Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pearce Confirms Run For GOP Chair, Hispanics Hit Record Number In US House Including Xochitl And Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico  

Headed into the holiday weekend our Alligators scored a coup with their report here Monday that Steve Pearce, fresh off a failed bid as the '18 GOP Guv nominee, was eyeing a run for chairman of the NM Republican Party. Now he has confirmed that, announcing he will seek the chairmanship at the December 8 meeting of the GOP state central committee

It is unusual to have the unsuccessful party nominee for Governor hang around in the public eye as outgoing southern Congressman Pearce is choosing. 

For example, when Dem Gary King lost the Guv slot in '14 he left the spotlight for good. When Dem Diane Denish lost her bid in 2010, she too backed away from any high profile politics, and soon after Republican John Dendahl lost the 2006 Guv race to bill Richardson, he moved to Colorado.

The Martinez/McCleskey faction will have an option other than Pearce. Albuquerque businessman John Rockwell, who previously ran for the post will run against Pearce. But the GOP Central committee is stacked against Rockwell And he has lost twice before. 

Perhaps Pearce, 71, wants a shot at revising his legacy by rebuilding the state GOP. His two statewide losses by large margins--the '08 Senate race and this year's Guv contest--will not be easily forgotten. With the Republican Party left for dead in the aftermath of this month's rout at the polls, Pearce this time would seem to have nowhere to go but up. 

His run for chairman, however, does not rule out a 2020 run for the congressional seat he is vacating and which was won by Dem Xochitl Torres Small. He’s leaving that option open prompting criticism that his run is more for his own personal gain then for the well-being of the party.


Torres Small is the first Hispanic to ever represent the southern NM congressional seat but she will have plenty of company when she goes to work in January:

Congress will have a record 43 Latino members next year. The number increased after California Democrat Gil Cisneros defeated Republican Young Kim, who was trying to become the first Korean-American woman elected to the House. The Hispanic delegation will be made up of 35 Democrats and eight Republicans in both chambers.


A reader sends an update on the whereabouts of the now long gone former NM Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera, perhaps the most controversial cabinet secretary in recent decades:

Skandera is currently editor in chief of The Line, a publication of the Frontline Research and Learning Institute. Frontline produces research and data on education-related topics. The Line (headquartered in Pennsylvania) is a twice-yearly publication of the Frontline Research & Learning Institute, whose purpose is to offer new ideas and insight and encourage civil discourse on the most significant K-12 issues we face.


Reader Joel Gay writes:

I wanted to thank you for another great election year of blogging. For years you have been my go-to source for political news, and for that matter for insight into our economy and society. I rely on online news sites like yours to give me the scoop. Which you do, regularly. It is greatly appreciated in our house, where every other day or so I walk into the kitchen and tell my wife, "Did you see what Monahan wrote this morning?" Anyhow, enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Thanks much for that, Joel. That's a nice way to begin our holiday break and say to you and all who join us here:

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Time For Another Edition Of Reader Vox Populi 

A few notes before we get to reader Vox Populi. . .

Steve Pearce has confirmed that he is running for chairman of the NM Republican Party. The news follows our Monday blog in which our sources told us Pearce was thinking about running. The entry of the southern GOP congressman and unsuccessful '18 Guv candidate will likely clear the field of most competitors for the slot. The GOP State Central Committee will meet December 8 to choose the new chair.

Could the giant projected state surplus of over $1.2 billion and perhaps nearing $2 billion be in jeopardy because of the recent slide in oil prices? That's the question a number of readers posed recently as oil dropped below $60 a barrel. The answer?

Probably not. Unlike past oil booms this time we're dealing with once in a lifetime production levels that are going to stay up even if the price drops some more. The NM SE Permian Basin can profitably churn out the black gold with the fracking process even if the price drops to the low 40's. The boom will eventually end but probably not because of price but because Basin production gradually slows.

Some follow-up on our comment that if NM Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, presided over a loss of the House or only a small gain, his DC status could be in jeopardy. Well, his supporters are quick to tell us that Dems have now picked up nearly 40 seats, meaning Lujan has presided over a "blue wave." They believe that success will help him secure the House leadership role he is pursuing--as long as his mentor House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi takes over the speakership.

It was, by any historical standard, a blue wave. Democrats look like they’re going to pick up around 38 House seats, which would be the third-biggest gain by any party in 40 years (after Republicans in 2010 and 1994). The Senate moved in the opposite direction, but not by much.


