Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who Will Lead The R Guv Charge? We Have The First Look, Plus: More On Mayor Marty And The Marlboros, Also: Pete Drops Another Point; Jeff Also Down 

Jack Fortner
The 69% Richardson victory of '06 has left the GOP humbled and shocked, the ideal circumstance for a political newcomer to pick up the pieces of the crystal vase no one wants. Some R's think they have found that new face who can lead them out of the wilderness and back to the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse where the GOP's Gary Johnson presided for eight years before Big Bill came along. Their hope is Farmington attorney and University of New Mexico Regent Jack Fortner who has dropped his name in political circles, even if he is not making any public comments. But our Alligators are commenting. Here's the Fortner File from one of them with a favorable view.

"The Republicans were grooming two conservative Hispanics for 2010. One of them was (former US attorney) David Iglesias. With David no longer in contention, the stage seems set for Jack Fortner (Hispanic mother like the Guv) from Farmington. Jack is in his early 50’s and is in his second term on the UNM Regents. He served two terms (chairman on three separate occasions) on the San Juan County Commission. He is a political animal, and knows how to raise big money...Genuinely conservative (both fiscal and social) but has good personal relationships with many Democrats, including the Guv who appointed him to his second term as a Regent. Jack’s mom, Corky Trimble, is a long time Democratic party activist in San Juan County."

I can't vouch for all the background here, as Fortner did not return our call, but our Alligator is of the Senior variety and from Fortner's region. It's probably the most favorable stuff Fortner will have said about him if he decides to make a run for Governor. The long knives are never rusty for long for those seeking center stage in La Politica. Already some insiders say Fortner has pitched Senator Domenici for a federal bench appointment, but has come up empty. They wonder why.

Fortner would have the advantage of running as a new statewide face, and we may not have to wait long before he makes some noise. Democrats Diane Denish and Marty Chavez are already busy raising big money for the race. If Fortner chooses to play at that level, he will have to shake a leg. Stay tuned.


Another name that has been mentioned for the GOP Guv nod is State Land Commissioner Pat Lyons, but he is now mired in a war with the ABQ Journal, having hung up the phone on a reporter for the paper inquiring about campaign donations in connection with a controversial land deal in Dona Ana county. Lyons also told the reporter not to call him back. It appears to be a fateful and fatal error. Reports of Pat Lyons' political death are not premature. Reports that he will be watched like a hawk are correct.


When we broke the news recently that Blair Kaufman had joined the race to replace Martin Heinrich on the ABQ city councilor in the October 2nd election, we did not mention all the contenders. And Feroza Jussawalla let us us know that, reporting that she is also seeking the seat and making it at least a five way race--Republican Kevin Wilson is the other candidate I did not mention.

Jussawalla is a Dem, president of the Victory Hills Neighborhood Association and a Professor of English and Postcolonial Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Once again, this SE Heights district has a strong field. It's the one council race of the four in play this year that could give us some suspense.


"Governor Bill Richardson issued the following statement saying he is pleased that North Korean leaders kept their promise to him to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the shutdown of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility. 'North Korean leaders followed through with the commitment they made to me and our bipartisan delegation in April...'

OK, Bill, but be careful. The Commies could pull a Bruce King on you--they gave you their "commitment," but what about their promise?


ABQ Mayor Marty is reacting to the long-shot effort to recall him from office for ordering that smoking be banned from all city property, including bus stops. "I would never do anything to discourage citizens from exercising their rights," he told the Journal.

It was the right statement as an antagonistic one would only get his foes fired up. Still, it has to be scary for any politician to see recall petitions circulate as they are against Chavez. Marty told TV news last night that he is backing off of the ban somewhat, now allowing smoking to resume on city golf courses. The rest of the ban remains in effect, but no big push to enforce. Sounds like someone is getting the Mayor's attention.

A smoker identifying himself as S. Pyke has put up a Web site to gather the needed 22,000 signatures for the recall. The jokester who said the effort was really being headed by "D. Denish" gets kudos for laugh of the day.

With the ban on cellphones, smoking and the red light cameras, Chavez may have gone too far and awakened the anti-big government feelings that are part of the ABQ culture. The recall, as quixotic as it may be, is a warning shot across the bow of the hyperactive mayor. Bernalillo county commissioner Alan Armijo recently dubbed Chavez a "dictator." It's an image that could grow legs if the big government initiatives continue.

Also disturbing is the mayor's war with KKOB-AM radio's afternoon talk host, Jim Villanucci. The two have been friendly, but now the red light camera issue has them at each others throats, with Villanucci pounding the mayor daily on the 50,000 watt outlet and Marty supporters slamming the talker. Who has the most to lose? The last we looked only one of these fellas was seeking elective office. Maybe they can call in Big Bill to make the peace.


No bounce in the polling numbers for NM GOP US Senator Pete Domenici in the June Survey USA poll released Tuesday. And for a change, Dem Senator Jeff Bingaman is also sinking. Pete scores a 51% approval rating, down one point from the previous survey and the lowest approval rating in memory in any public poll. Bingaman drops below the 60% approval mark for the first time in a long time. He gets 59% approval, compared with 64% in the previous survey. (MOE 4.1% June 8-10)

The unpopular immigration bill, the no-end-insight Iraq war and the US attorney scandal are all taking their toll on Pete. As for Jeff, a general disgust with Washington, high gas prices and the war seem to be taking a bite out of him as well. What can they do? For Pete, start helping us get out of the Iraq quagmire and be more candid on the US attorney scandal. Jeff is still relatively high in the popular rankings, but he appears to be behind the curve when it comes to the war, dilly dallying over the details of getting out, but not exercising the leadership the nation is calling out for. With about 70% of the electorate telling pollsters the nation is on the wrong track, Domenici and Bingaman are lucky their numbers are not even lower.

Meanwhile, it's not one for all and all for one between Pete and Jeff. They are fighting each other over provisions of the energy bill. That ought to help their poll numbers. Not.


More damage control measures from northern NM Dem US Rep. Tom Udall as he deals with impending House cuts to the Los Alamos Labs budget. If you nurture dreams of being a US senator someday, you need to do something. Udall can hardly wait for this budget to get over to the Senate and get the heat on Pete to restore the cuts. After all, that is the Dems real target. Udall is collateral damage.

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