Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Social Conservatives And The New GOP House; It Could Get Tense, Plus: The Readers Write Of The BernCo Money Crunch, Voter ID And How To Spell Chile 

There's a potentially big story lurking at the Roundhouse that has so far gone unnoticed, even though Republicans are now openly voicing fear over it.

That would be the emergence of the divisive issues of gay rights, abortion and gun control as major issues and how that would play out in the upcoming 60 day legislative session.

If anything could undo the fresh image of the new majority House R's it would be a nasty internal fight with its conservative social wing--a wing that may be hibernating but is far from dead.

Jason Hefley, head of one of the pro-GOP political action committees that was instrumental in helping the R's take control of the House, is among those publicly raising the red flags:

Republicans will help set and guide the legislative agenda in Santa Fe for the first time in 60 years. Republicans will have a choice between setting a divisive tone which is focused on polarizing social issues or rolling up their sleeves to focus on the issues that matter most to New Mexico families.

Despite the Republican dominance of late, New Mexico remains a liberal state on the key social issues that worry Hefley and other R's fearful of an uprising over them.

But social conservatives make the case that their votes were vital to the GOP takeover. They point out that overall turnout crashed in the November election but social conservatives still came out. And most Republicans happen to agree with them on many of their causes.

So far, there have been no moves from any of the elected R's to advocate a ban on gay marriage, tougher anti-abortion restrictions or looser gun control, but you can assume they are coming. How the debate over them shapes up is key. Will it reveal to the moderate and liberal electorate a group of radical R's who really aren't serious about governing and should be tossed out in '16? And what about Gov. Martinez and her never ending quest to position herself as a moderate on the national stage? Could she be forced to confront the hard-right of her party?

Minority Democrats in the House have their guns at the ready to battle the majority R's but having the GOP form a circular firing squad would suit them just fine. Stay tuned. . .


Here's our first round of vox populi for 2015 and it is a varied lot. . .

Reader Alan Schwartz writes of Bernalillo County's fiscal crisis in which the budget shortfall could top $20 million:

BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson notes on your blog the lack of growth in property tax revenues. Perhaps the Commission should consider whether this is, in part, self inflicted. I'm referring to the generosity of the Commission in issuing Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB's).  $4 million for the Aperture purchase, $9 million to United Poly Systems, and $11.3 million for the Silverman downtown grocery. Those three examples alone represent almost $25 million removed from the property tax base for up to 30 years, if ever.

Reader JD Robertson writes:

Mr. Monahan: If we are in such dire straits - why does the state of New Mexico have their license plates made out of state? Why is the official state magazine published in Florida? Why do we have a State Secretary of Education from Florida? Why did we have a superintendent of the APS School District (responsible for a full twenty per cent of the state's budget) from Wichita? There are dozens and dozens of examples - these are but a few. Who is responsible for this lack of confidence in the home boys that they feel they must go elsewhere for relief? 

Reader Stephanie DuBois writes of statewide voter ID proposals:

Joe, If that bill passes and becomes law I will refuse to show any ID i.e. photo. I will show my voter card. The US Constitution gives me the right to vote. Nothing is mentioned about a photo. I do understand it will be a government issued photo. At what cost to the taxpayers?

I believe we must take a stand at some point, and push back on these ridiculous laws that the Republicans want to pass. If Rosa Parks did not take the stand she did she and other African-Americans would still be sitting in the back of the bus. I, for one, am not going to sit back and take whatever the Republicans want to hand out. I want New Mexicans to know that as a Democrat I stand for something. 

The city of Albuquerque already requires voter ID for its city elections. It is not yet required in state elections.


A number of readers including ex-New Mexican Barton Bond of Santa Fe shared with us the disturbing news that New Mexico has been ranked as the second most dangerous state in the USA:

Hi Joe, I moved to Georgia last year because of the booming film industry. Right now I wanted to share with you an article about the 10 most dangerous states. The Land of Enchantment is #2 on the worst list--despite Susana campaigning as a law-and-order governor (their words, not mine). It mentions the high rate of poverty, low percentage of high school grads and the Duke City crime rate increasing year over year larger than any metro in the nation.

Here's the full excerpt about NM from 2/7 Wall St:

New Mexico’s violent crime rate rose 6.6% between 2012 and 2013 — the most in the nation — to nearly 597 per 100,000 residents. The increase in violent crime came despite Governor Martinez’s avowal in 2011 to be tough on crime. As in other dangerous states, the concentration of crime in New Mexico’s larger cities may have contributed to the state’s crime problem. Albuquerque, for example, the state’s largest city, had an estimated crime rate of 775 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, more than twice the national rate. New Mexico residents were also among the nation’s poorest in 2013, with a median household income of $43,872 and a poverty rate of nearly 22%.

Reader Betty Dinelli writes of the menu at the Governor's inaugural ball and which was posted on the Monday blog:

Why was "chile" spelled two different ways on the menu? Green "chili" buttermilk avocado dressing was spelled differently than the other two "chile" entries. Being a native New Mexican, it irritates me when green chile is spelled with an "I". So isn't that the way they spell chile in Texas? It makes me wonder: Was the menu printed out-of-state? And who did the proof reading?

Good eyes, Betty. Sounds like the Texans raided the buttermilk avocado dressing.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.  

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign