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Friday, June 07, 2019

A Domenici Daughter Surfaces In Senate Race; Nella Domenici Tested In Poll Along With Other GOP Names, Plus: Death Claims La Politica’s Bill Hume 

Nella Domenici
First, some clean-up on that poll we said Thursday was being conducted regarding the 2020 US Senate race.

There has indeed been a recent poll featuring possible GOP candidates for the Senate, but it was not conducted by former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, as we initially blogged from info supplied by a Senior Alligator.

Sanchez tells us he has looked at the Senate contest, but has not yet made a announcement regarding his intentions and did not commission the poll. Our Gator had the corrected info but did not get back to us before we posted the initial blog.

Said Sanchez:

Even though I've been encouraged by hundreds of supporters and by national leaders to run for the open Senate seat, I have not, nor has my political organization, paid for any polling. . . I will always work to continue my service to my beloved state and this nation whether as a public servant or private citizen.

We listened to a recording of the live telephone poll that was apparently commissioned by one of those named in the survey, though not Sanchez.

Okay, with that straightened out let's take a peek at the Republican names tested for approval and disapproval.

One was out of the blue--Nella Domenici--a daughter of the late US Senator Pete Domenici. That's odd because she has had a long career in elite financial circles on the East Coast--not here. And her brother, Pete Domenici, Jr., once made an ill-fated run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. There were no Pete coattails.

The poll also tested a possible negative for the 58 year old Nella Domenici. The survey asked respondents if the fact that she is a multi-millionaire who owns three houses--including one on New York's posh Fifth Avenue and another in Santa Fe--would cause them to view her differently. Uh, yeah, that might be a problem.

Then there was former ABQ Mayor Richard Berry, who left office with his polling numbers in the tank. Simply not electable.

Add in former ABQ GOP State Rep. Conrad James, a likable guy but not a name that comes to mind for US Senate.

Susana Martinez was on the poll. No comment necessary.

The aforementioned John Sanchez was listed and was the one name that might seem plausible, but still unlikely to take the seat from the Dems.

A wild card in the poll was TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti. The forecast for his TV future may be bright, but for Senate? Jorge Torres says the outlook for that would be very cloudy.

They threw Steve Pearce's name in as well, but the former congressman and current chairman of the GOP, lost a previous Senate race. And he's 72. Not that he's too old to run. Oh, come on, he's way too old to run,

We were not privy to the poll results but the listed names are not going to panic Dem Senate hopefuls Ben Ray Lujan or Maggie Toulouse Oliver. They just aren't.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Bill Hume
We're sad to report the death of the noted journalist Bill Hume, who for many years ably led the editorial pages of the ABQ Journal and later served as a policy advisor to Gov. Bill Richardson.

Hume, who died from bladder cancer, was a walking encyclopedia when it came to New Mexico. His emails to the blog were always a welcome sight, offering insights and guidance. As a young reporter in the 70’s I, and I am sure many others, were greatly influenced by his work. His ethical example, in particular, stood out.

Gov. Big Bill gave us this statement:

I am incredibly saddened by the death of Bill Hume, my chief policy advisor for eight years. He was instrumental in many of our initiatives: water, taxes, energy, trade with Mexico, and health care. Coupled with his outstanding journalistic career at the Journal, he was a great New Mexican and a man for all seasons. Above all he deeply loved our state and its people. I will miss him terribly.

Bill Hume was 78. . .

And an old broadcasting friend, Alex Cuellar, has died. Back in the day, Alex was a prominent news voice on ABQ's 770 KKOB-AM radio. Later he went to work as a PIO for the state's General Services Department. He retired in January and succumbed to heart problems this week. Alex Cuellar was 66.

Thanks for stopping by.

Reporting this week from Sedona, AZ and Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2019

Thursday, June 06, 2019

ABQ Council Election: Benton Will Get Three Well-Financed Foes 

Robert Nelson
When he decided to seek re-election to yet another term longtime ABQ Dem City Councilor Ike Benton said it was in part because he could not find a suitable replacement. Well, maybe he didn't look hard enough because now three Benton rivals have managed to complete the challenging process of qualifying for public financing--as has Benton--and will be taking him on in the November 5 election.

Twentysomethings Zach Quintero and Joseph Griego made the cut and will receive about $43,000 in public money to run their campaigns. And in a surprise, newcomer Robert Blanquero Nelson also collected enough $5 donations from individual donors to get the public money. His campaign says:

A Filipino immigrant and nonprofit and neighborhood leader, Nelson expressed thanks to supporters and reemphasized his platform for change in Albuquerque’s city council. If elected, Nelson would become the first Asian American elected into city council office.

