Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Clippings: News Biz News; Very Early Polling; Barela's Day; Heinrich's Coup, And: The Blog Mascot Debate 

What better way to start an edition of our Clippings from the Newsroom Floor than with actual news from a newsroom? No additional layoffs were announced this week at the Santa Fe New Mexican which let go 16 employees last year, but the locally owned paper is still cutting costs as the newspaper business continues to struggle. KUNM-FM radio reports the capitol city paper will no longer contribute to the retirement funds of the newspaper's employees and that the paper will get smaller. The New Mexican will reduce the number of sections it prints on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Circulation is not the problem. The paper is moving about 26,000 copies for its Monday thru Friday editions, according to figures released late last year. But Santa Fe's economy has been ravaged by the bear market in tourism and local business is suffering. That means less advertising.


New numbers. Big Bill's approval rating is now at 48%, according to the June SurveyUSA. Richardson bottomed out at 42% earlier this year. He hit an all time high of 73% approval in early 2007.

The Democratic Governor's Association (DGA) is out with a survey that shows Dem Diane Denish trouncing (surprise!) Republicans Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce in theoretical 2010 Guv match-ups. The Light Guv gets 57% to 35% for Pearce and Wilson. The survey was conducted in late May and early June. Wilson is weighing a Guv run, but Pearce is seen as more likely going for his old US House seat down south. And everyone--and we mean everyone--is waiting for what happens with the federal pay to play investigation. If something big happens, it will encourage Wilson. The DGA did not release any Di match-ups with announced GOP candidates Allen Weh and Greg Zanetti, neither of whom Dem insiders consider as much of a threat as former US Reps Wilson and Pearce.


ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is preparing to form an exploratory committee by the end of June. She spread word through friends that she met with former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson this week and told her of her plans. We are told that meeting came before Sheriff Darren White's public criticism of Arnold-Jones for her support for the repeal of the NM death penalty. There was speculation here this week that Darren may have been taking on Arnold-Jones to help Heather. If Arnold-Jones has trouble raising money for a Guv run, will she decide to again seek re-election to the House? It will be interesting to hear what she has to say on that when she announces her committee.

State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has formed an exploratory committee to consider running against Denish for the Dem Guv nod. No polling yet on that match-up.

If Kate Nelson was still working for Di, she would probably spin us on that poll, but she left her communications post with the state's number two a number of months ago, but now Nelson has popped back up. The former longtime political reporter and columnist for the now defunct ABQ Tribune was recently quoted in the paper as the public information officer for the New Mexico History Museum. That's probably a lot safer place to hang out than the battlefield that will soon form for 2010.

Jon Barela
It looks as though we could be headed for a spirited GOP primary for the ABQ congressional seat. At the announcement of his candidacy, attorney Jon Barela was praised by Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White who lost the seat last year to Dem Martin Heinrich. But funeral home owner Kevin Daniels is positioning for the race as well. White's early endorsement and Barela's hiring of White's campaign manager sets up the face-off between the party factions still battling for power within the GOP.

As for his candidacy, Barela declared:

I’m running for Congress, because government spending is out of control, and the money to fund that blank check in Washington is coming out of the paychecks of New Mexico workers and costing us jobs right here at home. Unchecked spending in Congress needs to stop.

Barela is photogenic, has the smarts and a Hispanic GOP nominee could open doors, but incumbent Dem Heinrich has made no major mistakes.


In fact, the very day Barela was touting his candidacy, Martin was celebrating his first legislative coup worthy of noting. The House Armed Services Committee, of which Heinrich is a member, supported a move Wednesday by the freshman lawmaker to keep in operation the Air Force fighter wing known as the "Tacos." They are stationed at ABQ's Kirtland Air Force Base. That's millions a year, much of it having a direct impact on the ABQ economy. The Tacos employ 1,000 and are scheduled to go away next year. Now, there's a long, long way to go and administration opposition to overcome, but this was a solid score for the Hill newcomer. If he can see it all the way through or even get half a win, it would be a tremendous boon for his re-election in the ABQ swing district. But he will need Senate help to get it done.


Besides White, also endorsing Barela was attorney Robert Aragon, a conservative Dem who supported John McCain last year and who long ago served in the Legislature where he sided with the Republicans when they formed a coalition with conservative Dems. Attorney Aragon also opposed Heinrich last year, donating money to Darren White. He toyed with a run for the ABQ city council this year, but insiders say he is not expected to go. Aragon, the ex-brother-in-law to ABQ Mayor Chavez who he once practiced law with, was the 1992 Dem nominee for the ABQ congressional seat. He lost to Republican Steve Schiff, 62% to 38%.

Aragon's endorsement of Barela drew Alligator analysis. They said Barela was hoping Aragon would help convince R's that Barela is the stronger GOP contender for the 2010 general election and also appeal to general election voters. Barela seemed to be ignoring any possible primary challenge by cozying up with the Dems. But the Aragon name has been beat up pretty badly recently, with Robert's cousin, former Dem Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon, now serving prison time on corruption charges. A going away party held for Aragon drew public outrage from GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers. And just what Dems does Aragon appeal to after he rebuked the President and Heinrich, both of whom won big victories in the ABQ district?

Most relevant, couldn't the Aragon endorsement hurt Barela with conservative ABQ NE Heights GOP voters? That's a real issue if Daniels does indeed make the run, so why start trying to appeal to Democrats when you likely face a GOP primary from a well-financed challenger? Is Barela counting on Daniels being talked out of the race, or just thinks the guy is not for real? A friend of Daniels told me Thursday the businessman is still on track to make the run. Whatever the case, politics makes for strange bedfellows, and the Aragon endorsement of Barela seems like a classic case.

Last Friday we introduced Haley the Cat as a possible blog mascot, but the dog lovers weighed in and so we are at an impasse. Pictured today is "Bitsy" a chihuahua, described by reader Ellen Wedum of Cloudcroft as "her rescue dog:"

Bitsy once faced off a bemused bull elk, who wandered off looking for a quieter place to munch after she barked at him for about five minutes. If you are looking for a macha mascot, she's your gal!

However, a Rio Rancho reader has a different kind of blog mascot suggestion:

I'm sorry, Joe, but if you have a cat as a mascot, I'll have to stop reading your blog. I'm allergic to them. How 'bout Benny the Blog Hog? He's got a nose for news (not truffles), is not afraid to get dirty (politics is a dirty business), and knows a thing or two about pork-infested bills. Some might say he's practically a journalist! La Politica could do worse.

Hey, maybe Roswell GOP State Rep. Candy Ezzell can help out. Didn't she just sponsor the feral hog bill? She probably has a few tame ones around for us to choose from...

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