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Friday, July 11, 2008

Alford Says Party On, But No Photos, Please; Hoops Whiz Baptized In The Treacherous Waters Of La Politica; We Wrap The Week 

The party will go on, but without the $1,000 pics. That was the word Thursday as University of New Mexico basketball coach Steve Alford, hoping to put behind him his baptism in the state's perfidious political waters, announced he will still attend a July 16th fundraiser for ABQ GOP congressional candidate Darren White, but will not permit pictures of him to be taken with partygoers and sold for a thousand a pop. The money was to have gone to White's campaign kitty.

Announcing the news on 770 KKOB-AM, sportsmeister Scott Stiegler said Alford described himself "as a man of his word" and said despite the hyper-controversy over his role at the party, he will still attend White's "An evening with Coach Steve Alford " scheduled for the home of UNM lobbyist Joe Thompson. The party is being co-hosted by UNM regents Jack Fortner and Don Chalmers.

After several days of white-hot debate, (yeah, that's a pun) Alford told the state it is his policy not to charge fans for autographs or photos, and that he does not endorse political candidates. That would seem to rule out future fundraising events involving the coach, who said he was duped into agreeing to appear at the White party because it was "falsely advertised."

UNM athletic boss Paul Krebs says there will be guidelines drafted for employee politicking. That should make for interesting half-time reading. Give a couple of copies to the Lobo Club, Paul. They seem very interested.

White took a hit for his role in the controversy because it appeared his campaign was reeling the coach in without telling him the whole story, but it was not partisan politics aimed at Darren; it was and is about the role of politics--D or R--at UNM. But we've already said that and more this week. (Head Lobo junkie Rick Wright is on the same page, opining here.)

Alford, who must have heard of New Mexico's reputation for "all-politics-all-the-time" before heading here, has now had his political virginity taken. Welcome to the club, Steve. You really aren't in Iowa anymore.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Big Blog: Alford Says White Event "Falsely Advertised;" Fundraiser Fallout, Plus: Peeling Onion On ABQ Congress Poll, And: New Face For Guv Staff 

Alford and White
University of New Mexico head basketball coach Steve Alford was playing political hardball Wednesday as the controversy over his attendance at a fund-raiser for ABQ GOP congressional contender Darren White moved off this blog and into the outside media. "I wouldn't know Darren White if he walked in front of me. It got falsely advertised. I was just stopping by," declared the celebrity coach.

It doesn't look like Coach Steve will be posing for those thousand dollar photos with partygoers after all, does it? Whether Alford will be there in any role remains under discussion.

It was those photos, promoted on the White fund-raising invitation, that fueled the fury that now has UNM Vice-President for Athletics Paul Krebs again repeating that Alford is not endorsing White and that there will be guidelines to avert a future donnybrook.

"I would strongly advocate we not publicly endorse political figures, because I think it jeopardizes our program and it compromises our fan base," Krebs told the ABQ Journal.

The newspaper July 4th carried a brief note of the July 16th White fundraiser dubbed "An Evening With Coach Alford," but it was this past Tuesday's blog quoting a Senior Alligator outraged that the coach would raise money by having his picture taken with partygoers that was used to heat the airwaves of talk radio giant 770 KKOB-AM and KOB-TV and advance the story.

Sheriff White told TV veteran Stuart Dyson that the criticism of the event was politically motivated. He cited fund-raisers Alford previously attended for Big Bill and Dem congressional candidate Harry Teague. White had a point, but it appeared Alford had hob knobbed at those events, not had his picture sold for a $1,000 a pop. That was brand new territory, according to the dean of ABQ sportswriters.

"It is unprecedented in my 30 years of covering the Lobos," said Rick Wright from the Journal newsroom, where political writer Jeff Jones and sports maven Mark Smith were putting together their story. Wright promised comment in his Friday column.

The White party was arranged by UNM lobbyist and former GOP State Rep. Joe Thompson. He e-mailed Alford to get confirmation for his attendance, which he got, but the exchange of e-mails appeared to leave open whether Thompson had fully informed Alford on what he was to do at the event.

