Friday, November 23, 2012

While Susana Wages License Fight, Other States Move In Opposite Direction, Plus: State Of The State Senate: Can Dems Unify And Pick A Pro Tem? Power Play May Be Their Last Chance To Slow Gov; Sen. Morales Joins Others In The Fray 

Governor Martinez has dug in her heels for two years now over repealing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and she says in January she will again ask the New Mexico Legislature for a fourth time to do away with them. But while Susana remains all in over a repeal, other states are headed the other way. From Illinois:

Gov. Pat Quinn wants illegal immigrants to be able to get Illinois driver's licenses, saying it's a matter of public safety. He, Senate President John Cullerton, and other state and local leaders held a news conference to float the idea, saying Cullerton would introduce legislation pushing the controversial proposal within the next few weeks. An estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants drive on Illinois roads despite the fact they do not have a license, have not taken driver instruction or passed a driving test.

And in case you missed it, this from California recently:

Young undocumented immigrants will be able to receive California driver’s licenses under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed...As many as 350,000 undocumented immigrants in California may be eligible for the Obama administration program, which waives the threat of deportation for two years for those who have no criminal record....Young people would qualify if they are accepted by a federal program giving work permits to those who came to this country before they were 16 and are now 30 or younger.

The state House has passed a repeal of the licenses, but it got stuck in the Senate. Dem analysts are advising the Senate leadership to try to get the votes for a compromise repeal bill and send it to the Governor who would likely veto it. They say that could begin to put the Guv on the defensive instead of on offense in dealing with the controversial license question. Over 70% of the public supports a repeal.


Sen. Morales
Maybe the question to ask is who isn't running for Senate President Pro Tem? Newsman Milan Simonich has been bird dogging the various candidates or wanna be candidates for the potentially powerful post in the state Senate. He picked up on the latest candidacy that has also popped up in our email box--that of Senator Howie Morales of Silver City.

There are 25 Dem members of the 42 member state Senate and if this keeps up we're going to have half of them running for pro tem. Among others expressing an interest are Senators Papen, Campos, Cisneros and Lopez. Senator John Arthur Smith--who earlier said he might make a pro tem play--now says he won't.

What's interesting about the Morales bid is how he's ruling out forming a coalition with the 17 Senate Republicans in order to become pro tem. That's what we had with conservative Roswell Dem Senator Tim Jennings. But he was defeated in this month's election. Morales is saying he is not in favor of continuing the coalition--that he wants a Democrat to emerge from the caucus to take the leadership post whose power is derived from the ability to influence committee assignments. He declares: "We don’t want to dilute our vote to put ourselves in jeopardy.”

The "jeopardy" Senator Morales is talking about is really the whole ball game. If the Dems are unable to elect a Senate Pro Tem and the position is again selected with a coalition of R's, it will be to the great benefit of GOP Governor Martinez. And we mean great.

Only by taking total leadership control of the Senate in their party caucus can the majority Dems guarantee that they will send legislation to the Governor's desk to sign or veto. They desperately need to show a contrast with the popular Governor. If nothing significant gets up to the Fourth Floor for her to decide--as has been the case for the past two years--the Guv's popularity remains intact and her 2014 re-election bid is made easier. Her slogan could well be, "She may not have done anything for you but she hasn't done anything to hurt you." A Senate coalition of R's and conservative Dems would advance that narrative, making sure no controversial items are passed. Come '14, voters may say: "What's not to like?"

On the other hand hand, with the majority leader position firmly in the hands of Michael Sanchez and the pro tem also in the grip of a stalwart Dem--not a coalition Dem--they would be positioned to put the Governor on the spot.

One of the widely discussed ironies of the current political situation in Santa Fe is how Governor Martinez made the busting up of the coalition possible by successfully working to defeat coalition leader and Dem Pro Tem Jennings of Roswell. Now that he is gone, less conservative Dems have the hope of taking power. If they succeed, Martinez's head-scratching decision to go after Jennings will be talked about for decades.


