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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Teacher Test Controversy Makes It To Campaign Trail; NM Competes Is Back, Plus: Morales Hires Speaker Martinez Operative As Manager, And: Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz Goes Rogue; Who Will Rope Him In?  

The dark money group that sprouted wings for Susana over the behavioral health crisis is back on the campaign circuit.

This time "NM Competes," headed up by longtime NM GOP political operative Sara Lister, has the Governor's back over intense criticism she is getting over a new teacher evaluation and student testing system.

The Public Education Department is bypassing the Legislature, saying it has the power to impose the teacher evaluation program on its own.

We've posted part of a large mailer that hit households this week as teachers rallied against the evaluations and ABQ Public School Board member Kathy Korte clashed publicly and vocally with the Governor (Complete mailer here.)

The mailer argues in favor of the evaluations and does not mention Governor Martinez by name.

Following the money maze, we have the Governor's official campaign account with over $3 million in cash, SusanaPAC--her political action committee, NM Reform--the PAC used to go after Dem legislative candidates and support R's. And NM Competes--a group that is not supposed to coordinate any of its activities with the Governor--but nevertheless is becoming a major player in the '14 race.

And, of course, it goes without saying that there are "dark money" groups like NM Competes supporting the Dems.

And you wonder why the public's eyes glaze over when they hear about money and politics?

ON ANOTHER FRONT

NM Competes is also active on the radio dial as we hear in this reader report:

This morning when I was driving in to work I heard a new ad from New Mexico Competes. I do not remember the ad verbatim but it starts out criticizing the recent government shutdown and then starts praising Martinez and our "legislative leaders" for working together on the budget in the last legislative session. The ad talks about the need to diversify our economy, and mentions what happened last session. I think it also mentions how we can not rely on federal funds anymore. The ad then tells listeners to call their "legislative leaders" and thank them for what they did. It is largely a Martinez piece under the guise of being a thank-your legislator piece.

MANAGING MORALES

Dem political consultant Jon Lipshutz has been signed by State Senator Howie Morales to manage his bid for the '14 Dem Guv nod.

 Liphshutz is a Pennsylvania native who worked for House Speaker Kenny Martinez in the 2012 cycle when the Dems picked up two state House seats. Since then he has continued to advise Martinez and work in local political races.

In 2008, he worked for the Dem congressional campaign committee here when Martin Heinrich and Harry Teague both won US House seats.

Lipshutz says it is "the energy and the drive" of Morales that will set the Silver City native apart from the other candidates. Those candidates are Attorney General Gary King and ABQ State Senator Linda Lopez.

FINDING FAULT

Governor Martinez faces a stagnant jobs picture as we near the election year. Her strategy to cope with it? Here's what she had to say at an appearance in Denver this week:

When the national economy is stagnant, it is difficult, of course, for states to grow,” Martinez said while criticizing the recent federal government shutdown. “So it is incumbent on the states to foster an environment where businesses can grow with or without the help of the federal government.”

What the Governor did not mention is that it has not been nearly as difficult for neighboring states to rebound from the Great Recession as it has been for us. Are there policies and programs that could hasten our recovery here instead of just blaming it all on the national economy? That's the stuff of which campaigns are made.

ROGUE TREASURER

Rogue Treasurer Ortiz
If we had our druthers county treasurers would be appointed by the county commissions whose elected members are answerable directly to the public. Why? Look at what's happening in downtown ABQ where Bernalillo County Treasurer Manny Ortiz has gone rogue.

Ortiz is investing in long term investments that pose a threat to the financial stability of the state's largest county. GOP Commissioner Lonnie Talbert and the other commissioners have tried to rope him in, but Ortiz, a Democrat, is hearing none of it, pointing out that he is independently elected and has the power to direct county investments the way he chooses.

There is bipartisan agreement on the commission that we can't have the treasurer going rogue. If Ortiz continues to refuse to cooperate, can the commission and taxpayers get some guidance from the local government division of the Department of Finance and Administration on how to proceed? (he state securities division is now looking at the treasurers investments)>

Also, can we get a look at the financial firms that are collecting fees on our investments and if they are in any way encouraging this rogue behavior? Some serious heat needs to be applied on everything and everyone the recalcitrant Ortiz has his fingerprints on.

And look who is advising Ortiz. It's none other than former county treasurer Patrick Padilla who is now a Dem candidate for state Treasurer. Pat, do yourself and all of us a favor and get Manny back on the ranch.

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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