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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rumblings From Religious Right Over Martinez And Adviser McCleskey; Dem Guv Candidates Come With More Heat, Plus: Balderas Steps It Up As Intrigue Continues In AG Race, Also: Native American Makes Play For Lt. Gov. 

Hey, what's with all the news? Bloggers need time to have their turkey, too. Okay, we know we're blessed year round with abundant turkeys, courtesy of our beloved La Politica. So it's off to the action now as we all prepare to break for the holiday...

The religious right is taking notice of that harsh National Journal article about the Governor's political adviser Jay McCleskey. As a result they're creating some headaches for Susana.

Dewey Moede, the pastor of ABQ's For God's Glory Alone Ministries," sent the lengthy article to his followers, explaining his discontent with McCleskey this way:

. . . .As it stands right now I will vote for her in the next election. But I cannot help but wonder if McCleskey is one of, if not the the main reason, Governor Martinez did not take a stand against late-term abortion in Albuquerque, a tougher stand on same sex marriage and other conservative issues. 

Christians from all over America were saddened to hear that Governor Martinez, the one who they cheered at the Republican National Convention, failed to support the late-term abortion ban. This is an interesting read from The National Journal on McCleskey’s influence on the Governor. 

Five Dems are competing for their party's Guv nomination in the June primary. Martinez has no Republican primary challenger. It's expected to stay that way but the Guv has to be a bit on edge about the turmoil being reported over her and Jay in her own party.

Filing day for Governor is February 4th and until then Martinez and McCleskey will keep a close eye on not only the Dems but also on any wayward Republicans who might want to complicate matters.

BEATABLE OR UNBEATABLE?

In the aftermath of the fall-out over the National Journal piece, the Dems are trying to reverse the conventional wisdom that Martinez is unbeatable. They had the same problem with the re-election campaign of ABQ GOP Mayor Berry whose campaigns have also been run by McCleskey. While there was a buffet of bad economic news, voters who showed up did not blame it on the mayor. He was re-elected in a landslide.

Now a year before the election Martinez faces similar circumstances. The economy is stagnant and the state continues to draw poor reviews. The latest comes from the website 24/7 Wall Street. It says its "extensive" survey puts NM 49th on the list of "Worst Run States in America:"

New Mexico was among the worst 10 nationwide for violent crime, high school graduation rates among adults, and health insurance coverage. More than one in five residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, worse than all states but Mississippi. Last year, state GDP grew by just 0.2%, worse than all but a handful of states.

The Dem challenge, as it was in the mayor race, is to connect the bad news directly to the Guv.

HERE'S HOWIE

State Senator Howie Morales was the only one of the five Dem Guv candidates to not put out a statement immediately following that scathing National Journal article on McCleskey. But he has now.

Morales wants to know just how much private consultant McCleskey is involving himself in state government policy and decisions and if he is in violation of the law. The Morales release:

Senator Morales submitted IPRA requests to fourteen state agencies inquiring about the role of Governor Martinez's political director, Jay McCleskey, in influencing state policies. The IPRA requests inquire about:

• Records of emails exchanged between state officials, and or staff from these various offices and agencies and Mr. McCleskey in which state business was discussed.

• Records of meetings of state officials, and or staff with Mr. McCleskey regarding public information in which official state business was discussed.

"Developments have come to light suggesting numerous, potentially illegal activities conducted by Mr. McCleskey," said Senator Morales.. . . Mr. McCleskey is more involved in the policy making and inner working of our government than what we had previously believed.  

It's going to be interesting indeed to see what comes of the IPRA request. And how long can the ABQ Journal ignore the developing Dem firestorm over Jay? This is official government business now, isn't it?

(A Journal columnist Wednesday came with a review of the National Journal article. It remains to be seen whether the paper or other media will dig in and find out if McCleskey is essentially running the government as so many allege and of which the National Journal offered ample examples.)

THE OFFICE ISSUE

Dem Guv candidate Lawrence Rael says the state auditor should take a look at the alleged use of state government property by Guv adviser McCleskey who is not a government employee:

I am calling on State Auditor Hector Balderas to immediately investigate the McCleskey-Martinez administration, and all the revelations of potentially illegal use of state resources to support blatantly partisan political activities that do nothing to create value for New Mexicans. It is wrong, it must stop, and New Mexicans deserve to know the truth about how deep these potentially illegal actions go.

