Thursday, July 18, 2019

MTO Moves More Left In Senate Race With BRL; Impeach Trump And Abolish Ice, Plus: Target On Plame Bigger After She Scored Money Race Lead 

It hasn't been easy for Maggie Toulouse Oliver to have the progressive Dem wing all to herself in her battle for the US Senate nomination with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan. She was out early with support for Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, but Lujan has since gotten on board. Now MTO may have finally found a couple of issues on the left where she out does Lujan with the lefties--abolishing ICE--the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency--and impeaching the president:

Let’s start with the facts: The Mueller report provided more than enough evidence to start impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. The alleged corruption, acceptance of foreign interference in our elections, and cronyism throughout this administration is evidence enough that we must investigate and hold President Trump accountable.

And on ICE she says:

It’s time to abolish ICE. ICE was created to stop terrorism and keep Americans safe. As we saw this weekend, though, as millions of people huddled in fear of mass raids, ICE no longer prevents terrorism, instead it creates terror in the United States.

She says she would turn over the duties of ICE to the FBI and other agencies.

Here is the latest NYT count on who in the US House supports opening an impeachment inquiry. It does not include Lujan.

As for ICE, Lujan says he does not favor abolishing the agency:

Trump has co-opted the agency to enforce his bigoted and anti-immigrant agenda through terror and fear--abolishing ICE will not solve this problem. . . Congress must fundamentally overhaul the agency. We owe it to the families being targeted by President Trump to take concrete action. I have steadfastly opposed this administration’s cruel and racist policies by taking action to limit the agency’s authority. Zealous oversight, passing strict laws to limit the agency's mission, requiring transparent and thorough reporting to Congress, and a fundamental revamp and reform of the agency is required.

Lujan was called out by the conservative press last year who accused him of dodging the question on whether to abolish ICE in an interview with ABC News.

It's a stretch to think the NM Dem Party will swing as hard to the left as MTO would like it to when the June primary rolls around but as the decided underdog in the contest she has to do something to contrast herself with BRL and put some heat on him.


Now that's she's opened a narrow money lead over her competitors northern Dem congressional hopeful Valerie Plame will be a target--and here they come. Our blog about Plame making nice with former NM AG Patricia Madrid at the Las Vegas Fiestas over the Fourth of July weekend drew a number of reactions, including this:

As a spectator at the event seated on historic Bridge St. at the entrance to our Plaza park (the home of New Mexico's biggest and baddest fiestas) Ms. Plame seemed to avoid mingling with the crowd. Instead she seemed to prefer the company of her campaign staff/volunteers. From my vantage point I observed her leave her team twice to mingle with voters and both times were to greet individuals who were obviously Anglo and obviously "Santa Fe type" progressives.

Well, Plame still has plenty of time to get back to Vegas and try to appease the locals,


There is a Republican who has filed with the FEC to run for the GOP nod for the northern congressional district. We reported we hadn't see any R's on the FEC site after Brett Koninadis withdrew, but one of the Gators sent us a filing statement of Audra Lee Brown of Portales.

She describes herself as a rancher, farmer, musician, author and world-champion martial artist. She filed July 2, after the April quarter money reporting deadline.

Former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya--now an R--tells us he is looking at setting up an exploratory committee for a possible run at the GOP nomination. The district is all D all the time but, hey, you can try.

Join us tomorrow for some Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Chatter Over ABQ's November Election And Reader React To The Railyards Redo 

The chatter over the November ABQ City Council elections during these Dog Days of Summer centers on how incumbent Dem Councilor Ike Benton has skated through the first half of the year with nary a bruise.

While he has five challengers--including twenty something hotshots Zach Quintero and Joseph Griego--no one has laid a hand on 68 year old Ike who is pushing forward, even putting out a special July newsletter while the council takes a month long break.

One of our Senior Alligators who sees Benton as the most vulnerable of the three incumbents seeking re-election, says:

Benton's opponents may be making a mistake by not hitting him early. If they think holding him below 50 percent so one of them can get in a run-off election is enough, they are assuming too much. To beat an incumbent like Benton one of them is going to have to at least tie him on Election Night and preferably send him into second place. Then a month later he could be taken out in the run-off. They are looking to cut down this tree in one fell swoop but they need to be chipping away now, setting it up for a big fall. 

