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Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: Susana's VP Chances, Boosting The State Biz Scene, And: Happy Easter, New Mexico 

One of our Alligators sent us this pic of Governor Susana sporting her new and latest look. He says:

Susana visited the Carlsbad Battered Families Shelter sporting a new hair cut and a darker color. She looks VP ready, doesn't she?

Well, she certainly has been getting her fair share of mentions as Romney's possible running mate, but we have no idea if the Guv's new coiffure has anything to do with that. We do know that as a Hispanic female Governor in a party that has trouble attracting minority votes, Martinez will be mentioned as a possible VP pick right up until Romney reveals his choice.

Another Alligator says New Mexico should start taking more seriously the Martinez VP chatter:

With Romney getting pummeled among female voters and Hispanics in swing states, he needs Susana. You can't win with White men alone. You have to be competitive with women and the GOP has no potential moderate female VP candidates but Susana. I can't think of another one nationally.  The only problem is that Susana is really fuzzy on reproductive rights, but she can probably do a good job relating to moderate women....

Agreed. Martinez can growl with the best of them about the conservative agenda, but her pledges to not cut education and Medicaid spending has kept her near the middle ever since she made that statement as a Guv candidate back in the summer of 2010.

Meanwhile, former Guv Gary Johnson, a former GOP presidential contender now making the rounds as a Libertarian Party hopeful, dissed Martinez in a national news interview calling her "Palin-esque," a derogatory reference to 2008 GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin who ended that campaign with a reputation as an intellectual lightweight.

“This is a Sarah Palin-esque kind of choice. She’s served as governor of New Mexico for about the same amount of time,” Johnson said. “I think there were lessons learned [from 2008.]”

But hold on, Gary. Isn't Susana a lot like you? She wields her veto pen frequently as you did, she presides over a gridlocked government as you did and she has pinpointed a legislative leader--Michael Sanchez--as the state's archenemy like you did with then-Senate leader Manny Aragon.

One other thing, Gary. Like Susana, you were known more for your tenacious political personality, not your intellectual prowess.

IT'S THE ECONOMY

Now more of our continuing coverage of the state economy and biz scene. Reader Jim McClure weighs in our ongoing discussion on how to position New Mexico for better times:

Joe, your blog is the only place where any serious discussion of New Mexico's economy is taking place. I agree that it's unrealistic to either hope for continued federal largesse or expect a robust private sector to appear out of nowhere. There are, however, some things New Mexico can do to plant the seeds of a private economy while fighting for the remaining scraps in the government trough.

Improving the business climate would be a good start. It makes more sense to make the overall tax structure business-friendly than to bribe individual companies. Right-to-work legislation has enriched other states and will help here, too. Stepped-up state investment in tourism is a no-brainer. If Mississippi can promote tourism, so can we: Our work force is nearly as uneducated but we have better scenery.

Years ago the Navajo Nation created a national market for its jewelry and art. Since New Mexico has more artists and art galleries than practically anyplace else, can we make this a more effective economic engine? There may be potential in art tourism (We will need to keep the legislature from imposing a new tax on paint and brushes, however.)

NMSU's Chile Pepper Institute seems to be an effective partnership between a public university and a key local industry. Are there other strategic partnership opportunities that can utilize our overabundance of universities?  And, is there any potential for cross-border commerce with Mexico in something other than drugs and guns?

Good thoughts, Jim. We aren't in the "right-to-work" corner, but have been pounding the table for more state dollars to promote tourism--a major small business employer here. We wish Santa Fe would hear it.

Governor Martinez and state Economic Development Director Jon Barela deserve kudos for the attention they have given cross-border commerce. We are making progress. Your thoughts on using the universities for more private partnerships is interesting. We'd like to learn more.

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by and making us New Mexico's #1 political web site. We appreciate it. And Happy Easter.

Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Doubting Doughty: Racing Chairman Seeks State Senate Seat, Plus: Another Poll; Another Heinrich Lead, And: On The ABQ Congress Campaign Trail 

Why is the latest scandal in the NM horse racing industry of special interest to the voters of the ABQ NE Heights district of outgoing GOP State Senator Kent Cravens? Because one of the the three GOP candidates seeking to replace him--Robert Doughty III--is chairman of the New Mexico Racing Commission. That panel has come under fire after a lengthy New York Times investigation found state horse racing riddled with animal and drug abuse issues.

