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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dems On Defense: Rep. Easley Passing May Bring R's Closer To Dream Of State House Takeover, Plus: Dems Running For Light Guv? Not Many 

Fear remains palpable in Democratic circles that their control of the NM House of Representatives is at risk in next year's election.

That fear has grown the wake of the death of Democrat Rep. Stephen Easley.

There is a possibility that Governor Martinez will have the chance to appoint a Republican to the seat that contains chunks of four counties--Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance.

If she did, there's a chance that the Republican could hold the seat in the '14 election. The area can lean conservative--especially if turnout is low.

Dems are urging Susana to select a Dem to replace Easley because that's the will of voters who cast ballots in the last election. But the Dems have not always gone by that same reasoning when the shoe was on the other foot.

House Speaker Kenny Martinez has a slim majority--38 Dems to 32 R's. An R pick-up of only three would make it a tie ball game and who knows who would get the leadership then.

In the '14 session, if the Guv picks an R to replace Easley, the divide will only be 37 to 33. The R's would only need two Dem defections to tie things up in the lower chamber.

The state Senate is already controlled by a conservative coalition of R's and mostly rural Dems.

It's pretty amazing in a state that has gone so blue--witness the gay marriage issue this week--that Democrats at the state level are so on the defensive. But they have not fought back much against a well-oiled GOP attack machine. Until they do, they may continue to lose ground.

The Governor's pick to replace Easley will be closely watched. She will be sent nominees from the four county commissions in the district from which she will pick Easley's replacement.

The Torrance commission is controlled by the R's.

LIGHT GUV 

The name dropping for the '14 Dem Guv nod has been conspicuously quiet. That may change in the months ahead. Right now prominent names we are hearing include State Senator Howie Morales and former Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks. Marks decided against a run for attorney general, but is not ruling out a light guv run. Morales gets to keep his Senate seat even if he were to get the Dem light Guv nod and lose in the November election. Senators don't face re-election until '16.

Carlsbad attorney and former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne Lara has also been talked up as a possible #2 for the Dem ticket. But she seems more interested in taking on GOP Congressman Steve Pearce.

INVESTING HERE


This reader comes with an intriguing suggestion--have the state invest more of the interest it receives from billions in Permanent Fund investments in novel ways:

The question is why we send over 97% of our investments out of state. Because of a well-performing stock market we have made over $2 billion so far this year. If we invested half of our windfall in the state retrofitting schools and other public buildings, lending money to teachers and state workers to allow them to buy homes at reduced rates--kick starting the housing market--and putting money into their pockets--rather than out-of-state bankers--then we would be creating the jobs and generating the taxes we need to get out of this economic death spiral that we have been in...

The state's permanent funds are now valued at over $16 billion.

THE BOTTOM LINES

We blogged Tuesday that the Santa Fe County Clerk had begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses without a court order. That was not correct.  A judge ordered her to issue the licenses. It was the Dona Ana County Clerk--Lynn Ellins--who led the way by issuing same-sex licenses without a court order. Also in our first draft, we had an AP photo of a gay couple celebrating the issuance of the marriage licenses and said it was from Bernalillo County. The couple celebrating were from Santa Fe.

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