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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Better Late Than Never? Cervantes Set To Join Guv Chase Today But Problems Lurk, Plus: New Mexico's Financial Bondage And A Millennial Who Is Not Fleeing ABQ 

Balderas & Grisham In Vegas
Better late than never? State Senator Joe Cervantes told the media he would announce his bid for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination back in April, but it took him until today to pull the trigger. He will make his promised entry with a formal announcement at the Farm and Ranch Museum in his home county of Dona Ana.

Cervantes will be joining U.S Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca and anti-alcohol advocate Peter DeBenedittis as official contenders, but his problem is the same as it would have been even if he hopped into the race back in April.

Both Cervantes and Apodaca are centrist Democrats with business profiles who will appeal to the same Dem consistences, leaving much of the remainder of the vote heading toward Grisham. (DeBenedittis is not expected to compete on the same level as the other three).

That Cervantes and Apdoca are both Hispanic males is obvious, but important. Already, Grisham has had Attorney General Balderas join her on the campaign trail, only days after announcing his official endorsement of her. The pic of the duo is from an appearance in Las Vegas, near Hector's hometown of Wagon Mound.

While she's working with Balderas to shore up Hispanic northern support, Grisham is free to roam about the building when it comes to more liberal Dems who will be reluctant to go with Cervantes and Apodaca, even if they are still reticent about Grisham.

In the early gubernatorial going the math is simple. Grisham's vote is less divided than her rivals. Cervantes is going to have to break out of the mold he has cast for himself as a veteran legislator if he is to break open this battle for the Dem nod.

MORE THAN ENDORSING?

"That's more than an endorsement, Joe." So said the Alligator who sent in that pic of Grisham and Balderas. Well, if it's more than an endorsement, it's a deal. The details of any such pact between the possible next governor and the AG will be a sidebar that will keep the Gators guessing.

FINANCIAL BONDAGE

Whatever the name of the next governor, they will face even more brutal budget battles. While Moody's has decided not to give the state a second bond downgrade, the ratings agency says the state faces long-term "structural problems" that endanger its financial status.

We've been talking about that for years. In fact, we are not backing off from a concept--first expressed on this blog probably over a year ago--that in the years ahead--say, five to seven--we could see the state's $16 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund tapped to fund a larger share of the public schools budget. There would be a hue and cry about it, but such an amendment giving the state an extra half percent of the money the fund generates annually for a period of ten years would probably pass the electorate with flying colors.

Gov. Martinez's office, in a display of convuluted logic, says her no tax increase pledged that more or less carried the day at the latest special session over the budget crisis was the reason Moody's did not have to downgrade our bonds. That, of course, neglects the first downgrade under her watch and the specter of even more as her administration has failed to address the "structural problems" that Moody's says plague the state.

Conservative GOP State Senator Steven Neville of the Four Corners reacted to Moody's decision to hold our bond rating steady by saying:

The reality is, we have $25 billion in the bank and we’re not going to go bankrupt," referring to money in state permanent funds that make annual distributions to help fund state public schools and other programs.

Yes, the Senator is correct that all of the permanent funds total about $25 billion but that doesn't let us off the hook. If we refuse to generate sufficient revenue to fund the government and then refuse to tap any of that $25 billion to do so, you will get another bond downgrade and then some. 

That scenario is not upon us--not yet. But if the next Governor faces continued depressed energy prices, stagnant population growth, increased Medicaid spending and the brain drain of the millennials the day of really "raiding" the permanent funds may not be far off.

A WILLING MILLENNIAL

Trujillo
We mentioned the millennials. Here's one who just turned 26 and is not fleeing. Catherine Trujillo, a registered independent, is seeking the Westside city council seat being vacated by Republican Dan Lewis who is running for mayor. Trujillo, VP of the Taylor Ranch Neighborhood Association, isn't shy about saying what she believes needs to be done for the beleaguered city:

"Our city is ready for change and fresh faces.We have tough choices ahead. The crime rate, unemployment rate and the rate at which our city is headed should not be contingent on election season. It’s consistency that matters now."

Aside from crime, Trujillo promotes a stronger economy in Albuquerque by encouraging more employment opportunities, economic incentives to help grow Albuquerque businesses and train the workforce.

When you have the Chamber of Commerce giving Mayor Berry an award for public safety, you could say that we just don't need "fresh faces" but we are desperate for them.

Trujillo is in a crowded field which includes GOP attorney Robert Aragon, a fave of the Governor's. The election is October 3. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the two top vote-getters advance to a Nov 7 run-off election.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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