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Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Clips: Heather's Cool Poster, Pundits Rank Senate Contest, A Consultant In Crosshairs, Hammering Hanna And How The Wheel Turns 

This is a pretty cool poster from GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson celebrating this year's 100th anniversary of statehood (click to enlarge).  Regardless of what happens to her in this year's election, the poster looks like one you could see your great-grandchildren enjoying.

 Wilson's campaign says:

100 years ago, New Mexico joined the Union. I wanted to commemorate this special milestone with a unique poster. And you have the opportunity to have one. I only had 100 of these printed up so the next 100 people to donate $100 dollars will receive one. I’m going to number it, sign it and ship it to you. It's our Centennial, and we're making history!  There really are only 100 and when they are gone, they're gone!

It's interesting that Heather stresses that there are indeed only 100 of the posters. She must realize how little politicians of all stripes are trusted these days. Now on to the latest US Senate punditry...

The Hill in DC joins us in ranking the likely US Senate match this year between Dem Martin Heinrich and Heather Wilson as "lean Dem." The two have had primaries that have so far produced no news and done nothing to change the outlook for the Fall campaign.

And noted political forecaster Larry Sabato of the University of Virgina now also joins us in labeling the Senate race here as lean Dem--a switch for him:

There is one toss-up we’re now comfortable moving: We now favor the Democrats in New Mexico’s Senate race. The reason has little to do with the two likely big party nominees: Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) and ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (R). It does have to do with the fact that New Mexico looks to be squarely in Barack Obama’s camp in November, and we don’t see a huge crossover vote boosting the Republican Wilson. Obviously, if Romney opens up a lead in the presidential race, and if New Mexico becomes competitive, we’ll have to revisit this rating. But, for now, this race leans Dem.

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

Now lets take it out to the legislative campaign trail...

It was the consultant, not the candidate, who was the focus of an attack launched by the super PAC Independent Source Watch this past week, The PAC's flyer (posted on their web site) attacking consultant Steve Cabiedes garnered front-page attention. He is working for Dem Cara Valente-Compton who is challenging sometimes controversial ABQ State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton who is the House Majority Whip.

The PAC pointed out that Cabiedes has in the past consulted for Republicans and said it shows that Valente-Compton is a puppet for GOP interests. Cabiedes, who has long been a contributor to our KANW 89.1 FM election coverage, is a longtime supporter of the Green Party and says he shares little philosophically with the GOP.  "I'm just making a living," he told us. He added: "I'm about as Republican as Jerry Ortiz y Pino," a reference to one of the Legislature's most liberal members.

The SuperPAC is financed mainly with contributions from the Communications Worker of America.

By the way, Cabiedes will joining our other veteran analysts again this year as we broadcast primary election results beginning at 6:30 p.m June 5 on 89.1 FM and streamed live from the KANW web site.

HAMMERING HANNA

It looks as if the effectiveness of state Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is plummeting. She hasn't made many influential friends in the Legislature and the teachers' unions are after her scalp. She was just given a vote of "no confidence  by the ABQ Teachers Federation.

Skandera has been an agent of change, never easy when dealing with the hot button education issue here. The state ranks near the bottom and fighting over why gets as rough as a Lobo-Aggie football game.

Martinez has been in the center on funding for the public schools--advocating continued small increases during tough budget times, but major education reform has eluded her. If she sees that Skandera has lost her power of persuasion, she may want to look at moving her elsewhere and putting a new face in the high-profile education chair.

NOT GOING GAY

Reader David Stocum, executive director of the New Mexico GLBTQ Centers, says we were off base with one of our headlines Thursday:

Thank you for the good look at the New Mexico spin on President Obama’s support of marriage equality.  I do find the headline on the story somewhat offensive, “going gay” and similar phrases are often used in negative and degrading ways. No one “goes gay” since sexual orientation is not a choice.

