Tuesday, March 10, 2015

'18 Guv Positioning Takes Shape, "Bitter" Legislative Session Deteriorates Further, Questions For Santa Fe's Finance Bosses And Cancel The Big Bill Comeback 

Keller & Balderas
It's the start of a very long slog but the positioning for the 2018 Dem Guv nomination is starting to take shape. Attorney General Hector Balderas, State Auditor Tim Keller and ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham are in the top tier, with '14 contender Alan Webber in the second. Both Keller and Balderas have very active press shops as they seek to keep their names and work before the public. Webber is sending periodic email updates to supporters. Grisham has also stepped up her communications since securing her second term. . .

The early possibles all have something in common: none of them are taking it directly to Republican Gov. Martinez. Independent analyst Greg Payne believes that may need to change if one of them is going to break free from the pack and excite the Democratic base. "They will need to do more than posturing and start doing something that really upsets this Governor."

Payne argues that Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is the likely '18 GOP nominee and if Martinez retains her popularity--her approval rating is in the mid 50's--Sanchez could inherit it. "It's like 1988 when Bush was elected. It was really like giving Reagan a third term."

Payne added that the GOP has reason to be nervous if either Balderas or Keller learn how to play hardball. "They have the investigatory powers and that is the threat. So far, it is an idle one."

Meanwhile, at the do-nothing 2015 legislative session conditions deteriorated even further as former Dem House Speaker Ken Martinez was assailed for saying that some cases of rape are "drunken college sex.". That was seized on by GOP Rep. Kelly Fajardo who demanded an apology. None was forthcoming.

And then there was this headline from House Dems:

(Dem) Rep. Stephanie Maez Demands Apology from (GOP) Rep. Nate Gentry; Rep. Gentry uses photo of Rep. Stephanie Maez to bully a member of his Caucus.

All of this muck signals that it's time for the 112 merrymakers to get out of Dodge.

The New Mexican's Steve Terrell understatedly says this is "a bitterly partisan legislative session." His colleague Milan Simonich, a frequent target of the Guv's political machine, opines:

Less than two weeks remain in New Mexico’s 60-day legislative session, one that’s been short on accomplishments and long on attacks. More than anything, it’s been a relentless spin cycle on one issue.

Of course, that one issue Simonich references is the House approved right-to-work bill which will be voted on and killed in the Senate Public Affairs Committee today.


Are we alone in finding the explanations of Santa Fe's powerful committee chairmen unconvincing when it comes to the $4.5 billion that the state auditor says is stashed away and going unspent by the Legislature and hundreds of state agencies?

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Larry Larranga (R-ABQ) tried to spin it away by saying: “Funds are not always used in the same year they’re authorized.” Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith argued: "From a practical standpoint, a lot of that money you can’t put your hands on right away for operational purposes,

Okay, Chairman Larranga, can we find out how much money has not been used for more than one year and may never be used? And Chairman Smith, how long is "right away?" How do we get at this cash for operational purposes, since your statement indicates it is not a matter of access, but time?

Because much of the extra cash (over $1 billion) is dedicated to capital outlay projects (many of them dormant) that are the pet projects of state lawmakers--many of whom are not even in office anymore-- maybe Smith and Larranaga fear rocking that sensitive boat, but someone needs to put to the test these shaky arguments from the state's leading austerity hawks.


Well, you can forget about any New Mexico comeback. Former Governor Big Bill Richardson--who served in Congress and as the US ambassador to the UN--is donating his political and personal papers not to the University of New Mexico (he said they didn't ask) but to the University of Texas at Austin. Let the scorching begin.

Now New Mexicans know how Bill Clinton felt after appointing Richardson as U.N. Ambassador and cabinet secretary and he turned around and endorsed Obama over Hillary.

What an insult! Maybe he was afraid New Mexico universities are too near to people who know what he did and there would be research for examples of his corrupt practices.

He's not even leaving his carpet bag here.

Richardson ended his Guv term with an approval rating in the low 30's. In recent months he's made some tentative moves to rehabilitate his image here. The bitterness between him and Gov. Martinez is palpable. Maybe he didn't want her sneaking over to Zimmerman Library to dig up dirt on him.

(Richardson explained his decision to the ABQ Journal's DC correspondent.)


Las Cruces reader Greg Lennes wrote this week of the robo call he received from a political advocacy group urgin him to contact his state senator to vote for right-to-work legislation, but Jason Heffley says he got some things wrong:

Good to see Greg Lennes still doesn't let facts get in the way of the story he is trying to tell. GOAL Advocacy is not a PAC (501c4), is not associated with Cogressman Steve Pearce and does not employee me. (I moved back home to Illinois in December/January to be closer to my family.) However, I do still read Monahan every day, do believe GOAL is a great organization and do think everyone should contact their senator in support of right-to-work.

Thanks for the shout-out, Jason. Sorry, Greg, ten lashes with the wet noodle for you.

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