Quintero has secured the endorsement of the city firefighters union which has clashed with Benton. They could put troops on the ground and perhaps buy negative advertising. But Benton has progressive troops and until something hard-hitting starts to happen, Benton remains favored.

By the way, the office of ABQ City Clerk Katy Duhigg has put up an easy to use page where voters can find the campaign finance reports of all the council candidates.


Word comes to us via our Alligators in Santa Fe that former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya is forming an exploratory committee in preparation for a run for the northern congressional seat. But hold on, there's a twist. Harry is now a Republican having recently switched parties. Also, with Brett Kokinadis out of the race and now running for the ABQ congressional seat the R's lack a candidate--at least one that has filed the necessary paperwork with the FEC. If Montoya were to get the R nomination he could be the type of candidate to keep the Dem nominee on their toes as he could have come crossover appeal. By the way, Kokinadis was also a longtime Dem before switching to the R's. The vastly outnumbered GOP can only hope that this is some kind of trend.

(Audra Lee Brown of Portales has filed as a GOP candidate but has not filed a finance report with the FEC)


The skepticism we expressed regarding proposals to save the century old ABQ downtown Rail Yards---a "saving" that has been going on for over a decade and that we compared unfavorably with the failed ART project--brought reader reaction. Here's John Strong:

In addition to causing many business failures, job losses, and increases in both petty and violent crime along the Central Avenue corridor, ART has caused a great deal of skepticism on the part of the electorate that our city leaders are capable of or deserving of our support in spending our money going forward. Let’s be clear, this is not just a one time failure. So the real damage from a failed project of this type, where the citizens were deliberately not allowed a voice in this, is a complete loss of support for much needed capital projects going forward, because of a lack of trust in our elected officials.

Reader Allan Porter, an engineer, came with this:

Just as an aside, any new construction for the Rail Yards is going to have to include a massive amount of water line infrastructure around the site in order to supply required fire protection. The fire protection around the original site was provided by an on-site well that has since been deemed non-potable. I never see that discussed in any of the proposed plans.

But Los Ranchos architect Joe Craig, who has been involved in the Rail Yards rescue, hit back hard:

One of the legal preservationist that we hired during the negotiations with the BNSF railroad to acquire the Historic Railyards in Barelas accused me of having a "Scorched Earth" PR policy. Thinking we still can call in an air strike or two on Casa de Monahan. Hands off of ABQ's historic jewel.

As for "an air strike or two on "Casa de Monahan," if that's going to come from the Los Ranchos Air Force, bring it on, Joe.


The city purchased the Rail Yards in 2007 and the planning to revive them has been ongoing. Here's the complete history. The city is asking voters to approve millions in bond money for the Yards at the November election. The state recently approved $7.5 million for a Yards redo.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tight Three Way Money Race For Northern Congress Seat; Plame Tops The List; Rep. Torres Small Banks $1 million In Early Going In Southern Contest 

Plame campaigning
The money race is tight in the battle for the Democratic nomination for the northern congressional seat, but nationally known Valerie Plame took a narrow lead, raising $238,000 in the April-June quarter and had $197,000 in cash at the end of June. That narrowly bested Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna who raised $233,000 and had $218,000 in cash. Santa Fe attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez was third. She reported to the FEC raising $193,000 and had $169,000 in cash.


--Plame did what she had to do and showed she is not a famous flash in the pan. She points out she only began raising money "roughly halfway through the quarter." Her national ties showed as she reported nearly 3,900 individual donors.

--Serna is off to a solid start but will have to keep up the pace in the current quarter and show that he can stay with Plame.

--Leger Fernandez came in third but she has an ace in the hole--her Emily's List endorsement. The national women's group has the potential to come with hundreds of thousands in TV ads for her. So while she was third, she stayed close and it was close enough.