 THE WHEEL TURNS

We've seen them come and we've seen them go over the decades. Two of the most colorful have been that radical right tag team of Roswell Republicans Rod Adair and Dan Foley. They took after us repeatedly and we after them. Now State Senator Rod follows ex-State Rep. Foley into retirement. Foley, now living in Rio Rancho where he sells insurance, failed to mount a comeback attempt this year. No surprise. He knows that his arch-rival--Roswell oilman Mark Murphy--is waitng in the wings and ready to spend another several hundred thousand dollars against Foley as he did in 2008 when Foley was defeated in a hot GOP primary.

Despite being on the outside, Foley still sends an occasional zinger our way.  Most recently he opined that we know nothing about the Legislature. Well, for sure there are folks who have forgotten more than we know about the Roundhouse. But political fame fades fast, as Dan has discovered, and so it will for the many legislators departing Santa Fe this year. The wheel turns and a new cast of characters join the never-ending play of La Politica.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Thanks for stopping by this week and for making us the state's #1 political web site.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Showdown In Clovis: Guv Backed Senate Contender Behind In Early Polling In Premier GOP Battle; We've Got The Scoop, Plus: Obama Gay Marriage Bombshell; State Impact 

Woods Vs. Spears
It's shaping up as the most critical state senate primary in the 2012 cycle and if the early going is any indication, Governor Martinez and her political team are going to have to step on the gas if they are to avoid a major embarrassment. According to insider polling we've obtained rancher Pat Woods leads Governor-backed Angie Spears 44%-33% in the early going in this Republican Senate primary that has caused a political firestorm on the east side and whose flames are now being watched statewide.

The polling is from one night's worth of phone calls, but makes clear that the meddling of the Governor and her political adviser Jay McCleskey has already caused a major breach among east side Republicans. It all started when GOP State Senator Clint Harden decided not to seek re-election and word went out that he was forced out by the Guv's team. It's a story that the Clovis News-Journal was on this week like white on rice:

(GOP State Senator Clint) Harden said (Clovis area) District Attorney Matt Chandler called him two days before the legislative session ended. Harden said Chandler told him he was planning to endorse Republican Angie Spears, a clinical director for TeamBuilders Counseling in Clovis, in the 2012 race for Harden's Senate seat. Harden said Chandler also told him a conference call had taken place involving Chandler, Gov. Martinez, Spears, Public Regulation Commission Chair Pat Lyons and former state Rep. Brian Moore, and all had agreed to endorse Spears.

Chandler and the others alleged to have been on the conference call all on Tuesday denied such a call ever took place.

Woods is now apparently going to be subjected to the scorched earth policy of McCleskey and company. Jay heads the SusanaPAC as well as playing a major role in the day-to-day affairs of this Governor. Our insiders report political operatives have been making inquires about Woods at the Curry County assessor's office, a sure sign that they are looking for dirt on Woods who is the first major Republican candidate to take on the Guv and McCleskey since she took office.

And that's what makes this a contest with statewide ramifications. If Woods manages to prevail, he will weaken Martinez and McCleskey who now have an iron grip on the GOP, a grip that a number of veteran GOP legislators are known to be chafing under.

Spears, 38, a niece of Pat Lyons and related to DA Chandler through Chandler's wife, is seen as being more compliant with the Guv's agenda than Woods, but in reality there would be little difference in their Senate votes.

Both candidates are expected to be well-financed for the final crucial weeks of this banner contest.

Angie might be viewed as a Susana puppet, but she's no lightweight. She is a native of Tucumcari, a mother of four and clinical director for TeamBuilders Counseling Services, a nonprofit children's mental health agency.

If the race is already framed in voters' minds as a choice between a homegrown candidate and one being imposed on them from the outside, Woods, 62, could win in a walk. And even if Woods loses, Martinez's standing with east side Republicans is bound to take a beating.

We know Martinez knows how to make war, before this one is over we may find out of she knows how to make the peace.

GOING GAY

President Obama's bombshell announcement that he now supports gay marriage will harden opposition against him among social conservatives in southern New Mexico, but create more enthusiasm for him in the urban center of ABQ. Conservative Democratic Catholics--especially up north--will be displeased with the Prez, but this is not going to be a make or break issue for him here.

