Monday, March 12, 2012

Readers Get In On Dem Preprimary Aftermath, Plus: A Boat Load Of Campaign Action As Legislative Jockeying Continues 

Balderas & Mother at preprimary
The spin spilleth over. Reaction to Saturday's Democratic Party preprimary convention filled the Facebook and Twitter pages as well as our old fashioned e-mail box. We chipped in our analysis on a weekend blog below and complete convention results are here. Now to that email...

Eric Griego's eight point win in delegate support in the ABQ congressional race over ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez and an even larger margin over Michelle Lujan Grisham had this Chavez sympathizer arguing that the June primary results will not mimic those at the convention:

Democratic Party insiders are suffering from Marty fatigue and are engaging is a whisper campaign about his significant other and the beneficiary is Eric Griego. It looks troublesome for Marty now but when rank and file Democrats vote in the primary the outcome will likely be different.  Marty was a middle of the road leader who was a good mayor in spite of an abrasive personality. Griego's environmentalist appeal may not hold with voters whose concern with KAFB and Sandia National Lab jobs motivates their voting choice.

Chavez's girlfriend, Loretta Mares, was recently indicted on embezzlement related charges and some observers feel it may have played a role in his defeat at the hands of Griego.


Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, a backer of US Senate candidate Hector Balderas, is doing her best to paint Hector's nearly 10 point loss at the convention to Rep. Martin Heinrich as a game-changer--for Balderas:

Hector exceeded all expectations. He went up against an opponent boasting a 20 point polling lead as well as a 3-1 lead in financial resources. Hector's ability to personally connect and tell his NM story was one of the only times the preprimary crowd was silent and listening. This incredible showing for Hector will earn him a second look from even Heinrich supporters as well as  others, and Hector supporters are more energized and proud than ever....

No all agreed with Denish's assessment. For example, this reader dissed the Balderas campaign for calling his loss a "phenomenal" performance:

Only Hector would characterize a loss as phenomenal. With former Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon running his campaign he should have won the preprimary. It is the party Brian built. 

The Balderas campaign posted their candidate's preprimary speech on YouTube.

And then there are those playing both sides of the fence in the Dem Senate race:

I will vote for Hector because I am so disgusted with war mongering Heinrich and so will my friends. We just aren’t broadcasting our choice. I have given money to Heinrich but am keeping silent about not supporting him in the voting booth, just in case. Covering my bases, why not?


If there's one thing the camp of outgoing Speaker Ben Lujan is determined to avoid, it's having political upstart Carl Trujillo replace him in his Santa Fe County state House seat. And they may have a good start on it. In a surprise announcement, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss says he will seek the seat held by Lujan who was forced into retirement by lung cancer. This presents a major obstacle to Trujillo who almost became a giant killer when he lost to Lujan in the June 2010 primary by less than 90 votes. But Coss is well-known and will be well-financed. And if the field is Trujillo with Coss as the major name--as seems likely--the speaker will throw his weight behind the mayor.

Not that Trujillo need back off. He has some ammo to use against Coss. The city of Santa Fe is anything but a bed of roses these days. Real estate values continue their slow-motion crash, employment is lousy, tax collections remain anemic because of the lousy economy and  property crime continues to spike. Besides arguing that Coss is part of the Lujan political "machine," Trujillo will ask, why voters would want Coss to split his time between two jobs. The answer should be entertaining.


Keeping it in the north, State Senator Phil Griego may have just been dealt a break. Former Santa Fe County Commissioner Jack Sullivan, 69, is joining the Dem primary race to take out Griego, He joins Nicole Castellano in the contest. But could the two of them split the anti-Griego vote giving Phil the primary win? Griego is nothing if not crafty and has survived a number of political perils in his sprawling district over the years. He may be set up to survive yet another.


