Friday, September 14, 2012

Hector Is a No Go For Guv: Eyes AG Run, Plus: GOP Split Emerges On ABQ Council, And: The Alligator Barf Bag 

There's going to be a lot of work for the Democrat who challenges Governor Martinez for re-election in 2014, but we know it is not going to be State Auditor Hector Balderas who will try to bring her down from her lofty polling heights. Insiders close to Balderas say he will instead launch a bid for attorney general and bypass a Guv run.

Balderas was mentioned as possible '14 Guv contender following his unsuccessful primary challenge of Rep. Martin Heinrich for the Dem US Senate nomination. Balderas lost but he did himself no damage.

Already in the running for the Dem Guv run is Attorney General Gary King. Attorney Sam Bregman is making a lot of noise.

Balderas will be the front-runner for the Dem AG nod, coming off that Senate race which gave him statewide name ID, but there will be plenty of challengers for Hector. They include outgoing Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks and maybe Santa Fe city attorney Geno Zamora who is weighing a second try at the Dem AG nod. And that's a short list.

By the way, Balderas and King have often clashed. Hector leaving the Guv's race gives them a chance to make the peace? Balderas is only 39. If he harbors gubernatorial ambitions he will have plenty of time to nurse them.


Alligators, wall-leaners and assorted hangers-on give us the latest handicapping for leadership in the State House when the Legislature meets in January. State Rep, Kenny Martinez is a lock for Speaker, assuming the Dems retain control of the chamber as they are expected to. So who takes Kenny's place as majority leader? One Senior Gator has the consensus bet:

ABQ State Rep.Rick Miera is probably Ken Martinez’s choice, though Martinez probably won’t get involved too directly....Miera’s selection would allow the new Speaker to appoint a new person to chair the House Education Committee. Miera is not likely to challenge the new Speaker on issues, and will likely be the dutiful type and do as instructed. A new Speaker may want a majority leader to play that kind of role and avoid any threats or dissent on any issues....

The key players say Miera's main competition for the majority leader slot is Rio Arriba State Rep. Debbie Rodella.


A Dem operative blasted ABQ City Councilor Debbie O'Malley on the blog this week, saying her decision to go after the vacancy on the Bernalillo County Commission that was left when Michelle Lujan Grisham resigned to run for Congress is "selfish."

He also said O'Malley leaving the council would mean Republican Mayor Berry would have a "veto proof" council.

There was also some grumbling about O'Malley at the Bernalillo County Central Committee meeting where she was selected last weekend as the Dem candidate for the Grisham seat in the Nov. 6 election. One of her defenders shot back with this:

Your "Dem operative" who called Debbie O'Malley selfish for leaving the city council might not be familiar with legislative work. He thinks a veto-proof majority is important, and in some circumstances it can be. But when the person doing the vetoing is tight with the majority on the council, it doesn't matter at all, other than maybe a vague psychological rallying point for the GOP--"hey, we have 6 votes.  Nifty!"  But nothing substantively changes with Debbie leaving.  

Republicans have enough votes to pass legislation right now and have no trouble working with Mayor Berry to have him sign it. What is the piece of legislation the Dem "operative" imagines would have passed with five votes where liberals would have supported Berry's veto? 

Yes, the council can override a veto, but that only matters if you are on the same side as Mayor Berry when he vetoes the legislation. There's no plausible scenario where progressives are worse off with 3 instead of 4 votes as long as Berry is mayor.  And Dems will get to take the O'Malley seat back in October '13, which is the earliest possible opportunity to break the GOP's stranglehold on ABQ government anyhow.  In the real world, this is a no harm, no foul move, and not selfish on Debbie's part in the least.

O'Malley will face Republican attorney Simon Kubiak at the Nov. 6 election to see who will replace Grisham. The district is mostly Dem and O'Malley is heavily favored. Mayor Berry would appoint a replacement for O'Malley if she leaves the council. 


Dan Lewis
It's not all not rosy for the Republican majority on the City Council and the Republican Mayor. This week Brad Winter accused fellow Republican Dan Lewis of trying to cut a "secret deal" with Dem councillor O'Malley on some key issues before the council. Lewis blasted back hard, rejecting the charges and saying his text messages with O'Malley were actually normal communications. We asked one of our veteran City Hall insiders to analyze the impact of the Lewis-Winter council rift:

Lewis won't run for Mayor against Berry in 2013,, but he will not walk in lock step moving forward. They Mayor already pissed off politically active Pastor Steve Smotherman. Now they went after the preacher on the council. (Lewis is a also a church pastor). The Mayor and his political team are not making friends with the Christian conservatives.

Councilor Winter's policy analyst came from the mayor's office. She is close to Gilbert Montano, the deputy chief administrative officer. Winter is the mayor's Councilor. He carried the mayor's plan to log roll the bond issues for the rebuild of Paseo Del Norte/I-25 and the proposed sportsplex. That was defeated by voters in October 2011. Winter did not chastise the Mayor when the Mayor said it was a council action.

Winter voted against a ladder truck in Lewis's district after the fire chief sent a letter to firefighters telling them the council had budget priorities other than closing a gap in service on the westside.

Also, when Lewis agreed to soften his resolution calling on the Department of Justice to investigate APD, Winter said he did not understand why they needed the resolution...

The Winter-Lewis Republican split. Something to keep our eyes on.


We didn't think this was much of an insult on the part of ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham but a conservative leaning Web site is trying to get some traction over it for trailing GOP challenger Janice Arnold-Jones. Here's the quote:

“After that convention, first of all, I don’t know how anyone could be a Republican. All right. That convention was absolutely incredible because it inspired me not only as a candidate but as a member of this community.”

The website say Grisham "insults" 137,000 (Republican) voters in New Mexico's 1st congressional district and they posted the video of Grisham uttering the "insult."

Grisham holds a 12 point lead over Arnold-Jones in the first ABQ Journal poll released Sunday. And she won't need many Republicans to win as she has an overwhelming lead among Dems.


Reader Susan sends this in reaction to the big story on the blog this week--our exclusive posting of the leaked audio tape of Guv Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Garner in which he called Senate Leader Tim Jennings "a cocksucker" among other phrases that caused a sensation:

Joe, Great job! Thank you for exposing this to light. One of the statements made by Gardner in reference to hiring people-- "I don't care about all that sh*t- I just want someone that can manage people." The "sh*t" he was referring to was education and experience in a given field. That was pretty much an admission that they are not hiring qualified people to fill the vacancies. They aren't governing up there in Santa Fe.  They are too busy playing slash and burn. I get sick to my stomach from all this stuff.  That's when I go get my Alligator skin barf bag.

A Gator barf bag. We may have to order some of those. Given the state of NM politics, we might have a hit on our hands.


A reader sends this:

Project Share’s eighteenth annual Full Hearts Filling Empty Bowls benefit features extraordinary bowls/pottery donated by New Mexico’s talented potters, on Sunday, September 16 from 11AM to 2PM at Project Share, 1515 Yale SE. Also enjoy delicious soups, breads and desserts from local restaurants, stores and bakeries, and great music by The Alpha Blue Trio and Chris Dracup. And, you can participate in the fantastic silent auction—and other activities!  What a great day—and for a great cause! For more information, please call 452-0585. 

That's it for this week. Thanks for tuning in.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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