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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Speaker Shopping: Speculators Eye House Bench If GOP Can Manage House Takeover, Plus: Election Night Tonight; A Final Take On Santa Fe And Rio Rancho Mayor Contests, And: Susana: Lobo Or Aggie? 

The speculation over who the Republicans might tap as Speaker of the NM House seems stranger than fiction but with the Governor's race yet to catch fire, right now the prospect of a House GOP takeover for the first time since 1953 tops the chattering charts of Campaign '14.

And who might it be? Okay, thanks for asking. With House Minority Leader Bratton ending his political career, some R's are casting about for an elder to fill his shoes. Their hooks are landing in the vicinity of Socorro area State Rep. Don Tripp. At 68, with eight terms under his belt and commanding respect within the House GOP caucus, Tripp is seen as a logical choice--assuming he doesn't join the long list of those retiring from the House.

We are not among those who believe a GOP House majority is going to be a lay up. It hasn't happened in over 60 years for a reason--NM is Dem territory. The odds seem better for the R's to pick up a seat or two on a good Election Night and then form a conservative coalition with a few stray Dems like Sandra Jeff. If they got it that way, they would still get the plum committee slots and control whose hands are on the Speaker's powerful gavel. . . .

JUMP BALL

A reader writes of our take that so far the battle for the Dem Guv nomination is a "jump ball":

I believe the Dem party benefits from a jump ball with each player elbowing Susana and not at each other to get in position.

This Saturday the Dems hold their preprimary convention at the Route 66 Casino. It will be closely watched to see which of the five contenders manage to get at least 20 percent of the delegate votes--the threshold for getting an official spot on the June 3 primary ballot.

SAD OR NOT?

The Martinez administration slams State Auditor Hector Balderas for his audit of the Human Services Department that finds mismanagement of federal funds:

This is just another sad example of an announced political candidate using his office to make politically motivated statements. 

It's true that Balderas is seeking the Dem nod for attorney general and is an "announced political candidate." But  the last we looked the sitting Governor of our fair state was also an "announced political candidate." Does that mean she's also making "politically motivated statements? Just asking....

ELECTION NIGHT

Did you realize 101 NM municipalities have elections today? We didn't. The secretary of state's office confirms the number and will post election results for most of them on its website tonight. The polls close at 7 p.m. 

The most closely watched contests will be for mayor of Rio Rancho and Santa Fe. From Rio Rancho, Senior Alligator analysis:

Joe, expect to see a run-off election in the Rio Rancho mayoral race and for one of the council seats. The Rs will likely split their mayoral votes between candidates Hull, Owen and Braden. Hull is compromised because of his short tenure in Rio Rancho--less than one year, Owen is compromised because of his past mayoral record and Braden is mostly an unknown even though he ran for the NM senate seat won by Craig Brandt. Former Councilor Mike Williams is the only Dem in the race and positioned to make the two person run-off. Hull is favored to take the top spot.

If no Rio Rancho candidate gets 50% of the vote tonight a run-off will be schedule for around mid-April.

THAT CITY DIFFERENT

The Santa Fe bookies (They have those? Maybe they hang around the La Fonda) are favoring former NM Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales to take the mayoral prize, but fellow D Patti Bushee has campaigned tirelessly and is not being written off. Bill Dimas has not campaigned tirelessly and is guaranteed a third place showing. 

Two recent events helped Gonzales--the support he received from former Senator Jeff Bingaman who signaled to Anglo liberals that they they can go with Gonzales and the decision of the Santa Fe New Mexican to not endorse Bushee. In fact, the paper declined to endorse anyone.

Gonzales has been hurt by outside groups (mainly AFSCME) that came in and spent thousands on his candidacy and essentially nullified Santa Fe's public finance system. If Bushee wins it will be because enough voters felt Gonzales was at least partially to blame for the outside support that gave him a lopsided financial advantage over her.

We'll monitor the results and post them on Twitter. Our handle is @newsguy44

GENUINE LOBO JOY?

Perhaps Governor Martinez is trying to put down those rumors that because she is a native of El Paso and a longtime Dona Ana County resident, she is at heart a NMSU Aggie.

But here she is with hubby Chuck Franco leading the cheerleading as the UNM Lobos sink a basket at a recent game at the famous pit.

Sorry, Aggies but this Lobo joy looks pretty genuine. She may not be seen as bipartisan on a lot of matters, but not on this one.

Will we see a similar celebratory photo of the first couple when Election Night rolls around in November? Dem Guv candidate Linda Lopez hopes not. She came with this blast as she prepared for Saturday's preprimary convention:

Do we really want four more years of this divisive style of leadership that results in nothing more than secret backroom deals and economic stagnation? I don’t think so!

If we haven't already said so, let the games begin. . . .

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