Tuesday, October 02, 2012

On the 2012 Trail: Even The Dead Get Some Attention, Plus: That Was Quick; Heather Back On Death Bed After Revival Attempt, And: She's Gone; NMSU Prez Dumped In Messy Move 

You've heard of the jokes over the years about New Mexico's dead casting ballots, but a candidate actually going after the dead vote? Well, that's the way it looks in this rib-tickling pic snapped at a Valencia County cemetery. GOP State Rep. David Chavez, seeking to unseat Dem State Senator and Majority leader Michael Sanchez, has his sign positioned for what appears to be easy reading for those who have found their final resting place.

As for the living, Chavez and a political action committee run by the Guv's political adviser are bombarding them with mail pieces that seem unending. Already about ten anti-Sanchez mailers have gone out, according to our sources in the county.

There's not much positive to be said about being six feet under, but not having a mailbox in October of an election year is surely one of them. (By the way, the Chavez campaign has since taken down its cemetery sign).


He is one of the most powerful members of the 112 in the Legislature, but State Senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith isn't getting much of a challenge from his GOP foe. Smith has become so conservative that the R in the race finds himself agreeing with Smith on the major issues of the day.

Smith was challenged in the Dem primary in June but won easily and appears well on the way to winning another four year term. At 74, it could be his last one, but you never know.

The current chatter about Smith revolves around the Republican challenges to Senate Majority Leader Sanchez and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings. They are being hammered by Jay McCleskey, the Guv's political adviser who is running two PACS. If Sanchez and Jennings survive their R challenges, will they be even more adverse to working with Martinez? Could they try to have Smith join them in making life even tougher on the Guv? He's been pretty friendly toward her.

The law of unintended consequences could come into play as the Guv goes all in to take out the two Dem Senate leaders.


Heather Wilson
The embalmers preparing for a political funeral took a brief break from their duties when they were shown an internal poll from Heather Wilson that claimed the GOP US Senate contender was trailing Dem Martin Heinrich by only one point. But the embalmers were back preparing their fluids in a matter of hours.

On the heels of Wilson's poll released Friday afternoon, the conservative Rasmussen polling outfit released a survey Monday morning showing Heather trailing Heinrich by a whopping 13 points--52% to 39%, with 3% saying they favored some other candidate.

Rasmussen did not specifically include tea party sympathizer Jon Barrie in the survey. But they didn't have to. That Wilson is trailing so much in Rasmussen--a firm friendly with Rs--says it all. In fact, if something doesn't happen soon the only chore left at Wilson headquarters will be to pick the pallbearers for her political funeral November 6.

Heather's camp even says this Republican friendly is off, saying it includes too many Hispanics, but no poll conducted in this race has ever shown Wilson ahead. An automated phone poll conducted last week by "We Ask America" drives the point home some more. It's Heinrich 52% and Wilson 41%.

KKOB-AM radio news veteran Larry Mohlenbrink asked us what is the main problem for Wilson. We responded that she has never been high in the "likability" ratings and that the many tough negative campaigns she ran as an ABQ congresswoman have caught up with her. And her 2008 GOP Senate primary loss to Steve Pearce has also weakened Wilson, a formidable politician but one who faces a much different electorate than when she started out back in 1998.


Shouldn't there be more talk about this among the biz community, the mainstream media and on the embryonic 2013 ABQ mayoral campaign trail?

The Albuquerque metropolitan area lost 3,300 jobs over the 12 months that ended Aug. 31, for a negative 0.9 percent growth rate, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions said. It was the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year job losses for the metro area, the department said in its monthly report on the state’s economy. The area had posted 28 consecutive months of year-over-year job losses from October 2008 through January 2011, and hovered around a flat growth rate for most of 2011.


