Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Latest Political Chatter On State's Congressional Delegation, More On Nora Vs. Maggie In SOS Contest, And: A Potpourri On Pot 

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan
Here are the questions our Alligators are asking about  the state's congressional delegation this spring. . .

Is Democratic US Senator Tom Udall really serious about running for governor in 2018? The answer is like the weather--it changes a lot.

Would Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich really leave his senate seat to accept an appointment as Secretary of Interior under a President Hillary Clinton, leaving Republican Governor Susana Martinez to name his replacement? The answer is maybe.

Will ABQ Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham run for governor in '18? It all depends on the answer to today's first question.

Will northern Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, oversee a takeover of the House from the R's this year because of the unpopularity of the GOP's presidential candidate? The answer is no, but the Dems could pick up some seats.


Nora's old look
More today on what could be a hot and heavy race for secretary of
state. We blogged last week of how Republican SOS hopeful Nora Espinoza has shed her showy hats, undergone a makeover and raised enough money to make her competitive with Dem SOS hopeful Maggie Toulouse Oliver, at least in the early going. Toulouse Oliver campaign consultant Alan Parkman isn't buying the new package:

Espinoza has only recently developed an "interest" in campaign laws and ethics reforms. Over her more than nine years in the New Mexico House, Espinoza introduced exactly zero bills on these issues until after her last-minute effort to get her name on the ballot. 
Newer Nora

It's going to take more than a wardrobe change for New Mexicans to think that Nora Espinoza is anything more than a far-right puppet of the Martinez Administration. (Former State Senator Rod Adair is her campaign manager? Really? Not the best choice given that the last secretary of state candidate he worked for ended up in prison.)

The fact is voters. . . want an experienced leader with integrity who can right the ship and ensure transparency and accountability. . . For the same nine years that Nora Espinoza was spending all of her time trying to ban books and outlaw same-sex marriage, Maggie Toulouse Oliver was modernizing voter systems, expanding access to the ballot and making Bernalillo County elections processes a national model. The choice is clear.

Meanwhile, the Espinoza campaign continues to try to frame the race as in play, even though the Dems say higher voter turnout in the presidential election year will guarantee a victory:

Nora Espinoza raised $101,234.48 through last weekend. While Maggie Toulouse Oliver reported contributions of $189,931.20, Espinoza. . . has only been running for 8 weeks, while Oliver has been campaigning for 6 months. 

“My opponent began taking contributions on October 6,” Espinoza said, “I did not  even gather a single signature till January 25, and didn’t begin my campaign till February 9. That makes a big difference.”  

Espinoza reported raising a total of $78,274.48 on her first report, but stated: “We got another $23,000 during the week following the cutoff for the 1st Report, and those funds can’t be reported till May. We are getting great support from individual donors.” Toulouse Oliver currently shows $106,682.61 on hand, compared with Espinoza’s $101,537.68. 

The Secretary of State's race is the only statewide executive office on the ballot this year. Neither Toulouse Oliver or Espinoza, a Roswell state representative, is opposed in the June 7th primary. As you can seen the general election campaign for this pair is well underway.


In blogging the recent campaign finance reports, we quoted this passage from a 2014 Santa Fe Reporter article:

Randy Briggs is planning to host Martinez at a $2,600-a-plate fundraiser at his home this Thursday, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Briggs, a Carlsbad native and optometrist, is also listed as the business agent for Grandote Green LLC. The company applied for a commercial development license earlier this year to start a "marijuana medical and retail" business in La Veta, a tiny town of 800 in the south central region of Colorado.

Briggs responds with this:

First, a minimum requirement of Colorado for dispensers and growers is that license applicants must have been in-state residents for at least two years. I am a lifelong New Mexico resident, and I always will be.

Second, I have never applied to be a marijuana dispenser or grower, nor do I ever plan to. I’m a land owner and property manager (Grandote Golf & Country Club). That’s it. 

The very misleading reference to a “commercial development permit” was just a first-time zoning application for an old building that was acquired with the purchase of the golf course, and it had never been zoned. With a zoning permit, it’s customary to check every box, and I happened to be the first lucky applicant to check the newly added “marijuana medical and retail” box along with all the others. Being first generated news in the small town, but I was simply navigating local codes for legitimate and legal operations for a tenant’s use of the building. . .

Maybe “marijuana medical and retail” on the application sounds scandalous in New Mexico where non-medical, retail operations are not legal, but I’m just a retired landlord with properties in Colorado, not a “connection” to the medical marijuana industry, as you put it. Randy Briggs, O.D.


Dd you know how close to Arizona is to holding a vote on legalizing marijuana in the November election?

The campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Arizona has gathered more than 200,000 signatures in its effort to qualify for the November ballot, it reported Tuesday. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which has been pushing the effort for about a year, needs 150,642 signatures from registered voters to make the ballot. Some of the gathered signatures may be invalid because they were signed by people who cannot vote. To account for invalid signatures, the group aims to collect about 225,000 signatures, a spokesman said, and hopes to have a healthy cushion once the signatures are verified by the Secretary of State's Office. Barrett Marson, a campaign spokesman, could not say when those signatures would be filed with that office.

Thanks to Tuscon reader Kathryn Carroll for the heads-up.

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