Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Candidates Line Up To Declare For the 70 State House Seats; Dems Prepare to Defend Their Slim Majority, And: Lawrence Swipes Howie, Plus: Gaming John Sanchez If Susana Heads Out Of Here 

It's been that kind of run for NM House Speaker Ken Martinez. Not only does he have to worry about one of the narrowest majorities the Dems have had in the House in many a year, now he has drawn a Democratic primary opponent as he seeks his ninth, two year term. Not that political unknown Nicole Lee Schult, 29, of Bluewater is going to be a serious threat to the speaker, but it's not a distraction he needs.

Candidates Tuesday filed for all 70 state House seats. The Senate goes before the voterr in '16. Complete state filings here. Complete Bernalillo County filings here.

While 10 members of the House have announced they are retiring this year, six former members are trying to get a return trip to Santa Fe, including the always entertaining Benjie Regensberg who filed for the Dem primary against Rep. Nick Salazar, the longest serving member of the House.

But it was the two primary challengers for Dem renegade Rep. Sandra Jeff that most insiders were eyeing. Jeff has sided with Republicans on key votes in the closely divided House, often making for  conservative coalitions and defying Speaker Martinez's leadership.

She will be challenged in the Indian Country seat by Charles Long and Doreen Johnson but remains a favorite to win. In 2012 she was challenged in a primary and took 60 percent of the vote.


If the R's kept all 33 of their current House seats and could count on Jeff and one more Dem to cross the aisle it would be a tie ball game in the House. No wonder all those Alligator eyes were looking Jeff's way on filing day.

If you assume the Santa Fe area seat held by appointed R Vickie Perea reverts back to the Dems in November--and that's a pretty solid assumption--it would mean the R's start with 32 seats and the Dems 38. That means the R's need to pick up four seats in November to take the majority. . .


Other filing news that caught our attention--Las Cruces are Rep. Mary Helen Garcia drew two Dem primary challengers....GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson drew a primary challenger in John Madrid. . . . Among Bernalillo county state reps getting a free ride--no primary or general election opponents--are Gail Chasey and Sheryl Williams-Stapleton. Republican Reps. Larry Larranaga and Jimmie Hall are also getting free rides. . .

And a free ride for Deborah Armstrong for the ABQ North Valley House seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Ed Sandoval. No other Dem filed and no R's applied. Armstrong has close ties to US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Did she use some Michelle muscle to get this one done?. . . .

In Indian Country, Gallup area Rep. Patty Lundstrom has three foes chasing her in the Dem primary. . .

As expected it's a three-way Dem battle in ABQ's South Valley for the seat held by retiring Rep. Kiki Saavedra and another three-way Valley battle for the seat that is being vacated by Rep. Ernie Chavez.


With all the gloom and doom surrounding the Dems and their House chances, Santa Fe Rep. Brian Egolf tells us his PAC will be up and running to help defend the House and he predicted it and other pro-Dem PACS will be well-financed.

House Speaker Martinez came with this list of Dem House recruits, their backgrounds and his (optimistic) outlook for the Dems maintaining control. ABQ Rep. Nate Gentry and Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey are heading up the R House effort.

Steve Cabiedes, a political veteran who has worked on redistricting for the Legislature, says the GOP wanted more competitive seats and they got them in the redistricting of 2010. He adds, however, that the territory the R's have picked up will need great attention for the rest of the decade because they are very much swing seats.


That didn't take long. Just days after finishing third to Howie Morales' first at the state Dem preprimary convention, Lawrence Rael went to work on his rival for the Dem Guv nomination. In a fund-raising appeal, he came with this swipe of the Silver City state senator:

The legislature has not held Susana accountable for her failures; but together, we can do it. Now is the time to act and demand the type of government we all deserve. . . .

Expect Rael to go after Morales's Senate voting record as the campaign for the Dem nod heats up.


The Governor has signed off on a noncontroversial $6.2 billion election year budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Her complete budget message is here. And here is a list of many of her line item budget vetoes, including $75,000 for the African-American Performing Arts Center at the State Fair.


Gov. Martinez continues to get mentions as a possible VP contender. Surprisingly, a WaPo analyst put her atop a field of five possibles. It's a longshot but. . . . .

If Martinez somehow ended up as vice-president or as a cabinet secretary in a Republican administration, the New Mexican governorship would rotate to Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez. It's not a prospect that infuses widespread dread, even among Democrats. They would disagree with him and fight to defeat him, but he would not be nearly as polarizing a figure as Martinez and her associates.

Sanchez is not the type of politico to keep a Nixonian enemies list. He would leave the rough and tumble to outsiders like the GOP chairman and keep the political consultants giving consultations, not running the government,

Sanchez s a successful businessman--he started his own roofing company--and understands how money moves. Perhaps that would mean more willingness from his administration to own up to the serious challenges the state faces and be less one dimensional than the administration he serves in.

Despite dropping the ball in a brief run for the US Senate nomination in 2012 and his loss of the Governorship to Dem Bill Richardson in 2002, Sanchez remains a widely popular figure in the GOP. He gets grins and applause wherever he appears.

The lieutenant governor has had trouble running campaigns. Getting appointed Governor and having two years to make his case before running in '18 would be a Godsend for the NM native. It might even upset the narrative of  those Democrats who think if Susana wins this November and then leaves in '18, it will be a walk in the park to reclaim the governorship.

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