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Monday, May 17, 2021

Former Rep Torres Small Eyed For Agriculture Post In Biden Administration; Dem Attorney General Candidates Here Pay Close Attention, Plus: Fed Help For Monthly Broadband Bills 

Torres Small
Another top New Mexican politico could be headed to the Biden administration. 

Multiple reliable sources report that former southern NM US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is under consideration for a high ranking position in the US Department of Agriculture, even as she's touted as a a possible 2022 attorney general candidate. 

Torres Small defeated Republican Yvette Herrell in 2018 to take the GOP leaning congressional district but Herrell came back in 2020 and ousted her. Still, the 35 year old attorney remains a rising star in the NM Dem Party and her moves are closely watched by both supporters and possible competitors.

Torres Small is said to be under consideration for the position of Under Secretary for Rural Development, a slot eliminated under Trump but restored under Biden. The USDA has a major imprint throughout the nation's rural areas. The job is not symbolic or perfunctory but a deep dive into administration and policy. 

Should Torres Small make the move she would follow former NM Dem Congresswoman Deb Haaland and now Secretary of Interior into the administration. The move would also take her out of the speculation for the Dem nod for attorney general or for another run for the southern House seat next year. 

The '22 Dem AG candidates--State Auditor Brian Colón and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez may be especially keen on Torres Small heading back to the banks of the Potomac. If she joined the AG race she would start as the frontrunner for the nomination next June, with statewide name ID and fund-raising ability. 

Colón announced his candidacy last week. Today Torrez launched his effort

Anticipating the Torrez entry, Colón commissioned a poll from Lake Research Partners in DC. The survey showed his previous statewide runs give him a leg up on Torrez with 30 percent of likely primary voters going for him, 17% for Torrez and 44% undecided. 

After the initial polling voters were given negative info about both contenders. The poll says Colón's support went up and Torrez' went down. The pollsters warn that Torrez' vulnerabilities could mean trouble for Dems in a general election. The polling memo is here

No R has yet announced for AG. The very early polling test was dismissed by Torrez backers who pointed out the primary is over 11 months away and that in 2020 Torrez ran unopposed for a second four year term in big BernCo, the state's largest county.

MEANWHILE. . . 

State Dems are debating what to do about that southern congress seat when redistricting gets underway later this year. 

Rep. Herrell has sided with the Trump wing of the GOP, including embracing baseless election fraud charges. That has surfaced the argument that the D's should redraw the district to ensure a Herrell loss. Herrell, those partisans argue, is not a "normal" Republican but one who represents an existential threat to representative government. 

Using that lens, they don't see redrawing the district as gerrymandering or political but as curing a cancer that has gripped the GOP.

Other D's are less fervid, seeing the district as conservative and redistricting Herrell out as politically risky. Having one of five members of the state's congressional delegation in the R column, they believe, is not a significant hindrance. The R's, of course, heartily agree with that view.  

This collision in viewpoints will be the most dramatic aspect of the redistricting legislative session at which state legislative boundaries will also be redrawn for the decade ahead. 

BROADBAND HELP

There's still a lot of money floating out there for low income households who could use help paying their broadband bills during the pandemic. The state Human Services Department reminds them of this new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program:

The $3.2B Emergency Broadband Benefit program provides a discount of up to a $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month on Tribal lands. The benefit also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet. 

Eligibility and how to apply is here.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021

ABQ Congress Race: Stansbury Weighs In On Breathe Act For First Time As Moores Pounds Away, Plus: By The Numbers; Dems Have Big Registration Edge; National R's Take A Walk  

After relentless hammering and a new TV ad from Republican Mark Moores, Dem Melanie Stansbury has shown some movement on the Breathe Act that Moores has made the centerpiece of his long shot campaign to turn the ABQ congressional seat Red in the June 1 special election. 

Stansbury ignored Moores' attacks over her support of the far reaching legislation during three TV debates, legislation he says would defund the police, shut down ICE and release "notorious criminals" onto the streets. It's all part of her "radical" persona, Moores charges. 

The bill, given little chance of passing Congress, sprung from the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of high profile police killings. It does call for defunding police and shutting down ICE and reallocating that money for social programs. 

In reacting to the Moores ad, which says "Stansbury supports the most dangerous piece of legislation in America as ABQ faces a record number of homicides," Stansbury's campaign did not walk back her support but did clarify it:

Rep. Stansbury coordinated capital outlay that brought home over $11 million in funding for public safety. . .In Congress, she will continue working to bring home resources to fight crime. . .She understands that we must reform and rethink policing in America and that to do so, we need a national conversation that considers the options and works to address the root causes of crime. The BREATHE Act is just a proposal, not a piece of legislation. If the final legislation includes sections that she cannot support because they are wrong for New Mexicans, then she’ll look to other solutions. . . 

