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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Filling The Power Vacuum: Bregman Unloads On Susana And Jay And We're Off To The Races, Plus: Emailgate Update, And: Guv's Ghost Town Blues; Where Was The Staffing? 

Sam Bregman
The Guv
They say power abhors a vacuum and when it comes to effective Democratic criticism of Governor Martinez the vacuum has been canyonesque. But now, with just three months to go before Election Day, at least one ambitious Dem is shooting back at Martinez, hoping to thwart her plans to pick up legislative seats in the November balloting and in the process perhaps advance his own gubernatorial ambitions.

Flamboyant trial attorney and former ABQ City Councilor Sam Bregman, who lost the Dem party chairmanship race to Javier Gonzales in 2010 by just 12 votes, is back on the campaign trail under the umbrella of his political action committee--Grassroots New Mexico--and has become the first big name Dem to publicly take it to the Governor and her chief political operative Jay McCleskey.

At a weekend rally and picnic sponsored by the Democratic Women of Dona Ana County, Bregman started to frame the case against the incumbent Governor who has been on a political picnic of her own, nursing a 59% approval rating and enjoying an extended honeymoon from the Dems and the press. We listened to a recording of the event and Sam's picnic menu was all red meat:

We know that...this Governor and Susana PAC and (Martinez political adviser) Jay McCleskey are going to attack the integrity of our candidates...the question then becomes if we are going to sit back and just take it or are we going to do something about it? If Martinez is going to be out there attacking good Democrats with her hit men, let's make sure we get the debate going...so the first important question has to be asked: What has this Governor done to improve the lives of New Mexicans? 

We know she is pretty good at trying to divide us on the issue of immigration...but what has she done? She has not done one single thing to improve the lives of New Mexicans in the 20 months she has been there. Take, for example, the economy. What has she done to improve the economy in New Mexico? What has she done to create a single job in New Mexico? We've go to be fair. She has created a job for Jay McCleskey and he's been spending a lot of money they've raised from out of state attacking good Democrats...

What has she done for women in the first 20 months? Nothing...That's not true. She did do something. She decided to abolish...the Commission on the Status of Women...What has this Governor done when it comes to education? She appoints someone (as public education secretary) who can't even get approved by the state Senate. That's not the way you govern, that's not the way you lead....

Martinez and McCleskey have made no secret that they plan to come after legislative Dems in the election--chief among them State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez--but McCleskey and his tactics have made him a public figure and given Bregman and the Dems the opportunity to demonize him and use him as a foil.

Martinez is saying that the Legislature is blocking her efforts at "reform." But beyond her drive to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants, those reforms remain obscure and undefined to the electorate--the reason why Bregman is trying to set her up as a "do nothing" Governor.

Attorney General Gary King has already announced his 2014 Dem Guv candidacy and Bregman is sounding like a possible candidate and there will probably be others. After all, nature abhors a vacuum--political or otherwise.

EMAILGATE UPDATE

Yes, emailgate is serious--if someone makes it serious. From the paper:

On May 2, (Public Education Department spokesman Larry) Behrens sent both (email) lists to (Martinez political adviser Jay) McCleskey and to personal email accounts for Martinez chief of staff Keith Gardner, PED Secretary Hanna Skandera and two other officials. Skandera forwarded the lists to a campaign email address for Martinez, but the administration says the address was no longer valid. The office of state Attorney General Gary King is now investigating whether the administration used public resources for political purposes in violation of the state Governmental Conduct Act. There are civil and criminal penalties under the act. The administration has denied wrongdoing. McCleskey has said the lists weren’t what he was looking for and that he hasn’t used them....

Civil and criminal penalties? That phrase has to get the attention of the upper echelons, if not send some chills down their spines. Evidence that it is causing some twitching came Monday when the state Republican Party slammed AG King, saying the only reason King is investigating is because he receives campaign money from unions. King has announced his candidacy for the 2014 Dem nod for Governor.

King is going to be excoriated as a political hack and accused of inflating emailgate for his own political purposes. But that doesn't mean he can't and won't inflict political and legal damage on Jay and the gang.

GHOST TOWN BLUES

Governor Susana must have learned something by mistakenly getting in front of this fiasco. The AP comes with the no spin coverage of the "scientific ghost town" that turns out to be haunted:

Pegasus Global Holdings’ surprise announcement that it was pulling out of plans to build a $1 billion scientific ghost town in eastern New Mexico is stirring skepticism of the private firm’s grandiose plans for transforming 15 square miles of this largely rural state into a next-generation research center. Lea County had been working closely with the company after winning the bid to house the Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation. But “when we started pressing for details, that’s when they decided to look elsewhere,” county manager Mike Gallagher said.

The Guv greeted the Pegasus project with great fanfare in May, pointing out it needed no government funding or incentives. But because of that, apparently no one on the Guv's team took a good, hard look at the company's financials, leaving Susana hanging out there with a major economic embarrassment. What made it especially bad was the fact that Pegasus was reviewed by Governor Bill's economic advisers and they kept him away from the deal.

After nearly two years it is clear that Governor Martinez is not a leader who gets deep in the weeds when governing. She has a broad view and has staff filling in the blanks. Nothing wrong with that, except Susana appears to need a couple of heavy hitters to make sure she doesn't step in the dung pile again. But who? The Governor's political adviser, Jay McCleskey, has tight control over her and as long as her poll numbers are good she seems content to keep her circle confined to those who got her to the dance.

Normally, a Governor would crack some heads over the Pegasus mess, but what is going on at the Fourth Floor of Santa Fe's storied Roundhouse is not normal. 

MARTINEZ AND ROMNEY

Martinez has secured a speaking spot at the Republican National Convention later this month. The announcement was trumpeted by her political team, but wouldn't the real news have been if the nation's first Hispanic female Governor--a Republican often mentioned as a VP pick--did not get a speaking spot? Yep.

Republicans are in need of touting any Hispanic ties. Their polling with the group is miserable, even as Hispanics are one of the nation's fastest growing voter blocs.

Will Martinez be able to help Romney in New Mexico? Well, if she was on the presidential ticket she might, but her aides say she has not been vetted for Veep and as readers of this site surmised long ago, the talk of Susana as VP was symbolic--not substantive,

Martinez's political operation--her fund-raising list, voter info etc.--could be useful to Romney, but the state does not appear to be in serious play, with Obama holding a steady lead.

As we've blogged previously, the most important aspect of the presidential contest on a political level in New Mexico is its impact on the Senate race. GOP Senate nominee Heather Wilson does not want Romeny to tank or the bottom could fall out on her. So while Martinez helps Romney here, she will also be helping Heather. Now how does Susan feel about that?

The usual murmurings that occur when two ambitious politicos share the spotlight are now occurring. Is Susana jealous of Heather who would be a queen bee in her own right if she takes the Senate seat? Would Heather overshadow Susana? Is Heather dismissive of Susana's political skills? What about Heather's relationship with Jay McCleskey now that he is so publicly tied to the hip with Susana?
And then there's ABQ GOP congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones who lost the 2010 GOP guv nomination to Susana. Will we see the Guv on the trail for Janice who faces a tough contest against Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham?

That's some of the stuff that they're mulling over in the elite circles of the state GOP. And it's quite entertaining, isn't it?

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