Friday, April 13, 2012

The Senate Money Chase; Heather Shows Muscle; Where Things Stand, Plus: Blog Readers Join VP Parlor Game Over Susana 


She came with the right move at the right time. Following on the heels of fresh polling that shows her continuing to lag behind probable Dem US Senate foe Martin Heinrich, presumed GOP US Senate nominee Heather Wilson showed major campaign muscle, announcing she raised a mountain of cash in the first quarter of the year--$760,000--and is now nearly tied with Heinrich in the all important cash on hand total. He had $1.55 million in the bank at the end of March to her $1.45 million. Heinrich raised about $500,000 in the first quarter, making Wilson's showing all the more impressive.

There was other good money news for Heather this week--or at least tentative good news. The National Republican Senatorial Committee says it has reserved $3 million in TV time for Heather for September and October. However, it is important to note that reserving the time and actually buying it are two different things. Heather will need to have the race in play to score that cash. Right now it it is. She trails Heinrich by only four points 46-42--in the April Rasmussen. That's within the four point margin of error and will keep the race on everyone's radar.

We have the NM Senate race ranked "Lean Dem" because of Heinrich's early lead in the polls and because this is a presidential election year when heavier turnout favors a Dem candidate over the GOP. While many groups and pundits rank this seat as "toss-up," we are not alone in our lean Dem ranking. Real Clear Politics also says the seat that Jeff Bingaman will give up at the end of the yearis lean Dem.


The Wilson campaign and some media are calling the race a "dead heat." It isn't. A dead heat is a tie or perhaps a polling lead of one point.

The dictionary defines a dead heat in reference to politics as: "A political campaign or other contest that is so close that it is impossible to predict the winner." But in the case of Heinrich and Wilson we have had five public polls since February 2011. Heinrich has led in all five polls. His biggest lead was 11 points and his smallest lead was two points. The Wilson campaign attacked the polls conducted by PPP for including only registered voters. However, the last two Rasmussen surveys were of "likely voters" and gave Heinrich leads of two and four points. The Wilson campaign has not attacked those polls, instead arguing they show the race to be a dead heat because of the 4.5% margin of error.

Granted the race is close and Wilson can win it, but as of today the race--like the state--leans Dem. (Obama currently holds a double-digit lead over Romney).

If we took the full margin of error in all the public polls and applied it to to all the races, every other contest out there could be called a dead heat. They are not.


Readers continue to monitor the chatter about Guv Martinez's VP chances. She says she is a no go because, in part, she has responsibility for a disabled sister who lives in Las Cruces.  This reader doesn't feel Martinez has to worry about getting the call from Romney:

Joe, you keep running with the Martinez VP story. I don't believe there a chance in hell that's going to happen. As far as the Governors response,you can bet Jay crafted it knowing it's not going to happen. Sen Mark Rubio has almost total endorsement throughout the Republican and Tea Party.

And another reader chimes in:

I think that Susana is being better positioned for being chosen as Attorney General or Director of Homeland Security. If Romney makes such an announcement at the Republican national convention, with Marco Rubio as VP, he will make great head way in two very important demographic groups. It's a winning strategy.


Some readers tell us we need to get off the Susana VP bandwagon and now:

To me, it is a waste of real estate on your blog to continue speculating about Susana and the VP job. Her family comes first and she does not want to subject her father and sister to the media feeding frenzy that would be inevitable if her appointment ever were to materialize. You should respect her concern for the adverse impact on her family and write about other matters.


The VP ball keeps rolling with Chris Lopez, the editor of the Las Vegas Times, blogging in with this:

Joe, Will you Consider publishing a link from a recent  editorial I produced titled "Why Governor Susana Martinez Needs to Be  Romney’s Pick for Vice President; Why a Working Class Hispanic Woman Can  Restore the National Republican Party" regarding your Susana for VP  talks? Thanks. And thank you for the insight that your blog offers.

We sure will, Chris. And here it is

"Whether it is the contrast of a woman softening Romney’s crafted Captain America image, or the fact that the  elite Republican would choose a working class Hispanic woman who dug in  her heels to earn a law degree - there is no doubt that choosing a  Hispanic woman would drag the Republican party out of the out of touch,  elite, right wing radical ideologies and back to the reality of everyday  American
s. A Hispanic working class woman selected for Vice President would change the game, for the better."

Thank you, Chris, and thanks to all our readers here and around the USA for making us the state's #1 political web site year in and year out.

