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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Basking With Burrell; Potential Guv Candidate Enjoys Afterglow Of Press Debut; A Biz Wiz With Fizz? Plus: Susana's Off-Script Struggles And The "Cowards" Of The Council 

Dan Burrell
Santa Fe businessman Dan Burrell seems to be inching toward a run for the '18 Dem gubernatorial nomination and in doing so perhaps putting a target on his back for other possible contenders to shoot at. He says:

If the opportunity down the road arose to serve in some capacity, that would be interesting to me and I would be honored to do it. But only if I felt I could make a genuine impact.

Burrell's name has been whispered in political circles for months. He's received fawning coverage from the ABQ business paper and that was seconded by a Sunday front-page love letter from the conservative ABQ Journal which touted his business credentials.

The 37 year old a native of upstate New York is deep into real estate. He gained fame in southern New Mexico when he founded an $85 million osteopathic hospital in partnership with NMSU. Former Republican Governor Garrey Carruthers, now NMSU president, joined the love fest for Burrell calling him "one of the most exciting new entrepreneurs in New Mexico.”

We're not sure how all this plays in a potential Democratic primary but Burrell is a Clintonite and his centrist positioning (he wants to be like investor Warren Buffett) is par for the course, although that could change in the heat of combat (think Bernie Sanders pushing Hillary leftward).

The glowing article exalted Burrell as a new "New Mexico power player." It was a calculated rollout, raising the question of what happens when things aren't so calculated. Also, a potential candidacy raises questions about the specific sources of Burrell's apparently ample wealth. That was alluded to in the piece but not spelled out in detail (the reference to his link to an heir of the Heinz ketchup fortune is titillating).

The current zeitgeist is ideal for political outsiders and that gives Burrell a helping hand. But there was something too perfect--almost preternatural--about this rollout (especially the glamour shots). It aroused the curiosity of the Alligators. One of the Senior variety, however, was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt:

Burrell is creating jobs by building an $85 million Osteopathic Medical School. Another of Burrell's programs provides for college scholarships. Someone needs to encourage him to build a dental school. You rarely hear stories of New Mexico's wealthy Republicans giving back to the community like Burell. He could run for Governor in 3 years and self-finance but why run when he can do more on his own to help New Mexico?

Burrell is acting boldly and that separates him from most of the potential field. And it's assumed he will take out his wallet if and when the time comes. Burrell got them in the theater now they wait to see if he can act.

SUSANA'S STRUGGLE

Gov. Martinez is tough to beat when she has a script in her hand but it's the impromptu that continues to cause her to stumble. There were no handlers around when this revealing episode unfolded:

The Taos News asked Gov. Martinez during a visit Oct. 8 whether the state might follow Albuquerque's lead and rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. But the governor did not have a definitive answer and she appeared to be taken off guard by the question. “Oh, I don’t, ah, I’ve been so concentrated on the tourism and all of the economic development and announcements that we’re ready to make, really good ones, that I haven’t discussed that with the mayor (of Albuquerque) or why he did it or what happened,” Martinez said. When pressed if that was something she might consider, Martinez replied, “You know, I don’t know, I haven’t given it any thought at all. It’s not anything that I haven’t — I’m concentrating on making sure we got jobs and jobs and jobs, for everyone.”

It's the kind of off the cuff question you would get on "Meet the Press" or other national broadcasts that the Governor has assiduously avoided since taking office nearly 6 years ago. It reinforces her tenure as strong on symbolism (which is an accomplishment) but weak on substance and policy--which remain weaknesses. (By the way, the renaming of Columbus Day in ABQ originated with the city council. Mayor Berry did not play a role).

PRIMED FOR CRIME

Well, Taos is probably more concerned about what Martinez has to say about this rather than the Columbus Day controversy:

Taos topped the state with the highest rate of property crime per capita in 2014. The FBI includes burglary, larceny and vehicle thefts under the property crimes category. According to the data, Taos had 107 property crimes per 1,000 residents. Gallup, with a population of 22,359, came in second with 106 property crimes per 1,000 people. Taos police Chief David Weaver, whose department has funding for 22 certified law enforcement officers, attributed the high burglary rate to heroin and opioid users looking to feed their addictions. He also said the difficulty retaining officers has impacted the department’s ability to bring down property crime rates.

The FBI reports New Mexico has earned another #1 position on an ignominious list. We are now tops in the USA for our rate of burglaries. Drug addiction in Taos and Española aiding mightily in sending us to the top. It's small consolation that news reports say "burglaries in the state fell 13 percent from 2013, following the national trend. However, the state’s burglary rate went from second to No. 1 in the nation, just edging Arkansas."

Back on Indigenous Peoples Day, ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis is asking that the council censure Dem City Council President Rey Garduño for calling three GOP councilors who voted against the proclamation "cowards." Geez, Dan, that's one of the nicer things we've heard about the city councilors recently.

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