The Senate Dems have a great opportunity to move in the direction of their electorate--away from the strict fiscal conservatism of the Pro Tem coalition and toward a more centrist Senate that reflects the outcome of the election in which Obama and other top of the ticket Dems swept the state.

Not that the coalition conservatives did bad. It was of its time, but now times have changed. The question is whether the Democratic Party--led by Senator Sanchez who is coming off a major re-election victory against the Governor--can move their caucus with the times and become the state's majority party not only in name, but also in legislative action.

If the 39 year old Morales, an educator with a Ph.D, fully embraces that reality, he may be the man of the hour despite the history of the pro tem going to a more established Senator. Morales was appointed to his Senate seat in 2007 by Governor Richardson when the venerable Senate President Pro Tem Ben Altimirano passed away.

We have not seen Morales act on the statewide stage of La Politica so questions remain about the intellectual firepower and media savvy he possesses. But his understanding of the situation earns him a place at the table. It will be up to his fellow Senators to determine if Morales is worthy of leading them or turn to one of the many others who would be pro tem.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Political Faces Celebrate Holiday, Plus: No Break From State's Gloomy Jobs News, And: Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico! 

Padilla, McSorley, Wirth, Candelaria & Sanchez
Here's a group that's ready for some holiday celebrating. The five are all Dem State Senators or Senators-elect and coming off  election wins. And even though the R's picked up three seats in the November balloting, the Senate is still controlled by the Democrats--25 to 17.

Three of the five Senators pictured here will be going to Santa Fe for the first time--ABQ's Michael Padilla, Jacob Candelaria and Clemente Sanchez of Grants.

Because of many legislative retirements and some election defeats, longtime observers say it has been years since we have seen so many new faces in the House and Senate. Maybe some one can make a buck selling all of them maps of the Roundhouse.

This week Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez affirmed his decision to again seek that leadership post and not make a run for Senate President Pro Tem. So who will be Pro Tem--the post that has major influence over what committees Senators sit on? Well, that appears to be turning into a free for all, with at least a half-dozen Senators said to be entertaining a bid. It will give our group of five pictured here plenty to talk about after they polish off their turkey dinners tomorrow.


The gloomy economic news that has enveloped New Mexico for several years is taking no holiday break. The state says the jobless rate in October was down to 6.3%. That's down from 7.2% a year ago but the Great Jobs Bleed continues:

The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing October 2012 with October 2011, was negative 0.7 percent, representing a loss of 5,900 jobs....The professional and business services industry reported the loss of 3,400 jobs, and construction reported a loss of 1,300 jobs over the year.  Government employment registered a net loss of 4,500 jobs since last year, with job losses reported at the state and federal levels.  State government reported employment levels that were 3,800 jobs lower than last year.  Federal government reported employment that was down 1,400 jobs.  

The rate at which we are shedding government jobs is alarming--and there is no way to put private sector jobs on line fast enough to replace them, especially since jobs remain tight in many areas of the nation.

This is the longest and most fearsome decline in good-paying jobs in modern state history.

The jobs decline means less revenue going into ABQ city coffers. The newspaper this week confirmed our blog report of a while back that noted gross receipts tax collection in the city are down nearly 1% for the first four months of the budget year. City officials were hoping for a 2.9% year-over-year increase. We are on track to run a shortfall of about $10 million for the budget year that ends next June 30.

Will the mayor's race next year be about the jobs recession here or will the super PAC's come in and we get more on who is tougher on child killers?


