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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Campaign '14: Latest On AG Race, The Guv Chase And Party Strategies, Plus: Attention Ladies: You Must Submit To Steve Pearce 

Let's head out to the '14 campaign trail where we find the race for attorney general taking shape.

Susan Riedel, a former chief deputy district attorney under then-Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez, confirms she is seeking the GOP nod for AG. Riedel, who was appointed as a Las Cruces district court judge by Gov. Martinez, immediately becomes the front-runner in her contest with ABQ attorney Paul Baiamonte. Her ties to the sitting Governor will give her the inside track on the campaign cash.

Top tier GOP prospects Matt Chandler and Amy Orlando are taking a pass on the AG's contest...

Riedel can grab the nomination but beating Hector Balderas, the current state auditor and unopposed Dem contender for AG, will be a different matter. No R has been elected AG since '86.

But with wild west campaign money laws, Balderas has to be concerned truck loads of out-of-state cash could come in to try to take him out. He says in a fund-raising pitch in reacting to Riedel's entry:

When the dark money starts pouring in from out of state, we'll be relying on our grassroots supporters right here in New Mexico to keep us standing strong.

A secondary motive for the R's when it comes to Balderas is mucking him up, even if they can't beat him. They don't like the talk that if he gets to be AG, he will make a run for Guv in '18 if Susana is re-elected this year.

THE PLAYBOOK

You have to like the R's playbook from a strategic point of view. They have female candidates for Governor and attorney general as well as Dianna Duran for secretary of state, even as the GOP membership is weighted toward men.

As far as the Dems getting a constitutional amendment or two placed on the November ballot that would help them drive voter turnout, there seems little chance.

At the legislative session conservative Dem and Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith signaled this week he will work to kill the amendment to legalize marijuana. He is also digging in his heels on the proposal to increase funding for early childhood programs via the state Permanent Fund. Either constitutional amendment could draw heavy Democratic crowds to the polls.

But what about Smith getting chastised by NM Dem Party Chairman Bregman for not allowing a vote on that early childhood amendment? One of our Alligators in attendance with Smith at this week's Sierra County dinner dinner reports:

Smith isn't going to move an inch and the Bregman remarks have made Smith think he's on a crusade.

HOW IT WORKS

If you are new to La Politica, be reminded that the state Senate is ruled by a coalition of Republicans and conservative Dems. Smith is the ringleader of the "Martinez Democrats." Often along for the ride with him are Dem Senators Mary Kay Papen, George Munoz, Clemente Sanchez and John Sapien.

There are 42 state Senators--17 of them Republicans. When five of the Dems team with them, they kill liberal leaning legislation. On tie votes of 21 to 21 GOP Lt. Governor Sanchez will break the tie in favor of the coalition.

THE GUV CHASE

In the race for the Dem nomination for Governor Santa Fe's Alan Webber has hired Leanne Leith as deputy campaign manager. She is well-known in Santa Fe for guiding the political strategy of the Conservation Voters of NM. Veteran political consultant Neri Holguin is managing Webber's effort....

State Sen. Howie Morales is boasting of this endorsement of his Guy candidacy:

Nationally renowned education leader Diane Ravitch announced her support of Senator Morales’ bid (for) Governor. Ravitch has established herself as a national education leader through her work as a teacher, policy analyst, author, federal administrator and historian. She served on the National Assessment Governing Board under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Morales started his career as a special education teacher...

Phil Sisneros, the director of communications for Attorney General Gary King, who is also a Dem candidate for Governor, writes:

I am wondering why no one seems to remember how Susana Martinez built her image as a tough DA prosecutor by exploiting the death of "Baby Briana." To say that the Attorney General is using the death of 9 year old Omaree Varela solely to advance his political interests is hypocritical and ignores the fact that it is part of his job as the AG to look into such tragic cases. 

By the way, it would seem only responsible to mention that Gov. Martinez is seeking re-election when pointing out that the AG is seeking to oppose her. Not doing so gives the impression that everything the Governor does is because she is governor, conversely, everything the AG does is because he is running for elected office?

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Back on that constitutional amendment on early childhood, reader Ellen Gore, who describes herself as an early childhood educator, writes:

Joe, I would be interested in asking Senator John Arthur Smith and the “Martinez Democrats” when will be the right time to dip into the so called “rainy day fund.” Is it after we have been ranked 50th in child well-being and early education for 5 years? 6 years? 10 years? By that time we will have perpetuated the cycle of poverty ten times over. By then even fewer New Mexico children will be reading by 3rd grade, even fewer New Mexico teens will be graduating from high school, and even fewer New Mexico young adults will be prepared for college. By then, it will not just be raining, it will be pouring.

THE MONEY

Funding for the public schools and higher ed comprises the lion's share of the New Mexico budget. Here's a complete primer for the education junkies among us as authored by Save Our Schools Los Alamos.

LADIES, YOU MUST SUBMIT

Pearce & wife Cynthia
We didn't read southern NM GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce's new autobiography but the WaPo did and this quote from it is giving him plenty of headaches this week:

"The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice," he writes, citing the Bible. "The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else."

That had Pearce's probable '14 Dem challenger--Rocky Lara--coming with this reaction:

(It's) no surprise given his long voting record against women. As a woman who worked my way through law school and opened a small business in Carlsbad, I am appalled by Congressman Pearce’s offensive rhetoric. My father and mother raised me to believe that if I worked hard I would always have access to the same opportunities as my brother.

Come on, Rocky. Submit to Steve. How can you resist? And, Steve, how does this submit deal work in gay marriages? And how about at least giving some candy or flowers before the wives have to submit?

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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