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Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Following The Money: We Go Inside SusanaPAC, Plus: Why Is Gary Johnson Mad At Susana? And: Inside Kenny Montoya's Departure 

She is still relying heavily on Texas money, she's spending it at a fast pace and her political consultants are making a pretty penny. Those are some of the findings from our Alligators who have been scrutinizing the latest report from Governor Martinez's Susana PAC, organized to boost her political fortunes as well as those of Republican state senators and representatives.

Susana PAC, run by Martinez political advisor Jay McCleskey, raised $336,000 in the October to April stretch, but it spent $342,000, most of it apparently on mailers promoting the Governor's legislative agenda. But political pros ask if all that spending was necessary. After all, Martinez was not being attacked, her polling was solid and her re-election is not until 2014.

Critics will say that most of that $342,000 could have been reserved for GOP legislative candidates. If the R's pick up a couple of House seats they would control the chamber for the first time in decades. SusanaPAC ended the period with about $295,000 in cash, a robust amount but one that could have been closer to $500,000 and growing. Others argue that the PAC is on the right track, insuring that Martinez stays lofty in the polls and adding that there is only so much money needed in these legislative battles.

The report reveals that Martinez remains heavily dependent on Texas and other out-of-state money as well as cash from the SE NM oil fields (She received a $450,000 contribution from a Texas developer for her 2010 Guv run). Just how dependent is detailed by one of our readers who has that and more info on SusanaPAC that you will only get here:

Martinez raised the vast majority of the reported $336,000 in contributions of $1,000 or more. She received $112,000 from Texas; $27,000 from Denver and $10,500 from contributions in other states. In New Mexico, she pulled in $56,000 from Roswell and $51,000 at a one day event in Las Cruces. 

Of further interest is how Susana PAC spent the money. Three consultants received $127,300--over a third of money contributors invested with consultant Jay McCleskey getting $77,830 in the reporting period from October 13, 2011 thru April 2, 2012, averaging over $11,000 per month for his expertise.

How much did Susana PAC invest in her candidates? $17,500 is reported in campaign contributions-- divided among only four GOP candidates. That's only six percent of the more than $340,000 she spent in the same reporting period....

Thanks for that. The full report can be found here.


Despite issuing her strongest denial to date that she is not interested in becoming Mitt Romney's running mate, the handicapping of Susana's chances of landing a spot on the national ticket continue and they will right up until the GOP convention. We posted the odds being placed on her chances by the overseas betting parlors and that drew a number of responses---including this one:

It's a no-brainer, Joe. Florida has 29 electoral votes and if Romney doesn't carry it, he cannot possibly win. The three states where Susana would be of most help are NM, NV, and CO -- that's only 20 electoral votes. Two of them are already considered "leaning Dem" by Real Clear Politics's consensus poll averages and the latest CO poll has Obama ahead by double digits. Obama is ahead in Florida, too, but not by that much. The only theory that gives Susana's backers any hope at all is that Susana on the ticket would be enough to overcome the anti-GOP gender gap. How'd that work for you, Mr. McCain? Frankly, I think the 2-1 odds on (Florida GOP US Senator Marc) Rubio should be more like 1-2....

Well, we've never taken the Martinez veep speculation very much to heart, but that doesn't mean you can't join the parlor game.


Kari's free ride didn't last long and Jacob's scare is over. That's the news as we continue to clean up the nominating petition messes. The Supremes overturned a lower court ruling that kept Jennifer Romero off the ballot and had supporters of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg popping the champagne corks. The corks are back in the bottles now that the higher court says Romero, a former public defender, has enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot and challenge Kari in the June primary. There's no Republican running in November so the primary is winner take all....

And Jacob Candelaria, 25, vying to become one of the youngest state senators as well as the first openly gay man to serve in the upper chamber turned backed a petition challenge that would have kept him off the ballot for the ABQ Westside Senate seat he's seeking. A judge ruled he had enough valid signatures, contrary to the assertion of opponent Carlos Villanueva. The two will now meet in the June primary. The winner goes to Santa Fe as no Republican is seeking the senate seat which is being given up by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez who announced her retirement.


Nothing funny about the relationship between this Republican Governor and the last GOP Governor--Gary Johnson. He continues to light into Susana. This time he says she is off base for being too harsh on illegal immigrants:

The Martinez administration sent out a statement saying: "It’s unfortunate that Gary Johnson believes the only way he can get attention is to talk about Susana Martinez...Governor Martinez has been clear that she opposes giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants....But supports legal immigration and guest worker programs."

