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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Socks Say It All: Diminished Guv Says Her Lines Against A Dramatically Different Backdrop; Plus: Our Must-Read Analysis From The Deep Insiders On Where Key Issues Are Headed In This 2016 Session 

Usually we would put up a picture of the Governor giving her State of the State address on the first day of the legislative session, but in this case this pair of socks cheerfully decorated with pizza and cokes says it all. (Full speech here.)

The socks, worn by some 20  Democratic lawmakers, speaks to the diminution of this governorship as it enters the second year of its second term.

Solons who once trembled in fear of the Governor and her political machine now openly mock her. Good taste or not, the message reminded anyone who may have forgotten that Martinez's behavior at her holiday staff pizza party gave her foes more courage to tangle with her.

And in only hours before her speech to the Legislature, we received scientific polling numbers from a select number of NM counties that showed the public also appears to have lost respect for the chief executive in the wake of the pizza fiasco.

Likely voters in the upcoming presidential election in Valencia, Sandoval, Cibola and McKinley counties were asked this month about their opinion of the Governor. It showed her taking a big hit with independent voters--especially in Valencia. If the findings were extrapolated statewide, she would be under the critical 50% approval level, probably for the first time. The findings were given to us on the premise of confidentiality, but. . .

Another poll released by Common Cause NM and conducted December 28-January 6 (shortly after the Eldorado Hotel party) showed a crash in the number of people who believe the state is headed in the right direction. Only 23 percent of New Mexicans polled by Research and Polling said we were on the right track. In the group's poll last year 41% of those surveyed thought the state was headed in the right direction.

Adding to the Guv's opening day optics problems was a small group of protesters outside the Roundhouse demanding she be impeached for what they called her abuse of official power at the pizza party. It was a sidebar but it got media attention and showed that deference to Martinez is on the wane.

NOW WHAT?

The governor's speech, as expected, was very heavy on crime and punishment. That will be the theme the R's take into the '16 campaign when all legislative seats are up for election and she tries to keep GOP control of the state House and strengthen her hand in the Senate.

How will that and other issues play out in the 30 day session? We have gathered a noted panel of Wall-Leaners and Senior Alligators (no juniors on this one) to provide the state's top analysis of what's to come.

ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME

Here's what to expect on crime via a Roundhouse Wall-Leaner of decades standing (they do stand a lot):

Expect the crime legislation to pass the House in the first two weeks like shit through a goose. The Republicans want it sitting in Senate committees with plenty of time left so they can criticize Democrats for sitting on the bills. These crime bills will go first to the Senate Public Affairs Committee where they are intended to make ABQ Sen. Daniel Ivy-Soto sweat. He's a Democrat who holds a swing seat Republicans hope to capture in November. The bills will also frequently get to the Senate Judiciary Committee on which Democrats have four lawyers and where many will die.

The Governor wants her crime bill agenda to reaach Senate Judiciary in order to create campaign fodder against Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. His seat is the Governor’s real goal for November. As an experienced criminal defense lawyer,  Sen. Sanchez can be expected to  lead the opposition to the crime bills. The Governor would rather have the bills die there than actually pass, so she preserves the crime agenda for November.

Man, that's good stuff. And we're only getting warmed up. . .

EDUCATION FROZEN

It’s now apparent that Sec. of Education Hanna Skandera has failed to move the ball on education. The many complicated rules and regulations adopted by the Dept. of Education haven’t improved student performance and in fact conditions are now arguably even worse. Other states are now reversing and abandoning these policies. PEDs rules are being successfully challenged in the courts and are not withstanding scrutiny there. So the Governor’s education agenda is going nowhere this session – again.

IT'S THE CAMPAIGN

An experienced Wall-Leaner has the scoop on how the coming election weighs on this 30 day session:

Armed with the Governor’s war chest (Martinez political adviser) Jay McClesky helped Democrats in 2014 finally lose the House of Representatives. Jay is certainly looking forward to this year (Federal indictment or not) because he and his pollster wife will once again make hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's more than enough to pay his lawyers and any fines, with plenty left over.

