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Monday, May 10, 2021

National Labs? Military Bases? Dem Congress Candidate Takes A Walk On Question, Plus: A Santa Fe Rarity; A GOP Mayor Contender, And: ABQ Crime Watch 

State Rep. Melanie Stansbury is understandably hugging her progressive base tightly as she nurses a fat lead in the ABQ congressional race, but it was borderline astounding that when asked directly about funding for the state's national labs--including ABQ's Sandia--as well as the state's military bases, she took a hike on the question. 

The moment came in the Sunday KOAT-TV debate when her Republican foe Mark Moores charged that she supported a measure that calls for a ten percent reduction in defense funding and wondered where she would cut New Mexico's multi-billion budget. Stansbury walked away from the question saying: "I stand for social justice." 

That has to be a first in the decades-long history of the First Congressional District. Is the progressive hold on the district so strong that the Dem candidate dare not mention (or placate) the largest driver of the ABQ and state economy for fear of retribution? Well, it is a low turnout special election. 

One supposes that if Stansbury is elected her tune will change some or maybe she will at least be able to hum the tune out loud. 

The debate also featured independent candidate Aubrey Dunn who was locked out of last week's KOB debate and the KRQE face-off which will air tonight at 6 p.m. 

The election is June 1. In-person voting districtwide begins May 15. 

A SANTA FE RARITY

AMJ
Republicans are a rare sighting in heavy Dem Santa Fe but one has emerged to put a wrinkle in the city's November mayoral election. 

Alexis Martinez Johnson, a GOP gadfly who won the party's 2020 northern congressional nomination and who famously squabbled with police over not wearing a mask while at the famous downtown Plaza, has announced a mayoral bid. She joins Mayor Alan Webber and City Councilor Joanne Vigil Coppler, both Democrats, in the contest. 

At first blush AMJ's entry would appear to be a break for Webber by splitting the opposition vote. It would surely help him win a plurality, but does it give him a better chance of getting 50 percent and taking the outright win? If he fails to reach that threshold, ranked choice voting comes into play. 

If no candidate wins 50 percent in election day voting, the second choice of voters who backed the third place candidate will be awarded those votes. AMJ would probably be that third place candidate and her conservative supporters are more likely to go with Coppler Vigil than Webber. 

Webber received 39 percent of the first round voting in the five way '18 mayoral race so 50 percent is doable in a three way battle. 

So both Webber and Coppler Vigil supporters can point to potential silver linings.

The NMGOP is ABW--anybody but progressive Webber. They quickly seized the chance to dent the incumbent: 

Johnson will revitalize Santa Fe as mayor with fiscal responsibility, a pro-business agenda and as a leader who is sensitive to the vast culture and history of the city. She is running for mayor because she loves Santa Fe and wants to move the city forward through bipartisanship.

If nothing else, the AMJ entry gives the small City Different conservative community a voice and adds some drama to the election, an element always welcomed by watchers of La Politica. 

HAVE A NICE DAY

Here in ABQ Mayor Keller, also seeking a second term in the Nov. 2 elections, continues to have his hands full with the city's crowded crime beat. From the WaPo:

The struggle in New Mexico’s largest city illustrates the challenge of asking civilians to check police powers. Police nationwide have frequently defied efforts to impose civilian oversight and, in turn, undermined the ability of communities to hold law enforcement accountable, according to a Washington Post review. . . In Albuquerque, the city’s attempt to establish successful citizen oversight is its third in 30 years. 

Then there's the severe backlog in completing investigations into alleged abuse of force cases at APD. The department argues a staff shortage, never mind the tax increase that Keller and the city council pushed through three years ago, much of which was devoted to public safety.

And then there's the march toward a record homicide rate this year in the big city. The administration is out with another data driven plan to try to reduce the violence.

Hey APD and City Hall, have a nice day. . . or something.

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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Positioning Underway For Stansbury House Seat If She Heads To DC, Plus: The Broadband Lag; NM Needs To Catch AZ And CO 

Michelle Peacock
The positioning has begun to replace Melanie Stansbury in the state House in the event she wins the June 1 special election to fill the vacant ABQ congressional seat. And there appears to be an early frontrunner. 

Democrat Michelle Peacock, a 13 year US Army veteran and a nurse practitioner who works at the ABQ VA hospital, is said by Dem consultants to be preparing a bid for the seat if Stansbury, who was elected to the NE Heights seat in 2018, heads to DC.