On the heels of Moores' TV blast Stansbury also released a video endorsement from Dem BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez:

She’s been a strong partner for law enforcement. Helping to deliver millions in training, equipment, and salaries for local police. I know she’ll have our back in Congress, and that’s why I have her back.

Stansbury also has a TV ad up that boasts of her support for providing resources to law enforcement and she adds a hit on Moores:

Mark Moores opposed President Biden's American Rescue Plan, money for families and small businesses, and millions for local law enforcement. Yet, Moores took nearly two million in PPP money for his own business.

A media fact check on that attack of Moores found it to be “misleading.”

Early in-person voting expands Saturday throughout the district. The lion's share of the vote will be cast well before the June 1 election day which comes on the Monday following the long Memorial Day weekend.
 
Given that backdrop, this is probably Moores' last best hope to move the numbers his way. There isn't time for much else. 

BY THE NUMBERS

Moving the turnout is also on the minds of the candidates. The campaigns haven't captured the imagination of the broader electorate and special elections almost always draw fewer voters than regular elections so who gets the vote out is paramount. That favors the Democrats who have a well-oiled machine and have held the district since Martin Heinrich won in 2008. 

At the end of January the SOS reports there were 466,000 registered voters in the First CD. Dems made up 47 percent, R's 28%, independents and others 24%.

Consultants say turnout could be as low as 100,000 or about 21 percent of registered voters. 

Besides that overwhelming Dem registration advantage, Moores also has to contend with two other conservative male candidates on the ballot--independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning. 

Stansbury is the lone woman on the ballot and a woman has held the seat since MLG took it in 2012.

Some national media is opining that the election is an early test of President Biden's popularity who carried the district with over 60 percent of the vote in 2020. Perhaps. But a true test would be if the national Republicans had targeted the seat and had pumped in big media money. They didn't. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Space Race Or Trainwreck? Yet Another Delay For Virgin Galactic's NM Adventure As Bezos Preps To Pass Them, Plus: Early Mayor Money 

It may be a space race but more New Mexicans are starting to label the state's long delayed adventures beyond Earth a trainwreck.

Year after year Virgin Galactic has announced delay after delay in launching tourists into space from NM who bought expensive tickets. This year is no exception. 

This week saw Virgin Galactic stock swoon as the company owned by British billionaire Richard Branson announced "wear and tear" issues with the mothership and that its next test flight will be delayed. 

There will be no commercial spaceflights this year and uncertainty remains after that. 

This pill was more bitter than previous ones for the state to swallow. That's because as Virgin splashed downwards,Blue Orion, the space company owned by Branson's fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, was announcing that it planned on sending is own batch of tourists into space on July 20.

If that happens New Mexico will lose the critical first mover advantage that has been an ace in the hole for the taxpayer-financed spaceport since it was built in 2004. 

The Virgin Galactic slow motion trainwreck is over a decade old now. It has previously prompted calls from legislators for the state to sell the Spaceport near T or C which continues to get an annual state subsidy. 

But maybe there's a way out that keeps the state in the tourist space. That way could be Blue Origin taking over Virgin Galactic. Branson has some 600 customers who have paid $250,000 each for a trip into orbit. After repeated setbacks could he be ready to sell at a bargain price to Bezos? Such a deal would finally put him and space-loving but long suffering New Mexicans out of their misery. And we just might see that Spaceport put to use. 

EARLY MONEY 

Those independent committees (known as Measure Finance Committees in bureaucratese) backing Mayor Tim Keller and Sheriff Manny Gonzales in the ABQ mayoral race filed their first reports for the November election on May 10.

The committee favoring Keller is organized and its treasurer is veteran Dem politico and attorney Robert Lara. It reported no activity for the period.

The committee backing Gonzales and led by Sam Vigil, whose wife was murdered in the couple's westside driveway in 2019, reported raising $16,500. Admiral Beverage Company, a beer distributor, was the main contributor, donating $15,000. They have supported Gonzales in his past elections.

As for the candidates individual accounts, Gonzales reported expenditures of $5,200 to McCleskey Media Strategies, the firm run by Jay McCleskey, the longtime Republican political consultant, whose hiring by Democrat Gonzales raised eyebrows. Progressive consultant Neri Holguin is handling the Keller campaign and collected $5,400 during the period. 

Progressive candidate Nicholas Bevins reported $2,150 in cash on hand, after giving himself a $1,000 loan. Keller had cash of $5,500 in the very early going and Gonzales $6,000.

