Monday, August 11, 2014

La Politica's Summertime Pastime Continues: Bashing Gary King, But He Has Defenders, Too, Plus: Udall TV Ad On Fed Spending Prompts Scrutiny, And: Blogging With The Interior Secretary 

We continue now with that most popular summertime pastime of La Politica--bashing Dem Guv nominee Gary King. We're not talking about Gov. Martinez's TV ads bashing the attorney general. It's his own Democrats who are growing increasingly queasy over his campaign. From a veteran Dem consultant:

The real issue is here we are in August, school starts next week and we still don't have a Democrat running an active, legitimate campaign for Governor. There appears to be no campaign plan and no message. No one is using their head over there at King headquarters. Also, it should be noted that the last day to withdraw for general election candidates is September 2. If King can't mount a campaign that even has a chance, maybe Dems should switch him out for someone who has more fire in the belly.

King's defenders chime in that there is plenty of grassroots campaigning going on for Gary. They emphasize that he may be running a tortoise-like campaign but eventually the tortoise did catch the hare. They argue that Martinez's support is not deep and that King will be able to shake her up after Labor Day. They also put faith in polls that show the race tighter than the conventional wisdom has it.

Another Dem consultant smacked Attorney General King for trying to make hay over a decision by Valley Meats to abandon a horse meat processing plant in Roswell:

With our economy in shambles and the drumbeat of bad news about education coming almost daily, Gary King could not be further off message. Is he even trying to win? No one doubts the difficulty of the position he's in but he's got to relentlessly attack Susana while doing everything he can to raise money to wage a media campaign after Labor Day.

Well, for anxious Dems the good news is this: If King plans to step things up after Labor Day, it will come soon. Labor Day this year lands on September 1st--the earliest possible date.


In the middle of the most significant federal cutbacks in state history Democratic Senator Tom Udall comes with a TV spot touting his prowess in protecting funding for the national labs--Sandia and Los Alamos, despite Los Alamos suffering massive layoffs the past several years. Meanwhile, Udall's office provided figures showing funding for ABQ's Sandia Labs is on the rise not "flat at best" as we recently blogged.

His office also comes with numbers showing the Los Alamos budget on the rise, but that does not explain the layoffs. So what's going on?  For a reality check let's rerun this information about how we are getting hammered by federal spending cuts:

Federal spending on grants, direct payments, contracts, loans and insurance totaled $18 billion in FY13, down from $22.2 billion the previous year, according to the federal website usaspending.gov. That spending peaked in 2009 at $22.7 billion. . . All federal contracts in the state totaled $6.7 billion in FY13, down from $7.2 billion the previous year, and down from a high of $7.6 billion in FY09. Department of Defense and Department of Energy contracts account for about 90 percent of all federal contracts in the state. The Department of Energy is the largest federal contractor in New Mexico. In FY 13 it let $4.9 billion worth of contracts in New Mexico, a drop from $5.1 billion in FY12 and from the high of $5.3 billion in FY09.

The reality is that while Udall may have been able to protect some funding for the labs, the overall federal contribution to New Mexico is the real problem. Udall's spot painting a rosy picture for the national labs skirts the major economic issue facing the state--the continuing decline in federal spending and how we are going to compensate for the loss. In that context his TV ad is an eyebrow raiser.


Sec. Of Interior Jewell
Here's a bad pic of your correspondent, but a pretty good one of Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. We ran into her at a birthday party for Kevin Washburn, the effective former dean of the UNM School of Law who now serves under Jewell as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.

There's always plenty to do in NM for an Interior Secretary. On this trip Jewell was visiting to celebrate the completion of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in ABQ's South Valley. She touted the 50 year old Land and Conservation Water Fund which was key in financing the $18.5 million refuge. She spent Sunday talking with NM tribal officials and today will attend an energy meeting in Santa Fe with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.

We asked Jewell about the controversy in some quarters over President Obama jumping over the Congress this year and designating by executive order the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces. Southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce says the Obama decision "bypassed the will of the people," but Jewell sported a broad smile when discussing the monument, saying it had "broad public support." She heaped praised on Senators Udall and Heinrich for their advocacy for the monument.

Jewell, 58, who grew up in Washington state and is a former CEO of national outdoor gear company REI, is relishing her time at Interior, but she did have a minor complaint. It seems that there is so much scrutiny in Washington that the government will no longer pay for the traditional official portrait of the Secretary of Interior. We suggested that President Obama might be convinced to pick up the tab for her portrait. "I think he would do it," she declared with a beam.

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