Monday, May 07, 2012

Gary Johnson: Does He Matter? Will He Matter? Plus: Another Momentum Stall For Marty; Ex-Girlfriend Is Yoke On His Neck, And: It's Coss Vs. Trujillo In Banner Santa Fe Contest 

Gary Johnson is back. But to what end? By capturing the Libertarian Party presidential nomination over the weekend, the former NM Governor had state R's going for their worry beads, fearful that his addition to the presidential ballot here will only make matters worse for Romney. They probably will, but unless the presidential race tightens dramatically, Johnson may not be much of a factor. Obama leads Romney 54-40 in the April PPP poll, removing New Mexico from its perch as a toss up or swing state which it has held since the 2000 election.

Assessing Johnson's popularity in the state as a prez contender is nebulous. The PPP polling suggests his favorables have slipped since he began running as a third party candidate. But Johnson's name is well-known and he will be a repository for protest votes, most of which are seen coming out of Romney's hide.

It will be interesting to see if Johnson pumps any money in here to try to goose his numbers.

As for what Johnson stands for, it is a mishmash of the left and right. His most absurd declaration is that he would cut federal government spending 43 percent, but he has taken on his former Republican Party on social issues such as civil unions for gays.

Johnson maintains that he will pull equally from Dems and R's. But most pros dismiss that as nonsense, notwithstanding early polling. They point out that his roots are firmly in the GOP and when push comes to shove that's where the bulk of his vote will come from. 

Johnson continues to come across as somewhat daffy and the national media showed no fear earlier this year in keeping him off the TV debate stage with his fellow GOP presidential candidates.

He will run on his record as an eight year governor of New Mexico who held the line on spending and taxes. That he did. But the state made little if any progress during his tenure in the 1990's on the gargantuan social issues it faces. This, despite there being plenty of money pouring into the state coffers.

Johnson is best known for the record number of vetoes he cast and for paving the way for legalized Indian casino gambling. It has proved to be a thin legacy.

The fundamental flaw of Johnsonism proved to be his belief that a restrained state government and a robust private sector could resolve the generations-old problems of poor education, poverty, low wages, domestic violence and alcohol and drug addiction--all categories in which the state continues to turn in a dismal performance.


Switching to the current governor, she subscribes to much the same philosophy of Johnson, casting a high number of vetoes and convinced that less government regulation will pave the way to prosperity. The administration boasts that it has dramatically improved the state's business climate in its opening year and a half, but the nation's top CEO's apparently don't think so. They rank the state 33 out of 50 for conducting business and that's down from 32nd in 2011, Susana's first year in office....


Back to the prez contest, New Mexico is not making the list of swing states this year, but these nine are:

Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The chief mourners of New Mexico falling off the swing state list are the local TV stations. It means they will miss out on hundreds of thousands in ad revenue that otherwise would have flowed here. But while they mourn, many voters will celebrate--for them the fewer ads they are subjected to the better.

Just when it looks like Marty Chavez might be getting some momentum in his battle for the ABQ Dem US House nomination along comes another spoiler.

Early on it was the Sierra Club endorsing Eric Griego, despite Chavez's work in the environmental field. Then it was the March pre-primary convention where Griego scored a wider than expected victory over Chavez and Michelle Lujan Grisham. Chavez also struggled when his girlfriend--Loretta Mares--was indicted on embezzlement charges. And now that story is back in the headlines just as Chavez unveiled a pretty nifty TV spot he hopes will propel him to the head of the pack.

 The latest story doesn't have much hard news, but it does reveal how Chavez communicated extensively with Mares when he was mayor and after. Not the kind of stuff you need as early voting gets underway this week.

The Alligators started with the email when the ABQ Journal story hit the streets Sunday. Here's a sample:

I think Chavez is done after this story. If he's not, and he wins, the GOP has a great issue for November. Clearly, the more you delve into the Mares relationship you'll find more Chavez contradictions. Plus, why is he calling her 750 times on a taxpayer-funded cell phone?  I don't think I called my wife 750 times in 5 years! Ridiculous. His core NE Heights/West Side middle class voters can't be comfortable with this.  I also love the timing of the Journal story--right at the start of early voting.

And the other side from a Chavez fan:

Marty and Loretta are no longer together.  He knows nothing about this (the alleged embezzlement) and for anyone to suggest otherwise is absurd.  The last time I checked, people are still innocent until proven guilty and knowing, dating or living with someone isn't a crime.

The ABQ district is looking more blue and the GOP standard bearer--Janice Arnold-Jones--looking increasingly weakened by a party that appears to have abandoned the race. Under those circumstances the Dem nomination is becoming as valuable as Fort Knox. Whoever gets it, looks like a winner in November.


Our ABQ congressional watchers think the final month of this three way race could shape up as a "Stop Griego" campaign. He struck again with a major endorsement--this one from the National Education Association--and his liberal base is showing few cracks. It could be enough to put him over the top Election Night. And still no one has laid a glove on him--at least not yet. My experts think the best time to hit Griego has passed, but it still must be done if he is to be slowed. They say polling probably still shows Chavez in the lead because of his superior name ID, but they say that will slowly shift as more liberals awaken and coalesce around Griego--unless given some good reasons not to.

Griego's well-known hot temper and often prickly personality have been in hiding during this long stretch. His campaign has done a good job shielding him and the opposing campaigns and free media  have yet to put the pressure on him.


By every measure--name ID, money and experience--you have to rate Santa Fe Mayor Dave Coss as the favorite to take the Democratic primary in the race for the Santa Fe area district represented by retiring House Speaker Ben Lujan. Still, observers there are not ready to call the contest a fait accompli for Coss. That's because upstart Carl Trujillo is back. He nearly upset the speaker in the 2010 primary, losing by less than 85 votes. He's not backing off now, even though the Speaker's son--Congressman Ben Ray Lujan--is among those openly endorsing Coss.

The Alligators there say Coss is strong in the city precincts in the district but Trujillo is gaining steam in the areas that fall in Santa Fe County. Trujillo now comes with this video--decently produced--that stresses his generations-old family ties to the region--never a point to be dismissed. But Coss isn't exactly a carpetbagger. He is a native of Santa Fe.

Coss Vs. Trujillo. It's a race we will closely monitor when we take to the airwaves on KANW-89.1 FM primary election night.


Here's a free tip for the two candidates trying to oust Northern Dem Sate Senator Phil Griego in the June primary--you don't want headlines like this one:

Senate forum fairly placid; District 39 incumbent faces two challengers 

Placid? That's what you look for when you're boating at Elephant Butte--not when you're trying to take out a powerful incumbent.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's political community? Advertise here. Email us for details.

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