Thursday, May 10, 2018

Primary Will See Skimpy Public Polling, Pearce Tries To Set Early Guv Narrative, Susana Says She's Staying Put, A Bean Counter Special And Jeff's Favorite Munchies 

Polling is going to be skimpy for this primary election.

We'll have a boatload of insider numbers floating around and we'll bring those to you but as far as public polling the ABQ Journal, according to one of the campaigns, won't come with its survey of the top races until May 27th. By then some of those will already have been defined and decided by the early voting which will make up well over half the total vote cast.

We'll see if PPP or another outfit comes with public numbers. If not we may be flying dark in the weeks ahead but that makes it all the more fun.

Gabe Gallegos is a self-described "Democratic PR guy" and writes to us of the gubernatorial contest:

Republican Steve Pearce's two TV spots thus far show one thing: he is immediately setting the main question of this race as jobs and economic development. Since the Democratic Party primary is so heated right now, there has been no central question that has been defined yet. Voters must take this question to the polls on June 5 as we nominate our candidate for Governor to take on Steve Pearce: Who will be able to face Steve Pearce's common-sense, no frills message on job growth?

Agreed, Gabe, except the statement that the Dem Guv primary has "been heated." It has not.

Dems Michelle Lujan Grisham, Joe Cervantes and Jeff Apodaca have mentioned jobs and economic growth but there's little question Pearce has had the field mostly to himself on these critical issues. If he can keep the conversation there and not on Trump and his own often hard right ideology, it will make the race for Governor more than interesting.


All the talk of Gov. Martinez somehow snagging a top government position somewhere has come to a crashing halt as her administration sputters into its final stretch. The Governor seems quite aware of it. She told an ABQ business group this week of her plans when her governorship ends:

I will continue to be in New Mexico because this is the place I love most.

Martinez will be 59 when she leaves office at year end. She is finishing in the low 30's in popularity, similar to where her predecessor Bill Richardson ended his two terms. But with an international profile Richardson has been in demand by the media and policy makers outside of New Mexico.


Because we admire all you bean counters we present for your reading enjoyment ABQ Mayor Keller's proposed budget--line by line--for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Now don't stay up too late reading it. . .

And if you are of a mind to chime in on what attributes the new permanent ABQ police chief should have you can add your two cents worth here. However, be warned that the City Hall Alligators are saying the job has already been wired for "interim" Chief Mike Geier. Well, maybe you can tell downtown what you think about what he should be doing.


Las Cruces area State Rep. Bill McCamley left the door wide open for Brian Colón when it comes to the major task facing the state auditor and Colon walks right through in his debut TV ad for the Dem nomination.

McCamley's first ad, catchy as it was with him using a sledge hammer to tear down Trump's "hateful wall" and also calling for more investment in education, never does get around to really addressing the auditor's job.

Colón spends the first half of the spot explaining how he grew up poor then pivots to the money lines:

I am running for auditor because I understand when there is waste fraud and abuse in New Mexico it has an impact on the families. . . I understand the value of money because I understand the value of investing in people .

McCamley wins the creativity contest but Colón directly states to voters what the office is and what he would do if elected. No gimmicks. The first round goes to the ABQ attorney.


Attention all you marijuana smokers. Here's how Dem Guv candidate and cancer survivor Jeff Apodaca satisfied his munchies back in the day. You might want to give it a try:

Apodaca ended up as one of the first medical marijuana patients in New Mexico. His own father, Gov. Jerry Apodaca, he said, had signed a law that allowed, for a limited time, research into medical uses of marijuana. Apodaca said he still remembers his first meal after smoking marijuana: corned beef hash with green chile. His grandmother had made his favorite dinner.

If Apodaca is elected he says he will propose legalizing marijuana in New Mexico. If that happens maybe they could pass out his grandma's recipe with the pot. You know, kill two birds with one stoned. Get it? Alright. . . We're outta here, kids. . . .

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Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Watching And Waiting: Who Will Break Out Of Pack In Dem Congress Chase? And: Will History Be Made In June Primary? Plus: A Carl And Andrea Update 

Here's what we're watching and mulling over as Primary '18 starts to hit its stride. . .

Is it possible that two candidates who failed to get 20 percent of the delegate support at the March Dem pre-primary convention can defy history and win their party's nominations June 5?

Former US Attorney Damon Martinez only managed 10 percent of the delegate support yet is showing some momentum in the contest for the ABQ Dem congressional nod. His anti-Trump TV is keeping him in the game with base voters.

Neither Deb Haaland or Antoinette Sedillo Lopez--the two leading candidates--have taken command with their first wave of TV, according to campaign insiders, and that leaves alive the theory that they could split much of the women's vote and allow the moderate Martinez to take the prize. Much will depend on whether Haaland or Sedillo Lopez can begin exciting this electorate which so far has escaped them.