Doughty, an attorney in ABQ who was appointed to the commission by Gov. Martinez in March 2011, may come under questioning as to why these problems have festered as he served as head of the panel overseeing horse racing. His most formidable foe is Mark Moores, executive director of the state dental association and who insiders say has the backing of Cravens. Cravens held the dental job before Moores. The other hopeful is Nancy Cooper.

On his web site Doughty prominently features a photo of him and his family visiting Martinez at the Guv's mansion on March 24. While that is not a formal endorsement in a contested primary, it comes close and insiders believe the Guv's political action committee--Susana Pac--will help him. Moores served as chief of staff to former Lt. Governor Walter Bradley. He was considered the front-runner before Doughty's entry but Moores now has a major battle on his hands.

The seat is currently held by Dem trial attorney Lisa Curtis who was appointed to fill the seat when Cravens left for a position with the NM Oil and Gas Association. She is seeking election to the seat. She may spend a lot of money trying to keep it in the Dem column, but this is GOP country and the winner of the nomination is likely to go all the way. However, if Doughty emerges as the nominee and is damaged by the racing revelations, it could make for an interesting race.

THE SENATE LEANS DEM 
Heinrich
Here's the Senior Alligator money line on the polling in the US Senate race: "Wilson appears to be hitting a ceiling in the low 40's, while Heinrich has a floor at around 45%."

Now on to the latest...We just don't think a five term ABQ area congresswoman with superior statewide name ID should be consistently trailing in the polls. But that is the continuing fate of Republican Heather Wilson and that's why we have the US Senate race here ranked "lean Dem," although we are not throwing water on the "toss-up" crowd. The latest numbers from the conservative leaning Rasmussen polling firm has Dem Martin Heinrich leading Heather 46% to 42%. That poll was conducted Tuesday and improves on Heinrich's standing from the February Rasmussen when he beat Wilson 44% to 42%.

State Auditor Hector Balderas who was tied with Heather in the February Rasmussen--44 to 44--now slips back and loses to her 43 to 42. Balderas was hoping for momentum coming out of the mid-March Dem preprimary convention in which he had a better than expected showing, but this poll does not pick up any.

Heinrich remains the probable Dem Senate nominee and Wilson almost certainly the GOP winner of the June primary. She will continue to argue that this poll and others put her within the margin of error which for the latest survey is 4.5%. But independents are breaking for the Dem candidate and women are going for Heinrich at a rate of 53% to 38%. Hispanics are solidly in the Dem corner, says Rasmussen. These numbers are the traditional cornerstones of Democratic victories. That's why we see it differently than those who call the poll "a wash" because of its overall margin of error.

There is a long, long way to go and Heinrich (or Balderas if he scores the upset) will be tested in ways they probably have not yet imagined, but Wilson--a campaign veteran--has to know there are storm clouds over her head. Some of them not of her own making. The state is looking increasingly blue for Obama and thus for the Senate race. Wilson needs to run an A+ campaign, but her ultimate fate may rest with Obama's performance, not her own.

By the way, Rasmussen gives Governor Susana a 60 percent favorable rating and 36 percent unfavorable. Thirty-six percent of likely voters strongly approve of her job performance.

ON THE TRAIL

ABQ Dem congressional contender Michelle Lujan Grisham says she's not endorsing anyone in that heated campaign for the Dem nod for the ABQ area Public Regulation Commission contest. State Rep. Al Park links to a news release on his web site that lists Lujan Grisham among those endorsing him, but her campaign tells us that is not the case. "She has not and will not endorse anyone in that race," said Gilbert Gallegos, the candidate's spokesman. Park faces Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya and attorney Cynthia Hall for the nomination. Lujan Grisham's candidacy has caught fire with a number of womens groups so the news of a Park endorsement raised eyebrows.....

First he has a matanza that made blog news over whether it was handled according to tradition, now Dem congressional hopeful Eric Griego gets this:

Griego (NM-1) announced his endorsement by CHILE-PAC, a Political Action Committee advocating for Hispanic interests throughout New Mexico.  Griego is only the second candidate in this election cycle to be endorsed by the organization.

