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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bad Timing? GOP State Senate Candidate In Battle For Swing Seat Revels In NRA Backing, Plus: More On Guns And Our DC Reps And Our Contest For Free ABQ Vintage Tickets 

Diego Espinoza
Is this really the time--only days after the Orlando nightclub massacre--for Sandoval County area GOP State Senate candidate Diego Espinoza to be boasting of an endorsement from the National Rifle Association?

The National Rifle Association's (NRA) Political Victory Fund and its members in Senate District 9, announce their endorsement of Diego Espinoza. "I am committed to protecting our Second Amendment rights," Espinoza said. "As your next senator, I will fight endlessly to ensure our fundamental liberties remain intact and law abiding citizens do not have their freedoms taken away."

Coming on the heels of the Orlando massacre, Diego reveling in the NRA's endorsement seems particularly insensitive and in your face, even if ultimately the endorsement is politically helpful.

The pundits are now saying the Trump presidential nomination could make the state senate races more difficult for GOP senate hopefuls in the state's urban areas. The Espinoza vs. Dem Sen. John Sapien contest is one of them. In the past Sapien has won by razor thin margins. Will Trump be the reason for another such win? And how will Espinoza handle the Donald dilemma?

HEINRICH'S HOT SEAT

Meantime, Senator Martin Heinrich says he is no longer a member of the NRA, but exactly when he opted out is unclear. The news:

Common sense solutions require an ability to work across the aisle,” Heinrich said. . . about his NRA membership status. . . “As someone who has a true passion for hunting, I’ve found partnering with sportsmen’s groups to be a better fit in protecting the Second Amendment and the outdoor traditions I want to pass on to future generations.”
Sen. Heinrich

. . . The NRA gave Heinrich’s voting record on gun rights an A grade when he sought re-election to the U.S. House in 2010 and a “B” grade in 2012, when he ran for the Senate. Heinrich’s statement said he gave up his NRA membership “years ago.” His spokeswoman said that no one is sure when but that he could have left the group as long as five years ago.

This is very tricky territory for Heinrich who is up for re-election in 2018. Not saying when you left the NRA doesn't make it any less so.

We recall former US Senator Bingaman, another liberal Democrat, voting against a ban on assault weapons in 1993. But in 2012, in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre and not seeking re-election, Bingaman switched sides and supported the ban.

Heinrich is trying. He's been a key player this week in the coalition that moderate GOP Senator Susan Collins is trying to put together to restrict suspected terrorists from getting guns. (Heinrich/Collins video here.)

Is it enough for the freshman senator? It's a question that we have a feeling keeps him up at night.

GUNS AND DC

We blogged Tuesday that of the four Dems in the state's congressional delegation only ABQ Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham is supportive of a ban on assault weapons. Northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan's office asked that his full statement on the matter be run:

The Congressman supports a comprehensive approach to addressing gun violence including background checks, closing the loophole that allows suspected terrorists to legally buy guns, and limits on magazine size. If a comprehensive plan includes a ban on assault weapons, he would consider that as well, especially in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, where an individual with suspected terrorist ties was able to purchase an assault weapon.

AGAINST THE BAN

Lots of reader input on the assault weapons issue. Here's Ron Nelson arguing against a ban which another reader made the case for on the Tuesday blog;

---“assault rifle” is a pundit made up term and not used in the gun industry or the military.
---180 rounds a minute? That’s the capacity of a fully automatic weapon, which by the way is already banned for sale
---“AR” is not an acronym for automatic rifle. It’s in reference to the model for the civilian semi-automatic model related to the “M” fully automatic military series. Perhaps they should change it to SAR, to help clarify any misunderstanding ?
---I know of people in this town, including myself that can fire a pistol, with multiple reloads faster than most can with a semiautomatic rifle.

FREE VINTAGE TICKETS

We're pleased again this year to to promote Vintage ABQ, the city's premier food and wine event. It benefits arts education for area school children.

One of this week's special events is the Grand Tasting Friday evening at the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Talk about a roster of great restaurants. Artichoke Cafe, Scalo, and Prairie Star are just three of the standouts presenting their best culinary efforts accompanied by fine wines from around the world. Tickets for the tasting are $85 a pop and well worth it. but four of our lucky readers are going for free. but there is a price. . .

We'll award two readers a set of tickets who write the best 75 words on an issue making the latest NM political news. So get your thinking caps on and email us your entries today only. You're hard work will be amply rewarded. Good Luck.

LARRY MORGAN & CHRIS LACKMANN

Larry Morgan
We learned with sadness of the passing of Larry Morgan, 78, a behind-the-scenes political player who made New Mexico a better place in which to live. Here's part of his outstanding resume:

In 1969, Larry and the family moved to the Washington, DC area to begin his political career as Press Secretary for U.S. Congressman Ed Foreman (R-NM). From 1972 to 1981 he was Press Secretary/Legislative Assistant and ultimately Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Harold Runnels (D-NM). 1981 saw Larry serving as Legislative Assistant and ultimately, Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM). From 1983 until his retirement in 1994, Larry was Director, Legislative & Public Affairs, Office of Territorial and International Affairs, U. S. Department of Interior.

Well, he did it all and without the vitriol so prevalent in modern day politics, says Manny Gonzales a veteran GOP politico who is today a top aide to Lt.Governor John Sanchez:

"Larry was a real gentleman. The hallmark of his career was that he never made any enemies. He brought people together," recalled Gonzales.

Morgan was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and died at his Alamogordo home June 12.

And we receive word of the passing of longtime attorney and  Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Lackmann. His friend and fellow lawyer Steve Suttle says:

Joe, I  note the passing of Chris Lackmann. Solo practitioner, defense attorney, prosecutor. A true gentleman and a true scholar. A worthy adversary and a worthy friend. One of the last of the largely unsung "lawyers lawyer." Chris was the sort of yeoman public servant whose contributions generally go unsung. Many will miss him greatly.

Lackmann also worked for the NM attorney general's office. He was in his early 60's and suffered a heart attack. BernCo DA Kari Brandenburg said:

Chris was a true connoisseur of the law. He was looked to for his wisdom and keen intellect. We have lost a brilliant colleague and a genuinely good guy. 

On the gun debate, we blogged this week that Sen. Bingaman was up for reelection in 2014. Actually, he finished his term at the end of 2012 and Martin Heinrich had been elected in November of that year to succeed him. There was no 2014 election for his seat. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016
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