None of the three candidates in the top tier in this race was knocked out. In fact, we've got an exciting horse race here. Plame seemed to recognize it when in a news release she jabbed at Serna for taking a campaign contribution from the PAC for electric utility PNM while saying she rejected corporate PAC money. And she needled Leger Fernandez for being a "lobbyist/lawyer." Return fire came from the Serna campaign:

It's amazing that this self-professed newcomer to politics is the first candidate to start a negative campaign by attacking Marco and Teresa. .  . and embarrassing for her as she hid where 90% of her campaign contributions came from. . .Marco filed every contribution. . .so will Valerie follow suit and tell New Mexicans where tens of thousands of dollars of her campaign contributions came from?

The other name candidate in the race trying to break into the top tier--northern State Rep. Joseph Sanchez--reported raising $42,520 in the quarter and had $40,000 cash on hand. Veteran government official Rob Apodaca reported $36,000 in contributions. He also loaned his campaign $65,000. 

The northern seat is being vacated by Dem US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan who is running for the 2020 Dem US senate nomination. The district is all D all the time. The winner of the Dem nomination will almost certainly be seated in the US Congress in 2021. 

Republican Brett Kokinadis, who was running for the northern seat, dropped out Tuesday and now says he will run for the ABQ seat held by Rep. Deb Haaland. 

The FEC currently lists a total of 9 Dem candidates For the northern seat. More on the individual donations to the candidates here.


Democrats demonstrated they are serious indeed about retaining the southern congressional seat they won in an upset in 2018. Dem US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small reported raising $570,000 in the April quarter and her FEC report says her cash in the bank is now a hefty $1 million.

Republican Yvette Herrell is again seeking the GOP nomination for a second chance to take on Torres Small who narrowly beat her in '18. She reported raising $101,000 in the quarter and having $307,000 in cash.

But look at this. Yvette has Las Cruces businessman Chris Mathys breathing down her neck. The GOP newcomer has loaned himself $176,000 with $100,000 of that coming in the April quarter. He sports $159,000 in cash. Herrell is the favorite but if Mathys is serious about spending that loot, we'll have a bit of a chase for the nomination,

And speaking of a chase, what about Claire Chase of the Chase oil family in SE NM? Rumors continue to swirl about her possibly running for the GOP nod for the southern seat. It's a long shot but one worth watching. What say you, Claire?


The Alligators said to watch out for the granddaughter but we thought they may have missed the call. Now there is this:

The San Juan County Commission has nominated Shannon Pinto to take her grandfather's seat on the state Senate representing District 3. The County Commission had originally nominated former County Commissioner Wallace Charley, but Charley withdrew his name from consideration. That led to the County Commission having a special meeting on July 15 to choose a new nominee. Governor Lujan Grisham will ultimately choose who to appoint to fill the vacant position. District 3 includes portions of San Juan and McKinley counties. Both counties have chosen nominees to serve the remainder of Sen. John Pinto's term.

Nice job, Gators. Now can you tell us who MLG will choose?

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Senate Primary Pace Picks up: Campos Moves Left; Smith Preps For Major Challenge And Cisneros Being Chased 

What could be historic primary elections for the NM state senate are already shaking the political landscape. Dem Senator Pete Campos of Las Vegas, aware that he is among the senators being mentioned as possibly drawing a strong primary foe, has moved to the left on a key issue. He now says he supports taking a full one per cent a year from the state's $18 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund and devoting it to early childhood education.

That's an important shift because MLG, in a compromise, has backed off the one percent and proposed a half percent annual drawdown. A full percent would mean well over $150 million a year for early childhood programs such as home visiting,

Campos is one of eight Democratic Senators who caught the attention (and ire) of the national women's group Emily's List when he joined with the R's and opposed repealing an antiquated anti-abortion statute during the last legislative session. The measure, backed by the Governor, passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.

Emily's List is now expected to spend major money on the New Mexico legislative races, the lion's share of which can be expected go to their favored Dem Senate primary candidates. Campos does not yet have an official opponent and is no doubt hoping that by highlighting a renewed commitment to early childhood education he will quiet anger over his abortion vote and keep any opponents (and Emily's List) on the bench.