Both Dem NM US Senate candidates and all three ABQ Dem congressional candidates supported gay marriage before Obama made his switch. (By the way, Balderas beat Heinrich out of the gate on this one).

Statewide support for gay marriage was at 45% in a December 2011 PPP poll.

There still has never been an openly gay male elected to the New Mexico Legislature but that could change if Jacob Candelaria wins the Dem nomination for the ABQ west side Senate seat being vacated by Senator Bernadette Sanchez. He is opposed by Carlos Villanueva. No Republican is running.

For those who grew up in the 60's and 70's and before, the President's announcement was a demarcation line between the generations. Such an announcement was unthinkable back then, but polls show younger citizens are overwhelmingly in favor. Soon it will be their country and Obama is ratifying that future today. Still, this action by the Prez qualifies as political bravery. He is going to be hit hard.

SANDEROFF SAYS

Veteran pollster Brian Sanderoff tells us he will do a poll of the major congressional primary contests for the ABQ Journal. He doesn't release when he will do the survey but a good bet is at or toward the end of the month. He's been doing polling for the Journal since the 80's and is known for getting it right. He was recently asked about the role of Hispanics in the Dem primary:

"In a Democratic primary, Hispanics play even a bigger role because most Hispanics register as Democrats, so they'll be up to 50 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary, and on the Republican side, they'll play a smaller role because fewer Hispanics register as Republicans," said Sanderoff.

Sanderoff, head of Research & Polling, is also an analyst for KOAT-TV.

TV news coverage of the primary is getting rolling. KRQE-TV's Katie Kim comes with this report on the hotly contested ABQ Dem congressional race and...

Radio ads are hitting in that two way race for the GOP nomination for the northern Congressional seat held by Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. Jefferson Byrd of Tucumcari is up with these two spots touting his conservative credentials. Rick Newton is the other candidate in the race.

AVENGERS 

Reader James Meiers writes:

I was just watching TV news about scenes from The Avengers that were shot at Albuquerque Studios. Given its stupefying success, do you think that this will be used to try and convince Gov. Martinez and others to reconsider their opposition to the film credits program here in New Mexico before all the movies go off to Louisiana and Michigan (especially with In Plain Sight and Breaking Bad wrapping up)?

HOMETOWNING IT

Reader Jacob Trujillo weighs in on Congressman Martin Heinrich emphasizing in his latest TV ad for the Dem US Senate nod that he often spends weekends not in DC, but camping with his wife and kids:

The theme that D.C. politicians no longer live in their home states has become more and more media powerful (as it has become, for a number of reasons, less meaningful). How times change. Years ago, before I left politics in California to go into academia, Rep. Philip Burton (Nancy Pelosi's predecessor) was the powerhouse congressman of San Francisco politics.  For years, Phil had been registered to vote at the Townhouse, a motel on Market Street in San Francisco. I don't know whether Phil actually ever lived there, or even stayed there. The Townhouse, like the motel at the ABQ Winrock Mall, had once been respectable but had deteriorated as had the neighborhood around it.  Still, even when it was little more than a flop house, Phil maintained that it was his voting residence. Although it may be apocryphal,  the story goes that, in fact, Phil stayed registered to vote at the Townhouse for several years after it was torn down and made into a parking lot...

Thanks for the reminisce, Jacob.

Not only doesn't Heinrich live in DC, but he is one of the representatives who sleeps in his office and showers at the House gym. That was pretty much unheard of when we worked on the Hill in the early 80's, although there were plenty of congressmen who shared an apartment and whose refrigerators were stocked with cigars and beer and little else..

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's political community? Advertise here. Email us for details.


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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Big Names And Not So Big Out On The Campaign Trail, Plus: Alligator Strike On Steve Pearce, And: A Big Bull Market In One NM Corner 

Judges Zamora & Hadfield
You hear about the big political names regularly, but there are literally hundreds of candidates quietly working the stump this primary season. They're shaking hands, door knocking and chatting on Facebook as they work to awaken the electorate and persuade them to vote in the primary--traditionally a low turnout affair.

