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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Gary Johnson: Our Harold Stassen Or A Potential Prez? He Sets Thursday ABQ Visit, Plus: Blackout Blues; PRC Chair Has Questions For PNM, And: Debating Dunn; Moving Toward the Center Or Stuck In Right Field? 

Do you get the vibe that Gary Johnson might be the next Harold Stassen, the former governor of Minnesota who became famous for seeking and failing to win the GOP presidential nomination nine times?

The former NM Governor is known for his tenacity so at 63 it's easy to see him running for the White House another three or four times.

This year marks Johnson's second presidential run and he brings his Libertarian show to town Thursday at 6 p.m for a rally at the ABQ Convention Center.

Former Republican Johnson says his candidacy will draw from both Trump and Clinton but he recently named ABQ GOP state Senator Lisa Torraco as his statewide chair. (Yes, it is interesting that Torraco is not going with Trump as she faces a possibly stiff Dem challenge for her senate seat from Dem Bill Tallman).

It doesn't appear Johnson will make the presidential debates unless a minor miracle occurs and he can start averaging 15% in the national polls. But it probably doesn't bother him much. Like Stassen before him the real joy for Johnson has always been in in the running.

BLACKOUT BLUES

She was deluged with public phone calls until 11 Sunday night, says the chairwoman of the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). Now she wants to do some questioning of her own of PNM officials about the massive power blackout that struck the ABQ metro and Santa Fe Sunday night.

PRC Chair Valerie Espinoza tells us she is concerned about how long it took the public and the PRC to be informed by PNM. "No one from PNM contacted me about the outage and I was unable to answer the many questions I was getting from concerned citizens."

There was no communication with the public from PNM for roughly the first hour of the blackout which in some areas lasted for three hours.

Democrat Espinoza of Santa Fe, who is up for re-election for a second, four year term this year but faces no opponent, says she plans on asking her questions of PNM at a meeting next Wednesday and they will include inquiries as to why so much of the electricity went down when only one PNM station in ABQ was struck by lightning.

PNM Monday called the lightning strike "extraordinary" and that the system acted as it should by shutting itself down to prevent further damage.

THE PIDCOCK SUIT

A lawsuit over the results of the ABQ Public Schools February mill levy and bond issue election has finally been resolved, a top APS administrator informs.

He tells us that ABQ District Judge Nan Nash Monday ruled that the challenge to the election by political gadfly and attorney Robert Pidcock does not hold water. That means some $575 million in construction projects can proceed (although Pidcock is expected to appeal Nash's ruling to the state Supreme Court). Nash refused to dismiss the lawsuit at first blush and gave Pidcock his day in court.

APS bashing has become one of the favorite sports of the city's economic elite as they lament the sorry state of the economy here and their faltering bottom lines. The real problem, as most experts will tell you, is that thousands of students damaged by poverty and family dysfunction are being deposited on the doorstep of our school system.

The public schools bashers carefully drop off their youngsters each morning at the exclusive Manzano Day School and ABQ Academy and the like.  Meanwhile, demonized APS is left to battle the deleterious effects of an ever deepening social conditions crisis among its students.

DUNNING DUNN

Dunn
Plenty of reaction to our blog on what we said has been a move to the center or at least the center right by GOP State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. Reader Donna Swanson weighs in with a different take:

The idea to transfer our public lands to the state is not a move to the center, but a very sneaky ploy to remove public land from the people and transfer our birthright away so that corporations can strip us of our resources. Hunters, fishers, hikers, campers, outfitters, nature lovers of all types will lose if this happens. Teddy Roosevelt worked to protect lands. Aubrey Dunn is working against protection of our public lands. Ranchers will also lose because of how little they currently pay to grace cattle on federal lands. New Mexico Wildlife Federation and also the Otero Public Lands Alliance stand against the transfer of federal public lands to the state. This is not at all about Early Childhood Education, but about stripping from the people the lands which they hold near and dear. This is not centrist politics in any way. I wholeheartedly disagree with such a premise as stated in your article.

And we disagree with you, Donna. Dunn's proposal is to have subsurface mineral acreage below private land transferred to the state not, as you say, "transfer our public lands." But that is not the move to the center we're talking about. Designating the proceeds to an early childhood education permanent fund is indeed a Republican move to the center. When was that cause near and dear to the current powers-that-be in the GOP?

Also, Dunn is one of the very few Republicans to say the Legislature should consider an increase in the state gasoline tax to help resolve the budget crisis. A move to the center? You bet it is when you have the sitting Republican Governor still saying no tax increases no matter what as well as an overwhelming majority of R's mimicking her.

And then there's Dunn's refusal to come out against the proposed constitutional amendment to tap the $14.6 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education. Another move to the center? Definitely. The Governor is against that as is every GOP member of the state House. By the away, former Democratic State Land Commissioner Ray Powell Jr., who Dunn defeated in 2014, was opposed to that constitutional amendment. (The two could be in a rematch in 2018.)

We get the environmental concerns about Dunn's leasing proposal, Donna, but if you look at his actions in totality you see a politician carving out territory where precious few Republicans currently reside. Think of how Republican Senator Pete Domenci positioned himself in the old days and you get an inkling of how Dunn is playing his hand.

(Dunn put out a news release responding to his environmental critics who are against his early childhood proposal.)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016
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