Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Another Political Domino Pushed; Dunn Will Seek Southern Congress Seat Leaving Land Office Race Open, Plus: Should Pearce Resign To Make His Seat Safer For The R's? And: "Anti-Alcohol" Guv Candidate Pushes Back Against That Label 

The politicos are seriously cutting into our summer hammock time but duty calls so once again we're off to the early but crowded campaign trail. . .

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is the latest to set off a domino effect. He will leave the Land Office rather than seek re-election next year and instead seek the GOP nomination for the southern congressional district that Rep. Steve Pearce is leaving to make a run for Governor. Here's what that means:

--Former GOP Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, now on the Public Regulation Commission but term limited, is the most likely major name to seek the GOP nomination for the Land Office, according to GOP Alligators.

--The Dunn decision can be seen as a boost for former Dem Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. who is in a testy Democratic primary battle with political newcomer Garrett VeneKlasen. Dunn beat Powell four years ago and Dems have been nervous about again making Powell their nominee. The Dunn jump will ease that concern but with an aggressive challenge from VeneKlasen, who is getting support from Sen. Heinrich, Powell is not out of the woods.

--Lyons would be an easier candidate for the Dems to beat than Dunn who had the power of an incumbent. The race goes from toss-up to "lean Dem."

--Dunn is now the clear frontrunner for the GOP nod for the southern district. Not that Alamogordo state Rep. Yvette Harrell, who got in the race last week, is a lightweight. She is well respected in her conservative area but Dunn has the district wide name ID and a better ability to raise the funds needed for the race. But Dunn did run and lose a previous bid for the GOP nomination so the race will remain on the watch list.

--If Dunn is the eventual nominee, it will be a difficult ride for the Dems. Dunn a native of Alamogordo, has proven his statewide electability by already beating a Democrat. And his cowboy image fits well with the district. And he doesn't shy away from negative campaigns. He was already on the attack against Powell as he announced his candidacy

“As New Mexico’s Land Commissioner, I have ‘drained the swamp’ that Ray Powell and his Santa Fe cronies left behind at the Land Office,” Dunn said. “By setting the right tone at the top, I’ve worked hand-in-hand with exemplary staff to enhance customer service, direct more money to education and the Land Grant Permanent Fund, and bring a common-sense approach to the conservation of our public lands.”

--There are vulnerabilities for a Dunn candidacy and reader Greg Lennes was quick to focus on a couple of them:

Dunn says he supports private landowners’ rights and is an anti-Federal government advocate. However, Mr. Dunn should applaud the federal government for his own farm subsidies over the years - $542,478.  Now he questions our Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces. He is the ultimate political hypocrite. When Pearce says "jump" to him, Mr. Dunn is hopping in a frenzy. Their goal is strictly to carve up our National Monument for the benefit of a few political contributors.


There is more than idle chatter about Rep. Steve Pearce making life easier for his party by resigning his congressional seat and devoting his full-time energies to his Guv run. Why?

Well, first, if Pearce were to resign, the Governor would need to call a special election within 90 days to fill out the unexpired portion of Pearce's term which runs until the end of '18. Such a hastily called election is seen benefiting the Republicans who already have an edge in the district.

If Pearce were to resign--and no one is saying he is about to--the central committees of the state Dem and GOP would name nominees who would face-off in the special.

The Dems don't have an obvious front runner, plus the truncated campaign would give them little time to make the case the district needs a big change.

A Pearce resignation would also give the new GOP congressman for the district--assuming that is the outcome--a leg up in the important seniority rankings, if, as expected, he or she were to seek re-election to a full term in 2020.

Pearce has taken fire from GOP loyalists over the Guv run who say as the only R and conservative in the state's congressional delegation he should stay put and not risk an all blue NM congressional delegation.


Sometimes we get under the skin of the politicos (who would have thunk?). Our recent blogging of Dem Guv candidate Pete DeBennedettis is a case in point, and we give him equal time to make it:

Hi Joe, You recently wrote: 

"As for anti-alcohol Guv candidate Peter DeBenedettis, who is not expected to raise significant money, Peter, you may need a stiff belt of bourbon before this one is over."

I get that you don’t take my candidacy seriously, but do you have to make stuff up about me — calling me “Anti-Alcohol?” Since when is working to keep kids from drinking being anti-alcohol?. . . And exactly how is standing up for NM tax-payers who shell out $400 each per year to pay for the costs our state bears because alcohol taxes are so low being anti-alcohol? I think the 50% of New Mexicans who don’t drink call it being fiscally prudent.

You’re missing a couple of things staring most New Mexican’s in the face when you give my candidacy short-shift. I’m the only bonafide progressive in the race. Do you honestly think the 48.5% of the Democratic primary voters who supported Bernie are going to jump behind the other moderate to conservative choices in the race?

And about not raising big money. Every poll for the past 10 years . . .report that money’s influence in politics is a big problem. Over 70% of voters in both parties think politicians are more interested in paying off their donors and taking care of themselves than about really helping everyday people. The fact that the other candidates have raised so much is my biggest advantage. Old school politicians and analysts who can’t see the handwriting on the wall are going to be in for a big surprise when the primary results don’t match their poll numbers and pundit proclamations.

Gees, Peter, we haven't had our ears boxed like that since we were caught smoking in high school. But you're going to have spread your love around because we are far from the only one reporting in the Governor's race who is calling you the "anti-alcohol" candidate. Why, just Sunday, Dan McKay, writing in the ABQ Journal, used the exact same phrase  to describe you:

and Peter DeBenedittis, an anti-alcohol activist from Santa Fe. . . 

Cover your ears, Dan, Peter is on his way over. (Well, at least he's not hitting us with an empty bottle of Smirnoff.)

And, Peter, are you really helping your cause by now advocating legalization of marijuna in the state? What about keeping kids from smoking pot, not just boozing their brains?


The annual jobs fair held by Dem ABQ South Valley state Senator Michael Padilla has become a draw in job needy ABQ. The latest edition is today:

"This year's job fair will feature 93 employers with over 2,100 jobs available" said Padilla. Last year's job fair drew over 4,000 job seekers. All registered employers are hiring right now. Click here for the current list of registered employers. The job fair is today--Wednesday, July 19, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at Harrison Middle School, located at 3912 Isleta SW, located just behind the South Valley Library. 

On a political note, we broke the news here earlier this year that Padilla would seek the Dem nomination for Lt. Governor in '18. He now says he is ready and will make his bid official next week. . .

We said in a first blog draft that a $1000 donation that ABQ Dem congressional nominee received from Rep, Deborah Armstrong, a close ally of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham,  a Dem candidate for Governor, night reveal Grisham's own leanings in that crowded congressional contest. But Dem Alligators remind us that it was Grisham who urged attorney Antoinette Sedillo Lopez to get in the race so the Armstrong donation isn't necessarily a tell on Grisham supporting Haaland.

Grisham has not endorsed anyone in the race as she did in the ABQ mayoral race when she threw her support behind Deanna Archuleta who later withdrew. With all that in the background it's probably best Michelle not poke her nose under any more political tents other than her own. It gets the Gators going. . .

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