The Campos move also raises the question of whether the Governor will follow suit and now back a constitutional amendment that would allow a one percent Permanent Fund drawdown which has previously passed the House but stalled in the Senate.


Meanwhile the State Land Office reports the Land Grant Permanent Fund is growing by leaps and bounds as the SE oil boom seems to know no bounds. The offices says the total contribution to the Permanent Fund for FY19 (which ended June 30) was nearly $903 million and the FY19 distribution from the Fund to the state General fund is close to $750 million, or over 10 percent of the entire $7 billion budget.

The Office received more revenue from business activity in fiscal year 2019 than any year before. . . estimates show revenue on track to surpass $1 billion. In fiscal year 2018, Land Office revenue reached $852 million.

This boom is expected to continue but its pace may start to cool. More on that here.


Neomi Martinez-Parra
While Senator Campos frets over a possible primary opponent, Dem Senator John Arthur Smith is looking one squarely in the eyes. Neomi Martinez-Parra has made it official and will challenge the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee in next year's Democratic primary.

It could be a heckuva battle if Emily's List comes with ample third party money. That could even the playing field as Smith gets business backers to fill his campaign coffers.

Neomi played nice in her news release (too nice?) announcing her candidacy, not even alluding to Smith, the leader of the conservative Senate coalition whose fall from power would mean a change in the Senate power dynamic. But one veteran Dem consultant believes only an effective negative campaign centered around the theme that Smith has ignored the needs of his economically challenged SW district while accumulating statewide power has a chance of toppling him.

Martinez-Parra is a special ed teacher from Lordsburg and a former vice chair of the NM Democratic Party. This will be a generational battle. Martinez-Parra is 50. Smith, a real estate appraiser from Deming, is 78 and a 30 year senate veteran.


And here's one more for you senate watchers. Taos Town Councilor Darien Fernandez, 37, is off and running against longtime Senator Carlos Cisneros, 68, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the eight Dems who voted against repealing that anti-abortion statute. Locals say we could see another candidate(s) join that battle. Friends of Cisneros, who has not faced a serious challenge in years and was first elected way back in 1985, say he is looking for campaign talent. Definitely a race that is going to keep the Alligators busy.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor  

Here they are in all their glory--or their infamy--just in time for your summer reading. It's the ABQ 2019 Mid-Year 2019 Crime Stats. They cover everything from traffic stops to auto burglary to homicides, The cops say crime is down in the city compared to the same time last year. You might ask how could it not be as ABQ has been crushed by historically high crime rates for several years.

Homelessness is another major problem for the state's largest city. Here's a pretty insightful column from Brie Sillerly of the NM Coalition to End Homelessness. She urges the proposed new homeless shelter for near downtown ABQ not be a permanent way station for the homeless but a gateway to secure them permanent housing.

Voters will be asked in November to approve $14 million for the homeless facility. A second phase will cost another $14 million On that point, shouldn't the BernCo legislative delegation be lining up in Santa Fe for for that second $14 million as the state's coffers overflow from oil boom money?

Back on the crime beat, for the first time in five years APD will conduct a gun buyback program in an effort to reduce the high rate of gun violence. City Councilor Pat Davis has put up $30,000 from his councilor-directed funds for the program which will be held tomorrow (Saturday) at Cesar Chavez Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Needless to say, but Lt. Adam Anaya says it: guns presented for payment must be unloaded and operable.


No one is asking yet so we'll go first. Aren't the massive multi-million dollar plans being proposed to renovate the long vacant historic railyards near downtown sounding a bit like the disastrous ART project on Central? Not even the consultants hired to draft the plans seem to have a good idea on exactly what the renovation should entail and even whether it would succeed. Another question. Would it be sacrilegious to suggest that most of the railyards should simply be torn down? Just 'askin.

(Wonder what all those candidates for City Council think?)


The first of what will be a stack of fundraising reports for the many Dem northern congressional candidates is circulating. Santa Fe County District Attorney Marco Serna's campaign says he raised $233,000.

The FEC reports will be made public July 15. Dem Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is leaving the seat to run for US Senate.

