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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

State Dems Start '14 Cycle With Spiffy Logo But No Cash, Plus: Big Mo For Tourism Here? And: Now She Owns It; Guv Says Tax Package Will End Jobs Funk 


Here's the spiffy new logo for the New Mexico Democratic Party. It looks a lot better than the state of the party's finances, report Dem insiders.

New party chairman Sam Bregman was faced with a bank balance of basically zero when he took over this month. He will have to do overtime this summer to get the party cash flow up to par.

And then there's the job of raising cash to form a Super PAC to go after ABQ GOP Mayor Richard Berry who is seeking re-election this October. Bregman sees the party as being the heavy hitter against Berry, letting Dinelli spend more of his limited public financing on buffing his own image. Dinelli's "likability" has surfaced as an early issue for him. Dem Dinelli has about $350,000 to spend. Berry rejected public financing and is busy raising money...

TOURISM MO?

We were table pounding over having the state increasing the advertising budget to attract tourists. The Governor and Legislature agreed and tourism secretary Monica Jacobson says the extra cash is about to create some momentum:

Jacobson's department is receiving $4.5 million in advertising funds, up from $2.5 million last year. New Mexico is currently the 38th-most visited state and attracts less than 1 percent of travelers in the U.S., she said.

38th? Well, we're biased but the natural wonders of New Mexico deserve a higher ranking than that.

Santa Fe's economic austerity crowd says the recently approved tax package will attract business to the state. It probably won't because of deeper issues, but spending money to make money in tourism has a proven track record--and it benefits multiple small businesses that dot the state.

Jacobson worked in Chicago in marketing before taking her cabinet slot. She says the ad campaign will heavily target that city. That might be a good fit. "Windy City" denizens would feel right at home here in March...

THE MARKER

Will it be a grand payoff or a political bomb? That seems to be what's shaping up for the Governor over that controversial tax package approved with her support by the legislature.

She is on the campaign trail, saying it will indeed bring the jobs here it promised. The election is not until November 2014, so if those jobs don't materialize, will she be held directly accountable for the state's economic performance?

If the jobs don't pan out, blaming it on Washington or obstructionist Democrats--as has been Santa Fe's habit--is going to be a tougher sell. On the other hand, if companies do start coming here the political payoff will be big.

There's already been some trouble for Martinez on this. State economic secretary Jon Barela told a legislative committee this month that several ABQ companies were about to pull 1,500 jobs out of the city if the tax package failed. But Barela refused to name the companies, signaling that the gamesmanship over this tax deal is under way.

This is an important shift in the '14 election dynamic. This tax deal is the Governor's first major embrace of this currently lousy economy as her own:

Gov. Martinez said she wants more private industry to come to New Mexico to give it a more diverse economic base, and she credited state lawmakers with passing legislation aimed at that goal. It’s unwise to rely so heavily on the federal funding that comes from the states’ national labs and military bases, she said. She pointed out that the sequestration, or cuts in federal spending that began earlier this year, would affect New Mexico “disproportionately,” compared to other states.

As she indicated, the majority Democrats have given Martinez cover by approving the tax package. So if the economy remains in the doldrums it would appear the worst possible Guv candidate for the Dems would be any legislator who voted for that package. 

As for the Governor's comments on federal funding, they show the towering task ahead. What is going to replace all that federal funding if it is indeed trimmed in the years ahead? As we blogged last week, many people aren't sticking around to find out...

THE BOTTOM LINES

Syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell (yes, he is surprised himself that he is still around) has the bottom lines today. He points out that the politicos are often given the credit or blame for the ups and downs of the economy, even if that economy is doing its own thing:

It is fair game to blame a lagging economy on the party in power and, certainly, political policy has an effect on economic activity. Just how much is anyone's guess. The gears of the economic engine grind slowly and many of its contributing factors don't care who is running the government. Although many of our political leaders would have their constituents believe they have much in common with God, I've not met any who could actually produce rain or, for that matter, bring factories to small New Mexico towns.

Come on, Ned. What about that time Big Bill walked on water? You forgot about that, already?

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