LESSONS LEARNED?

This latest saga of La Politica is really not about Sheriff White and partisan politics. It is about the political judgement of the University of New Mexico. It is also about UNM employees--especially celebrity employees like Alford--using their state bestowed titles to raise money for political candidates. Vice-President Krebs and Alford played with fire and got burned. The flames were fanned by the Board of Regents. Two regents were co-hosting the White event. Veteran politico Jamie Koch is president of the board. He's now proposing that regents not be allowed to organize political fundraisers headlined by a UNM employee.

Krebs and Koch ought not to take baby steps in drafting guidelines for their respective purviews. What kind of coaches are they going to get if the job includes being a political pawn and a party ornament? Political involvement like that also risks making enemies as well as friends. That can negatively impact funding for UNM in Santa Fe and Washington. New Mexico institutions are already drenched in politics. The UNM sports program ought to be a dry zone.

PEELING THE LATEST POLL

Heinrich
You've got to constantly peel the onion in this political game and we were reminded of that once again when ABQ Dem congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich hit the streets with a poll that showed him beating Republican Darren White 47% to 44%. That's a real eyebrow raiser and contrary to the conventional wisdom that Sheriff White, with about 90% name ID, holds the lead at the start of this race. It turns out he probably does.

The key to the June 29-July 2 Heinrich poll is the phrasing of the question:

"Thinking about the election for U.S. Congress in November, if the election for U.S. Congress were held today and the candidates were Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican Darren White -- for whom would you vote, Democrat Martin Heinrich or Republican Darren White?"

Most polls do not include the candidate's political party. In this case, clearly identifying Heinrich as the Democrat and White as the R, likely boosted Heinrich's numbers. Ask the question without the party identifier and you are likely to get an entirely different result.

In fact, Republican insiders say White is right on the 50% mark and Heinrich is in the 30's in polling conducted in the same time frame as Heinrich's. That is similar to a poll the White campaign did last year. Have things stayed static in the ABQ race? There's reason to believe so. Heinrich's primary media buy--TV and mail--was relatively small and short in duration.

So just where does the race stand? White remains the clear frontrunner, but Heinrich's poll shows the potential for another close ABQ US House race.

JIMENEZ AND PERLMAN


So what gives with Big Bill Chief of Staff James Jimenez? The Alligators were certain he had turned in his walking papers. We headlined their "news" in a post Fourth of July blog. But the ABQ Journal, picking up on our report, is told by the Guv's office that Jimenez has indeed been approached with unspecified job offers, but as far as Jimenez leaving, a Guv's spokesman says: "I don't think there's anything imminent. He's still the chief of staff."

Did the Alligators jump out of the pond too soon on this one? Maybe, but it seems clear that Jimenez is casting about, especially as the presidential election draws closer. If Obama wins and Big Bill gets a job and leaves, Jimenez would not be working with new Guv Diane Denish.

By the way, the Journal reported that "despite Internet reports to the contrary" Jimenez was still around. Well, this blog is those "Internet reports." However, we won't be using that as our new domain name, despite the paper's encouragement.

The Gators also had Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Condit succeeding Jimenez when he did hit the exits. While any such move is on hold, word comes from Santa Fe that former ABQ Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Perlman, who recently resigned from the city, will become a deputy chief of staff for Big Bill. Michelle Welby, the Guv's health-policy adviser, is leaving and insiders say Perlman, among other things, will pick up responsibility in that area. Condit is deputy chief of staff for legislative and political affairs.

Perlman had enough of the ABQ hot seat, answering to the demanding Mayor Chavez, but where he's headed the temperature won't be going down much, especially with health-care in his portfolio. Read on....

HEALTHY SURPLUS FOR HEALTH?

