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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Heinrich Looks For Sparring Partner In Martinez But Doesn't Find Much, Plus: Spinning Over Susana's Vetoes And Jay Watching; Memories Of Grand Jury Revived By DC Tumult 

Heinrich and Martinez
How about that attack (albeit indirectly) on Gov. Martinez leveled this week by Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich right in the heart of the Capitol? If he had done it a year or so ago (pre-Pizza party) it might be seen as the prelude to a big 2018 fight over Heinrich's senate seat. But Martinez has faded dramatically and a senate run seems highly improbable. She even has significant opposition in her own GOP, making even winning a primary a problem.

But then there is Lt. Gov. John Sanchez who is mulling over a Guv run but is also eyeing Heinrich's Senate seat, After all, running for Governor on Susana's record would be like walking on nails. Maybe this hit from Heinrich as he addressed the legislature was also aimed at John--just in case:

It would be easy if the poll-tested policies that build a political resume aligned with a better and brighter future for New Mexicans, But that approach has failed to produce results.

Martinez's office fired back but rather meekly for them:

A Martinez spokesman blamed “Washington politicians” for not securing more federal military spending.

The Governor  has a point about DC dysfunction, but the last we looked it was her Republican Party--not Heinrich's Democrats--that control the three branches of government. How about her asking President Trump and congressional leaders to pump more military spending into NM? The same goes for GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce who seems to harbor ambitions about becoming governor.

When it comes to Trump, Susana treats him like a nurse treats an infectious patient--showing sympathy but at all times wearing a mask and gloves. And the chances of Trump taking a pleading phone call from Martinez on defense spending are about as likely as having him sign up for Spanish lessons.

As for Sanchez, he's again competently presiding over the state Senate during this 60 day session. But the once high political hopes held for him have dimmed. His refusal to separate himself from Martinez being a key reason.

Trump's election has been a Godsend for Heinrich who is reacting constantly to what he and the D's see as the chief executive's numerous outrages. Of course, when it comes to Trump and politics who knows what things will look like in '18 when Heinrich is on the ballot, but right now the freshman senator is getting a lot of running room.

SPIN ROOM

The spin from both sides of the aisle at the Roundhouse is that cutting $46 million from public schools cash reserves to balance the current year's budget--as was approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor Tuesday--does not have any impact whatsoever on "the classroom." ABQ Public Schools will take a $12 million hit and doesn't see it that way. A financial expert for APS, explained:

School districts operate on a reimbursement basis. There is a time gap from when the districts spend their money and get reimbursed. It is up to two months from the state and   federal reimbursement can be as long as four months. APS, for example, pays expenses like utility bills and payroll from its reserves and awaits reimbursement. But now the draw down in the reserves means we can't float those expenses as we usually do and then wait to get paid back. We will have to reduce spending and/or services because of the raid on the cash reserves.

Meanwhile, Dem Senate Finance Committee Chairman Smith says of Gov. Martinez vetoing $26 million from the solvency plan she signed off on Tuesday:

Governor Martinez’s vetoes are short-sided and leave our state with inadequate reserves. Kicking financial woes down the road is rejected in the private sector and is an irresponsible way of handling our state’s finances. Her misguided action today means that now, more than ever, we need new revenues to responsibly address next year’s budget.

He means some kind of tax increase to make up the difference but he's not going to get it. The game of kick-the-can continues.

HE WON, TOM

Senator Tom Udall says of Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:

President Trump received nearly 3 million fewer votes than Secretary Clinton. He does not have a mandate to appoint an ultra-conservative justice to the nation’s highest court.

Uh. What does the popular vote have to do with who the President nominates? He won the presidency via the Electoral College and has its full powers. That is his "mandate." Sorry, Tom, but if the Dems had nominated Bernie, you wouldn't be in this fix. You can't overturn the election results.

JAY WATCHING

Jay McCleskey
The Jay watchers have been out in force since Acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to enforce Trump's immigration ban and got herself promptly fired by the President.

For the uninitiated, Jay watchers are not part of a bird watching club. They are those who keep close tabs on Gov. Martinez political consultant and Svengali Jay McCleskey. They note that it was apparently then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates who called off the dogs on Jay when given the chance of going forward with an indictment against him on campaign finance abuse charges.

A federal grand jury here investigated McCleksey and the story line goes that indictments were going to come down but were axed by Yates in DC. Andrea Goff, a former Martinez fund-raiser and foe of Jay who provided info to the grand jury, wrote about it here.

So while Dems are holding up Sally Yates as a political martyr of sorts for disobeying Trump it seems when she had her chance to put a real dent in the Guv's Machine, she took a pass. The doesn't quite make the cut for martyrdom.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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