Even the candidates without primary opposition are working the hustings. For example, two judges--Briana Zamora and Alisa Hadfield--are pictured here at a weekend event for the National Council of Negro Women (ABQ), even though neither Democrat has a rival in the June 5 primary. Now that's dedication.

ABQ Metro Court Judge Zamora will face off with Republican Brett Loveless in November as she tries to win a seat on the District Court Bench. And Hadfield, a current district court judge who was appointed in 2010, must now run in a contested election to secure a six year term. She will face the winner of the GOP primary, either David Standridge or Sanford Siegel.

Zamora, a UNM law school grad, is no stranger to La Politica. Her mom is ABQ State Senator Bernadette Sanchez who will retire from the Legislature at the end of the year.

NO FIGHT HERE

There has been simply no contest when it comes to garnering Indian support in the Dem US Senate primary. Martin Heinrich is running the table, announcing this week that Zia Pueblo has endorsed his candidacy and joining this long list of pueblos backing him:

The Pueblos of Isleta, Laguna, Ohkay Owingeh, Pojoaque, Santo Domingo and Taos, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Eastern Navajo Agency Council, Shiprock Chapter of the Navajo Nation, the Northern Navajo Agency Council, and former President of the National Congress of American Indians Joe A. Garcia.

Heinrich says he has been attentive to Indian needs and they obviously agree. They are an important Dem constituency and also a considerable part of the work load of a United States Senator from New Mexico.

MICHAEL SANCHEZ

Do you think State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is working to inoculate himself as SusanaPAC prepares to fire their cannons at him in the general election? Take a look:

Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Valencia County) announced a $23.5 million grant from the state Public School Capital Outlay Council for the first of two construction phases to rebuild 75 percent of Los Lunas High School.

Sanchez faces no opposition in the June 5 primary, but Valencia County GOP State Rep. David Chavez has been recruited by Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey--who runs SusanaPAC--to take on Sanchez in November. The PAC is expected to dump thousands of dollars into Chavez's campaign.

The race does not seem winnable to most observers, as Chavez is a deeply flawed candidate. For example, he said he was getting out of the state House because his law business was hurting. He then almost immediately turned around and announced he would run for the Senate. But there is a deep personal animosity between Sanchez and the Governor. This race appears to be more about that than strategic political thinking.

ALLIGATOR STRIKE

An Alligator strike today on southern GOP NM Congressman Steve Pearce:

Joe, This appears on the Pearce Facebook page.

"Steve Pearce was born in 1947 to a large working-class family. He was raised in Hobbs, New Mexico, where his father worked as a roustabout, selling vegetables on the side of the road to make ends meet. With six children to feed, times were often hard in the Pearce household."
 

This does not seem to mesh with the facts. His father, Mr. Melvin Pearce had a good job with the Humble Oil & Refining Company/Exxon as Technician where he worked until his retirement in 1984. Here is an excerpt from the obituary of Congressman Pearce's father--Melvin Marcus Pearce-- published September 3, 2008:

...In 1951 (Melvin Pearce) began working for Humble Oil & Refining Company/Exxon as an Instrument Technician where he worked until his retirement in 1984. He enjoyed hunting coyotes and fishing trips to the Delaware River near Loving, N.M., where he often took his children to build good relations. Outfitted with fishing poles, ham, eggs, potatoes, pork and beans and an iron skillet, he headed for the river for a couple of days of fun and feasting. His children count these times as among the fondest memories of their childhood....


I believe Mr. Pearce is exaggerating his so-called poverty to get the Hispanic vote.

Now that's what you call a first-class Gator strike. Pearce faces no opposition this year in the GOP primary. His Dem general election opponent is Evelyn Madrid-Erhard of Las Cruces.

THE ECON BEAT

Much of New Mexico's economy may be growing at a snail's pace, but  not all of it. Get a load of this--they think a housing bubble could be forming in Carlsbad--of all places:

Carlsbad’s building boom has some in the city of 26,000 describing it as a real estate bubble. For the past four years, Carlsbad experienced unprecedented job  growth as the oil/gas and potash industries have kept unemployment below  5 percent and driven the city’s median wage to more than $50,000. This  attracted developers from Las Cruces, Texas and Arizona, who are  building multifamily apartments and residential subdivisions as quickly  as they can to house the infusion of workers.