Longtime NM Republican Spiro Vassilopoulos is in the oil business. He offers this comment on the election of Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard as state land commissioner:

Joe: There is no hope for New Mexico Republicans. The whole election process is a ruse. Let's take one race as an example. The current Commissioner-elect of Public Lands ran on the platform that she was "for women and planned parenthood." So, in order to spare all Republicans from false hopes and save money in advertising and the cost of running elections, we should do the following: Once the Democratic primaries are decided, the winner should be declared the rightful occupant of the respective office and sworn in. Republicans can grouse all they want to, but they best just move to Utah or Wyoming.

Meantime, Commissioner-elect Garcia Richard has 30 job vacancies she is seeking to fill. Job seekers can check them out here. And in case you missed it, here's the transition website for the Governor-elect where applications for state jobs are being taken and where you can also schedule a meeting with her.


Reader Norm Gagne writes:

Many of our best and brightest high school graduates leave the state for college and never return as opportunities are thin here. A “Best and Brightest Initiative” could seek to identify those students early in high school, offer them mentoring in their areas of interest from academic, engineering, scientific and other leaders. Perhaps internships and summer jobs with local enterprises could be arranged and subsidized, connections made, etc. Financial assistance for college might be part of the package for student participants tied to a commitment to serve a certain number of years locally. The idea, in addition to giving talented youngsters a path to stay in New Mexico, would be to build a talented work force to attract other enterprises here. It would take some money for staff and the like, hence the connection to the oil windfall money. Whether this is a new idea or even viable matters not. It felt good to think positively about the State, my home for over fifty years.  

Good stuff, Norm. And it's the right week of the year for some positive thinking.


Reader Richard Flores checks in with thoughts on the results of Election '18:

With Democrat Xochitl Torres-Small's win in the southern congressional district, New Mexico experienced a blue tsunami as opposed to a blue wave. Congratulations to all the winners. Looking forward to reforms in public education, a big boost in teacher pay, early childhood education, infrastructure, health care and immigration policy. With all due respect, if Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, continues to be an obstacle, legislative leadership must do what is necessary to get around him, and bring on the reforms that are needed to improve the lives and the future prospects for all of our children. Also, Joe, thanks for your coverage of the campaigns, election day results and post election analysis.

Thank you, Richard.

Senator Smith is standing at the crossroads of history with this new Governor-elect. We won't say it's the last best chance to turn the state in the right direction, but it's something like that.


In a first blog draft Monday we omitted the name of State Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth regarding his selection once again for that position by the Senate Dem caucus. Congrats, Peter. Now about Senator Smith. . .

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 


Monday, November 19, 2018

Sources Say Pearce Eyeing bid for NM GOP Chairman, Plus: Senate Dems Caucus And Conservative Coalition Doesn't Crack; House R's Pick New Leader 

Rep. Pearce
There may still be political life left in Steve Pearce, but it may not be what you think.

Following the election results that showed him losing the Guv race to Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham by a 57 to 43 margin, Pearce said he wasn't ready to retire from public life. But we're now learning that could mean the veteran politico will choose to continue that public life in a non-elected position, possibly as chairman of the state Republican Party.

Our GOP sources report Pearce, 71, is floating the possibility of running for the post which will be up for election next month by members of the state GOP Central Committee.

Pearce, the sources say, is not too hot for a try at retaking the southern congressional seat he gave up to run for Governor and which was won by Dem Xochitl Torres Small November 6. His term expires January 3.

If Pearce chooses to run top R's believe he will clear the field of lesser names already letting it be known they would like to replace outgoing chairman Ryan Cangiolosi. Those include ABQ businessman John Rockwell, who lost the post to Cangiolosi two years ago and is aligned with the Gov. Martinez/Jay McCleskey wing of the party. That wing is dreaded by the Pearce faction and past Central Committee votes demonstrate most of the members are with Pearce.

His boosters say a Pearce chairmanship would help the R's on a number of levels: It would keep the party levers out of the hands of the Martinez/McCleskey forces, would put the party on stable financial footing and give them a recognizable face to oppose the Dems.

Of course the Dems would be more than pleased to see Pearce as party chair. That would mean he would not run again for his US House seat against Torres Small in 2020, giving her much needed breathing room.


The R's are doing some finger-pointing over the pounding they took in the election in which the Dems ran the table for the top offices and the state House.

That Chairman Cangiolosi was overwhelmed is a given. Unlike most previous chairs he held a day job and did not have the financial independence to talk forcefully to the party or the public. Pearce, an oilman, is independently wealthy.