LOTS OF HELP

There's a lot of government money still floating out there to help those financially impacted by the pandemic. Some info from the city of ABQ:

. . . "We have financial navigators providing a free service to any person in the city,” said Eduardo Esquivel-Gonzales. To access resources, visit here or call (505) 768-4242. The program. . .helps residents with utility payments, eviction prevention, meal services, food stamps (SNAP), rental and mortgage assistance, unemployment, Medicaid, childcare, and childcare assistance. Mayor Keller also encouraged local business owners to look at the state’s new LEDA recovery fund. Applications for these grants are open and can be used for rent, lease, and mortgage payments.

OUTTA HERE

On the irony beat, the former cabinet secretary for the state labor department (Workforce Solutions), is joining thousands of other New Mexicans and headed out of state to find a new job and life. Bill McCamley, who recently resigned his pressure-ridden post, made the announcement on Facebook that he is moving to Austin. That city has one of the best job markets in the nation. New Mexico? Not so much. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Last TV Debate Aired As ABQ Congress Race Stays Static; Some Reasons Why, Plus: More Stressed Out New Mexicans Flock To Medical Pot  

Stansbury 
Two of the least known major party nominees to ever seek the ABQ congressional seat are more familiar to voters after three televised debates and continuous TV ads, but the contours of the race show no signs of changing. That means Democratic candidate Melanie Stansbury remains heavily favored to succeed former US Rep. Deb Haaland at the June 1 special election. 

Last night KRQE hosted the final TV debate between Stansbury and her Republican rival Mark Moores, and there were several moments that revealed why this race is static. (Full debate here.)

When asked if the federal minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour Stansbury predictably supported the proposal. But Moores called it "incredibly radical," asserting it would harm the creation of entry level jobs and hurt most businesses. But giant ABQ employees such as Wal-Mart and Target (and many others) are already paying employees $15 an hour and the state minimum is now at $10.50 an hour. 

It was old school Republicanism that did not stand up well to the glaring economic inequality seen all around. In working for Dem crossover votes Moores often invoked his mother's Hispanic heritage, but on a bread and butter issue so important to so many Hispanics and others, he didn't even throw them a bone. 

Then there was the sticky question for Moores of Trump's role in the Capitol riots in January. He insisted that "everyone in the nation" was responsible for the riots because of increasing incendiary rhetoric. Only after being pressed did he say that the blame included Trump. Stansbury swatted at the softball and flatly declared that "Trump incited the riot" and that politicians on both sides of the aisle are in agreement on that. 

Appearing to appease Trump is a deal breaker for many swing voters but that's the corner the GOP has put their candidates in. 

Finally, immigration was another issue that the GOP nominee was unable to move to the middle on in order to attract the Democrats he must have. About Trump's border wall he offered no nuance, saying the wall--unpopular in the ABQ district--must be finished and that Stansbury is a radical who would do away with ICE and the Border Patrol. That firmed his GOP support but got him no lift-off with anyone else. 

Moores
Irony hovered over the entire hour long debate as Moores repeatedly railed against Stansbury and her "radical agenda." But it is Trump's radicalization of the Republican grassroots that has prevented Moores from moving the party to the moderate middle where victory resides.

On the optics, Stansbury continued to do what she does best in the debates--not get rattled or show any emotion towards her foe as he aimed both barrels at her. 

And, unfortunately for Moores, she does not look radical or about to march down Central Avenue with AOC. Rather, she has an Ivy League bearing (she attended Cornell), is groomed conservatively and her high pitched voice never gets raised. 

Moores has improved as a candidate and comes across earnest, informed and avuncular. Like Stansbury, he is not prone to throwing off too much heat, but try as he might he has not been able to unmask the radical feminist that he believes is being hidden from the public.

Independent candidate Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Party candidate Chris Manning were not invited to the final TV debate.  

STRESSED OUT?

How many stressed out New Mexicans are there?  Apparently plenty. The latest figures for the state's medical marijuana program shows enrollment at the end of April soared to 115,732 patients, with well over half or 62,000 of them using the drug to alleviate symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Ultra Health, the state's largest cannabis firm, says enrollment is up 29 percent or 25,810 patients since April 2020.  

PTSD is common among military veterans but in New Mexico, a state that has widespread family dysfunction (drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, stressful jobs etc.) it is also not uncommon among civilians. 

The state has legalized recreational marijuana effective in April of 2022. With enrollment for medical pot still climbing the question arises whether customer projections for the legal market might miss on the high side. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

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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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

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. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

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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