We've blogged of a reduced work force at WIPP--the federal low-level nuclear waste disposal site near Carlsbad--due to budget cuts. But the  oil boom is more than making up for it.

And Hobbs is also hitting on all cylinders in the SE corner. The AP comes with this:

A scientific ghost town in the heart of southeastern New Mexico oil and gas country will hum with the latest next-generation technology--but no people. A $1 billion city without residents will be developed in Lea County near Hobbs, officials said, to help researchers test everything from intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks to automated washing machines and self-flushing toilets. Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said the unique research facility that looks like an empty city will be a key for diversifying the economy of the nearby community, which after the oil bust of the 1980s saw bumper stickers asking the last person to leave to turn out the lights.

Some 350 permanent jobs are expected for already booming Lea County because of this deal.

We're told ABQ Mayor RJ Berry was quite taken with Oklahoma City when he visited there and modeled some of his ABQ The Plan after that city's efforts, but we think he might be best advised to pick up the phone and call Mayor Cobb down there in Hobbs to see how things get done.

AROUND OUR TOWN

It's no secret that the ABQ area is still in the economic doldrums--salary and job growth is basically flat and even if you're doing well, you're watching your wallet as often as your waistline. So any restaurant that can deliver good value and mighty good tasting food finds itself much in demand. Such is Hurricane's Restaurant and Drive-in on Lomas in ABQ's mid NE Heights.

It's a hole in the wall with red vinyl booths, but a killer diner menu served inside or at the old-fashioned drive-in spaces. We opted one afternoon for a Denver omelet with toast and were surprised by the size--like a large pancake--and the price--under seven bucks. You're going to pay near ten at that chain diner down the road.

They didn't get squeamish on the ingredients, either, filling that delight with chunks of ham, bell peppers and onion and lacing it with a generous portion of cheddar. We finished our repast, asking ourselves why more places can't do this. (They also have something call the Disaster Burrito which we will leave to more adventurous souls). No wonder whether it's recession or boom, Hurricane's hangs around. It's nothing fancy, but neither are the times in which we live.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Heinrich Says He Has No DC Disease; A Look At His New Ads, Plus: Heather Blames Dems For Lab Cuts, But R's Join In, And: It's Opening Day For Primary 2012 

Martin Heinrich
Run, don't walk from Washington. That seems to be the game plan for congressional incumbents as they face an electorate awarding the Congress with its lowest approval numbers ever. In New Mexico, that means front-running Dem US Senate contender and US Rep. Martin Heinrich is taking to heart the indirect jabs that rival Hector Balderas is taking at him for being representative of "Washington special interests."

In their latest TV ad the Heinrich campaign brags of how he is home in New Mexico almost every weekend, meeting with constituents or camping with "Julie and their boys." They also get in the now mandatory Dem line about protecting Social Security and Medicare. Heinrich concludes his ad by declaring that, "Our problems won't be solved by the powers that be in Washington, but by the hard working people of New Mexico."

A couple of things. What camping in the wild has to do with doing a better job as a United States Senator is left to the viewer's imagination because it certainly isn't evident. One supposes it shows he isn't partying it up on the weekends in DC, but the producers might be more clever when they position Heinrich as a family man. This time it seems somewhat out of context.

Second, it is the failure of the "powers that be" in Washington to solve critical national problems that has them in such low self-esteem. The "hard working citizens" of New Mexico have made their views known and it is up to our elected representatives to get the job done. We can't "solve" anything. That's what we pay Heinrich and his colleagues to do.

It may be fashionable--even politically essential--to run away from Washington this election year. But saying the voters have the answers is like telling the mechanic not to worry about fixing the car---the passengers will do it.

SE HABLA ESPANOL  

Heinrich also comes this week with a Spanish language radio ad. In it he highlights jobs, the minimum wage and...you guessed it...Social Security and Medicare. Heinrich's staff says he doesn't speak Spanish with fluency but he managed to get off this line in his flat, Midwestern accent:

Martin Heinrich: I’m Martin Heinrich, candidate for Senate, and I approved this message.
Martin Heinrich: Yo soy Martin Heinrich, candidato para el Senado, y  apruebo este mensaje.

