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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Big Bill Ponders How To Rehab His New Mexico Image; Also Takes First Jab At Susana, Plus: Howie Makes Three, Also: Musings Over the Downs Deal 

Two Guvs
A friend of former Governor Big Bill told us over lunch the other day that Richardson is thinking about ways to "rehab" his image in fair New Mexico. He's not doing too badly around the rest of the nation, appearing regularly on national news programs, sitting on boards and releasing a new book--"How to Sweet talk a Shark" based on his experience in international diplomacy.

Richardson left the Guv's office under a cloud after serving eight years.. He had to withdraw his nomination to become Obama's Commerce Secretary because of a federal probe into pay-to-play allegations. Nothing came of it, but the probe had much to do with Bill's approval ratings plunging into the low 30 percent area. This from a Governor who in 2006 wracked up the biggest margin of victory in a Governor's race in state history when he shellacked John Dendahl 69% to 31%.

Richardson has refrained from commenting about his successor who captured the Guv's job largely by condemning Richardson and his performance. But in his new book he does give Susana Martinez a brief mention and it hints of the bitterness he feels over her campaign:

Predictably, as she prepared to take over the governor’s office, my reactionary, vindictive successor Susana Martinez tried to gain points by claiming she wouldn’t focus on such trivial matters and that considering a pardon of (Billy the) Kid would be a ‘waste of time.’ But it was easy to dismiss her complaining; she doesn’t understand or appreciate the deep veins of culture and history that course through New Mexico.

Martinez's office had no comment.

By most accounts Bill had a stellar first term as the state's chief executive. He mastered the legislature--some would say buffaloed it--and accomplished much. The second term is when the pay-to-play allegations took hold and the economy went bust and with it Big Bill's polling numbers.

That Richardson would like to "rehabilitate" his image in the state is no surprise. He was born to campaign. Rebranding himself here would be his last and perhaps the most challenging race of all for this political thoroughbred.

AND HOWIE MAKES 3

State Sen. Howie Morales, 40, made it official Tuesday and became the third contender for the '14 Dem Guv nomination. He made his announcement in Silver City.

While hospital administrator Morales was doing his thing, Guv hopeful and ABQ State Sen. Linda Lopez was slamming Attorney General Gary King, the front runner for the Dem nomination:

In a feeble attempt to placate the public’s demand to know the details behind the Martinez Administration’s undisclosed accusations of fraud against as many as 15 New Mexico behavioral heath providers, the Attorney General’s office release of a heavily redacted audit only muddies and delays the issue further. 

And one of the few things we were actually able to glean from the audit was that auditors from Massachusetts-based Public Consulting Group Inc. (PCG) wrote that “PCG’s Case File Audit did not uncover what it would consider to be credible allegations of fraud, nor any significant concerns related to consumer safety.

Lopez has fight, but no money yet. As of Oct. 7, she only had about $16,000 in cash on hand, compared to King's $142,000. Governor Martinez had $3.3 million in cash on hand.

We made a mistake when we blogged earlier that Martinez had a 15 to 1 cash advantage over her Dem rivals. It is actually 20 to 1. 

As for Howie, Dem consultant Alan Packman says his strongest assets are his youth and appeal to the liberal wing of the party.

Here is Morales' complete speech announcing his candidacy. 

DOWNS DOINGS

A reader writes and urges interested legislators and the media to take a look at this:

It would be interesting to have someone file an open records request to see how much the State Fair lost during its live horse racing meet during the fair. The state's new lease with the Downs racino calls for the Fair to share in 50% of the losses related to live racing during the State Fair meet. 

Don't ask me how I know, but the Fair's "take" of this loss from 2012 was in the neighborhood of $320,000. Of course, there could have been some very creative accounting to come up with the racing loss. I'm not sure why the Martinez administration ever agreed to share in the live racing loss as part of the "new deal" when everyone knows that the reason for the existence of racinos is to offset the losses associated with live racing.

State Auditor Balderas still has the Fair's 6/30/12 audit under review. The gem outlined above will be reflected in the Fair's 6/30/13 audit. Can't Balderas get these audits out to the public? I have no idea what the share of loss is for the Fair for 2013 racing, but I would guess it is similar. I still wonder why no one explored the option of the state pursuing its own racino license and hiring someone to manage the operation under a management contract.

The controversial 25 year lease approved by the Martinez administration for the Downs has been the subject of an FBI investigation, according to the ABQ Journal. The extent or depth of that probe is unknown.

NEW LOBBYIST

From a news release:

David Oakeley has been named Government Affairs Director for the Realtors Association of New Mexico (RANM), Steven Anaya, Chief Executive Officer, announced. Oakeley will help lobby on behalf of RANM and assist in the development of strategies to achieve the Association’s legislative goals. He also will monitor and track state and federal legislative issues and help keep the membership informed.

Oakley is a Taos native with a lengthy media and marketing background who worked as a legislative analyst for RANM during the 2011 Legislature.

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