); GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers (Sena Plaintiffs), former Supreme Court Justice Paul Kennedy (Gov. Martinez), Rob Doughty III (Sec. of State Duran): Luis Stelzner (Speaker Lujan & President Pro Tem Jennings); and Joe Goldberg & Ray Vargas II (Rep. Egolf Plaintiffs).


ABQ Rep. Moe Maestas (also an attorney) was the only named plaintiff in the courtroom during the trial. He was also called as a witness defending his plan which he introduced during the recent special session (HB 49). Rep. Egolf stopped by Tuesday morning.

Also, Santiago Juarez, attorney from Espanola, represented the LULAC plaintiff. UNM Professor Gabriel Sanchez was called as an expert witness in Latino politics. They argued to make the 2nd Congressional District a majority Hispanic district.

The lawyers are very cordial and respectful to each other, many times referring to each other by their first names during the trial. At one point Stephen Durkovich even exclaimed, "Thanks Paul, you're right, I'll rephrase the question," after Kennedy's objection was granted by the judge.


LOVEJOY CHALLENGE
Shendo
We blogged a couple of weeks ago about State Rep. Sandra Jeff contemplating leaving the House and mounting a primary challenge to Dem State Senator Lynda Lovejoy. Jeff broke with Speaker Lujan causing major headaches for the Dems in the narrowly divided chamber. Her departure would strengthen Lujan's hand. The latest we are getting is that Jeff will stay in the House and support another Lovejoy challenger. One of our Alligators in Indian Country comes with the news:

This past Saturday former NM Indian Affairs Cabinet Secretary and 3rd Congressional District candidate, Benny Shendo, who comes from Jemez Pueblo, announced his candidacy to run against Lynda Lovejoy before members of the Eastern Navajo Agency Council.

Shendo, Jr. made his announcement after Lovejoy gave her report before the Council at Iyanbito Chapter.

Shendo told the large gathering of Navajo chapter leaders of his strong desire to stand up for all Native American people. Shendo said Sen. Lovejoy has worked against native people with her sponsorship of her Native American cigarette tax bill that Shendo said undermines Indian sovereignty...

Shendo said Lovejoy hurt Navajos when she single-handedly killed the $240 million Severance Tax Capital Outlay bill (SB 218). Shendo said Sen. Lovejoy killed tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure and capital improvement projects for Navajo people. Shendo said Lovejoy filibustered the capital outlay bill during the 2011 Regular Session because of her personal vendetta against Rep. Sandra Jeff and accused Jeff and the House of Representatives of “pulling shenanigans.”

That Gator is obviously tilted toward Shendo, but it demonstrates that Lovejoy, who ran and lost a 2010 campaign for the Navajo Nation presidency, faces a stormy 2012 re-election bid. Shendo lost in 2008 when he sought the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat.

THE BOTTOM LINES

What's going on at the University of New Mexico School of Law? Apparently a lot as it has recently received much recognition for excellence. The law school was one of the state's great legislative achievements in its first 100 years of statehood. If we can do that right, why can't we do it with the public schools? Well, we can:

Gov. Martinez on Wednesday said she would push for an additional $17 million in annual school spending to help New Mexico's youngest students become proficient readers. The money would go for diagnostic assessments of children in grades one through three, “interventions” for those kids who are struggling to read and reading coaches.

The bill will be introduced in the January legislative session with bipartisan support. It deserves it.

Now if Susana could just craft a similar compromise on those driver's licenses for illegals, we just might have a productive session....


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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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