Back here in River city, no one is going to argue that ABQ Dem west side State Senator Bernadette Sancehez is an easy target, but Jacob Candelaria, her freshly minted Dem primary opponent has come with some fire and brimstone that may catch voter attention. Sanchez, seeking a fourth, four year term, was an ardent supporter of the dreaded food tax, despite coming from a low income district. She lost the battle when a reinstatement of the tax was vetoed in 2010. Candelaria comes out swinging on that and also those big income tax breaks for the wealthy that many Dems fell in love with under Big Bill:

I support rolling back the 2003 state tax give-away to those making over $250,000 a year, and instead using that money to provide tax relief for hard working families who continue to struggle in this economy...I oppose the anti-family, regressive state tax on food. In 2010, at the height of the recession when working families began to face record high levels of unemployment and home foreclosure, Bernadette Sanchez sponsored and championed a bill that would tax their food...There is a clear choice in this race between someone who will be on the side of working families, and someone that is not. As senator, I will proudly stand with working families.

Candelaria heads up Equality New Mexico, an advocacy group for gays, lesbians and transgenders, but it's his economic argument that catches the eyes, given how debate over income tax policy has come to a screeching halt in the Senate. A conservative coalition of Dems and R's holds forth there. Maybe candidates like Candaleria can get the Democratic Party debate going again?

One other note for those of you new to the scene. The sister of Sen. Sanchez is Agnes Maldonado, a major backer of GOP Guv Martinez who has a management job at NM Expo and has been closely associated with the Guv's political action committee--SusanaPAC. It's another of those connections you need to know as you navigate the long and winding political road around here.

(And readers now tell us that Agnes is no longer at NM Expo).


David Chavez, you are busted. For quirkiness. A Senior Alligator reported to us a couple of weeks ago that the unpredictable Valencia County first-term GOP State Representative would not seek re-election to his seat, but as soon as the digital ink is dry, he phones in and says it's not so, that he is indeed running, It was a very rare correction of a Senior Gator (Qualifications: minimum age 45 years;, 20 years of experience in La Politica and (optionally) having sought elective office) But it turns out that Chavez apparently did not want to be scooped by us. Now he comes out and announces that he is indeed calling it quits, says the Valencia County News-Bulletin, and will not seek a second term. Just as we told you.

Chavez heads out the door with his quirky reputation intact. He complains about the compensation for legislators, saying the per diem and the limited pension they get is not enough. Chavez is in private law practice and also complains that the time he spent serving in the Legislature was cutting into his business. But he knew all that when he ran, didn't he? After all, his father, the late Democratic political legend Tibo Chavez, was a state senator.

David Chavez, for crossing a Senior Alligator, you are hereby banned from attending all Matanzas for a period of five years and will no longer be allowed to kiss Governor Martinez's ring when it is offered.

As for the Chavez seat, with no incumbent now in the contest maybe former Dem State Rep. Andrew Barreras, who Chavez ousted in 2010, has a better chance? Maybe, but he was ethically challenged on a tax delinquency issue last time. Republican businesswoman Kelly Fajado is the new R hope for the district that performs about 50-50 between the two parties, but might lean Dem in a presidential election year.


While we are in Valenica County, what about State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez? The aforementioned Chavez was recruited as a possible R foe for Sanchez but will take a pass. So that leaves Governor Martinez without a high-profile name to take on her #1 Roundhouse foe. Sanchez of Belen, brother of former NM House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, has come into his own as leader with Martinez as his foil. The Guv says he has single-handedly killed a number of her priorities. Of course, Sanchez beams like the father of a newborn when he hears that talk. His district is even more Dem friendly under the new boundaries so even with money and a good candidate, Sanchez appears positioned to return to Santa Fe and keep putting the needle in Susana's side.


It's that time of year for the NM GOP:

The Republican Party of New Mexico Cordially invites you to the 2012 Lincoln Day Dinner. For a conversation on the future of our country, how Western issues are critical to the 2012 elections and what is at stake for our families depending on the outcome of the November elections. With Congressional & Senate Western Caucus Leaders; Congressman Steve Pearce, Chairman, House Western Caucus; Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee; Saturday March 17 at the ABQ Crowne Plaza Hotel; Individual Tickets $150/ Please RSVP by Monday, March 12th to Heather Hall at (505) 298-3662 or hhall@gopnm.org.

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