Thursday, November 08, 2018

Flip Flop: Xochitl Takes It Back From Yvette; Plus: R's Running On Empty; Blame Game Underway, The Many Women Of The House, Ben Ray's Climb, Transition Time And Dona Ana Clerk Chaos  

What's the bigger story? That Xochitl Torres Small ended up winning the southern congressional seat for the D's or the utter undoing of the New Mexico Republican Party? We'll take a stab at both. . .

Torres Small, left for politically dead Election Night when the race was called for Republican Yvette Herrell, was taken off life support in Dona Ana County last night as 8,000 absentee ballots were added to the final total. She blew Herrell away in those ballots in the Dem leaning county. That outcome not only eliminated a small lead Herrell had been nursing, but delivered a 50%-49 win to the 33 year old water rights attorney.

Herrell refused to concede, saying there are 1,000 provisional ballots still outstanding, But she is down by 2,700 votes and most of those provisionals won't be counted. Time to make the call, Yvette. Xochitl doesn't seem the vindictive type and neither do you.

Torres Small will have her challenges in the US House. She suppressed a liberal streak to appeal to the large swath of the district that is conservative. But she should do fine. The Dem leadership will give her legislation that will boost her bona fides and protect her from the progressive agenda that could expose here to a strong GOP challenge in 2020. Also, she an experienced former congressional aide and smart.

Not to slight Harry Teague, the last Dem to hold the district but only for two years, but Torres Small seems like a congresswoman with staying power. Maybe Steve Pearce who will be 73 in 2020 harbors hopes of coming back in two years and running for the seat he abandoned to run an ill-fated campaign for Governor. But when you suffer a massive US Senate loss (2008) and another whipping in a race for Governor, the electorate tends to notice the tire tracks on your back.


Right now there is not much power of any kind in the Republican Party. In fact, there are barely any signs of life. There is no longer any R in the state's congressional delegation or holding statewide elective office (excluding two members of the judiciary), a very rare occurrence.

The Torres Small victory completes the silencing of the conservative voice in this state's government. That was witnessed in the Democratic sweep of all statewide offices and the pick up of up to 8 seats in the state House--all of them by progressive oriented candidates.

Consultant Leanne Leith, a  key player on Speaker Egolf's election team, says when all the recounting is done Dems should have 46 members to the R's 24. That's up from a 38 to 32 split and would be the highest Dem total this century.

There will still be two functioning ideologies--liberal Democrats and more conservative Dems. That's how it was when I started here in the early 1970's. It remained that way for years for the downtrodden R's.

The blame game is underway in earnest in the GOP over who and what caused this wreckage. The Gov. Martinez/Jay McCleskey faction blames current GOP chairman Ryan Cangiolosi and his mentor former GOP chair Harvey Yates for their incompetence..

Martinez and McCleskey get the blame from them for running a failed government, accompanied by vindictiveness against their own and ending it by sabotaging Herrell who was the last chance for the GOP to salvage something.

Martinez never did endorse Herrell and even dissed her by saying she questioned whether she was qualified.


We called the near demise of the GOP on Election Night an existential event, but it's more than calling the identity of the party into question. With the Herrell loss it's now more like an extinction level event--ELE. Attracting young and vibrant leadership to a sinking ship is just one of the problems; never mind the party's stubborn resistance to moderating itself to appeal to a wider range of voters in this now firmly majority-minority state.


Women, mostly Dems, will now hold 31 of the 70 NM House seats. That's 44 percent How did that happen? Well, it's been slowly happening for a number of years. But do you think the social conditions crisis of neglected and murdered children, last or near last in the education and child well-being standings, constant violence, drug addiction and dysfunctional families may have something to do with it? Not that these are "women's issues." They are of concern to all, but it is women who are on the front lines of this crisis that has led to so much trauma. It will be women who will have to lead the turnaround. They now have the leadership to do that. Let's see what happens.


We broke this on the blog Wednesday. Now confirmed:

Congressman Ben Ray Luján announced his bid for Assistant Democratic Leader. In a letter to his colleagues Congressman Luján outlined his vision for the next Congress.

“To succeed, we must welcome ideas from all corners of our Caucus. To protect our majority and hold the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans accountable, we must bring our vision directly to the American people, listen to their concerns, and show them how we are working for them.”

Lujan, chairman of the DCCC who was easily re-elected to his northern Dem district Tuesday night, ran the successful effort to win back control of the US House. He made his leadership announcement the day after the victory. But he has competition for the slot. Rep. Cherri Bustos of Illinois announced earlier as did Rep. David Cicilline, a progressive Dem from Rhode Island.


Former Dem US Senator Jeff Bingaman will chair the transition of MLG to the governorship and her campaign Manager, Dominic Gabello will be the director, she announced Wednesday. Video here.

The Bingaman appointment will be reassuring to government watchers. It also fades the heat that Lujan Grisham endured over ethics from Steve Pearce. More important to all you Alligators is the jobs. Gobs of jobs. And a website to apply for them. Happy hunting.


One vote can make a big difference. Take, for example, the retention election of BernCo Metro Court Judge Linda Rodgers. She and other judges standing for retention for four year terms are required to win 57 percent approval from those voting, Well, Rodgers did that by getting 57.02 percent or just 38 votes over the required amount. Judge Michelle Castillo Dowler had a similar nail biter. She received 57.15%, just barely enough to keep her job.

Judges Ed Benavidez and Kenny Montyoa weren't so lucky. Each received only 55 percent and will be booted off the bench.


Suddenly the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) gets a lot more liberal:

Democrat Stephen Fischmann is the unofficial winner in the Public Regulation Commission’s southwest District 5.

With fellow Dems Cynthia Hall and Valerie Espinoza, Fischmann gives the five member PRC a much more progressive bent, perhaps giving utilities the group regulates some headaches while pursuing more renewable energy for  the state.


The healthy margin of victory for Torres Small was especially important as the R's were gearing up to come down on the Dona Ana County Clerk for incompetence and maybe worse. The office is recovering from this year's scandal in which the former clerk was having an affair with another employee and misspending money. The new clerk was only recently appointed by the county commission.

That new clerk mishandled the absentee count by not hiring enough workers to count and failing to make clear to the state on Election Night the number of absentees that remained to be counted. Then she sent the workers home to get rest and had them come back in the morning. That sounds familiar to those of us who dealt with the very same issues years ago in Bernalillo County.

Apparently the Secretary of State is not the final arbiter of when a county clerk should stop the count. That needs to be looked at because perception of election integrity is as important as its implementation. And why were only a handful of volunteers counting thousands of absentee ballots? That's another issue Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver could look at to improve state elections. The state has gone through repeated counting disasters, including the scandalous one in Dona Ana County in 2000. We dodged a bullet this year in bringing back the bad old days but why continue to leave it to chance?


As far as we can tell Michelle Lujan Grisham will be the first single Governor but her fiancé is Manuel Cordova so you get this:

Lujan Grisham said her long-time fiance Manuel Cordova would be the “first Manny.”

But does he make a good baloney sandwich?

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