Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More National Juice For Guv: Condi Rice Sets Campaign Visit, Plus: Gone To Pot, More Downs Dealing, Kenny Not Caving And The Jeff Saga In Santa Fe 

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Susana continues her efforts to raise local cash for her re-election as well as keep her national political contacts and prospects intact.

We told you last week about the planned March fund-raiser for the Guv featuring former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Now we learn that close on the heels of that event at Las Campanas country club near Santa Fe, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will raise money for Susana.

Condi, who served under President George W, will appear at a March 26 ABQ fund-raiser at the home of real estate heavy Scott Throckmorton.

The Guv's national prospects continue to be hitched to the narrative of her as the USA's first female Hispanic Governor. However, it can be argued she has not added much to that resume. In fact, she was taken down a notch on the national stage when the National Journal came with a blistering expose that showed her chief political adviser was essentially running the gubernatorial show and not her.

The scuttlebutt that Martinez has a Palinesque aura is not going to hurt her in the short-term as the fundraisers featuring Jeb and Condi demonstrate, but the long-term is a different story...


We blogged of how state Sen. Clemente Sanchez was the swing vote on whether to send to voters a constitutional amendment leting them decide if NM should legalize marijuana. Well, he swung Tuesday--against the measure and it failed to advance from the Senate Rules Commitee on a 5-5 tie. The pot measure is dead for the session

As for Clemente, in 2012 he won his Dem primary by only a  handful of votes. For sure, he will face a Dem challenger in '16 as a result of this pot vote and also for balking at supporting a constitutional amendment to fund early childhood programs form the Land Grant Permanent Fund.


Pushback from Attorney General Gary King's office to critics heard here Tuesday who say King has washed his hands of any investigation of the controversial 25 year racino lease awarded the ABQ Downs by the Martinez administration. AG spokesman Phil Sisneros:

 Our office has had an open file on the racino dealings for 21 months and it is still an ongoing investigation. Part of the difficulty in looking into this case, as it is with any allegations, is trying to separate rumors from real provable evidence. Unfortunately, those same "critics" and "observers" prefer to perpetuate the rumors and crow about how little is being done, yet they know nothing about measures that might be underway. Granted, we do not often discuss any of our investigations, but neither does the FBI, US Attorney, or most District Attorneys. Somehow, our relative silence is often construed as inaction...

King is aso a Dem Guv candidate. The racino has been looked at by the FBI. The status of its investigation is unknown.

It was reported that no Republican members of the Senate Rules Committee attended Monday's special hearing on the state fair commission and the ABQ Downs deal. One of our readers reports that one R did attend--ABQ state Senator Sander Rue. So if Rue turns up at the bottom of Elephant Butte Lake, we'll know why...

A Santa Fe reader writes of another state deal that he contends could give the Guv some future headaches:

The Governor has kept alive a land purchase for the 20 acre state "Super Complex" that is left over from the Richardson Administration. This site selection was made without a request for proposals (RFP) and will benefit an Albuquerque developer. If she really wants to be transparent she would cancel this deal immediately and issue a proper RFP so that anyone who might have a tract of land could bid fairly and openly with clear criteria for the selection...


ABQ reader Jim Cooke writes of one our more severe grammatical errors:

Give us a break, Joe. Is it about the climate in Santa Fe or the reaching of a "climactic" event in the legislature? Sad to say that, given the performance of the legislators, your malaprop may not be that far off the mark. Today’s forecast calls for "no change in the weather.”

Nice zinger, Jim. We're going to send Ronchetti, Diaz and the San Felipe rain dancers over to your house to make some special weather just for you.


Rep. Cote
Another note on Tuesday's blog, we first blogged that House Republicans would need to pick up four seats to take outright control of the 70 member chamber. Actually, it's three seats. But here's why we first said four.

Republican Vickie Perea was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy left by the death of Dem state Rep. Stephen Easley, That made the House 37 Dem and 33 R. We are assuming that Perea is not going to hold that Dem seat and that the real state House balance going into November is 37 to 32, meaning the R's would indeed need four seats to take control for the first time since the early 50's.

Among the key races we will be watching: The Las Cruces area seats held by Dems Nate Cote and Phil Archuleta. Cote, say our sources, is not running again and Arhculeta's poor health may nix any re-election plans he has.

The ABQ House seats held by Dems Emily Kane and Liz Thomson are critical to any R takeover. And then there's the Los Alamos area seat held by Dem Stephanie Garcia Richard. There are more but we're just starting to set the table.


House Speaker Kenny Martinez is scoring some legislative wins, despite the absence of two Dems from the session and what some Roundhouse observers have said here is his over eagerness to please the Republican administration. Reader and Dem activist Therese Trujeque, who earlier rose to the defense of Senate Majority Leader Sanchez, says this about the Speaker:

While illness has decreased the Democratic margins in the House, Speaker Martinez has proven. . .this session that he will stand up to the Martinez Administration. A few examples include merit pay being stripped from the budget in the committee process. This is a major point of contention with the Fourth Floor and a cornerstone of their education initiative. He also stood up eloquently this past Saturday in the House Labor Committee and stopped the repeal of the driver's license issue--a key plank in the Governor's platform. He has never wavered on this issue. Finally, a critical DWI bill that was co-sponsored by Reps. Stephanie Garcia Richard and Elizabeth Thomson was tabled in committee last week only to be revived and unanimously passed in the same committee Tuesday. Speaker Martinez is a master of the legislative process and knows how to move, kill or revive important bills.


Rep. Jeff
And, yes, for those wondering, we are hearing that there are plans afoot for a Democratic primary challenge to renegade House Democrat Sandra Jeff. Jeff, a member of the Navajo Nation, joined the R's in rejecting the state House budget, delivering a body blow to Speaker Kenny Martinez.

Jeff, a member of the Navajo Nation, has become a major ally of Governor Martinez, but insists she is still a loyal Democrat. Whether the primary challenge will materialize is of major interest to La Politica. Remember, the late Speaker Lujan went after her in 2012, but Jeff easily defeated her Dem rival.

Some Dems checking in here want the Speaker to have a vote to eject her from the Dem caucus, but at the least field a primary opponent against her. Other Dems question why Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman isn't taking on Jeff. Bregman did go after conservative Dem Senator John Arthur Smith recently, saying he should become a Republican if he could not advance a major early childhood initiative (Bregman served as Jeff's attorney in a high-profile dispute Jeff had in 2009 with another state rep).

If the R's can get their numbers in the House up to 34 in November--Jeff's one vote could give them a 35-35 tie and the power to take out the Speaker and rule the House.

Let's put it this way: Rep. Jeff is at the top of the list when it comes to getting a Valentine from Governor Martinez this week. Heck, we should send her one, too--just for all the blogging angles she gives us...

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