Friday, April 19, 2013

Martinez On Time Influential List: A Look At The Why, Plus: Where Should The Final Racino Go? 

It is the idea of Susana Martinez--not her ideas--that continues to bolster her appeal and popularity in NM and elsewhere. There will be controversy over this, but this week she was named as one of Time Magazine's most 100 influential people in the world.

When you are the first in any field the symbolism is powerful. As the nation's first Hispanic female Governor, Martinez is held up--rightfully--as an example for the nation's burgeoning Hispanic population that they have a future in America.

But Martinez's core beliefs do not attract much attention. She has carved out territory on the center-right of the political spectrum that combine with her skimpy legislative record to give her little definition. Contrary to her campaign slogan she has not achieved "bold change" but taken baby steps.

The state continues to suffer it's worst economy in generations, with record job losses, population shrinkage, record commercial real estate vacancies etc, etc. That is surely not landing her on the most influential list.

It is the personal narrative--her ethnicity, her grit and her determination--that gives the Martinez persona luster and appeal and continues to sustain her. Democrats and other natural ideological foes can't seem to muster much passion in opposing her.

In the Legislature, they were beat up by her for the first two years of her term. In the third year when she saw it in her political interest to start bending they bought into her "compromise agenda" without presenting one of their own. Most important, they have failed to present her with tough choices that would invigorate debate.

Martinez has filled quite well the historic role that is hers. The Time Magazine mention is recognition of that and New Mexico has reason to be proud. But there's no mistaking that this is a governorship that is a triumph of symbolism and personality--not of policy or the art of politics.


Where's the best place for New Mexico's sixth racino--the final one allowed under state law? For our money, it is down in little Lordsburg.

Perched along Interstate 10 that carries travelers to Arizona and California on the West and Texas on the east. the little town of less than 3,000 is poised to pick up dollars from these potential gaming tourists. 

One of the unrealized promises of legalized gambling here is to attract customers from beyond the state's borders. Instead, the racinos and Native American casinos are packed with locals, and that is recycling dollars--not adding to the pile.

Lordsburg in Hidalgo County on the very southwest of the state could change that. The county population is less than 5,000 so the racino will have to direct its pitch to those truck drivers, business travelers and vacationers who cross busy I-10 day in and day out. 

The other proposed locations for the final racino are Raton, Hobbs and Tucumcari. 


Reader Hal Hensley writes from San Antonio, TX that we were too dismissive when we did an obit on Texas GOP mega-donor Rob Perry this week and said this:

"Perry was a big player in his day, but with the legal lid essentially blown off of campaign contributions, he is already looking like small potatoes."

Here's Hal's take on Perry, a home builder who gave $450,000 to Susana Martinez's 2012 Guv run:

With total contributions going somewhere north of $150 million in Texas alone, this represents, in my opinion, awfully large "small potatoes." Dropping close to a half a million in NM in one cycle on one race isn't bad either.

While I take your point with respect to campaign contributions/spending in the wake of the Citizens United decision, I don't think I'd categorize Perry as small potatoes even in this environment. I can assure you with the Legislature in session over here, there are many Republican politicos suffering heartburn on the Colorado River wondering how this vacuum will be filled.

No question that Perry was a major money player. Our "small potatoes" comment arose from the activity of the new mega-donors like casino owner Sheldon Adelson. In 2012 he set a new record for campaign donations, giving $70 million to help Republicans. That's in just one election cycle and  equals nearly half of all the money Perry apparently ever gave. But in retrospect none of this is "small potatoes" but it is a big headache.

New Mexico now has campaign contribution limits for statewide candidates ($5,200 per individual per election) so the days of giving $450,000 directly to a campaign are over. But the giant loophole is the super PAC's. There's no limit on donations to those from individuals, corporations or labor unions.


We had a note up here earlier that said Gayla Brumfield, ex-mayor of Clovis, would announce for the Dem nomination for Guv. False alarm. She says her Facebook page-- does not signal a Guv run.

Inside the Capitol" columnist Jay Miller says:

I do not think our nation will ever solve its gun problems with legislation. Most of it will not pass. None of it will work. Our culture will just have to grow out of its fascination with guns. I predict it will take at least several generations.

ABQ Metro Court public info officer Janet Blair says she retires today and will "take an RV trip or two" and then pursue part-time work...

And even though the state Senate has steadfastly refused to confirm her as Secretary of Education, Hanna Skandera is no longer referenced as "Acting Secretary" on the public education department web site.

Maybe they voted and no one noticed? It wouldn't be the first time....

Thanks for stopping by this week. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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