Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Suddenly, A Wide-Open Race For Light Guv; Who Will Emerge? Plus: That 'Women Drive Drunk' Billboard: Over The Top? And: Our Tax Day Bottom Lines 

Has that race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2010 become jumbled or what? When we all thought Big Bill was going to leave the governorship to take a cabinet position with Obama, it appeared State Auditor Hector Balderas was all set to become the state's new #2 under the state's new #1--Diane Denish. But Bill never caught the bus to D.C., Di is still the understudy and Hector appears to have had enough. Getting appointed lieutenant governor is one thing--having to run for it and give up the auditor's job is another. Friends of Balderas are passing word that he is highly unlikely to go for the second fiddle position, but will seek re-election as auditor.

So if Hector is out, whose in? The latest list includes NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon. If the federal grand jury investigating pay-to-play in NM does not indict anyone in the Big Bill administration, friends of Colon say he will look at running. They say Colon is too closely associated with the Guv to withstand the blow of indictments.

Northern State Senator Pete Campos is a new name circulating on the light Guv list. He joins longtime list occupants Lawrence Rael of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, ABQ Dem State Senator Linda Lopez, who also does work for the MRGCOG, and the only announced candidate for the position--Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano. Española Mayor Joe Maestas and Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya are two more. By the way, an Alligator reports Santa Fe Greg was one of nine applicants recently interviewed by the state's US Senators for the position of US Marshal.

The Dem race for governor has ground nearly to a halt. Attorney General King appears doubtful to join Denish in the ring and actor Val Kilmer has gone quiet since rattling the cage. State Senate leader Michael Sanchez also seems less than interested. But the light Guv run is giving them plenty to buzz about, It appears all of those on the list could be formidable candidates if they put their mind to it.

For Denish, it's a ticklish situation. She would like to have as a running mate a northern Hispanic male to balance the ticket, but it would be like stirring a hornets nest if she even hinted at this stage who she likes.

The best outcome is that at least four of these candidates make the ballot at the pre-primary convention next March, all of them raise money to be competitive and the pollsters agree not to do any polling for the June primary. As always, the Alligators vote for suspense.

Rep. Lujan
Ben Ray Lujan reminds us in this photo of the last Lujan to serve in Congress from New Mexico--Manuel Lujan. Before redistricting in 1980, the ABQ congressional seat included most of the city plus most of the North. It was huge and most of it was and still isn't what we call suit and tie country.

Manuel, like Ben Ray, usually sported a bolo tie and a sport jacket. That's as dressy as it got when he met with northern constituents. Today's photo was taken while Lujan was taking some meetings up in Farmington this week. Not much has changed in Farmington over these many years. They are still protective of their oil and gas industry and they gave the new congressman an earful. Lujan stood his ground, but he was in Republican country that day.

The state's congressional delegation was without Hispanic representation when Bill Richardson left the northern seat in 1997. Lujan's election in 2008 ended that drought.


Campaign 2010 in Bernalillo County is starting to blossom along with the spring flowers. Moises Gonzales of the North Valley says he is running for the county commission seat held by Alan Armijo. Alan is term limited and can't run next year. This year he is seeking the ABQ city council seat held by fellow Dem Ike Benton. Gonzales ran against Karen Montoya in a close 2006 primary for the county assessor's seat. Montoya won the job in the general election.

In the '09 city election, it appears City Councilor Sally Mayer, seeking a third four year term, will get a challenge from a fellow Republican. Mike Cook, who served on the city's police oversight commission, sends word that he will run for the District 7 seat which takes up a good portion of ABQ's mid-NE Heights area. Mayer has indicated she is running.


Back to Alamogordo again today where we have been going back and forth with Mayor Steve Brockett over that city's cash outlay of over $650,000 to help call center PreCheck set up shop several years ago. The SE city now faces a budget deficit that could mean layoffs of city workers. In light of that, was the PreCheck deal a bad deal for the city? Brockett has now responded:

The incentive expenditure to PreCheck is actually $675,000--if all job audits are met during a five-year period...The money comes from a gross receipts tax passed by local voters, specific to economic development. Money collected through this tax can be used only for this purpose. The budget shortfall came about as a result of declining gross receipts taxes that are not earmarked for specific purposes, and these taxes support more than 60 per cent of city operations. In short, PreCheck and the city budget shortfall have nothing to do with one another....

Thanks, Mayor. PreCheck and the city budget shortfall may not be directly related, but we think this illustrates how New Mexico has to be careful when putting up big bucks to attract private companies. You can bet there are Alamogordo city workers clinging to their jobs who wish more of the gross receipts tax there was going directly into city coffers, not a profitable private company.

Just a thought, which on occasion we are prone to around here...

Meanwhile, it seems call centers are the one sector of the state economy that is defying the recession. Today Verizon in ABQ is holding a job fair to hire 200.


Several readers were thrown by the amounts collected by ABQ Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich on his campaign report for the first three months of the year and which we blogged about yesterday. That's because the amounts permitted have changed. The federal campaign contribution limit is now $2,400 per individual per election and is adjusted regularly for inflation. That means an individual can give Heinrich or another federal candidate a total of $4,800--$2,400 for the primary and another $2,400 for the general. And you can give it all at once--right now if you choose--and several did as noted on the FEC reports we linked to. Also, political action committees are limited to giving $5,000 per election. They can give a total of $10,000.


Is this billboard paid for by the state offensive? Reader Kris Kunnar:

I have not heard of any organization. group of citizens or educational institute that has made statements that only men drive drunk. Most people realize that DWI doesn't discriminate
between men and women. I believe that this billboard sets the tone for law enforcement to "look for" female drivers instead of how the car itself is functioning, like weaving. Another aspect of this billboard is that it has a negative tone against women...I would rather have no gender being selected on a billboard for DWI because there needs to be a more neutral tone set by state government for law enforcement to act upon.

Those are some good points. We wonder just what the rationale for this theme was at the sate Department of Transportation. Perhaps those who thought it up can e-mail an explanation.


Look, the national Dems are not going to leave Harry Teague out to dry in his southern congressional seat. All the more reason for Republican Steve Pearce to take a serious look instead at a Guv run in 2010. To the Teague spin room:

Congressman Harry Teague today will join Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on a trip to survey operations along the Southwest border...as part of a major effort to disrupt illegal arms and cash smuggling, and to curtail illegal immigration. Teague co-sponsored legislation to increase funding for several existing law enforcement programs for a period of two years...Rep. Teague will be joining Secretary Napolitano in El Paso, T.X. and Columbus, N.M.

And, unfortunately for Steve, there are more cabinet secretaries for Harry where that one came from.


We got tripped up by the name game Tuesday. First, there is the case of the Blairs. There's Albuquerque's John Blair, the legislative and communications director for ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich who we said got a big bonus for his work on the Heinrich campaign as noted in the FEC reports we linked to,. Actually, it was Jon Blair, not from New Mexico and who was Heinrich's campaign manager, who get the bonus cash. John Blair worked in the Obama campaign--not Martin's campaign-- before joining Heinrich, although we're sure he would welcome any bonus....

On the item we ran on the Montoya mother-daughter team taking jobs with the Obama administration, Santa Fe attorney Frank Apodaca pointed out we mixed up the names. We said Liz Montoya was a St. Mike’s grad and got her law degree at USC when we meant Elisa.

Yes, there is much to keep track of in the intricate world of our La Politica. Fortunately, we have our many readers to help.

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