Friday, October 19, 2012

Driver's Licenses Imbroglio Makes TV Debut (Baby Brianna, Too), Reform PAC Spot Urges Support For Susana's Repeal, Plus: Guv Shows Some Late Love For Spaceport, And: Flood Of Early Voting Starts Saturday  

Forget jobs, taxes, education or crime. The big issue in this year's legislative races, according to the political action committee run by the Guv's political adviser, is the granting of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Maybe those other issues will pop up later, but in the first major TV ad from Reform it is all about those controversial licenses.

(Developing: We're told on Friday tht Reform is also up with a spot dealing with the well-known Baby Brianna case prosecuted by then District Attorney Martinez. The ad, we're told, slams Senate Leaders Jennings and Sanchez for not being tough on child abuse. Will post when it comes in)

 However, Reform, which has been flooding the districts of state senate leaders Michael Sanchez and Tim Jennings with negative mail, radio and robo calls, does not mention either of them in the statewide TV that goes up today and which has been anticipated since our a senior media Alligator reported here on October 9 that Reform had booked over $200,000 of TV for the final stretch of Campaign '12.

Instead, the ad takes a softer approach showing a picture of Governor Martinez and the Roundhouse while a female narrator urges New Mexicans to make the legislature's failure to repeal the licenses the major issue when they cast ballots their ballots in House and Senate races this year:

New Mexico is one of two states still giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. It attracts people from all over the world. Some who want to do us harm. Governor Susana Martinez is fighting to repeal the law but she is being blocked in the Legislature. In this election support candidates who support our governor. Early voting runs until Nov. 3. Vote early and lets stop giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

Since day one Reform (and Governor Martinez) have believed their best chance of taking control of the state House from the Dems and increasing GOP numbers in the Senate has been the driver's licenses. She has tried and failed three times for the repeal, and along the way rejecting a compromise form Senator President Pro Tem Jennings.

The issue polls well, with over 70% of the public saying they want the repeal, but how intense they are about it varies widely. And in a presidential election year where the rhetoric is more lofty and the turnout among casual voters higher, it remains a big if whether Reform and Susana are going to get much bang for their buck.

Reform Now could still come with additional TV directly attacking Jennings and Sanchez, but it is mostly a waste of money as those races will only involve several thousand voters and the TV spots reach virtually the entire state.

Also, Reform has to be careful not to directly associate Martinez with the campaigns against Jennings and Sanchez throughout New Mexico. Even after the pummeling Reform has handed them, they are still favored to win.

Many Dem legislative candidates have already made themselves immune to the driver's license hit by saying they will support repeal. However, if Sanchez and Jennings come back to Santa Fe bruised and bleeding from the beatings they have received, the last thing they are going to do is handing Martinez a victory on this measure. In other words, when she runs for re-election in 2014, guess what her banner issue will be? That's right--the failure of the lawmakers to repeal the licenses.


Several readers email that the Reform PAC TV spot is wrong when it says only two states allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses. Here's one of them:

You quoted the ad as stating: "New Mexico is one of two states still giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants." This is the number that has been tossed around for a while, and I knew right away that it was wrong, as the California legislature recently passed, and Governor Brown signed, legislation that allows some undocumented Californians to get licenses. Washington, as we know, allows licenses to undocumented individuals. Utah also allows driving permits for undocumented individuals. This LA Times piece (looks like an Op-Ed) on the new California law elucidates matters:

"That would move California closer to the policies of three other states: New Mexico and Washington allow illegal immigrants to apply for licenses, and Utah allows them to apply for driving permits that
don't count as government IDs. A proposal to add Colorado to that list may be on the state's ballot this November."

Probably worth thinking about, that the most populous state in the country is reversing the trend, no?


There are, of course, many other matters much more important to the future prosperity than the emotional wedge issue of those driver's licenses. One of them is the NM Spaceport and whether it will thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. Governor Martinez, who shunned the project in her opening year, appeared this week at a space symposium in Las Cruces and continued to warm to the project and even make it her own: 

 It is my goal that New Mexico is branded as a place where someone with a good idea can make it happen," Martinez said. "Our rich heritage of space flight runs the gamut. Such a commitment should be a broad and long-term endeavor. We're interested in economic development and will do what we can to support (commercial space flight).