It would not be an ordinary bid, more like a job interview. That's because the Bernalillo County Commission would appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of Stansbury's term. 

With the Commission controlled by the Dems 4 to 1, no R's need apply. 

Peacock, 43, is a political newcomer but she did an able job in a TV interview that focused on how medical personnel were handling the Covid pandemic. She has also appeared before the commission to accept a proclamation honoring the county's nurse practitioners. 

Peacock, an ABQ native, has had some exposure to the legislative process. From her bio: 

Michelle is the president of the Board for Cuidando Los Niños. . .an organization committed to ending child homelessness in our local community. Michelle works with legislators and local community members and educates them on homelessness and its far-reaching effects.

Stansbury upset GOP State Rep. Jimmie Hall in '18 to put the seat--District 28--in the Dem column for the first time. Peacock's supporters think her military and medical background would serve her well when she would seek election to the moderate leaning area in 2022.

But the commission could decide to pull an upset of its own. Bunnie Benton Cruse, a transgender woman, has said she is interested in the appointment. The 48 year old would be the first transgender individual to be in the legislature. 

BROADENING BROADBAND

We get this update on New Mexico's broadband challenge from former Santa Fe State Senator Roman Maes who now lives in San Diego: 

To try to capture the scale of the U.S.'s broadband challenge, the White House released state-by-state fact sheets examining the status of each state's infrastructure. 

For broadband, the fact sheets look at what percentage of residents have access to 100/10 Mbps broadband service, how many providers compete to provide 100/10 service, and how many people remain unconnected. 

 Arizona--14% of Arizonans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 45% of Arizonans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 13% of Arizona households do not have an internet subscription. 

 Colorado 12.1% of Coloradans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 38.1% of Coloradans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 9% of Colorado households do not have an internet subscription. 

 New Mexico 22% of New Mexico residents live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 68.9% of New Mexicans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 21% of New Mexico households do not have an internet subscription. 

Meanwhile,  a lot of New Mexicans may have trouble accessing broadband to watch streaming movies even though Netflix, one of the biggest producers of such streams, has committed $1 billion to make them here over the next ten years. But is it a good deal for the state which is giving the company millions in financial incentives? That's the issue in this in-depth look from Bloomberg:

      
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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

He Stirs But She Does Not Shake; ABQ Congress TV Debate Has Stansbury Sticking To Dem Party Line While Moores Pushes Crime Crisis, Plus: Sanchez Throws Cold Water On Guv Run  

Moores and Stansbury
If the ABQ congressional district  "leaned Democratic" and was not solid Blue, Republican Mark Moores might have made more headway at last night's KOB-TV debate. He tried desperately to turn the city's crime epidemic into the needed crossover votes he must have to defeat Democrat Melanie Stansbury but despite repeated prodding by the state senator, the Dem state representative refused to acknowledge his soft on crime attacks. (Full debate here.)

Instead Stansbury emphasized her support of President Biden and his popular pandemic relief packages. When it came to crime, she took the traditional liberal view that "underlying" conditions of addiction and behavioral health must be addressed.

Moores repeatedly cited Stansbury's support of the Breathe Act which is supported by left wing congressional members as a means of reforming overzealous police departments. He said it would defund the police, close jails and even shut down immigration enforcement agencies. But Stansbury seemed to barely notice and was breathing easy. 

The special election to fill the US House seat is June 1. Limited early voting has started. 

The duo shared the stage with Libertarian Chris Manning but not conservative former land commissioner and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn who might have put more fire into the face-off. 

We asked a Senior Alligator to analyze the political impact of the debate, if any:

These events have become perfunctory and the parties are so divided and voters so set in their preferences I don’t know how these debates influence anyone. Stansbury just needed to stay the course and talk the party line, and she did. She looked professional, steady and informed. She didn’t try to do too much and she obviously practiced. It was on Moores to try to make points and take her off message and he didn’t.

Dems have carried the district in every election since 2008.

DOWN ON DOW

MLG was ripped by GOP State Rep. Rebecca Dow in an opinion piece this week over her cash settlement with a former campaign aide who accused her of sexual mistreatment. But several readers say Dow, a possible '22 GOP Guv candidate, missed the mark. Kelley DuPont writes: 

 Joe, Rep. Dow’s argument falls on my deaf ears when she wants to talk about “double standards.” Trump, the leader of her party, is a self-proclaimed crotch grabber. I’d like to see where she and GOP Chairman Steve Pearce denounced him. MLG maybe did or did not do some grabbing, but we now have a new standard upon which to judge those who demonstrate these transgressions. Courtesy of the GOP. 

And John Rey also pushes back against Dow:

Joe, I guess Rebecca forgot about former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her state police lover who the state paid $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement. Not to say MLG's grabbing is less serious--just saying. 

COLD WATER

Sanchez
Former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez threw cold water on a statement made by Dona Ana County GOP Chairwoman Kim Skaggs who following Sanchez's recent visit to the county emailed this to party faithful: 

We look forward to his formal declaration for governor.

To which Sanchez responded via text: 

You should go to the source and not from a county chair's quote who by the way I just met today.

Well, asking a candidate directly whether they are running for Governor or not at this early stage is like asking the cat if he ate the mice. But we get John's pique. Chairwoman Skaggs is not his campaign manager but her misstep did flush out that Sanchez does not appear likely to be a Guv candidate. 

Skaggs is also the new executive director of the NMGOP. Interesting that Chairman Pearce is letting her wear two hats. As for Sanchez, we'll keep watching for any signs of political life. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

Finally, Janet Blair of the League of Women Voters NM writes of Mark Moores not answering that group's questionnaire: 

(We) go to great effort to pose questions that represent the interests of voters of all political persuasions. We are deeply disappointed when any candidate ignores our request for answers to those questions because such a refusal denies voters the right to be fully informed. For more than 100 years, the League has been “empowering voters and defending democracy.”. . .We are particularly distressed to see that Mark Moores has not responded to our questionnaire. . .because we worked closely with him and co-sponsor Rep. Melanie Stansbury, the Democratic congressional nominee, to pass the re-districting bill, one of our top priorities. 

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Tuesday, May 04, 2021

GOP's Dow Slashes MLG Over Crotchgate As She Eyes Guv Race And Top Las Cruces R Says Sanchez Is Nearly All In, Also: Congress TV Debate Tonight Won't Be Well Dunn, And: The Dancing Candidates 

State Rep. Rebecca Dow is slashing away at MLG over Crotchgate and a visit with Las Cruces R's by former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is getting tongues wagging as the early competition for the '22 GOP gubernatorial nomination heats up. 

Dow, of T or C, came with a fiery opinion piece that blasted MLG for getting away with a "double standard" in the case of former campaign aide James Hallinan who accused her of throwing water on his crotch, grabbing it and all the while laughing. The Guv's campaign recently paid Hallinan $62,500 to settle the sexual mistreatment case. That brought this Dow scorching:

The governor has continuously denied these accusations, yet she still felt compelled to pay off this former employee anyway in order to “avoid a costly court case.” This astonishing turn of events has received almost no critical comments from New Mexico’s political pundits. . .This deafening silence is a classic example of the double standard applied to some powerful people. . .The governor has been calling her accuser. . .a liar but what does that say about her own judgement and character if she hired “a liar” to help communicate her campaign message and win an election?. . .

Women in powerful positions should be held to the same standard as men when it comes to inappropriate behavior. . . This whole incident reeks of corruption and abuse of position. 

Dow is going for the jugular, where she has to go to win the primary because according to the chair of the Dona Ana County GOP, Sanchez is nearly all in for the race: 

John Sanchez was hosted at the Grapevine and we look forward to his formal declaration for the Governor’s race. It looks as if we had approximately 90 people attend and the event was a success.

John Sanchez came with this rejoinder in response to that statement from Chair Kim Skaggs who is also executive director of the NMGOP: 

You should go to the source and not from a county chairs quote who by the way I just met today. 

Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block is the sole GOP candidate officially in the contest, but he might want to enjoy the standing while it lasts. 

DEBATING AND DANCING

Three of the four major candidates for the open ABQ congressional seat in the June 1 special election will have an hour long debate at 6 tonight on KOB-TV. 

Missing from the event will be independent and former NM state land commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who KOB (as well as KRQE) do not consider a "qualified" candidate because he is not a member of a major political party.

