Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tuesday Blogging: More On The GOP Intrigue With Rod Adair, Stuart Ingle And The Fifth Floor, Plus: Will Limbaugh Survive? A NM Talk Pioneer Weighs In 

Sen. Adair
Let's kick it off today with more of the intrigue going on within the state GOP. There's plenty of play action....

In blogging of how the Guv's political machine could take out Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle and replace him with a leader with more fealty toward Martinez, we counted State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair as one of the eight votes they could round up to execute the coup at the next legislative session, but a reader writes:

Joe, You assume that Adair will be able to save his seat which is going to be hard for him in this new district...

Point taken. There is suspense over Rod's SE NM district. Under redistricting he has been thrown into the same district as fellow Republican Senator Bill Burt who the Guv appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy. We are waiting for Adair to formally announce his re-election plans which he must do by March 20. Las Cruces Sun-News columnist Walt Rubel says Adair will run against Burt. The New Mexican's Steve Terrell says Adair has told him directly that he will seek re-election. Also, newsman Milan Simonich came with this article quoting Adair as running for a fifth term.

The race is not a no-brainer for Adair. Burt, a radio station owner, is well-known in Alamogordo in Otero County which now makes up a large part of the district. He has announced he is all in on the Senate run.

(There has been some early compare and contrast between Adair and Burt over votes on a liability bill for the NM Spaceport. More on that here.

Adair has been an important voice in the Senate for the hard right of the GOP. That's why the state is watching this one closely.


Meantime, the speculation over the political future of respected State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle is rocking eastern New Mexico. We've blogged that Ingle, a local legend in the Clovis area, could be targeted by the Guv's political operation for replacement as GOP leader at the next legislative session. The
Clovis News-Journal asked Ingle directly about that possibility. He responded, "Who knows?"

He's not exactly shooting it down, is he?

The Guv's chief political adviser, Jay McCleskey, put out a statement assuring the locals that the Guv is supportive of Ingle and that they will not field a primary challenger against him. But that came after months of talk that they were looking for someone to run against him.

So who would replace Ingle as Senate GOP leader if the long knives come out and he is ousted? Informed insiders say ABQ State Senator Bill Payne, the Senate minority whip, is first in line. In light of that you might want to know that the very first political client of Jay McCleskey was none other than....Bill Payne.

Yep. Around here, the Gators cover both the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse--where the Guv sets up shop--as well as the "Fifth Floor" where the political plotting goes on and on and on....


Could this push for Senate conformity among the GOP cost the Governor politically? A Senior Alligator assesses Martinez's concentration on getting more compliant Republicans in the Senate this election year. He says it could be an overreach with consequences at the polls and could also detract from the R's hopes of increasing their strength in the narrowly divided state House:

"Holding serve" is an analogy from tennis. In tennis the server has the advantage to score. Hence Susana must now serve to hold onto the senators she has, instead of focusing on taking the House. She will be lucky to replace all of the Republican senators with those who will march to her wishes. Her anointed are tainted by the separation of powers and checks and balances issues...

And that sums it up in a nutshell. For example, Susana's anointed candidate to replace east side GOP State Senator Clint Harden, Angie Spears, has already drawn two opponents.

And then there's another factor you won't hear about anywhere else, but that's why we're here. Governor Martinez is a Hispanic woman from Las Cruces and Stuart Ingle is an Anglo male from cowboy country. The unity between the two can be fragile, no?

While the Guv and her operatives may want all R's to march in lockstep, the people doing the voting may have other ideas.


Mark Boitano has held his ABQ NE Heights Senate seat since 1997 so his retirement announcement seems to be creating some pent up demand. Republican Gerges Scott is first in line, coming with a formal announcement for the seat. He is an energy analyst with the DW Turner PR firm and a former executive news producer at KRQE-TV. He also worked as the PR flack for the Dept. of Corrections when Republican Gary Johnson was governor. Scott is a close friend of former Bernalillo County Sheriff and GOP activist Darren White who in turn has close ties to Gov. Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey.

