Thursday, June 14, 2018

Candid Camera: Rep. Rodella Relaxes After Suffering Primary Upset: Plus: At APD The Old Boss Is The New Boss, And: The Winner Of Our Vintage ABQ Ticket Giveaway Is. . . . 

Rep. Rodella
It seems State Rep. Debbie Rodella, defeated in the biggest upset of Primary Election Night, is ready to ease into retirement. One of our Alligators sent us this pic of Debbie relaxing at the slots at Sandia Casino--and it was taken the afternoon after her June 5 defeat.

Rodella, a moderate/conservative Dem who chairs  the important House Business and Industry Committee, will soon have plenty of time to try her luck at her favorite games instead of worrying about complicated tax policy and the like. She will finish out 25 years as a legislator at the end of the year.

While Rodella is getting early retirement at 56, the woman who defeated her is going to have to delay any plans she may have had to join Debbie. 70 year old progressive Dem Susan Herrera was the unexpected victor for the northern legislative seat. No R's are running for the seat and none need apply in this all-D-all-the-time district. . .

No retirement for interim ABQ Police Chief Mike Geier but you already knew that. Despite protestations by the Keller administration that there would indeed be a true national search for a reform-minded police chief, interim Chief Geier was tapped for the permanent position. The police union that marches to the tune of the status quo is happy, even as the Kellerites say there will be reform under Geier, a 20 year APD veteran and former Rio Rancho chief.

Geier was criticized recently for defending the bungling of the case of a seven year old girl whose parents forced her into prostitution and whose bloody underpants were never collected as evidence when APD was investigating. But that wasn't enough to shake the Mayor's faith in him.

If he turns the department and the crime count around, Geier will make Keller a hero. If he doesn't, he could make him a one term mayor. . .

That had to be one of the shortest-lived political careers in a while. GOP Secretary of State candidate Johanna Cox has dropped out of the race, leaving it to the GOP to find a replacement candidate. Cox cited the need to attend to family but news articles outlined several legal malpractice cases against the ABQ attorney that put the heat on her to make for the exits.

It's all somewhat academic. Dem SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver is the odds-on favor to win re-election. Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff is running as a Libertarian. Now let's see who the R's put on the sacrificial altar.


A Senior Alligator writes from Valencia County:

Joe, "Chicharrones" Monahan, keep an eye on the race between Republican State Rep. Kelly Farjado and Democrat Leroy Baca in Valencia County. Leroy has a good chance. He has strong support from the two warring sides of the Democratic Party in Valencia County.

Really? Kelly has been an able vote-getter there but we'll watch.

Ever since we sat down with that Gator for some chicharrones in Bosque Farms he has awarded us the nickname  of "Joe "Chicharrones" Monahan. It's one of our higher honors in our 15 years of writing this thing.

Meantime, former Bernalillo County Commissioner Steve Gallegos, who years ago suffered a heart attack, told us the other day he limits himself to one serving of chicharrones a month and that we should do the same. Hey, Steve, how about if I volunteer at the next matanza to stir them but not eat them? Does the vapor count?


It was a trick question and why not? After all there was $170 in tickets on the line for the Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting Friday, June 22. But you can't fool all the people all the time and more than a handful of readers submitted correct answers in an effort to win the pair of tickets. The questions were:

Who is the first person to be born in the State of New Mexico to be Governor of the State?

And who is the first person to be born in the State of New Mexico to be a US Senator from NM?

The tricky part was being "born in the state." That means beginning on January 6, 1912 when New Mexico became a state, not prior to that when it was a territory of the U.S.

Kim Armano was one of many who got thrown off by the semantics:

Here's my guess - generated with a couple minutes from the group think of wikipedia- Ezekiel Cabeza de Baca as governor and Dennis Chavez as senator. Toss that in your crooner cap.

Kim, I would have loved to toss that in my "Sinatra Forever" cap along with the winning answers, but both of those men were born when New Mexico was a territory.

Reader Isabelle Zamora went even further back in territorial history for her answer:

Donaciano Vigil was the first Governor of NM born in Santa Fe NM in 1802 and he was first elected into office in 1847. Dennis Chavez was the first US Senator born in Los Chaves, Valencia County, New Mexico in 1888 and was first elected in 1930.

