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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guv Is Dubbed "Susana Barracuda" As National Media Continues Probing, Plus: Fouratt To Guv's Cabinet, The Tesla Tease And Yet Another State Rep To Retire 

National media coverage of Gov. Martinez has gotten more salty in the aftermath of that groundbreaking piece from the National Journal on the inner workings of her administration.

Real Clear Politics comes this week with a 4,100 word missive diving deep into all things Martinez. They headline it: "Susana Barracuda: Does Bigger Stage Await Gov. Martinez?"

That reference to the predatory barracuda signals that the prosecutorial side of Martinez's political personality is beginning to be factored in as pundits and others weigh her national ambitions. The superficial portrait of Martinez as the up and coming first female Hispanic Governor is not fading away, but is being augmented by more critical reporting as we draw closer to the '16 cycle (at least national reporting).

The author of the RCP piece--Scott Conroy--wrote a book on Sarah Palin who in 2010 played a key role in getting Martinez the GOP Guv nomination  He draws some interesting comparisons between the two governors. And, as it did in the National Journal piece, the soft underbelly of Susana land surfaces--the controversial ABQ Downs racino lease. The FBI has an active investigation underway into that lease.

FOURATT'S MOVE

Fouratt (Bralley)
Gov. Martinez named former acting US Attorney Greg Fouratt--an archival of former Dem Guv Bill Richardson--as the new head of the NM Department of Public Safety. He replaces Gorden Eden who is the new ABQ police chief.

Fouratt, who is a 17 year prosecutor in the US attorney's office, relentlessly pursued pay to play allegations against Richardson, but never did get an indictment. However, Fouratt did have success in sending former State Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon to jail on corruption charges,

Governor Martinez's administration is now embroiled in her own pay to play problem over that Downs racino lease. Fouratt won't be sticking around for that one. After 17 years, he leaves his prosecutor chores at the US attorney's office to become a member of her cabinet. How much in the loop he has been on that Downs investigation is open to speculation and what his departure means to that probe--if anything--can only be speculated about. He is a hard-core Republican and close to the inner circle surrounding Martinez.

Fouratt, who grew up in Roswell, has been a powerhouse at the US attorney's office. Even when Kenneth Gonzales came in as US attorney under President Obama, insiders say Fouratt's influence remained prominent. Gonzales has left to become a judge. The new US Attorney will be Damon Martinez--another veteran prosecutor in the office. He is a Dem whose nomination awaits US Senate approval.

THE TESLA TEASE

New Mexico is in the middle of the Tesla tease. The electric car manufactures says our enchanted land along with Arizona, Nevada and and Texas, are on the final list for where the company will locate a huge battery factory. That may seem like a come down because when the news of Tesla toying with New Mexico was first reported on your blog, a Wall St. analyst said New Mexico was the "likely location."

Tesla says the factory could cost up to $5 billion to build and employ up to 6,500. A 2017 opening is planned.

So should we all call CNM and ask them to start a class for us on battery making? Well, not so fast. Nevada may have a leg up on us because it is closer to Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters and is a great location for solar energy which would be used by the factory. But the big Nevada advantage could be this: The Silver State has the only active lithium mine in the country. That's the key ingredient for the electric car batteries.

And one more thing. Our Senior Alligators point out that Nevada is home to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who says he is seeking re-election in 2016. He could use a coup like Tesla to kick-start his effort in job needy Nevada.

Tesla now has the advantage of playing the four finalist states off one another as they all drool over the prospect of those thousands of jobs. Will one of the state's give up the store to get the factory? Stay tuned. . . .

The Alligators were getting in on the Tesla tease. One of them writes:

Joe, just have Tesla take over the Intel building in Rio Rancho for that battery factory. The way things are going they should be out of there in a year or two..."

And another:

Well, Susana may have her very own billionaire. Big Bill had Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic. Now she has Tesla billionaire Elon Musk promising the moon.

MAKE IT EIGHT

Your blogger
Make it eight. That's the number of incumbent state representatives choosing the retirement rocking chair over another round trip to the Roundhouse. Veteran Ed Sandoval chairman of the powerful House Taxation and Revenue Committee--will not seek re-election. He is third in seniority in the 70 member chamber, having been first elected to the ABQ North Valley seat in 1983.

The Sandoval seat is safe D an will not play a role in the coming battle for control of the House in which the Dems have a narrow majority. As for tax and rev, Santa Fe Rep. Jim Trujillo is vice-chair and in line for the chairmanship--but only if the Dems keep the majority.

The first candidate for the Sandoval seat is out of the gate. It's Deborah Armstrong:

Ms. Armstrong has over 25 years of experience in public policy and health care and is a Democrat, small business owner, licensed New Mexico attorney, former Cabinet Secretary for the NM Aging and Long Term Services Dept. and a former physical therapist. 

Other House news....Rod Montoya, a former chief of staff to Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, made if offical and announced he will seek the Farmington area seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Tom Taylor. Karen Bayless, a legislative analyst, has also announced she's running. No Dems need apply. This is GOP territory.

RON OLGUIN

Word comes to us of the Valentine's Day passing of NM politico Ron Olguin. He went down in NM history in 1992 when he became the only state representative to ever be censured. He was charged, convicted and did jail time for taking a $15,000 bribe to get the Legislature to approve $100,000 for a crime counseling program. In the 80's he served as Bernalillo county manager. His friend Carlton Pennington tells us:

"Ron was a good friend of mine. I met him when he was involved with the South Valley Little League. His memorial service is in ABQ Saturday. March 1 at 2 p.m. at the Church of Christ at Montgomery and Carlisle." 

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