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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dems Raise Expectations For State House As Dust Settles From Filing Day And The Contest For A BernCo Commission Seat Gets Strange Indeed 

Now that the dust has settled from Tuesday's filing day for the 70 state House seats the spinners have taken to the playing field. Over at State Dem Party headquarters they are setting the bar high, really high:

Five newly-open Republican seats in the New Mexico legislature are now up for grabs and Democrats have fielded a strong slate of candidates to run in each race. Open Republican seats include HD-15, HD-22, HD-30, HD-51, and HD-67. If these seats are gained and current Democratic seats successfully defended, Democrats will have a 43-27 majority in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

To get to 43 the Dems would have to take the Gentry and Maestas Barnes ABQ seats which they are vacating.

House Speaker Egolf currently has only a small majority over the R's of 38 to 32. A 43 seat Democratic House would strengthen his hands in all sorts of ways, including keeping a better check on powerful State Rep. Debbie Rodella who can team with a couple of R's when need be to upset Egolf's apple cart.

By the way, Rodella has drawn a Dem primary opponent up in Rio Arriba County. Of course, Speaker Egolf's team would have nothing to do with that. Right? No way. No how. Of course not. . .

CHAOS IS GOOD?

The R's said the recent Dem pre-primary convention was riddled with "chaos" including the arrest of a protester. A Dem responds:

It’s not surprising that the GOP thought that our convention was a little bit chaotic. We Democrats actually like a little bit of chaos. That’s bound to happen when you let your delegates choose from among multiple candidates instead of the party telling the delegates up front who the winners are going to be.

A reader writes:

What do you mean, Joe, that if State Senator Howie Morales of Silver City is the Dem nominee for lieutenant governor and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is the Guv nominee the ticket would be "ethnically balanced?"

We can phrase that better. The all Hispanic Republican ticket of Governor Martinez and John Sanchez broke new ground and in a increasingly majority minority state that kind of ticket could be the new norm. Such would be the case if Lujan Grisham and Morales were the '18 Guv ticket. We should say "ethnically representative" rather than balanced.

Here's a little noticed development that could mean some trouble for the GOP with the statewide races:

Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she still wants to restore straight-ticket voting in which a slate of major-party candidates can be chosen all at one time. . . She hopes to allow straight-ticket voting in fall elections. . . The option was removed beginning in 2012 by then-GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran. The National Conference of State Legislatures says the number of states with straight-ticket voting dwindled to nine last year.

MACHINATIONS AND MYSTERY

John Jones 
What happened to that face-off that we were expecting for the BernCo Commission seat in the far SE Heights and East Mountains? Well, former GOP commissioner and radio station manager Michael Brasher, who had said he was going to seek the seat that was vacated by Wayne Johnson when he was appointed state auditor by Gov. Martinez, never filed for the slot Tuesday. That mystified, and according to insiders, miffed John Jones, a water expert who had already announced his commission candidacy. Jones ended up abandoning his commission race and running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the House seat being vacated by Nate Gentry. So how did that come down?

Jones, the husband of Gov. Martinez political rival and ABQ GOP congressional candidate Janice Arnold-Jones, wanted the commission seat most but an associate of his says when he asked Brasher about rumors that he would not run, Brasher went silent. So when the opportunity came for Jones to run for the Gentry seat Jones took it thinking that he would be avoiding a tussle with Brasher, when in fact he could have filed for the commission seat and had no opposition because Brasher was actually out.

Rep. Jim Smith ended up as the major GOP candidate for the commission seat. However, Smith did not file until very late Tuesday apparently awaiting word from the Governor's office that if he ran she would appoint him to fill the Johnson vacancy so he could run as an incumbent. He got late word and filed his candidacy just before the deadline.

As to how and why Rep. Smith suddenly emerged, that's another story we'll have to piece together.

For his part, Brasher isn't saying why he did not run. There was speculation that FCC equal time rules could be a problem for Brasher who appears regularly on KANW-FM as an announcer. The station may have had to provide equal time to any Brasher campaign opponent that requested it or else he would have to leave the air.

So now we expect Martinez to appoint Rep. Smith to the $30,000 a year position just as everyone expected her to appoint Brasher, who she previously named to the state Board of Finance.

There is another Republican seeking the commission seat, political unknown Natasha Hadrych Rosier. Charlene E. Pyskoty is the sole Dem contender and there is also a Libertarian candidate. This seat is all R all the time and Smith will be in the driver's seat.

Sometimes covering La Politica like this we think we're going down a never ending rabbit hole.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2018
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