Thursday, January 09, 2020

Xochitl, A 14 Year old And Socialism, Also: Forgive NM Student Loans? 

Remember this blog photo from around Christmas? We wrote then:

"Say no to Xocilalism," declares the Xmas shirt of this young supporter of GOP congressional hopeful Yvette Herrell. He's not old enough to vote and probably not versed in the nuances of socialism but "Xocilalism" does rhyme with the pronunciation of the first part of the first name of freshman Dem Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small so we guess the "joke" worked. 

Well, that turns out to be Roy, a 14 year old Herrell supporter, who saw that blog and pushed back against the notion that he doesn't understand socialism. The Deming student told us:

Hello, Mr Monahan. I am the "young supporter" in the picture and article. My name is Roy. I am an active member in "Cowboys for Trump." 

I became politically active in 2016 with Trump and Yvette Herrell running. I have attended three Trump-Pence rallies. I have had the honor of shaking hands with Vice President Pence and have met former Congressman Pearce.

The reason why I support these people is because of my research. I have concluded that I am a young Republican. The shirt that I was wearing I made myself, it was my idea after hearing that Rep. Xochitl Torres Small voted for impeachment. I saw how socialism destroyed other countries like Cuba and Venezuela, how those countries are run and how their people are suffering.

I stand my ground as a Republican because we value life of children, upholding the Constitution and Second Amendment rights ( I am a member of a 4-h shooting team). I appreciate your story but would like to clarify that I do know what socialism is. My best definition of socialism is "a communist philosophy of equal sharing" quoted from "A Student's Dictionary" by Ludwig Wittgenstein, 2005. Thank you for reading my response.

Thanks, Roy. It sounds as though you are getting a well-rounded education. However, equating the impeachment vote of Rep. Torres Small with being a socialist is a big jump--even for a young cowboy for Trump. Still, we wish you the best. And if you ever run for political office, please give us the scoop.

Speaking of Christmas, here is a belated holiday gift wish from reader Ken Tabish:

Why not use some of the oil and gas surplus to pay off the student loan debt of NM residents who graduated from any NM state funded post secondary school. The state could also work out a deal with those who dropped out due to the burden of loan debt or just cost. Those committed to return to get an Associates or a BA/BS could have their loan debt suspended or paid off. It is clear that MLG wants to sink more money into public ed K-12 and Early Childhood and provide free tuition at the post secondary level. Well, I say add this to the mix. Let's give a gift that would help boost the economy. It would mean more disposable income to spend, purchase a new home/condo, buy a new car or obtain an advanced degree. The Dept of Higher Ed could negotiate a deal at a lower rate with the Feds and lenders who would welcome the money.

Interesting, but what about all the students who faithfully (and sometimes painfully) paid off their student loans? Is a loan freebie fair to them?

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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Conservative State Senate Dems Wonder Where Their Challengers Money Will Come From, Plus: In the Weeds With The PRC And The ETA 

All political eyes are on those contested Democratic state Senate races in the June primary that could change the fabric of the New Mexico legislature. However, one big player is not showing their hand.

Emily's List has been rumored to be preparing to dump serious money into an effort to oust conservative Dem Senators such as John Arthur Smith and Clemente Sanchez and others. Speculation has the powerful pro-choice women's group coming with big bucks for female challengers. We asked one of of our Senior Gators for an update:

Joe, Most Emily's List money in 2020 will go to efforts to flip the US Senate to the Democrats and to protect fragile state legislative seats, such as those won by pro-choice women in New Mexico in 2018. As for the state Senate races, it's possible money for that will home from Women Vote Super PAC, an affiliate of Emily's List.

The senators that would be on Emily's hit list are Dems who voted against a key abortion measure in the last legislative session. Most of those senators are members of the senate's governing conservative coalition that includes all the Republicans.

Regardless of Emily's List involvement, competent women challengers have already lined up to take on many of the senators in question. That guarantees an exciting June primary with the fate of the coalition on the line.

Here is the roster of NM legislative candidates currently endorsed by Emily's List. All are Democrats:

Sen, Liz Stefanics NM-SD39
Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez NM-SD16
Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil NM-HD15
Rep, Liz Thomson NM-HD24
Rep. Melanie Stansbury NM-HD28
Rep, Joy Garratt NM-HD29
Rep. Natalie Figueroa NM-HD30
Rep. Joanne Ferrary NM-HD37
Rep. Christine Chandler NM-HD43
Rep, Andrea Romero NM-HD46
Rep. Karen Bash NM-HD68


We go into the weeds with a Senior Alligator today on an important issue. The Energy Transition Act (ETA) approved by the Legislature in 2019 has divided the elected Public Regulation Commission. The insider details:

Joe, It's interesting how divided the five-member PRC is. It has split 3-2 over what law should apply to the Commission's consideration of electric utility PNM and its abandonment of the San Juan coal plant. and the resource replacement case--the Energy Transition Act (ETA). 