Guess Eric's matanza passed the smell test, after all....And Marty Chavez, also seeking the Dem nomination for the ABQ US House seat says he's started a campaign newspaper:

As we move toward the final stretch of this primary campaign, Marty wants to make sure that you're fully up to date on the inner workings of the campaign. In the Marty Messenger you'll learn about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities and other ways to get involved in Marty's campaign to bring tough leadership that can actually deliver results to Congress....

The "Marty Messenger" is a pretty catchy title. If he starts making money with it, the state's struggling newspapers are going to be knocking on his door for tips...

THE WIENER WATCH
Wiener & Sen. Barrassos
Well, we may have lost State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair to retirement this week, but that doesn't mean we won't have some colorful political characters to track this election season. One of the is pictured here. He's GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener with Republican Wyoming US Senator John Barrasso. The Senator was in town recently and Wiener was shoring up his GOP support. He's being challenged in the primary by businessman Lonnie Talbert.

Wiener has always been known as an independent Republican.
During his commission term he has been a headline maker for a number of stories, including one for sexual jokes he cracked and that offended a county employee. He says the incident has passed and he doesn't expect it to be a factor in his contest. Talbert begs to differ.

Wiener is the only politician we know of to have been an ABQ city councilor, a state Senator and and a Bernalillo County Commissioner. Is he resilient enough to get two terms on the commission?

THE BOTTOM LINES

A reader writes:

How about some positive news?  This is a great clip that you may not have seen. Our former NM Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, John Garcia, was on MSNBC in his current position as Assistant Secretary to the US Department of Veteran's Affairs. He's still working hard for veteran's and is complimenting the groundwork he laid in NM now at the national level.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lightning Rod Adair Will Strike No More; Senator Announces Retirement, Plus: The Petition Battles: Why They Are A Turn-Off, And: The Griego Matanza; The Real Deal, Says His Matanza Chief 

There have been a near record number of legislative retirements this year, but the big one is the last one. Veteran GOP State Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair, one of the state's most colorful and controversial public figures, has withdrawn his candidacy for re-election, ending what will be a 16 year legislative career. The Roswell politician was a "love him or hate him" politico, evoking emotion and opinion among his detractors and followers--of which there were many. (His full withdrawal news release is here.)

Adair, 57, said in his swan song that it is a good time for him to get out because he can now spend all of his time as a demographer and political consultant helping other R's get elected:

Because Susana Martinez blocked the Democrats' radically partisan gerrymander, the voters finally have a say in redistricting.  As a result, we have the greatest opportunity we've ever had to free the state from more than 80 years of Democrat domination in the legislature. Freeing New Mexico from that yoke would benefit our state for generations to come...

Adair may be jazzed about Republican hopes to increase their numbers in Santa Fe this election year, but he could not have been upbeat about his own chances to be re-elected to the Senate seat he has held since 1997. This year's redistricting may have helped some other R's, but Adair was hurt. He lost a portion of Lincoln County where he always performed well and picked up a large chunk of Otero County which was not previously in his district. In addition, he was thrown into a GOP primary with Bill Burt of Alamogordo who was appointed to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Dianna Duran when she became secretary of state.

Adair's decision to forego re-election means a clash between Burt and Adair will be avoided. There will be no GOP primary and Burt will be heavily favored to keep the seat in the R column in November.

Another factor that had to weigh on Adair as he eyed the exits was the threat of major money coming in to take him out. That's what happened to Roswell State Rep. Dan Foley a couple of cycles ago. Oilman Mark Murphy, determined to break up the Adair-Foley tag team poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign of Foley's opponent--Dennis Kintigh--and forced Foley to the ground. A similar fate seemed to await Adair.

Adair's take-no-prisoners tactics saw him clash repeatedly with legislative Democrats, perhaps most famously when he had a Roundhouse hallway confrontation with then-House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. A camera showed them in a shoving match, but it was not determined who started it.

