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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

R's Had A Good Run But Signs Mount That It's Coming To A Close, Plus: Untangling The County Ethics Tangle, And: Michelle's Moxie (Not That Michelle) 

It's been a good run but it does appear the eight year stretch of Republican luck in New Mexico is about to come to an end. Take the ABQ mayoral race. No matter which way you slice it, the Dems have the upper hand. Here are the scenarios:

--If the inevitable run-off that follows the October 3 balloting features Dems Tim Keller and Brian Colón, obviously you have a Dem mayor.

--If the run-off features either Republican Dan Lewis or Wayne Johnson against Dem Keller or Colón, the Dem candidate will be heavily favored in a Democratic, center-left city.

--In the Governor's race, GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce is polling behind Dem front runner Michelle Lujan Grisham in the ABQ metro by 10 points (KRQE-TV poll) and also trails statewide. And that's a guy who has widespread name ID.

--If Grisham falters and the nominee is Jeff Apodaca or state Sen. Joe Cervantes, they too would be favored to win the Governor's chair after an eight run under Gov. Martinez that is ending poorly.

WHAT TO DO?

If that analysis is right, the question then is what will the Dems do with their victories? How will they deal with this perennial and pressing issue:

The share of New Mexicans living in poverty dropped from 20.4 percent in 2015 to 19.8 percent last year. That left the Land of Enchantment as the third-poorest state. The data shows a state riding a national recovery after what some analysts have described as a “lost decade” of economic decline. But economists and other observers say New Mexico has done little to shake its standing as one of the most impoverished states and that it remains vulnerable to regressing in the next economic downturn, whenever it arrives.

“We had some improvement in these numbers and that’s a good thing,” said Jim Peach, a professor of economics at New Mexico State University. “But have we changed the basic picture of New Mexico? No.”

And then there's this:

New Mexico leads the nation with the most children under age 5 living in poverty, 36.2 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s 5 percentage points more than second place Mississippi’s 31.1 percent.

Two state legislators are taking this information to further their campaign for pulling extra funds from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for programs specifically earmarked for early education. Drawing just 1 percent more from the fund, which currently has $16.2 billion in it, would free up $136 million a year for those early childhood education programs, without raising taxes by a single penny, said state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas and Sen. Linda Lopez, both Albuquerque Democrats.

Five points worse than Mississippi? Maybe that's because that state has been expanding its early childhood programs in recent years and getting results while we fall behind at an alarming pace?

If the Dems come back to power they will be confronted with that full platter of problems. The temptation will be to continue to look away and deny their depth as has been the case by both parties in recent years. Elections matter but often the more things change the more they stay the same.

ETHICS TANGLE (CONT.)

Clearly the Bernalillo County Code of Conduct Review Committee needs a review of its own. The board is supposed to be the ethics watchdog for county politicos but is way too top heavy with those same politicos.

As we blogged Tuesday, Dem political consultant Alan Packman is chair of the board and Sarita Nair, who works for State Auditor Tim Keller who is also running for mayor, is also a member. Obviously, both have had to recuse themselves in hearing a complaint filed against BernCo Commissioner and GOP mayoral candidate Wayne Johnson. And on the Republican side of this tangled up committee, a reader informs:

Let's not forget the other recusals at the ethics hearing. Wayne Johnson's appointee recused himself because he has a potential business relationship with Wayne. And, the legal counsel for the committee had to recuse themselves because they are under contract to Robles, Anaya, the law firm in which mayoral candidate Brian Colón has been a partner. Because of all those recusals, 3 members and alternates will hear the case.

A preliminary hearing on the complaint against Johnson is slated for October 2, one day before the October 3 election. After this tangled mess the county commissioners might want to set different standards on who gets appointed to the board. Maybe some folks not involved in the political process so they can actually do the job? Duh.

MICHELLE'S MOXIE

Independent Michelle Garcia Holmes has been a hard-working mayoral candidate but as a political newcomer she has had rough sledding going up against better known and better financed candidates.

Garcia was polling at 4 percent in the recent Journal survey, placing her behind fourth place finisher Wayne Johnson who garnered 7 percent.

As a 20 year veteran of APD and retiring from there as a detective in the crimes against children unit and as a chief of staff to Attorney General Gary King, she knows about the city's top issue and has raised enough money to put this TV spot on  the air. Her crime platform is here. And we posted one of her mail pieces as well.

The moment she may be most remembered for in this campaign was when she boycotted a mayoral forum put on by the ABQ Chamber of Commerce because it had awarded a public safety award to Mayor Richard Berry despite the city being embroiled in an historic crime wave. Said Garcia Holmes;

I am boycotting the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce forum because Albuquerque needs a Mayor who will speak out against the status quo and show respect to the people of this city.

And she also called for new leadership at the Chamber.

Maybe if she kept up that line of attack at the forums and elsewhere she would be closer. In any event. . .

It was a rare moment when one of the mayoral candidates actually called out the political and business leadership that has presided over the city's decline.  If she doesn't win and the new mayor is looking for someone with some moxie, they just might call on her.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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