Heinrich can't match the ethnic bona fides of Balderas, a Hispanic native from Wagon Mound, but Heinrich will get credit in a number of precincts for not ignoring the language that is spoken daily by as much as a third of the state.

STEP ON IT, HEATHER

We get this assessment from the DC Hotline on the forthcoming NM US Senate race. It mirrors our own--soon-to-be GOP nominee Heather Wilson needs everything to go just right:

Speaking of needing to run a perfect race, that's what former GOP Rep. Heather Wilson has to do. Wilson has to win over Hispanic voters, who make up a huge percentage of the state's electorate, and moderates in her old Albuquerque district, no easy feat when Democratic rival Rep. Martin  Heinrich represents the same area. Heinrich faces a primary from state Auditor Hector Balderas, but he's the heavy favorite. Still, the  National  Republican Senatorial Committee sees an opportunity  here—they've already reserved millions in television time for the Fall.

HEATHER ON THE HOOK?

Heather pounds the Obama administration and the Dems for the big budget cutbacks that struck Los Alamos Labs this year, resulting in hundreds of lost jobs. But  it looks like she has some 'splanin to do:

A  key group of House Republicans signaled their support for the  Obama administration’s decision to eliminate funding for a multi-billion dollar new plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos, suggesting  the possibility of bipartisan agreement on the controversial move. Some Republicans in Congress have objected loudly to the administration’s decision to indefinitely defer work on the project. But  the (Republican-controlled) committee with jurisdiction over the nuclear weapons budget...endorsed the administration’s  proposal.

So is Heather going to publicly break with those Rs who support Obama's Los Alamos plan? 

Her far-right opponent for the GOP nomination--Greg Sowards and his anti-government brigade-- would shed no tears if the entire Federal government here was shuttered. Heather still quivers at the possibility of a late Sowards surge. Yes, that's how crazy it has gotten in a large swath of the NM GOP. 

Poor Heather. As she wrestles in the final month of this primary with how not to alienate the wing nuts populating her party, she reminds you of a nurse in a mental ward who has to play cards with the patients and pretend everyone is normal.

(By the way, the DC hands are reporting that the budget shaping up for 2013 looks pretty fair for Sandia but no so for Los Alamos labs where continued cuts are expected.)

GARY'S VEEP

Reader Greg Lennes writes from Las Cruces after hearing that former NM Governor Gary Johnson will be the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nominee:

Nobody mentions the VP candidate for the Libertarian Party. He is former Judge James “Jim” Gray of California. Johnson handpicked Judge Gray, a prominent advocate of marijuana legalization. A Johnson staffer said: this selection “puts pot front and center in the campaign.” I guess the economy is not so important!
 

“I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom,” Judge Gray said in 2010. 

And speaking of drug legalization, reader Jim McClure recently chimed in:

Joe,  I liked your piece about the proposal to legalize marijuana in Washington state. Legalizing drugs could give New Mexico an economic boost. After all, the industry already is flourishing here and  needs no  incentives from the state. A marijuana tax is bound to be more  popular than a tortilla tax. And there's a kind of poetic justice in using tax  revenues from school dropouts to support education. I'm just saying...

We heartily disagree, Jim, but you may win this one when we are in the blogger retirement home.

WE CAN'T WAIT

Staying with the reader email, we turn it over to ABQ Public Schools teacher Alicia Hicks. She comments on that proposed constitutional amendment we frequently blog about that would pump some of the state's permanent fund money into early childhood education programs: 

Joe, early childhood education is a great start, however, we can't wait 15 years to infuse the workforce with qualified workers. It  would behoove the powers that be to get over the one size fits all educational philosophy and start funneling students into career paths  they would like to go into instead of pointing everyone toward a college prep curriculum and having 40% of the kids drop out. 

