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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Congressional Cash Contests Provide Clues To Eventual Winners; Haaland And Sedillo Lopez Take ABQ Lead; Newman Turns Up Heat On Herrell, But She Sticks Around, Plus: The National Labs And Their Long Term Future  

Two exciting primary congressional battles are more fully formed today after the release of quarterly fund-raising reports. Here's what you need to know. . .

Yvette Herrell, the feisty state representative from Alamogordo who is locked in a do-or- die battle with former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman for the GOP southern congressional nomination, has been battered and bruised. But she's not down and out.

As expected, Newman outraised Herrell in the first quarter and reports a hefty $369,000 in cash on hand as of March 31 for the final weeks of the June 5 primary. But Herrell,who was prohibited from raising money during the 30 day legislative session, still reports $256,000 in cash. That's enough for a considerable media buy that will keep Newman on his toes.

Remember Herrell was the overwhelming choice of the delegates at the preprimary convention where she scored a landslide win over Newman. But she took a hit when an ethics charge against her was recently broadcast across the district.

Newman is being consulted by the controversial Jay McCleskey who handles Gov. Martinez. The campaign has become somewhat of a proxy war between the two wings of the GOP--those who support Martinez and those who don't.

The Herrell ethics charge and Newman's money edge have him in the pole position for now. Herrell is going to have to give Monty and Jay a taste of their own medicine to regain steam.

Newman or Herrell will face the winner of the Dem primary in the R leaning district but you can turn out the lights on that one:

On the Democratic side, Las Cruces water attorney Xochitl Torres Small reported getting $313,332 in contributions and has $243,409 in available campaign cash. Her lone Democratic rival, Mad Hildebrandt of Socorro, had not yet filed a report as of late Monday.

Hildebrand has put forth a decent effort but the national Dems are calling the shots and they think it is Torres Small who stands the best chance to pull off the upset in November.

ALBUQUERQUE ACTION

In the increasingly interesting race for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham we still have no public or insider polling. But that's okay. The public is still largely unacquainted with the contenders and the TV and mail campaigns are going to be decisive.

The money reports, combined with the outcome of the Dem preprimary convention, indicate the likely winner is either former NM Dem Chair Deb Haaland or law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. Former US attorney Damon Martinez is a dark horse and the other three--Lara, Davis and Moya are in the political ICU.

Sedillo Lopez is reporting $457,000 in cash at the end of March but the Haaland campaign says they do not see payments for polling or a mail campaign that Sedillo Lopez conducted during the quarter. Including that could take her cash count down toward the $400k level. Haaland, whose numbers we previously reported, raised $297,000, double that of her nearest competitor. She reports $347,000 in cash in the bank. Martinez is in it with $277,000 in cash but the big defeat he suffered at the Dem preprimary looms.

The Haaland campaign now says a super PAC composed of tribal money will help her, presumably with TV. She would be the first Native American woman to be elected to the US House. And so far that's really the only narrative that has stuck in this race. Sedillo Lopez is going to have to change the conservation if she is to take the prize.

The trailing three in the race are Pat Davis who reported $61,000 in cash; Paul Moya who reported $162,000 in cash, most of which he loaned himself, and Damian Lara who came with $139,000.

Thanks to Martinez campaign manager Abigail Collazo for providing the links to the Federal reports. New Mexican coverage here. ABQ Journal here.

LABS LONG TERM

The blog recently covered the differing views of leading Guv candidates Steve Pearce and Lujan Grisham on the security of Sandia and Los Alamos Labs in NM going forward, and that got us mulling over their recent budgets and their impact on Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico.

A NM Senate staffer sends this from Exchange Monitor which specializes in coverage of the nuclear weapons complex.

It shows that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budget for Sandia and Los Alamos has grown considerably over the past decade, not that there weren't a couple of years when the budget actually went down and the economy here took a hit. But the drive to modernize the nuclear stockpile that started under Obama and that is gaining traction under Trump has sparked bigger budget increases.

The proposed FY 2019 NNSA budget request for Los Alamos is $1.906 billion, up from 1.394 billion in FY10. For Sandia the NNSA requests $1.924 billion for FY19. In FY09 the budget was $1.008 billion.

The Exchange Monitor further reports: "In its 2019 budget request, the agency included a five-year budget projection that shows annual funding climbing more than 14 percent to around $17 billion by 2023."

Including all missions and not just NNSA weapons funding, such as work for Homeland Security and other agencies, the total Sandia budget is now over $3 billion. The Los Alamos total budget is $2.55 billion.

That's over $5.50 billion in spending on the two labs. There are those who abhor the fact that New Mexico is so dependent on nuclear weapons for its economic well-being. They are joined by others who dislike government spending in general and want to diversify our economy with more private sector activity.

Meantime that money is going to be spent somewhere, if not here. That's why the proposal to take nuclear pit production from Los Alamos and send it to Savannah River is headline news.

Diversifying away from nuclear weapons based on moral objections can be understood. But claiming you can significantly diversify the ABQ and north central NM economy away from $5.50 billion in federal funding borders on lunacy.

Right now New Mexico is out of position with the Trump administration which--to use an ironic phrase in talking of nukes--makes the peacemaking ability of the state's mostly Dem DC delegation and our next Governor of paramount importance.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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