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Monday, January 18, 2016

Panning Pat: New City Councilor Davis Already A Recall Target, Plus: Driver's Licenses Forever; Guv PAC Up With TV Spot, And: Gator Radar Tracks Torraco 

Things move quickly these days. ABQ Dem City Councilor Pat Davis took office December 1 and already a batch of his constituents are working to have the liberal SE Heights lawmaker kicked out of office. It's that controversial proposal to tear up Central Avenue from Louisiana to Coors for Mayor Berry's rapid bus transit plan that has Pat getting panned and a petition circulating that would lead to a recall election.

Businesses up and down Central--saying it would cost them customers--are banding together to fight the plan which would be financed by an $80 million federal grant and $20 million in city funds. Davis is not  yet backing off from his support, but says if it doesn't ultimately satisfy the concerns of business owners, he could go against it.

A judge would have to determine if the recall advocates have a valid legal argument. If they pass that test they must then gather about 1,400 petition signatures to force a recall election.

The obvious irony here is that Davis was elected in his progressive district with the hope that he would be a leading council critic of Republican Mayor Berry. But in his first high profile issue he is agreeing with Berry. His liberal UNM area district is not just filled with Nob Hill business owners but many strong backers of public transit.

Davis was elected with a huge victory margin and is going to survive any recall effort but the effort is getting his attention and that's the point.

DRIVER'S LICENSES FOREVER

Why is Governor Martinez taking out a meat axe when what's needed to solve the state's never-ending driver's license dilemma is a soft touch? Because that's how she and the Machine roll. That's why.

One of the PACS affiliated with her is up with a TV spot urging the public to call their lawmakers in support of the bill that would give NM a two-tiered license/driving privilege card system akin to Utah's. It's not a bad bill and could be a starting point for a long-sought compromise over giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, but putting the public onus on the lawmakers before they even gather could make a compromise more difficult. Martinez has been doing that for years and it has gotten her nothing, except a great political talking point with an upset public (which appears to have been the point all along).

The TV ad  could also be aimed at shoring up Martinez's public support after it was shattered by that infamous boozy staff holiday party that went national and dented her credibility big time. The public is strongly supportive of license reform and this issue positions the Governor with them--unlike the pizza party in which she was seen acting imperious as she bullied a hotel desk clerk and a Santa Fe police dispatcher.

By the way, the new ad mispronounces the name of GOP State Rep. Paul Pacheco, one of the bill's sponsors. How could such an obvious mistake not be caught? Maybe Jay has been busy with that federal grand jury probe regarding the Guv's campaign finances. . .

GATOR RADAR

Sen. Torraco
Our Alligators raised the red flag on this one a while back. They said that there were rumblings that ABQ GOP State Senator Lisa Torracco was a possible no go for re-election this year. She shot that down but now the Gators are back and vindicated. The chairman of the Bernalillo County Republican Party, Frank Ruvolo, confirms that Torracco is one of three R's gathering petition signatures for a run for the NM Court of Appeals. He told a GOP friendly newsletter:

We have 3 people seeking the one position on the NM Court of Appeals: Steve French, Ned Fuller, Lisa Torraco.

Gov. Martinez is going to appoint a judge to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Justice Cynthia Fry. That new judge will have to seek election in November to fill out Fry's term, if they want to stay on the court.

Even thought the three R's don't know who will get the appointment, they are collecting petition signatures now because they are due by early March and not easy to get. First they must pass muster with the Court of Appearls nominating commission which will send a recommendation to the Governor. That panel meets later this month.

So, if Torracco gets on the nominating list and then gets an appointment from Gov. Martinez she will indeed vacate her Senate seat, the possibility initially raised by the Gators. And if she gets lucky with Susana (the two ain't the best of pals) then you could see ABQ GOP State Rep. Conrad James--who recently announced he would not seek re-election to his seat---make a run for the Senate seat that would be vacated by Torraco.

Now that's what you call being on Gator Radar.

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