Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Take On Dem State Chair Race, Tracking Congress Support For Early Childhood And The Bear Again Mauls The Four Corners  

We've got the first take from the Alligators on that three way race for chairman of the NM Democratic Party. The contenders are '14 Dem lieutenant governor nominee Deb Haaland, Santa Fe County Dem Party Chair Richard Ellenberg and Chaves County Dem Party Chair Fred Moran. And the front runner is:

I would rate it about 55% for Deb Haaland, 30% for Ellenberg and 15% for Moran. Moran has very little name recognition in the central and northern areas. Ellenberg will do well in the north, and will get a decent amount of support from Bernalillo County, mostly because he’s been a fixture on the scene for so long. But Haaland is more widely known across the state than either of the other two.  

Democratic party State Central Committee members will meet in April to select a chair for the next two years. Sam Bregman is the outgoing chairman.


Northern Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is on the record in favor of that constitutional amendment that would ask voters to allow the state's big Permanent Fund (over $14 billion) to be tapped to finance very early childhood education (ages 0 to 5). We pointed out Monday that both of the state's US Senators now support the amendment.

ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has not taken a position and we haven't seen anything from southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce.

In a recent speech Rep Ben Ray Lujan declared:

With our children ranking near the top of every bad list, we must do something to break this cycle. The Land Grant Permanent Fund was created to invest in New Mexico, to help create wealth, to pave the way for positive education. What better place than in our children’s future to invest?

The amendment is opposed by state House Republicans and as long as they control that chamber the amendment is stalled. It requires approval from the House and Senate, but would not need the signature of the governor but would instead go directly to the voters.


Reader and attorney Steve Suttle says amending the state Constitution is too easy. He writes:

(ABQ Dem state) Sen. Ortiz y Pino’s proposal to use the amendment process to legalize marijuana is a dangerous path. Constitutions are intended to be charters and the amendment process is not a proper way to frame ordinary legislation. This is especially true when the bare-faced motive is to bypass a governor who would surely veto such a measure. 

What is really needed in New Mexico is a constitutional amendment making it more difficult to amend the constitution. At present, a simple majority of the Legislature and a simple majority of the voters can approve any amendment. By contrast, a two-thirds majority in each house of Congress is required to refer a proposed Federal constitutional amendment to the state legislatures or to individual state conventions where three-fourths of them must concur. The Framers deliberately made this a cumbersome process. Amending the state constitution should likewise be more difficult than it currently is.

“Progressive” Democrats would be well advised to consider the specter of a future Republican-controlled Legislature using this vehicle to refer constitutional amendments to ban abortion, prohibit same-sex marriage, or to authorize state-sponsored prayer in schools. One need only look to the recent history of the abuse of the initiative and referendum process in Oklahoma to see how well founded these concerns are.


At a memorial service Monday at the Roundhouse Rotunda for the late Lieutenant Governor Mike Runnels former NM House Speaker Raymond Sanchez had the honor of introducing current Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez. Said Raymond:

He (John Sanchez) rose to power after kicking my butt.

It was in 2000 when Republican John Sanchez ousted Raymond from his ABQ North Valley House seat and thus the speakership of the state House. After 15 years it appears the pair have buried the hatchet but we still wouldn't look for Raymond to endorse John for Governor in 2018.


That didn't take long. Former Dem State Rep. Rudy Martinez, ousted from his Las Cruces area seat in an upset in November by Republican John Zimmerman, is already out on the campaign trail trying to unseat Zimmerman in 2016. Maybe that's why Zimmerman was cozying up to Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith at the Rio Chama. He needs some goodies to keep Rudy at bay.


The great energy Bear is back and again mauling the Four Corners:

Local contractors in the oil and gas industry are facing severe cuts in the wake of fallen oil prices. One industry leader in the San Juan Basin, WPX Energy, has asked its contractors for a 20 percent price cut on goods and services. . . One of WPX's vendors is Farmington's Calder Services Inc. Shannon Calder Monk said. . . the cuts would be damaging to her family business. "I understand their point of view but I am not making a 20 percent profit," Monk said. "Did (WPX) take a 20 percent cut? I just don't have it to cut it."

If you represent the Farmington area in the Legislature, are you pounding the table for more capital outlay projects for the region? You ought to be.

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