Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cop DWI Opens Up Sheriff Race, Plus: They Did It Again: Senate Overrides Guv, Also: State Office Filing Action, And: Days Of Yore: Daniels & Domenici 

Sheriff Gonzales
Thanks, Manny. No, not Manny Aragon (although he gifted us for years with a steady stream of headlines). It's Manny Gonzales we're speaking of and who we have to thank for livening up Campaign 2010 before the snow even starts to melt on Sandia Peak. He's the newly appointed Bernalillo County sheriff who now has his opponents for the Democratic nomination cheering from the bleacher seats and Republicans who hope to take back the office rattling their jewelry from their perches in Tanoan.

What happened? Simple. One of Sheriff Manny's deputies happened upon an ABQ police officer who was passed out in his truck near I-25 and Rio Bravo. He booked him for DWI, but instead of putting the cop in jail like anyone else, the deputy released him to someone who could get him home.

Isn't that special? Special treatment that is.

So on Tuesday Sheriff Gonzales, appointed December 1 by the Bernalillo County Commission to fill the vacancy created when Republican Sheriff Darren White became ABQ's public safety director, announced he was changing the policy on busted cops. From now on, he declared, everyone arrested for drunk driving has to go to jail.

Why wasn't that always the case? Safety concerns for an arrested police officer is the official line, even though arrested law enforcement officers are normally segregated from the general jail population. Favoritism and special treatment is the shout from the populist benches.

Gonzales received wall-to-wall TV news treatment for the arrest fiasco, Unfortunately for him, it was his first real introduction to the voters who have heard little of him or from him during his first two months on the job.

So now it is on to the campaign and Dem challengers Felix Nunez (yes, his dad is a former state legislator), Marie "Sisi" Miranda of APD whistle-blower fame and Pat Davis, a spokesman for the district attorney who would be the first openly gay sheriff.

If the Dems can't make mince meat out of Manny's misfortune then Republicans Dan Houston and William Kurth, both experienced lawmen, are waiting in the wings and ready to give it a try after one of them wins the GOP nomination.

So thanks again, Sheriff Manny. You saved us. We were starting to think that Bernalillo County politics was about to become as boring as a pistol packing pacifist.


It's good to see Dem Light Guv candidate Lawrence Rael wake up. We thought we lost him last week when, in the aftermath of some of the February 4 Dem county conventions to pick delegates to the March Dem preprimary convention, Lawrence offered no counter spin to that of his always spin-ready rival Brian Colon.

But filing his nominating petitions signatures with the Secretary of State Tuesday, Rael bragged that he had collected more than 7,000, and his campaign had this to say about his showing at those vital county meetings:

Considering that there are five candidates in this race, we’re pleased to hear that we’ve won over 40% of delegate support in Bernalillo and over 70% of the Sandoval county delegates elected thus far.

Colon claimed he received 45% of the Bernalillo County delegates that will go to the preprimary. That would mean 85% of the delegates went to Lawrence and Brian, even though Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Joe Campos and Linda Lopez were also competing for delegate support. But we're just blogging this deal, not doing the counting.


The only quirk we saw Tuesday in the filings for the statewide offices and the congressional seats was an unexpected GOP primary opponent for Steve Pearce in the southern congressional district. One Cliff Pirtle of Roswell filed petition signatures to get considered for the ballot at the R's March preprimary, according to the SOS.

We're told Pirtle is in his 20's and from Roswell. The joke right away was that he was related to Harry Teague, Harry being the incumbent Dem US Rep. who would love nothing more than to see Pearce get a stiff primary challenge. Pirtle doesn't appear to be that kind of candidate (or related to Harry) but we'll watch to see if he can stay in this thing and update his bio as it comes in.

Meanwhile, please be understanding if you see us poised over a bowl of hot menudo repeatedly muttering "Pearce Verus Pirtle." We're just practicing.


The filing date for the legislative seats, county offices and other positions that don't get considered at the preprimary conventions is March 16. Meanwhile, the major statewide competitive races this cycle will be for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, the GOP race for Governor and Lt. Governor and Dem and R races for state land commissioner. The AP wrap on all the filings is here. The official filings from the Sec. of State's site are here.


Slapped him once Monday and he took another one to the backside Tuesday. We speak of the state Senate and its second successful override of a veto by Governor Bill. Form the ABQ Chamber of Commerce legislative bulletin:

The Senate today again overrode a 2009 veto by Governor Richardson by a vote of 33-4. The override effort, led by Senator Steve Neville, (R) San Juan, concerned SB460, legislation that would have called for reducing the Governor's influence over the composition of the State Investment Council by increasing the 9-member State Investment Council to 13...Two overrides in as many days is highly unusual. The override now goes to the House for consideration...

The House is unlikely to agree to an override. But the Senate is really putting a burr under Bill's saddle. That could mean the closing days of this session will be more brutal than usual. It could also mean getting a budget bill everyone agrees to--House, Senate and Guv--may be as punishing as the task Sisyphus had to deal with.


A reader writes from the Roundhouse:

I think many of us are hoping the coming campaign for Governor will allow for a new and fresh start, and ideally a lower tolerance for the "get yours while you can" as the pervasive mission statement in Santa Fe.


Onward goes the legislative session and now most of it is live on a computer screen near you. The House joined the Senate Tuesday in Web casting their proceedings. Previously, the House only streamed audio. But it's not much different. There is one stationary camera in the back of the chamber and you don't get to see any of the facial expressions of the lawmakers, just the back of their heads. With the state budget the way it is that may be for the best. Those expressions are too often akin to someone who just caught a whiff of an outhouse.

All the legislative video action is here. And the caffeine tables you may need to stay wake while watching are available here.


A friend in Phoenix asks:

Joe, I am wondering if much has been made of a potential Diane Denish-Pete Domenici, Jr. race as a sequel to their fathers' 1972 campaign for the U.S. Senate?

Not much has yet been made of that, probably because it is not clear that Domenici Jr. will indeed be the 2010 GOP Guv nominee. But if he is, it will be recounted that in '72, Jack Daniels, the father of Diane Denish, was the Dem US Senate nominee and Pete Domenici was the R contender. Domenici won and embarked on the longest US Senate career in state history. Daniels, a native of Hobbs, returned to private business and died in 2003.

One supposes that if Pete Jr. is the Republican nominee, Di would have some extra motivation to avenge the defeat of her dad those many years ago.

Meanwhile, our Alligators report former Senator Domenici is working the phones for Pete Jr., calling various Republican party county chairmen around the state urging them to support Pete Jr. at the March preprimary convention. It may be harder for Pete, 77, to extract favors now that he no longer wields the power of a US Senator, but it apparently won't keep him from trying.


Important news comes to us from Denver, where the talk that Qwest, the major phone company in New Mexico, could be bought out or taken over by another company, grows louder by the day. Blog reader Pete Baston wonders aloud about the implications here of any takeover or buyout:

Joe, This could have huge implications for NM as it ultimately means Qwest could be broken up into different companies.

All those consent orders that Qwest has been ordered to do to improve service by the

Public Regulation Commission and NM=Gone.

All those Telcom lobbyists showering money on the Pols=Gone.

All those grandiose BS plans to expand state broadband=Gone.

All the rural areas that Qwest has been mandated to cover=Gone.

Well, Pete, you got our attention and we hope that of the state policy makers who would get to weigh in on any Qwest takeover.

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