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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Lucky Number 7? Ex-US Attorney Martinez Preps U.S. House Bid, Plus: APO Power; Apodaca Fund-Raising Eyed, And: More Consequences From The City Crime Crisis 

Damon Martinez
Will former US attorney Damon Martinez be lucky number 7? Martinez confirmed to me this week he will "soon" announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham who is seeking the Dem nod for Governor. Martinez will be the seventh candidate to announce, making for an increasingly competitive and unpredictable primary in June of '18.

Martinez, 51, recently completed a four year stint as US attorney for NM under President Obama. He says one of the chief reasons he's running is to continue his battle against the opioid crisis. He said:

I'll be running on my record as US attorney on that issue which I think has been innovative as well as on the promise to continue to fight this crisis which I am afraid has not yet peaked. 

Martinez is no stranger to Capitol Hill having served as a legislative aide to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. He recently joined the Modrall law firm but says he will eventually go to part-time status in order to campaign full-time.

He says his Hill experience, combined with his top national security clearance as U.S. attorney and his service as a military reservist, "uniquely position me to defend Kirtland Air Force and Sandia Labs from any budget cuts."

Martinez has never run for office and agreed his ability to raise money will be a key factor in whether he can be successful. He said he did not think the $1 million mark being thrown around by some consultants would be needed for the primary race. 

Martinez, a native of ABQ, will join the fray as one of the leading contenders because of his US attorney stint. Other top candidates are former NM Dem Chair Deb Haaland, ABQ City Councilor Pat Davis and attorney Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez. 

The only Republican to announce for the seat so far is former ABQ State Rep. Janice Arnold Jones. 

We rank the seat "likely Democrat" for next year's election. The R's lost it in 2008 and have never taken it back. And that's why there is a growing crowd of Dems seeking to succeed Grisham.

APO POWER

Jeff Apodaca
Here's a head turner. A campaign insider with Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca says the ABQ businessman has so far raised nearly $700,000 for his run. That's a big number for the political unknown who announced his bid six weeks ago and is sure to get the attention of newly minted candidate Joe Cervantes as well as Rep. Grisham. In the first campaign reports filed in April, Grisham reported raising nearly $900,000 and having over $700,000 in cash on hand. 

The next campaign reports aren't due until October so we'll have to wait for the official word. But Apodaca told me via text message that the $700k is "pretty accurate" and he says he has not made any significant personal loans to his campaign. Former US ambassador to Spain and longtime politico Ed Romero is known to be helping Jeff Apodaca, the son of former NM Gov. Jerry Apodaca.

In our exchange, Apodaca also took a slap at his foes--Cervantes, a current state senator and a former state rep and Grisham, a former county commissioner turned congresswoman. He scorned them as "career politicians."

If Apodaca, a former executive for Univision, is indeed near the $700k level the chatter about Cervantes, a successful lawyer and family business owner, having to put up at least $1 million of his own to be competitive, is not idle chatter. 

So, Joe, get out the checkbook. Jeff, don't spend that $700k all in one place. And Michelle, look out behind you. 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. 

(Cervantes made his candidacy official Wednesday. Here's a report and another

THE CRIME WAVE

Like the econ beat, when it comes to the ABQ crime wave NM Politics with Joe Monahan is the go-to site for the real story. Here's a startling development relayed by veteran ABQ insurance executive and longtime GOP activist Bud Dziak

Joe, Mayor Berry, Governor Martinez and APD have numbers to dispute the crime wave in New Mexico but the real proof is the number of insurance carriers increasing their NM rates by double digits starting in July. Insurance companies file their rate increases with the NM Department of Insurance. A check of these filings shows a number of insurance companies requesting double digit increases in auto insurance. Unfortunately, someone has to pay. Sweeping these issues under the carpet will now come to haunt the responsible people who buy insurance to protect their property.

P.S. I just received a call from First American Insurance Company. They are leaving NM effective September 1 due to losses. This company does a lot of homeowners business in NM, one of the major players here. The Exodus has begun. 

Crime is out of control, and even though this is going to drive rates higher and make insurance agents more money, it makes me sad and not the way I like to profit. I will keep you informed as insurance companies adjust to our circumstances. An insurance crisis is beginning, if not already here. Consumers get screwed. Time to clean house in NM,. I've been doing this 40 years and never seen it so bad.

Thanks for that update, Bud. There's no spinning away the real world consequences of this crime crisis and the leadership void it has exposed.

THE BOTTOM LINES

The news link for our report on the state's financial standing with Moody's was not up for early morning readers yesterday. Here it is.

We had a case of first nameitis in our first draft Wednesday, giving State Senator Steven Neville and ABQ city council candidate Catherine Trujillo the wrong first names. Sorry, Roger and Christine. . . err. . . we mean Steven and Catherine.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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