Democratic Commissioners Cynthia Hall and Steve Fischmann support applying the new ETA to the entire case on the basis that legislative enactments are controlling. However, the majority of the PRC--Democrats Becenti-Aguilar, Espinoza and Republican Jefferson Byrd--voted to split the case into two parts with the San Juan abandonment question to be considered under the law in effect when the PRC filed the case. The ETA is more specific and better assures that PNM will recover its cost for abandoning the polluting plant. 

The NM Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal lodged by both sides. The  ETA law will likely be changed in this legislative session to make clear that the ETA applies to the whole case. 

In November, Fischmann prepared a two page letter about the PRC for a legislative committee's consideration. Espinoza surfaced the letter in a mid-November public meeting said  "it undermines the PRC." Becenti-Aguilar asked Fischmann why he hadn't had the "courage" to share the letter with his fellow commissioners before he sent it.

Regrettably, it appears the five commissioners are not playing well together. And, they're making decisions involving millions of PNM ratepayer money. 

Thanks for that.

The argument is that PNM gets a bailout from ratepayers under the ETA plan allowing PNM to float over $300 million in bonds to pay for closing down San Juan and associated costs. ETA supporters argue the measure is landmark legislation that dictates utilities generate 50 percent of their energy from renewables by 2030 and it should stand.

Voters may hear more about this during the November campaign. A constitutional amendment will be on the ballot that would change the PRC from an elective body to an appointed one.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Weatherman Turns Politico; All Wet Or Sunny Skies Ahead? Plus: R's Eye MLG's Hallinan Problem  

Is the weatherman all wet? Or are sunny skies ahead? 

The expected entry of longtime KRQE-TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti into the chase for the GOP US senate nomination this week has R's who aren't meteorologists putting their fingers to the wind and trying to predict what's next. In a party devastated by heavy losses and torn asunder by factionalism, predicting where Ronchetti will fit into the picture is like trying to predict what Iran will do next. 

Th first reaction of many was to question why Ronchetti would give up his well-paying weather gig that he has had since 2006 and at which he has been highly successful. Would the station take him back if his Senate bid failed, or is Ronchetti looking for something new and jumping without a net?

Dem Chris Catecheis joked:

Why would he quit a job where he could be wrong 80% of the time and still stay employed, just to run for the senate?

Don't expect the other GOP candidates to yield to him. That means the R's March pre-primary convention is pivotal. 

That convention will place candidates on the June primary ballot. If a contender doesn't get 20 percent of delegate support, he doesn't get an official ballot spot and would have to file additional petition signatures to make the ballot. However, failing to get 20 percent at the convention dries up the money and is almost always the death knell for a candidacy.

As for Ronchetti, the popular media personality is aligned with the Gov. Martinez and consultant Jay McCleskey faction of the GOP and not the ruling faction led by GOP Chairman Steve Pearce. Former Governor Martinez was no Trumper but it’s the Trumpers in command of today's party. 

On his website Ronchetti is said to "support all the President has done to energize America's economy." He is described as a "conservative who also believes taxes should be low and 2nd Amendment rights should be protected." He will run as a "pragmatic outsider."

So far, the national R's have shown no interest in taking on heavily favored Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the presumptive Dem nominee who is banking millions in preparation for November.

Ronchetti, 46, who can tap into what's left of Martinez’s donor list, will be joining Gavin Clarkson, Mick Rich, Elisa Martinez and Louie Sanchez in the GOP race. He has celebrity but to raise money he'll have to make a compelling case that Lujan can be defeated. So far, there are no takers for that proposition. 

In the US Senate race you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing--at least not yet. 


The sexual abuse allegations made against Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham by her campaign communications director, James Hallinan, continue to be dissected in political circles. Republicans are watching for any opportunity for their down and out party. A GOP operative analyzes:

When NM Democratic Party Chair, Richard Ellenberg, stepped down in 2018 for not dealing with sexual harassment issues appropriately, then candidate for Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “As Democrats, we stand with the silence-breakers who have come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Questioning the credibility of sexual misconduct allegations is contrary to our values.” 

She couldn’t have said it better, but apparently it doesn’t apply to her. Her office did everything they could to trash Hallinan, calling the allegations “bizarre” and “slanderous” and dissing his work performance. Where are the Democrat leaders who made comments that victims should be believed? Kind of shows you the double standard that exists in their Party and why they’re losing membership. 

The Governor’s image has yet to be cemented statewide. Maybe it’s time stop the pranks? The water fights? People are going to quickly tire of the “rambunctious” Governor’s office and Facebook posts of staff goofing off at the Capitol, especially if there aren’t tangible results to go with it. 