The impromptu feud launched against Martinez could stem from several factors, envy among them. Governor Gary could not even get invited to the presidential debates when he sought the GOP prez nod, but here is Susana being trumpeted as a possible veep. That has to hurt. But it also seems Johnson has a basic lack of respect for Martinez. (He started the feud by calling her "Palin-esque"). He sees her as a puppet, not the independent thinker and actor he sees himself as. And he does not share strong political ties to those who surround Martinez.


First the news and then the Senior Alligator analysis:

Governor Susana Martinez announced today that Major General Kenny Montoya has resigned his position as Adjutant General of New Mexico. General Montoya has served as the highest officer in the New Mexico National Guard since 2003. As Adjutant General, Montoya commands the Army and Air National Guard. In addition to his federal duties, he is commander of the State Defense Force and serves as military chief of staff to the Governor and her principal advisor on military affairs. He is also president of the State Armory Board and provides oversight for the New Mexico Civil Air Patrol.

Now that crucial and exclusive Senior Gator analysis:

The Governor asked for and received Adjunct General Montoya's resignation. ABQ GOP State Sen. Bill Payne will head committee to name a replacement.  (GOP US Senate candidate) Heather Wilson is behind the scenes in this one. She has her favorite candidate and has been pushing him...His name is Andy Salas, an Air guy that got named this week as acting head of the air group. 


As natural gas prices explore new multi-year lows, we wondered how PNM--the state's largest electric utility--could take advantage. Will these low prices make it easier for them to get out of the messy business of generating electricity from coal? We put the question to company spokesman Don Brown:

Joe,  our 20-year resource plan, filed with the Public Regulation Commission last summer foresees PNM adding some natural gas-fired generation and additional renewable  energy to meet growing customer demand in the next several years (and to  meet New Mexico’s rising renewable requirement). Our existing San Juan power plant, which is coal fired, is a key source of affordable,  reliable electricity for our 500,000 customers, and it will likely  remain so. However, we have no current plans to build new coal capacity. We don’t anticipate needing that much additional baseload generation (that’s the amount of power you need on any day of the year, not just on  high-demand days). Plus, winning approval to build a new coal plant would be a large challenge, to say the least...

Members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups report that they delivered more than 3,000 petition signatures to PNM CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn demanding that "the utility use their huge profits to invest in clean energy instead of relying on old, dirty coal-fired power plants."

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Susana And VP: Would She Rule It Out Under Any Circumstance? Plus: Supremes To The Rescue; Candidates Back On Ballot, Also: Time To Rid Ourselves Of Messy Petition Process? 

If the mainstream media really wants to have some fun with Governor Martinez and her VP chances, they can ask her this question:

Governor, you have said you are not interested in becoming the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Does that mean if the position is offered to you, you will refuse to accept it under any circumstances?

Of course, even is she says "yes" the Alligators won't take the bait. The guess here is that you would not get that "yes" answer.  But first someone has to ask.


The NM Supremes did the expected thing and the right thing--they ruled that candidates who did not put the number of their districts on their nominating petitions will still be allowed on the ballot. Talk about a technicality. Can someone investigate what and who was behind this tempest in a teapot?

Anyway, Santa Fe Dem State Rep. Brian Egolf says he felt the Supremes ruled right but for the wrong reason. The justices said the law was ambiguous while Egolf saw it as unconstitutional. We would have liked an unconstitutional ruling as well. More important, let the Legislature revisit this issue as well as the whole system of nominating petitions. We still have a slew of cases to be decided in court this week and next regarding those petitions and the many candidate challenges to them.


Can we be the first to recommend to the New Mexico Legislature that they give serious consideration to eliminating the petition requirement for legislative offices? Thank you. We will. And so will Republican political consultant Bob Cornelius, head of the 90 Degrees agency:

The petition requirement was meant to weed out frivolous candidates and to have candidates get in touch with their potential constituents, but it is failing on both fronts. We don't have a problem with too many people running. In fact, most of the primaries attract one or two candidates. Bernalillo County offices don't require petitions. You pay $50 and you are on the ballot. The county is not overrun with candidates. And petition signatures are now often gathered by professionals, not the candidates. So much for getting in touch with the people. Ridding ourselves of the petition mess will get the campaigns talking about issues that count. Here we are a month away from early voting and all the electorate is hearing about are these court challenges.  The petitions have outlived their usefulness in the modern era.

