Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lujan Grisham Feud With Intern Blows Up Again As Guv Candidate Gets Restraining Order; Right Move Or Over The Top? Plus: Dateline Aztec 

Lujan Grisham & Del Rey
The right thing to do or over the top? Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor, took the unusual step of getting a restraining order against transgender intern Riley Del Rey who had been fired from her office and who had heckled her at the recent Dem pre-primary convention and "disrupted" a Feb. 11 Lujan Grisham event.

(Details here and here.

The decision to seek court action was scrutinized from all angles, with a special emphasis on whether it provides any clues to how Lujan Grisham would conduct herself as Governor.

The campaign of one of her gubernatorial opponents, Jeff Apodaca, steered clear of any criticism of the restraining order, saying Lujan Grisham should not hesitate to protect herself if she felt threatened, but the campaign said "the timing" of the 10 day order issued Friday raised questions. On Tuesday Del Rey was attending a DC mediation session on the Hill over her firing. Lujan Grisham announced she would not attend the mediation because she feared for her "safety."

For her part Del Rey maintained she has never intended any physical harm to the congresswoman:

I’ve never done anything but voice my political dissidence against her and disrupt her speeches.

Even if Lujan Grisham feared for her safety, a DC staffer with lengthy Hill experience told us:

Her best option was to inform the Capitol Hill police. That's how threats of any kind are handled here. The police then decide whether to bring in the FBI or Secret Service to provide any necessary protection and to engage the alleged perpetrator. Getting a court order is not the regular procedure.

Longtime politico analyst Steve Cabiedes commented:

Why could not Michelle sit down with Del Rey and work this out? That's what Governors do. 

Well, they were about to do that with the formal mediation but that fell through with the restraining order.

Those who supported the play said if Lujan Grisham believed she was in physical danger it was no time to worry about the politics but to fully cover her safety needs. Those who questioned the severity of the threat wondered about her staffing and whether she has strong voices around her to talk her down from an action that could cause unneeded controversy. And they also questioned how thick her skin is for the nonstop barbs and taunts that come with being Governor. Did she, as one of the Alligators put it, "let her lawyer side get the better of her?"

Obviously there are good arguments to make on both sides of the equation. We're only in March so the voters will have a good long time to weigh them in this case and the many cases to come.


A reader writes from Aztec about the latest in politics from that Four Corners outpost:

Joe, I just got home from the swearing-in for a new city commission of the City of Aztec. This community used to be a bastion of red with a high Republican registration, also electing many Republican legislators and a swing community for San Juan County. Last week Aztec elected three new Democrats to its city commission and in turn it elected a Democratic mayor among itself. Rosalyn Fry was elected Mayor Pro Tem and Victor Snover was elected mayor with the help of new commissioner Mark Lewis. 

So it isn’t business as usual for this red county, now that it has a blue hole in it. One reason could be is that the county clerk keeps noting that about 10,000 have left the county because of the down turn of oil and gas, forcing many to leave the state entirely for jobs in Texas and Wyoming. This might make 2018 midterms interesting.

Good analysis. San Juan County has actually lost population in the last decade because of the long term bear market in natural gas prices. That appears to have changed the voter mix considerably and presents a further challenge to statewide Republican candidates who are already facing a difficult environment in November.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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