Meantime, that third party ad buy from the independent veterans group "With Honor" we told you about yesterday turned out to be a biggie. The group has purchased $112,000 for just the first week. The ad is here. In it a former US Attorney who served with Martinez, Carmen Ortiz, praises him.. And there you have that battle over the female vote as the PAC supporting Martinez tries to splinter it further.

Also, the independent Native American PAC supporting Deb Haaland is coming on the air with a $46,000 TV buy spread over two weeks. The ad is here.

Haaland also came with another campaign ad, a testimonial. Five women praise Haaland in the spot but only one man. That tells you all you need to know about the battle over the women's vote between Haaland and Sedillo Lopez. If one of them can break out with women, they will win. If not, we could be in for a long primary night.


Then there is the Dem chase for state land commissioner. State Senator George Munoz also failed to garner 20 percent of the delegates at the Dem pre-primary while Garrett VeneKlasen and Stephanie Garcia Richard went over that mark. Yet Munoz is alive and well. He has loaned himself $200,000 and has a decided financial advantage over VeneKlasen and Garcia Richard. Both are working furiously to close the gap so they can compete on TV with Munoz this month.

VeneKlasen advocates sense the urgency of the moment. An environmental group is running a negative ad against Munoz, claiming he is in bed with "special interests.”

VeneKlasen’s campaign released two 15 second ads, one of them in which Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich, who has backed VeneKlasen from the beginning, endorses him. The other ad has VeneKlasen touting wind power.

Only one candidate--Dem Gary King for Governor--has failed to secure 20 percent pre-primary support and went on to win his party's nomination for statewide office. Will Munoz and/or Martinez do the feat and make some history?

And what if ABQ City Councilor Pat Davis pulled the upset and won the ABQ congressional nomination? He's a candidate the R's have said they would like to run against. Would they decide to bolster their nominee, Janice Arnold-Jones, if Davis were the foe? The R's currently have no plans of targeting the seat.


His first ad said he spent his first two years poor with no indoor plumbing and now that's followed by a second spot in which he again cites that poverty and that of the state and says jobs are the way out. He calls for apprenticeship programs in the state's high schools for students not going on to college.

In both spots Pearce holds the camera well and the scripts are tight. No doubt they are building the positives of the GOP Guv contender as intended. And he will need every positive point as the Dems and independent money groups will soon be on his tail.


As expected the sexual harassment complaint leveled against Santa Fe County State Rep. Carl Trujillo by then-lobbyist Laura Bonar involving the '13 and '14 legislative sessions has been forwarded to an investigative subcommittee of the Legislative Ethics Committee. What's not expected is any kind of resolution of the complaint before the critical June primary featuring Trujillo and his Dem challenger Andrea Romero. If such a decision were to come it could tilt the race to whomever came out best in the investigation--Romero if Bonar's complaint is found true or Trujillo if it isn't. But, hey, in Santa Fe you never know. We'll keep a close watch for any curve balls. Three Dem state reps have called on Trujillo to resign--Miguel Garcia,Christine Trujillo and Debra M. Sariñana but he has no plans to do so. The primary is critical because there is no R running for the seat. The winner June 5 is essentially elected to the two year term.


Several informed readers commented on our description of the state's drug problem for including fentanyl, but they report fentanyl has yet to make a major presence here as it has in a number of other states. They report meth, heroin and opioids are the drugs most widespread and causing the pain.


In a first draft Tuesday we had the incorrect address for in-person voting at the BernCo Clerk's Annex. The correct address is 1500 Lomas Blvd.

And we were not clear on this so we repeat it:

Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver announced NMVote.org is where New Mexico voters can request an absentee ballot online for the first time in the state’s history.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Campaign '18 Goes To The Early Birds Starting Today; More TV Ads Popping As Candidates Vy For Position, And: Mayor Asks For Help Naming Newborn Elephant; We Answer The Call 

Campaign '18 has been more like a dawdle than a dash but it's here. The first votes will be cast today when the state's county clerks welcome the early birds to cast ballots at their locales and also send out the first batch of absentee ballots.

In BernCo you can vote beginning today at the Clerk's Annex downtown at 1500 Lomas NW. Countywide early voting begins May 19 and Primary Election Day is June 5.

You can register to vote online and also request an absentee ballot. The Secretary of State's link to do either is here. Today is the last day to register for the June primary.

The major candidates for office are well aware of these dates and many have been running TV ads to ensure the early voters don't forget them.

In the southern congressional district Monty Newman, who is seeking the GOP nomination, comes with this bio ad. He cites border security and national defense as two key issues. He emphasizes his son's service in Iraq and says that's "why all this matters to me." But supporters of Newman's chief rival, State Rep. Yvette Herrell, say Newman relies too much on the son's service and not his own. Newman is not a military veteran.