Magnet schools and trade schools are so needed right now in NM. It's not discrimination and it's not tracking. It's realizing that people are different and have different interests. Forcing all students into college prep mode is a form of discrimination. Those who don't fit the mold have historically been denied the training to become successful in a field of their choice. There is nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing a student be the first person in their family to graduate from high school and then have to work at Burger King because they can't do anything else and they don't want to go on to college.

Alicia, we haven't heard anyone say it better. Someone send that one to Susana.

PETE AT 80

We forgot to mention that Monday was the 80th birthday of legendary US Senator Pete Domenici. He's had his health battles but is still out and about and debating public policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in DC.

Hey, Pete, do you think you could come back to the Senate for a couple of months and tap a billion or two from the federal budget for us? We sure could use it.

YOU CAN VOTE NOW

Today is the first day of voting in Primary Election 2012. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver informs:

Early Voting will begin on Tuesday, May 8 at the Clerk’s Annex My Vote Center, 620 Lomas Boulevard, NW from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. This location will be open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Saturday, June 2. We have also been accepting applications for Absentee Ballots and the mailing will begin today as well. Voters have until today at 5 p.m. to register to vote to participate in the Primary Election on June 5.  Please visit the Clerk’s Office at One Civic Plaza, NW, 6th floor or state services offices such as the Motor Vehicle Division to complete the form.

And the first one to say, "Vote early and vote often" gets ten lashes with a wet noodle.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's political community? Advertise here. Email us for details.


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Monday, May 07, 2012

Gary Johnson: Does He Matter? Will He Matter? Plus: Another Momentum Stall For Marty; Ex-Girlfriend Is Yoke On His Neck, And: It's Coss Vs. Trujillo In Banner Santa Fe Contest 

Gary Johnson is back. But to what end? By capturing the Libertarian Party presidential nomination over the weekend, the former NM Governor had state R's going for their worry beads, fearful that his addition to the presidential ballot here will only make matters worse for Romney. They probably will, but unless the presidential race tightens dramatically, Johnson may not be much of a factor. Obama leads Romney 54-40 in the April PPP poll, removing New Mexico from its perch as a toss up or swing state which it has held since the 2000 election.

Assessing Johnson's popularity in the state as a prez contender is nebulous. The PPP polling suggests his favorables have slipped since he began running as a third party candidate. But Johnson's name is well-known and he will be a repository for protest votes, most of which are seen coming out of Romney's hide.

It will be interesting to see if Johnson pumps any money in here to try to goose his numbers.

As for what Johnson stands for, it is a mishmash of the left and right. His most absurd declaration is that he would cut federal government spending 43 percent, but he has taken on his former Republican Party on social issues such as civil unions for gays.

Johnson maintains that he will pull equally from Dems and R's. But most pros dismiss that as nonsense, notwithstanding early polling. They point out that his roots are firmly in the GOP and when push comes to shove that's where the bulk of his vote will come from. 

Johnson continues to come across as somewhat daffy and the national media showed no fear earlier this year in keeping him off the TV debate stage with his fellow GOP presidential candidates.

He will run on his record as an eight year governor of New Mexico who held the line on spending and taxes. That he did. But the state made little if any progress during his tenure in the 1990's on the gargantuan social issues it faces. This, despite there being plenty of money pouring into the state coffers.

Johnson is best known for the record number of vetoes he cast and for paving the way for legalized Indian casino gambling. It has proved to be a thin legacy.

The fundamental flaw of Johnsonism proved to be his belief that a restrained state government and a robust private sector could resolve the generations-old problems of poor education, poverty, low wages, domestic violence and alcohol and drug addiction--all categories in which the state continues to turn in a dismal performance.

FLASH FORWARD

Switching to the current governor, she subscribes to much the same philosophy of Johnson, casting a high number of vetoes and convinced that less government regulation will pave the way to prosperity. The administration boasts that it has dramatically improved the state's business climate in its opening year and a half, but the nation's top CEO's apparently don't think so. They rank the state 33 out of 50 for conducting business and that's down from 32nd in 2011, Susana's first year in office....