You pretty much nailed it, Bob. We need the system to be open and inviting, not riddled with anachronistic ballot access requirements. We hope there are some forward thinkers in the Legislature who will carry the spear on this one.


We've talked here for months about the looming costs of lawsuits over the numerous fatal police shootings the past two years and now it appears the often laid back city council is taking it to heart--or at least Councilor Ken Sanchez--a possible 2013 mayoral candidate is:

“Potentially, we could be in for millions and millions of dollars based on the cases,” City Council member Ken Sanchez said. “If there was a really large settlement, we would have to impose a property rate increase to pay for these legal settlements.”

If the police shootings don't perturb the public at large, the prospect of a tax increase over them would certainly shake them up.


There are two sides to every story and with this one it is clear most of these fatal cop shootings involved bad guys the lawmen were chasing down. And our police officers face a difficult climate. Even as violent crime falls, the killing of police officers is on the rise. Take a look:

According to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 72 officers were killed by perpetrators in 2011, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a 75 percent increase from 2008. The 2011 deaths were the first time that more officers were killed by suspects than car accidents, according to data compiled by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The number was the highest in nearly two decades, excluding those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. 

Fortunately, there have been no killings lately of ABQ police officers, but that doesn't mean they don't sense the danger on the streets. There are many reasons for the abnormally high number of police shootings here. Much of the credibility of the current department leadership has been eroded by City Hall's reluctance to fully engage on the issue. That's why there are continued calls for a Department of Justice investigation as well as new leadership for APD.


Let's stay on the police beat this Wednesday and check in with retired APD Captain David Gilmore:

The late night Albuquerque downtown bar scene can get quite out of hand with fights, stabbings and shootings....Security for these times is provided by on duty APD officers. At one time such problems were handled by the Chief's Overtime Program which was paid for by the merchants/bar owners.

Should not the bars be paying for the officers, as it is their functions that are creating the problems? It appears that major APD resources are routinely being directed to a narrow four block area. I have been informed that it is not uncommon to have between 15-25 officers working on a regular weekend and 40 or more on holidays. A person had to be blind not see the future problems when so many bars are located in a small area. What can be said about the security of other parts of the city when all these on duty officers are routinely drawn downtown? Is the Downtown Action Team so politically strong that neither Mayor Berry or APD Chief Schultz wishes to confront them about paying for the officers?

Thanks, Captain.


So what if you take the new district boundaries for the ABQ congressional seat and apply them to the 2008 presidential election? Is there a big difference? Nope. Obama scores about 60% in the new district that takes effect this year. That's what he scored against McCain when the two faced off in the old district in 2008.  Not to say Obama is setting up for another big 60% win in the ABQ district in 2012, but today's expectations are that he will win it comfortably.


Residency-challenged Johnny Leuvano has been tossed off the primary election ballot, giving ABQ Dem west side State Representative Moe Maestas a free-re-election ride. This was Johnny's first try for elective office. Whether he will get a second shot is an unknown. He took a major PR hit and it could haunt him if he tries again. Such are the perils of La Politica...

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Education Of Texas: No Role Model For Us, Plus: Official Betting Odds On Susana's VP Chances, And: More Petionitis, Plus: UNM's Big Football Fumble 

Governor Susana is fond of pointing to Texas as an oasis of job creation, but you don't hear her talk about the Lonestar State's education system. Here's why:

Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next. The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways--increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said. 

If Texas is so good at creating jobs, as Martinez argues, why are they savaging their education budget? Well, maybe all those jobs they are creating don't pay that much.

Martinez signed a state budget this year that calls for a $90 million increase for education, after several years of cuts due to the recession.


Of course, it is energy royalties that will finance a nice chunk of that state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, but it's not written in stone. Oil is booming along, but natural gas prices still can't seem to find a bottom. That has wreaked economic havoc in gas-rich San Juan County. If prices continue on the down escalator, the state budget could feel the impact. We're closing in on the $2 mark for gas and the bears are warning it could tank even more dramatically:

So far, efforts to limit production have barely made a dent. Unless the pace of production declines sharply or demand picks up significantly this summer, analysts say the nation's storage facilities could reach their limits by fall. That would cause the price of natural gas, which has been halved over the past year, to nosedive. Citigroup commodities analyst Anthony Yuen says the price of natural gas - now $2.08 per 1,000 cubic feet - could briefly fall below $1.

