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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Replacing Nate: Dems Look To Take Seat of House Minority Leader; Changing District Gives Them A Shot, Plus: Poverty And Drugs Make Way On To The Guv Campaign Trail 

Is the ABQ seat of House Minority Leader Nate Gentry destined to go to the D's this year?

For sure, it's going to be a blistering battle to replace Gentry who opted not to run for re-election, perhaps in part because his NE Heights district is rapidly becoming more blue.

Coming back for a second shot at the seat is Democrat and Spanish teacher Natalie Figueroa who lost narrowly to Gentry in 2016 (52%-48). On the GOP side John Jones, a retired Naval officer and husband of ABQ GOP Congressional nominee Janice Arnold-Jones, will try to keep the seat in the R camp.

The first finance reports give an edge to Figueroa. She reports $49,000 in cash on hand while Jones reports $39,000. Also, Clinton carried the district over Trump by 10 points two years ago, revealing the rapidly changing nature of this once economic high-end area which has become less affluent like so much of the city. The caveat being that turnout in mid-term elections is lower than presidential years and can tilt more conservative. Look for the outside PACS to play big in this one.

GOVERNING A CRISIS

An interesting development in the early going in the race for Governor has been the two major candidates focusing on the state's social condition crisis. Republican Steve Pearce even trotted out the "P" word in one of his first ads. Hearing a Republican decry poverty is a rarity and demonstrates the depth of the crisis here.

And Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham is out with a spot devoted exclusively to the drug addiction problem, a constant issue but one that has not garnered much attention on the campaign trail, until now. She says in the ad that, if elected, "I'll force the drug companies to stop pushing opioids and start paying for treatment."

Her campaign says:

. . . In particular she would continue to support the ongoing lawsuit Attorney General Balderas has brought along with other states to hold drug companies accountable for the damages caused by pushing highly addictive prescription drugs. The lawsuit specifically seeks damages for costs for providing medical care and treatment, costs of providing treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services. . A copy of the complaint can be found here.

The pharmaceutical companies are a touchy issue with the Democratic base, part of which rebelled when Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich last year voted against a Bernie Sanders measure that would have allowed cheaper Canadian pharmaceuticals to be imported into the states.

A check of Lujan Grisham's "major" donations thus far in the Guv campaign does not show any from the drug industry

MONICA AND SUSANA

Republican Guv nominee Pearce isn't the only R taking heat over his decision not to call on ABQ State Rep. Monica Youngblood to step down after being arrested in May for aggravated DWI. Gov. Martinez, who has governed on an anti-crime platform more than any Governor in the modern era, is also taking hits over her silence on Youngblood, a key political ally. A reader comments:

No surprise to see Susana's wing man attorney Paul Kennedy turn up battling a DUI on behalf of her hard-core acolyte Monica Youngblood. If Kennedy's in the picture whining about a jury trial in the face of Youngblood's infamous DUI video, you know the gov personally dispatched him. Where's the gov's shoot-from-the-lip tough on crime rhetoric now? DUI is historically such a serious problem for NM, thus this particular case demonstrates in spades what a hypocrite Susana has always been. I've lost track - is there an ethics investigation of Youngblood for throwing her office around in the effort to skate on the DUI?

As far as we can determine, there has been no comment from the Governor on the Youngblood arrest.

As for an investigation, Attorney General Balderas says he is reviewing the video of Youngblood's arrest to determine if she attempted to use her political position to convince the officer who was making the arrest to let her off.

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