SAYONARA, ROD

Adair, who served 20 years in the Army, was a major player in state Republican Party politics and will probably remain so as long as Martinez is Governor. His departure will mean a more subdued tone in the Senate. He was an intimidating presence to some of his colleagues. There has been talk that some R's might try to replace Senate Minority Leader Ingle for not completely toeing the line of the Guv, but with Adair gone the chances of that occurring grow even more remote. Adair could still retain influence with Republicans he helps to get elected as a campaign consultant, something we have seen with Jay McCleskey, the political operative who ran Martinez's campaign.

While Adair sees this year as a time when conservatives can make major gains in the Legislature, President Obama is poised to carry the state and other analysts see the Dems actually picking up a seat or two in the state House and definitely hanging on to control of the Senate. But Adair, both smart and combative, has always been one to push the envelope and defy the odds. No doubt that will continue even as his days as a legislative player to be reckoned with come to an end.

PR FOR DUMMIES

Here's political newcomer and ABQ GOP state Senate candidate Gerges Scott catching up on a book that could come in handy for a number of other legislative contenders this especially snarky campaign season. It's Public Relations for Dummies."

We find it particularly apropos because of the outbreak of complaints this cycle over whether a candidate's petition signatures are valid or whether they listed the number of the district on the petition for the office they are seeking.

Most, if not all, of these complaints that make their way to court, will be dismissed as long as the candidates have enough valid signatures to make the ballot. And even those with some lousy signatures seem to meet that threshold--as low as 75 signatures in many cases.

The problem is that many candidates are hiring "third party" vendors or using all volunteers to gather their petition signatures when they should be out there in person burning up the shoe leather and meeting the voters. Isn't that one reason why we have the petition requirements in the first place?

As for the brouhaha over candidates not complying with an esoteric new law that requires the number of the district to be on the petition you are asking a voter to sign, can't the secretary of state simply issue nominating petitions with a box for the candidate to place that number in? Problem solved.

Very few legislative candidates intentionally commit fraud in gathering their petitions. They may be guilty of laziness by farming out the job but little else. In the past, the contenders were more likely to overlook the petition problems of their foes--as long as they had enough valid signatures. They knew that getting involved in a contentious "process argument" irritated the voters who want to hear about the candidates backgrounds and the real issues. That's where PR for dummies comes in. But in this new era of smallish politics, everything is fair game--even if voters cant stand it and the complaints end up in a judge's waste basket.

By the way, Scott is seeking the GOP nod for the ABQ NE Heights Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Boitano. He faces Lisa Torraco in the June primary.

A MATANZA MATTER
Henry Chavez--Matanza Chief
Eric Griego will have you know that contrary to what was heard here Tuesday, his "Spring Matanza" was the real deal and did not feaure any store bought pork. Perish the thought, says Henry Chavez who organized the Matanza for the ABQ Dem congressional candidate and who responded to the allegations from an ABQ Senior Alligator that Eric had a somewhat faux Matanza. You're on Henry:

I live in Barelas and I volunteered to gather together a team of people for the Eric Griego for Congress Spring Matanza who know the ins and out of this great tradition. On Friday we picked up the 600 pound pig from Isleta Livestock and Feed. We brought it to our cooking pit about 300 yards from the Griego headquarters, skinned it and cooked it in pieces for 14 hours. On Saturday I brought the meat to the party for everyone to enjoy. Everyone except your Alligator, I guess.

You really don’t want to dig a hole through the concrete at the Eric Griego for Congress headquarters to build a fire on 4th Street. The Fire Marshal might have a word with you about that! If you’d like some lessons on having a Matanza, I’ll help you out. I suggest you do not publish such desgrasiadas without first checking your facts. I'm attaching a photo of me and my pit that we took today so you can see how and where we cooked the pig.

Thanks for that, Henry. We would have checked out our Gator's "facts" further but he was really giving his opinions on what he thought the food tasted like and the tenor of the Matanza. We're glad to hear that Eric is adhering to the highest Matanza standards and shunning any "store bought" food for such occasions.

We are about to witness a heated clash for the Dem nod between Griego, Marty Chavez and Michelle Lujan Grisham. When it's over maybe the Democrats can have Henry host a "Unity Matanza." 