Ed Mechem
Okay, so what were the correct answers? Well, it turns out there is one answer to both questions as was explained by our question designer:

Some people will get tripped up by the fact that there was at least one Governor and one US Senator born in NM before NM became a state, namely Gov. Seligman and Senator Dennis Chavez. But the answer to both of those questions is actually the same person --Ed Mechem. He was never actually elected to the US Senate, having been appointed, but he was the first person to be born in NM after NM became a state to be both the Governor and the first US Senator to be born in NM after statehood.

Big Ed, as the Republican politico was called, was born six months after we achieved statehood in January 1912. From Wikipedia: "He was elected Governor in 1950 and 1952, did not run in 1954, and was elected again in 1956. . .After winning another term as governor in 1956, he was defeated for reelection again in 1958, then elected to a fourth term in 1960."

In 1962, when Senator Dennis Chavez died, Mechem appointed himself to Chavez's vacant seat. Big Ed ran for election in his own right in 1964 but lost to "Little Joe" Montoya.

So who is our winner? Well, as we said we had several so we put their names in our Sinatra cap, told Alexa to play Frank's' "Come Fly with Me Album" in the background, mixed up the scraps of paper and then pulled the name of Dennis Gabaldon out of our hat.

Congratulations, Dennis.

Thanks to all who took part. And it's not over. We'll have one more contest with the prize being another pair of Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting tickets so stay tuned.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Political Potpourri And Check Out Our Contest For Free Vintage ABQ Tickets 

It took a week but Damon Martinez finally put out his swan song to supporters Tuesday. The unsuccessful candidate for the ABQ Dem congressional nod had to be deeply disappointed in his 15 point loss to Deb Haaland but did not directly mention the defeat in his farewell to supporters, instead thanking them "for giving me your trust, your faith, and your support over this campaign. I will never forget it."

Will Martinez, a former US attorney for NM and onetime staffer to NM Senators Udall and Bingaman, be back? Maybe, but it's hard to see any opportunity for him in the short-term.

Voters are probably taking a break from the Guv race and anticipating their summer vacations but the non-stop campaigns go on no matter what. The Republican Governors Association is circulating this attack ad against Dem nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham and MLG continues to run one of her primary ads on broadcast TV.

Whoever wins the race--MLG or Republican Steve Pearce--gets to live in the Governor's Mansion in Santa Fe, although the residence built in the mid-50's hardly qualifies for that moniker in this day and age. Never been there? Here's your chance:

The Governor’s Mansion Foundation hosts docent-guided tours from 1-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month through November. The mansion is located north of the Plaza, west off Bishops Lodge Road at One Mansion Drive. For more information, visit here.


After a year and half in the high profile, hot spot job of BernCO District Attorney Raul Torrez is headed to the bunker:

DA Torrez and his spokesman, Michael Patrick, did not hand over policies that relate to conflicts of interest, and they ignored written questions and a request for an interview with Torrez for this story.

Torrez took major heat for what appeared to be a wire job in the DWI case of former Gov. Martinez cabinet secretary Ryan Flynn. He is now under intense scrutiny in how his office handles the DWI case of GOP State Rep. Monica Youngblood, another Martinez acolyte who has hired Martinez machine lawyer Paul Kennedy.

Torrez has never addressed the allegation that he sold out the Flynn case in exchange for the Governor's support for his increased budget request from the Legislature.

The DA's situation is now inviting open speculation about a possible Democratic primary challenge in 2020, should he decide to seek re-election. But that word may have a hard time penetrating the bunker.


First, let's set the table, so to speak. We have two free tickets to award to a lucky blog reader that sell for $85 each to the Vintage ABQ Grand Tasting Friday, June 22. Take a look:

A tented wine & food extravaganza, located at the beautiful Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum grounds, you can taste from over 100 wines from all over the world. And, scrumptious dishes from over local restaurants who try to outdo each other for best food of show. They might be competing, but the real winner is you!

And you can be a  really big winner it you can answer the questions crafted by the sly and mischievous Foster Hannett, ABQ attorney and veteran NM politico. Answer these right and the Grand Tasting tickets are yours. If we get multiple winners we'll mix them up in our "Forever Sinatra" hat and pick the final winner.

Who is the first person to be born in the State of New Mexico to be Governor of the State?

And who is the first person to be born in the State of New Mexico to be a US Senator from NM?

