Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Kari Vs. Jennifer: Upcoming Dem DA Battle Sure To Grab Spotlight, Plus: More On GOP Senate Plotting, And: Bear Market Clears Traffic In Farmington 

Brandenburg Vs. Romero
You want hot and heavy primary action? Well, pull up a chair and a bag of popcorn and join us on the campaign trail for the battle for Bernalillo County district attorney. Kari Brandenburg, seeking a fourth, four year term as DA, is preparing a spirited defense against an aggressive challenge being mounted by Jennifer Romero. Insiders say the preliminary sparring has already started behind the scenes and that there's no love lost between the two contenders.

Romero, 39, a native of Santa Fe and a UNM School of Law grad, is a former public defender with eight years under her belt, She has since returned Io private practice as a defense lawyer. Brandenburg is the heavyweight who has been down this road before. She faced off in a bitter duel against Republican Lisa Torraco four years ago and won.

Romero's team says they will come after Brandenburg hard and try to paint her as an ineffective DA who has not been forced to explain her record. It will be that same record that Brandenburg vigorously defends. And Kari has the personal financial strength to do it. Romero not so much. And that could be a big difference. Still, a Dem primary featuring one Anglo and one Hispanic is always one to watch. They can get close fast. No other candidates have signaled an interest in joining the fray and no name Republicans have yet emerged. That's fine. We probably have all we can handle in watching the show Kari and Jennifer are going to deliver.

Sen. Ingle
Is State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle vulnerable to being couped from his leadership post by fellow Republicans who are more closely aligned with the Governor and her political team? It has been the subject of ongoing speculation here since the Guv's operatives made clear they more or less forced GOP Senator Clint Harden out by threatening to primary him. Some of the Gators think Stu could be ripe for the plucking but others--including this Senior Alligator in Santa Fe--says not so fast:

I bet it doesn't get pulled off because Stuart is real popular among the current Republican senators. Also, there's that Senate institutional independence that cuts across party lines. Even if Sen. Adair beats Senator Burt and the replacements for Senators Boitano, Harden and Asbill were all loyalists to Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey, they wouldn't have the numbers. (The likely replacement for Dem Senator Lisa Curtis is Republican Mark Moores. He is a former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley.) I might be wrong, but I doubt he'd go along with such an insurrection. But I think you're right that if there was an uprising, Adair would be part of it...

Interesting stuff and we tend to agree that ousting Ingle is getting tougher by the day. The coup effort against him is suffering from the disinfectant known as sunlight....

Now more on the political fallout from the Guv's strong-arm effort that forced Senator Harden to the sidelines. One of our east side Republican readers--a business owner--says there's plenty of discontent over this:

Joe, There are a lot people who were stunned when Clint announced his retirement. And we couldn’t believe it when the Governor endorsed the first person to announce for the seat. It would have set better with people if Governor Martinez had at least waited until others had announced and then made a choice after meeting all of them. The “East Side” voted heavy for the Governor in the election but she might not have that support the next time around. We feel like she is trying to control our election and we don’t like that. We want to choose our own State Senator. She is probably going to support Angie Spears with her SusanaPAC and some of us, who donated to that PAC, are wishing we had our money back in order to donate it to one of the other candidates...

Angie Spears is the nice of GOP Public Regulation Commission Chairman Pat Lyons and is the first cousin to the wife of Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler who in turn has close ties to the Guv's political operation.

How about that line about Republicans not giving money to SusanaPAC if they are upset about its interference in R primaries? That's kind of like Rush Limbaugh being hit with advertiser withdrawals, isn't it?


A Santa Fe reader writes:

Joe, not sure if you saw this:

Lawmakers this session reallocated $4 million from a future mega government complex project to fund the more immediate reconstruction of the Manuel Lujan Building. That means 300 Taxation and Revenue employees will move out of the Lujan building this summer for about a year while it is completely gutted and renovated. It also means the state at a later time can again seek funds for the supercomplex, which is still without a location. The complex commonly is called the Las Soleras project for the area south of Santa Fe that members of the former Gov. Bill Richardson administration favored.

And the reader comments:

Let's hope this is the final nail in the coffin for this boondoggle project that should have never got as far as it has--one of Richardson's "legacy " projects. Susana should run from this as fast as she can.

Yes, we thought we saw Susana jogging down Paseo de Peralta the other day...or was that Chuck?


With the crash in natural gas prices Farmington and San Juan County have been ground zero for the Great Bear Market. Its tracks run deep. The latest:

The number of daily drivers throughout San Juan County decreased more than 4 percent since 2008, said the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. (It) can be attributed to a slumping local economy and high gas prices. During the same three-year period when local traffic dropped 4 percent, natural gas production in northwest New Mexico dropped 13 percent, according to (state) statistics...Fewer vehicles are traveling San Juan County roads, suggesting the area has yet to recover from an economic downturn.

"When you lose 5,000 local jobs, you have fewer people commuting to and from work and fewer industry vehicles on the road," San Juan County Commissioner Margaret McDaniel.

The oversupply of natural gas is keeping prices down, slamming Farmington and depriving the state of royalty revenue. Santa Fe says it makes up some of the slack through royalties from higher priced liquefied natural gas, but there's no denying the gas crash has been historic and a chief reason for the decline in money flowing to the state treasury.


With all 112 NM state senators and representatives on the November ballot and with filing day March 20, tracking the action can get pretty wild. Sometimes we just can't keep up with it all. Take the case of Roswell GOP State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair. We posted a blog early Tuesday saying he had not made a definitive announcement about his plans to seek a fifth term. But it turns out newsman Milan Simonich nailed down Adair's plans to run again. We missed his article until Steve Terrell of the New Mexican pointed it out.

With that confirmation we can look forward to one of the hottest primary contests of the season. Adair will face fellow Republican Senator Bill Burt. Under redistricting, the two were thrown into the same SE NM district. This could turn into a high-dollar primary as Roswell oilman Mark Murphy, who spent hundreds of thousands in 2008 to oust GOP State Rep. Dan Foley, an Adair ally, is now supporting Burt in his battle with Rod.

Also Tuesday, we carried speculation that Greg Nibert (not Craig), a GOP Chaves County Commissioner friendly with Rod, could get into the race. That seems dated now that Adair is all in.

Well, suffice it to say the speculation and chatter in this Roswell-Alamogordo-Lincoln area seat is at fever pitch. We'll look for more twists and turns as they develop--if we can keep up.

And one other clean-up item. Readers Allen Stenger and Carol Guzman point out that we erroneously said that Sandra Fluke, the woman who was called a "slut" by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, is an undergraduate student. She is in fact a law student at Georgetown University in DC.

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