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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Gay Governor? Mayor Gonzales Continues To Test Waters, Plus: Legal Beagles List Possible US Attorney Contenders, And: Updating The Heinrich File 

Mayor Gonzales
Is New Mexico ready for an openly gay Governor? Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is testing the waters. He interviews with a TV station this week about the troubles he endured when he was in the closet.

Wikpedia says there has been one openly bisexual state governor and one state governor has come out as gay. It wouldn't necessarily be a high hurdle to cross in a Democratic Party but in a general election? That's a whole other story.

Gonzales is up for re-election as mayor in March of 2018. He could also seek the June '18 Democratic Guv nod at the same time, but most observers we spoke with believe it has to be one or the other. Other candidates will be fully committed while Gonzales would be hedging his bets and making himself appear weak.

Gay may not be the issue for Gonzales as much as big government. His relentless advocacy for a tax on sugary drinks (to back the good cause of early childhood funding) is getting him deep into City Different hot water. If it's a loser on that liberal turf, statewide it could be a candidacy killer.

Our Alligators report Gonzales has already lined up consultants for any future Guv bid and will mine progressive support around the state if he jumps in.

Now that's surely what Attorney General Hector Balderas doesn't want. He's another prospective '18 Dem candidate but he doesn't need more Hispanic men--gay or otherwise--seeking the nomination. That would give way too much breathing room to Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham who is already off and running.

Jeff Apodaca, son of former NM Governor Jerry Apodaca, is coming in and State Senator Joe Cervantes is weighing a bid. A friend of Balderas says he will soon conduct polling and that will give him some guidance, but this primary is going to be a crap shoot, not like the lay-ups Hector has had for his bids for state auditor and AG. It's a tough decision.

As for talk that we could get a self-funded business person coming into the contest, maybe, but one of the possibles in that regard, Santa Fe businessman Dan Burrell who made a splash when he spearheaded funding for an osteopathic medical school at NMSU, chuckled at the notion when we asked him. "It's fun to hear that stuff, but I am busy working my business and raising a young family. That is not in the cards for now."

As for Santa Fe Dem businessman Alan Webber, who made a run for the Dem nod in 2014, he'd like to go again, but an entry by Mayor Gonzales could complicate things as both appeal to the same progressive base.

US ATTORNEY NAMES

Blair Dunn
Over at the US attorney's office in ABQ they're waiting to find out who their new boss will be. Current US attorney Damon Martinez, a Democrat, will soon head to the exits as the Trump administration chooses one of its own for the high ranking law enforcement job. Our Legal Beagles have the top names being circulated for the post. They are:

ABQ attorney Erlinda Johnson, who recently served as defense attorney for former Sec. of State Dianna Duran who pled guilty to corruption charges; John Anderson, a Santa Fe attorney at the regional firm of Holland and Hart and ABQ attorney Blair Dunn, 35, the son of NM Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr.

The names are being collected by GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce, the only Republican in the state's congressional delegation. The White House will make the final call with the advice of Pearce who will consult with other top state Republicans.

HEINRICH UPDATE

We blogged recently that in 2011 then-US Rep. Martin Heinrich had "cashed out" of having town hall meetings. But he did have one before doing that. In 2009, at UNM, a Heinrich town hall drew a big crowd.

Also, in a first draft Monday we said that Sen. Heinrich had voted for an amendment allowing drugs from Canada to be sold in the USA. Of course he voted against it but he may have enjoyed that error, given the hits he's been taking for that vote.

And the plot thickens. NJ Sen. Cory Booker, one of 12 Dem Senators, including Heinrich, who voted against the amendment, is reversing course:

Pilloried by his party’s left wing for voting in January against a non-binding measure with a similar goal, Sen. Cory Booker is joining Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday to unveil a bill to allow the importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada and other countries. Booker, who has been mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, came under fire on social media and liberal blogs as too beholden to special interests after he and 12 Democratic colleagues voted against a drug-importation amendment to the 2017 budget resolution.

Will Heinrich join Booker in reversing course on the Canada drug issue? The pair are friendly. Booker, as we previously reported, will hold a fund-raiser for Heinrich this Saturday:

Join Senator Martin Heinrich For a Lunch Reception To kick off his re-election campaign With Special Guest Senator Cory Booker Saturday, March 4, 2017  6:30 to  – 8 pm at The Home of Greg Levenson. Suggested Contribution: Host - $2,700 Guest - $1,000 Current Heinrich Trust members - $250.

And today (Tuesday) Heinrich announced he would indeed join Booker in reversing his stance:

 Heinrich will join Senators Bernie Sanders. . . at a press conference today to unveil new legislation to allow the importation of prescription drugs into the United States. The members of Congress have come together on legislation that will allow for drug importation while maintaining important safety standards.

Finally, we said Monday that the combined state and federal spending on the health program Medicaid is $4 billion. It is actually $6 billion when all spending is taken into account, says Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith in an interview with capitol reporter Lorene Mills. Here's more on that.

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