Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dems Fret Over Land Office Candidate; Another Achilles Heel?, Plus: R's See Chance In Sheriff Contest, And: The Year Was 1994 

Mike Anaya
Not Again! So say some top NM Democrats as they assess the controversial land commission candidacy of Santa Fe County Commissioner Mike Anaya. The Dems have had a firm grasp on the lower tier statewide offices, but the land commission post has escaped them the past two cycles. R Pat Lyons has beaten two Dem opponents, both of whom brought a lot of baggage to the race. Now Dems are fretting that Anaya, if he manages to get the nomination, could meet the same fate. Here's the crux of the matter:

An Española man claims his family is entitled to millions of dollars because Santa Fe County Commissioner Michael Anaya engaged in "illicit sexual conduct against my wife" that destroyed their marriage.

Michael Archuleta made the allegations in legal notices to the Santa Fe County clerk and the New Mexico Association of Counties, a publicly funded organization where Archuleta's wife is an executive liaison for executive director Paul Gutierrez.

Anaya acknowledged the issue "could come up" but said no lawsuit has been filed in the case and he doesn't believe one would be.

Anaya may be a long shot if this news is widely circulated, but the race is crowded and the unexpected can happen. Also running are former land commissioner Ray Powell, Harry Montoya, also a Santa Fe County Commissioner and Sandy Jones, chairman of the NM Public Regulation Commission.

The R's have three land commission candidates on the field who are closely watching Dem developments. They are rancher Matt Rush, former Bernalillo County GOP executive director Bob Cornelius and retired federal DEA agent Errol Chavez.

The R's have no candidates fielded yet for auditor, treasurer or attorney general, but their chances of winning those posts are slim to none and slim just left town.

The Dems gave the R's a weakened Art Trujillo ('02) and Jim Baca ('06) as land commission candidates and both were handily defeated by Lyons. If they give the R's Mike Anaya, line up for tickets. We'll have a show.


William Kurth
And, as Jesse Jackson might say, hope is still alive for the Republicans when it comes to keeping the Bernalillo County Sheriff's office.
William Kurth, retired from the ABQ police department, is the top R contender for the June nomination. The two GOP county commissioners nominated him to replace Darren White when White resigned to go to work for the city. Kurth was defeated by the three Dems on the commission, but it was clear then that Kurth was off and running. Now he's made it official, and he's wasting no time appealing not just to conservative Anglo voters, but to Hispanic Dems as well:

A native of Albuquerque, Will's roots to Albuquerque & NM are strong from his mother's family in the North Valley who can trace their Martinez name to the Santa Fe area long before NM was even a state. A career law enforcement officer, Will has worked as a police officer, police supervisor and a command level police officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He has been recognized in both state & federal court as a law enforcement expert.

Sheriff Manny Gonzales won the commission's support to fill out the remainder of White's term. He is off and running for the June Dem nod, but the field is going to be crowded. ABQ police commander Conrad Candelaria, Felix Nunez and others are already in the hunt. Candelaria says former Sheriff Bob Stover, once an R but now a Dem, will serve as his campaign treasurer. Kurth also will probably not be alone in seeking the GOP nod.


While the Dems have long dominated Bernalillo County offices like treasurer and assessor, voters have been friendly to R's running for sheriff because of their party's strong law and order image. You see a similar phenomenon in Dona Ana County where district attorney and now GOP Guv candidate Susana Martinez is usually the lone Republican winning countywide office. Again, it is the R's tough on crime image that make these anomalies possible.

Yes, we know that the Martinez camp would like to say it shows she has crossover appeal to Dems. But look what happened to Republican Sheriff White when he sought the ABQ congressional seat. He was trounced by Dem Martin Heinrich.

The R's have developed a bond with the voters on the crime issue (and under the right circumstances, also on the ethics issue as witnessed by their land commission victories) but it hasn't extended much beyond that, and that's their challenge


Back on the Guv beat, several readers come with an interesting take on the spending under Big Bill. They say the press constantly reminds us that state government grew some 50 percent since Bill took office in 2003, but they don't remind us of how little government grew in the previous eight years under Republican Governor Gary Johnson. They argue there was catching up to do from that administration as the state may have fallen behind in providing needed services.

We don't have the budgets from the Johnson years in front of us, but he did veto more spending bills than any other governor. As for the 50 percent growth, if the budget grew under Bill at a more subdued rate of 3 percent, we would still have had well over 20 percent growth which keeps the 50 percent number in perspective.

Not that we did not have a spending party and now the punch bowl has been pulled. But the set-up for that shopping spree was not only the large piles of cash generated by a boom economy, but also perhaps by pent-up demand for more government after nearly a decade of the parsimonious Johnson. After all, just about every Republican in the New Mexico Legislature voted for Big Bill's big spending.

MORE 1994

Gary Johnson
It was 1994 when Governor Gary was elected, and that election has proven to be an enduring topic of popularity around here. It came up again with the recent death of Governor Bruce King who lost to Gary Johnson that year as well as to Roberto Mondragon, the Green Party candidate who served two terms as Bruce's lieutenant governor.

John Lattuzio was chairman of the GOP IN '94. He is the latest to weigh in here on the race. From Alamogordo:

In all of the Monday morning quarterbacking that I’ve heard over his loss to Gary Johnson, one important issue is overlooked. And, that is the campaign to repeal the six cents per gallon gas tax that was created and administered by the NM Republican Party.

The reason this issue gets so little credit was its cost to the Party. My best estimate of the total cost was about $1,000.Just prior to the election, a barbecue was held in Belen that attracted close to 1,000 people. They all raised their hands and joined the ‘Posse’ organized to defeat the ‘Gas Tax Gang.’ The campaign was driven by the party faithful, and received more earned media for a campaign of this type than I had ever experienced.

Thanks for tuning in, John. That '94 race was also fascinating because of the challenge Bruce King received in the primary from Casey Luna, his lieutenant governor at the time and Jim Baca, who served as liquor director under King. Gary won the general election with 50% to Bruce's 40%. Roberto garnered 10 percent.


The Guv's budget balancing task force meets this afternoon at 1 p.m. in Farmington. You can watch the budget blood flow or the sacred cows getting protected, depending on how things go, live on the Web. Here is the link. It's a good idea, but why can't the Guv's office also stream Big Bill's news conferences live on the Web? We're always looking for good entertainment...

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