If those questions stump you (as they did us) you can still enjoy the Grand Tasting and other Vintage ABQ events. Just click on the Vintage ad for tickets. All events offer high quality gourmet food and wines, and the proceeds go to support education and the arts in the ABQ metro.

Good luck to the contest entrants. Email your answers and stay tuned for yet another chance to win tickets.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tale Of Two Guvs: One Makes The Peace With The Past As The Other Grapples With Her Present, Plus: Rating Tim Keller  

Richardson-Martinez 2010
It's the tale of two governors. Bill Richardson and Susana Martinez. Let's dive in.

He finished his gubernatorial terms at rock bottom approval levels but in the nearly 8 years since his departure Bill Richardson has shrugged off whatever resentments and frustration he had and has found contentment in his post political life. And success.

The former UN Ambassador, now 70, is seemingly everywhere as the summit between the US and North Korea takes center stage. He has traveled there repeatedly to free prisoners as an off the grid diplomat and serve as an intermediary with he isolated government.

In an appearance about the summit this week on the Today show Richardson displayed the confident, knowledgeable, affable personality that propelled him into the highest ranks of state and national politics. He probably still rues his fall from grace in the state he served as Governor and congressman, but if there is any residue of bitterness it is buried deep inside. This is a guy now completely comfortable in his own skin who has nothing to prove, but a lot to show.

Will Susana Martinez who is also finishing her governorship with rock bottom approval ratings manage to find the serenity that Richardson apparently has when she leaves office at year's end? Perhaps, but judging by her most recent foray onto the political battlefield she has a long way to go.

In the aftermath of State Rep. Yvette Herrell's big primary win of the southern GOP congressional nomination, Martinez stunned the GOP by openly dissing the woman who has a very good chance of taking the congressional seat in November:

I’m certainly going to support our Republican (nominee). But I think there are some questions with reference to her ability to … represent New Mexico in a fair and reasonable way.”

That Martinez and her chief political advise Jay McCleskey were all in for former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman, Herrell's chief rival for the nomination, was well known. And Martinez has never dealt with defeat well. But the bitterness displayed there, coming as it did so close to her own exit, reveals that she has yet to make peace with her own downfall and grapple with her post-gubernatorial future.

Richardson held grudges and in the end managed to let them go. Martinez has held even more grudges. Now this most warlike of Governors faces the daunting task of letting them go, if she is to eventually find peace within herself and a meaningful role in retirement.


It's time for the 2018 edition of Vintage ABQ, the annual festival celebrating the state's finest foods and wines with proceeds going to educate ABQ area kids. Click on the ad to get your tickets to the various events and stay tuned here as we will be awarding readers with tickets to the popular Grand Tasting.

After six months in office the appraisals of ABQ Mayor Tim Keller are coming in. We noted the "C" grade awarded the mayor by Pete Dinelli, the former ABQ city council and 2013 mayoral contender who was defeated by Mayor Berry. That drew this response from Patrick Hoffman:

I appreciate Pete Dinelli's service over the decades, However, I find his schoolmarm article awarding Mayor Keller an overall grade of "C" to be unfair. He obviously gave more weight to some "subjects" than others. In the area of public safety, the analogy of turning a large, heavy ship would to apt. It does not turn on a dime.

A good teacher does more than pontificate on a student's real and perceived faults, failings and shortcomings. Giving fair weight to successes is needed. Encouragement and positiveness are essential. I see little to none of that in this rather spiteful article.

And reader John reacted with this:

The only change I have seen so far with Mayor Tim is that he has hung his portrait wherever there is a vacant nail. No denunciation of the ART boondoggle or rearrangement of APD. "New Boss same as the Old Boss." What a disappointment.
I don't think the "only in office for six months" excuse has much traction since he knew from his announcement for mayor what the problems were with the past administrations. 

Tim, get out the bulldozers and flatten the ART stops, send the photo op buses back and cut our losses, and get rid of the old cronies at APD or I predict you will be a one hit blunder. 


Reader Kim Switzer writes of Monday's bottom lines

Joe, you blogged:

Reader Frank Gilmer has the final bottom lines for this edition:

Joe, here's my prediction for Trump's reaction to the Deb Haaland candidacy: "She's no Native American, she's Dutch. Just look at that last name--Holland!"

