Thursday, September 27, 2012

La Politica Is As Diverse As Ever; Faces From The Trail, Plus: Speeding Tickets And Massages On Campaign Trail, And: Susana Punishes Clovis GOP Boss  

Monica Zamora & Georgene Louis
New Mexico's unique political diversity among the 50 states goes on full display each election cycle and this year is no exception. With the state's Hispanic population inching toward 50% and the Native American share passing the 10% mark, we will be seeing more candidates in the years ahead like Monica Zamora and Georgene Louis.

Zamora is a member of a politically involved Santa Fe family who is now a district court judge in ABQ and the Dem nominee for a vacancy on the NM Court of Appeals. She faces an affable foe in Miles Hannisee who was appointed to the court by Governor Martinez but who faces an uphill battle in winning election to the seat over Zamora. Her Dem ties are going to provide her with a big winning margin in the north.

Georgene Louis is another Dem making a move on the statewide stage as she seeks the new state House seat in southwest ABQ. Louis, a 2004 UNM School of Law graduate, is a native of Acoma Pueblo. She is the odds-on favorite to take this heavy Dem seat (Dist. 26) in what has been a fast growing section of ABQ. Her Republican opponent is Louis Tafoya.

It will be up to Louis and her generation to tackle the stubborn New Mexican problems of poverty and poor education performance among Hispanics and Native Americans, even as those groups enjoy more political power.


Rep. Vigil
Hey, this looks like one mean dude in this mug shot, but don't be too scared. It's only State Rep. Richard Vigil posing for his jailhouse pic after getting busted for running a stop sign in Las Vegas. But when cops ran a check on him they found that Representative Richard had a traffic warrant out for his arrest for failing to appear in court so he had to spend a night in the pokey.

The seven term lawmaker doesn't have to worry about any political repercussions from his run-in with the law--he lost the Democratic nomination for his seat in the June primary and won't be returning to the Roundhouse.

Richard is the brother of former State Treasurer Robert Vigil who knows how Richard is feeling. Robert Vigil spent a number of years behind bars after being convicted on corruption charges.

And then there's the matter of ABQ Dem State Rep. Miguel Garcia billing his campaign account for  several hundred dollars for massages he received. He says door-to-door campaigning causes him pain--and not just the mental kind--so he counts the massages as a legitimate campaign expense.

We empathize with Miguel, but who's going to pay for the massages for the pain in the ass the politicians are causing taxpayers?


Governor Martinez seems as enthusiastic about the Romney presidential campaign as she does dealing with the Democrats in the Legislature--she likes to keep her distance. However, Martinez is preparing to hit the trail for Romney in Nevada and Florida to try to woo Hispanic voters for the GOP prez nominee. She sure isn't doing much campaigning for Romney around here or for GOP US Senate nominee Heather Wilson or ABQ GOP congress hopeful Janice Arnold-Jones. Of course, if you need a bunch of Dems and independents to get yourself re-elected in 2014, you might not want to be cozying up with what looks like a losing GOP ticket in 2012.

Martinez continues to raise money for her Susana PAC, her re-election committee and the GOP Governors group, but not here. She's headed to Texas.


Martinez is still feeling the sting of her defeat in the GOP state Senate primary in June in Clovis. She prominently backed Angie Spears who lost to rancher Pat Woods. Now an Alligator reports from Clovis that there is a shake-up initiated by the Guv--the chairman of the Curry County GOP is being removed from the NM Military Base Commission:

Joe, Curry County GOP Chairman Rube Render made no secret of his disdain for Martinez's political advisor Jay McCleskey and the governor endorsing Angie Spears in the primary against Pat Woods. 

By party bylaws, he couldn't publicly support either candidate in a primary. But Render is now being replaced on an influential state panel. This is clearly fallout from that race. Retribution if you will. Render is well respected within his party. 