But KOB did do a lengthy profile of Dunn, along with the other candidates, raising the question of why they would put Dunn on equal footing for the profiles but not the debate. Excluding him is an obviously poor journalistic decision and KOB's owners, Hubbard Broadcasting, have been around long enough to know better. 

Nevertheless, Dem Melanie Stansbury, Republican Mark Moores and Libertarian Chris Manning will be there to field relevant questions. Meanwhile. . . 

The Journal questionnaire for the ABQ congressional candidates had Republican Mark Moores and Dem Melanie Stansbury getting a bit evasive as they tried not to alienate voters.

For Stansbury the sticky issue was whether she supports President Biden's moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal lands in New Mexico. Royalties and taxes from the industry provide upwards of 40 percent of state revenue.

The Biden administration has issued a temporary moratorium on issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Where do you stand on the issue? 

We must diversify our economy, invest in new technologies and renewable energy and tackle climate change. I support a reevaluation of federal energy policies to examine how to best achieve our climate and energy goals. I’m running for Congress to work with the Administration to build a more resilient economy. 

So does "reevaluating" federal polices mean she supports the moratorium? Stansbury left wiggle room. 

For Moores, a sticky issue is how to appeal to supporters of Biden in the heavy Democratic district. His dance around a key question went like this: 

What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages, including the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Biden? Is there anything you would have done differently? 

I was on the front lines battling COVID-19, having personally collected thousands of COVID tests during the pandemic. I supported the state coronavirus response bills, including payments for essential workers, loan programs for small businesses and waiver of fees for restaurants and bars that were shut down due to the pandemic. 

Clearly, Moores is not fan of the Biden packages but didn't say that as he went for crossover support by backing MLG's response to Covid.

Independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning also answered the questionnaire.

Early in-person voting for the congressional contest begins today at the BernCo Clerk's Annex.

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Monday, May 03, 2021

Boom! Intel Announces $3.5 Billion Rio Rancho Upgrade; News Comes as Census Data Puts In Stark Relief One Of The Worst Decades In State History  

Intel at Rio Rancho
Talk about shots in the arm. After years of taking a pass on a major upgrade of its Rio Rancho facility, Intel Corp. is reversing course in a very big way

Amid an epic worldwide boom in semiconductor demand, Intel announced a $3.5 billion expansion of its Sandoval County facility today, an expansion that will provide a shot of adrenaline to the struggling ABQ metro economy just as it begins to ease out of the pandemic induced slowdown. 

Chipmaker Intel will make the announcement at 10 a.m today with Gov. Lujan Grisham on hand. A live stream can be seen here.

The politicos will be quick to grab credit for the important economic news but supply and demand is the reason for the sweeping upgrade at Rio Rancho. The NM announcement follows the company's $20 billion spending spree in Arizona and more overseas investments to keep up with sizzling demand.

Employment at the Intel plant, once over 7,000, has drifted down to around 1,800 as Intel decided not to modernize the facility. 

The size of this expansion indicates several thousand high-paying jobs will result, recapturing much of the facilities glory days. But in the past enviros have scored the company over its water usage and policies. 

(Intel announced that the upgrade will generate 700 new permanent positions over three years and about 1,000 construction jobs.)

While MLG can't take direct credit for the expansion, it is happening on her watch and as she inches closer to her 2022 re-election bid. The development for her is as welcome as a shot of vaccine.

GLOOMY OUTLOOK

The Intel announcement comes on the heels of some of the most dreadful news ever for the state, contained in the first batch of US Census data for the 2010 decade. 

The data holds no surprises but does put in stark relief the critical issues that have developed in the past ten years and that we reported on extensively throughout the period. 

The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) summation of the population stats and more is a must read. The takeaways are as insightful as they are depressing. 

--For example, New Mexico has not only experienced population stagnation but in ten years the Land of Enchantment is likely to actually lose population.

--A major restructuring of public education is needed as there are fewer births and as more youth leave the state in search of jobs.

--The flight from the rural to the urban counties accelerated and will continue (which will likely reinforce continued Dem Party dominance.)

--Those 65 and older comprised the only significant growth demographic in the decade, signaling that issues such as property taxes and health care will be in the forefront. 

--New Mexico has lousy education outcomes, a too high mortality rate and stubbornly high poverty. One glimmer of hope for change--teenagers bore fewer children during the past 10 years. 