There are three other candidates who failed to qualify for public financing but will try to make the ballot by submitting 500 petition signatures by June 28. They are Connie Vigil, Steven Baca and David Bearshield. 

District 2 includes Downtown/Barelas/Old Town/North Valley, among other places. 

Benton showed solid organization by quickly qualifying for public financing. While his foes have enough cash to mount serious challenges none of them yet seem ready to make a vigorous case directly against Benton who was first elected in 2005. The race starts with Benton as the favorite as the district waits for his challengers to make that case.

The likelihood of a run-off for the seat is high because it takes 50 percent to avoid one. However, the city council is discussing adopting ranked choice voting which would eliminate the run-off and heighten Benton's chance for re-election.

Four of the nine City Council seats are up for election this year. SE Heights District 6 coverage is below. We'll cover Districts Four and Eight in the days ahead.

TESTING THE WATERS

Maybe they'll find something they like  or maybe not. A Senior Alligator reports that a Republican poll has been conducted in the state to test the waters for the GOP US Senate nomination. There's not much reason for optimism, according to mot of thepolticla pros, a It's a view shared by veteran DC pundit Stu Rothenberg:

Seven of the dozen Democratic seats up this cycle are in strongly Democratic states and not competitive: Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Rhode Island. Even Sen. Tom Udall’s retirement does not put New Mexico into play.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Sec. of State Toulouse Oliver are competing for the Dem Senate nomination. Republican contractor Mick Rich, who was the GOP nominee against Dem Senator Heinrich last year, appears to be prepping a bid for the '20 GOP Senate nod. No big name R candidates--former Lt. Governor John Sanchez--have entered the contest.

PINTO SEAT

Did you hear that two well-known Navajo brothers are looking to replace Dem State Senator John Pinto who passed away at 94 last month? One of our Alligators reports that they are former Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye and his brother, former Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. Ray Begaye lost his re-election bid in 2012.

The McKinley and San Juan County commissions will each send a replacement name (s) to Gov. Lujan Grisham who will make the final pick. Letters of interest are being taken.

CABINET TALK

We erred when we blogged this week that the new state cabinet agency created by the legislature this year is the "Children's Cabinet." It is the Early Childhood Education and Care Department. The Guv's office explains the difference:

The Children's Cabinet is not actually new, nor was it created in this year's legislative session. The Children's Cabinet existed under previous administrations, though the last administration let it fall by the wayside and had not convened it for about five years. It wasn't created or re-upped in this year's session, it was re-convened and given a strong mandate by the governor. ​The Early Childhood Education and Care Department that Mr. Rubel references is new and was created by legislation passed and signed this session.

We made the error in introducing skeptical remarks about the new agency from newsman Walt Rubel who correctly identified the department.

This ranks as a small misstep so instead of the traditional punishment of ten lashes with a wet noodle, we are subjecting ourselves to only five lashes.

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. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2019

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

ABQ Council Campaign: Davis Challenger Makes Money Grade; Qualifies For Public Funds, Plus: A Udall Exit Interview 

The four races for ABQ City Council continue to take shape. In SE Heights. District 6 attorney Gina Naomi Dennis surprised the skeptics and qualified for public financing. She will received $32,000 in public money as will incumbent Councilor Pat Davis who also qualified.

This has now turned into a race to watch between the two Dems. The political environment in the district has been unsettled by a continuing crime wave and the controversial ART project which Davis supported and Dennis opposed.

Dennis is a well-known activist in the district. Davis was a well-known activist before he was elected to the Council in '15. No other candidates are seeking the seat. 

The City Clerk's office is still determining which candidates qualify for public financing by collecting $5 contributions from individual voters from May 1 to May 31. The election is Nov. 5.

UDALL EXIT INTERVIEW

Senator Tom Udall elaborated on his decision not to seek re-election to a third term next year in an interview with the NYT. Let's take a look and then analyze:

“This place is definitely broken,” said Senator Udall.

(He)said he had become convinced that he could do more to advance his progressive ideas on climate change, war powers and a comprehensive electoral overhaul by skipping another two years of relentless re-election fund-raising. Instead, he said, he intends to redouble his efforts in those areas in hopes of setting the stage for big changes should Democrats prevail next year, even though he won’t be back in the Senate himself. “You don’t necessarily have to be there to see that they are completed,” he said.

Well, the reality of his own mortality--he would be 78 at the end of a third term and his wife Jill is today 80--is a reasonable reason for not running and probably high on the list.

