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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Santa Fe Session: Limited Fireworks Works In Favor Of Guv, Plus: Dem Analysts And Alligators Pound Their Own Over Course Of Session, And: City Special Election; Thousands Of Votes Disallowed; A Court Fight? 

Governor Martinez and the conservative coalition that rules the state Senate is running out the clock on Legislative Session '13 and they're doing a pretty good job of it. Nothing about the session has yet captured the public imagination or generated widespread interest. And that's good for the Guv who sports high approval ratings and low public expectations.

Some insiders think the Dems will come alive in the final hours of the session, throwing all kinds of curve balls at Susana, but...

The Dems had a shot if they had come with a clean bill on a minimum wage hike of a buck an hour. Instead, they came with a very watered down version that will probably float up to the Fourth Floor where it will be easily vetoed.

The measure exempts all employers who have fewer than 11 workers. It would apply to places like Wal-Mart and McDonald's--but most of them already pay the proposed $8.50 minimum or more. And then there is the proviso that employers would not have to pay new workers the new minimum for their first year on the job. What a mess for the Dem base...

The coalition will not allow the Dems to lay down a marker on the minimum that would put Susana on the spot and send a message to the rank and file Dem voters that it might be in their interest to pay attention to Santa Fe and, yes, even get excited about voting.

We're now starting to wonder if a compromise on driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants will see the light of day. The way things are going it doesn't seem as essential for her local political career as it did at the start of the session. She will have a number of small potatoes issues to trumpet at the end and if the license matter disappears into the ether, so be it. To advance on the national scene she could soften her immigration rhetoric and let the driver's license issue be put on the backburner.

As it is, the Dems continue to fight their battle mainly on Susana's turf. The slogan of this session thus far is: "It's Good To Be The Guv." Dems have limited time on the clock to do a rewrite.

POUNDING CONTINUES

Sen. Smith
Aggressive political analysts and Alligators of the Dem variety reporting in here continue to pound away at the Dems for what is coming out of Santa Fe--or isn't coming out: 

The people of New Mexico ask, "What was the point of the session?" but Democrats in particular should ask themselves, "What was the point of the 2012 elections?"

Last November, Democrats were targeted and smeared by the Governor and her adviser Jay McCleskey--and the Democrats won. There were hopes legislative Democrats would call for  McCleskey's ouster; that hearings would be held on the charges of bid-rigging and influence peddling at The Downs at ABQ; that the political positions created for spouses and friends of the Governor's inner circle would be de-funded.
 

When Democrats do show some backbone, they draw the ire of fellow Democrats. Already there are threats the 16 House Democrats who voted "no" on the state budget will be punished for refusing to go along. Where will the retribution take place? In the State Senate by fellow Democrats where, the spin is spun again and again that Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is firmly in charge?

Republicans may be in the minority but are serious about getting what they want and don't care how they do it. Democrats, who have majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, don't appear equipped to counter them. Which brings to mind Will Rogers: "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat."

A prime piece of legislation for Senate Majority Leader Sanchez is a constitutional amendment that would allow voters in 2014 to decide if they want to tap into the state's huge permanent fund to finance very early childhood programs in an effort to stop the state's social and economic slide. The legislation was approved by the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday. Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith will not let the Sanchez bill out of his committee. The coalition rules.

GETTING UNDERWAY

Gayla Brumfield
Following the legislative session potential '14 candidates will start the ball rolling--especially if you are running for Governor. The essential fund-raising forces an early start. The sole Dem in the race now is Attorney General Gary King. Will any other Dems get serious about joining the fray? Here's some news from a reader on the east side:

Joe, It appears former Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield is planning a run.  You might remember Brumfield was handed a rousing re-election defeat by David Lansford despite his belief in some very extreme things about President Obama. 

Brumfield blames her landslide loss on loyal Democrats not taking the Lansford threat seriously and failing to vote. She has been on the warpath since, and has told intimates that she plans a run for the Democratic governor nomination. A small-time mayor from the east side taking on Martinez? Not so improbable--our District Attorney Matt Chandler came out of nowhere a few years ago and nearly handed Attorney General King a loss and is right now prepping for another run for AG. Brumfield is owner/operator of Colonial Real Estate in Clovis...

Brumfield has been on the blog over the years, discussing economic development, among other things.

As for Chandler nearly handing King a loss in the 2010 attorney general race, not quite. King finished with about 54% of the vote to Chandler's 46%. But it was a decent run by Matt, even if '10 was a big wave year for the GOP.

And then we get this in on Brumfield that will slow her down if she does have any Guv plans:

Its not only the GOP who can be out of touch on elections. Brumfield was defeated yesterday in her run for re-election to the Clovis Community College Board by a virtual unknown,  Don Sharer,  (brother of Bill Sharer from Farmington).  Gayla has 100% name recognition, and ran a full blown campaign with signs, print and radio ads,  great newspaper coverage, robo calls, appearances at local restaurants and still lost to an unknown who only posted signs, knocked doors, and had a friend run radio ads on the last day.  This small election was a big upset for her.  Gayla will not be winning any elections on the eastern side of the state. It's not likely she can make a serious run for governor.  The link posted about Mr. Lansford's "extreme views" only shows how out of touch the Brumfield camp is to why she was defeated in the first place. 


LET THEM VOTE

Shouldn't the ABQ City Clerk be preparing to go to court to protect the rights of thousands of voters whose votes are not going to be counted because of a technicality? Instead, she is throwing her hands up in the air over the March 11 special election being conducted by mail. Things just got worse:

City Clerk Amy Bailey says she won’t be able to count municipal ballots signed after the fact.
About 4,300 people have returned ballots to the clerk’s office without signing the oath on the envelope. Initially, Bailey encouraged people to come in and sign the ballots if they forgot or refused to do so before mailing them. But a review of city ordinances shows that won’t be possible, she said. Voters must have signed the ballot envelope before returning or mailing it to the clerk.

Shouldn't those city ordinances that are preventing thousands of us from voting be challenged in court? Of course. We're waiting.

And why is every story coming out about this election centered on what a pain in the ass it is for the city to get the election done?

By the way, the issue at hand calls for having a run-off election if no mayoral candidate secures 50% of the vote on the first round. Political analysts say that would be a handicap for incumbent GOP Mayor Richard Berry. They also say that the lower the voter turnout the better the chances of the city charter amendment being defeated.

SURPRISED?

We're you kind of surprised by this? We were:

A poll released by the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports these initiatives, said that 52 percent of the 500 it polled support legalizing marijuana for adults, and 57 percent support reducing penalties for people caught with small amounts of the drug.

New Mexico has a lousy track record when it comes to mind-altering substances--rampant drug addiction and alcoholism and the associated costs. Not that legalizing marijuana would necessarily replicate that, but it will weigh on the public as this debate escalates in the years ahead.

A BUSH IS BACK

Interest may be growing in this year's NM GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. The guest speaker will be Geore P. Bush, son of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Recently, Jeb has signaled that he may make a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Politicos will be watching for more clues when George P gives his March 23 speech here. Dinner info is here.

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