The next mayoral race also needs a heavy dose of debate over the condition and culture at the ABQ Police Department. Retired APD Seargent Dan Klein who monitors developments for us comes with his reaction to a police union poll recently conducted of over 450 officers. 99% of them say morale at APD is low, 18% believe the Department of Justice should investigate the department, something numerous relatives of police shooting victims have been calling for. Here's Klein:

I can't stress enough my concern that dozens of APD officers want to see the Department of Justice  step in due to corruption. This is a part of the survey that cannot, and should not be ignored.  Cops know corruption and when you have 20% of this poll (some 80 officers) stating that the DOJ needs to step in at APD something is really wrong.  This part of the survey should be sending up red flags at the US Attorney general office, the DA Office, the NM Attorney General, the FBI and law enforcement all over the state.  

When you have this many Albuquerque cops saying there is corruption on their police department, the public and our leaders would do well to start listening.  We ignore this at our own peril (New Orleans comes to mind). I have never heard of APD cops wishing for the DOJ to step in.  Something appears to be very wrong at APD.  To ignore 20% of this survey is to stick our heads in the sand.

The poll also said 80 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the job APD Chief Ray Schultz is doing with 95% percent disapproving of how the mayor is leading the police force.

That raises the question of whether Schultz will still be around when the mayoral campaign heats up next year.


Gov. Martinez general counsel Jessica Hernandez has moved over to a deputy chief of staff job vacated this week. A deputy slot was recently vacated by Ryan Cangiolosi. We blogged this week that other staff changes are apparently coming in the Guv's office, including the departures of Scot and Alexis Valdez Darnell. He's the communications director. She's the Guv's director of operations. With Jessica trading out for the deputy chief slot, the Guv will be getting a new attorney to advise her.


This is our 10th Thanksgiving on the blog. We didn't think that would happen, but we're thankful for it. We're also thankful that the system of checks and balances in our government continues to operate, albeit at times inefficiently.

And we're thankful for the First Amendment that makes possible web sites like this. That's not the case for much of this planet. We remember that on this and every Thanksgiving.

It is a privilege and an honor to come into your daily life, one we never take for granted. Thanks for your continuing interest and support.

Hope you have some time for yourself and your family this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Post-Election GOP Split Grows Louder; Chair Battle Seen; Guv Adviser McCleskey Under Increasing Fire, Plus: Two Couples Tied To Susana And Jay Head For The Exits 

Get ready for the split in the New Mexico Republican Party to become even louder and more public. Insiders report that party first vice-chair John Billingsley, chairman of the Lincoln County GOP,  is launching a candidacy for state chairman, campaigning against the tactics used by Governor Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey.

Also, Russell Allen of Dona Ana County--another anti-Jay R--is weighing a chairman run On the other side, our GOP watchers say engineer John Rockwell--friendly to the Martinez-McCleskey camp and owner of Sierra Peaks, a federal contractor--is also mulling a run.

The party's poor election night performance has prompted the reappraisal of the campaign in which Jay ran a super PAC--Reform NM Now--that spent millions in an effort to change the make-up of the New Mexico Legislature, but got hardly any bang for its buck.

Billingsley served as campaign manger for conservative southern Congressman Steve Pearce's 2008 US Senate run. In an op-ed piece he signals his split with McCleskey and says the party needs to run more of the show--not Jay:

Despite an investment of nearly $3 million by the governor and her related political action committees...let’s not fool ourselves: The Republican Party frankly got wiped out...In building a viable grass-roots organization, we not only begin to build the party from the bottom-up, but we also discover new leaders...If we truly want to change the face of the party to reflect the diverse makeup of our state, we must take this seriously rather than allowing this critical activity to be run by outside consultants....Our party must become the central resource for...messaging and campaign tactics...The party needs a comprehensive fundraising strategy--one that ensures...the party can aggressively engage in the re-election of our governor and all of our candidates. This will require the party to remain relevant...when it comes to delivering our message rather than relying on PACs and consultants. 

The state GOP will meet in December to pick a chairman to replace Monty Newman of Hobbs. If Billingsley gets his way it will be a chairman who runs the consultants--not the other way around.


