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Monday, January 29, 2018

Leading Biz Democrat Rodella Readies For Primary Battle As Lobbyists And Biz Watchers Watch, State Budget Pain Eases And Oil Boys Boast, And: A Letter From A "Former Everything" 

Rep. Rodella 
What's going on with Roundhouse powerhouse Debbie Rodella? That's the really important news to the state's elite lobbyists and titans of the biz community. They like the often conservative Democrat as chair of the House Business and Industry Committee and are weighing an announced primary challenge to Rodella from progressive Democrat Susan Herrera.

Rodella, 56, one of the most senior Dems in the House having been first elected out of EspaƱola in '92, is seen as a check on the more liberal instincts of Speaker Brian Egolf and the Dems left wing. She has been rewarded for that with scads of campaign contributions from a who's who of lobbyists and business interests. As of October she had over $64,000 in her campaign kitty to wage battle against Herrera who is also no lightweight. She served as the former CEO of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation and is a former director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

(Hey, isn't Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the leading Dem Guv candidate, the current chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus? Yep. Hmm.)

If Rodella were to lose her seat a less conservative Dem would likely end up chairing the powerful House Biz panel so expect this primary battle to be one of the more pricey contests in '18. No R's need apply. This northern district is all D all the time.

HEAT IS OFF

Nothing like an influx of nearly $300 million to take the heat off of the 112 lawmakers gathered in Santa Fe. They're now more worried about the flu and pink eye making the rounds than a busted state budget. Now that the extra money has been confirmed by the bean counters and the state's reserves have finally been restored, the sparring can begin over how to spend that surplus cash. That's a lot more fun than the dreary budget-cutting that has depressed lawmakers the past several years.

The new booty, of course, is due to a rebound in oil prices and more production. And that has Ryan Flynn, the head of the NM Oil and Gas Association, puffing out his chest and exclaiming:

NMOGA is going to be the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico, period."

Careful, Ryan. As they say, pride goeth before the fall and a fall in oil prices again is as reliable as Hector Balderas staying bald.

Warning: For budget nerds only: The complete Legislative Finance Committee brief revising upward the state's revenues.

BADGE OF HONOR?

Friends of ABQ Dem Sen. Linda Lopez, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, are calling this her "Badge of Honor:"

Gov. Martinez is protesting delays in the confirmation process for her political appointees by vetoing funding for the (Senate Rules Committee). The Republican governor crossed out funding of the committee as she signed a bill that provides $21 million for legislative operations (for the) 30-day legislative session.

In reaction to Susana's veto Lopez immediately scheduled two dozen confirmation hearings for the Guv's appointees but had to cancel them because there was no money. (Just kidding).

A TWOFER

Here's a twofer for you, if you like politics and haven't seen the new Hotel Chaco near ABQ's Old Town:

NM's Libertarian Party is hosting a Meet the Candidates event at Hotel Chaco on Monday, January 29th from 5pm-7pm on the fourth floor in the Sky Suite. This is a chance to speak with all Libertarian candidates one-on-one.  In 2018, there are Libertarian candidates running for all three U.S. House seats, the U.S. Senate and other statewide and local elected offices. 

But will the Libs run a Guv candidate and give Republican Steve Pearce heartburn? Maybe not. Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn just switched from the R's to the Libertarian Party and is now expected to announce a bid for the US Senate seat held by Dem Martin Heinrich. But that means he would peel off conservatives from expected R nominee Mick Rich making it especially difficult for them to give Heinrich a race.

Dunn has confused observers by deciding not to seek a second term as land commissioner--which he might have been able to win--and then launching a soon aborted bid for the southern congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Pearce. Now the Senate run. Not only are the observers confused, Aubrey seems to be as well.

By the way, you may be confused as you see some news reports refer to NM as a "purple state." In other words a "swing state." Let's clarify. New Mexico is a solidly blue state when it comes to federal elections. The Dems have won the last three presidential elections here big and they have long-controlled four of the five US Senate and House seats. Now when you get to the state level offices, purple is a fair description as we are wrapping up an eight year GOP Guv run and the state House went R for two years in the '14 election. The preceding was brought to you by Crayola crayons.

DA VINCI DUES

We're going to scoot around the corner from the Hotel Chaco to the NM Museum of Natural History where an exhibition celebrating the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci is set to open to big crowds in February. But the admission price of $22 a person for Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico seems a little steep so we asked Dianna Flores with the Museum about that:

A pricing structure has been put into place with different scenarios depending on when and how you come. By this I mean, there are Group rates, Family Passes, Culture Passes, and or Free Sunday's with a reduced ticket price for the Da Vinci Exhibit. 

Our Executive Director will continue to evaluate the pricing structure that will enable our NM residents the opportunity of seeing this exhibit.

A FORMER EVERYTHING

Armijo and Gallegos 
You want La Politica. We'll give you La Politica. Get this missive direct from the ABQ South Valley and Steve Gallegos, who now sports the title "Former Everything" and opines on the zeitgeist of the moment:

We need a community discussion on the impact of drug addiction in Albuquerque and surrounding communities. The costs on our communities is a redundant drain on budgets and horrible pain to families and friends of those who need to steal to feed their addiction. More emphasis needs to be placed on drug rehabilitation, both in and out of jail. A task force approach, with implementable recommendations is needed ASAP.

I'm not in law enforcement, but the stolen vehicle problem needs help from federal sources and needs a strong directed activity from local, state, and federal forces. Wouldn't it be novel if ICE changed it's ways and started helping US citizens with vehicles being hijacked to Mexico. (I don't have any data but my stolen truck ended up in Mexico.)

Steve D. Gallegos
Former Everything

Love that title, Steve, and you earned it. He served as an ABQ City Councilor, BernCo Commissioner and State Senate Seargent at Arms, among other things. His BFF is former City Councilor Alan Armijo who was director of constituent services for ABQ Republican Mayor Berry. So what's Alan doing now? Well, he's been reappointed to that position by Democratic Mayor Tim Keller. Oh yeah people, that's La Politica.

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