Others making noise about running for GOP chair are BernCo GOP Chairman Robert Aragon, former chair John Billingsley,  radio talk show host Eddy Aragon and longtime GOP figure Rick Lopez, among others.

While the GOP's Martinez/McCleskey faction argue that the party's devastating losses were solely the fault of Cangiolosi and his mentor, former GOP chairman Harvey Yates, more mainstream political thinking sees the disaster as a natural offshoot of the declining fortunes of ABQ and New Mexico under the eight year reign of Martinez and Mayor Richard Berry. They failed and thus the party failed at the polls. That's what happened in 2010 when Martinez came in by riding a wave of anger against Dem Bill Richardson.

Martinez's own demise was hastened in December 2015 after the infamous holiday pizza party incident. History will mark that event as the demarcation line when she transitioned from popular to unpopular. Martinez's carefully crafted political personality collapsed because of her party behavior and as the state struggled with the longest economic downturn/stagnation since the Great Depression. That double whammy did her in.


That aforementioned lengthy NM recession is pretty much over with job growth resuming and economic growth on the upswing somewhat, thanks mostly to the oil boom in the SE NM Permian Basin. It's so big you get this from the major oil companies that are raking in millions there:

More than a dozen top U.S. energy companies have pledged $100 million toward easing stresses on health care, education and civic infrastructure from the shale oil and gas boom in West Texas and New Mexico. . . The last decade’s shale boom also has led to school overcrowding, soaring traffic fatalities, drug abuse and strains on the power grid because of the activity. “Our roads are not designed to handle the amount of truck traffic we have,” said Jeff Walker, transportation training coordinator at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

We've reported in recent years about the $300 plus hotel rooms in the boom region. Add this to the list--a $4,980 a month 1,300 square foot house in Artesia. Hey, maybe it comes with free tickets to see the Artesia Bulldogs.


Sen. Papen
We've already covered the caucus of the state House Dems and their picks to lead them in the next legislative session. Now it's time for two more--the Senate Dems and the House Republicans.

The Dem Senators gathered at ABQ's Carpenters Union Hall Saturday morning and indicated that the conservative coalition that leads the Senate is still operative and poses a potentially serous obstacle to Gov-elect Lujan Grisham.

They voted by acclamation to return 86 year old conservative Dem Senator Mary Kay Papen to the Senate Pro Tem position. The post will be voted on by the entire Senate which is fine with the R's who have been voting for her time and again. That there was no a peep of opposition to her indicates that the conservative wing of the Dem Party is not freaking out just year by the results of the election which showed the state becoming increasingly Dem and deeper blue.

The Dems again elected Santa Fe attorney Peter Wirth as Senate Majority Leader. The hallmark of his leadership is the same as that of his predecessor Michael Sanchez--don't mess with conservative Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith.

And ABQ Senator Michael Padilla,who we blogged about recently as making a play for his old job as Senate Minority Whip, decided not to make the play. ABQ Dem Sen. Mimi Stewart kept the position. Insiders say Padilla is now gunning for a slot on the Senate Finance Committee.

It's worth reporting again: This new Governor has perhaps one shot at the "moonshots" she declares she wants and the road to launching them runs through Smith, Papen and several other Dem conservatives. Will she shoot for the moon or settle for some simple base hits? That will be the defining decision of her governorship and it will not take four years to find out but two short months--the length of the 2019 legislative session.


Meanwhile, House Republicans swerved right in selecting Rep. James Townsend, 64, of Artesia, a retired oilman, as their new Minority Leader. He appears to have made some serious money from NYSE listed exchange listed Holly Energy Partners before retiring in 2011.

Farmington Rep. Rod Montoya continues as House Minority Whip.

Dems said this shows the R's are tone deaf but there really is no longer a "moderate" wing of the party and conservative Townsend is known for being competent and understands the business that is dominating the state.

But, really, the House is now about to be 46-24 Dem. The House R's won't have much to say about anything in Santa Fe. But as we said, their GOP brethren, in a marriage of convenience with conservative Dems, are still in the game.


Santa Fe radio host Richard Eeds played house liberal for the American News HQ program on Fox News this weekend. He was part of a radio panel that opined on the future of Nancy Pelosi and the migrant caravan winding its way through Mexico. . . ABQ Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland was making the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit with three appearances, including this one on CBS' Face the Nation.

We blogged last week that former Roswell Dem State Senator Tim Jennings was defeated for re-election in 2016. He was actually defeated in 2012.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

website design by limwebdesign