You mean the winners of the controversial racino lease at the Downs at ABQ could turn around and sell the 25 year old lease, pocketing big bucks in the process? That speculation has arisen as the Downs announced a delay in getting the new racino built. The union-funded Independent Source PAC comes with this:

...The Downs does not have to actually build the project, but can turn around and sell all or part of the lease including the racetrack, casino, or liquor business to the highest bidder...The state has little if any say in the sale of the lease. The buyer only has to be “reasonably acceptable” to the state. If the new buyers have “substantially the same ownership and management” the state essentially already consents to the transfer of ownership...The racino in Hobbs--Zia Park--was built in 2004 for $43,000,000. It sold to Penn International Gaming in 2007 for $200,000,000. The Downs is in pretty poor shape these days. Maybe (the ownership) never really intended to do anything but get the lease. They sure stand to see a hefty profit from selling it to some national gaming outfit....

We'll file that in our "things to watch" folder as the Downs continues to say the new racino will be late in coming but will be built.


The fumbling is finally over. The New Mexico State University Board of Regents have dumped President Barbara Couture who has already found another job and will have the additional soft cushion of $453,000 in buy out money.

There were scores of groups and interests unhappy with Couture who served less than three years in the job, but the regents said they could not talk about the reasons why she was leaving. So how are they going to improve the school if they can't talk about the problems? Couture was eased out in a hastily called meeting at the school campus in Las Cruces. The regents called her departure a "mutual decision" Yeah, like a prisoner being escorted to the firing squad.

Noticeable among the regents being quoted in news accounts of the Couture mess was Javier Gonzales who also happens to be the chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. Wearing these two hats has always been problematic for Javier and never more so than this week.

Another politico who also saw the spotlight fall on him because of all this is former GOP NM Governor Garrey Carruthers, dean of the biz school at NMSU. He casts a long shadow on school affairs and now that Couture is gone--apparently with his backing--he might want to use some of his political skills to bring the university community back together.

Former NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish has floated the idea that both NMSU and UNM be permitted to have regents who don't live in the state, bringing some valuable outside perspective. After the NMSU mess it's perhaps an idea whose time has come.


The Guv's Department of Health Secretary throws in the towel. Dr. Catherine Torres had multiple issues running the sprawling agency, reports newsman Milan Simonich.


Las Cruces reporter Heath Haussamen has shuttered his nmpolitics.net web site after a six and a half year run. He says he was unable to find a buyer for the site, but will continue to write about state issues at New Mexico In Depth. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded $525,000 to get that project going. It will be led by longtime New Mexico newsman Trip Jennings.


We ran a brief item Monday from Dem State House candidate Mary Ellen Broderick concerning her race against ABQ GOP State Rep. Nate Gentry, but reader Thomas Rymsza says something was amiss:

I believe that something is amiss regarding the reporting on the Gentry/Broderick race. It is HD30, not HD20.  And why is the event for Broderick you mention happening outside the district?

Thanks, Tom. The communication from the campaign said HD 20 and we since corrected it. As for Broderick having a fund-raising event at the Artichoke Cafe--far from the NE Heights district she hopes to represent--well, that's one of those things a sharp-eyed reader like you picks up on.


New Mexico's political stumbling could cost the state dearly when it comes to the Spaceport near T or C.  How about a legislative deal between the Rs and Ds so we can keep the promise of this project alive? The New Mexican  opines:

How about this? Democrats who don’t like the spaceport liability exemption vote yes anyway. Then, Republicans who dislike the movie industry, vote yes on permanent, clearer tax exemptions. It’s a trade, the kind of legislative back and forth that ends up with everyone winning, especially the men and women who will be working in the space or movie business. New Mexico wins, too, because the state will be taking in tax dollars from new businesses moving to Spaceport America and from the next great TV series that comes to New Mexico rather than move on to North Carolina or Louisiana. 

You mean working across the aisle and coming up with a compromise and giving everyone credit and actually moving the state forward economically? Ye gads! What will they be saying next?


Help is there for those who find themselves with bursting bladders as they enjoy the restroom-challenged Santa Fe Plaza, a story we blogged about Monday. Here's former NM Dem Party Chairman and City Different businessman Earl Potter:

In case you or your readers need us, please remember that our Five& Dime on the Plaza has had rest rooms open to the public for the past 14 years and will always have them as long as we are in business...

Thanks for that news, Earl. All those tourists praying for relief at St. Francis Cathedral can now make their way down the street to your place. Their prayers have been answered...

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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