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E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Tuesday Blogging: Of Susana, Gary & Bill, Plus: Readers Get On The Biz Beat With Us, And: Heinrich's Latest Cash Count & Griego's "Urban Matanza" 

Welcome back to the home of New Mexico politics. How about we juice up this presidential race in the Land of Enchantment. Let's get Susana on the GOP ticket as vice-president, make sure Libertarian presidential hopeful and former New Mexico Guv Gary Johnson gets plenty of exposure and start a write-in campaign for Big Bill Richardson. Could we get them all on the same debate stage together and have Steve "Red Meat" Pearce moderate along with Tom "Never Too Liberal" Udall?

That's three New Mexico Guv's to choose from. The state may lack a bunch of other stuff, but ambitious politicians isn't one of them...Speaking of a lack, let's get it back on our continuing coverage of the big story of the decade--the economy.

Here's some provocative commentary from reader Geoff Rodgers who says of today's muddling along economy: what you see is what you are going to get:

Please take this as an alternate voice to the constant beating of the drum for more government spending to fuel an economic recovery. We may very well be reaching the natural and physical limits to business as usual. This is not so much your father’s recession, but the economy recalibrating at a lower level of growth and spending. It’s always hard to see the end of an era and the beginning of a new one when you’re standing on the threshold. The real “fuel” for the type of recoveries of the past may be spent. Our economy, really the world’s economy, is built on leverage, abundant natural resources, and labor. The only one we still have in excess is labor. I’m optimistic we can achieve quality lives in the future. Denying the fundamental changes that have taken place will only delay the necessary personal changes we all must make.

Appreciate that, Geoff. However, for New Mexico government spending has always been the fuel that has fired the rocket. We may have to give some of that up, but we need to put up a fight because replacing it is going to be a long, arduous process and one that we might never fully recover from.

Also, we still have abundant natural resources in some categories--oil and natural gas being two examples. The high price of oil has buoyed the state treasury and the low price of natural gas has had the opposite effect. With government spending retrenching, the state's energy industry is especially critical in generating the revenues we need. What happens if the oil prices crash (as natural gas prices have) and at the same time government spending continues to be cut here? What would make up the difference?

THE WAY FORWARD

Conservative economic analysts simply argue that New Mexico--already one of the most poverty-ridden states in the nation--should just man up and take the pain as it works to diversify the economy. We think we can do better. How? By fighting in Washington to hold on to our funding, by passing a constitutional amendment that would take limited funds from the state's Permanent Fund to finance an attack on the economic and educational issues that afflict youngsters aged zero to five and by pursuing projects like the Spaceport that combines government and private sector funding.

That's a plan for the present and future.

Telling New Mexicans to "take the pain"is not a plan. It's unnecessary punishment based on a need for ideological purity. We support all the legs of the stool that support the state's economy--not just one. And that's the difference.

POTTER'S WAY

Former NM Dem Party Chairman and Santa Fe attorney Earl Potter emails this take on the state biz scene: 

We have three major assets as a state: Our natural resources, our land and culture, and the scientific and technical expertise generated by our two national labs and defense facilities. We need to constantly invest in all three. All the other states adjacent to us are, whether they happen to be D or R dominated. We would rather argue with each other, and find fault with any effort that we ourselves did think of.

There are some peculiar New Mexican attitudes, Earl.

ANOTHER POTTER

From Roll Call:

Whitney Potter, who has served as Rep. Martin Heinrich's (D-N.M.) official press secretary for three years, has moved over to work on his Senate campaign as communications director. Potter previously served as a spokeswoman at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico...When not at work, she can be found mountain biking or skiing.

What do they mean "when not at work?" There's life away from the campaign?

MONEY WATCH

Meanwhile, Heinrich's campaign says it ended the first quarter with about $1.5 million cash in the bank and raised about $480,000 in the Jan-March period. He raised $483,000 in the last quarter of 2011. Heinrich had $1.369 million cash on hand at the end of December. Hector Balderas, Heinrich's rival for the Dem Senate nomination, has not yet come with his latest fund-raising totals. He had less than $435,000 banked at the end of the year.

Presumptive GOP Senate nominee Heather Wilson had a million banked as the curtain came down on 2011. Insiders expect her to come with some big numbers for the first quarter as she preps for the general election. For Heinrich, the first order of business is dispatching Balderas. If he comes up short it won't be because of a lack of cash.

