Wednesday, February 03, 2016

No Tea Party Sippers Here; APS And CNM Bonds Score Big Win, Plus: Highlights From Statewide Candidate Filings 

A healthy win for their big bond issues had officials at the ABQ Public Schools and vocational college CNM breathing easier last night. Voters rejected the pleas of conservative groups like the Rio Grande Foundation and NM Business Coalition to go skeptical on the bonds and gave overwhelming approval to the $575 million APS bond and mill levy package and the $84 million CNM bond. That CNM bond will raise property taxes.

The tea party must have run out of cups because the community wasn't sipping its brew. Voters were sensible not to confuse the mess between the APS Board and its former superintendent with the interests of the community-at-large.

The absence of the city's major business groups in promoting the bond issues to improve the schools for kids was notable and depressing. The ABQ Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Forum and NAIOP, whose leaders of the past would be front and center, were nowhere on this critical vote. It's as if they resent the city they purport to represent. Sad.

The bonds will upgrade dozens of schools and provide hundreds of construction jobs. All three questions pulled over 65% of the vote. There was no big turnout surge with about 31,000 casting ballots. In the 2010 APS/CNM mill levy election about 32,000 voted.

Election results here.


Here's what stood out as the statewide candidates came forth and filed paperwork and petitions with the Secretary of State Tuesday to let their intentions known this election year. . .

Dem Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver dodged a bullet when former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil did not file for the position. She said she was considering a run. Oliver will be the lone Dem contender on the ballot and Roswell State Rep. Nora Espinoza will be the lone R. One of them will fill out the term left vacant when Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran resigned because of a campaign finance scandal and served a month in jail.

Oliver ran against Duran in 2014 and was defeated. She is getting a rare second chance and her odds look much better, this being a presidential election cycle when Dems perform better. Oliver also promises Dems she will be a more aggressive campaigner after taking negative TV hits from Duran in the last campaign and failing to respond.


Judy Nakamura was a popular ABQ District Court Judge when she was recently appointed by Gov. Martinez to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court, but she is going to have her hands full keeping the seat when she faces election in November.

The only candidate to file for the Dem nomination was Court of Appeals Judge Michael Vigil. He's currently chief judge of the appeals court. With ties to the north (he's a grad of Santa Fe High) Vigil can be expected to run strong there. He's been on the court since 2003 and has a statewide network of contacts. Also, it has been ages since any Republican has been elected to the five member court.

As for Republican Nakamura, like Vigil she will  have no primary opposition. She is also a respected jurist and a solid vote-getter. She's been a NM judge for nearly 20 years and also has a wide list of contacts. But her party--Republican--and Vigil's edge with Hispanics are major obstacles for her to overcome.


The Dems have also put up a strong candidate as they labor to keep the Court of Appeals seat being vacated by Cynthia Fry. Julie Vargas, an ABQ Old Town native with over 20 years experience as a business attorney, is the sole Dem to file for the post.

Gov. Martinez has been given three names for the Fry seat by the judicial nominating commission. Vargas is one of them. An appointment is expected in the next month. However, the Governor is expected to name one of two Republican attorneys recommended by the commission--Steve French or Ned Fuller. Both filed for the seat Tuesday.

Vargas' ABQ base, ethnic advantage and longtime presence in the legal community give her the front-runner position against either Fuller or French, both of whom have deep wells of support in the GOP.


The long running political radio broadcast "Dateline New Mexico" has a new voice. Veteran newsman Tom Trowbridge takes over from the retiring Mark Bentley.

Dateline began decades ago under famed newsman and commentator Ernie Mills. The program follows state politics from Santa Fe and airs every weekday on stations across the state, including KANW 89.1 at 8:05 a.m. and KSFR 101.1 FM at 3:55 p.m. . .

In a first draft Tuesday, we blogged that former ABQ State Rep. Bennie Aragon, who died this week, was elected House Majority Leader. He was House Majority Whip.

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