Wednesday, April 29, 2015

James Vs. Thomson For State House Yet Again? Possible Rematch Raises Questions, Plus: Dr. No Says Maybe On Special And Some DA History 

Former NM State Rep. Elizabeth Thomson let it be known at last weekend's state Dem meeting that she will run yet again for the NE Heights ABQ House seat that she lost to Republican Conrad James last year. It's an announcement being greeted with mixed feelings by Dems hungry to regain control of the 70 member House after losing it in '14 to the GOP for the first time in over 60 years.

Some will argue that Thomson's name ID makes her a good choice. Others will contend that she had her chance and it's time for a new face to do what she could not.

James was unopposed when he took the seat in 2010 to succeed Republican Janice Arnold-Jones. Thomson, who is so far the only Dem in the race, ousted James from the seat in 2012, helped by the higher turnout in a presidential election year. She can point out that '16 also has a presidential contest. But since then James has grown in strength. For wary Dems the question is whether Thomson has.


When it comes to a special session of the NM Legislature to pass that $264 million bill for construction projects statewide, a Senior Alligator recently said that a deal was done and that there will be a special, but Dem State Sen. John Arthur "Dr. No" Smith, who has a leading role in negotiating for a special with the GOP controlled House and the Governor, is warning the differences could be "insurmountable."

. . . For a special session to be successful, the House, Senate and executive must overcome the conflicts that led to the failure of the capital outlay package in the first place. Those difference remain and, while it would be advantageous for the Legislature to pass and the governor to sign a capital outlay bill, those differences might be insurmountable. A more important use of policymaker time would be to reform the capital outlay process that now too often leads to money being set aside for projects that never happen.

With over $1 billion in capital projects previously approved by the Legislature but the money going unspent, the urgency for reform of the capital process has never been greater. Can't we have a special interim committee get to work and present reforms to the '16 legislative session?


The ABQ City Council won praise for recently voting 7 to 2 to slow down approval of the $4.5 million contract for APD Federal Monitor James Ginger. It was read as a sign that the council was finally being more assertive in trying to resolve the crisis. But some remain cynical, including activist Dinah Vargas who says of the vote:

I am not in agreement with you at the moment regarding the recent ‘development of some huevos.’ Mostly because I am waiting for the bait and switch, shakedown, double talk, or otherwise shady deal to emerge. The monitor was always the big play. Let’s see, time will surely tell.

Al Sceresse
The exceptionally early start in the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney has readers reading up. Several point out that current DA Kari Brandeburg is the longest serving in history, now in her fourth, four year term and a possible contender for a fifth term next year. So who was the longest serving DA before her? Our Legal Beagles tell us it was Al Sceresse, a Dem who was first elected in 1960, re-elected in '64 and '68 and who died in office in 1972.  We managed to get a photo of him from photographer Mark Bralley who must have been a teenager when he snapped it.

Who was appointed to fill Sceresse's well-worn shoes? It was none other than Jim Brandenburg--father of Kari--who filled the vacancy, won election in '72 and served one term. He was defeated by fellow Dem Ira Robinson in '76.  And who was the last Republican DA? It was Bob Schwartz who was elected in 1988 and re-elected in 1992.

With the APD crisis continuing to make headlines the DA contest next year promises to be one of the most hotly contested and one of the more important.

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