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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Filing Day Today For All 112 Legislative Seats; We Take A Sneak Peek, Plus : Watching For Fourth Floor Staff Movement And Former NM Congressman Morris Passes At 96 

A big political day in New Mexico today as candidates file for all 112 legislative seats for the 2016 election. You can follow the action via the Secretary of State's office. Filing ends at 5 p.m. today.

There will only be a handful of contested primaries  so the June primary will be a quiet affair, unless the presidential race is still going hot and heavy.

The expected general election match-up in House District 23 between State Rep. Paul Pacheco and attorney Damon Ely, his Dem challenger who is a former Sandoval County Commissioner, has caught our eye. Why? Because Ely frames his race in a way that many consultants and critics feel is the only way for the Dems to get back in the game and perhaps retake the House from the R's:

Talking to the residents of our district, one common concern continued to be brought up: the lack of jobs and economic development. One of the main reasons I decided to run is because of the situation my son faces. He is attending school out of state but has been trying to find a way to come home once he graduates. Unfortunately, he has been unable to find any jobs here. Only 2% of those who leave the state to go to school end up coming back. We are losing our best and brightest because our economy is staggering and jobs are leaving. Over the past five years, we have seen a steady decline in our population. We have an education system that does not value our amazing educators and fails to properly invest in early childhood education. We have seen an economy that is disproportionately reliant on our oil and gas industry rather than investing in home grown alternative energy sources. 

Those are all themes that have been swept under the rug, with the R's planning to make Campaign '16 an anti-crime crusade. Not that that isn't important, but much of the crime problem is related to the long economic downturn.

Rep. Pacheco will be a tough foe for noted trial lawyer Ely. He is seeking his third term and has proven popular for his push to reform the driver's license laws for undocumented immigrants. He scored a win on that one this year. He is also a former police officer and will be well-financed with the help of the Guv's machine.

The Ely-Pacheco contest offers the possibility of a good debate over what New Mexico needs to emphasize. Politics being what it is these days it could descend into a duel about whose body parts are bigger or smaller. We hope not.

District 23 covers parts of NW Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Corrales. It leans R. The Dems best bet is in a presidential election year like this one when turnout increases.

KEY DEVELOPMENT

There's a lot to look for in today's legislative filings, but one that stands out is whether ABQ Dem State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto gets a strong Republican foe or any R foe at all. If the R's don't flex muscle in this swing district, their boasts about taking over the State Senate will be seen in many quarters as so much hot air.

GARDNER WATCH

Hi Keith, you are officially on Gator Watch now that your educator wife has left her state job with the education department and taken a gig as an assistant principal at ABQ's Madison Middle School.

Will her husband, Keith Gardner, Gov. Martinez's chief of staff, be following her out the door soon? Could be. Lots of staffers are going to be looking for jobs as the administration's second term grows longer in the tooth.

SUSANA AND TRUMP

A reader writes:

Here’s a thought for you. It’s surprising that Susana Martinez didn't endorse Trump given the similarities of their style. Neither can articulate their plans or strategies--instead they just make nasty comments about their political opponents.

TOM MORRIS 

Rep. Morris
We're getting unofficial word out of Tucumcari that former Dem US Congressman Tom Morris has passed away at the age of 96. He was a NM congressman from 1959 to '69 when the state had two congressmen elected at large. He was ousted by Republican Manuel Lujan in 1968 when the state went to two congressional districts. Morris was put into the northern district. He was a farmer and banker as well as a politician.
East side real estate broker Richard Randals tells us Morris passed away Saturday and that his services will be Thursday at 10:30 at the First Presbyterian Church. . .

And the Martha Godbey, widow of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Ron Godbey, has passed away in Texas at the age of 81. The couple was popular in NM GOP circles.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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