NO SWING

Back to the prez contest, New Mexico is not making the list of swing states this year, but these nine are:

Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The chief mourners of New Mexico falling off the swing state list are the local TV stations. It means they will miss out on hundreds of thousands in ad revenue that otherwise would have flowed here. But while they mourn, many voters will celebrate--for them the fewer ads they are subjected to the better.

WHOSE GOT MO?
Chavez
Just when it looks like Marty Chavez might be getting some momentum in his battle for the ABQ Dem US House nomination along comes another spoiler.

Early on it was the Sierra Club endorsing Eric Griego, despite Chavez's work in the environmental field. Then it was the March pre-primary convention where Griego scored a wider than expected victory over Chavez and Michelle Lujan Grisham. Chavez also struggled when his girlfriend--Loretta Mares--was indicted on embezzlement charges. And now that story is back in the headlines just as Chavez unveiled a pretty nifty TV spot he hopes will propel him to the head of the pack.

 The latest story doesn't have much hard news, but it does reveal how Chavez communicated extensively with Mares when he was mayor and after. Not the kind of stuff you need as early voting gets underway this week.

The Alligators started with the email when the ABQ Journal story hit the streets Sunday. Here's a sample:

I think Chavez is done after this story. If he's not, and he wins, the GOP has a great issue for November. Clearly, the more you delve into the Mares relationship you'll find more Chavez contradictions. Plus, why is he calling her 750 times on a taxpayer-funded cell phone?  I don't think I called my wife 750 times in 5 years! Ridiculous. His core NE Heights/West Side middle class voters can't be comfortable with this.  I also love the timing of the Journal story--right at the start of early voting.

And the other side from a Chavez fan:
 

Marty and Loretta are no longer together.  He knows nothing about this (the alleged embezzlement) and for anyone to suggest otherwise is absurd.  The last time I checked, people are still innocent until proven guilty and knowing, dating or living with someone isn't a crime.

The ABQ district is looking more blue and the GOP standard bearer--Janice Arnold-Jones--looking increasingly weakened by a party that appears to have abandoned the race. Under those circumstances the Dem nomination is becoming as valuable as Fort Knox. Whoever gets it, looks like a winner in November.

STOP GRIEGO

Our ABQ congressional watchers think the final month of this three way race could shape up as a "Stop Griego" campaign. He struck again with a major endorsement--this one from the National Education Association--and his liberal base is showing few cracks. It could be enough to put him over the top Election Night. And still no one has laid a glove on him--at least not yet. My experts think the best time to hit Griego has passed, but it still must be done if he is to be slowed. They say polling probably still shows Chavez in the lead because of his superior name ID, but they say that will slowly shift as more liberals awaken and coalesce around Griego--unless given some good reasons not to.

Griego's well-known hot temper and often prickly personality have been in hiding during this long stretch. His campaign has done a good job shielding him and the opposing campaigns and free media  have yet to put the pressure on him.

REPLACING LUJAN

By every measure--name ID, money and experience--you have to rate Santa Fe Mayor Dave Coss as the favorite to take the Democratic primary in the race for the Santa Fe area district represented by retiring House Speaker Ben Lujan. Still, observers there are not ready to call the contest a fait accompli for Coss. That's because upstart Carl Trujillo is back. He nearly upset the speaker in the 2010 primary, losing by less than 85 votes. He's not backing off now, even though the Speaker's son--Congressman Ben Ray Lujan--is among those openly endorsing Coss.

The Alligators there say Coss is strong in the city precincts in the district but Trujillo is gaining steam in the areas that fall in Santa Fe County. Trujillo now comes with this video--decently produced--that stresses his generations-old family ties to the region--never a point to be dismissed. But Coss isn't exactly a carpetbagger. He is a native of Santa Fe.

Coss Vs. Trujillo. It's a race we will closely monitor when we take to the airwaves on KANW-89.1 FM primary election night.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Here's a free tip for the two candidates trying to oust Northern Dem Sate Senator Phil Griego in the June primary--you don't want headlines like this one:

Senate forum fairly placid; District 39 incumbent faces two challengers 

Placid? That's what you look for when you're boating at Elephant Butte--not when you're trying to take out a powerful incumbent.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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