Low natural gas prices are good for consumers,  but the energy gurus say for every buck the price declines, NM loses about $100 million in annual revenue. Some of the hurt is cushioned by the sale of more expensive liquefied gas, but Santa Fe has to watch that gas price like a hawk watching its prey.


That Susana will be picked as Mitt Romney's running mate? We've got the goods:

The political oddsmakers at Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker that takes bets on things such as the veepstakes, released odds last week that made Mr. Rubio the clear favorite at 2-1, followed by Mr. Christie at 5-1 and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez at 11-2."

Susana is doing what just about all potential VP candidates do--saying she won't do it, can't do it and doesn't want to do it. Which of course means she is ready to go. But she's still a long shot. Another Hispanic politico--Florida Senator Marc Rubio--is the favorite veep possibility at Paddy Power.


Could the fury over the increase in student fees at UNM put pressure on new UNM President Robert Frank to clean out the leadership of the Athletic Department? It could. Fees are going up $50 a head to help cover the $2 million deficit, most of which can be attributed to the Lobo football program. A Senior Alligator makes the case for a shake-up:

UNM President Schmidly says student fees need to be increased to pay for the “transition” in the Lobo football program. Athletic Director Paul Krebs says student fees for athletics are the lowest in the conference. Schmidly fails to point out that it was Krebs who is responsible for this “transition” by screwing up in letting football coach Rocky Liong get away and then erring by hiring Coach Locksley and then failing to fire him when it became obvious he needed to. 

Krebs and the ABQ Journal fail to point out that while the student fees are the lowest in the conference, Krebs’ salary is the highest. Will Krebs and Schmidly help pay in some way for this “transition”? I doubt it. I’m surprised Krebs and Schmidly haven’t thrown out another creative semantic term like “stakeholder” to describe how we all must pay for this “transition” which I am most certain we will.

It wasn't that long ago that the blog suggested that Lobo basketball coach Steve Alford be made athletic director. Perhaps that's not realistic, but new UNM President Robert Frank has the perfect opportunity to restore balance to UNM athletics when he takes the helm later this year. Again, the question hanging in the air is "will he?"


About it being difficult for candidates to gather good signatures for their nominating peitions as a Taos County candidate blogged in here Monday, reader Michelle Meaders says:

I got pages of signatures for Martin Heinrich and others by going to events and public places. Taos county doesn’t have any Democratic political meetings, senior centers, public speeches, museum events, schools or colleges, athletic events happening between October 1 and March 20? 

 If they won’t let you inside, stand outside, or ask in advance. If they don’t know who she is, give them a palm card or flyer that tells about her. Have someone give a house party for her. Signature-gathering for candidates has been going on for years all over NM. Lots of voters will be familiar with it, especially primary voters, who are what you want to reach anyway.  It helps build your campaign and mailing list.  Government offices need to be told that this is a legal requirement for candidates. Do we need an local ordinance or state law that they have to allow it?

And on all the challenges going on of signatures being turned in by the legislative candidates, reader Jim McCuaghey writes:

What's going on in New Mexico can remind you of how Obama was first elected to Illinois Senate. He challenged the other 4 primary candidates signatures. The four were tossed out of the election and Obama ran unopposed. Essentially judges decided that election, it's not just "putting a needle in." These things have real consequences. 

And as we await today's decision from the New Mexico Supreme Court on one aspect of the petition mess--the failure of candidates to list the number of the district they are seeking--Doug Echols, an attorney for San Juan County, blogs in with this:

Hey Joe, I was one of the lawyers who was involved in nominating petitions in the last election. Were you aware that it is a misdemeanor to knowingly circulate a petition without all of the required information? This is to protect those who sign from being asked to sign a petition without full and complete disclosure from the potential candidate about the office sought. 

In Judicial Elections, the races are at-large but for specific spots. Before a voter signs a petition doesn’t he or she have the right to know which position is being sought? Heck, you could be signing a petition for someone who ends up running against your brother-in law. The rules are really simple: Fill out the Petition before you circulate it. Remember, that by statute, duplicate signatures never count and that you must be  a registered voter, living in the right district and of the right party to sign. Its OK not to worry about nicknames or missing middle initials if the person can be identified from the voting records. Be interesting to see what the Supremes do!