Big Bill didn't waste any time bringing up the subject of a special legislative session when the rosy new state revenue projections were announced. Those numbers continue to show our little ol' state awash in the green stuff as a result of the black stuff--oil. Natural gas prices are bringing in even more money. Prices for both resources have been soaring for better than a year. And as for all the legislators and wall-leaners who think Bill will end up not calling a special to deal with health care, don't unpack your bags. From the Guv's office:

The state is projected to have $392 million in new money for the upcoming budget year. The Governor said the new money will be on the table when he calls the Legislature into a special session to address access to universal health coverage. "We can invest in health coverage in a fiscally responsible way. While cynics will no doubt complain about using revenue from oil and gas, I am confident..that New Mexico's economy is performing well and will allow us to expand health care coverage to all New Mexicans." Richardson said.

We seem to be headed for another showdown, with key legislators like Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith telling the AP some of the surplus should be rebated to taxpayers to help them with the high cost of gas. And Smith adds more fuel to the fire by telling Bill that oil and gas money is too volatile an income source to use for a permanent health care fix.

Richardson previously said if he did not get a deal in a special, he would take what does get done to the regular 2009 sixty-day session. By lowering expectations for a special in either August or September, the cynics wonder whether the Guv is doing more grandstanding than governing. But Bill's backers relish his brinkmanship.

You mean all that talk of a possible health agreement between Bill and the Senate was just that? Seems so--at least so far. Stay tuned.

E-mail your news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

UNM Says Coach Alford Duped On Details Of White Party; Will He Cancel? Plus: Teague Works To Get On Track, And: Exploring Expo 

Krebs & Thompson
The University of New Mexico went into damage control mode Tuesday following our report detailing how UNM Lobo basketball coach Steve Alford would pose for VIP photos for $1000 a pop at a party to benefit the campaign of ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Darren White. Paul Krebs, Vice-President for Athletics for UNM, told KKOB-AM radio that he and Alford were unaware that the coach's appearance at the July 16th event at the home of UNM lobbyist Joe Thompson would be used to raise money for White. Krebs said he asked Alford to attend the event to hob knob, not to endorse White or raise money for his campaign. Kreb's assertion that neither he or Alford knew the intent of the event was met with disbelief by some of the radio station's callers. But others strongly felt the non-political Krebs and Alford were duped into participating.

If Alford did not know the event was going to be billed as "An Evening With Coach Steve Alford" and that photo ops with him were being shopped for White, will he now cancel attending and/or the photo ops? Krebs told KKOB there will be a discussion of Alford's role. Krebs said Alford was out of town Tuesday. The White campaign nor lobbyist Joe Thompson issued statements. Two UNM regents, Republicans Jack Fortner and Don Chalmers are listed among the other headliners for the fundraiser.

This political mess would seem to be a made-to-order opportunity for White opponent Democrat Martin Heinrich to step up to bat, but when asked his campaign had no comment. Prominent Democrats Jamie Koch and Raymond Sanchez are also members of the UNM regents. Still, Heinrich could show his independence, always a key theme in elections for the ABQ swing district.

Alford previously attended a fundraising event for Dem congressional candidate Harry Teague, but was not in the starring role or, to our knowledge, getting his photo snapped to raise money for the campaign. But by attending two events of two different political parties, Alford risks appearing as a political tool, under the direction of lobbyists.

Someone needs to take action and it looks like it falls to Krebs. If Alford's role was misrepresented, as Krebs asserts, who made the misrepresentation? Also, Krebs and company need to have firm guidelines for using a state bestowed title like "coach" on the treacherous playing field of La Politica, and the sooner the better

READER REACTION

E-mail took both sides of the Alford story

Alford is of course a private citizen BUT he's using his title, from a state supported institution. Doesn't NM have any rules about public employee's not getting involved in campaigns? Colorado has had such a law since I was a kid and I'm ancient!

The Alford so-called controversy is not a big deal. Given the fact King Bill and his storm-troopers have politicized UNM and just about every thing they can get their hands on I say it's about time the R's had their turn...What Steve Alford does with his private time is his business. At least he's not jetting around the world on trumped up diplomatic missions which are nothing more than something to further Big Bill's image to gain a political appointment...

