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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

It's No Campaign Sweat For Two State Senators To Be, Plus: Governor Martinez Would Rather Switch Than Fight When It Comes To State's Fed Funding, And: Clash Over Couture In Cruces; We Have The NMSU Fall Out 

Padilla & Candelaria
Not all the candidates are sweating it out this election season. ABQ's Michael Padilla and Jacob Candelaria are all smiles as we catch up with them on the 2012 campaign trail--and no wonder. Candelaria won his June primary and has no Republican opponent for his Westside district. He gets a four year trip to Santa Fe just by voting for himself.

And Michel Padilla is a near certain bet for a seat in the 42 member Senate.  He too won a spirited June Dem primary. He also has no GOP foe. Padilla does face independent candidate Robert Schiller but it is not a serious threat.

Candelaria, 26, and Padilla, 40, are the new generation of Hispanic politicians. Both will be first time office holders and both are avid students of La Politica. Candelaria is a Princeton graduate and Padilla, a business owner, is a successful consultant for customer service call centers.

Don't expect to be able to pigeonhole these two new lawmakers as "progressives." Both have an independent and pragmatic streak and will not shut their doors to the state's business interests.

AFTER THE SENATE

Speaking of business interests in Santa Fe, a couple of legislators report that one of their own is about to go into the lobbying business. They say outgoing GOP State Senator Clint Harden is making it known he is looking for clients. Careful, Senator. Your term representing the state's Eastside is not officially over until year's end.

WHAT A YAWN

That's what the Prez race is here. We're going to have to start filling up on Starbucks before we study these polls, otherwise it's a big yawn. Rasmussen said Tuesday its Obama 51%, Romney 40% and "another candidate" 6%.  We've moved the Prez race from "Lean Dem" to "Likely Dem" and now are of a mind to move it to "Safe Dem." Former NM Guv Gary Johnson was not listed on the poll, but we suppose he could be that other candidate Rasmussen mentioned. Our Alligators months ago pegged the "over-under" on Johnson's performance here at 5%. It appears he will have a hard time reaching that number if he doesn't do any high-profile media.

Tonight is the first presidential debate. Don't expect the numbers to move here as a result of that match-up unless someone confesses to an unsolved homicide.

WHERE'S THE FIGHT?

Governor Martinez needs to put on boxing gloves when it comes to the state's economy but she seems to be opting instead for her running shoes. At her administration's economic conference Tuesday she warned that New Mexico--which receives $28 billion a year in all forms of federal funding representing over a third of the economic activity here--has to move away from that funding:

For many years, this state has relied on an influx of federal dollars, but federal [budget] cuts are coming, and we have to move away from our sole dependence on federal spending,” Martinez said in addressing the New Century Economy Summit in Albuquerque.

In an ideal world it would be nifty if we could replace billions of dollars in federal money in a year or two, but we can't. That's why the former district attorney from Las Cruces needs to battle to protect our state from getting trashed economically by a massive bleed of federal monies.

If you don't fight for funding for Sandia and Los Alamos Labs and for the state's defense industry, they will take it from you. And there is no conceivable private sector development that is gong to replace those jobs or that funding in the immediate years ahead. You must fight while you transition.

What we are getting from Santa Fe is sighs of resignation when what we need is a collaborative effort with the state's business and congressional leadership to fight to protect the economic security of its people.

And the Governor seems confused as to what constitutes the "private sector." She says:

"We've started the work by investing in the construction and manufacturing sectors, by providing tax relief to small business owners ... And by attracting companies that can create private sector jobs ... like Honeywell and AirUSA."

But those "private jobs" depend on millions in federal funding Honeywell and Air USA are federal defense contractors.

New Mexico is getting hammered by government and private sector job losses while neighboring states climb out of the deep recession. Those states are nowhere near as dependent on government funding as we are.

New Mexico's modern economic history is tied at the hip to the federal government, That is the basis for most of what has happened here in the last 60 years. You can very slowly withdraw from this cash flow, but if you go cold turkey you are going to crash.

MICHELLE MONEY

ABQ Dem congressional contender Michelle Lujan Grisham comes with her money numbers for the quarter ending September 30. They appear to be healthy:

Democratic Congressional Nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham raised more than $500,000 during the last three months in the race for New Mexico’s 1st District. Since the start of her campaign, nearly 5,000 people have contributed to Michelle’s run for Congress, generating about $1.4 million to enable her to reach voters with TV ads and through an aggressive field campaign.

The full reports will be filed with the FEC at mid-month. Grisham faces GOP hopeful Janice Arnold-Jones who has not yet released her fund-raising totals. We have the race ranked "Likely Dem."

COUTURE CULTURE

Barbara Couture
One of our Senior Alligators with experience in the higher education arena offers these insights on the ouster this week of New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture:

This is more evidence of the “corporatization” or our institutions of higher learning: Not only is Couture’s reasons for departure kept “private” (that is, secret), but she receives a golden parachute of almost half a million dollars plus full pay for the next three months! This in spite of the fact that she already has secured another position. This all started with Big Bill’s amigo Louis Caldera, who walked away from the presidency of the University of New Mexico with about $700,000 after being fired. Shades of Wall Street--or big-time college athletics. And what is this talk of “permanent” presidents at New Mexico universities? Given the very short terms and high turnover of university presidents, especially in NM, the term is meaningless.

And how about some good old-fashioned unloading on the wayward NMSU regents? Las Cruces Sun-News editor Jim Lawitz does the honors:

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has perpetrated a travesty on the citizens of Las Cruces. This august body of leaders announced the departure of President Barbara Couture on Monday. They did so with a righteous sense of purpose, cloaking themselves in privileged conversation protected by law...If the regents are sincere in their goal of transparency, perhaps they'd tell us how they came up with Couture's severance package. Given the number--$453,092--is it logical to assume a formula was used to arrive at the number? Assuming taxpayers are footing the bill--and we have no reason to believe otherwise--they have a right to know. With change comes hope and we fervently wish for a change in culture. One that's collaborative, not combative; and one that's open, not obstructive and always looking to circle the wagons.

"A travesty on the citizens.." Jim, now you're bloggin'....

ILLEGALS & LICENSES

Somebody call Susana. The licenses are multiplying!

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that will allow hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses...The driver's license measure will make illegal immigrants eligible to drive legally in California if they qualify for a new federal work permit program. That Obama administration protocol allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger and meet certain other criteria, to obtain work permits.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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