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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

First Test Of Possible Strength For Dem Guv Candidates Comes Today, Plus: Battle For State House; R's Get Candidate For Key Northern Race, And: Readers Are On The Econ Beat 

Will we get an inkling today of who is in the top tier among the five Democratic candidates for Governor? Maybe. The hopefuls will file petition signatures with the secretary of state's office--a major step toward qualifying for the June primary ballot.

Gary King could top the list for the most number of nominating signatures submitted. His campaign says he will turn in over 10,000 signatures of registered Democrats today. He and the other Dem contenders need 2,186 to win consideration for the June primary ballot at the party's March pre-primary convention.

 If a candidate does not get 20% of the delegates' support at the pre-primary, they have to submit additional signatures to win a spot on the ballot, No candidate who has failed to break the 20% mark at a pre-primary has ever gone on to win a major party's nomination for statewide office.

That's a lot of signatures for King and shows organizational strength but he continues to battle persistent pushback to his candidacy from Dems who feel his record as attorney general has weakened him. But his backers say the 10,000 signatures show widespread support for his candidacy among party rank and file.

King is the leader in name ID in the early going, but it seems no candidate has yet caught fire. In a recent test of candidate strength at a convention of Santa Fe Dems "undecided" emerged as the undisputed leader.

The other candidates in the race are Linda Lopez, Lawrence Rael, Alan Webber and Howie Morales. Governor Martinez is unopposed for the Republican nomination.

HOUSE BATTLE

If the Governor's race doesn't take off, there will still be plenty of election year excitement. That battle for control of the state House will be dramatic no matter what is happening at the top of the ticket. In that regard Republicans have found a candidate to take on Los Alamos and Santa Fe area Dem state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard. He is Geoff Rodgers, chairman of the Los Alamos County Council.

Rodgers, 52, served 12 years as transportation director for Los Alamos Schools. He previously served as an Army helicopter pilot. In 2008 he says he became a stay at home dad for his two sons.

This could be a key race for control of the House. Rep. Richard has been personally roasted by Gov. Martinez who accuses her of not fully backing her when it comes to repealing driver's licenses for undocumented workers.

Rodgers has political experience--he is serving his second term on the Los Alamos council--but GOP experts say the ideal candidate would have been an Hispanic from the rural area of the district. Still, this remains a race to watch in the battle for control of the House--at least until we do polling and it tells us otherwise.

ANOTHER HOT SPOT

Dems are very concerned about the health of Las Cruces area state Rep. Phil Archuleta. He has been unable to attend the legislative session as he recovers from hip surgery. His race is also a key one for battle for control of the House. The Dems have only narrow control. If Archuleta's health does not recover and he is permanently sidelined, our Cruces Alligators say look for Las Cruces City Councilor Nathan Small to step in. The R's are fielding former Dem state Rep. turned Republican Andy Nunez.

THE ECON BEAT

A reader writes with the latest economic news in ABQ:

Joe, I was talking to my neighbor who works for UNIRAC, an Albuquerque manufacturer of solar panel mounting hardware. He reports they just laid off 25% or 30 out of 120 employees of their workforce. Since this is just the kind business Albuquerque is hoping to attract in the future, this is not very good news. Guess those recently passed corporate tax breaks didn't help much.

Reader Jon Goldstein comes with these insights:

Joe, Great coverage of NM's anemic economic recovery. You are providing an important public service by connecting the dots and posing the important questions that policy makers need to consider moving forward.

Here's another aspect to consider: There is an $182 million industry that supports more than 3,000 jobs in NM that is also looking at a troubling future. That is the economic impact of winter tourism in NM. The current record streak of dry winter days in Santa Fe and ABQ as well as the recent report that lack of snow may force the permanent closure of Pajarito ski area in Los Alamos after more than a half century in operation are further underlining a troubling trend.

Are these lower precipitation totals the new normal as climate scientists have warned for the Southwest? What are the state's plans to address this issue and protect these jobs? Just another angle to consider in the very important story of NM's economic future.

TOUGH TALK

The election year tough talk is underway. Gov. Martinez can expect more hits like this one delivered in the Sun-News by Las Cruces activist Michael Hays:

{Martinez} has demonstrated the incompetence, corruption, and contempt for others which she criticized in her predecessor. She falsely alleged 64,000 cases of suspected voter fraud, misused state police, wasted money, and dodged accountability. . . .She falsely accused mental health organizations of fraud and withheld their funding to justify an earlier, secret, sole-source contract to an out-of-state company to handle mental health services in the state. She has repeatedly fought access to public records. Everything about her approach to government suggests that she is a small-minded, mean-spirited, but ambitious prosecutor-turned-politician who counts on her gender and ethnicity to advance her interests by exploiting the allegiance of women and Hispanics whom she has not well served.

Hays, a retired teacher also does some blogging. 

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