Friday, August 24, 2012

Dateline Hobbs: State GOP Power Players Pow-Wow With Mitt, Plus: Our Letter To Romney, And: It's Still Heinrich; Another Poll Has Him In Pole Position, Also: Aubrey Dunn Dies; One Of Most Powerful Lawmakers In State History 

GOP power playing
How about this for a New Mexico Republican power circle? It happened in Hobbs Thursday where soon-to-be GOP presidential nominee made his first New Mexico stop of the campaign where he discussed national energy policy and picked up major donations at a fund-raising event.

On the far left with his hand to his chin is Lt. Governor John Sanchez who posted this pic to his Twitter account. Next to him is the one non-New Mexican at the table--Utah US Rep. Rob Bishop. That's GOP southern NM Congressman Steve Pearce making a point to Romney and with her back to the camera wearing red is GOP US Senate nominee Heather Wilson. Notably absent is GOP Governor Susana Martinez, but we wouldn't read too much into it. She'll be cheerleading for Mitt at next week's GOP national convention.

There's a lot of history in that room. Wilson, a former five term ABQ congresswoman, faced off with Pearce for the 2008 GOP US Senate nod. Pearce beat her and then lost the general election to Dem Tom Udall. Sanchez briefly challenged Wilson for this year's Senate nomination and lost. He was the 2002 GOP gubernatorial nominee.

The photo of the GOP leaders with the possible next Prez of the USA will be seen as reassuring to some who fret over Romney's budget plans and how they would impact federally-dependent New Mexico. If these R's can sit down him in Hobbs, the Oval Office shouldn't be a problem. But that meeting will have to wait. Romney has a long, hard fight ahead of him before he gets to convene his New Mexican friends for a power lunch at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


Thanks for stopping by, Mitt. We know we're not a swing state this year and you will probably come up short here, but if you take the big prize without our help, don't hold it against us. New Mexico has worked well with GOP and Dem presidents the past 100 years. But please, don't listen to the radical right here that wants to defund the national labs, disrupt other major federal funding and promises to replace it with a free market paradise with lots of jobs and loot. We're all good capitalists, but the vast majority of us know that's nonsense and we welcome your support for our little corner of the world.

The New Mexican-Uncle Sam partnership has benefited both our state and the USA. If you make it to the White House, Mitt, let's keep it going. And come back any old time--especially if the polls start to get close.


Heather needs all the exposure she can get. Yet another poll shows her trailing Martin Heinrich--and badly. In the Rasmussen survey, it's Heinrich 48% to Heather's 41%, with 5% backing "other" candidates and 7% undecided.

Here's the brutal facts for the R's: The margin of error in the Aug 21 automatic phone survey of 500 likely voters is 4.5%. In other words, you have to apply nearly the entire margin of error to both the Wilson and Heinrich numbers to get this race in play. That's a giant leap and given the fact that not one poll has shown Wilson ahead means the Senate race continues to slip away from the R's (Heinrich came with his own poll Friday confirming his lead. The poll has Heinrich at 51% and Heinrich at 44%,).

As for the presidential race, the poll confirms the overall Dem trend in the state. Obama blows out Romney 52% to 38%, with 9% citing other candidates and only 1% saying they were undecided. That's why you see no presidential campaigns up on TV here.

The R's are going to have to stop making mistakes and need Obama and Heinrich to start making some if they are going to do anything here. Don't say we didn't tell you.

P.S. Let the honeymoon continue. Governor Susana scores a 60% approval rating in the Rasmussen survey. That is in line with the 59% approval she scored in a scientific poll that was commissioned for New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan and conducted July 17 (Kudos to our pollster--Bruce Donisthorpe for his on the target polling).


Senator Dunn
As we were wrapping this up we received an evening email that one of the most important legislators in state history has died at the age of 84 at Wichita Falls, TX. Aubrey Dunn was the longtime chairman of the state Senate Finance Committee from which he exercised enormous influence over public policy in the 70's. The Alamogordo native served 15 years in the Senate, leaving the chamber in 1980. He was also a longtime part owner of the Alamogordo Daily News.

We were told of his Thursday death in a brief note from his son, Aubrey Dunn Jr., the GOP candidate for the state Senate seat held by Dem Phil Griego. Aubrey Dunn Sr. was a conservative Democrat. He sought the 1982 Dem gubernatorial nomination against Toney Anaya who won with 57% of the vote to Aubrey's 34%. Anaya went on to win the governorship that year.

Dunn was known for literally taking overt the Senate in the final hours of a session, ramming through important bills often while the "clock was stopped," a maneuver that was later outlawed.

Former longtime New Mexico TV news political reporter Rodger Beimer covered Santa Fe when Dunn held sway and he worked for him in that '82 Guv campaign. We asked him for a remembrance:

That ol’ apple picker from High Rolls, during his power years, knew more about the state’s money than anybody. He surrounded himself with a committee that listened and then acted. There was a lot of legislative power from that Alamogordo area in the 60’s and 70’s. First by John Mershon as head of House Appropriations and then Aubrey Dunn as Senate Finance chairman.

Although he watched state government operations with a keen eye, he had a vision for what was good for this state. The New Mexico Natural History Museum would not exist today if it were not for Aubrey Dunn. He headed the committee with  State Senator John Irick and businessman Art Spiegel. They spent thousands of their own dollars traveling the country raising the private funds to help get it open.

Working in his campaign for Governor, we’d be sweating bullets needing cash to buy stamps. He’d come by the office late in the evening, open the trunk of his car and bring in a few more checks to deposit. The workers didn’t always know how much money the campaign had, but Aubrey did. And, I think sometimes that’s the way it was when he was Chairman of Senate Finance.

And while he could be gruff, he knew his stuff and he cared. That can’t be said about lots of people today. Many have one trait or the other, but not all three.

One night late in a session, I returned to the Roundhouse from a night of investigative reporting at The Bull Ring. There in his office at 3 in the morning were a number of his legislative lieutenants smothered in giant green sheets of computer paper. They were developing the “Christmas Tree” bill--the bill that outlined the capital outlay spending for the coming year. I made a pot of coffee and watched as it came together.

Then there was the other legislative achievement that I don’t think has been repeated.  With the adjournment deadline only minutes away, he called a committee meeting on the floor of the State Senate and in one fell swoop reported out about 45 bills, asked unanimous consent that the bills be shown in the legislative journal as though they were reported out and acted upon individually--and then he took a breath and passed all the bills in a period of 2 minutes. There were no objections.

Thanks for that, Rodger. Aubrey Dunn was a power player of supreme skill who made a difference for the better and earned his chapter in the never-ending book of La Politica. Well done, Senator.

Thanks for stopping by this week and for making us the state's #1 political web site. We appreciate it.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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