The state remans a natural wonder but the historic loss of momentum in categories across the board means policy makers will need to look inward--not outward--for solutions. 

It's not the lack of population growth per se that is so damning but the loss of the quality of life for so many New Mexicans. The needed agenda going forward includes a sustained and massive education effort, drug abuse intervention and broadband expansion.

For the entire decade the descent of the state into a permanent cellar dweller was mostly ignored. The good news is that with a repositioning of federal policy and recent election results here, the state is finally awakening to the consequences of its long slumber. 

The bottom line? New Mexico's destiny is in its own hands. No cavalry is coming.

A CONSERVATIVE MAYOR 

 In a recent missive to the party faithful NMGOP Chairman Steve Pearce had this to say about the Nov. 2 ABQ mayor election: 

 We will work hard to get a conservative mayor into Albuquerque City Hall this fall. 

Does Dem BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales qualify as a "conservative" for Pearce?" Gonzales is getting early support from the GOP whose members are contributing the majority of his $5 contributions to qualify him for public financing. 

ABQ elections are officially nonpartisan so don't expect a public Pearce endorsement of Gonzales. 

Meantime, the chair of the Dona Ana County GOP is treating the possible entrance of former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez into the race for the party's 2022 Guv nomination as a done deal: 

 John Sanchez was hosted at the Grapevine and we look forward to his formal declaration for the Governor’s race. It looks as if we had approximately 90 people attend and the event was a success. 

Sanchez has made no public statements about his Guv intentions but he's obviously looking at a '22 run. 

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Monkey Off Our Back And Hers; State's Anticipated Reopening Gives MLG Opportunity For A Reset; Keller Too 

The Governor was noticeably excited as she announced that at the end of June the state should essentially be over the pandemic and the closed doors will finally swing wide open. It's back to business--and summer fun as well. 

Her excitement was understandable, after a full year of being demonized by her opposition for being too restrictive in response to the virus and losing some popularity because of her own missteps. 

But the timing of the reopening could not be better for MLG, coming as it will nearly a year and a half before the 2022 election and giving her plenty of time to define herself as the Governor who conquered Covid, never mind any missteps along the way.

If the economy cooperates, and it should with the record amount of state and federal stimulus being pumped into it, she should have ample opportunity for a reset, along with the rest of the state that has been frozen in time. 

The implications of a reopening are more front and center for ABQ Mayor Tim Keller who is seeking re-election this November. The sour outlook for the city being framed by his foes could be offset by Fourth of July celebrations, a state fair, a balloon fiesta and restaurants and bars welcoming back the partiers. Expect Keller to be leading the toasting to happier days. 

GAMING GOP GUV

Rep. Dow
R's are closely eyeing candidates and possible candidates emerging for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination. Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block is already in and former Lt. Governor John Sanchez is making noise, but State Rep. Rebecca Dow, who says she's looking at the race, may match up best against Governor MLG.

The R's are heavy with men and it will be women who decide the election. Given her background in early childhood education, Dow, the belief goes, could chip away at MLG's female support. She also has honed her debating skills at the Roundhouse and would be expected to perform well on the campaign trail and TV stage.

A possible issue? Legislators get addicted to their Roundhouse spots and Dow of T or C would have to give hers up to make a Guv run. 

NOT SIMPATICO

Apparently the League of Women Voters is another organization that is not simpatico with GOP ABQ congressional candidate Mark Moores. 

After deciding not to take part in the April 20 NM Black Voters Collaborative forum, Moores is now avoiding the traditional League of Women Voters candidate questionnaire. However, his opponents--Dem Melanie Stansbury, former Republican turned independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning--have responded to League questions including those on immigration, gun control and health care. 

As he did at the Black collaborative forum, Dunn again came with a conservative platform in the Q and A. 

A number of R's fault the League for leaning left of center but if candidate Moores is going to ignore such groups, he's going to be left talking to the mirror and there's only one vote in that. (The forum can be seen here.) 