I spoke with Deb before the election and she told me her family name “Haaland” is actually of Scandinavian derivation, not Dutch which was my first thought since I am half Dutch myself with the surname “de Groot” and am aware of the “aa” in that language. She said “Haaland” is Norwegian.

You can already see the yard signs: "Norwegians for Haaland."

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Dems Look To Broaden State House Playing Field In Wake of BernCo Turnout Boost, Plus: Does Monica Go? And About Those Primary Polls 

Dems are looking to broaden the playing field for state House seats in Bernalillo County in the wake of the increased turnout in the '18 primary last week. If they can keep the energy going they say the seats of longtime ABQ NE State Reps Larry Larranaga 80, and Jimmie Hall, 70, could be tested.

Those have been hardcore GOP mainstays but in a big blue year the margins of victory could be trimmed, setting up a takeover challenge for the high turnout 2020 presidential year or even an upset victory this year if certain factors come together.

The BernCo seats already on the Dem hit list are being vacated by Reps Sarah Maestas Barnes and House Minority Leader Nate Gentry, with Gentry's seat seen as the most likely to tip to the D's.

The party seems to have several things going for it in its quest to boost turnout in November in the state's largest county. There is the strength of Guv hopeful Michelle Lujan Grisham, the chance for Dems to cast a history changing vote to elect Deb Haaland as the first Native American woman to congress and the unpopularity of President Trump in Blue Bernalillo.

Still, it will be up to Lujan Grisham and Senator Martin Heinrich, who is seeking re-election, to work together in a coordinated campaign to maximize those factors and deliver results in November.

The state House is narrowly controlled by the Dems 38-32 so even a pick up of a single seat would make a difference in policy.


There is another BernCo seat that the Dems are hoping to get a shot at. It belongs to Republican State Rep. Monica Youngblood who was arrested for aggravated DWI last month and who last week entered a plea of not guilty to the charge.

GOP insiders say there is a quiet effort under way to persuade Youngblood to leave the seat so the party can name a replacement candidate. But if she does not the Dems will pounce and probably have a good chance to take the contest. The video of the Youngblood arrest contains memorable and embarrassing moments that could easily be made into mailers and TV spots.

While Youngblood faces a DWI charge a number of readers point out that she does not act overly intoxicated in the arrest video. True enough. But her political problem may not be driving drunk as much as it is the hypocrisy of refusing to take a breathalyzer test, after being one of the leading advocates in the Legislature of such tests and making it even more punitive if a driver avoids one. That's what makes the Youngblood seat low lying fruit for the Dems--if she insists on staying in.


Here's a reader who thinks we were too tough on the polling in the ABQ congressional contest for the June 5 primary.

I would not be so hard on the early polls. The one for your blog by robocall was taken  May 23, and the ABQ Journal's was taken May 20th-24th. They were in enough agreement to infer that they had some validity. However these were taken two weeks before election day allowing enough time for much opinion change.  Moreover, there were large numbers of "undecided" in both surveys. In addition, there may have been some methodological "difficulties" with both surveys, such as only surveying those who had voted in previous elections, thus not catching the young, first-time voters.

Indeed, there was difficulty in catching those first-time voters, writes pollster and consultant Stephen Clermont on our Facebook:

Polling will be a challenge in an election like this. Of the early vote in the congressional contest, 17% of Dems didn't vote in either the 2014 or 2016 primary. Another 26-28% only voted in 2016.  Turnout was much higher, so if polls relied on regular midterm primary voters, they will be off. But if the pollster don't get the right group of new voters, they will be off too. There has to be a better way of scientifically evaluating these campaigns besides phone polls where only campaigns with a lot of $$ can afford to call cell phones.

If the Journal and the blog had polled the week before the election no doubt the surveys would have picked up the narrowing of the race and the momentum for Deb Haaland. But get this. We're told a Super PAC poll conducted in the days leading up to the election still had Damon Martinez up by two points and Haaland closing in. But she won by over 15 points. The polling model did not account for that influx of new voters which can, as Clermont says, throw the numbers askew.


Mayor Keller has wrapped up his first six months at the helm and former Dem ABQ City Councilor Pete Dinelli says the Alcalde earns a C grade for his maiden months. . .

Reader Frank Gilmer has the final bottom lines for this edition:

Joe, here's my prediction for Trump's reaction to the Deb Haaland candidacy: "She's no Native American, she's Dutch. Just look at that last name--Holland!"

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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