TEAGUE TIME
Harry Teague
Democrats hoping to make history this year and take over the southern NM congressional seat have a steep hill to climb, According to fresh insider polling, Democrat Harry Teague trails Republican Ed Tinsley by about eight points in an independent survey and by seven in a political party poll, according to our Alligators. The good news for Teague is that Tinsley is polling well below the 50% level, meaning the race is still wide open, but leaning towards the R.

Teague needs unity and money. He will work to get both July 15th when Big Bill hosts a fundraiser for him at the home of Las Cruces State Rep. Joe Cervantes. Cervantes briefly sought the Dem nomination for the seat, but stepped aside after just a couple of weeks, citing family concerns. Teague went on to defeat Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley 52 percent to 48 percent--a margin of victory that gave him little momentum.

Teague never did speak directly to voters in his numerous TV ads. His handlers judged him as not ready for prime-time. Tinsley did speak directly to the camera and it is credited with helping to put him over the top in a five way GOP primary. Teague of Hobbs spent nearly $800,000 of his personal oil fortune on the primary. The money has gotten him before the voters, now he needs to connect with them.

McCAIN NM VISIT

Ken Zangara, hosting a high-dollar fundraiser for John McCain next Monday, has run out of elbow room at his house and moved the event to the ABQ Hilton. Car dealer Zangara is the NM finance chair for the McCain campaign. The Arizona Senator will overnight in ABQ and then hold a 10 a.m. town hall meeting at the Hotel ABQ near Old Town. However, tickets for that event are all gone. Both McCain and Obama Tuesday were pitching their economic plans to Hispanic voters at their appearances at the Washington LULAC convention.

EXPLORING EXPO

Is it time for Mayor Chavez and the ABQ city council to join with the state and support a world-class arena on the site of EXPO NM? The timing is right. The Guv's decision to seek ideas on how to renovate the 70 year old state fairgrounds, including what to do with decrepit Tingley Coliseum, has raised hopes that ABQ's arena obsession can finally be resolved.

If the state is involved in developing the facility, it could be done without a tax increase and be placed in an area that city residents support. It's been made clear to city leaders that there is no support for raising taxes to build a downtown arena, and they can't do it without a tax increase. The cost of building an arena at EXPO would be shouldered by all New Mexicans. What a great opportunity for cooperation between the city and state, if elected officials are willing to look past parochial interests and see the big picture.

HIDDEN BIAS?

Good news just doesn't sell. We strayed from politics Tuesday to do a brief restaurant review, an occasional habit around here. In turn, we got this review:

It beats me why you are touting, pushing, free advertising for a restaurant (Nob hill eatery) in your column. Do you own a piece of it? If you do (wife, best friend, column contributor) just say so! It's called 'full disclosure.' I honestly don't mean to be snotty, it just seems inappropriate for one who tries so hard to be impartial!

Does this mean I have to disclose the offshore accounts, too? For the record, no, I don't have an interest in that or any other restaurant, but I do whip up a mean veal scaloppini.

Thoughts? Comments/ Criticism? Campaign news? E-mail it in.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

White Hot Stories: Lobo Coach Alford Scored For Backing White, And: Darren Disses Bill; Draws Return Fire, Also: City Hall News & NM Prez Update 

Coach Steve Alford
Lobo fans love controversy on the basketball court, but now they're getting some off the court as University of New Mexico basketball coach Steve Alford lends his name and fundraising power to the campaign of ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Darren White.

The invitation for the White fundraiser says it's "An Evening with Coach Steve Alford." It also features two UNM Regents as major sponsors--Don Chalmers and Jack Fortner. The July 16th event will be held at the home of UNM lobbyist Joe Thompson. A VIP photo op with Alford is being peddled for $1000 a pop. Other tickets are priced at $250 each.