It's good to see the initial animosity the administration seemed to have against the Spaceport--the brain child of Governor Big Bill--fade away as we get closer to her re-election campaign. Now she needs to back it up by successfully working the Legislature for a liability bill that will put us on an even playing field with competing spaceports--including the one in Colorado.


You know the score in the US Senate race. Heather Wilson needs Dem Martin Heinrich to make a big mistake to make this contest competitive. She hasn't been able to do it in two TV debates and now the conservative media is giving it a shot. The "Who Said New Mexico" web site intercepted Heinrich following the Las Cuces TV debate Wednesday and soon Heinrich was dodging their camera.

The Who Said representative wanted to know if Heinrich would "maintain coal level production or reduce it." Kind of a soft ball considering the source of the question but Heinrich is shown scampering away, obviously determined not to be caught in a media trap after only moments earlier escaping the clutches of Heather--a dangerous opponent if there ever was one.

Steve Haro, Congressman Heinrich's Chief of Staff, gives the questioner the brush-off while carrying a tray of cupcakes given to Heinrich by Wilson in honor of his 41st birthday which occurred on debate day. Hey, maybe they were running to dispose of those "tasty" treats." Not that Heather would ever put anything in them--like something that could cause a brain freeze.

The complete entertaining one minute video is here.


Well, it's a little of Susana for Heather. By that we mean the Guv agrees to appear in this amateur video apparently shot by a Heather Wilson staffer. She strongly praises Wilson but it's not something you will see on your TV screens. 


Was that so hard, Mayor Berry? A poll on the ballot measure to rebuild the Paseo del Norte/I-25 interchange in ABQ is winning support from 63% voters surveyed and appears on its way to easy passage Nov. 6.

The Mayor and the GOP majority on the city council did all they could to keep the $50 million bond issue from going before voters. In 2011, Republican councilors put before voters the Paseo rebuild, along with a controversial sportsplex. Voters would have none of it and defeated the measure. They wanted Paseo but not the sportsplex. Then Berry unsuccessfully tried to muster a "super majority" of the council to pass Paseo and avoid the judgment of taxpayers. That also failed.

But given the chance to approve Paseo as a stand-alone project voters are more than willing. Berry is fortunate that Paseo is going to pass because if it failed his political machinations to keep it off the ballot would have had voters looking to bypass him at the next election.

NO ON #2

We don't make endorsements in contested political races but as longtime readers know we do on occasion weigh in on specific bond issues and constitutional amendments. This year there's only one amendment on the ballot that we urge voters to reject. Constitutional Amendment #2 calls for certain qualifications for anyone who wants to be a Public Regulation Commissioner. What could be wrong with that? Well, the amendment leaves to the Legislature exactly what qualifications a commissioner should have. We think the amendment should state the qualifications and let the people decide if they are fair--not the political class.

The powerful PRC, regulator of a variety of important industries--including electricity--has been a comedy of errors ever since its inception, The personal foul-ups of commissioners--some criminal--are legendary. Having better qualified commissioners is a laudable--even necessary--step. Ultimately, however, we need to abolish the panel and return to an appointed commission.

Meanwhile,  if we are going to continue to elect the five PRC members but exclude entire classes of voters from serving on the panel, let the people see just who would be excluded instead of asking then to hand that power over to politicians who may or may not come up with acceptable qualifications.

We will vote "No" on Constitutional Amendment # 2.


Tomorrow (Oct. 20 will be one of the heaviest days of voting in the state and the ABQ metro as 16 satellite voting centers open in Bernalillo County. Governor Martinez will rally the GOP Saturday morning at the Target store on Montgomery. Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Senators Bingaman and Udall and Senate hopeful and US Rep. Martin Heinrich will rally in Santa Fe on Saturday, at 9 a.m., followed by another rally in Eldorado at 11 a.m. with state House candidates. 

ABQ political consultant Sterling Fluharty reports that he confirmed with Bernalillo County Clerk's office that the number of registered voters in big Bernalillo is about 429,000. If we get a 70 percent turnout that would mean about 300,000 county residents casting ballots. That would be nearly 38% of the statewide total of about 800,000 that our experts expect to vote this year.


A Memorial Service for George Buffett is scheduled for Friday, October 19, 2012 at 1:00pm at Mountainside Church of Christ, 12300 Indian School Road NE. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in George's name may be made to the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch, PO Box 9, Belen, NM 87002-9901 or United Way of Central New Mexico, www.uwcnm.org.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Thanks for the company this week.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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