THE BOTTOM LINES 

From the April 17 Taos police blotter:

Suspicious Circumstances, Tractor Supply - Caller said there was a man in the arroyo screaming for help and for someone to call 911, saying that he and his girlfriend were fighting and she broke his leg. However, he was seen running on Gusdorf.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

ABQ Murder Meter Set To Make Historic Highs So Where's The Outrage? Analysts Explain, Plus: State Makes a Blimp Blooper 

ABQ's murder meter for the year has officially hit 40, putting us on the road to an historic annual high of over 100 slayings. The crimes often generate sensational headlines but the public outrage you might expect isn't happening. We asked several political pros for their frank analysis why that is. Here's a consensus of their views:

As tragic as the killings are many involve criminal on criminal. The impact isn't internalized by many residents. Murder has become more widespread geographically but is still centered near or in the city's SE Heights, once known as the War Zone and much of which remains crime-infested. People citywide don't necessarily feel threatened by the increase in homicides because they are not random and not occurring at businesses or because of home invasions. Think the Hollywood Video store murders of 1996 that claimed five innocent lives. That set the city on its ear. What we largely have now, according to police, are murders connected to drug dealing and usage and domestic violence. Yes, there was the shocking murder last year of a woman in her Westside driveway but that random act has been the exception not the rule.

BernCo Sheriff Many Gonzales is making crime the central issue in his campaign against incumbent Dem Mayor Tim Keller. Public reaction thus far indicates Gonzales will need to drive home more than a rising murder meter to get voters off their couches

BLIMP BLOOPER

Here's a blimp idea that's a real blooper from the eggheads at the state's economic development department: 

New Mexico is finalizing a $3.2 million contract with an airship manufacturer to study the viability of distributing high-speed internet from the stratosphere. . . The contract to Switzerland-based Sceye (is) still in the works. . .Airships will be launched from Roswell. . .Last year, the department committed $5 million in incentives for Sceye to move its operations to New Mexico but the money hasn’t been released because the company hasn’t met all the benchmarks. . It had committed to investing $50 million and creating 140 jobs.

Never mind that the internet from blimps idea has already been dumped by Goggle or that Elon Musk is investing billions in a satellite network what would serve up broadband to this state and others. Why not simply invest that $3.2 million in blimp bootie in an area already lacking broadband service? Perhaps that's too simple?

THE BOTTOM LINES 

ABQ Dem congressional hopeful Melanie Stansbury goes mostly positive in her latest TV effort, highlighting her legislative priorities. The ad does take a general swipe at Republicans with a statement from a Hispanic mother surrounded by her family, saying: "During the pandemic Republicans didn't do anything for our people. That's why we need Melanie in Congress." Stansbury faces Republican Mark Moores in the June 1 special election as well as independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning.

In a first draft Tuesday we identified mayoral candidate Nicholas Bevins as a progressive Democrat. He is a registered independent. 

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Keller Team Labels Gonzales "GOP Establishment Candidate", His Early Donations Mainly From R's; Hires GOP Consultant; Sheriff Says He Welcomes Support "From All", Plus: ABQ's Stalled Out Congress Campaign  

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller's campaign is warning city Democrats that conservative Dem BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales is the de facto Republican candidate in the 2021 mayoral contest. 

They say that's because he's relying on R's to garner qualifying donations for public financing and by hiring longtime Republican political consultant Jay McCleskey.

Keller campaign manager Neri Holguin came with this: 

Gonzales has hired Republican Jay McCleskey and so far 80 percent of his qualifying donations are from Republicans. Gonzales is the Republican establishment candidate.

In a TV interview following his mayoral announcement this month Gonzales said it's time for the city to set partisanship aside and that he welcomed support from members of all political parties.

Gonzales and Keller are expected to be the only two candidates who qualify for public financing of $661,000. 

After the first week of collections Keller reports to the city clerk that he has collected 595 of the required $5 donations and Gonzales reports 452. 

A third candidate, progressive independent Nicholas Bevins, collected only 15 donations, a sign that he is likely to come up short.

Contenders need 3,779 donations by June 19 to get the public cash.

Holguin said employees of McCleskey's media firm are being employed to collect donations for the sheriff. Keller's campaign has also hired help.  

In addition to public financing, Keller and Gonzales will have independent committees working on their behalf. They can collect unlimited private donations but are prohibited from coordinating with the official campaigns. 

Two such committees have registered to back Gonzales, including one headed by Sam Vigil, a Democrat whose wife was brutally murdered at the couple's westside driveway. A Keller committee is headed by progressive activist and consultant Michelle Mayorga.