As for his wish to influence the Senate from the outside, with the national stature he commands that should not be an issue. However, it will be nothing like the influence he commands today. He may be in the minority and only one of 100, but he takes votes that conceivably impact over 320 million Americans. When he says goodbye to the Senate he says goodbye to the power. And that's the way it is.

AGENCY SKEPTIC

Critics have been few and far between when it comes to the creation of the new Early Childhood Education and Care Department during the last legislative session. But they are out there, including news commentator Walt Rubel, formerly of the Las Cruces Sun-News and now opining at KRWG radio.

The bill to provide consistent funding (via a constitutional amendment) for early childhood education by tapping into the state’s permanent fund died again this year in the Senate Finance Committee, as it does every year. 

Supporters of the new agency argue that it will improve early-childhood outcomes by taking services now provided by the state’s Children Youth and Families Department, Health Department and the Department of Education, and consolidating them under one agency. “This will eliminate that duplication of services,” said Rep. Linda Trujillo, a co-sponsor of the bill. So, to eliminate overlap among government agencies, we’re going to create another government agency? I hope that works....I hope the new department will help. But I fear that the problem is a lack of funding, not a lack of bureaucrats.

Your fear, Mr. Rubel, appears justified.

HOT CAMPAIGN

It's going to be a long hot summer for Yvette Herrell and Chris Mathys, the Republican candidates for the southern congressional seat held by Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. But if one of them is going to knock her off they have no choice but to wear out their sneakers on scorched pavement. They are already making the rounds a year in advance of the June primary where it will be decided which one of them will take on the congresswoman in Nov. 2020. Here's what they are saying.

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. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2019

Monday, June 03, 2019

Marco Serna, A Leading Northern Congress Contender But Father's Legacy Hovers, Plus: Lighting The Rez 


Marco Serna
The line keeps forming for the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan who is seeking next year's US Senate nod. The latest additions are Santa Fe County District Attorney Marco Serna and Robert Apodaca, a consultant to nonprofits and small businesses and who has a long background in government administration.

Apodaca, a former top administrator with USDA in NM, made a solid entry with his video. Serna, the Santa Fe County district attorney, came in dubbing himself the "Progressive Prosecutor." That's a new one. His announcement received good coverage but the Alligators were quick to point out what they saw as a misstep.

Serna made his announcement (video here) at the Española jewelry store his mother operates. But hold on. Marco's father, Eric Serna, once a controversial political power player, ran into problems with that very same jewelry store when he was serving on the old State Corporation Commission:

In 1985, Serna and his family purchased a jewelry store in Española. Rumors and news accounts followed over the years of Serna trying to sell jewelry to commission employees and to people having business with the commission. Serna consistently denied any wrongdoing.

That was just one of the ethics controversies that erupted involving Eric Serna in his long career and, like it or not, fairly or unfairly, it will be an issue for Marco Serna. Most Democratic primary voters are over 50 and well remember the events of yore, or will, when reminded by Marco's foes. Eric Serna is also the only Dem to ever lose a run for the northern seat, falling to Bill Redmond in a special election in '97. Redmond made ethics a central issue.

Will the "sins" of the father be visited on the son? That's the question hovering over the Progressive Prosecutor who would be a congressman.

LIGHTING THE REZ

First, this from PNM and then a reader analysis:

A PNM line crew recently traveled to Indian Wells and Dilkon, Arizona to participate in a project that is electrifying homes throughout the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona. This project, called Light Up Navajo, began on April 6 and ended May 18, and the goal of the project was to connect two hundred new customers to the energy grid. The Navajo Nation and the American Public Power Association, in partnership with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), launched Light Up Navajo in the Spring of 2019. The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American territory, yet among the 55,000 homes located on the 27,000 square mile reservation, around 15,000 families do not have electricity. They make up 75% of all un-electrified households in the United States.

That in the year 2019 the Rez makes up 75 percent of the homes in the USA without electricity is, well, a national disgrace. Las Cruces reader Larry Gioannini of Las Cruces weighed in on this when we first reported on the numbers:

How much less would it cost to provide each home on the reservation with a photo-voltaic or wind turbine electric system? In 1996 Sierra County Co-op wanted about the same amount to extend their lines an 1/8 of a mile to my place as a PV system would cost. The owner at that time went with the PV system and I am still benefiting from his decision. 

We asked PNM for a response to Larry’s comment but they had none.

NO LIMITS, PLEASE

Reader Jim McClure writes:

Joe, I agree that term limits are a bad idea. Unelected bureaucrats already run circles around our elected representatives, and term limits would give them even more power. But Congressional seniority is not what it used to be in the absence of appropriations earmarks. 

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. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2019
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