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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Following The Money: We Go Inside SusanaPAC, Plus: Why Is Gary Johnson Mad At Susana? And: Inside Kenny Montoya's Departure 

She is still relying heavily on Texas money, she's spending it at a fast pace and her political consultants are making a pretty penny. Those are some of the findings from our Alligators who have been scrutinizing the latest report from Governor Martinez's Susana PAC, organized to boost her political fortunes as well as those of Republican state senators and representatives.

Susana PAC, run by Martinez political advisor Jay McCleskey, raised $336,000 in the October to April stretch, but it spent $342,000, most of it apparently on mailers promoting the Governor's legislative agenda. But political pros ask if all that spending was necessary. After all, Martinez was not being attacked, her polling was solid and her re-election is not until 2014.

Critics will say that most of that $342,000 could have been reserved for GOP legislative candidates. If the R's pick up a couple of House seats they would control the chamber for the first time in decades. SusanaPAC ended the period with about $295,000 in cash, a robust amount but one that could have been closer to $500,000 and growing. Others argue that the PAC is on the right track, insuring that Martinez stays lofty in the polls and adding that there is only so much money needed in these legislative battles.

The report reveals that Martinez remains heavily dependent on Texas and other out-of-state money as well as cash from the SE NM oil fields (She received a $450,000 contribution from a Texas developer for her 2010 Guv run). Just how dependent is detailed by one of our readers who has that and more info on SusanaPAC that you will only get here:

Martinez raised the vast majority of the reported $336,000 in contributions of $1,000 or more. She received $112,000 from Texas; $27,000 from Denver and $10,500 from contributions in other states. In New Mexico, she pulled in $56,000 from Roswell and $51,000 at a one day event in Las Cruces. 

Of further interest is how Susana PAC spent the money. Three consultants received $127,300--over a third of money contributors invested with consultant Jay McCleskey getting $77,830 in the reporting period from October 13, 2011 thru April 2, 2012, averaging over $11,000 per month for his expertise.
 

How much did Susana PAC invest in her candidates? $17,500 is reported in campaign contributions-- divided among only four GOP candidates. That's only six percent of the more than $340,000 she spent in the same reporting period....

Thanks for that. The full report can be found here.

NUMBER TWO TALK

Despite issuing her strongest denial to date that she is not interested in becoming Mitt Romney's running mate, the handicapping of Susana's chances of landing a spot on the national ticket continue and they will right up until the GOP convention. We posted the odds being placed on her chances by the overseas betting parlors and that drew a number of responses---including this one:

It's a no-brainer, Joe. Florida has 29 electoral votes and if Romney doesn't carry it, he cannot possibly win. The three states where Susana would be of most help are NM, NV, and CO -- that's only 20 electoral votes. Two of them are already considered "leaning Dem" by Real Clear Politics's consensus poll averages and the latest CO poll has Obama ahead by double digits. Obama is ahead in Florida, too, but not by that much. The only theory that gives Susana's backers any hope at all is that Susana on the ticket would be enough to overcome the anti-GOP gender gap. How'd that work for you, Mr. McCain? Frankly, I think the 2-1 odds on (Florida GOP US Senator Marc) Rubio should be more like 1-2....

Well, we've never taken the Martinez veep speculation very much to heart, but that doesn't mean you can't join the parlor game.

THEY'RE ON 

Kari's free ride didn't last long and Jacob's scare is over. That's the news as we continue to clean up the nominating petition messes. The Supremes overturned a lower court ruling that kept Jennifer Romero off the ballot and had supporters of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg popping the champagne corks. The corks are back in the bottles now that the higher court says Romero, a former public defender, has enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot and challenge Kari in the June primary. There's no Republican running in November so the primary is winner take all....

And Jacob Candelaria, 25, vying to become one of the youngest state senators as well as the first openly gay man to serve in the upper chamber turned backed a petition challenge that would have kept him off the ballot for the ABQ Westside Senate seat he's seeking. A judge ruled he had enough valid signatures, contrary to the assertion of opponent Carlos Villanueva. The two will now meet in the June primary. The winner goes to Santa Fe as no Republican is seeking the senate seat which is being given up by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez who announced her retirement.

GARY VS. SUSANA

Nothing funny about the relationship between this Republican Governor and the last GOP Governor--Gary Johnson. He continues to light into Susana. This time he says she is off base for being too harsh on illegal immigrants:

The Martinez administration sent out a statement saying: "It’s unfortunate that Gary Johnson believes the only way he can get attention is to talk about Susana Martinez...Governor Martinez has been clear that she opposes giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants....But supports legal immigration and guest worker programs."

The impromptu feud launched against Martinez could stem from several factors, envy among them. Governor Gary could not even get invited to the presidential debates when he sought the GOP prez nod, but here is Susana being trumpeted as a possible veep. That has to hurt. But it also seems Johnson has a basic lack of respect for Martinez. (He started the feud by calling her "Palin-esque"). He sees her as a puppet, not the independent thinker and actor he sees himself as. And he does not share strong political ties to those who surround Martinez.

KENNY MONTOYA IS OUT

First the news and then the Senior Alligator analysis:

Governor Susana Martinez announced today that Major General Kenny Montoya has resigned his position as Adjutant General of New Mexico. General Montoya has served as the highest officer in the New Mexico National Guard since 2003. As Adjutant General, Montoya commands the Army and Air National Guard. In addition to his federal duties, he is commander of the State Defense Force and serves as military chief of staff to the Governor and her principal advisor on military affairs. He is also president of the State Armory Board and provides oversight for the New Mexico Civil Air Patrol.

Now that crucial and exclusive Senior Gator analysis:

The Governor asked for and received Adjunct General Montoya's resignation. ABQ GOP State Sen. Bill Payne will head committee to name a replacement.  (GOP US Senate candidate) Heather Wilson is behind the scenes in this one. She has her favorite candidate and has been pushing him...His name is Andy Salas, an Air guy that got named this week as acting head of the air group. 

MAKING THE SWITCH

As natural gas prices explore new multi-year lows, we wondered how PNM--the state's largest electric utility--could take advantage. Will these low prices make it easier for them to get out of the messy business of generating electricity from coal? We put the question to company spokesman Don Brown:

Joe,  our 20-year resource plan, filed with the Public Regulation Commission last summer foresees PNM adding some natural gas-fired generation and additional renewable  energy to meet growing customer demand in the next several years (and to  meet New Mexico’s rising renewable requirement). Our existing San Juan power plant, which is coal fired, is a key source of affordable,  reliable electricity for our 500,000 customers, and it will likely  remain so. However, we have no current plans to build new coal capacity. We don’t anticipate needing that much additional baseload generation (that’s the amount of power you need on any day of the year, not just on  high-demand days). Plus, winning approval to build a new coal plant would be a large challenge, to say the least...

Members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups report that they delivered more than 3,000 petition signatures to PNM CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn demanding that "the utility use their huge profits to invest in clean energy instead of relying on old, dirty coal-fired power plants."

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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