Thanks for that, Doug. We agree that the voter should be informed of the number of the district that a candidate is seeking, we just don't think the remedy should be the judicial death penalty. We believe the Supreme Court today will also see it that way.

UPDATE--The Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon ruled that all the candidates challenged for leaving the number of their districts off their nominating petitions will be allowed on the ballot. The judges said the law was ambiguous.


ABQ Dem congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham will do an early release today of her 1st quarter fund-raising. Here's what she will report:

About  $344,000 cash on hand and about $205,000 raised for the quarter. A campaign supporter points out that Lujan Grisham is very close to the amount that Heinrich had on hand after the first quarter in 2008 ($342,422) and raised ($200,782.) Heinrich beat Lujan Grisham and Rebecca Vigil-Giron for the 2008 Dem congressional nod.

With $344,000 in the bank, Lujan-Grisham is going to be able to finance a decent TV campaign. Still to report their numbers which are due Sunday at midnight to the FEC are hopefuls Marty Chavez and Eric Griego.


We had an advance look at the first quarter fund-raising numbers for Dem US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich a week or so ago, now the official totals the official totals are in:

Heinrich raised $490,000 in the first quarter and had $1.6 million in cash on hand as of the end of March...This is the last quarterly report before Heinrich and State Auditor Hector Balderas face off in the June 5 Democratic primary, which Heinrich is favored to win. Balderas has yet to announce his quarterly numbers, which are due to be postmarked to the Federal Election Commission by midnight on Sunday.

If Hector doesn't report more than a million bucks in cash on hand, his best bet is for a TV buy that mildly contrasts him with Heinrich, but doesn't hit too hard. That way he positions himself for the upset, but doesn't anger the Heinrich base which he will need in the general. As for Heinrich, this Dem nomination is his to lose. He needs early TV that raises his stature, assures New Mexicans he is qualified for the Senate and will be a doer, not a back bencher.


Susana is the Governor and Jay McCleskey is her chief political adviser and runs her Susana PAC, although on some days critics say the titles are reversible. The news with a Santa Fe dateline:

Gov. Susana Martinez's political action committee has raised about $335,000 in the past six months. The governor's political organization called Susana PAC released a fundraising summary on Monday showing it had cash-on-hand of about $295,000 last week. The PAC spent nearly $342,000 from early October through April 2.

And that's not all. There's the Guv's separate campaign fund for her 2014 re-elect:

Martinez's gubernatorial campaign committee reported a cash balance of nearly $467,000 last week. Martinez is not up for re-election until 2014, but her campaign committee has raised nearly $232,000 since last October.

Just a reminder--none of the contributors to these funds influences public policy in any way. Really. No impact at all. I mean, Big Bill told us that, didn't he?  


A reader emails:

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

"Petitionitis" Break Out Infects Political Bloodstream; What's To Be Done? Plus: Different Guv Spokesman, But Same Song, And: Making The Peace Between Susana And Gary 

NM Supreme Court
"Petitionitis" has broken out in New Mexico. Have there ever been more challenges of candidates' right to be on the primary ballot? We can't think of one. The state Supremes will decide a wheelbarrow full of lawsuits this week so we can get on to the issues that really matter to the voters. But one thing is clear before we do that--we need some legislative remedy.

Much of the trouble this year is over the failure of a host of candidates to comply with the new election requirement that they have the number of the district they are seeking election to listed on their nominating petitions. If they don't, they are supposed to be kicked off the ballot. In cases where there are only two candidates, the judge essentially decides the election. Not good.

We need a legislative remedy. Failure to list the number should result in a reasonable fine, not nullification of the democratic process, even though some in the "transparency at any cost" crowd won't like it. We earlier suggested that the secretary of state simply put the number on the nomination petitions that candidates pass out. We trust the Supremes will decide not to hijack the people's right to decide their elections and this week find a way to place the "numberless" candidates on the ballot.

As for the multitude of lawsuits over whether signatures on nominating petitions are valid, this is, in part, a byproduct of the overly partisan and polarized political environment that we now live in. Back in the day, we used to give an opponent a pass as long as he had the required number of signatures. Not anymore. Even if your opponent has the signatures, you dun him with a lawsuit for having ones that look suspicious. What's the point? Just to put the needle in.

