Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mitt's New Mexico Money Will Flow From Oil Country This Week, But Obama Still Leads, Plus: Dateline Dona Ana: The DA's Race There is Now A Statewide Passion Play; It's Clovis Redux And We've Got The Scoop 

New Mexico doesn't seem very Mitt Romney friendly, with President Obama leading in all the polls here, but that doesn't mean the GOP presidential nominee is going to ignore us--at least not those with deep pockets. He'll be in the state for the first time since securing the nomination, holding a fund-raiser Thursday in Hobbs in Lea County. That's oil country and Mitt knows it. The solicitation for donations tops out at at whopping $50,000 per person (Click on posted invite to enlarge). Of course, that's pocket change for some of the oilmen in southeast New Mexico. A PAC run by Governor Martinez's political adviser raised nearly $200,000 in one day, mostly from oil country that was used in the recent June primary election.

Among those on the committee for the lunch reception with Romney at the Lea County Event Center are several members of the Yates oil family of Artesia, southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce, ABQ Mayor Richard Berry and former GOP Lt. Governor Walter Bradley. Governor Martinez and Lt Governor John Sanchez are not on the committee. They are apparently holding their fire for Romney until he is officially crowned at the GOP convention.

With the cheap seats going for a thousand a pop, Mitt should be able to crack a big smile when he touches down in New Mexico, even if those polls still make him frown. 


From the UNM Daily Lobo:

With a flick of his pen, one member of the 2011 UNM Presidential Search Committee was no longer legally bound to the same confidentiality agreement other members of the committee had agreed to. GOP lobbyist Pat Rogers crossed out part of the agreement before signing it and went on to share emails between committee members with non-committee members. According to the University, he did nothing illegal.

Rogers was recently forced to resign from the board of directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government because of his role in emailgate.


Reader Stan Fitch writes of the problems of APD and our Monday blog on the subject:

The truth about the mayoral and police problems in Albuquerque could be distilled from all the diverging viewpoints expressed on the Monday blog. First, it is very difficult being a policeman, especially in Albuquerque with its profound crime problems. Those who strongly criticize the APD would themselves be absent a comprehensive solution. Second, the mayor is neither a strong nor a charismatic leader.  He is well intentioned, but keeps dropping the ball on a number of issues.  It was far too easy for Berry, the radio stations, and the R's to criticize Marty Chavez, who was a much stronger mayor.  Third, Chief Schultz is stuck between a rock and hard place; that is, he is stuck somewhere between political realities and retirement.

Thanks, Stan. But we would be remiss if we did not address that part about a "comprehensive solution." We and others have offered one--dismiss the current chief and his upper echelon and ask the Department of Justice to investigate the police shootings and other matters and support our rank and file police officers with good pay and retirement benefits.


Northern GOP Congressional candidate Jeff Byrd slammed Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan on the blog last Thursday saying he is partially blame for the lost jobs at Los Alamos National Labs:

Northern New Mexico has lost thousands of jobs in these economic sectors because Congressman Lujan’s ideology gets in the way of fighting for New Mexico jobs and fighting for New Mexico families.

But Michael Wheeler, chairman of the Los Alamos County Democratic Party says it is Byrd and the Tea Party that are the problem:

Congressman Lujan has fought diligently and repeatedly for jobs in Northern New Mexico, especially for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Republican controlled House, however, has worked to cut LANL programs and jobs. Byrd and the Tea Party Republicans in Congress want to slash government spending with no regard for its impact on jobs, seniors, and youth of Northern New Mexico.

It's no surprise that Jefferson Byrd, just like Republican candidates across the country, is trying to put some daylight between himself and Paul Ryan's radical ideas...I wonder if Byrd would have voted for the Ryan budget, because when it comes to privatizing Social Security, giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, and deregulating Wall Street banks, Byrd and Ryan see eye to eye.

Jeff Byrd has now blamed Rep. Lujan for supporting government spending and for cutting government spending. He can’t have it both ways. The fact is our Representative from Northern New Mexico has been fighting to improve our economy....The loss of jobs and opportunities for Northern New Mexico have come about because of the Republican tactics in Washington to ensure that no positive legislation is passed.

Thanks, Michael. But there may be blame to share for the misfortunes at Los Alamos is a Democrat in the White House, isn't there? And Los Alamos is being cut while he is there, right? And then there is the issue of Los Alamos getting too fat under the protection of former GOP US Senator Pete Domenici but that's another story....


Amy Orlando
Reaction to our exclusive that the Governor's Susana PAC is not only getting involved in the state legislative contests this cycle, but is pumping money into the Dona Ana County district attorney's race. Our insiders report that the hot battle between former Dem federal prosecutor Mark D'Antonio and incumbent Republican District Attorney Amy Orlando is tight. That's why they think Susana PAC came with an early hit piece on D'Antonio that we posted here last week and that was mailed to independent voters.