And here's a report from the Clovis News-Journal:

The chairman of the Curry County Republican Party is being replaced as a member of Gov. Susan Martinez’s influential New Mexico Military Base Commission. Richard “Rube” Render, 69, confirmed that he recently received a letter from a Martinez representative thanking him for his service and notifying him the governor would appoint a new person. Render said he didn’t know why he wasn’t reappointed and would have continued to serve if asked. He was appointed to the commission in April 2011. The commission is made up representatives from communities in New Mexico affected by military bases. 

Don't fret, Rube. You may have been kicked off the military commission, but now you are free to fight your political war against Jay and the gang.


New Mexico State President Barbara Couture is in the dog house--or at least on what appears to be a  forced leave of absence. We asked a Senior Alligator for analysis:

NMSU is a school where the deans are very powerful. That includes former NM GOP Governor Garrey Carruthers who is dean of the business school. Couture and Carruthers have crossed swords and she has also been at odds with the athletic department.

As we said, we await more specifics on the apparent demise of Couture. The Las Cruces paper has more.

Other scuttlebutt--The Doña Ana Community College, a branch of NMSU, recently lost its accreditation this summer and an editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News criticized Couture for not doing something about the end of the Western Athletic Conference as a football league. It means the Aggie football team is left without a conference to play in.


Insiders say watch for state Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez (D-ABQ) to take over as chair of the Senate Education Committee in 2013, replacing Dem Cynthia Nava who is leaving the Legislature.

And can former Dem State Rep. Nate Cote reclaim a seat in the House by ousting freshman GOP Rep. Rick Little? Their Las Cruces area race is a hot one.


Dem insiders, plotting out the '14 Guv race, say the path to victory could run through the ABQ mayor's office. They say if a Dem could take Berry out in '13, it would improve Dem chances to take out Martinez in the following year. They note that Dem Mayor Chavez was ousted by Berry in 2009, ushering in the GOP wave that led to Martinez's election in 2010.

Keeping it on the city beat, we get some Alligator reaction to that Matrix consulting report commissioned by Berry to get ideas on how to improve government efficiency:

I just don't understand how our Mayor, governing a City of this size, surrounded by cities and states that are adding jobs, continues to take the path of cutting good paying city positions as a method of job stimulus. Even more mind boggling is the lack of anything that even resembles leadership coming from the Police or Fire Chiefs.  Self interest and preservation is a strong virtue in the chiefs of Public Safety it seems.

Now the media seems to be obsessed with a Union sanctioned audit of Fire Department capabilities, that like the Mayor's audit, identifies some department shortfalls. But it seems that instead of looking at the wealth of current data that now exists to improve response potential, we can be certain that this will turn into another labor vs. administration political football used to point fingers at the other side.  The battle will drag on until the media grows tired of it and useful information will get swept under the Mayor's political rug.  I am so disgusted that partisan politics now bleeds into public safety.  Some honest, practical and intelligent dialogue would be a breath of fresh air...but I certainly won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.


A reader comes with a funny in reaction to the news here that Lt. Governor John Sanchez is in Germany this week with other light guvs:

I think it is interesting that all the Lieutenant Governors are visiting Germany during their extensive Oktoberfest.  Will Sanchez come back with a taste for German beer?  Will he give the Germans a taste of nachos and find a beer that goes well with them?


There goes the summer of 2012. It was fun but it was also stressful for those in the tourism business here. Visits to the state were basically flat, signaling once again the need for the state to spend more promoting itself in creative and whimsical ways.

Tourism Secretary Jacobson and Governor Martinez could make a difference but they have to lighten their grip on the purse strings and give our small businesses a chance to capture a bigger share of the market. Leading legislators also seem to have a deaf ear on this. What happened to, "It takes money to make money?"


We had an error in the first draft of the Wednesday blog that stood out for a number of readers, including Mark Fidel:

This sentence, in Wednesday's post, caught my eye: "Also, the hard fought state Senate battle between incumbent Dem John Sapien and GOP challenger John Sapien." 

I, for one, would vote for Sapien to win!

For the record, Sapien faces GOP State Rep. David Doyle who is leaving his House seat to run for the Senate.

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