The hiring of McCleskey by Gonzales gives the Dems a chance to pigeonhole the two term sheriff as a replica of former GOP Mayor RJ Berry and former Gov Susana Martinez, both of whose elections were engineered by McCleskey and who held sway over policy during their administrations. 

ARAGON OUT

Radio talk show host, Republican and avid Trump backer Eddy Aragon told us Monday he will not be launching a mayoral candidacy, after speculation that he might:

I don't have the motivation to run. I have a business to attend to but I will continue to point out the wrong direction the NMGOP is taking including the role of Steve Pearce and Jay McCleskey. Republicans are backing Democrat Gonzales and that is traitorous. Not to mention that the current crime wave has happened under Gonzales' watch.

Aragon recently ran second to Mark Moores for the GOP central committee nomination for the vacant ABQ congressional seat up for election June 1.

The ABQ election is officially nonpartisan but that's become a fig leaf. 

The GOP establishment labels Aragon tempestuous and a danger to the party's prospects but no Republican is actively running.

At the November 2 election a mayoral candidate is required to get 50 percent of the vote or else there is a runoff election between the two top vote-getters about a month later. 

STALLED OUT

The ABQ congressional race is a stalled out, low interest affair. That's fine with Democrats who think the Republican candidacy of ABQ State Senator Mark Moores has hit the wall and that conservative independent Aubery Dunn is tugging at Moores' coattails to their advantage. 

Moores has fired another negative TV salvo at Stansbury. This one alleges she is for defunding the police, but like his attack on her position on repealing the state tax on Social Security, the ad does not offer citations for its claims. 

The Stansbury campaign appeared underwhelmed and even left a response to the ad to the state Dem Party instead of directly taking on Moores. 

There is no public polling on the race but you don't need Mark Ronchetti to tell you which way the wind is blowing on this one. If the Dems decide to lock Stansbury in a cabin in Chama until the June 1 election, you'll understand why.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

State Dems Elect New Officers For '22 Cycle; Are All The Easy Pickings Already Picked? Plus: AG Election Talk And A Famous NM Whistleblower Passes  

State Democrats passed the baton to new party officers over the weekend as they began their drive for the 2022 election cycle. Some younger Dems may not realize it but their party is now in its most dominant position since the 1970's. 

Can the Dems continue to run the board or have they picked all the chile from the political fields possible?

Their domination includes a hold on all statewide executive offices, the entire NM Supreme Court, the governorship, the two chambers of the legislature, the mayoral offices in the state's two largest cities and four of the five congressional seats. 

Just holding on to those gains next year would be a high point. But there could be some expansion, depending on how the redistricting of the legislative and congressional seats shakes out at a special session session later this year. That session could jeopardize southern GOP US Rep. Yvette Herrell and could open the door for a Dem pick up or two in the state Senate and House. 

The massive Dem gains this decade have been abetted by a torn apart Republican opposition. The GOP also faces a shrinking base of Anglo voters, a Trump wing that is powerful yet not broadly popular here and a leadership bench that is wanting.

In the 70's the GOP was so weakened that the Dems acted as the oppostion party, harboring a conservative cowboy wing under their big tent while still housing liberals. 

In this century New Mexico conservatism has slid, making it easier for the Dems to avoid splitting in two and paving the way for a GOP resurgence (as happened in the 80's).

R's are saying it is inevitable that progressives in the Dem party will lead it over the cliff, but MLG and others have walked that tightrope quite ably, giving the progressives major victories but mostly veering away from the culture wars that could imperil the party's standing.

Absent an ideological recovery, history says the way back for the Republicans is corruption in a Democratic Party that grows too fat and too happy.  It seems even with overwhelming majorities, there's alway something to worry about when it comes to holding on to power in La Politica.

RESULTS

At the Saturday Dem convention held virtually Jessica Velasquez of Sandia Park easily passed four challengers to become the new Dem Party chair, replacing the retiring Marg Elliston. 

Velasquez twice ran for the state House ('18 and '20) in her Republican leaning District 22. She is a former APS teacher who now works in the family metal plating business headed by Aaron Velasquez. 

Manny Crespin was elected vice chair; attorney Pam Herndon secretary and Rayellen Smith treasurer. 

NOT SO FAST 

The race for the '22 Democratic nomination for attorney general seems to be cementing around State Auditor Brian Colón and BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez. But some in the peanut gallery are saying "not so fast." 