A Legal Beagle weighs in on the campaign meeting where Hallinan alleges that MLG threw a bottled water on his crotch and grabbed his genitals. No one at the meeting has corroborated Hallinan's story and ABQ Rep. Deborah Armstrong, who was there, says it never happened. Our Beagle says:

The witnesses to the alleged Hallinan groping by MLG will no doubt want to support MLG. But if Hallinan files a civil suit, he gets discovery --that's under oath. Will the three witnesses and the defendant MLG commit perjury? Discovery will raise the stakes a lot. MLG is not off the hook.

Hallinan says he is going to contact a "detective" about the alleged assault but has said nothing else of his legal plans regarding the incident.


From BernCo:

Governor MLG has appointed James M. Collie as the new commissioner in District 3. Collie currently serves as a member of the Bernalillo County Planning Commission and is a retired pastor and administrator in the Presbyterian Church. .  Collie replaces (Democrat) Maggie Hart Stebbins who resigned her seat to accept a position in state government.

MLG said she would appoint a commissioner who pledged not to run for the seat in 2020. Collie won't and there are several Dem candidates now seeking the Hart Stebbins seat.

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Monday, January 06, 2020

Sheriff Manny Gets Closer To Mayoral Run; Says Announcement Later In Year, Plus: Oy Vey! Drunk Driving Senator Martinez Draws Foe With Own DWI 

Sheriff Gonzales
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales isn't having any second thoughts yet about running for Mayor of ABQ in 2021. He openly flirted with the idea last year and now is inching closer to challenging Mayor Tim Keller. 

The first-term Mayor announced on our November Election Night broadcast on KANW 89.1 FM  that he would seek a second term in '21. Now comes Gonzales in a Friday interview with TJ Trout on KKOB-AM-FM letting this shoe drop:

My intentions are to do it, to officially announce sometime this coming year, and when I do, I told you, you would be one of the first to hear. . . 

It's early, but the city's record high '19 murder rate (82) and other sky high crime stats appear to be pushing Gonzales toward the run, and to get in early to keep others out. 

Like Keller, Gonzales is a Democrat but more conservative. Appealing to Republicans and independents would be key to a serious challenge, but also avoiding entangling himself with the GOP in a Dem dominated city.

Gonzales managed a 55-45 win in his 2018 re-elect over Republican Lou Golson.

Gonzales, the first Hispanic sheriff in BernCo in the modern era, earned praise for his intervention in the crime-ridden SE Heights in 2019. But he is drawing criticism from Keller supporters. They say the Sheriff, who is serving his second, four year term that ends in 2022, is getting in way over his head and that his administration of the sheriff's department has been far from stellar. 

Still, crime is the be-all-end-all issue for ABQ. If it continues to rise, the star of law and order Gonzales could rise. If it falls, Keller's crime-tarnished star could gleam again. 

The mayoral election may be in 2021 but 2020 will be a pivotal year in deciding the shape the race will take.


Oy, Vey! It turns outs the fella who has announced he will seek to oust DWI-convicted Dem state Senator Richard Martinez in the June primary has a DWI record of this own. That's right. 43 year old Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo was busted in the 90's for drinking and driving. But he says it's unfair to compare his arrest to that of Martinez's who crashed into a couple, causing them injury,  and who refused to take a breath test when arrested:

The difference between the 18-year-old college freshman who pleaded guilty and took responsibility as opposed to the 66-year-old state Senator who pleaded “not guilty” to aggravated DWI; never showed remorse or apologized to his constituents or the victims is astronomically different.

Okay, but why didn’t Jaramillo come clean on his long ago arrest when he first announced  his candidacy against Martinez which is largely the result of Martinez's DWI? Why did the news have to leak and then he issues a statement? And Jaramillo was once a journalist? Not a good start and not at all inspiring.

Martinez stands to lose the seat he was first elected to in 2000. Gov. MLG has called on 
Martinez to resign, a call he has refused to heed. He has said he would not keep his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not that he wasn't going to be stripped of it anyway. 
Martinez arrest

Martinez not only refuses to resign he even argues, incredulously, that his drunk driving conviction will "probably make him a better Senator."

Talk about problematic candidates for  Democratic voters in the four county northern Senate district that includes Española. 

Well, if they want a change they are going to have to take the least flawed of this pair. Since Martinez's aggravated DWI took place while he held office and caused injuries and is accompanied by that embarrassing and humiliating arrest video, removing him is the first order of business. 

But Jaramillo, 43, who proclaims himself the standard-bearer of a new generation, needs to get rid of old school habits he shares with Martinez and that led him to attempt to cover up his past. The cover-up is much worse than his offense. The North is changing (ask Debbie Rodella or Carl Trujillo). It's no time for pretenders. 

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