ERIC'S "URBAN MATANZA"
Dan Weaks

He called it a "Spring Matanza," but a Senior Alligator from the politically fabled ABQ South Valley who attended the event called Dem congressional hopeful Eric Griego's party an "urban matanza" and asserts he got it all wrong:

Congressional candidate Eric Griego gave an urban matanza. Consistent with the implied contradiction in terms, it was an underwhelming experience compelling truth in labeling..Griego's so-called matanza is the first catered matanza I have ever attended. There was no evidence of a pig had been slaughtered or even cooked! The pork looked suspiciously like it came from the store. The chicharrones looked and tasted like they were cooked in a microwave. Rice was of uncertain cuisine. The tortillas were from the store and warmed over a grill heated by propane. There was not a natural fire to be seen. An urban matanza is far too "progressive" from the traditional for me to favor.

Funny stuff, but will Eric chuckle along? Back in December of 2004 we blogged of how he ran out of tacos at the party he threw to announce his candidacy for the 2005 ABQ mayor's race. We noted we got stuck in a long taco line with then-ABQ City Councilor and now US Rep. Martin Heinrich. We were reduced to scarfing up tortilla chips. Eric did not think the write-up it was too amusing, but maybe his sense of humor has expanded since then.

Now for that picture accompanying this story. It's of veteran lobbyist and ABQ South Valley native Dan Weaks. He's showing his expert chicharrone stirring technique. Note the use of a wooden--not a metal--chicharrone paddle.Also the requisite big smile anticipating things to come, and the gray hair representing decades of Matanza experience. Now, how a Hispanic fellow like Dan gets a last name like "Weaks" is another story. Maybe he'll tell it at his next Matanza....

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Recovery? Still Doesn't Feel Like It, Plus: Campaign Trail Report, More On Susana & Obama, And: Where's Justice? 

It sure doesn't feel like much of a recovery in the state's largest metro. That's because it isn't. The state puts the ABQ area jobless rate at 8.2%. That's actually up from 8.1% from last February. The city budget unveiled Friday by Mayor Berry shows hardly any growth, reflecting anemic tax collections. The median price for a house in ABQ has plunged to near $161,000, down from over $200,000 during the frothy days of the late great bull market. The metro area (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance counties) is stalled out. The worst of the recession may have passed, but the recovery is not taking much of a hold here because government at all levels has retrenched--and that's a primary  employer around here. As we've noted repeatedly, nothing much in the way of business is coming into the city. We are flat.

Mayor Berry did not mention any of this in his upbeat budget unveiling Friday. He noted with relief that there will be no tax increases or more layoffs of city workers. What he did not talk about is when we can expect more robust economic activity and more tax collections because of it.

That the economy here has stopped dropping like a broken elevator is good, but what's next for ABQ and environs? The same can be asked of the state as a whole. The growth engines of the metro area's past---booming  housing construction, expanding government employment and a growing  retail sector are idled. We are muddling along. But that's not going to be enough to keep your kids or grandkids hanging around. 

The quality of life in ABQ remains the draw. Breathtaking scenery, pretty good weather, not much in the way of traffic compared to larger cities, cultural diversity, a bustling artistic and creative scene and much, much more makes ABQ one of America's truly livable cities. It's the generally low-wage economy for the many in the nonprofessional classes and a lack of good jobs overall that has been and remains the problem.

ON THE TRAIL 

Action on two state Senate races now where the winner of the Dem nomination takes the prize because the R's have not fielded candidates in the heavy Dem districts. Over on ABQ's west side,  Carlos Villanueva filed a court challenge to the petition signatures of 25 year old Jacob Candelaria, director of Equality NM, who is attempting to become the first openly gay man to serve in the Senate (although he is not making it an issue). If he can get past Villanueva's petition challenge, observers in the district say his chances for a win look good. He will be better financed than Carlos.

The race to replace longtime Dem State Senator Dede Feldman is getting more  clarified. Attorney Laura Sanchez has dropped out of the race after only  a few weeks of campaigning, and that would seem to further cement State  Rep. Bill O'Neill as the favorite to take the Dem nomination and thus  the Feldman slot in the Senate. No R is running. Some of the House district O'Neill is giving up is in the Senate district. Also, he will  likely be the best financed of the three contenders that remain in the  ABQ North Valley area district. The other two candidates are Carlos Cordova and Chris Catcheis.