In that National Journal piece on McCleskey's activities the Guv's office denied he conducted business in a small, closet-like ante-chamber right next to Martinez. The allegation was made by former Martinez fund-raiser Andrea Goff who says McCleskey showed off the space to her.

Jay McCleskey is a valued political adviser to the governor who operates outside of state government, meaning he's never had an office in the Roundhouse during the Martinez administration.

That item conjured up memories of the discovery during the Richardson years that a private investment consultant was allowed to share office space with the State Investment Officer. How cozy can it get in Santa Fe?

Meanwhile, the state still awaits from Balderas his final audit of the controversial 25 year racino lease for the Downs at ABQ. Will it pack any punch? The lease has been an unpleasant headline maker for the administration for over two years, amid allegations of bid-rigging.

BALDERAS STEPS UP

Susana & Amy
While we await the Downs audit Balderas is stepping things up in other areas.

He came with a finding this week that the Bernalillo County Treasurer broke the law in connection with the county's investment scandal. He followed that up by getting a subpoena to investigate why a report his office was given from the NM Human Services Department was altered to remove a conclusion that no "credible evidence" of fraud was found in the department's investigation of mental health providers.

The allegations from the Martinez administration that there has been fraud have been politically explosive. If it's found not to be so, the Governor is going to take a hit.

It's a good time to again put Balderas in political context. He is running for the Dem nod for attorney general but doesn't know who his GOP opponent will be. Remember, we floated the speculation that former Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando--a BFF of Governor Susana--was being talked about as a possible GOP candidate.

That has set Balderas supporters back on their heels. There is near universal agreement that Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler would be a tough GOP foe for Balderas, but perhaps not as tough and tricky as Orlando.

Also, we reported here that Orlando was one of the GOP political figures this August who attended that secretive political meeting in Bernalillo put on by the ultra-conservative billionaire Koch brothers. Susana, of course, was also there.

So we are waiting to see if Amy is going to get in this thing and if she does if she is financed by dark cash from the Koch brothers.

If Orlando were the nominee, the R's would have three Hispanic surnamed female candidates at the top of their '14 ticket. Susana for Governor, Secretary of State Dianna Duran and attorney general nominee Orlando who is Anglo, but married to an Hispanic man. And a fourth--taxation and revenue secretary Demesia Padilla--is said to be poised to seek the GOP nod for state treasurer.

That looks like a pretty good strategic move, if it comes down. And only talk of it is enough to put an extra bounce in the step of Balderas as he prepares for the battle ahead.

LIGHT GUV

Haaland
We wondered when a Democrat known within the party would finally step up and run for lieutenant governor. Now someone has. Debra Haaland who served as Obama's Native American Vote Director, says she will seek the Dem nod for the #2 spot on the '14 Dem ticket.

If Haaland were to win she would be the first Native American on a New Mexico gubernatorial ticket.

I hope that my candidacy will bring to light that there are barriers to be broken, and that is what I plan to do. I am proud to be enrolled at Laguna Pueblo and to have worked hard to increase participation of Native Americans in the political process. The next step in that process is to get elected to statewide office so that there will be further representation of the needs of Native Americans and all New Mexicans on a statewide level.”

Native Americans have been making gradual inroads into state politics but it's been slow, even though they make up 10 percent of the state's population.

It may be hard to believe today, but New Mexico Native Americans were not allowed to vote in the state until 1948. That hampered their integration into the political process.

Haaland, 52,  has already received the endorsements of Dem Guv candidates Alan Webber and Howie Morales.

And here's an interesting note. Haaland's paid job is chairwoman of the Laguna Development Corporation--the losing competitor to the Downs at ABQ for that controversial  racino lease.

Did we say Happy Thanksgiving? Well, we wish you and yours just that. And a hearty thanks for your continued support and for making this little ol' spot....The Home of New Mexico Politics.

I'm Joe Monahan, reporting from Albuquerque

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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