Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's Good For New York is Good For NM? Obama Power Play Analyzed, Plus: Some R's Restless Over Wilson Fence-Sitting, And: Land Office Rush 

If they're doing it in New York, why not New Mexico? The aggressiveness of the White House political arm was on full display this week as it moved to persuade unpopular Dem NY Governor David Paterson to abandon re-election plans. Paterson is resisting, but the point for those of us 2,000 miles away is that Obama is not being shy about delving into internal state politics. Which brings us to Big Bill.

The Doubting Thomases say he's too hot to handle for a foreign policy appointment that would get him out of the state and dramatically improve the Dems chances of keeping the Guv's chair here as Light Guv Denish would immediately be named to succeed him. They argue his ethics shadow is too long and that, besides, the Dems are well-positioned to take the Governor's office without any added machinations.

But the Thomases aren't seeking re-election in 2012. Obama is. Anything he can do to improve his chances in a key swing state like New Mexico is on the table--including moving Richardson out. In fact, it would seem Bill's odds for getting something from Obama may be better while he is governor. Giving him something after his term ends nets the White House much less politically.

For the Governor, a one way ticket out of the state is looking like a trip he could enjoy. He may be able to hold off the economic forces pummeling the state for a couple of more months, but not for more than a year. Having Denish make the painful cuts necessary to restructure the government for leaner times may look appealing.

The Governor insists on no layoffs, no furloughs and no cuts in education. And much of that may be possible for the current budget year which will be addressed in the special session in October, but the administration is looking the other way when it comes to long term trends for the New Mexican economy. Richardson is being slowly painted in a corner by the collapse in state revenues and he is setting himself up for a bloody fight if he clings to his pre-bubble economic notions. Gimmicks like "sponge bonds" to close the mammoth budget gap are only going to get you so far. All the more reason for Bill to hope that the White House's meddling in state political affairs extends to New Mexico and to him.


Irritation is growing in the Republican ranks over Heather Wilson. The former ABQ GOP Congresswoman is essentially freezing fund-raising for the already announced Guv candidates by refusing to say whether she will make a run of her own for the 2010 Guv nod. A supporter of ABQ State Representative and Guv candidate Janice Arnold-Jones e-mails:

Heather Wilson cannot beat Diane Denish, so why are you suggesting that she is the only R that's a viable candidate? Your doing so only reinforces the notion that only incumbents are welcome and newcomers need not even try. It's 99% about money, and your fawning over Heather Wilson only keeps the money from coming to the candidates that need it.

We've said Wilson, 48, is probably the R's strongest potential candidate for 2010, but that is a view we are getting from top R's and not the result of any "fawning" over her. She'd snicker if she heard that considering that some of her closest supporters have long been some of our most vociferous critics.

The Alligators gaming this race report in that it is Allen Weh, 66, who most benefits from Wilson sitting on the fence. The ABQ businessman is expected to self-finance his campaign from his personal fortune and doesn't need to be raising big bucks, but Arnold-Jones, Susana Martinez and Doug Turner do.

Wilson and Weh are close. She was instrumental in getting him named NM GOP Chairman in 2004. His CSI Aviation has been the beneficiary of millions in government contracts stemming in part from the war in Iraq. For Weh, the ideal outcome would be Wilson waiting until January to announce that she is not getting in the race. If she got in, he could be expected to get out and back her. If she didn't, she would have frozen contributions to Weh's foes, shortening the time they have to catch up to Weh. Is that called having your cake and eating it, too?


Back in June of 2007 we blogged about Farmington Republican and University of New Mexico Board of Regent member Jack Fortner toying with the idea of a GOP Guv run, but insiders say it appears he will not run and instead support fellow attorney and Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez. San Juan County is heavy R, but Fortner's relationship with Big Bill, who appointed him to the UNM Regents, does not help him with many hardcore R's. An R insider says former Farmington area state Rep. Dick Cheney, who lost the 1994 GOP Guv nod to Gary Johnson, is also going to support Martinez for the GOP Guv nod. But will that support translate into money? That's the question and the problem, isn't it?


