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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Back Story On Dem Land Commission Chase Involves Heinrich, All Eyes Still On Pearce For His Guv Decision And Yet Another Entrant in Crowded ABQ US House Race 

Welcome back. The Legislature will reconvene today to close out its special session begun last week. The lawmakers are expected to make quick work of adjourning since Gov. Martinez has signed the state budget that was hammered out earlier.  Now here's the latest from the home of New Mexico politics . . .

There's a back story on the entrance of longtime conservationist Garrett VeneKlasen into the race for the Democratic nomination for state land commissioner and it's one you will get only here. . .

VeneKlasen is a big time fave of Dem US Senator and ardent environmentalist Martin Heinrich. Former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, again seeking the Dem nod for the post, is not a Heinrich fave. Whether Heinrich makes a public endorsement of  VeneKlasen over Powell before next June's primary is worth watching as it could mean campaign cash and more support for the political newcomer.

However, Heinrich could risk some blowback from Powell supporters if he gets too aggressive for VeneKlasen. Heinrich is on the ballot for re-election in '18. He doesn't need rumblings about a primary challenge of his own. That might not be as hard to scare up as one thinks, considering how Bernie Sanders' supporters are still disgruntled over Martin's very early endorsement of Hillary.

Whether its Powell or VeneKlasen taking on GOP Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, it will be no easy task. Dunn defeated then-Land Commissioner Powell in '14 in an exceptionally tight race, taking it by only 704 votes. He is expected to launch a vigorous re-election bid.

DEANNA AND MICHELLE

Another member of the state's congressional delegation, ABQ Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, waded into local politics when she endorsed former BernCo Commissioner Deanna Archuleta for ABQ Mayor, but Archuleta--citing the health of her 86 year old father--withdrew from the mayoral derby last week. Will Grisham now endorse one of the remaining eight candidates? Don't count on it, but do expect Archuleta to stay close to Grisham during the Guv campaign and even closer if the congresswoman wins the prize next year.

OGLING PEARCE

Speaking of the Guv's race, all eyes are still on southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce. He said he would make a decision on an '18 Guv run right about now. The Alligator odds on Pearce giving up his congressional seat to seek the governorship have been all over the map. If nothing else, Pearce has done a fairly good job of keeping everyone guessing and building anticipation in the GOP.

The R's have reason to be pushing Pearce to run as there is no other obvious major GOP contenders to take on the eventual Dem nominee. Of course, if Pearce runs then we get a fun free-for-all for the contest to take his seat in the U.S. House.

We've lost our objectivity on whether Pearce jumps in. We bet a steak dinner with one of the Alligators that he would not. Don't worry too much for us, though. The loser does not have to treat the winner to the pricey Ruth's Chris. The Outback ought to be good enough.

WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Calling all New Mexicans! New Mexico First invites you to THE policy event of the year on June 7th. U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott will headline the event and highlight important issues facing our state! Bipartisanship awards will be given to Rep. James Smith, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richards, Rep. Jim Dines and Sherman McCorkle. Buy tickets here.

1ST CD ACTION

Damian Lara
Damian Lara. You probably haven't heard of him but he's been toiling in the background of La Politica and is now ready to come forward. Lara, 39, will be the latest pursuer of the '18 Dem congressional nomination for the seat being vacated by Rep. Grisham when he makes a formal entrance into the race today at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. (Video announcement here.)

Lara, a native of Melrose on the eastside. is an immigration attorney in ABQ and believes his wonkish resume could catapult him to the nomination. Among the experience Lara touts is his staff duties for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in DC,  his stint as a BernCo Deputy Assessor and time as an attorney for the Legislative Council Service.  Lara is the current president of the NM Hispanic Bar Association.

With Lara in, we count at least five hopefuls for the Dem nod with more to come.

And while the Dem candidates jam the starting gate for the ABQ seat, what about the R's? There are few takers for their nomination because the seat has turned deep blue in recent years. But former GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, who was the party's nominee in 2012 and was defeated by Grisham, says she's going to give it another shot. It will be a long shot but the party is likely pleased to have anyone agree to take on that stiff challenge.

WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Calling all New Mexicans! New Mexico First invites you to THE policy event of the year on June 7th. U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott will headline the event and highlight important issues facing our state! Bipartisanship awards will be given to Rep. James Smith, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richards, Rep. Jim Dines and Sherman McCorkle. Buy tickets here.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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