Alford is a private citizen and can support whomever he wants, but he's also pulling down a million bucks a year to enhance the Lobo basketball program and the image of UNM. His high-profile foray into local politics is drawing fire as seen in this e-mail from a Senior Alligator

This is a terrible mistake for UNM...Alford is now pushing his politics on fans by supporting the Republican candidate. Steve should have better judgment than to be involved in this and so should Chalmers and Fortner. Joe Thompson is doing what one would expect from a lobbyist...Does the president approve of the politicization of the basketball program? If coaches are going to be used for fundraising it should be for the UNM not politicians. We already have the problem of a micromanaging group of regents and now this.

Alford's involvement in La Politica isn't limited to Darren White and the R's. In May, he attended a fundraising event for southern NM Dem congressional candidate Harry Teague that was headlined by Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Observers note that the UNM regents have been top-heavy with political players since Big Bill began naming the panel. Republican Fortner is a former San Juan county commissioner who has talked about ruining for governor. Regents president Jamie Koch is a longtime Dem party fundraiser and former NM Dem chairman. Democrat Raymond Sanchez is the former speaker of the NM House of Representatives. UNM President David Schmidly gave $2300 to Gov. Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign less than a month after Schmidly was announced as the new president.

Against that backdrop Alford's' political involvement seems mundane. Still, like some of the refs calls you see in the Pit, this is a close one. Thoughts? E-mail them in. Are the sports talk radio guys talking about this?

BILL'S WORLD

Don't tease the gorilla is the moral of this next story. Governor Big Bill, seemingly in no rush to bang the drum for ABQ Dem congressional hopeful Martin Heinrich, was stirred from his Cape Cod vacation by a New York Times quote that could, a Guv associate says, give him reason to get busy on the campaign trail for Heinrich.

The Times described the heat Bill took for not getting fully behind a cockfighting ban and how when he did, in 2007, he was accused of dong so only because he was running for president. Here's the money quote from White:

“You can’t go on the national stage and have people find out you have no problem with a bloody sport,” said Sheriff Darren White...

That shot from White drew some-behind the-scenes return fire, with the Guv's sympathizer wondering aloud about the use of federal DWI funds by the sheriff's office and a number of other issues that could be quickly interjected onto the campaign trail.

When Richardson took office in 2003, White was a frequent public critic, but soon fell quiet. Why rattle the cage now when you are the frontrunner for a US House seat?

McCAIN'S MEETING

Visits by the prez candidates to our key swing state this year are going to be as routine as a Marty Chavez news conference. GOP contender John McCain is making his second one of the season soon. His campaign says he will hold a town hall meeting in ABQ the morning of July 15th. That will come on the heels of a big-league fundraiser he will have the night before at the home of his NM fundraising chief--car dealer Ken Zangara. We gave you the exclusive details on that last month.

McCain is competitive in New Mexico. Obama is ahead in the polls, but still in sight. The Arizona senator has particular appeal among the many military veterans here. He also has appeal among the fastest growing segment of the electorate--independents. Obama will try to overpower him by bringing aboard new voters in the cities of ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces. McCain could surprise by holding Obama's totals down in the Hispanic north where Obama could run into some headwinds. Obama is the frontrunner, but the state should stay in play if McCain does not veer too far right.

SENATE CHASE

Can Steve Pearce get the US Senate race in play? He will need plenty of money to do so. Dem nominee Tom Udall Monday announced he raised $2.1 million in the April-June quarter. The campaign did not say how much cash it has on hand, but it is spending plenty. Udall continues to come with new TV spots like this one.

Pearce has had to regroup after his hot GOP primary contest with Rep. Heather Wilson, but insiders expect the southern NM congressman to be up on TV before the month is out. Letting Udall have the airwaves alone any longer is seen as too dangerous.

Udall is polling solidly above the magic 50% mark. Ironically, his polling success could make the financial road a bit bumpy. Why will national Dems want to give him money when he is so far ahead? But the burden is all on underdog Pearce. He has plenty of time to get the race in play and he will come up with the money, but does he have the message? Stay tuned.