Jay McCleskey
An email memo ripping into McCleskey (and his pollster wife Nicole) for failing to bring home the bacon for the Republicans is getting widespread circulation, but its authorship is unclear. Is it from a disgruntled R or a Dem trying to make trouble for the other side? The email is sent under the name of "John Fremont." That's an insider joke as insiders report that it is the pseudonym Jay once used to level a hit against a fellow R. Here are excerpts from the email:

..The resources that should have been used to build our state party were diverted directly in to the bank accounts of Jay and Nicole McCleskey. It’s time we faced the facts: Jay McCleskey has hijacked the Republican Party to personally enrich himself, leaving our county offices with nothing but crumbs. The result? A weakened party infrastructure without the means to get out-the-vote.

It’s time to stop Jay McCleskey.

...McCleskey took home more money than the annual operating budget of our state party.  And while they were raking in the cash, the Republican Party was losing big. We lost Congressional District-1. We lost CD-3. We lost the U.S. Senate. We lost the Presidency. We lost almost every single judicial appointment, including all 5 of Susana Martinez’s appointments in Bernalillo County. We lost the Las Cruces D.A.’s office, previously held by our governor. We even lost seats on the House (which we were supposed to finally take back!) 

Take a look at this article to learn more about McCleskey’s big pay-day this year.

...Jay has isolated our governor for his own personal schemes, guided her to campaign only where he had skin in the game, but rarely for candidates he wasn’t making money from...I believe in our governor and know that she can and will reform our state...By so closely associating ourselves to Jay and his wife’s polling, we’re putting the future of our party at risk... It’s time for us to reclaim our integrity and our moral high-ground.  If we don’t, we deserve what’s coming. Remember: This is our party, not Jay and Nicole McCleskey’s cash cow.

Jay McCleskey’s politics of destruction are hurting this party, undermining our principles, and standing in the way of our future. Here’s what we can do: Tell our governor to start leading based on principle, not Jay’s polling. Refuse to donate to Jay’s PACs. Donate directly to our state party instead.  Encourage candidates to refuse Jay’s “help." Tell our party to stop hiring Nicole McCleskey for polling.  It’s wrong anyway. Remember:  this is our party.  Let’s take it back.  

So what's next? A GOP Chairman who battles with Jay? A new circle of advisers emerging for Martinez in the second half of her term? Or more of the same?

The anonymous email claimed Jay and Nicole made a proft of $1 million in the 2012 cycle, but political consultants we queried said that is highly unlikely but they did estimate that $500,000 was not an unrealistic number.


The Darnells (Facebook)
We are getting word that the husband and wife team of Scott and Alexis Valdez Darnell are apparently headed to the exits by the end of the year. Our Alligators report Martinez communications director Scott Darnell is leaving his $80,000 a year job to pursue a Ph.D and that his wife Alexis Valdez Darnell, director of operations for Martinez who makes $75,000, will also depart--most likely before the end of the year.

Alexis Valdez is the daughter of Alex Valdez, the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center's chief executive officer. Scott Darnell is the son of Farmington City Councilor Dan Darnell.

It will be interesting to see who Martinez will tap for the communications post. Darnell was the nominal director, kept on a tight leash by McCleskey. Perhaps they "helicopter" in an appointee from Jay's out-of-state contacts.


And there's more. Our Alligators also report that Adam and Dana Feldman, the husband and wife team who moved here from Kentucky several years ago and moved quickly up GOP ranks on the wings of McCleskey, are headed back to the Bluegrass state.

Adam Feldman, a former executive director of the state GOP who served as Martinez's director of boards and commission, left that post to go to work with McCleskey's political firm. More recently, he operated Red Tag Strategies, a political consulting firm that was associated with Jay. His named popped up in what has been dubbed "emailgate" as one of the top Martinez administration officials getting controversial email.

