Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Heinrich Says He Has No DC Disease; A Look At His New Ads, Plus: Heather Blames Dems For Lab Cuts, But R's Join In, And: It's Opening Day For Primary 2012 

Martin Heinrich
Run, don't walk from Washington. That seems to be the game plan for congressional incumbents as they face an electorate awarding the Congress with its lowest approval numbers ever. In New Mexico, that means front-running Dem US Senate contender and US Rep. Martin Heinrich is taking to heart the indirect jabs that rival Hector Balderas is taking at him for being representative of "Washington special interests."

In their latest TV ad the Heinrich campaign brags of how he is home in New Mexico almost every weekend, meeting with constituents or camping with "Julie and their boys." They also get in the now mandatory Dem line about protecting Social Security and Medicare. Heinrich concludes his ad by declaring that, "Our problems won't be solved by the powers that be in Washington, but by the hard working people of New Mexico."

A couple of things. What camping in the wild has to do with doing a better job as a United States Senator is left to the viewer's imagination because it certainly isn't evident. One supposes it shows he isn't partying it up on the weekends in DC, but the producers might be more clever when they position Heinrich as a family man. This time it seems somewhat out of context.

Second, it is the failure of the "powers that be" in Washington to solve critical national problems that has them in such low self-esteem. The "hard working citizens" of New Mexico have made their views known and it is up to our elected representatives to get the job done. We can't "solve" anything. That's what we pay Heinrich and his colleagues to do.

It may be fashionable--even politically essential--to run away from Washington this election year. But saying the voters have the answers is like telling the mechanic not to worry about fixing the car---the passengers will do it.


Heinrich also comes this week with a Spanish language radio ad. In it he highlights jobs, the minimum wage and...you guessed it...Social Security and Medicare. Heinrich's staff says he doesn't speak Spanish with fluency but he managed to get off this line in his flat, Midwestern accent:

Martin Heinrich: I’m Martin Heinrich, candidate for Senate, and I approved this message.
Martin Heinrich: Yo soy Martin Heinrich, candidato para el Senado, y  apruebo este mensaje.

Heinrich can't match the ethnic bona fides of Balderas, a Hispanic native from Wagon Mound, but Heinrich will get credit in a number of precincts for not ignoring the language that is spoken daily by as much as a third of the state.


We get this assessment from the DC Hotline on the forthcoming NM US Senate race. It mirrors our own--soon-to-be GOP nominee Heather Wilson needs everything to go just right:

Speaking of needing to run a perfect race, that's what former GOP Rep. Heather Wilson has to do. Wilson has to win over Hispanic voters, who make up a huge percentage of the state's electorate, and moderates in her old Albuquerque district, no easy feat when Democratic rival Rep. Martin  Heinrich represents the same area. Heinrich faces a primary from state Auditor Hector Balderas, but he's the heavy favorite. Still, the  National  Republican Senatorial Committee sees an opportunity  here—they've already reserved millions in television time for the Fall.


Heather pounds the Obama administration and the Dems for the big budget cutbacks that struck Los Alamos Labs this year, resulting in hundreds of lost jobs. But  it looks like she has some 'splanin to do:

A  key group of House Republicans signaled their support for the  Obama administration’s decision to eliminate funding for a multi-billion dollar new plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos, suggesting  the possibility of bipartisan agreement on the controversial move. Some Republicans in Congress have objected loudly to the administration’s decision to indefinitely defer work on the project. But  the (Republican-controlled) committee with jurisdiction over the nuclear weapons budget...endorsed the administration’s  proposal.

So is Heather going to publicly break with those Rs who support Obama's Los Alamos plan? 

Her far-right opponent for the GOP nomination--Greg Sowards and his anti-government brigade-- would shed no tears if the entire Federal government here was shuttered. Heather still quivers at the possibility of a late Sowards surge. Yes, that's how crazy it has gotten in a large swath of the NM GOP. 

Poor Heather. As she wrestles in the final month of this primary with how not to alienate the wing nuts populating her party, she reminds you of a nurse in a mental ward who has to play cards with the patients and pretend everyone is normal.

(By the way, the DC hands are reporting that the budget shaping up for 2013 looks pretty fair for Sandia but no so for Los Alamos labs where continued cuts are expected.)


Reader Greg Lennes writes from Las Cruces after hearing that former NM Governor Gary Johnson will be the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nominee:

Nobody mentions the VP candidate for the Libertarian Party. He is former Judge James “Jim” Gray of California. Johnson handpicked Judge Gray, a prominent advocate of marijuana legalization. A Johnson staffer said: this selection “puts pot front and center in the campaign.” I guess the economy is not so important!

“I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom,” Judge Gray said in 2010. 

And speaking of drug legalization, reader Jim McClure recently chimed in:

Joe,  I liked your piece about the proposal to legalize marijuana in Washington state. Legalizing drugs could give New Mexico an economic boost. After all, the industry already is flourishing here and  needs no  incentives from the state. A marijuana tax is bound to be more  popular than a tortilla tax. And there's a kind of poetic justice in using tax  revenues from school dropouts to support education. I'm just saying...

We heartily disagree, Jim, but you may win this one when we are in the blogger retirement home.


Staying with the reader email, we turn it over to ABQ Public Schools teacher Alicia Hicks. She comments on that proposed constitutional amendment we frequently blog about that would pump some of the state's permanent fund money into early childhood education programs: 

Joe, early childhood education is a great start, however, we can't wait 15 years to infuse the workforce with qualified workers. It  would behoove the powers that be to get over the one size fits all educational philosophy and start funneling students into career paths  they would like to go into instead of pointing everyone toward a college prep curriculum and having 40% of the kids drop out. 

Magnet schools and trade schools are so needed right now in NM. It's not discrimination and it's not tracking. It's realizing that people are different and have different interests. Forcing all students into college prep mode is a form of discrimination. Those who don't fit the mold have historically been denied the training to become successful in a field of their choice. There is nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing a student be the first person in their family to graduate from high school and then have to work at Burger King because they can't do anything else and they don't want to go on to college.

Alicia, we haven't heard anyone say it better. Someone send that one to Susana.


We forgot to mention that Monday was the 80th birthday of legendary US Senator Pete Domenici. He's had his health battles but is still out and about and debating public policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in DC.

Hey, Pete, do you think you could come back to the Senate for a couple of months and tap a billion or two from the federal budget for us? We sure could use it.


Today is the first day of voting in Primary Election 2012. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver informs:

Early Voting will begin on Tuesday, May 8 at the Clerk’s Annex My Vote Center, 620 Lomas Boulevard, NW from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. This location will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Saturday, June 2. We have also been accepting applications for Absentee Ballots and the mailing will begin today as well. Voters have until today at 5 p.m. to register to vote to participate in the Primary Election on June 5.  Please visit the Clerk’s Office at One Civic Plaza, NW, 6th floor or state services offices such as the Motor Vehicle Division to complete the form.

And the first one to say, "Vote early and vote often" gets ten lashes with a wet noodle.

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