Not to say Jay and company will back Scott. They may have two other choices if they want to play. Insiders say Kurstin Johnson, wife of GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, is mulling a run as is Lisa Torraco. We'll see how the field settles on filing date March 20. No Dems really need apply here. Boitano country is Republican country.


It is fundamental to understanding this era in New Mexican politics that the Governor, the GOP and a fair number of citizens do not want government to do much of anything. While Senator Adair recently called the recent session of the Legislature the biggest "do nothing" one he could recall, Farmington GOP Senator Bill Sharer has
a different take:

Generally speaking, any legislature, not just New Mexico's, mostly does things to people, not for them. This time one of the great successes was not doing anything to anybody...

After the big government Richardson era, the slowdown in Santa Fe could be seen as the pause that refreshes. The trouble comes when the pause becomes permanent.

Limbaugh & Santullo
Is the Rush Limbaugh talk radio era nearing its end? The conservative host has been atop the heap for decades, but his latest misstep is a doozy and causing advertisers to bail. When discussing contraception he set off a firestorm by calling a a student at Georgetown University Law School as a "slut" and a "prostitute."

We asked New Mexico talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo for his thoughts on where Limbaugh goes from here;

I think he will barely survive it. But, yes, I think it is the beginning of the end. In the over 20 years he has been on, this is the biggest negative reaction to anything he's done. The time is right for him to start crumbling. Time wise, the country has had enough and he isn't the icon he once was. The political climate isn't in his favor anymore give the fact that he and other conservative talk show hosts have not weakened Obama as they had hoped to. To quote Bob Dylan, "The times they are a changin'."

Limbaugh is heard locally from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. weekdays on 50,000 watt talk radio giant 770 KKOB-AM where he enjoys high ratings. If there have been calls for an advertiser boycott of Limbaugh locally, they have been below the radar.

Santullo began in talk radio in the early 70's when the medium was in its infancy. He held forth on KZIA-AM, ABQ's first full-time talk station. Later he toiled as a press flack for Dem ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz and as a director for the NM Commission for the Blind from which he retired.


The letter to the ABQ Journal editor that was also sent here and which we ran Monday said ABQ congressional candidate Marty Chavez had received a severance package from his DC employer when he left that job. But Chavez's campaign says the letter writer is wrong and sent a copy of his W-2 showing he made $96,000 in wages for part of 2011 and received no severance before he left to run for Congress. The issue of severance pay popped up recently when it was disclosed that congressional hopeful Eric Griego received $24,000 in severance pay when he left his post as executive director of the NM Voices for Children. The group defended the payout as normal while critics lambasted it as a disguised campaign contribution.


The redistricting of ABQ's nine city council districts is done and three of the council districts will now be on the Westside where growth boomed during the go-go years, but has since slowed. ABQ Mayor Berry came with this take:

I support having three full council districts on the Westside...I (also) supported a center city district, which (this redistricting) accomplishes as well....This has been a long deliberative process with significant public participation and I would like to thank all those involved for their input...

But neighborhood groups are threatening legal action to thwart the redistricting plan. The plan approved is called "Map-L." As is our custom we go deep inside City Hall and to one of our Alligators for an opposing view and one informed by an up-close look at the action:

The following is the basis for the demographic argument against Map L. District 2 is 35% white and has a total population of 63,508 2,833, so it has a + 4.7% deviation. District 3, also a majority-minority district (11.6% white), has a +2.8 deviation. The argument is that two minority-majority districts have the largest positive deviation. Councilor Winter's is 4, Jones 8, and Harris 9. All have negative deviations and are not minority-majority. The plan dilutes minority vote because of the deviations. This is a link to the demographic data of the map. This is a link to the map.

And there's another major concern with the approved plan. Here's that:

Map L packs the poor into District 2. The new District 2 would have the vast majority of low income census tracts and all of the federally-designated "pockets of poverty."

Let's see what happens, if anything, when and if these arguments go before a judge.

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