Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Koch Approved, But Message Sent To UNM, Plus: DC Labs Funding: Arrow Points Up For Now, And: R's Fill Out Statewide Races 

Slowly but surely the wake up call must be getting heard at Scholes Hall at the University of New Mexico where President David Schmidly presides: If you think you're headed in the right direction in cutting administrative bloat and waste that built up during the late, great bull run in oil and gas revenues, you aren't heading there fast enough.

Not that the Senate Rules Committee rejected the Guv's renomination of UNM Regent Jamie Koch for another six year term--they passed it on to the full senate with only one dissenting vote--but they did finally give Koch some of the grilling the state has been waiting on. Outrage continues to build over overcompensated and over employed administrators at the state's largest university and as the state's budget shortfall approaches the gargantuan level of $600 million for the next budget year.

Koch, a longtime Dem Party powerhouse, was confirmed for another term by the full Senate on on a 31 to 5 vote. Only the liberal wing of the party--Senators McSorley, Griego, Feldman, Ortiz y Pino and Fischmann of Cruces dared cross the old guard and the campaign financial prowess represented by Jamie.

But the contentious hearing was the clearest message yet that political populism might even begin to impact key committee chairmen and a governor who has, according to his most severe critics, allowed UNM to run like a pit bull without a leash.

As for Koch, our Alligators game it out this way. If Dem Diane Denish, a longtime ally of Jamie, is elected Governor, Koch could very well decide to resign from the regents, sparing her a big headache and letting her appoint someone who doesn't carry past baggage into a future administration. Jamie, being the political pragmatist he is, might even call that a good compromise.


Tracking what Republicans are running for what office, or thinking about running for something, has been like watching jumping beans, but with the deadline to file nominating petitions for statewide office just days away--Feb. 9--we finally are getting a handle on who will run for what statewide offices other than land commissioner which has had several candidates for a number of months.

For starters, Santa Fe attorney Marco Gonzales who told us (and we blogged) that he would seek the GOP nod for Secretary of State apparently has decided not to go forward. Instead, Otero County State Senator Dianna Duran will go for the post. She is a former Otero County Clerk who has deep knowledge of the SOS office. Dem Mary Herrera is seeking a second four year term.

A couple of politicos from Dona Ana County have been recruited for statewide offices. Former Dona Ana County Treasurer Jim Schoonover will be the GOP choice for state treasurer. He will go up against Dem incumbent James Lewis who is seeking a second four year term. Earlier, former DEA agent Errol Chavez of Las Cruces switched from the land commission race to the contest for state auditor.

Here's a name that you old-timers will find familiar. 34 year old Matt Chandler, district attorney for Roosevelt and Curry counties, is the R's pick to run for attorney general. Chandler's father is Caleb Chandler, currently the vice-chairman of the Curry County Commission, a former Clovis police chief and former three term state senator who ran for Congress against Republican Joe Skeen back in '82. Matt Chandler was unopposed for re-election in 2008. He will face Dem Attorney General Gary King who is seeking re-election to a four year term.

That's kind of interesting. Gary's dad was the late Governor Bruce King. Who said having a famous father is a headache? Well, maybe Freud or someone but they weren't running for anything.


My first take on this is that the R's fielding two Dona Ana County statewide candidates could help in getting some more vote for the GOP out of that Dem county. That could be good for Republican congressional hopeful Steve Pearce who is challenging incumbent Dem Harry Teague. Chandler helps in the same way on the conservative east and Duran will help with the base GOP vote in the SE.

This line-up seems to make more compelling an argument for an ABQ Guv candidate, but don't tell that to Susana Martinez of Las Cruces, the only one of the GOP Guv hopefuls from outside of ABQ.

(Hey, fellow conspiracy buffs. Was this GOP ticket designed for a guy from ABQ with a famous name whose dad was a US Senator? Only the Illuminati knows for sure.)


A lot of Republicans rib us for raising Cain when the party was coming up short in fielding a GOP candidate for ABQ Mayor last year. Shortly after we blogged of the looming misstep, GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. stepped on the accelerator and helped recruit RJ Berry who won in an upset. So, Mr. Mayor, if you feel like thanking us sometime, that's fine. In fact, about that ticket for driving while talking on the cell phone....

And we were back on the R's backs this year, giving Harvey and GOP executive director Ryan Cangliosi a mountain of grief for not getting the statewide ballot filled in with R candidates. Looks like they are going to do it--barely. My, oh my. The things you can make happen on this little ol' blog :).

Sen. Bingaman
You hear about "money lines" all the time. Well, here are some real money lines from US Senator Jeff Bingaman on the President's proposed budget and how it would impact funding for Sandia National Labs and Los Alamos Labs:

I think it is very very favorable to our state. The overall increase is in the range of 12 to 12.7 percent of increased Department of Energy funding that would be coming to New Mexico--much of it to our national labs--both Los Alamos and Sandia. Some of that is weapons related. Some of it is for general research and development...but I think all of that is...good news for New Mexico.

Good news if the President's budget makes it all the way through Congress untouched. That's unlikely, but any increase in lab funding will be welcome as lab employment levels stagnate or actually retreat. Our D.C. analysts say a key question is how much of any new funding would go for construction---temporary jobs--and how much would go to adding permanent staff at the labs. Another question: how far will the proposal to "flat line" next year's budget get which would mean no increases for the labs?

And for the numbers lovers, Senator Tom Udall came with actual figures on the proposed funding:

A $393 million budget increase for LANL, bringing the requested total for the lab to $2.217 billion. The request includes increases for programs to secure our nation’s aging stockpile, for nuclear nonproliferation efforts and to increase readiness in technical bases and facilities; A $364 million increase for Sandia, bringing the requested total to $1.49 billion....

That totals $3.707 billion in proposed funding for the two big federal installations. And that's what you call real money lines.


That fiery fight for the Dem Light Guv nomination continues to escalate. Front runner Brian Colon came under fire here by his foes Monday for failing to show up for a Taos forum for the lieutenant governor candidates. His rivals asserted it shows he is not running "a 33 county strategy" as he maintains and that he is also not the strongest Dem to help Diane Denish in the Spanish northern counties. A Colon operative comes with this:

There’s a strategic reason we schedule the way we do and I would certainly argue it’s one that takes us to the nomination.
Look no further than Obama’s Iowa strategy to avoiding cattle call type events in favor of having one on one and small group events where he was the only candidate in the room.

While they were talking to a small group of voters we spent the day in Valencia County, by ourselves, talking to thousands. And as far as ignoring the North goes… Here’s a taste of our schedule last week. Taos, Bernalillo County (four times), Sandoval, Rio Arriba, Taos again, Mora, and San Miguel. I think that speaks for itself...


Reader Lora Lucero scores Paul Gessing of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation as we continue to get email over the Rail Runner and its operating costs:

Gessing's link in your blog is to the American Dream Coalition to support the notion that cars pay 90% of the highway costs. That's just it .... a dream. Couldn't find any names or organizations "behind" this web site. I can create a web site with "facts" to support any position I want, but that doesn't make it true. What a disappointment...

A spokesman for ABQ Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich says the campaign raised $267,000 in the fourth quarter as we originally blogged a while back, not the $234,000 reported Monday. The $267,000 includes fund-raising from an ABQ event hosted by VP Joe Biden. The money can be a bit tricky to track because of the way the info is reported on the FEC forms.

Something tricky coming out of Washington?! Geez, the things you learn blogging around here...

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