Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Season Of Hope Has Dem Senate Leader Doing Plenty Of Hoping, Plus: Guv Holiday Week Appointments, And: Merry Christmas, New Mexico! 

You can't help but wish State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez a Merry Christmas because what's around the bend may be the most miserable 60 days of his long political career.

It's so bad for the Dem leader that he has now adopted hope as a strategy to contain rambunctious Republicans who are getting ready to rumble when the legislative session kicks off January 20:

Sanchez also said he’s hopeful the Senate steers clear of “blasting” bills out of committee, a procedural maneuver that has been used in recent years in the House – but not in the Senate – to dislodge stalled legislation and advance it for a floor vote. “We haven’t gotten to that point, and I’m hoping that’s not a tactic anyone is thinking of using. . . "

Well, as someone once said, "Never deprive someone of hope--it may be all they have."

Sanchez does have more than hope. Technically, his party controls the 42 member state Senate but with the Martinez Democrats chomping at the bit to join the R's in a conservative coalition, it's not much for Michael to hang his hat on.

The newly controlled Republican House is going to send over to the Senate all manner of conservative legislation. Frankly, the GOP would be foolish not to try to blast bills out of committees and onto the Senate floor and then get them on the desk for the signature of the Republican Governor. If they do that--as we expect--it will be an historic but expected event. Governing is becoming more like campaigning where bare knuckle brawls are the order of the day extinguishing the niceties of days past

Leader Sanchez's wish is that power will somehow follow protocol, that the R's and the Martinez Democrats will be happy to leave their fate to his decisions on which bills to call up. They'd be crazy if they did. Who knows how long the R's will have this kind of stroke in a Dem dominated state? For the R's and their conservative Dem allies, striking while the iron is hot is an understatement.


Say one thing about longtime Santa Fe businessman and former NM Dem Party chairman Jamie Koch--he knows how to make friends. Gov. Martinez has nominated Koch--a UNM Regent since 2003--to fill the term of Republican Conrad James who left the panel when he was elected to the Legislature in November. That term doesn't expire until 2019. If he stays on until then, Koch (UNM class of '59) will have had a 16 year term as a UNM regent, one of the longest in memory. He was first nominated to the Regents by Big Bill.

Koch, 79, is a wily politico who keeps the lines of communication open with all sides. He has survived much turmoil at UNM, including a vote of no-confidence by the UNM faculty in 2009. Our Alligators say he has become one of the more powerful regents ever at UNM. State Senate confirmation is required for regent appointments

And another UNM regent appointment is going to attract the attention of the politicos. Former Clovis area District Attorney Matt Chandler, a loyal foot solider in the Governor's political machine, has been nominated by her for another UNM regent vacancy. Chandler had some personal issues which prompted his resignation as DA. Soon after he was running an attack PAC for the Guv's machine that targeted Dem legislators. He now has his own law firm.

Martinez also nominated ABQ attorney Robert Doughty III to fill another UNM regent opening. He is currently the chairman of the NM Racing Commission. He sought an ABQ NE Heights state senate seat in 2012, but was defeated by Mark Moores.

Martinez made regent nominations for universities across the state Monday. The complete list is here.


The Governor has also announced some cabinet changes. Secretary of Tourism Monique Jacobson will leave that agency to take over as secretary of the troubled Children, Youth and Families Department. Jacobson has been one of the few stand-outs in the Martinez cabinet, winning bigger budgets to promote the state. Why interrupt that momentum?

CYFD does not seem an obvious match with Jacobson's marketing background so her confirmation hearing in the senate could prove tense. Jacobson was untested and surprised on the upside with the tourism appointment. The stakes are much higher now with children's lives literally at stake. Another upside surprise is sorely needed.


One of the Gators of the Dem variety took time off from decorating their tree and came with this take on Susana's holiday week newsmaking:

Well, well, well. Gov. Martinez uses the old trick of announcing major, possibly negative news during the week of a major holiday when no one is paying attention--the tourism secretary to CYFD. Martinez dumps her friend Yolanda Deines and also pays back her GOP benefactors-- the Damrons of Santa Fe--by naming Barbara Damron Secretary of Higher Education. Mrs. Damron gets higher ed while her physician husband continues his chairmanship of  the NM Health Exchange. Welcome to four more years of low aspirations and underachievement. "Que viva el cinismo" (Long live the cynicism!)

We accept Alligator analysis in English, Spanish and the five languages of the New Mexico Pueblos. However, we do not accept Texan.


Here's a little present for you--one of the best Christmas ads out there, featuring some very cool cats and the sounds of the season. . . And here's our annual holiday card for your enjoyment,

Along with many of you, we'll be taking a break for the holidays so blogging will be light for the rest of the year.

Thanks for your continued support. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

Merry Christmas, New Mexico!

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