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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gay Marriage Debate Surfaces Sec. Of State Race, Plus: Heh Makes More Hay In Mayor race, And: Wertheim Returns; Seeks Dem Treasurer Nod, Also: John Arthur Smith Takes Radio Hits On early Childhood 

Celebrating in Santa Fe 
Bernalillo County Clerk and soon-to-be Secretary of State candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver was starting to look a bit behind the times to her Democratic base, but then came that court ruling Monday essentially legalizing same sex marriage in the state's largest county.

That gave Toulouse the go-ahead to begin issuing the new marriage licenses today, but the county clerk of Dona Ana beat her to the punch by earlier issuing the licenses without a court order. Like BernCo, Santa Fe came aboard by order of a judge.

Toulouse, serving her second four year term as county clerk, is the odds-on favorite in the early going to take the Dem nomination and face off against Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran next year.

Duran is the first GOP SOS since the 30's and her chances of retaining the position are not good. A big win by Toulouse in Bernalillo County on the order of 10,000 or more and Duran's chances are pretty much doomed.

But first Toulouse must get the nomination. The threat to that would be a strong Hispanic Dem, but none has yet emerged to take her on...

HEH MAKING HAY

Monday marked the second time the three mayoral candidates have appeared together on the same stage and once again it was the bombast of Republican Paul Heh that stole the show--probably to the benefit of Mayor Berry.

He unloaded on the incumbent, even calling one of Berry's  answers before the NAIOP forum "bullshit."

Predictably, that drew the headlines and left Democrat Pete Dinelli still struggling to break this race open.

One of our Senior Alligators was at the forum and checked in with this:

Berry looked nervous  but sailed through the forum even though he said he is proud of his police department which provoked Heh to label that answer "bullshit." Dinelli promised he would get a "handle" on the wayward department. Berry noted that he had bipartisan support. He mentioned former Democratic NM first lady Clara Apodaca and former NM Dem Party Chairman Jamie Koch, also a member of the UNM Board of Regents.

Dinelli's TV ads are expected next week and the first ABQ Journal poll will probably be taken then as well. Can Dinelli's TV shake things up? Will the first polling show that he at least stands a chance to keep Berry under 50% and force a run-off election? Those are Pete's prayers.

The frustration in the Democratic camp is high. A Senior Gator of that party tells us:

Same-sex marriage is yet another "values" issue that Berry is wrong about in a Democratic city but will be able to avoid and dodge due to anemic and inept opposition tht will continue to argue the race on Berry's terms.

WERTHEIM RUNS 

A familiar face is back on the political scene. Former NM Democratic Party Chairman John Wertheim joins the race for the 2014 Democratic nomination for state Treasurer. In a video on his website, Wertheim, an attorney in private practice, explains that the state's laggard economy and its position at or near the bottom of the barrel in most economic rankings motivated him to get back into politics.

Wertheim, 45, made two runs for the ABQ congressional seat, one of them back in the 90's. In the Treasurer's race he will face former ABQ State Senator Tim Eichenberg and former BernCo Treasurer Pat Padilla. The GOP is eying Demesia Padilla, head of the state taxation and revenue department as a possible nominee.

If Eichenberg and Wertheim clash, will it benefit Padilla? Eichenberg supporters say Wertheim is out of his element, given that he does not have a financial background.

Wertheim's wife, Bianca, is the state director for US Senator Tom Udall.

On the economic front, Sen. Udall raised eyebrows when he recently supported Governor Martinez's corporate tax cut that was staunchly opposed by Dem Party progressives. That's the wing of the party that Wertheim will need to beat Eichenberg and Padilla.

Wertheim, a native New Mexican, has been an analyst for our KANW-FM radio broadcasts for over 10 years. He has also appeared regularly on public television to analyze political developments.

SMITH HIT

Media pressure is being placed on State Senator John Arthur Smith to allow a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to fund very early childhood programs.

Smith, a conservative Dem and chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, opposes the amendment that would tap the state's Permanent Fund for about $100 million a year for the programs.

The plan requires the Legislature to allow a vote of the people, but Smith has repeatedly blocked consideration of the measure, even though it has passed the Democratic House.

Now supporters are getting more direct, They cut a 60 second radio spot that is playing in Smith's district in the Deming and Las Cruces areas. It's sponsored by the advocacy group--Center for Civic Policy. It urges Smith to allow a vote in his committee and can be heard here.

New Mexico slid to 50th--dead last--in the latest Anne E. Casey Foundation rankings for child well-being in the USA. That is putting more pressure Santa Fe to do something. The amendment is seen by advocates as a way of reaching children in the years when they are most impressionable--aged zero to five.

Smith and other opponents--including Governor Martinez--say tapping the Permanent Fund would jeopardize the state's fiscal standing. They have supported increased childhood funding from regular appropriations.

As the debate heats up you have to wonder if Senators allied with Smith will also be feeling media heat to push the chairman to allow a vote on that amendment in the '14 session.

WHAT GOP?


Steve Pearce isn't exactly touting today's Republicanism as he officially announces he will seek another two year term in the US House from southern NM:

Southern New Mexicans want someone who listens to them and stand up for their concerns and not cater to any one political party. For that reason I feel that I am still the best choice to represent the second Congressional District in Congress.

Sounds likes Steve is attempting to tap into the libertarian streak we are seeing in the SE part of the district and the increasing number of independent voters who are unhappy with Congress and both political parties.

Meanwhile, national Dems are getting ready to target Pearce. They and the locals are keeping the pressure on:

Pearce on Monday asked for a refund of $10,000 that his campaign donated to launch a conservative political action committee. Pearce’s decision came after the chairwoman of the Dona Ana County Democratic Party alleged that the congressman’s contribution was illegal under federal campaign law. Todd Willens, a spokesman for Pearce, said a letter seeking return of the money had been sent to the political committee Goal WestPac. Willens said nothing was done improperly, but Pearce wanted to recover the money to exercise “abundance of caution.”

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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