CONGRESS CAMPAIGN

We  are hearing that ABQ US House candidate Marty Chavez has cut his first  round of campaign commercials and that they will soon hit the airwaves.  Will they take a hit on his rival, State Sen. Eric Griego? Marty is starting to jab at Eric who took the front-runner position by posting a win at the March preprimary  convention. We ran some of those hits last week and the Griego came with this in response:

Griego's campaign is gaining momentum because voters know he is  the real deal,  the one strong Democrat in this race who will fight for our  values--never giving in to the Republican plan to cut Medicare benefits, never giving in to the big corporations that want to pollute our environment, and finally putting the Wall Street crooks who wrecked  our economy in jail. It's no wonder his opponents are attacking him. They can't compete on the issues.

And let's not forget about Michelle Lujan Grisham. Eric Griego isn't. He just sent out  an endorsement letter from two prominent women politicos--State Sen.  Dede Feldman and State. Rep. Mimi Stewart.

OBAMA AND SUSANA

More today on Susana making nice with President Obama on his recent NM visit. This take comes from Michael Corwin of Independent Source PAC, a frequent critic of the Guv, but he puts on his analyst's hat for this one:

Martinez is using her photo op with Obama for the VP spot. Romney has had to run so far to the right that he has lost the middle. Martinez, who has a greater chance of being tapped than is given credit. Republicans see her as a female, Latina and since they are in trouble with both, she fits the bill. She will use the embrace of Obama to portray herself as a "moderate" by GOP standards (though she is not). She will be the female, Latina, moderate that goes state-by-state like a good soldier to try to save the election from the damage to her party from the primary. In return, Martinez gets three months of national spotlight and a chance to debate Biden for a Presidential run in 2016....

"President Martinez??" Okay, folks, you saw it here first.

Corwin may see Martinez as a serious contender for VP, but the WaPo's Chris Cilizza believes history shows that Romney will pick someone perceived as a true-blue conservative like Florida Senator Marc Rubio, a tea party darling, or New Jersey Guv Chris Christie.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Some things never change in politics. And that's a good thing. From the email:

My dad is running as a Republican for NM State Senate District 7 (the east side seat being vacated by Sen. Clint Harden) He turned in his petitions with 505 signatures. His grassroots base is strong with many, many local  families backing him. Check out his website. He's  in it to win it. This is a race to watch. (Pat Woods is running for the Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Clint Harden.)

And that's one reason why after all these years that more often than not we still like this game of ours.

APD WOES

An Alligator writes of the woes at the ABQ police department and the police union:

You  know if Mayor Berry wanted to look like he was in control of this train  wreck he would announce an immediate nationwide search for a new police  chief.  Retire Ray Schultz immediately and name an interim chief until a  replacement is named. Then if the APOA (police union) audit shows  criminal wrongdoing, use that as a reason to decertify the APOA and  start the process to recreate the APOA but under better safeguards and  guidelines.That would be real leadership.  That would be a new  leadership for both APD and the APOA, they both need it.

CALLING JUSTICE

Maybe  the 20 fatal police shootings in the past two years in ABQ deserve an  outside investigation by the Department of Justice or maybe they don't. But  how about a decision? The department has months to weight whether they  will get involved, but we sense foot-dragging in Washington. And there shouldn't be. What's the hold-up, Attorney General Holder?

And  it's not just the police probe that makes Justice look like a sick snail. How about the never-ending apparent federal investigation of  former Governor Bill Richardson? When does that end? It makes you wonder if Justice does start a probe of the police shootings if it would ever conclude.

BLOG LAUNDRY

A  couple of clean-up items. A number of early morning readers on Friday  saw a photo that we said was that of state Senate candidate Carlos Villanueva. It wasn't and we replaced it....

We also said that ABQ City Councilor Debbie O'Malley is Hispanic. She is, but there is more to it as she explains:

A technical correction for the  record: My maiden name is Smith, my Mom’s maiden name is Romero. My Dad  is part Hispanic (Montoya). Their first language was Spanish, so I  grew up in a bi-lingual household—not uncommon growing up in the North  Valley. 

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