CHAVEZ'S NEW TEAM
Pete Dinelli
He's earned the nickname "Demoliton Dinelli" for all the tear downs of eyesore ABQ properties he has supervised, but now assistant city attorney Pete Dinelli has been kicked upstairs, leaving the wrecking ball to someone else. Dinelli has been named by Mayor Chavez as chief public safety officer, overseeing the police and fire departments. His Honor also named Irene Garcia as the city's chief operating officer, replacing Ed Adams who moves up to replace Bruce Perlman who resigned as chief administrative officer. Anna Lamberson has been named chief financial officer.

Chavez says the new team will help him deal with today's "economic challenges." They are quite able, but if they get on the "higher taxes for a downtown arena bandwagon" during this recession, he and his team are going to be stepping into a deep hole. Also, the mayor's traditional soft spot for the police and fire departments has been showing of late and the headlines have been reflecting it. Can Marty look the other way and let Dinelli send a message?

Dinelli has said he would run for mayor in 2009 if Chavez did not seek another term. But all signs point to a re-elect drive by Chavez unless Obama gets elected and offers the mayor a job. Chavez still commands wide, if sometimes begrudging support. However, a third consecutive term is not going to be a no-brainer. If the new team falters, it could encourage a political heavyweight or two to come off the bench and get in the game.

SUMMER SLUMMIN'

ABQ's recently opened Nob Hill Bar & Grill is a welcome addition to the scene. It's actually more grill than bar, with an array of booths and tables that provide plenty of elbow room between you and your neighbor. That's good for political types who don't need anyone listening in as they do their dissing. The place also has a decent sized outdoor patio, where you can enjoy the traditional Albuquerque al fresco pastime of breathing Central Avenue generated carbon monoxide. Service, always a hit or miss proposition in our village, was a hit during our visit. Best of all, they pipe in jazz vocals from Frank and other notables. Second best is that the place is new which means clean. (Can't someone spruce up Kelly's up the street?)

The chef for this joint is well-known and knows all the tricks, so I won't get into the menu, but if you like French onion soup, you'll want to try theirs.

The metro area is headed towards a million population in the not too distant future. It's nice to see a restaurant or two starting to act like it.

E-mail your political news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
Not for reproduction without permission of the author

Monday, July 07, 2008

After The Fourth Comes Change On The Fourth Floor; Bill's Staff Chief To Exit, Plus: King Looks At Future, And: Reps Moving Around; What's The Rule? 

Brian Condit
As the bombs burst in air this Fourth of July, politicos wondered what kind of political bombshells would be set off in the second half of what will be an election year for the books. Even as they paused to contemplate what's to come, there was breaking news for the state's political elite to chew on along with their perfectly charbroiled burgers and homemade potato salads. Insiders were spreading word that Big Bill Chief of Staff James Jimenez was calling it quits and would be replaced by Deputy Chief of Staff Brian Condit.

The Jimenez news did not overwhelm--he has two years and two months with the hard driving and hyperactive chief executive--but it did renew speculation on that special session of the NM Legislature on health care that Big Bill assures us is coming. However, there is increasing skepticism from a variety of corners. Whether Bill--and now Condit--can pull off the session--or cancel it with aplomb--will tell us if this lame-duck administration has much juice left or whether Bill and Company, as the kids say, have jumped the shark.

As for Jimenez, he's a government pro who was previously head of the Department of Finance Administration as well as city manager of Rio Rancho. That city now has a new mayor--State Rep. Tom Swisstack--giving rise to speculation that Jimenez might just get called back to duty there. Whatever he does will surely not compete with the thrills and spills of being by Bill's side.

No one is going to begrudge Condit, a former union president, the higher salary he will draw in his new job. If Obama does not get elected and Big Bill finds himself completing the final two years of his second term, Condit and the rest of the Fourth Floor staff may end up eligible for combat pay.

BIDEN AND BILL

Speaking of Bill wandering off the Old Santa Fe Trail, in that regard any good news for Joe Biden's vice-presidential chances is good news for our Guv. If Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is picked by Obama for the veep slot and the team wins the White House, that would mean one less competitor for the post that Richardson covets--Secretary of State. Bill has fallen off the veep lists, but his name is still in circulation for SOS. Biden is still a hot prospect for veep and SOS. Not that this corner is pulling for his departure. Politics around here without Richardson would be like the Fourth of July without fireworks.