The NM GOP writes:

A new episode of Chairman Steve Pearce's radio show is available. Tune in to listen to lively discussion about critical issues facing the country and New Mexico. Click to listen:

The radio show is new but are the ideas?

While the Governors of New Mexico and Colorado debated the merits of their respective chile crops this week, we spotted this headline:

A Giant Leap for Española Chile, the First to be Grown in Space

When it comes to green chile New Mexicans will settle for nothing less than world and intergalactic domination. Nice try, Colorado.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Can Plame Avoid A Flame Out? Key Questions For Her Congress Candidacy, Also: US Senate Musings And Gambling With Guy  

Madrid and Plame
A key question in the race for the Dem nomination for the northern congressional seat is whether Valerie Plame will flame out?

The nationally known former CIA operative and author has two tasks to perform to keep her torch burning: First, demonstrate fund-raising strength in NM and nationally when her first federal campaign report is filed this month. Second, begin to show support among traditional northern Hispanic voters, not just the aristocratic Santa Fe Anglos who have rushed to her side in the early going.

To that second point, today's photo speaks. Plame is pictured over the July Fourth holiday with former NM Dem Attorney General Patrica Madrid, at 72 a member in good standing of the Dem Party Old Guard that has considerable sway in the north and which Plame badly needs entree to.

(Madrid has not endorsed a candidate in the crowded primary contest.)

The photo of Plame keeping Madrid close reminded us of one of the more sensational utterances in the history of La Politica. It was in 1994 when Madrid was the running mate of Dem. Gov. Bruce King. He was fighting a battle for northern New Mexico hearts with Republican Gary Johnson when Madrid let loose with this controversial war cry in Las Vegas, NM:

These Republicans are not our people – they are Anglos – they are newcomers – they don’t understand us – our language – our culture – they are here only to exploit our people and our land – you must vote Democratic!”

Here we are a quarter century later and the dividing lines Madird drew back then still exist today, except this time they are playing out in a Dem vs Dem primary with Plame at dead center.


In the race for the Dem nod for US Senate, the Alligators continue to mull over the outsized cash haul of Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the April quarter ($1.1 million), compared to that of SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver (222k). Here's a take we've heard more than once:

The numbers posted for the Senate race are not at all surprising.  Maggie suffers from something similar to presidential candidate Joe Biden. In this case, "I love Maggie but not for this race." You hear a lot of that about Joe, too. "I love Joe but. . ."

But Joe is still in the lead (at least in the polls) so maybe MTO doesn't mind being in his company.


Indian gambling is long-established in New Mexico but that doesn't mean the anti-gambling forces have dried up. ABQ's Dr. Guy Clark has stuck with his beliefs through thick and thin. He says:

Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico has upgraded to a new website with more functions and useful information like the recent story about the settlement between the state and Pojoaque Pueblo which would split up the $10 million in illegal revenue sharing held in an account from 2015 to 2017. The courts are allowing Pojoaque to keep 40% of the sequestered revenue. The new website can be accessed by clicking here.

Indian gambling revenue has been flat-lined for years. In the first quarter of 2012 the state Gaming Control Board reported the casinos' "net win" totaled about $195 million. In the first quarter of 2019, the net win was $202 million, a gain of less than four percent in seven years.

NM is taking in about $70 million a year in revenue sharing from the casinos. That's a drop in the bucket for a $7 billion state budget. If recreational marijuana is legalized in NM experts suggest a similar minimalist impact on the state's General Fund.

Meanwhile, the race to win the right to build the state's sixth and final racino is on a muddy track.

Back here tomorrow to wrap the week.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Legal Pot Twist: Will Prominent Senate Foe Switch Sides? Also: Beto And NM And Now Just A Matter Of Time For Sen. Martinez  

The next legislative session is better than six months away but already emotions are ramping up over the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana. Dem State Senator Clemente Sanchez of Grants, so far a reliable opponent of legalizing pot, took to Twitter to disagree with the ABQ Journal's coverage of his position during its report on MLG's annnouncement of a task force to study legalization. That report quoted Sanchez as saying:

Just because it’s in the platform doesn’t mean all the Democrats in the state support it.

In response to his own quote Sanchez came with this enigmatic tweet:

It’s very disappointing and upsetting that I get quoted in the Albuquerque Journal when I haven’t spoken to any reporter on this issue for at least three years.

Journal capitol bureau chief Dan Boyd, author of the article, then tweeted back at Sanchez:

Hi senator, that quote was from an interview we did last year. Have your feelings on the issue changed since then?

Sanchez did not respond to the question but the conservative lawmaker is expected to face a stiff challenge in next year's Democratic primary. Both the party and the Governor are in favor of legal weed. If Sanchez were to switch sides it could be a major factor in how the bill fares next year.


He doesn't seem to have deep support here yet but former El Paso congressman and Dem presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has considerable ties to our enchanted land as revealed in this recent profile:

--Beto O’Rourke was running for the El Paso City Council in 2005 when he asked to meet with the illustrious real estate investor William Sanders. Sanders had earned a fortune and a reputation as a brilliant businessman in Chicago before returning to his remote hometown on the West Texas-Mexico border.

--The same year O’Rourke won his city council seat, he married Amy on the sprawling Sanders family ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The former punk rocker said he and Sanders didn’t get along well at first but that he eventually became close to his hard-charging father-in-law,

--After growing up in El Paso and attending Cornell University, Sanders, now 77, founded and built the company that became the renowned La Salle Partners in Chicago. It was a one-stop shop for some of America’s largest corporations for acquiring and managing buildings, land and property. He sold his stake in La Salle in 1989 and left for New Mexico, where his daughter Amy spent most of her childhood.


Sen. Martinez
It shouldn't be long now as MLG pushes Sen. Richard Martinez but does not yet shove:

MLG says no one is above the law and that elected officials should be held to a higher standard. . . when asked whether state Sen. Martinez's constituents would be better served if he resigned. Martinez, a Democrat from Espanola, was accused of drunken driving after crashing into another vehicle June 28. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated DWI. Without calling for Martinez's resignation, Lujan Grisham said she hopes the longtime lawmaker thinks about his position as chair of the Senate judiciary committee as well as the message that the case sends to a community besieged by crime related to alcohol and drugs.

MLG knows it, you know it and I know it. Martinez's position in the Senate is untenable. And soon he should know it. Besides, Dem State Rep. Susan Herrera is standing by as a worthy replacement.

The Dems and Party Chair Elliston are remiss, however, in not having a number of them call directly for Martinez's resignation as the Governor continues pushing but not shoving him out the door.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

US Supremes Gerrymander Ruling Could Impact NM And A McCleskey Sighting In ABQ Council Election  

New Mexico has an all blue congressional delegation but Democrats fret about how to keep it that way. The southern congressional district is their weak link. That's where freshman Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small was elected in 2018, but her grasp on the conservative district is fragile. Now comes this US Supreme Court ruling that could embolden the Dems to shore up the Torres Small seat when the 2021 redistricting comes:

The conservative justices ruled that federal courts have no role to play in the dispute over the practice known as partisan gerrymandering. The decision could embolden political line-drawing for partisan gain when state lawmakers undertake the next round of redistricting following the 2020 census.

Job one for Torres Small is to get re-elected next year, a feat no Democrat has pulled off in the south in decades. But if she does the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling could prod the Dem-controlled legislature into drawing friendlier lines for the new southern CD. That would have Torres Small and her Dem brethren breathing easier. It would also be a major step toward ensuring an all blue delegation for at least a decade.


Jay McCleskey, the controversial top political adviser to Gov. Martinez, has flown under the radar since her term ended January 1 but Republicans in ABQ City Council District 4 report there has now been a sighting. According to the latest campaign finance report, McCleskey Media Strategies was signed by GOP Council candidate Brook Bassan to produce 1,000 hands cards and 5,000 door hangers at a cost of $2,922.

That's small potatoes for McCleskey who pushed around millions on behalf of Martinez, but it still gets under some GOP skins who don't forget how he primaried fellow R's when he was with Martinez.

According to the Voter File checked by our Alligators, Bassan was a Dem who recently registered as an R. She is seeking the seat long held by retiring GOP Councilor Brad Winter who has close ties to McCleskey and Martinez. The hiring of McCleskey is seen as confirmation by some R's that Winter, who announced late his decision not to run, is trying to hand off the district to Bassan.

There are four candidates seeking the seat, including Dem Ane Romero, who along with Bassan is seen as a leading contender. If no candidate gets 50 percent at the November election there will be a run-off between the top two.


This is correcting the correction made by reader and columnist Harold Morgan, says reader Matt Biggs:

Joe, if your readers are going to nit-pick, let's make sure they use the right numbers. Mr. Morgan is using per capita household income. According to the census the per capita income per New Mexican is $25,257.

The dispute arose when Dem US Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver used the $25,000 per capita income figure. The "household" per capita figure cited by Morgan is $39,811.

State Senator Joe Cervantes wrote here Tuesday that there was no legislative "analysis" of a bill (SB 324) that would reform the capital outlay process. Reader Vanessa Hawker says there is a fiscal impact report on the measure and it is here.

In our first draft Monday the deletion of a single letter had Dem State Senate candidate Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces as a "he" instead of a "she" and the link to her facebook did not function for a time. Here it is.

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Monday, July 08, 2019

State Senate President Draws Foe #2, More Capital Outlay Criticism And Margaritas And Enchiladas 

She says she hasn't made her mind yet up about seeking another four year term but if she does dive in to the race, Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen will have at least two Democratic primary opponents:

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce announced  a bid for Senate District 38, now held by longtime lawmaker Sen. Mary Kay Papen. . . Hamblen, 51, hosted a kickoff event at a private home near Pioneer Women's Park in Las Cruces. She'll seek the Democratic nomination, challenging Papen. Another candidate, Tracy Perry, CEO of Direct Therapy Services, also has announced she's seeking the party's nomination to the same seat.

Papen will turn 89 before next year's June primary and it seems the natives are getting restless for change. However, if she keeps drawing opponents who could split the anti-Papen vote, the Pro Tem could give it one last shot. Perry and Hamblen, who is active in the LGBQT community, appeal to progressives hoping to end Papen's Senate career which began in 2001.

 Senate District 38 is solid D. No R's need apply.


Back on that proposed capital outlay commission that would rank infrastructure projects by importance before the money was approved, Dem State Senator Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces writes:

Senate Bill 324 introduced this past session would have reformed and brought some process to spending hundreds of millions but it never received a hearing in the Rules Committee. You will not even find an analysis of the bill because the entrenched process is sacrosanct. The reform attempt just gathered dust. Apart from Senators I can count on one hand, there is a consistent unwillingness to bring sensibility to an embarrassing process. Second only to tax reform, this is a huge priority and a problem which politicians won’t even acknowledge. And it’s a problem with a solution. A commission is not the way. Legislators are elected to appropriate public funds. But creating special commissions and task force committees is the default approach when politicians lack the courage to do what they should but want the appearance of doing something.


Reader and veteran NM columnist Harold Morgan writes: 

Joe: On July 3 you quoted Secretaty of State and Dem US Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver as saying, "Bragging about raking in more than a million dollars shows how out of touch the Congressman has become having lived in D.C. for more than a decade. The per capita income for a New Mexican is $25,000."  The correct per capita income figure, for 2017, is actually $39,811. The number comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Reader Peter Ives writes of our blog about the upcoming elections in Roosevelt and Curry Counties to permit alcohol sales in areas of the counties that remain dry:

Joe, Regarding alcohol sales (6/25), the larger problem is that the state made the a huge error in separating the licensing of beer and wine from spirits. The consequence is that it is almost impossible to get a real (tequila) Margarita in a Mexican restaurant in NM unless they can afford the hugely expensive spirits license. Only the largest or well-funded chains can manage that. 

The law needs to be changed to have one single liquor license for our restaurants and cafes. A special license for bars and package stores could be required for that category. The latter will not lose any business for folks wanting a Margarita with their enchiladas. I recently returned from a road trip and noticed that in many of the states I passed through, I could get cocktails in ordinary restaurants and cafes. I even stopped at a coffee shop in the small town of St Francis, Kansas that had a shelf of spirits.  Why is NM so backward? 

Well said, Peter. We bet the margarita/enchilada combo was on the Ives' Fourth of July menu.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Ben Ray Speeds By MTO In First Money Race Reports, Final List Of 2019 ABQ Council Candidates is Out, And: Happy Fourth, New Mexico! 

Let's check in on La Politica one last time before we all break for the Fourth of July weekend:

It's not surprising but it is still a big number and firmly cements Rep. Ben Ray Lujan as the front-runner in the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination for US senate. Lujan announced that in the April quarter his campaign raised "over $1.1 million" putting added pressure on his chief rival Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

MTO put on a brave face when confronted with Lujan's cash haul. She said she raised $222,000 in the quarter, but noted that it was for two months not the full three. Her campaign also nipped at Lujan:

Bragging about raking in more than a million dollars shows how out of touch the Congressman has become having lived in D.C. for more than a decade. The per capita income for a New Mexican is $25,000. New Mexicans need Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and economic security not another D.C. insider who cares more about breaking fundraising records. . .

But Lujan has endorsed the Green New Deal as well as Medicare for all. He recently announced he will not take corporate PAC money but has not returned $200,000 MTO's campaign is asking him to.

Lujan sought to cover his bases, saying for the quarter he had 13,000 unique donors and that 97.5 percent of his donations were $100 or less. The complete reports will be posted with the FEC at mid-month.

It doesn't appear Lujan's big money will chase MTO out of the race but the task of overtaking him is now more difficult than ever.


And the list of candidates to replace Rep. Lujan in his northern congressional seat continues to grow. Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya is the latest to announce for the Dem nod:

Laura was elected Sandoval County Treasurer in 2012 and reelected in 2016. . . She has. . .worked in federal, state and county government. Her career began as a constituent services representative. . .  for Senator Jeff Bingaman. . .“I have a proven track record as an advocate for everyday New Mexicans whether it is writing legislation to protect our Veterans and senior citizens or to give land grants and pueblos the right of first offer on delinquent land. . . 

Montoya is a native of Las Vegas, NM.


The battle for the ABQ City Council seat held by Dem Ike Benton will be the most crowded race facing city voters this November. The City Clerk's office reports six candidates have qualified for the ballot in District 2 via the petition process and four of those have also qualified for public financing. District Two is a mostly Valley seat.

Candidates had until June 28th to submit 500 valid petition signatures required to make the ballot

In District 4 in the NE Heights four candidates qualified for the ballot and three of them for public financing. In District 6 both candidates qualified with petitions and also for public financing. In District 8 in the Far NE Heights both candidates qualified for the ballot and one of them also qualified for public financing. Incumbent Republican Trudy Jones did not try to qualify for public money.


Sen. Martinez has entered a plea of not guilty to aggravated DWI. Gov. Lujan Grisham's office, asked about the DWI charge, would not say if she felt the senator should resign or stay in office, instead saying that "no one is above the law."

Rep. Herrera
Yes, we're premature but if Dem State Senator Richard Martinez resigns because of the aggravated DWI charge he faces and that embarrassing video of his arrest, how about filling his seat with State Rep. Susan Herrera of Embudo? Sure, she was only elected to the House last year but she boasts a foot-long list of credentials, experience and accomplishments--and she is not a career politician. That's just what the constituents of Sen. Martinez may hunger for given the ordeal they are being put through.

Herrera pulled off a major upset by beating State Rep. Debbie Rodella in a Dem primary and went on to win last November. She may be 71 but she is anything but old school, bringing a fresh set of eyes and a deep intelligence to the state's problems.

If Martinez resigns, the county commissions in his district--Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Sandoval--will send nominees to the Governor to fill the vacancy.

We have not spoken with Herrera and are assuming she resides in Martinez's Senate district--about 80 percent of her district is in his. We're also assuming that our speaking well of her doesn't amount to the Kiss of Death. Hey, you didn't hear it from us, Commissioners.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Fourth. We'll see you next week.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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