Governor Martinez was the Dona Ana district attorney before becoming Governor. She has a deep personal interest in the outcome as she appointed her deputy, Amy Orlando, to replace her. Now Amy must get elected in her own right.

Some Republicans have raised questions about the use of Susana PAC money for a DA's race, arguing the money was solicited for legislative candidates and statewide issues and that spending money on the DA's race means legislative candidates in close races will not get the cash.

Reader Kathryn Carrol of Tuscon has been mulling over Susana's deep involvement in the DA's race and comes with this reaction to the attack piece on D'Antonio:

...The voters of Dona Ana County have probably not forgotten the justice denied to Mr. Stephen Slevin who was arrested in August 2005 on a DUI charge, thrown in the County jail and left to languish in solitary confinement with no medical attention nor ever seeing a judge until someone discovered him in a totally deplorable mental and physical condition in May of 2007. The voters will also not have forgotten that after Mr. Slevin sued the county, jail personnel and others in a Federal Court he won "one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history ($22 million) for illegal imprisonment," according to multiple news reports.

Voters are, no doubt, also very aware that they are on the hook for the $22-million, which could  stand through all appeals, and their tax dollars will be used to pay the judgement. While the DA's office was not a defendant in the suit, it cannot be denied that the incident occurred on the Governor's watch as DA and was the responsible party for bringing his case before a judge...

While claiming to start the SusanaPac to help Republican state legislative candidates get elected in order to insure passage of her agenda, make no mistake about it--another and perhaps more urgent use of the funds is to protect her legacy in Dona Ana County, because no one really knows how many more Stephen Slevins might be languishing in a jail cell because the DA's office never got around to prosecuting the charges. There is a lot at stake for the former DA if Mr. D'Antonio were to get elected.

Thanks for that view, Kathryn.


Mark D'Antonio
By attacking D'Antonio with her Susana PAC, the Governor has elevated the race on the statewide stage. Like the showdown in the GOP state Senate primary in Clovis in June, her power and prestige are again on the line. She lost some of it in Clovis when Pat Woods beat her favored candidate. Will she bounce back in Dona Ana or take another political dive?

D'Antonio's strategy could mimic that of Woods' who produced paid media attacking Martinez political adviser Jay McCleksey, instead of hitting the Governor directly. The media included a TV spot featuring McCleksey and accusing him of operating an ABQ political machine that was trying to dictate to the people of Clovis. D'Antonio appears ready to start beating the drum. He emails this reaction to McCleskey's hit piece on him:

I read your blog post about the district attorney’s race and the nasty attack coming from Amy Orlando's "slick Albuquerque political consultant" Jay McCleskey.  It's unfortunate that the governor's political advisor is interfering in a local county race, but it wouldn't be unprecedented.   Looks like they're using the exact same playbook they used against Pat Woods in Clovis! Notice how the attack on me looks almost exactly like the mailers McCleskey and company sent out attacking  Woods earlier this year, e.g., this mailer that's already on your website from May.

Rather than letting Dona Ana County voters choose for themselves who is best for D.A., the governor and McCleskey want to make this race a referendum on the governor’s political strength. Given the mudslinging that Republicans in Clovis experienced earlier this year, voters here in Dona Ana County should buckle up for another round of McCleskey’s dirty tricks.  I hope this gives your readers up in Albuquerque and Santa Fe some insight into what’s at stake here in Las Cruces.

An automatic poll the blog conducted last month in Clovis and supervised by veteran GOP pollster Bruce Donisthorpe revealed that in the wake of the Clovis primary Martinez's popularity had taken a dive with Democrats. Did Woods' attacks on his Republican foe using McCleskey as his foil peel Dem support away from the Guv? It would seem so but McCleskey political associates Darren White (now general manager at the Downs at ABQ) and Adam Feldman, a political consultant, publicly criticized the poll as having too small a sample to draw any conclusions. To answer those critics, we are planning to resample Clovis area Democrats in more substantial numbers.

Meantime, if D'Antoino is able to raise campaign cash, don't be surprised if he uses it to make Jay and the gang his foils as he works to unseat one of the Guv's closest friends.


We ran in to Dona Ana County Dem State Rep. Mary Helen Garcia in ABQ last night who reminded us that we yet again mistakenly identified Dem Dona Ana County State Rep. Joe Cervantes as her cousin. He is her nephew. We don't have anything against the family, but judging by the number of times we have made this mistake over the years, you might think we do...Also, in in the corrections-omissions category, we recently had the wrong spelling up for Ron Solimon, head of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in ABQ. Our apologies Ron. And we did not have this link up to a KRQE-TV news story in our first draft Monday on the city's police problems. We do now.
This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)
Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. Email us for details.

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