Dana Feldman, under the direction of McCleskey, helped manage the campaign of Richard Berry when he ran for mayor of ABQ in 2009. When he was elected, she went to work as a City Hall spokesman and later became the deputy director of the city's cultural affairs department.

Back in Kentucky, GOP Senator Mitch McConnell is preparing a re-election bid. Maybe the Feldmans get in on that.

The departures of the Darnells and Feldmans follows the news of Martinez Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi departing for a plum (and controversial) job in a newly created $125,000 a year job at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

Cangiolosi and the Darnells are all seen as acolytes of McCleskey. Still left on the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse is McCleskey ally and Chief of Staff Keith Gardner who was extremely damaged when audio recordings of him were released in which he denigrated the state Senate leadership. We are getting inklings--just inklings--that he too may be headed out the door.

So who will replace all these aides? Allies of McCleskey? Or is Martinez--in the face of the aggressive criticism from key players in her own party--going to widen her circle to include those whose fealty is not necessarily to her powerful political adviser?

It's not easy for her. She looks at those approval ratings in the 60's and has to tell herself "what's wrong?" But seeds have been planted that could take her and those numbers down in a hurry. 


UNM poly sci professor Lona Atkeson makes a valiant but not quite convincing effort to convince the political community that New Mexico is still not a "blue state."

 She argues that the comfortable but not overwhelming margins of victory by Obama and US Senate candidate Martin Heinrich means we retain swing status. Something to consider, but the increasingly urban nature of New Mexico and the embrace of the Dems by the growing Hispanic community means the trend is blue.

Not that Republicans can't and won't get elected here, but calling us a swing state implies that there is a 50-50 chance that a Republican will win when a Republican and Democratic presidential candidate face off here. That used to be true. But it isn't any longer. That's why New Mexico is blue--maybe not deep blue--but kinda like a light turquoise blue.


Reader Stephanie DuBois  writes about the name change of former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron to Rebecca Vigil-Gutierrez:

Rebecca is married to Tom Gutierrez, the brother of Joni Gutierrez. Joni is New Mexico's new Democratic National Committeewoman. 

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Falling On Your Sword In Sandoval: Bureaucrat Says His Bungling Caused Voter Debacle, Plus: More On ABQ Jobs Bleed, Ben Ray Climbs Ladder, Ingle Leadership Status, Days Of Jay, And: Vigil-Giron: Justice Delayed; Justice Denied  

Eddie Gutierrez
There's plenty of blame to go around for the voting bottleneck that plagued Sandoval County this election. The County Clerk, the Secretary of State and the Governor are all taking hits--justified ones--for the mess that had voters standing in line for hours on end. But there was no conspiracy--just incompetence. There were not enough computer systems and printers to put out the correct ballot combinations for voters from different precincts at what we now call "convenience centers."

Talk about not living up to a name.

So what's the bottom line? Population growth in Sandoval County--and specifically Rio Rancho where the voting fiasco occurred--has exploded the past 20 years. Yet we get this statement:

Sandoval County Elections Bureau Director Eddie Gutierrez said he miscalculated the general election turnout by basing expected turnout on 2012 primary numbers. “Based on what happened in the primary election, everything went so smooth because of the low turnout,” Gutierrez said. “We thought that the same thing would happen for the general election.”

And Gutierrez appears ready to shoulder the blame:

Gutierrez said he doesn’t like the finger-pointing, but if there is any, it should be directed at him. “The county clerk has me as her director as Bureau of Elections,” he said. “She trusted my years of experience. If anyone is going to take a hit, it should be me.”

Be careful what you wish for Eddie. Still, your stepping out from the shadows can't help but be admired.

The election process in New Mexico is essentially county-run. For example, if a similar debacle happened in Bernalillo County--and, boy, did they ever used to--it would be the county clerk getting excoriated.

 Sure, the state has a supervisory role and should stay on top of matters--which they apparently did not do very well in this case--but these elections bureau directors are full-time, year-round employees and the ultimate responsibility rests with them and the county clerks who hire them.

