Monday, April 13, 2015

Susana Softens On Special Session; Signs Of Deal Making, Plus: All 4 ABQ Councilors Up For Re-election Will Run; What It Means, And: How Susana Went Sour On Candy 

Feeling the heat from her business supporters, Gov. Martinez appears to be softening her hard-line stance on calling a special session of the Legislature to take up the $264 million pork bill that died in the closing moments of the recent session. That makes a special more likely but still in limbo.

While Martinez has not personally picked up the phone to talk directly to the Democratic senators she must have a deal with before calling a special, there has now been some Fourth Floor outreach:

We have certainly been in conversations with representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle. We want to be able to come to a consensus and some agreement before we even decide whether or not we want to have a special session because it costs $50,000 a day to have the special session and we don't want to go in there and not have these conversations and then end up with nothing, or something worse, so we are talking with leadership.

Martinez said she has not spoken directly with arch-rival and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez but she said her staff has tried to connect. She also said her staff has talked with powerful Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith. She said:

We have had that conversation, my staff has.

That's a start and a switch from the dig-in-the-heels attitude that Martinez has sported when dealing with the senate. Business leaders and groups across the state are urging a special which would free money for construction projects that could potentially employ thousands in a state starved for jobs.

And something else is playing out. Lt. Governor John Sanchez recently noted that the Legislature could call itself into an extraordinary session to deal with the capital outlay bill. Even though that has been done only once in state history and is very unlikely now, one state senator told us he thought that it was Sanchez's way of applying some pressure on Martinez to craft a deal. Sanchez is widely expend to seek the 2018 GOP gubernatorial nomination.


Winter & Benton
ABQ City Hall observers were surprised to hear that all four incumbent city councilors up for re-election this October will seek another four year term. For several months insider speculation had Republicans Brad Winter and Trudy Jones possibly stepping aside from the nine member panel. We went as far as to blog that the duo was not expected to return.

Winter is the council's longest serving member, having come aboard in 1999. Jones was first elected in 2007 and will be seeking a third, four year term. Both will be favored for re-election. The Jones far NE Heights seat is heavy Republican. Winter's NE Heights seat is a bit more Dem and might be able to be put in play but it would take a strong contender. Neither Jones or Winter have announced opponents yet.

Winter will retire this year as interim superintendent of APS. Jones is in real estate. Both are conservative Republicans and government minimalists. The main impact of their decision to seek re-election is on the composition of the council. It is currently 5 Dems and 4 Republicans. It takes 6 votes to override a mayoral veto. Incumbent Dem councilors Ike Benton and Rey Garduno will also seek re-election and will be favored to win.

With the council likely to remain split 5 to 4 Republican Mayor Berry will continue to  avoid the veto threat. If Winter and Jones are re-elected and either tires of the post, Berry would name a replacement.

Not that the Dems have been champing at the bit to override anything. During the Berry years the council has largely adopted the role of quiescent bystander as the APD crisis unfolded and the city economy tanked. Berry escaping any rigorous criticism from the council was one ingredient in his easy re-election win in October of 2013. His term expires in Dec. 2017. He says he will not seek a third term.


Rep. Ezzell
Things soured but then turned a bit sweet for Roswell GOP State Representative Candy Spence Ezzell during the recent session. Gov. Martinez raised eyebrows when in mid-March she vetoed Ezzell's bill that would have made more strict the drug testing requirements the state follows for race horses. The bill had passed the Senate and House unanimously.

Martinez said in her veto message that the measure was unnecessary. But that wasn't the end. Dem State Senator Mary Kay Papen sponsored an identical measure. It passed both chambers with little opposition and was then signed by the Guv. However, the Papen bill was amended in the House Judiciary Committee to suit the Governor.

So why did Susana take the candy jar away from Candy by not getting the Ezzell bill amended before it was sent up to her?  Well, maybe the feisty and independent Ezzell wasn't hewing to the Guv's line in the House GOP caucus?  Whatever the case, Ezzell's name is on the legislation along with that of Mary Kay's and the new drug testing requirements are on the books.

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