So this session will be largely about the November elections: the chance for Republicans to hold the House and maybe pick up a seat or two in the Senate. The Governor and McCleskey will obsess over defeating Senate Majority Leader Sanchez in hopes of eliminating an obstacle to the final two years of this administration. They will search for every opportunity to capture press critical of the Senate Leader.

FOLLOW THE MONEY


Politics equals big money and a Senior Alligator has the big money play Martinez may  soon be making:

This session will also be a lot about creating high profile issues that Gov. Martinez can use to raise money nationally. Expect Right to Work to again be one of her big issues, not because it matters much to average New Mexicans and not because it stands a chance of passage but it is a good way to raise money from big corporations and anti-union groups. 

With her star power now irreparably tarnished, she is no longer rising to the national stage and the dollars which flowed from those former expectations won’t be there. But Republican donors love Right to Work, and if she can no longer raise money based on her persona, promise and charm, the Governor must try to collect money on issues.

Hey, we're the keeper of the Alligators and we didn't think of that one! But there's even more. How about an actual way out on the driver's licenses? Read on. . .

DRIVER'S LICENSES FOREVER

This Senior Alligator predicts this is finally the year Gov. Martinez throws in the towel on driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Here's how he thinks it will play out:

The media and press will obsess over driver's licenses and the Governor has recently gone back to that tired topic with a blast of TV ads on her signature issue. But the Governor and  McCleskey may finally have become tone deaf after too many years blasting this issue at max volume. New polling suggests that the public supports the Democrats’ position – which is that everyone on the roads should have driver's licenses not a permit the Governor is supporting. Law enforcement is re-emerging in support of issuing licenses. Other states are increasingly following New Mexico’s lead issuing licenses. The public is wondering if Susana is only a one trick pony.

Gov. Martinez is finally realizing she’s lost on driver's licenses. Expect her to coopt the U.S. end to Vietnam--declare victory and go home. She will finally get behind a two tier license resolution, as the Senate has passed previously and then tout her success. Though she killed this solution in the past and declared it unacceptable, she will now claim credit. Though most of the press and media will be willingly spun with that result, ultimately the Governor’s credibility with legislators she strung along will only further erode.

Holy Cow! These Senior Gators are on a tear. Susana goes for an actual license? And it makes sense. Why stop now. Here's more from the Roundhouse. . .

PIZZA PARTY HANGOVER

The infamous pizza party that embarrassed Martinez nationally is front and center at the Roundhouse with some Dem legislators even showing up Tuesday sporting socks decorated with pizza and coke. Here's the takeaway from one veteran lawmaker:

Following the Governor’s Eldorado Hotel confrontation with police and security last month, the public has finally seen what legislators have known for five years – this Governor’s true self. Some in the press and media are finally willing to discuss what they have long known about her. The Capitol will be filled this session with endless jokes at the Governor’s expense, just as at every holiday party this past season. It’s not that she was loaded – plenty of legislators are without room to criticize that behavior. It’s that the alcohol removed her public pretenses and the public saw the person legislators deal with in the Capitol, and off camera.

Nailed again. Dyson and Terrell are out of their chairs.  More, says the crowd. . .

NO RECOVERY

Is Gov. Martinez's new and much less favorable public image in the aftermath of the pizza party irreversible? The short answer is "yes," says this Wall-Leaner with fresh paint on his suit:

The more the Governor and her Chief of Staff Keith Gardner try to bully legislators this year, the more they harden their impression as bullies and not leaders. Unfortunately for the Governor, at this point there is really no recovery possible from her image collapse. Like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s debate freeze on camera, or Sarah Palin’s inability to name a newspaper for newscaster Katie Couric, no number of TV commercials on driver's licenses, and no story time photo ops with children will erase the fact that the public for the first time now really knows this Governor.

Those are really good analogies with the fate of other political figures.

Gosh, this stuff is so good today, we wonder if one of those insiders might put us out of a job. Well, that's why yer little 'ol blog is known far and wide as the state's #1 and also as. .

The home of New Mexico politics.

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