SEEKING A KINGDOM?
AG King
One of the many who tried and failed to thwart Richardson's rise to the top may still be infected with Fourth Floor fever. When they were not oohing and aaahing at the annual fireworks display put on by Attorney General Gary King, insiders report that partygoers at his ranch Saturday night were chattering that King, who told me in May of '07 he would not seek the Dem nod again for Guv, has now commissioned a poll to take a look at the political landscape.

Making a third run in 2010 for the Dem nod for Guv would take some political bravery. King would have to give up his chance for a second AG term. But if Bill stays around here, Light Guv Denish stays Light Guv. If she's not an incumbent, the Dem 2010 Dem field could get as crowded as Elephant Butte on the Fourth. On the other hand, an early Denish ascension to the Guv's chair could thin the crowd faster than a Roman Candle burns.

UDALL DYNASTY?

Two open US Senate seats. Two Udalls seeking them. Their slogan? "Vote for the Udall Nearest You." But is the Udall trademark environmentalism becoming a black mark in this era of spiraling gas prices? New York Times coverage here.

MOVING TARGETS

We asked and we received. Asked, that is, for help in determining what happens when a state representative moves out of his legislative district and takes up residence in another part of the state or even another state. The question arose amid speculation that Roswell GOP State Rep. Dan Foley, recently defeated by Denis Kintigh in the June primary, might pull up roots and move to Rio Rancho. Here's some blogging from two state reps who e-mailed First, ABQ GOP Rep. Janice Arnold Jones, a member of the House Voters and Elections Committee.

Our laws on living in the district are "flexible" to say the least. Specifically, the legislator must be registered in their district when they seek office. As long as they claim an intent to return, no problem. Near as I can tell there is no requirement to live in your district once elected...If Dan moved to Rio Rancho, I would argue that there is an ethical and moral requirement, but that is not the law. Incidentally, there are several legislators currently serving who do not live in their districts-- Democrats and Republicans. They may have homes or offices in their districts but they do not live there. Hmmmm.

But ABQ Dem State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, an attorney, interprets the law differently, saying if a state rep moves out of his district, he risks losing his seat.

If a state rep moves outside the boundaries of the district the rep is “deemed to have resigned.” The trouble with the statute is it doesn’t state who “deems” it?...Does the speaker of the House announce that someone has been “deemed” to have resigned? If Foley moved to Rio Rancho, I’m sure he would formally resign.

One e-mailer said the county commission (s) in the affected district could declare a resignation in effect when a lawmaker moved out of this district. They would then act to fill the vacancy. I don't, however, recall a commission doing so without the lawmaker announcing his resignation.

What I'm now wondering is which lawmakers Janice is referring to when she says some current legislators own homes or have offices in their districts, but don't live there. That info could make for some lively campaigning.

THE MONTOYA FILES

Still more reaction to our reminisces of that 1976 campaign trip we took with US Senator Joe Montoya and AP writer Bill Feather. Former State Land Commissioner Jim Baca comes with a cool photo from 1936. It pictures Montoya on the left; Sisto Leyba in the center and Fermin Baca, Jim Baca's father, on the right. (Click to enlarge.)

The trio is posing on the steps of the US Capitol. At the time, they were all going to school in Washington, under the auspices of US Senator Dennis Chavez. (How about those "summer white" suits?)

When this photo was snapped, Montoya was 21 years old and a law student at Georgetown University, Chavez's alma mater. He was also elected to the NM House in '36, becoming the youngest state rep in state history. In '38, Montoya graduated from law school and was also re-elected to the state House. Pretty impressive.

In the final analysis, history was not too kind to Joe Montoya, but he certainly made his share of it.

I'm Joe Monahan, reporting to you from Albuquerque, NM.

E-mail your news and comments.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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