Newman's advocates have panned Herrell over her failure to report on her state financial disclosure form all of the income her company earned. She has since amended the form. There are two other candidates in this one but it's going to be Newman and Herrell fighting to the finish line.


What does Trump wanting to build a wall on the US-Mexico border have to do with the office of NM State Auditor? It's not readily apparent but it is the centerpiece of this ad from Dem auditor hopeful Bill McCamley. You might say it's a bit off the wall:

. . . Let’s use every tool in our toolbox to knock down Donald Trump’s hateful and wasteful wall. Speaking of walls, we invest $24 billion of our money on Wall Street. Let’s take some of that money and invest it in education for all of our kids. . . In the Trump era we need a Democratic auditor who’s going to build bridges, not walls.”

McCamley is vying for the nomination with ABQ attorney and former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon. The Republican nominee will be Wayne Johnson who was appointed state auditor by the Governor to fill a vacancy.


We reported a while back that ABQ Dem US House candidate and former US Attorney Damon Martinez would be getting some third party support for his bid. That has happened as this Politico report spells out:

VoteVets is going up with a TV ad buy backing Martinez in the open seat. "Donald Trump fired New Mexico's U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez because he prosecuted corporations that pollute our environment," the ad's narrator says. "Because he cracked down on domestic violence and took assault weapons off the streets, because he fought for his fellow veterans." Watch the ad here.

Following 9/11 Martinez enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and became a Judge Advocate.

Another third party veterans group, With Honor, is also going to weigh in with media for Martinez.

The most recent insider polling has the ABQ Dem congressional race still close between Deb Haaland and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, with Damon Martinez also in the top tier. Pat Davis is trying to break through with a widespread ground game. One Dem consultant calls the race "a dogfight."


It's all about what could have been for Lt. Governor John Sanchez this election cycle but he's still managing to collect a few perks, like this one:

. . . Sanchez will receive an honorary doctorate from Western New Mexico University at the spring 2018 commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11. Sanchez has advocated for the university in countless instances and has been instrumental in seeing that Western New Mexico University’s students have resources that are often more limited in rural communities like Silver City, Western New Mexico. . .

We're still having fun tracking the hot rumors that Sanchez is in line to be appointed an ambassador by President Trump, perhaps to Panama, but we haven't heard anything firm yet.


Mayor Keller has asked the public to help name the baby elephant born this month at the ABQ BioPark and we’re more than happy to oblige. . .

Considering that the newborn came into the world only yards from the biggest White Elephant in the history of the city, we propose that the bouncing baby boy be named ART. It's a great name and as he prospers in the decades ahead baby ART will forever be a reminder of the city's bus folly and not to repeat it. So there you have it, Mayor. If you go along with us at least one ART will be up and running.

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Monday, May 07, 2018

Poverty And Drugs Make For An Evil Dynamic That Strikes Again In Abuse Case Of 7 Year Old; A CYFD Disaster; Plus: Did Rep. Trujillo Survive The Weekend? And Remembering Mayor Larry Abraham 

CYFD Secretary Jacobson
The state of New Mexico continues to fail in its most basic obligation--to protect those least able to protect themselves--and that failure is going to reverberate on the campaign trail.

The astounding news that the state Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) had every opportunity to stop the latest case of sensational abuse, but didn't, sent the state reeling yet again:

Court documents reveal CYFD had more than 21 opportunities to help a 7-year-old girl who was forced into prostitution. Meanwhile, police had at least six times to save her, so why didn't they? "I think there are steps we could've and should've taken to better protect this little girl and her brother," CYFD Cabinet Secretary Monique Jacobson said. Court documents reveal CYFD had been dealing with Teri Sanchez and James Stewart for years. Starting in June 2004, CYFD was called to check on the couple's three children after reports of everything from medical neglect, physical abuse, the kids not going to school, to sexual molestation concerns.

This is only the latest in a growing list of ghastly abuse cases at the hands of supposed loved ones. Those who have been murdered in recent years are familiar as your own family: 9 year old Omaree Varela in 2014, 10 year old Victoria Martens in 2016 and 13 year old Jeremiah Valencia in 2017 all suffered agonizing deaths and, like the seven year old, all were on the radar of the state CYFD or other authorities before they were brutally slain.

Think of it. All that horror in a smallish state of only 2 million, not some giant metropolis. When will New Mexico find the will to reverse what has become a vile trend?

Secretary Jacobson had no choice but to admit her department's incompetence in this latest case. She has had over three years on the job to reform the bureaucracy under her and has not been up to the task.


