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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting Dems Excited; It May Be Big Issue, Not Candidates; Fight To Put Early Childhood On Ballot Intensifies; Dem Sens Smith & Sapien Pressured, Plus: McEntee Steps Up For R's For ABQ Congress Seat 

Sen. Smith
If it's true as observers have been arguing here that state Dems could be headed for a bruising at the polls next year, just what will get them out of their seats and into the voting booths to avert humiliation in the Governor's race and a possible GOP takeover of the state House? Maybe it's not a particular candidate--but a big idea.

That leads Dem consultants to that proposal that would have the state wage war against its standing as the worst in the nation for child well-being.

The focus being a proposed constitutional amendment that would have state voters decide if the Land Grant Permanent Fund (current value of over $12 billion) should be tapped for about $100 million a year to invest in very early childhood education.

The amendment has a great deal of appeal to the Democratic base--especially women--who comprise a majority of the party. And Hispanics--another large Dem voting block--would benefit most from the new investment since it is Hispanic and Native American children who lag the most.

All in all, if the amendment were to be placed on the ballot it would seem to have a good chance of provoking some passion and thus stoking Democratic turnout.

But to get it on the '14 ballot it has to be approved by the state Senate and House (the Governor's approval is not needed for constitutional amendments. She is against this one). And that's where the party finds itself split between its conservative and liberal wings.

While the amendment has enough support in the House, conservative Democratic State Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of the powerful finance committee and a staunch economic policy ally of Martinez's, refuses to allow his committee to vote on the bill.

Now with Dems facing a potential debacle next year pressure continues to grow on Smith to allow the amendment to got o a vote. And it's not longer just back room bitching. The liberal advocacy group, Center for Civic Policy (CCP), is airing a radio ad in the ABQ market, hammering Smith's refusal to allow a vote. From the ad:

Isn't protecting children more important than protecting politicians?...Senator John Arthur Smith is...blocking the bill from even being heard..His excuse for obstruction? Senator Smith said: My colleagues on Senate Finance did not want to have a vote on that bill...Smith went on to say he agreed to protect his fellow senators from criticism...Call Senator John Arthur Smith today. Tell him political cronies aren't the one who needs protection right now. It's time to take care of our kids. Give early childhood education a chance....

WHAT SAY SAPIEN?

The battle for the amendment has now also taken in State Senator John Sapien, chairman of the Senate Education Committee who, like Smith, rejects the amendment.

 A radio ad is now up (also from CCP) urging the Sandoval County Senator to yield and support a vote on the amendment.

Senators don't stand for re-election until 2016 so there is no immediate political threat to Smith and Sapien, but they could face primary challenges in '16 if their resistance continues. Those radio ads are evidence of that.

For now, when the Legislature meets in January with a prospective Democratic election rout as a backdrop, there will likely be even more pressure on the duo to take down their blockade against the amendment.

HOW LOW?

It may have been an historic margin of victory for Mayor Berry when he was re-elected October 8 but it also made history for being one of the lowest voter turnouts in decades.

The final canvass from the city shows only 70,500 voters out of the 364,000 registered bothered to cast ballots. That means only 19.3% of eligible voters showed up. It was the lowest total number of votes cast for mayor since 1977 when about 58,000 voted, according to our records.

As for the final percentages in the mayoral race, Berry received 68.10%, Pete Dinelli 28.72%, Paul Heh 3.10% and write-in candidates had 0.08%.

Berry's second term runs until December 1, 2017. He's expected to go the distance, although some R's would like to see him turn right around and run for US Senate against Dem Tom Udall next year.

A poll conducted Sunday night that our readers inform us about pitted Berry and several other candidates against Udall.

All scenarios for all statewide offices--no matter how far out--stay on the table until February 4 when candidates are required to file petition signatures to get on the June primary ballot.

MAC IS BACK

Mike McEntee
Former ABQ GOP City Councilor Mike McEntee, who got into trouble with his then-federal employer when he openly ran as a Republican in the 2001 ABQ mayoral race, came back to the political arena Monday. He announced that he will seek the GOP nomination for the ABQ congressional seat held by first term Democrat Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

McEntee was suspended from his job as an air traffic controller for violating the Hatch Act during that mayoral contest, but now that he's seeking broad support in the heavy Dem ABQ district, he is--ironically--calling for less partisanship:

Shocking partisan hostility in Washington is out of control. Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, we are all Americans. That is the glue that binds us all together. A failure to build a consensus for the good of the American people is completely unacceptable.

McEntee retired from his air traffic controller job. He has now left his job with the city of ABQ Municipal Development Department to pursue the US House bid.

If McEntee, a grad of ABQ's St. Pius X High School, is to have a serious shot at Grisham, he will have to raise a boatload of cash and also separate himself from the more strident faction of the House GOP that insisted on shutting down the government.

NOT OUSTED?

Agnes Maldonado, the former executive director of the NM Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, writes:

I am writing to set the record straight about the section in your blog on October 17, 2013 regarding my departure from the NMDDPC. Please be clear. I was not "ousted" as you stated...The whole matter arose from allegations from {attorney} Bob McNeil making claims that are damaging to my character and reputation. Such claims should be verified before being posted on a public blog and damaging my reputation. Somebody used your blog as a medium to damage my reputation. I did talk to the chair of the board of DDPC to let her know about the blog and to send you a letter to set the record straight
.

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