No doubt there will be a couple of candidates who find themselves getting the judicial death penalty this week because they did not collect enough valid petition signatures, but our judges need to tread carefully. Those of us out here in the bleacher seats like to have a choice when we go to the polls.


We're baffled why a legislative candidate who needs maybe 40 or 50 valid voter signatures to get on the ballot needs to hire a professional consultant to go out and get those John Hancocks. Can't you do some door-knocking yourself at work and get exposed to the people you hope to represent? Well, not all the candidates agree with our take. Taos County District Court Judge candidate Helen Laura Lopez is one of them. We'll give her the floor for a moment, but her plea for understanding just doesn't bring a tear to our eye. You're on, Helen:

Collecting petition signatures is more complicated than you think. It requires engaging with potential signers. Most people do not know the process and require an explanation. Most want to know about the candidate and it requires the sell. Many want to use the opportunity to be heard on their favorite issue. Then there is the matter of the venue. There are few public places where you catch foot traffic like a big city has. Most retail places do not allow politicians to stand at their doorway. Government offices do not allow it. Schools and churches do not allow it. House to house is tough in rural areas where it requires a car with a driver and where houses have dogs and no house number. Aggressive candidates go to the forbidden sites until we are kicked out. On the technical side, the official form is absurdly small print with insufficient space to enter the required information..

Well, Helen, when there is a will there is a way. But maybe we need a new way? It's not like making the requirements to run for public office easier is going to result in a bunch of Bozo the Clown candidates running. (Hmm. Maybe Bozo would be an improvement?)


Not to give you the Monday blues, but....

Lack of job creation is keeping commercial real estate mired in the recession. CB Richard Ellis’  numbers for the first quarter’s office and industrial space in Albuquerque indicate those markets remain in the doldrums. Vacancies grew to a historic 19.03 percent in the office market, while industrial space remained at a 9.26 percent vacancy during the first quarter.

This bear market has been going on so long it seems like the "new permanent."


Despite coming from different political parties, the current gubernatorial spokesman is finding common ground with his predecessor. Martinez flack Scott Darnell sounded eerily like Gilbert Gallegos, the spokesman for Governor Richardson, when he came with this spin for Martinez on the down and dirty Downs deal:

Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said the contributions were permissible under state law and didn't influence decisions on the fairgrounds lease. The state Board of Finance approved the lease last December. The governor voted for the lease. 

How many times did we hear that from Bill's crowd: "Campaign donations don't influence our decisions." But they do. The system these days is akin to legalized bribery. But you already knew that.


It's still a great country, this USA of ours. Look at this quote from down-home golfer Bubba Watson upon winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday:

When asked if he'd ever believed this day would come, Watson said, "I never got this far in my dreams."

Will your kids be as lucky?  Please pass that quote on to them. Despite the troubled landscape of today, we will have yet another renewal of the American spirit because of guys and gals like Bubba.


He avoided a major clash with fellow GOP Senator "Lightning Rod" Adair when Adair decided to retire rather than run, but Alamogordo area State Sen. Bill Burt will not get a completely free ride. Longtime Dem activist Stephanie DuBois will be the Dem nominee to try to stop Burt from winning the seat he was appointed to fill by Governor Martinez when Dianna Duran left it to run for secretary of state. Still, this is a heavy GOP district and Burt is a well-respected radio station owner in Alamogordo, He will keep his eye on DuBois but he won't have to spend anywhere near the money he would have had to if Adair had decided to stay stay and fight.

Speaking of Rod, Alligators say he is already busy doing what he said he would be doing when he announced his retirement--serving as a a campaign consultant. They say Adair has picked up a GOP State Senate client in the ABQ area. Confirmation to come...


Our coverage of former NM GOP Governor Gary Johnson dissing fellow GOP Governor Martinez as "Palin-esque" brought this zinger from blog reader and talk radio pioneer Mike Santullo

Joe: Your analysis regarding Gary Johnson’s comments on Sarah Palin were “Spot On!" This guy, who is yet another egomaniacal politician, has a lot of nerve pointing fingers at her. Not that I’m a Sarah Palin fan, but he doesn’t have much to offer the nation. To him, being elected Governor was just another trophy on his mantle. What we have here is another example of  “the pot calling the kettle black.” 

Maybe we can make the peace here. Gary, when you're done running for president as a Libertarian, Susana appoints you to run the state's medical marijuana program. You then take Susana to Neiman Marcus (on your dime) so she can look more "Palin-esque." Do we have a deal, Guvs?

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