For example, what if former southern Dem Congresswoman and attorney Xochitl Torres Small were to join the fray? She'd be the only woman in the race and arguably has a larger political base than either of the men. And she has the ability to raise money. If the ambitious 36 year old Torrres Small still hungers for public service running between Brian and Raul may be a play worth making. 

FRANK FOY 

Foy
Word arrives of the death of Frank Foy, the former investment director of the Educational Retirement Board who blew the whistle on alleged corruption in the state's investment funds during the Richardson administration. 

Foy battled for higher reimbursements for the state from investment firms that benefited from the alleged wrongdoing. Millions in court settlements were clawed back from some of the companies but Foy said it was insufficient. Richardson denied the corruption allegations and no one in the administration was charged with a crime. 

Frank Foy was 75. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Congress Watch: Moores Having Trouble Hitting The Mark, Plus: A Fourth Floor Exit And Rizzo Backlash 

GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores is having some trouble hitting the mark. 

First he unveils a TV ad that says as a state senator he has been a "leader" in the effort to repeal the state tax on Social Security, but there is no such record of his alleged leadership. He hasn't sponsored any repeal bills. Now there's his decision to not attend this week's candidate forum sponsored by the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative. Instead Moores appeared at a Sandoval County Republican event. 

The invite was accepted by Moores' fellow conservative and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn, Dem Melanie Stansbury and Libertarian Chris Manning. Coming as it did on the day of the Derek Chauvin verdict, the forum took on added meaning for not only the Black community but for our entire multi-cultural state. 

If the NMGOP is going to rebuild itself back into a state of relevancy, it's going to have to confront the elephant in the room--the inability of the party to attract voters of color. Moores, who is emphasizing his Hispanic heritage on his mother's side, lost a golden opportunity to give that elephant a swift kick and get on with the task of broadening the appeal of his candidacy and that of the beleaguered Republican Party. 

Not that Dem Stansbury isn't straying some. Her latest attack ad on Moores is labeled "misleading" in this media fact check

The special election to fill the vacant ABQ congressional seat is June 1. In-person early voting begins May 15. Absentee ballots can be requested here

FOURTH FLOOR EXIT

Dominic Gabello, a longtime aide-de-camp to MLG, is headed to the exits amid Fourth Floor turmoil set off by the Crotchgate incident and as the Guv prepares for her re-elect. 

Biden and MLG
Gabello, 41, had the title of senior policy adviser but his expertise is politics. He says he is going to open his own consulting business and that MLG will be a client, but no longer his employer. 

He had a pretty good run (9 years) given the Guv's well-known penchant for employee turnover, working for her as both Governor and as a congresswoman. 

One insider opined that Gabello is leaving because he is simply burned out.

MLG has been hesitant to staff up with personalities that challenge her, preferring the lock-step approach of a staff that serves and does not question. But with the administration showing some wobbly legs, it could be time to consider a change. 

The Guv had a good day Wednesday, as she met up with first lady Jill Biden at an ABQ South Valley health clinic where folks were getting their vaccinations. New Mexico is first in the nation in the rate of full vaccinations and the national recognition brought by Biden was a boost. 

RIZZO BACKLASH 

We quoted one of our Alligators Monday about the late former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and his pithy quote on how a liberal becomes a conservative. In short, they get mugged. That prompted email  decrying Rizzo and recalling the former police official's controversial past. Here's a sample:
 
Rizzo's hometown has disavowed him because of his racism and backing of violent policing. As this NPR report from last year notes: "In the 1970s, Rizzo famously told Philadelphia voters to "vote white." But on Wednesday, the City of Brotherly Love took down a memorial to a man who exploited its divisions. For many Philadelphians, the larger-than-life statue of Rizzo, who also was police commissioner, was an overt symbol of white police officers' brutal treatment of black people and other minorities. "The Frank Rizzo statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long. It is finally gone," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

THE BOTTOM LINES

We mentioned Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block becoming the first Republican candidate for the 2022 gubernatorial nomination. Here is a transcript of his announcement speech. . . 

Kim Skaggs is the new executive director of the NMGOP. She's a native of Alamogordo who last year was the GOP candidate against popular Las Cruces area Dem state Senator Jeff Steinborn. Skaggs should have no trouble getting around the state as the next election nears. She's a private pilot.

Thanks for stopping by this week.  

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021
 
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