Monday, February 20, 2006

Politicos Caution Guv: Ordering Special May Not Be Right Menu Choice, Plus: My Legislative Leftovers, And: Patsy's Radio Daze; Speech Blacked Out 

The Guv
A consensus seems to be forming in the political community that a special session of the NM Legislature would be a high-risk gamble for Big Bill. The Guv's cabinet has been summoned for a meeting today at which the just concluded 30 day session will be a hot topic and also whether he should call the 112 lawmakers back to have another go at raising the minimum wage and other key items of his agenda that were left to die in a state senate graveyard Thursday.

Big Bill's prestige meter has taken a hit from the session, but most of the politicos I interviewed urged caution and no special. "He needs to ride this out. He can campaign on what was not passed as the reason he needs another term. He has had bad luck with the past two special sessions he has called and there is no reason to think another would be different," argued a top politico sympathetic to the Guv and reflecting the thinking of others.

Richardson himself described the dilemma when he wondered aloud Thursday "what if they did nothing?" if he called them back.

There were some, mostly on the liberal end of the spectrum, who called on the Guv to try, try again.

He said he would let the public decide if he should go for a retry, but political insiders are not expecting an outcry. "They approved nearly a billion dollars in capital outlay. That is going to mean construction across the state. That builds local support. Also, teachers and state employees got raises. Are they going to raise hell about the minimum wage?" Asked another Santa Fe Wall-leaner.

Organizers of a renewed effort for a higher ABQ minimum wage seemed nonplussed and said a lot of progress had been made toward their goal during the session.


A crucial political calculation is whether the Guv's loud promise to come up with enough money to build two new high schools on ABQ's West Side, only to see funding for them vastly diminished, will cost him votes in the heavily populated area.

"If his goal is a 60 percent win that he could flaunt nationally, it may be a factor. But with re-election looking like a no-brainer (so far) is it worth risking more mayhem for a couple of thousand votes? Probably not." Analyzed another D Alligator.

The politicos think the Guv was a victim of his own mismanaged expectations and perhaps his past, easy legislative success. But there was also finger pointing at the senate leadership, particularly Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez who was seen by some D's as aiding the Republicans by slowing senate action in the late going. But mostly they agreed that this governor, like most chief executives, saw the peak of his political power in his first three years. This was confirmed by the unapologetic statements of several senators in the aftermath of session 06'.

As epic surpluses flood the state because of high energy prices, the electorate appears more docile (on state issues) than demanding. And if they are upset, they are not going to assign full blame to the Guv. As one lawmaker told me: "After all, he is the one who proposed popular programs that were shelved."

In the end, voters may see the glass as half-full, not half-empty. The question now is how our ego-bruised Governor sees it.


"This could be the first indication that the emperor has no clothes," crowed ex-NM GOP chair John Dendahl about Richardson's minimum wage defeat. But a Big Bill backer retorts: "If Bill has no clothes the Republicans are downright invisible. Their governor candidate isn't even on the map."

Hey, what happened to the senate confirmation of new Secretary of Higher Education Beverly McClure? Was that a slap at the Fourth Floor or just a case of too much else to do? Just asking.

Where was liberal Dem Santa Fe State Senator Nancy Rodriguez during the session? Sadly, her mother is in grave health in Denver and she was unable to be at the Roundhouse.

And does Valencia County Dem State Rep. Fred Luna get the toughest lawmaker in the room award, or what? The 79 year old made the session while undergoing kidney dialysis three days a week. A Dem insider says the oldtimer will not seek another term this year, and the race is on to decide who will succeed him as chair the Hosue Business Committee. Luna is now the longest serving solon in Santa Fe.


She may have knocked them dead in Alabama and Alaska but voters who count the most never got to hear ABQ congressional contender Patsy Madrid's nationally broadcast rebuttal to President Bush's regular Saturday morning radio address. The Madrid campaign had said the speech would be broadcast on ABQ ABC affiliate 770 KKOB-AM radio at 9:06 a.m. Saturday. But it never happened.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Committee e-mailed in that there was a "dropped ball in the chain of communication on which ABC affiliates air the address."

But Art Ortega, spokesman for KKOB, told me: "We do not carry the President's Saturday address or the rebuttal...and we did not carry it this time."

Ironically, Madrid recorded her response at KKOB Friday but the campaign apparently did not nail down if it would be aired there, even though they issued a news release published in the Saturday ABQ Journal saying it could be heard on the 50,000 watt talker.

Madrid, in one of the nation's most closely watched congressional contests as she challenges incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, was heard in most of the nation blasting the "Bush-Wilson" Medicare prescription drug program.

As for the Prez, he never mentioned the drug program, instead using his address to tout the benefits of nuclear power. Which may have been apt since Patsy must be going nuclear over suffering a New Mexico media meltdown.


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