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Monday, April 29, 2013

Sam's The Man: Now Can He Deliver?; New Dem Chairman Promises Susana: "A Storm Is Coming" Plus: Thin Skins At City Hall And: Susana And Hanna Antics 

Sam Bregman
He promised a lot. Now we'll see if Sam Bregman can deliver. The aggressive ABQ trial attorney won election as the new state Democratic Party chairman Saturday in a landslide vote at the party's central committee meeting in Las Cruces. He took the prize 66% to 34% (245-129) over Carlsbad attorney Roxanne Lara.

Bregman promises Republican Governor Martinez that "a storm is coming" and that the Democratic donkey--either asleep or munching on hay during her first two years--will now come back alive and kicking.

No doubt the flamboyant Bregman will be much more up front in leveling criticism against the popular Guv as he prepares to ease the way for the party's eventual 2014 Guv nominee who, as things look today, appears to have an unenviable task.

But politics can change in a flash. Bregman's immediate task is to get the public used to the changed tone and more open criticism of Martinez who is clinging to opinion polls that show her approval well over 60%.

He has plenty of material work with--the state continues to be mired in the worst economic environment of the post-WWII era and there is nothing much being said or done about it.

Bregman's first test will be the October ABQ mayor and city council elections. It is unprecedented for the R's to hold the mayor's office and control the council at the same time as they now do.

Bregman and the Dems don't have to deliver an outright win with Dem Pete Dinelli, but they will have to get him close if they hope to soften the terra firma for next year's run at Martinez.

Look for Bregman and the Dems (and the labor unions) to form super PACs to get the ball rolling against GOP Mayor Berry.

Dem analysts say Bregman also needs to hire a strong executive director for the Dems who have been roundly criticized for pulling in their horns and laying down against the Governor. Ditto for the Democratic leadership in Santa Fe. Said one:

The new director has to be someone who is willing to take on (Guv political adviser) Jay McCleskey & Co. 24/7--not just in terms of responding and playing defense, but going on offense and taking the attack directly to them. And the new Democratic team is going to have to be willing to whip up some courage and party discipline among the elected Democratic officials who have shied away from confrontation.

SAM VS. JAY

McCleskey and Martinez
Bregman will not only target Martinez but also give McCleskey--who has the run of the Fourth Floor--his first real run for the money since Susana took the helm in 2011. On Saturday Bregman repeated Jay's nickname in the political community--"The Shadow Governor," signaling that he sees mileage in making him one of his foils.

Also, Bregman is invulnerable to the intimidation on a personal level that has been a hallmark of the Guv's attack machine. He is wealthy from his legal practice and is a trained professional who relishes the game.

As he has long done with political foes, a number of news reporters, this political blogger and others, McCleskey immediately attempted to personally discredit Bregman as a credible foe in the hope that the public will not listen to his arguments:

Sam Bregman is a criminal defense attorney who had made a name for himself by defending politicians accused of corruption, and New Mexicans will reject his smears against the governor in the same way they rejected his bombastic defenses of corrupt politicos.

But not all of Bregman's clients were "rejected." Many of them had the charges dropped. But what does any of this have to do with the policies of the Santa Fe administration?

McCleskey handled the campaign of Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston who has called several of his female staffers "fat whores." Should we dismiss McCleskey's defense of Martinez administration policies because of his association with Houston?

A Republican analyst suggested that Bregman could model himself after former GOP Chairman John Dendhal, one of the more deadly political pit bulls the state has ever seen and who held forth in the 90's.

Dendahl is probably the model for Bregman. He will need a right-hand man. Dendhal had Kevin Moomaw as his director--aggressive and knowledgeable. Bregman will need to follow suit.

That reminds us. It was Dendahl and Moomaw who cut Bregman's political career short back in 1999 when they engineered his defeat for re-election to the the ABQ city council.

As for Lara, a Carlsbad attorney and former Eddy County commissioner, she lost big to Bregman but she waged a credible campaign. At 38, she has a long political road ahead of her--if she chooses to travel  it.

It simply was not her time.

The great majority of the 369 activist Dems who decided the chair battle Saturday had had enough. They represent the majority party in the state that has been looking and acting more like a minority. They have been losing ground to Martinez in Santa Fe, in the press and in the polls.

The bottom line is that Bregman will be Pit Bull to the Martinez and McCleskey Doberman. We don't know yet where it will lead, but it certainly won't be boring.

THIN SKIN

Rob Perry
The city is getting pretty thin skinned now that the reality of what they face with the troubled APD is setting in. Take a look:

ABQ City Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry refused to say how much the city was paying them (attorneys) and instead suggested a public records request be filed for the information.

The question was posed to Perry as litigation continued over the $10.3 million the city must pay the family of  an Iraqi war veteran who was shot and killed by APD.

Perry, an attorney, knows very well how much those five lawyers for the city are being paid. Why make his bosses--the taxpayers--jump through hoops to find out how their money is being spent?

Numerous police lawsuit cases as a result of the many fatal police shootings  are going to go on for years and years. They will cost the city untold millions and millions. It does no good to try to deny it, spin it or go into the bunker. That has been the past practice and that's a reason why the Untied States Department of Justice has had to come to ABQ to investigate the police department and its management.

KING SUSANA?

And the same attitude (arrogance?) is creeping into state government. Governor Martinez's office issued a somewhat bizarre statement when asked about her education secretary dropping the word "desigante' fro her title. Because she has not been confirmed by the sate Senate, Hanna Skandera remains "Secretary of Education designate," but the department has chosen to ignore it and with the full support of Martinez. Here's the statement:

“Secretary Skandera has been in the job for more than 2 years and the Rules Committee has had ample opportunity to give her a vote on the Senate floor. The governor supports Secretary Skandera and the work she’s doing as her cabinet secretary for public education...The Governor and Secretary Skandera are focused on giving New Mexico students every opportunity they deserve to succeed. Legislators and the media can keep calling her Secretary designate if they wish, but Governor Martinez considers Hanna her Secretary of Public Education.”

"Legislators and the media can keep calling her...designate?" Hey, Fourth Floor, she's called that because it's the law--one of the many the Governor of the state takes an oath to uphold. You don't get to pick and choose which ones and you don't get to decide what an independent branch of government should do. That is, unless there's a new law we haven't heard of that says when your approval rating is over 60% you get to do whatever the heck you want...

FOR THE RECORD (CONT/)

Sometimes you just get off on the wrong track on a story and stay there. Readers enjoyed our analysis and commentary on the wayward comments of the Bernalillo County GOP executive director about two young women who testified before the Bernalillo County commission in favor of an increase in the minimum wage, but we had trouble with the details, Nothing earth shaking, but still. First, we made it sound as if only one woman was the target of his derogatory remarks ("radical bitch" etc.). Then we screwed up the correction, saying the women were against the minimum hike. Finally, we called BernCo GOP Chairman "Roger." His first name is Frank. Maybe it was spring fever?

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013 
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