Wednesday, April 21, 2021

No Longer A Swing State But We Get A Jill Biden Pit Stop Today As New Swing State Arizona Is Eyed, Plus: On The Crime Beat With Our Readers 

We're still a flyover state in presidential politics but we'll get our share of pit stops like the one today from first lady Jill Biden who will spend time in ABQ before heading to her real target--the newly minted swing state of Arizona. It's our proximity to that prize that puts us back on the political flight plans. 

Biden's visit to a South Valley health clinic will be enough time for MLG to get some badly needed political cover. The NM governor has been in the unwanted national and international spotlight over her $62,500 settlement of sex mistreatment charges by a former campaign staffer. An embrace from Dr. Jill won't make that political hurt go away but should soften the blow as MLG gears up for her 2022 re-election bid. 

As for the #1 lady, she could not ask for more hospitable territory before heading over to Window Rock and the Navajo reservation. Scranton Joe carried the ABQ congressional district 60-37, the largest Dem victory ever in CD 1. (Don't tell Michelle, Jill.)

As for Arizona and the Rez, look at the math for the Prez: 

Voters in precincts on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in northeastern Arizona cast nearly 60,000 ballots in the Nov. 3 election, compared with just under 42,500 in 2016, according to an AP analysis. Biden won Arizona by about 10,500 votes. . . Turnout in two of the larger precincts on the reservations, for example, rose by 12% and 13% — and Biden won there handily — compared with a 4% increase among all Arizona voters.

But the biggest number is 11--that's how many electoral votes Arizona has. Going forward they will be as important as New Mexico's little five once were. You know, back in 2004 and '08 when this place was so crowded with presidential seekers they would stand in line to shake your hand.

Those days are long gone but New Mexico being home to the famous racing Unsers we know all about pit stops. So have a good time, Jill, and remember that today it's como está and Thursday it's Ya Ta Hey.

A city spokeswoman pushes back on retired APD Seargent Dan Klein's speculation this week that the city's housing of the homeless at inexpensive hotel and motels may be contributing to recent gun violence:

I know speculation like that might be fun for stirring up controversy but it’s also 100% inaccurate and further demonizes the most vulnerable people who live in our city. There have been – zero – homicides linked to the wellness hotels. That’s confirmed by APD. What we do know is that we have been able to provide beds for more than 400 people nightly who would otherwise have been living on the street throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We asked for a list of hotels and motels housing Covid and homeless courtesy of the city but did not get a response.

Reader Steve Pilon came with this:  

The COVID hotels house people who have tested positive for COVID, both homeless and from the Pueblos. Would Dan Klein prefer these people to be circulating in the general population? 

ABQ has long had a higher than average crime rate, but crime had been dropping here like elsewhere for 20 years. The recent surge in homicides is nationwide, not just in ABQ. This strongly suggests the cause of the increase is not local but national. I think the nationwide increase in crime is a consequence of the extreme poverty and deprivation during the Great Recession (particularly severe and prolonged here in ABQ). 

If the police were effective in solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice, they might discourage some of these young criminals. However, clearance rates for homicide nationwide are roughly 60% and only about 50% here in ABQ. (in civilized countries they are 90+%). If you want to prevent kids from becoming criminals, the Feds have to run the economy hot enough to ensure their parents have work and you have to fund treatment for their substance abuse issues. Simplistic "get tough on crime" nostrums from the likes of BernCo Sheriff Gonzales will be ineffective if not counterproductive.

It's true there has been a recent surge in homicides around the nation. But police here say more of the homicides now involve drugs. And before the pandemic ABQ ranked near or at the top of the list for auto thefts and overall crime. It still does.  

Those crime categories have not been dropping for 20 years. And at the current rate of homicides, we could have a 50 percent increase for the year. That's not a surge. That's more like a parabolic spike. 

We can debate the causes of crime but let's not define deviancy downward by saying things in ABQ are normal when clearly they are not. 

Klein came with this response: 

I never said to have these homeless people not housed and in the general population with COVID.  


Levi Fetty joins in with this: 

Hey Joe, we readers will get enough of the distortion of truth and blatant lies throughout the Mayoral campaign but we shouldn't have to be subjected to it from the candidates sycophantic supporters when they write the following propaganda: 

 "Why? Because Mayor Keller met his promise to hire more police and we saw car thefts and other non-murder crime rates drop." 

Please quote the year and the total number of APD officer when this promise was kept? Tim Keller didn't just promise to hire more APD officers. He promised to raise APD officer staffing levels to a particular number which is a promise he never followed through with. And, do we really have to rehash the crime statistics fiasco... ooopsie our [APD] crime data computer's are outdated and didn't carry the one excuses?

APD now reports a bit less than 1,000 officers with a goal of 1,200 or more.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Gonzales Gets In: Comes With Mayoral Announcement Video; Sheriff Chides Mayor Keller: "ABQ Deserves Much Better"; Tries To Separate From Trump, Plus: Readers Take On Manny Record  

From Gonzales video 
When the possibility first surfaced last year of BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales running for ABQ Mayor the notion was scoffed at by veteran Dem consultants. But after Gonzales made his formal announcement in a slick two minute video Monday the scoffing was gone, replaced by an all hands on deck attitude. 

The unceasing, soul draining violence that has enveloped the city with an even deeper ferocity this year is the heart of Keller's problem. He remains the favorite but too much blood has been spilled for Gonzales to be brushed away like a bothersome gnat. 

(Gonzales full news release.)

Gonzales, a conservative D, is dangerous because he has a simple yet powerful message--a self-described "tough on crime sheriff" who maintains "ABQ deserves much better than what we are getting."

With no Republican in the race and Gonzales emphasizing crime fighting and his service as a Marine, he should quickly consolidate the predominantly male GOP vote. 

His announcement also stressed his native ABQ roots and family which will serve him well in the historic Dem precincts in the Valley. 

Gonzales took steps to address the attack that is incubating--that he is a Trump Democrat. US Sen. Martin Heinrich actually called for him to resign last year when Gonzales supported federal intervention by the Trump administration to combat the city's crime. In response, Gonzales's video says he will "work with anyone to make our community safer" and trots out photos of himself with President Obama as well as then Trump Attorney General Barr. 

The "work with anyone" message is similar to that of former southern Dem US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small who attracted GOP crossover votes in her successful 2018 campaign in a conservative district.


As has been noted, outside of crime fighting Keller has had a successful administration, dodging major scandal, combatting Covid, generating optimism about the city, handling finances capably and making strides in expanding the economy. As also has been noted, leaving crime out of the equation is like serving a hamburger without the bun. 

Politically Keller has a large progressive base, over a dozen years of campaign and fundraising experience to draw on and the nagging issue tugging at Gonzales of electing a law enforcement official as Mayor--and one with worrisome traits of authoritarianism. 

Both Keller and Gonzales are expected to qualify for $661,000 in public financing and then rely on outside PACs to each raise an equal amount, if not more. 

They must get 3,779 individual donations of $5 each from registered voters to qualify for the public money. The window for doing so opened this weekend and closes June 19.

Also actively running is progressive Nicholas Bevins who could chip away at Keller if he could qualify for public financing, but Dem insiders think that's too tall of an order for the newcomer. To qualify for the ballot candidates need 3,000 petition signatures.


Former ABQ city councilor, attorney and veteran political consultant Greg Payne came with these takeaways from the Gonzales video:

The video easily surpassed low expectations that Gonzales would be a joke of a candidate or not serious. The video establishes him as a serious player and one to be reckoned with. However, he will have to run a nearly scorched earth campaign of all crime all the time in order to be positioned for a November upset.

Payne is a registered independent.


Gonzales is running on an anti-crime platform, but that doesn't mean his jurisdiction is exempt. Only hours after his mayoral announcement this came down: 

 (Sheriff's) deputies were called to 1932 Coors Blvd SW in front of Valley Fence Co. in reference to a roll-over crash involving a dark-colored sedan. Deputies located two unidentifiable male subjects deceased on the scene from apparent gunshot wounds. Witnesses stated that a white sedan, occupied by 2-3 male subjects, fired several rounds at the crashed vehicle. Shortly before BCSO deputies were dispatched.

Sometimes the fates of La Politica conspire. 


While Gonzales had a successful debut as a mayoral candidate, he will face a broad range of criticism over his term as sheriff that has been riddled with controversy. Here's reader Larry Anderson:

Gonzales has fought police body cameras all the way, refused to rein in his deputies (remember the innocent Black woman stopped on I-40 that resulted in a cash settlement), refused to enforce some laws on Covid restrictions because he doesn't agree with them and taken an attitude more than once that the law is what he says it is. Surely, those opposed to Keller could do better than this. The "pro Manny tilt" authoritarian post should be cause for anyone concerned about their Rights or their pocket books. 

Reader Mitchell Freedman writes:

As for the "Alligator" quoted Monday who thinks Mayor Keller has gone too far "left" on policing, they obviously did not follow the hearings on the consent decree before federal Judge Browning, and never spoke to anyone who actually knows how badly the City failed to adhere to the decree--instead bending over backwards for the police union. 

Also, the biggest point: The drug cartel. That will require federal action, perhaps even sending in the Marines to treat the cartel as a foreign operation. Why? Because Mayor Keller met his promise to hire more police and we saw car thefts and other non-murder crime rates drop. However, the ease in which the cartel operates is a problem more police cannot solve. 

Keller would more likely lose to a progressive Latino/Latina than Manny Gonzales, if people woke up to the realities and not fall back on 1968 era "law and order" nostrums. But I guess we'll have Manny "You had one job!" Gonzales running against the often hapless Keller. 

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Ground Becomes More Fertile For Gonzales Mayoral Run As Crime Epidemic Rages On, Plus: MLG Needs A Spring Break And McCamley's Downfall  

Keller and Medina
If Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales is having second thoughts about running for Mayor of ABQ he can put them on the back burner. The explosion in the city's murder rate alone is enough to make a challenge to Mayor Tim Keller a major political event with the seeds of an upset already planted.

(Gonzales officially announced his candidacy Monday morning with a two minute video.)

The media murder meter has the city at 35 homicides so far this year but our cop watchers say it may be near 40 as cases under investigation are closed out. That puts the city on track for an annual murder rate in triple digits. ABQ, always a violent town, has never seen anything like this. Never. 

If ABQ approaches or surpasses a 100 or more homicide rate as the November election nears, how would the city react? What would be the spin to that ignominious event? Would it be brushed off as the "new normal" and would an acquiescent public buy in? 

The political community is carefully watching polling results from the ABQ congressional district election to see where crime stands on voters' list of concerns. If it heads higher the prospect of a tight mayoral race would loom large. 

As to why so much of the violence is now occurring at inexpensive hotels and motels, former APD Seargent Dan Klein opines that it could be because during this pandemic many homeless are being housed there courtesy of the city. The homeless is a population heavy with mental illness and drug addiction. 

Here's how the campaign is being framed by Alligators of a pro-Manny tilt: 

Keller and CAO Sarita Nair have gone way too far left on policing. Ambitious Chief Medina goes bumbling along for the ride. Keller took tentative steps to get the Feds to lighten up on the consent decree governing APD but then backed off. Now we have plunging police morale, a record murder rate and still sky high property and auto thefts. Sure, ABQ is a progressive city in many ways, but there's an old adage from Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, himself a former police chief: "A conservative is a liberal who was mugged the night before." 

And now the personal relationship problems of Medina's son have spilled into the public forum and have led  to a city council discussion of changing arrest procedures with Councilor Pat Davis and Chief Medina leading the charge. Really? While the bodies pile up in Davis' district and elsewhere? 


Gov. Cuomo 
Maybe the Guv should take a spring break and get away from the news cycle that's been clobbering her. That includes sensational headlines over the settlement she made with former campaign staffer James Hallinan in the infamous Crotchgate case. And her critics aren't through with her over the mishap. They dig up this MLG WaPo quote on the sex harassment charges against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

We have to take seriously all these allegations, and I’m frankly in that group of elected leaders that you believe the individual. You give credit and credibility there. If you don’t, we’re re-victimizing brave men and women who come forward, so that’s critical.

Maybe the Guv's thinking that we "believe" anyone who makes an allegation has shifted after her experience and that she now believes the accused should not immediately be subjected to being cancelled from the culture or otherwise shunned. After all, she strenuously denied sexual abuse allegations when she agreed to a $62,500 payout to Hallinan (and perhaps more.) 

There's much to be said of the positive impact of the #MeToo movement. The worst that can be said is that one of its tenets is often the Stalinesque: "Guilty when charged."


We broke the news here Thursday that Bill McCamley, secretary of the Workforce Solutions Department, would be leaving. He has and did so without much explanation but it's obvious McCamley was overwhelmed by the pandemic and the resulting massive unemployment claims (as were administrators in other states). The Guv's statement upon his departure was tepid, signaling she had lost confidence in him. 

As for McCamley, KOB-TV's Megan Abundis combed his social media and found this April 1 post from the former secretary: 

I have nothing but pride and admiration for the people I work with, but trying to navigate a system designed a century ago for an economy that was vastly different, and never set up for the conditions we saw in the Pandemic, has been the most trying thing I have ever done. My emotional state for the past year has mostly consisted of a numbness only broken through by spikes of pure, wall punching, rage. This hasn’t been… healthy. For me, nor the people around me.

Bill McCamley stepped it up a notch and won a cabinet post, but the severe pressure of a pandemic and the vagaries of La Politica sent him tumbling to the ground.


Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block became the first GOP contender for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination over the weekend he made his announcement in Rio Rancho. Here is video.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Scuffling Over ABQ Congress Debates; Independent Dunn Could Be Kept Off Stage, Plus: A Guv Run For John Sanchez?  

For the time being he arguably is the candidate with the highest name ID of any of the contenders seeking the open ABQ congressional seat in the June 1 special election. But former Republican turned independent Aubrey Dunn is having a difficult time convincing local TV stations of his standing. 

Three major network affiliated stations are expected to host debates for the candidates but KOB-TV apparently has already decided to keep Dunn off their stage and keep the debate confined to the three major party nominees--Dem Melanie Stansbury, R Mark Moores and Libertarian Chris Manning. 

This station memo explaining the Dunn exclusion was passed along to us: 

. . . KOB’s executive management decided to offer invitations to our debate to the candidates who earned nominations from their political parties. When it comes to planning live, televised debates, television stations and networks routinely and normally create guidelines and limits on participation. The Federal Communications Commission gives us the flexibility to invite candidates to debate who meet criteria that we set. For this special election, KOB’s criteria limited candidates to those nominated by political parties. KOB also took technical and pandemic concerns in regard. Allowing so many people in our studio presents a public health risk and is technically impossible.

Dunn's camp is obviously not pleased. His son, Blair Dunn, tells us:  

It's obvious they are playing favorites. They know where their bread is buttered--with the ad dollars from the major parties. 

Campaign insiders report KRQE-TV is also preparing to host a debate that also excludes Dunn. 

But the stations appear to be on thin ice in their rationale to include only the three party nominees. And some could see the decision as biased in favor of R Mark Moores. Dunn is widely anticipated to take votes from his fellow conservative. Also. . . 

Independents now make up 23 percent of the electorate in the ABQ congressional district, right behind the 31 percent who are registered R's. Dems have 45 percent. With those numbers, shouldn't the qualified independent have a seat at the table? 

Dunn is not a freak candidate. He narrowly beat an incumbent Democratic state land commissioner in the 2014 race to become commissioner in a Dem dominated state. 

He submitted 6,000 petition signatures to the Secretary of State to qualify for the congressional ballot. Only1,600 were required.

He has raised over $70,000 for his campaign (including a personal loan of $65,000) and has TV spots running on the stations that want to exclude him from their debate airwaves.

And the pandemic excuse seems feeble given the current low virus rate, the commodious studio KOB has and having the option of going remote as a back up. 

Clearly Dunn is a newsworthy contender with a significant public presence. Whatever "criteria" KOB is using seems disconnected from the political reality in the market they are licensed to serve by the FCC.

KOAT-TV is also expected to host a televised debate.


The weak bench the R's have for the 2022 race against Dem Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a given. So let the debate now begin on whether former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is a strong or weak member of that bench. 

We say let the debate begin because Sanchez appears to be considering a Guv run. He will be the guest speaker April 21 at the Dona Ana County Republican Party's "Dinner for Conservative Hispanics." 

The appearance comes as the time approaches for announcing a bid for the June 2022 primary.

Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block will become the first '22 GOP Guv candidate when he goes official this Saturday. Financial adviser Greg Zanetti, who ran for the Guv nomination in 2010, is said to be eyeing another run.

Sanchez had eight years under Gov. Martinez whose administration ended deeply unpopular. During that time he made a brief run for the GOP US Senate nomination and ultimately withdrew. In 2002 he was the unsuccessful GOP nominee against Bill Richardson. 

Sanchez runs a successful roofing business and knows his way around La Politica but he's going to have show some impressive bench presses to convince the skeptics.


Former ABQ city councilor and state senator Eric Griego had a big 2020 when he helped spearhead the successful campaign to oust a number of conservative Democratic state senators in the June primary. Now he is leaving his post as state director of the NM Working Families Party:

It is with a heavy heart but one filled with gratitude that I am stepping down as State Director effective April 30. It has been an honor and pleasure working with you all to fight for economic, racial and social justice for New Mexico families. Thanks to your support we have done some amazing work to make our elected officials more representative and accountable, and to pass important legislation to improve the lives of working families. We are currently hiring a new State Lead of NM-WFP.

And we received word from readers that Bill McCamley, cabinet secretary for the Department of Workforce Solutions, notified his colleagues via email that he is leaving that position this week. We'll post more here when it comes in. . . Confirmation on McCamley came Friday afternoon.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

MLG Gets Drudge Treatment Over Cash Settlement In Crotchgate Incident, Plus: The Pot Expungement Numbers; How Many Get A Break?  

She craved the national spotlight when she sought an appointment to the Biden cabinet. But that never happened. Now that spotlight is shining on New Mexico's governor in a most unwanted fashion. 

After it was disclosed Tuesday that James Hallinan, a former spokesman for MLG received $62,500 in cash payments from her campaign fund to settle his sexual mistreatment charges, the headlines hit the Drudge Report, the well-known news aggregating site with a bent toward the sensational and that is a popular stop on the Internet.

She got the full Drudge treatment, pictured in a pink "pussy hat" from the 2017 Women's March in DC, and her trouble getting the #MeTo movement turned upside down on her. 

In case you were in a cave, Hallinan accused MLG of throwing a bottle of water on his crotch and then grabbing his crotch through his pants, while she laughed.  He said the incident occurred during a 2018 campaign meeting as she sought the governorship. 

She denied the charge as did other staffers who Hallinan said were at the meeting. MLG's attorneys said the settlement was done to "avoid distraction" and the "cost of litigation." But the settlement delivered a blow to her national image and the national R's took the bait with their Governors Association coming with this blast: 

 $62,500 is a lot of money for a sexual harassment scandal that Lujan Grisham originally called 'bizarre,' 'slanderous' and 'categorically false. The payments certainly suggest that there must be some truth to the story, and Governor Lujan Grisham should publicly apologize to her victim for her behavior.

One unanswered question is whether the $62,500 is the ultimate cost of settling the Hallinan case or whether the Governor has also agreed to pay him personal funds to make the mess go away. 

Politically, MLG may be out of the running in national politics (did the Hallinan incident hurt in that regard? The first payment to him was made last November when she was being vetted for the Biden cabinet). But the Republican bench for the 2022 Governor's race remains weak, giving her something to hang her pussy hat on as she seeks re-election.

Meanwhile, you've been Drudged, Guv. Congrats. . . or something. 

While Drudge was a downer for MLG, she did get a shot in the arm from this positive Politico piece titled:

The Unlikely State Setting the US Vaccination Pace.


How many New Mexicans will have their arrest and conviction records for marijuana related offenses expunged now that the legalization bill that includes such expungements has been signed into law? Let's start with this item that left some readers confused: 

. .  .An initial state Department of Public Safety review has identified roughly 150,000 people who will have their records reviewed for possible expungement.

That does not mean there have been 150,000 folks arrested for pot related offenses. That number, says ABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas, a key player in the cannabis legislation, represents the approximate 150,000 residents who have criminal records. 

Maestas estimates the total marijuana expungements under legalization will total anywhere from 5 to 10 thousand. That straightens that out, but that there are 150,000 New Mexicans who have criminal records is another story.


A self-described ABQ Westside Gator comments on the dust up in the special ABQ congressional election over exempting Social Security from state taxes: 

 Joe, If New Mexico government really wanted to help seniors, or anyone on fixed incomes, they should place a freeze on property tax increases. Don't hear much about that though, why? 

Property taxes are relatively low here compared to the rest of the nation but so are incomes. There is a property tax break for low income seniors 65 and over that freezes the value of a senior's property. From the Sandoval County Treasurer.

The income cap to qualify for the limitation on property tax valuation, also called the “Property Valuation Freeze” (is) $35,000. . .  The value freeze is for a single-family dwelling occupied by a person who is sixty-five years of age or older or disabled, and whose modified gross income for the prior taxable year did not exceed $35,000.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Medical Marijuana Use Continues To Soar; Over 112,000 Now Taking Part As Guv Signs Legal Pot Bill, Plus: The Politics of NM's One And Only Billionaire 

There are now over 112,000 New Mexico medical marijuana patients, making one wonder how many customers there will be for legal recreational use which the Governor signed into law Monday. Perhaps fewer than anticipated.

The medical marijuana program grew by 32 percent from March 2020 thru March 2021. If that growth was replicated in the next year--before legal weed takes full effect in April of 2022--the state would have nearly 150,000 patients.

And it may grow even more. After all, medical marijuana will not be subjected to the 12 percent excise tax (that eventually goes to 18 percent) as recreational pot will, so why not get to the doctor and get medical marijuana while the getting is good?

Well over half of those prescribed medical marijuana are diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. There's plenty of that to go around in New Mexico. 

As for legal weed, the rhetoric upon the Governor's signing of recreational legalization was typically over wrought, replete with promises of an economic transformation. But we've reported extensively on the mostly low wage jobs (about $13 an hour) that will dominate the new industry. And the 11,000 jobs that supporters say would result from the industry would take a decade to come on line. That’s under the rosy scenario.

And with medical marijuana use soaring and the black market expected to continue to operate, the economic boost the boosters pledge may come in on the low end of expectations. (Estimates for tax collections have repeatedly been lowered.)

Cannabis is going legal mainly because it has become what a martini was (or still is) to your parents or grandparents--a way of taking the edge off, and a majority of the population now supports legalizing.

But the political class couldn't help from throwing a pot party rooted in a disconnected reality as the Governor gleefully signed the new law. The real reality will be on their doorsteps soon enough. Don’t say we didn’t tell you. 


Ron Curio
So is Is New Mexico's new one and only billionaire a Democrat, Republican or something else?

Thanks to our Alligators we learn that 59 year old Ron Corio (net worth $1.1 billion) belongs to that growing group of voters registered as "decline to state" or independent for short. 

According to voter info from official files, Corio voted in all NM general elections from 2004 through 2020, with one big exception. In 2016 when Trump was elected, Corio did not cast a ballot. 

Corio may be the richest man in New Mexico but when it comes to housing he appears to live below his means. On Zillow the value of his 5,800 square foot ABQ home is put at $1.4 million. 

Corio made his fortune in solar (Array Technologies) and when the ABQ-based company's stock was listed on the NASDAQ he reaped millions. 

With the impending sale of PNM, New Mexico will soon lose its only company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but we're picking up a billionaire. If there's anything the state needs it is more capital circulating. So spend and invest liberally in the community right here, Mr. Corio, and watch out for those Alligators trying to make you sign up as a D or R. 

By the way, Corio may get to be a billionaire a couple of times over. His father, Phil Curio, lived to the ripe old age of 109. 


We continue to get comments on that spat between Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and ABQ Dem Senator Daniel Ivey Soto that took place in the final hours of the recent legislative session. Our last commenter favored Stewart. This one goes with Ivey Soto: 

I have been in the political realm for over two decades. The entire scenario and media behind Senator Mimi Stewart is completely blown out of proportion. Stewart’s comments are taking the entire women’s moment backwards. We have overcome unequal pay, no access to credit, second class citizens, and sexual harassment. Stewart was treated like an equal, a colleague. The fact that she could not answer the questions or did not like Ivey Soto's questions is not the same as abuse, and it is certainly not the same as abuse from a family member. As a survivor myself, her comparison to abuse trivializes what I have endured and survived. She is taking us backwards. Women deserve more. We have prevailed in this society and in no way do I want a man to refrain from treating me like an equal or with kit gloves. A woman on leadership should portray herself strong and not an a victim.       

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Monday, April 12, 2021

ABQ Congress Battle Quickly Goes Negative; Moores And Stansbury Spar Over Taxing Social Security, Plus: First Legislative Retirement of '22 Cycle, And: NM Labs Boom But Threat Is Out There 

GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores is wasting no time in trying to define Dem nominee and front-runner Melanie Stansbury. After opening with a positive spot about his UNM football playing days, Moores unveiled his first hit on the ABQ lawmaker.

The 30 second spot, not posted on the net, accuses state Rep. Stansbury of doing "very little" to abolish the state tax on Social Security benefits while he, a GOP state senator, has been a leader on the issue and supports doing away with the  tax. He says seniors have been among the groups most hurt by the pandemic and deserve the break. 

The spot is filled with plenty of gray hairs as Moores aims his sights squarely at the 60 plus crowd that is expected to have one of the highest turnouts in the June 1 special election. 

But Stansbury isn't buying it as her campaign responds with this: 

This attack is false and laughable considering Moores plans to go to Washington to vote with the Republicans to privatize Social Security. Rep. Stansbury has sponsored bipartisan legislation to provide a Social Security income tax exemption. . . She has been there for seniors throughout the pandemic, and even helped shop for her senior constituents when they couldn’t. On the other hand, Mark Moores has not sponsored a single bill with the sole purpose of exempting Social Security income from income taxation. 

New Mexico is one of 13 states that taxes Social Security. A bill to repeal the tax was tabled in the House tax committee in the last legislative session. 

The secretary of state said Friday that six candidates, including two write-ins, have officially qualified for the June 1 ballot. 

Independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning will be on the ballot with Stansbury and Moores. 


Rep. Ely 
One of the first election announcements from a state legislator for the next election cycle comes to us. Dem Rep. Daymon Ely of Bernalillo and Sandoval counties says he will not seek re-election in 2022. The 63 year old attorney, who specializes in legal malpractice, say family considerations are the reason. 

Ely of Corrales is a former Sandoval County Commissioner who was first elected in 2016 to House District 23 which was then a swing district. Since then, the district has become more Democratic and will likely remain so when the once a decade redistricting is completed later this year.  

Ely has been tight with House Speaker Brian Egolf who relied on him for advice and rulings as the House parliamentarian. It was often at late night sessions where tempers sometimes flared where you could see Ely doing his legal footwork. 

Ely most recently made blog news when he announced that he would introduce a bill requiring political parties to conduct primary elections to pick candidates for congressional seats that become vacant in between regular elections, instead of having their central committee members do the task. The bill was not approved and the central committees selected the nominees for the vacant ABQ congressional seat on the June 1 special election ballot. 

Ely was a key player in implementing the state ethics commission approved by voters in 2018

He still has the redistricting session as well as a regular legislative session before his term expires at the end of 2022. 


Sandia and Los Alamos nuclear weapons labs have been firing on all cylinders, financed with record appropriations and bursting with record employment. But a threat to that growth spike is surfacing in DC as a spending brawl is pending:

Nuclear weapons are emerging as one of the top political brawls in the brewing battle over next year's defense budget. Democrats have been introducing bills to curtail costly nuclear modernization programs, as well as writing letters urging President Biden to support their efforts. But Republicans are shooting back with their own letters and op-eds calling on Biden to stay the course on programs that largely originated during the Obama administration. They’re also working to pin down Pentagon nominees on where they stand. 

Los Alamos is so overflowing with new employees that they're moving 500 of them with an annual payroll of $64 million to Santa Fe offices. How would you like to own a restaurant next to that? But the modernization of nukes is seen as wasteful and unneeded in some quarters and that's what the legislative battle will be over. (Better take only a one year lease on that new lunch spot you're opening.)  

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Thursday, April 08, 2021

Where Is ABQ's Woman Mayor? Plus: Santa Fe Mayor Brawl Features Charges Of Anti-Semitism, Mark Moores Worst Nightmare Is On TV And More On Mimi-Daniel Spat  

Anti-Semitic cartoon?
With the races for mayor of ABQ and Santa Fe starting to shape up, reader Nancy Cliff wonders:

Why is it that ABQ has never had a woman mayor? Even Silver City has had one! 

That is an oddity, considering that women now make up the majority of the state House and the ABQ City Council and represent all three of the state's US House seats. 

The only answer we have, Nancy, is that perhaps women are better at recognizing a dead end than the men. No ABQ mayor has ever gone on to higher office, and not for lack of trying. 

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller may want to go higher someday but first he has to win re-election this November. He explains why he thinks he deserves a second term in this recent announcement.

In Santa Fe, the brawling has started seven months before the balloting with Mayor Alan Webber accusing his opponents of engaging in anti-Semitism

 The AFSCME union created and distributed a flyer that includes the cartoon among its members. . .The cartoon depicts a man Webber says is meant to represent him, except with “a large, exaggerated nose.” Large noses have historically been used in derogatory depictions of Jewish people. . . Webber referenced that history when denouncing the cartoon. “This has no place in Santa Fe, not just with regard to me, but for everyone in our diverse city. We must reject this kind of divisive ugliness.”. . . Union officials – who have been critical of Webber’s time in office –said the  person depicted in the cartoon is not supposed to be Webber. Rather, they say it’s a generic city employee and is not based on a real person.

Webber's critics accuse him of ginning up the incident and using it for fund-raising but there's little question that Santa Fe is tearing itself apart along ethnic lines. This campaign is way too long--already.  


Aubrey Dunn, also known as Mark Moores' worst nightmare, says he's joining Dem Melanie Stansbury and Republican Moores on the airwaves as he battles for the vacant congressional seat as an independent candidate in the June 1 special election. 

Dunn, a former R turned Libertarian turned Indy, is back with his familiar trademark cowboy hat preaching the conservative gospel. No "teddy bear" talk from this hard-hitting rancher/banker in his first ad:

My opponents follow their party lines no matter how extreme. The  border crisis, liberal abortion laws, defund the police and Nancy Pelosi. Come on.. . I live on a ranch and know BS when I see it."

Dunn also takes credit, for generating "record revenues" while land commissioner. 

Unlike fellow conservative hopeful Moores, the well-known Dunn doesn't have to introduce himself. Instead he gets an early start at throwing out the red meat to the conservative base. 

No word on how much Dunn’s TV buy is or how much he's raised. That's probably best for Moores whose nightmare is already pretty crowded.


Reader and political consultant Sascha Anderson thinks we got it wrong in our latest coverage of the row between Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and fellow Dem and ABQ Senator Daniel Ivey Soto. She writes: 

I was so disappointed in the coverage of Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart's op-ed. You wrote, "She appears to equate his behavior with sexual abuse she suffered as a child," but it actually doesn't appear that way to any reasonable reader of the piece--at all. In fact, to imply as much is incredibly exploitative of Stewart's candor and courage in recounting that detail of her life. It's clear that she only uses her experience to illustrate that she is able to identify abusive behavior--in no way did it seem that Stewart was calling the two things equivocal. I get that you need to drive readership, but this was pretty beyond the pale. 


We had a passionate crowd of over 100 join us for a webinar Wednesday night sponsored by Retake Our Democracy and moderated by group leaders Paul Gibson and Roxanne Barber. The attendees peppered us with questions on how the legislative process can be made more responsive, even while celebrating several major achievements from this year, including a constitutional amendment for early childhood funding. One disappointment for the group was the defeat of a bill that would have lowered those notoriously high-interest payday loans from 175 percent to 35 percent, but there's always next year. Paul's blog can be found on the Retake site linked above. 

The results of the Melanie Stansbury-Antoinette Sedillo Lopez Dem Central Committee runoff for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination don't add up to 100 percent because one delegate abstained. From the D's: Melanie Stansbury – 103 votes, 51.24%; Antoinette Sedillo Lopez – 97 votes, 48.26%.  

Yes, we do get email about such matters.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Aubrey Dunn Throws A Block At Moores, Files for Independent Run for ABQ Congress Seat And Could Corral R Votes, Plus: More On Filing Day And Key Analysis At The Starting Gate 

No wonder GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores centered his first TV spot on his UNM football playing days. The spot appeals mainly to men and Moores now has a man-sized problem. 

Former GOP Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is officially an independent candidate for the seat left vacant when Rep. Deb Haaland was named Sec. of Interior, and Dunn is likely to split GOP votes with Moores, unless the ABQ state senator can tackle him.

On Tuesday's filing day at the office of the Secretary of State, Dunn submitted 6,000 petition signatures to make the June 1 ballot, about 4,400 more than required. Unless there is a successful court challenge to those signatures Dunn will be on the playing field. 

As expected, filing for the Dems was State Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Chris Manning for the Libertarian Party. Two write-in candidates, Laura Olivas of NE ABQ and Robert Ornelas who gave an Anaheim, CA address and phone contact. Both are independents. (Full list of filers is here.)

New Mexico has never sent an independent candidate to the US House and Dunn is unlikely to make history, but he is no slouch in the vote-getting department, having narrowly won the land office in 2014 in a Democratic state. 

His presence on the ballot is not a minor headache for fellow conservative Moores. Combined with the Libertarian candidate, who will also tend to draw from the R's, his chances of inching past Stansbury are diminished. 

While Moores took to the gridiron to launch his TV campaign, Stansbury talked a bit like an athlete in her first paid TV outing, saying New Mexicans are "resilient, determined and full of heart."

Both spots were of the "getting to know me" variety. The negative will come in a couple of weeks. The start of early in-person voting May 15 is a psychological deadline to get the race in your corner as the great majority of votes are expected to be cast well before the June 1 election day. 


The ABQ congressional race starts here ranked as "Solid Dem." Here's why:

--No R has been elected to the seat since 2006 and the last close election was in 2010.

--The Dems are coming off an historic 61 percent presidential win in the district for Joe Biden in 2020.

--The sitting Dem Gov. has been involved in controversy but her popularity has not crashed, depriving the R's of an easy target. 

--Some voters may be disappointed that there is not a Hispanic or Native American contender in the contest, but the majority of that vote is registered Democratic and are not about to cross over to Moores who says his mother is Hispanic. 

--No corruption meme has surfaced about Stansbury, a key item for the GOP when they are able to find success.

--Moores is a good fund-raiser but the national R's are not targeting the race which would mean substantially more resources. The national Dems will flood the money zone at the first sign of any trouble. 

The Solid Dem ranking is subject to change but to move it will take a major shift in the campaign. 


They probably have some Ben-Gay at the ready to treat any hand strain MLG may get this week. She continues to sign and veto (mostly sign) over 100 bills approved at the recent legislative session as the Friday deadline for her decisions fast approaches.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Senate's Dueling Duo Continue Feud; Stewart Compares Ivey Soto Behavior To Her Abuse As A Child; Papen Weighs in For Him, Plus: Guv's Busy Week And A Wall-Leaner's Session Winners 

Sen. Stewart
State Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart is showing no signs of ending her feud with fellow Dem Senator Daniel Ivey Soto

Their battle began with a blowup on the Senate floor in late March in the final hours of the regular 60 day legislative session when debate turned hot and heavy over a paid sick leave bill Stewart sponsored.

Instead of the heat going down in the aftermath, it's going up. 

Ivey Soto was accused by Stewart and a number of her legislative colleagues of misogyny and bullying behavior in his persistent questioning of Stewart. She engaged in lengthy debate with him but then, citing his behavior, refused to yield the floor to the ABQ NE Heights lawmaker.

Now in an op-ed, Stewart takes her case against Ivey Soto a step further and in a more controversial  direction. She appears to equate his behavior with sexual abuse she suffered as a child: 

When I was growing up, my sisters and I were physically, verbally and sexually abused by the man my mother married after my father died. I was orphaned as a teenager. Believe me, I know the difference between regular debate and abusive behavior. 

Stewart's Sunday op-ed followed one from the woman who preceded Stewart in the Pro Tem position, former Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Last Cruces. She said she did not view Ivey Soto's behavior as abusive at all: 

From my perspective, I felt Ivey Soto, while asking tough questions, did nothing wrong and did not engage in inappropriate behavior.

Sen. Ivey Soto
A viewing of the exchange between the dueling duo has drawn mixed responses from readers and political observers, with some backing Stewart while others maintain there wasn't much to see and that the exchange did not amount to abuse. (The full exchange can be see here and starts at 9:44 p.m.).

One reader opined that Ivey Soto did badger Stewart by the dictionary definition of  "to harass or annoy persistently" but that did not constitute verbal abuse. 

Both diligent senators have plenty of room to make the peace but Ivey Soto has now emerged as a leading Senate moderate in the wake of the defeats of several conservative Dems. That could give progressives incentive to try to keep him in the doghouse over the Stewart incident. 

The state Senate primary elections aren't until June 2024 but long knives are known to retain their sharpness, even while hidden. Still, John Lennon seems apropos: 

Mimi and Daniel: Give Peace a Chance. 


Lawmakers sent 158 bills to the desk of the Governor during the 60 day legislative session and this the week she starts using her ink in a big way:

Gov. Lujan Grisham began a critical week Monday by signing legislation that will deliver extra funding to some schools and ban animal trapping on public land — a burst of action as she faces a Friday deadline to act on dozens of bills. She approved 50 bills altogether Monday, touching on public financing for judicial candidates, community solar projects and medical debt.


Rep. Maestas
A Roundhouse wall-leaner with a dog in the fights comes with his winners of the session:

HB 6 - State Equalization Guarantee Distributions - Rep. Patty Lundstrom - eliminating credit taken for impact aid - this will allow Native American community public schools to retain millions of dollars in federal funds. Currently the state takes credit against these funds.

 HJR 1 - Permanent Fund for Early Childhood - Rep. Moe Maestas and Rep Javier Martinez - to tap a portion of the $22 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to be used for early childhood education - this will be a long term investment to make New Mexico's future brighter for the children of New Mexico if the voters approve the Constitutional Amendment. 

HB 255-Alcohol Deliveries - Rep. Moe Maestas - allowing for restaurant liquor licenses and eliminating mini's and sales at gasoline stations in McKinley County other than beer.

Special Session HB 2 - Cannabis Regulation Act - Rep Javier Martinez - to legalize the adult use of marijuana for recreational use. This also included SB 2 the Expungement of Certain Criminal Records - to allow those with past cannabis criminal records to have a clean record and open up more employment opportunities in the future. 

The Martinez-Maestas combo is starting to become a common refrain. When Popejoy Hall reopens maybe they can be the opening act. 

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