Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guessing Game Over Gary As He Takes Third Party Path, Plus: Promoting NM--Should We Step It Up? And: Keith, Jerry And The Blogger 

He's nearly a sure thing to take 5% of the NM presidential vote and 8% is probably his top line number. So says veteran Dem political analyst and pollster Harry Pavlides in the wake of the official announcement from former NM GOP Governor Gary Johnson that he will seek the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nomination.

He will have to work for it, but the 5% is very doable. He could head toward 8% if he puts a special effort into the state. I see him performing strongly in places like San Juan County in the heavy Republican Four Corners where there is a strong Libertarian bent, and his long ties to ABQ will benefit him here.

History shows a regular Lib prez contender has trouble cracking the 1% mark. Analyst Pavlides said Johnson benefits from his name ID from eight years as Governor from 1995 to 2003:

If you're a Democrat, you see Johnson as having done a lot of harm to the state, but when he left there was no obvious implosions, so he benefits.

We would add that there is a risk of underestimating Johnson's media appeal. The ABQ Journal and Santa Fe New Mexican have both given what some observers see as an inordinate amount of coverage to his longshot and now defunct campaign for the GOP presidential nod. His Santa Fe news conference Wednesday announcing his Lib bid played heavily on all three major network TV affiliates. It's a sure thing that Johnson will be getting more of this extremely valuable free media in the months ahead--at least in New Mexico.

Pavlides and other analysts agree that Johnson will mostly take Republican votes, but will peel off some Independents and others who favor drug legalization, but his primary appeal is his fiscal conservatism. That will pull the votes in on the east side of the state where the GOP prez nominee will need a strong showing.

For the NM GOP the best outcome is that Republican Ron Paul gets out of the GOP Prez race as Johnson did and goes after the Lib nomination. That could upend Gary's plans.


We pointed to former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez and ex-Governor Big Bill as two prominent Dem politicians who advanced gay rights in the state. We did so while blogging of a PPP poll that showed New Mexico tipping in favor of gay marriage, but several readers pointed out that former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca (1997-2001) was overlooked. An example:

For the record, Jim Baca was the mayor who in 2001 extended, for the first time, healthcare benefits to city employees who had gay partners. He was the first Mayor to ride in the Gay Pride parade. He took a lot of grief for both actions.


Elbowing our way through the Christmas crowds along Fifth Avenue this week we heard a plethora of accents, but Brooklynese or Jersey slang was definitely in the minority. It was Russian, Chinese and other accents that broke through the big city din. It made us thankful that they were over here spending back some of the dollars that we've sent over there. But what about little 'ol New Mexico getting some of their largess? That's where our tourism department comes in and its newfound reluctance to fight for more promotional dollars. Tourism Secretary Monique Jacoboson says do less with more, but that's not what New York is doing or, as we previously blogged, Colorado.

There's a wave of new money washing over new populations. The mystique that is New Mexico is now available to them, but only if they know about it. With the state nearing the centennial year of 2012, now is the ideal time for Governor Martinez and Secretary Jacobson to get aggressive and market to these new consumers. Parsimony has no pay-off if it means keeping the new class of world tourists in the dark and away from the bright light that is this Land of Enchantment.


A year or so ago we mentioned favorably the discussion that Santa Fe tycoon Gerald Peters took part in to advance New Mexico tourism in China, but today our discussion of Peters is of a more controversial variety. Santa Fe attorney Slate Stern represents Peters and has a bone to pick with us over our blog in which we noted that Governor Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner was spotted enjoying a recent Lobo-Aggie college basketball game with Peters, a Dem and major financial friend of former Governor Big Bill:

Your blog on December 8 about Gerald Peters misleads your readers. It implies that because Mr. Peters was sitting next to one of Governor Martinez's staff members at a New Mexico Lobo-Aggie basketball game, Mr. Peters is paying-to-play with the Martinez administration. Nothing could be further from the truth...

The fact that Mr. Peters sat next to a Martinez staffer at a basketball game suggests nothing more than that person and Mr. Peters are acquainted with one another and that both of them enjoy basketball. A simple Internet search with the New Mexico Secretary of State would have answered any question you may have had whether Mr. Peters has made significant contributions to the Martinez administration in an attempt to gain favor.

Your December 8th blog about Mr. Peters is nothing more than rumor mongering. It is not based in fact. Before you implied in your column that Mr. Peters was paying-to-play with the Martinez administration, would it not have been prudent on your part to simply inquire how much money Mr. Peters has, in fact, given to the Martinez administration? Had you done that you would have learned that Mr. Peter's contributions to the Martinez campaign have been nominal and that there is absolutely no basis in fact to allege that...

Thanks for your letter, Slate. Our point was that it was quite interesting to see the chief of staff to Martinez hanging with Peters, a major financial backer of Richardson's who gave him more than $100,000, loaned his jet for Big Bill's travels and ran into pay-to-play allegations during Bill's terms. Martinez made it clear that such associations would be verboten in her administration.

While attorney Stern is correct to say that Peters has not been a major financial backer of Martinez and there is no reason to imply that he is paying to play, his mere presence at the highest reaches of this administration is enough to give any reasonable observer pause.

We hear through the grapevine--the Governor's office will not comment--that an advisor to the Governor says Peters was in the vicinity of Gardner at the game and not actually attending it with him, but this letter from Peters' attorney indicates otherwise and confirms our Alligator's report that Peters and Gardner did sit sit together.

It's not about the integrity of Peters, a successful and talented businessman, but about the actions of those who hold government power. We probably could have done a better job in making that distinction. But our intent was not to "rumor monger" but to reveal a public association that we found very unusual and very striking in the context of the rhetoric of the 2010 campaign. The Republican chief of staff to the Republican Governor hanging with a top Democratic financial backer of Bill Richardson? Come on, Slate. That's not rumor mongering, that's news.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in getting in front of the state's political community? Email us about advertising here.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign