Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Mexico Governor Poised For Entry Into National Spotlight; Speaks Tonight At GOP Convention; What Should Be Her Goal ? Plus: Heather On The Ropes; Washington R's Pull TV Plug On Her 

What's the best advice we've heard for Governor Martinez as she walks to the podium and into the national political spotlight to deliver a speech at the Republican National Convention tonight?

"Don't worry about hitting a Grand Slam--avoid the big mistake."

Pretty good advice there. The New Mexico chief executive is now a veteran of La Politica, but still a neophyte on the national stage. If she drops the ball, it could permanently define her. On the other hand, a pedestrian speech that promotes herself and  Romney and gives women and Hispanics a reason to vote for him might not electrify the pundits over her future political prospects, but it will get the job done.

If Susana somehow manages to score a triple or home run, more power to her, but doing no harm is the first order of business.

Does Martinez have a future in national politics? Not yet. She is still a work in progress. You don't see her handlers allowing her to appear on national broadcasts like "Face the Nation" or the hard-hitting cable news broadcasts. Instead, she has been dipping her toes in the national waters by helping the party with fund-raising and campaigning for selective candidates.

This is a sound strategy for the first term Governor. National issues are complex and fraught with political potholes. Step in one and you may get stuck.

Martinez is effective as a political symbol. She does well when explaining her personal story and serving in an inspirational role as the nation's first female Hispanic Governor.

Martinez does not do so well when grappling with the intricacies of public policy or setting forth a confident vision of the future. Witness her mostly silent stance on the continued deterioration of the state's jobs picture--among the worst in the nation (although on the eve of her big speech the administration did release news of an October 2 "New Century Economy Summit" in ABQ).

For now, Martinez is comfortable in her role of national symbol. She may or may not grow enough to someday advance beyond the borders of the Land of Enchantment. But her appearance tonight before the American nation is no small feat for the 53 year old who started out in El Paso as a security guard for her family's business. Her perseverance and ambition are key to her success and a fitting example for young men and women who someday hope to have their own day in the political sun,

It's always an honor to have New Mexico noticed around the world in a positive light so good luck tonight, Governor, and don't worry about swinging for the fences, a solid hit to first base will do the

We previewed the Guv's speech with KOB-TV. We also did a preview for National Public Radio's Morning Edition. That audio is here.


Guv In The House
The Alligators are on the floor of the Republican convention, filling us in on the action and providing exclusive photos like this one.

First Gentleman Chuck Franco is seen with smiling wife and Governor Susana Martinez as Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela seems to be letting out a cry of delight in reaction to the convention activity.

Remember all the speculation about Barela and whether he would seek the ABQ US House seat in 2012 as he did in 2010? He decided against it, but don't put your Barela file away.

The speculation has now heated up about Barela seeking the GOP US Senate nomination in 2014 to challenge incumbent Dem Senator Tom Udall.

Barela will probably have to build a better record in economic development if he does hope to run. But New Mexico won't care why he brings in jobs, only that he does.


Damron, Debra & John
It's not all politics in Tampa, of course. A national convention is an occasion to party hearty and this threesome looks more than ready for the fun ahead,

Pictured on the left is Dr. J.R. Damron, the Santa Fe radiologist who is chairman of the Romney  NM campaign. You may remember him from 2006 when he was for a brief time the GOP governor nominee before being replaced by John Dendahl.

Beaming smiles with Damron are Lt. Governor John Sanchez and his wife Debra. It looks like Tampa is helping John forget the pain he was in when he challenged Heather Wilson for the GOP US Senate nomination this year and lost.

Wer should mention that this pic came from Sanchez's Twitter feed. If Jay thought John was an Alligator and sending us a pic, he would probably ban him from Tampa and put him on a bus bound for the Charlotte Dem confab where Sanchez would be forced to cheer Obama. 

The New Mexico delegation is housed out in the hinterlands--far from the convention center, denoting the fact that New Mexico is no longer a swing state in the presidential derby. The state is leaning towards the Dems.

Insiders report from Tampa that there has been some grumbling among the state's delegation about the absence of Governor Martinez from delegation activities, but as the old song goes, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm /After they've seen Paree'...."


Heather Wilson's worst fear seems to be becoming true. Money is drying up for her race against Dem Martin Heinrich for the state's open US Senate seat as Heinrich slowly but surely builds a substantial polling lead. The news:

...The National Republican Senatorial Committee--NRSC--is also canceling its ads in New Mexico, where Democrat Martin Heinrich appears to be pulling ahead of Republican Heather Wilson, and Missouri, where Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about abortion and rape have damaged his campaign and caused national Republicans to flee the state...Asked to comment on the strategic shift, NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said the committee does not comment on ad reservations.The NRSC’s move away from New Mexico and Missouri, and its move to reinforce North Dakota, would seem to reflect the narrower path Republicans now face on the way to a Senate majority.

Not that you won't see a bunch of negative TV ads against Heinrich. The Super PACS are still flooding the airwaves for Heather, but the NRSC move is a major tell--the R's are on the ropes here.

Earlier the NRSC said it had reserved some $3 million in ad time for Heather. That will not happen and it's a lesson to you politics watchers. "Reserving" and actually "buying" are entirely two different matters.

It's not all Wilson's fault, although the public seems burned out on the former congresswoman. It is the strength of Obama in New Mexico over Romney that is also impacting her chances.


Jon Barrie
Heather's chances were dealt yet another blow Tuesday when a Santa Fe district court judged ruled that independent conservative Senate candidate Jon Barrie will be allowed on the Nov. 6 ballot. His candidacy had been challenged by the Secretary of State. Barrie, the candidate of the Independent American party, could peel a couple of points from Heather--not that it is going to matter much if she doesn't find a formula to arrest the Dem trend in this contest.

We've ranked the US Senate race here "lean Dem" for a number of months and have been pretty much alone. Others have ranked it a "Toss Up" or "Toss Up/Lean Dem." We think we're going to be getting some company soon.

A caveat: While Wilson has been knocked to the canvas by this NRSC and Barrie news, voters still want reassurance that Heinrich is the man for the job. The TV debates loom for both contenders, but much larger for Wilson. She must now force an error from the ABQ Congressman or all will probably be lost.


A reader writes of ABQ Mayor Berry's opposition to an increase in the city minimum wage:

As far as the Mayor's statement that the minimum wage increase will destroy jobs, how would he know when he has failed to attract any new jobs to the City and has not presented any kind of an economic development plan.  The likely affect an increase in the minimum wage is that the added costs will be passed on to the consumers but it will not destroy jobs. Let the people vote on the issue.

From what we hear out of City Hall it does appear voters will be deciding at the Nov 6. election whether the minimum wage in the city should be boosted from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. The city council must vote to put it on the ballot after groups supporting the increase submitted the required petition signatures. If it's approved, the hike would take effect next year


When businessman and avowed non politician Gary Johnson was the last Republican Governor of New Mexico Republicans--unlike today--moved quickly to ensure that he was guided by government professionals--not political ones. Then-Senator Domenici moved to make government veteran Lou Gallegos Gary's chief of staff. Gary went out on his political bender, calling for the legalization of drugs, but the day-to-day affairs of government were not infected with the political bugs. You've got give Gary credit for that. As for his campaign for President as the Libertarian Party nominee this year, the latest polling says:

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is on the ballot  in all 50 states but is largely unknown to the nation’s voters. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 16% of  Likely U.S. Voters have a favorable opinion of Johnson, while 20% offer an unfavorable view. 

The Alligators have set the over-under for Johnson's New Mexico performance on Election Night at five percent. 


Our early morning readers Tuesday were treated to some unedited blogging that included a botching of the TV debate dates for the ABQ congressional race featuring Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Janice Arnold Jones. We fixed it all up but for the record, here are the joint appearances and TV debates that have so far been scheduled for the duo:

Sunday, Sept 9th - Congregation Albert Brotherhood Debate --11am @Congregation Albert

Tuesday, Sept. 11th--NAIOP Forum, 7:30 am at Albuquerque Marriott

Wednesday, Sept 19--Candidates Forum on Health Care--First Unitarian Church Social Justice Council 6:30 pm

Tuesday, Oct 9th - KNME Debate--7 pm
Thursday, Oct 18th - KOB Debate--7pm
Sunday, Oct 21 - KOAT/Journal Debate--4pm

And one more as told by reader Venessa Chavez Gutierrez:

I love your blog and read it every morning. There is a scheduled debate between Michelle Lujan Grisham and Janice Arnold Jones on Saturday, September 22nd from 5:00--7:00 at the Moriarty Civic Center. Hope you can come you're always welcome in Torrance County....

Thanks, Venessa. Now that we have the dates straight, we just might see you on the trail...

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