Seems the new Sandoval County Clerk coming aboard in January has some firing and hiring to do.


We still think Governor Susana showing up at the site of the Sandoval County voter debacle and passing out pizza and bottled water was what a chief executive does--offer assurance that no matter how bad it looks everyone will get the right to vote.

She's been roundly attacked for it and her motives have been questioned because it's a Republican area where she made her Pizza PR play.

But it wasn't Martinez's presence at the problem plagued voting center that is the problem. It was her unprecedented involvement in this election through a political action committee run by her political adviser that alienated her and made the Pizza pitch look like a political ploy.

If she had decided to stay out of the legislative election fray--as every governor before her has done--she would have been able to pass out her pizza in peace. (Please, no punditry on the preponderance of P's.)


Sorry, Mayor Berry. It's a nice little feather to get a red eye flight direct from ABQ to NYC, but the big picture is still the same--our city is getting absolutely hammered when it comes to bringing in and keeping good paying jobs. The latest:

GE Intelligent Platforms announced that they are transferring their "systems product line" to Huntsville. The "systems product line" involves the making of single board computers for military and aeronautic applications. The move will take place over next 12 months and will not be final until the end of 2013. The company currently employs 70 employees in ABQ...There will be approximately 40 new jobs in Huntsville...The Albuquerque employees will have the opportunity to apply for those jobs...

These are the well-paying jobs that we are so profusely bleeding and that are being replaced by call center work.

 In his state of the city address Mayor Berry said we must work to protect the federal funding and jobs that are so vital to economic prosperity here. So how about the Republican mayor begin making contacts with members of the GOP-controlled US House to help us out?

And, yes, Steve Pearce represents the southern part of the state, but shouldn't we look to him to do more to influence the House budget cutters when it comes to New Mexico? After all, he is our only Republican now in the five member congressional delegation.


Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
The pressure is only going to get greater in the months ahead for all members of the congressional delegation to step up to the plate and go to bat for our massive federal funding, Unfortunately for them. they lack clout. Our seniority has disappeared.

But we do have something that is in demand--Hispanic voters. They were key to the national presidential win of Obama and because of it northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan might be able to wiggle his way on to the national stage.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has elected Rep. Rubén Hinojosa of Texas as its Chairman for the 113th Congress and Lujan was elected First Vice-Chair. That would seem to put him on the path to eventually take the chairman's role. He says:

This is an important time for the Hispanic community across the country as we have seen our numbers and influence increase in all facets, from government to small businesses. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as First Vice Chair, and I look forward to working with them and my colleagues in the House to advocate for an agenda that helps Hispanics, and indeed all Americans, by growing our economy, spurring job creation, and investing in education.” 

Ben Ray has his hands full with Los Alamos National Labs--the economic engine of the north. They laid off over 700 employees this year because of budget cuts. In addition, lab mismanagement has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Lujan needs to be a watchdog and a bulldog.

His continued rise through the Hispanic ranks on Capitol Hill is not a replacement for seniority, but it's a high card in a high-stakes poker game over the future of federal funding here and around the nation.

(Incidentally, ABQ Congresswoman-elect Michelle Luján Grisham was named as the Hispanic Caucus whip. She received nearly 60 percent of the vote this year in her first outing as a congressional candidate. That ought to make for some good cloakroom conversation).


Sen. Ingle
A confidant of State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle is confident that the east side Senator will retain his leadership position when the next session of the Legislature convenes in January, even though whispers of a possible challenge continue

Ingle, first elected in '84, has been the subject of intrigue ever since Governor Martinez took office and rumors began circulating that she and her political team feel Ingle is not aggressive enough when it comes to dealing with Senate Dems. There was even talk that the Guv's minions would feild a primary opponent against him. That didn't happen and the Portales farmer is back in Santa Fe for another four years.