Sen. Padilla
Gov. Martinez
ABQ Valley State Senators Michael Padilla and Linda Lopez, both familiar with the extreme conditions facing children in their lower income districts, warned of her political appointment to CYFD when Jacobson was named to the post by Gov. Martinez. They said her lack of social work experience would be a detriment. Sadly, they were correct.

In her first appearance before the Legislature as secretary in 2015 Jacobson meekly caved in to the Governor who insisted on cutting the CYFD budget and staff in the middle of a social conditions crisis. How did she expect to be taken seriously after that?

It all doesn't fall on one cabinet secretary's shoulders. The government as a whole--from the Governor's office to the Legislature--doesn't seem to fully understand the evil dynamic that has gripped the state and has been unwilling or unable to respond. Let's spell it out:

New Mexico's chronic poverty, combined with a pernicious and persistent drug epidemic, has created a devilish and depraved environment in an untold number of New Mexican households.

This is not old West Virginia style poverty where kids ran around barefoot and neglected while their parents guzzled moonshine. This is a poverty mixed with meth and fentanyl and that drives parents to do more than drink. They kill. Their own kids.

One proven solution is succinctly stated by reader Stephen Spitz:

Last year only 4,500 infants received home visits. The 2018 Legislature expanded HV by $1.5M so that for FY 19 4,800 will get home visits. This is less than 5% of our infants, the overwhelming percentage of which are born into poverty and would benefit most from the program.

It's pretty simple. If you can spot the abuse you can stop the abuse.

You have to have a CYFD that is not dysfunctional. For example, the foster care system and abuse:

“It’s preventable, and that’s really the heartbreak here,” said Sara Crecca, an ABQ attorney who has worked 17 years as a court-appointed guardian for children in CYFD custody. “Our system needs changing from every aspect, from every angle. The whole entire apple cart needs to be turned over.” But the ultimate responsibility, Crecca said, always falls to CYFD and the state caseworker assigned to ensure the child’s safety, visit the child in the treatment foster home and attend treatment meetings with the foster care company. . .

While the murders and abuse are met with outrage, it has been of the moment, similar to the uproars heard in the aftermath of mass school shootings. The cries for change echo through the nation but then slowly fade and we are back to where we started.

It will be up to the next Governor to sustain a change movement. Will the candidates tell us before they are elected who they will name as CYFD secretary and what reforms they expect? What the CYFD budget will be? Will they commit to a home visiting program that has nearly 100 percent reach in four years? Or are repeated cases of murdered and abused children just part of what passes for the "new normal" around here?


Will he make it through the weekend? That was the question on the lips of the politicos as they eagle-eyed the melodrama of the Dem primary between State Rep. Carlos Trujillo and his Dem challenger Andrea Romero.

One of our analysts said that if Trujillo could make it through the weekend without more women surfacing accusing him of sexual harassment he would likely weather the storm created when Laura Bonar with an animal protection group accused him of sex harassment during the'14 legislative session.

No additional women have emerged to charge Trujillo but ABQ Dem State Rep. Armstrong threw kerosene on the fire when she alleged that other women had confided in her that Trujillo had also harassed them. But Armstrong, the treasurer for the Guv campaign of Michelle Lujan Grisham, gave no names or details. While that story caused a kerfuffle, Trujillo continued to fight back and will not resign.

So Trujillo did make it through the weekend with some cuts and scrapes. Now both candidates will take their cases to the mailboxes. Voters with weak stomachs in the Santa Fe County district may want to stop mail delivery until after June 5.


We were saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Abraham, the longtime mayor of the Village of Los Ranchos in the ABQ metro North Valley. He was first elected  in 2004 and remained popular until his untimely passing on Saturday during a trip with his wife to his second home in St. George Utah. His sister said the cause of death was apparently a massive heart attack.

Abraham is especially known for advocating for the North Fourth Street Revitalization Project which has spruced up the area considerably. He was also a political bridge builder who was an independent. In 2007 he made blog headlines when he hosted a major fund-raiser at his Los Ranchos home for then-Senator Pete Domenici with President George W. Bush as the headliner.

A couple of years ago when we were at a Vintage ABQ event he pulled us aside to meet with then-UNM President Bob Frank to see if we could see eye-to-eye on some issues. He was that kind of leader.

We first became friends with him when we were both at UNM and he was a student senator and we covered him for the Daily Lobo. He went on to become a busy businessman and entrepreneur.

Former ABQ Chief Administrative Officer Lawrence Rael who is now chief operating officer  under Mayor Keller worked closely with Abraham over the years:

So sad to hear the news. I worked with the Mayor for many years. He was always supportive and interested in making our community and state a better place. I will miss him very much. Kim and I send our condolences to his family. So sorry. Rest In Peace my friend.

The family plans a memorial service.

Larry Abraham was 64.

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