Rancher and Public Regulation Commission Chairman Sandy Jones wants a greener political pasture--and perhaps a less controversial one--so he's leaving his southern PRC seat to make a run for the 2010 Democratic nomination for state Land Commissioner.

The Jones entry, reported by Las Cruces reporter Heath Haussamen, complicates matters for ABQ's Ray Powell, a former ten year commissioner who has announced another bid for the Dem nod after losing to Jim Baca in 2006. Former Attorney General Patricia Madrid has toyed with running as well, but nothing firm yet. Meanwhile, the names of other possible Hispanic Dems are floating. Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas, a recent drop-out from the Dem Light Guv race, is said to be weighing a bid as is Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya.

Alligator analysis says a conservative Dem like Jones will appeal to the oil and gas industry which has enjoyed the eight year tenure of Pat Lyons who is term-limited and seeking the other southern Public Regulation Commission seat in 2010. On the GOP side, Bob Cornelius of Lea County and Errol Chavez of Dona Ana are in, but neither has yet received support from oil and gas, traditionally a major player in the land office contest.

Besides wanting to branch out politically, Jones may want to escape the PRC because it has become a political cesspool for just about everyone there. Jones took a hit recently for hiring a twice convicted felon as an executive assistant, an issue that he recently told me he thought was overblown, but one we will hear about if he wins the nomination.

McCamley and Baca
Jones beat PRC Commissioner E. Shirley Baca in the 2006 Dem primary after she was busted in 2004 for pot possession at the ABQ airport. The charges were dropped. Word has been circulating recently that Baca was considering running against Jones in 2010. However, former Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, who says he will get in the PRC race as soon as Jones makes his exit official, says he has spoken with Baca and she has told him she will not run.

But that won't quiet the speculation about getting a Hispanic Dem in the contest, especially one from Las Cruces like Baca. Cruces and vicinity will be ground zero in the southern congressional battle between Dem incumbent Harry Teague and Republican Steve Pearce. A Hispanic PRC nominee out of Cruces could help Teague spike the vote that was so critical to his win two years ago. The plot thickens when you throw in the fact that McCamley challenged Teague for the Dem primary nomination two years ago and narrowly lost.

The district performs Dem so that party's nominee will have the leg up going into the general election.


No, the bottom has not been reached in Santa Fe real estate:

Developer Don Tishman is planning an auction of 24 condominiums in his Zocalo residential project on the northeast side of Santa Fe.

The auction features units with starting bids as low as $90,000 on homes previously priced at up to $365,000.


Dem ABQ mayoral candidate Richard Romero has decided against TV spots so far, but he is up with radio. In one spot, he calls for the city to encourage small business development over big fish like failed Eclipse Aviation. In another he calls for putting more cops on the streets and cites "horrific" crime images that have made national news.

A Romero insider says internal polling shows Mayor Chavez below the 40% required to avoid a run-off election. That would not be that unusual. Chavez usually bumps up against the 40% mark before a final surge puts him over. But the hope for the field is that he is not pulling away, keeping hope alive for that run-off. The Journal is in the field this week and is expected to come with its one and only poll of the race this Sunday.

KOB-TV will host the major debate of the mayoral season tonight at 9 p.m. The three candidates will go at it for an hour. The debate will be simulcast on 770 KKOB-AM radio which asked the candidates Tuesday to release their tax returns: Chavez agreed:

All three mayoral candidates received a request from KKOB-AM for personal state and federal tax returns. Mayor Martin J. Chavez’ tax returns, as requested, have been provided by his CPA and are being delivered to the radio station.

We'll have live Election Night coverage on KANW 89.1 FM starting at 6:30 p.m. October 6 and we'll have a pre-game show at 5 p.m. Monday also on KANW.


From the Guv:

Governor Richardson announced the winner of the inaugural Governor’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Challenge. Badlands Burgers, of Grants beat out 19 other contestants in the cook-off challenge, which was staged on the State Fairgrounds.

“It is my pleasure to award Badlands Burgers with the prestigious title of Best Green Chile Cheeseburger in New Mexico,” Governor Richardson said to a significant crowd of onlookers during the award presentation immediately following the cook-off.

Well, they call hamburger the poor man's steak, and with the state budget being what it is, this is one contest appropriate to the times.

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