The GOP picked up three Senate seats in November. The Senate is now 25 Dems and 17 R's. That means Ingle would need 9 GOP votes in his caucus to retain his leadership post.

And who might challenge Ingle?

Most insiders point to ABQ area GOP Senator John Ryan. He won his third term this month and is a favorite of Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey. (Ryan's wife is Veronica Gonzales, Secretary of the Department of Cultural affairs).

But the Guv's interference in both R and Dem legislative contests has not settled well with the Senate.
That's going to make it even more difficult for any coup attempt against the affable Ingle who signaled early on that he respects the Governor's office, but he is a Senator first.


Guv political adviser Jay McCleksey, variously nicknamed named the "Fifth Floor" and the "Shadow Governor" because of the tremendous influence he wields over Governor Martinez, walks away from Campaign '12 a much wealthier man, but one with a lot more enemies.

His sizzling attacks on fiscal conservative Roswell Dem State Senator Tim Jennings drew the ire of former GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. The prominent SE NM oil man blasted McCleksey when Jennings was on his way to losing to Cliff Pirtle. Now he is back in the aftermath with this op-ed, again ripping McCleskey and his political action committee and revealing the major rift that has developed in the GOP over the tactics of the 38 year old consultant. Yates blasts the attack ads Jay put up against Jennings, calling them "half truths:"

...They lessen the willingness of the best and most able among us to stand for public office. These are folks who have multiple alternative opportunities. For them, public service is not a reward but is a sacrifice. Add to that sacrifice the probability that a political operative will advertise half-truths or worse about them, and we rarely will find them in public office. It is ironic that an organization named “Reform New Mexico Now” has lessened the likelihood of reform in New Mexico. 

Governor Martinez has become alienated from Yates and a number of other powerful Republicans because of the free rein she has given McCleskey. In the months ahead there will be a power struggle in the GOP over lessening his influence.

Because he has become such a well-known political figure, it is unknown how high his profile will be in future races. That Martinez came up mostly empty-handed Election Night does not help his cause. The bitter division that she will face in January at the legislative session as a result of the campaign she sanctioned against lawmakers also raises questions about McCleskey's future.

Will Yates and other wealthy donors start making noise about the money going to McCleskey from out-of-state interests--his Reform NM PAC collected over $2.3 million. Could they somehow cut off that money? It's another key question in the wake of a campaign that has left the GOP wondering how and why so much power is concentrated in one political consultant and what it means to its future.


Rebecca Vigil-Giron
One of the flaws in our system of jurisprudence--as we see it--is the often interminable wait for an outcome. Investigations go on, sometimes for years. The accused is encased in a torturous state of limbo and taxpayers pony up for the expensive, but too slow search for justice. Which brings us to the case of former Democratic Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. Or we should say the former case. She was indicted on corruption charges over three years ago--in August 2009--resulting in this:

The corruption case against former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Girón collapsed when a district judge ruled the state had taken too long in bringing the charges to trial. Vigil-Girón was accused of embezzling federal funds and other crimes related to $6 million in contracts that paid for voter-education commercials in 2006. District Judge Reed Sheppard decided there were just too many delays and that violated Vigil-Girón's right to a speedy trial. Vigil-Girón's attorney, Robert Gorence, says his client was ecstatic and believes she has been vindicated...Eight judges were assigned the case after Vigil-Girón was indicted more than three years ago. Six of them were recused.

The actual charges against Vigil-Giron have not been adjudicated, but she says the dismissal means she is innocent. Prosecutors may appeal. Whatever the case, more than three years is a ridiculous amount of time. It reminds us of what seemed like the never-ending investigation of former Governor Richardson and how the newspaper for several years reported rumors of an ongoing federal probe and whether it would result in indictments. Never happened.

By the way, TV news reported that Rebecca has remarried and is now Rebecca Vigil-Gutierrez. She unloaded on Attorney General Gary King over the mishandling of her case in video that is posted here.

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