Thursday, March 25, 2010

Di & Weh: Strange Bedfellows, Plus: Food Tax Post Mortems, Also: Mary Herrera: R's Have Ammo But No Gun, And: Even More On The DC Chile Circuit 

It seems what's good for Allen Weh right now is good for Diane Denish. The soon-to-be Dem Guv nominee wasted no time elevating Weh when he announced he was filing a lawsuit against Di over the release of records dealing with her spending of federal funds. She sent out an email blast condemning Weh by name and asking supporters for campaign cash. And why not give him some attention? Di and the Dems see Weh as the R candidate easiest to beat in November. If they can give him some gravitas in the five way GOP Guv primary and also raise some money off his attacks, they will. From the blast:

In one of the most shameful political stunts in recent memory, one of Diane's Republican opponents announced that he planned to file a frivolous lawsuit against her office that will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars...Not only has Diane's office provided Weh with hundreds of documents and fully complied with public records laws, she recently signed the Sunshine Portal bill into law to ensure that the state's checkbook will be online...

Weh's campaign is starting to click after that setback at the GOP preprimary where Susana Martinez cleaned up. He is on TV and radio promoting his military service, scored free media in the ABQ Journal on his lawsuit against Di and got her to respond to him. He needs the momentum after the Martinez drubbing.

Weh's foes don't have his kind of personal money and are going to hold their fire until they have enough cash to stay on the air. Weh can be expected to stay positive with his ads for a couple of weeks, but then start to unload on Pete Domenici Jr. Despite a humbling fifth place showing at the preprimary, Pete Jr. is still assumed to command the polling lead for the June 1 primary while Martinez has to raise more money.

Meanwhile, anytime Di can help Allen Weh in his cause, expect her to do so. Of course, she may want to keep in mind that old saying "be careful what you wish for..."


Denish is the chief beneficiary of Big Bill's veto of the food tax Wednesday. The R's are deprived of an emotional punch that could have hurt. The Light Guv's statement:

With so many New Mexicans struggling to put food on the table, a new tax on food is absolutely the last thing our families need...The Legislature should have done everything possible to cut costs and make government more efficient before even considering regressive taxes that target working families. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen...

Denish continues to be enamored with the center-right. In recent days she has come out against a state cap and trade measure, repeated her support for reforming the "pit rule" that oil and gas companies loathe and she has unveiled a plan to trim an average of $90 million in state spending for five years.


Ultimately, Big Bill's political instincts prevailed on this. If he had not vetoed the food tax, the governorship could very well have been lost to the R's over it and his personal popularity could have plummeted even more. Richardson has been stubborn in defending his tax cuts for the wealthy, but unlike those, the food tax could have been packaged in hard-hitting, easily understood 30 second campaign commercials.


Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez was steamed that Richardson did not fight the food tax when the legislature was in special session last month to balance the state budget and is only now against the controversial levy:

Had he indicated three weeks ago that he would not support the legislation we would have taken a different approach. He was involved every step of the way. The governor’s veto puts the state’s financial future at even greater peril. His approach to balancing the budget relies heavily on general fund reserves and federal stimulus money. While this may work in the short-term and carry him through the end of his term, these are one-time revenue sources...

You can understand Sanchez being miffed at Bill for hiding out on the food tax, but what's with the conservative rhetoric? That's straight out of the GOP playbook.

Sanchez does say that if Bill had given the go ahead, the senate would have considered a personal income tax increase for the wealthy and a boost in taxes for out-of-state corporations (Not that Sanchez could round up the votes for those measures).

We all know what happened here. Richardson has gone too far to the right, clinging to the paradigm of tax cuts for the wealthy, even as the economy crashes and a Democratic President takes the opposite tack. The Governor's failure to kill the food tax early on was either borne of arrogance or a misreading of the current climate or both.

But Richardson did have the savvy to see the error of his ways and cast the veto. Sanchez had a chance to surf the populist wave with the Guv. Instead he chose to heckle from the beach.

Santa Fe has become so consumed with personal animosities that the players have become feral, marking their territory and digging in until the end. The object is not to advance philosophy, but merely to survive and attack whatever gets in the way.

The AP came with this on the ethics controversy playing out at the office of NM Secretary of State Mary Herrera. Pollster Brian Sanderoff notes that the level of the charges against Herrera--that she asked employees to solicit "sponsorships or donations" from businesses that contract with the state to support training seminars for county clerk staff and that she ordered employees to gather petition signatures for her re-election campaign--are nowhere near as serious as those that came in the state treasurer scandals--but they could be used for political ammunition.

That leads us to make a couple of points. No Republican has been elected Secretary of State since 1928. These down ballot races are notoriously difficult to extract from the majority party. Which leads to the next point. Will GOP State Senator and soon-to-be GOP Secretary of State nominee Dianna Duran have the money to mount an effective challenge? She will likely need on the order of $400,000.

Even in the wake of two Democratic state treasurers being tossed into the pokey on felony convictions, the R's in '08 were unable to take the office. Do the R's have the resources to take on the SOS office even as they devote much time and attention to the crucial governor's race? Remember, the GOP pumped hundreds of thousands into an effort to defeat Herrera with R Vicki Perea in 2006, and it came up well short.

You need more than an incumbent getting battered in the free media to pull an upset. You need a fully functioning and resource ready minority party. Right now, the R's may have ammunition, but they have no gun to shoot.

Sens. Bingaman & Corker
After DC denizens Alberto Morales and Jim Richards complained this week that we were torturing them by posting pics of New Mexican food on the blog, several readers pointed out that there is relief for the pained duo--and right where they live.

They reminded us that this is "Green Chile Month" at the US Senate cafeteria, courtesy of NM Senator Jeff Bingaman who worked with the Agriculture Department to bring the NM staple to the plates of his fellow senators.

Bingaman is pictured here with GOP Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee enjoying green chile cauliflower soup and green chile chicken enchiladas. For dessert they sampled green chile chocolate gelato. They need a health care bill after that repast. And try to smile, Senators. That chile isn't too hot, is it?


We fouled up on a post we had running for a while. Attorney Mark Fidel came with the correction:

From Tuesday's blog: The (census) bureau came with the stark numbers on just how much tax revenues have crashed in the state. They say tax collections in 2009 totaled $715.2 billion, down 8.6 percent--or $66.9 billion--from 2008."

These numbers are for all states, not just New Mexico. Your source (NM Business Weekly) does go on to say that NM experienced a decrease of 23.2% for revenue from personal income taxes and a decrease of 42.6% for corporate net income tax.

To your defense, their headline reads: "New Mexico tax revenues down big in 2009" and then the first line of their story starts out: "State government tax collections in 2009 totaled $715.2 billion, down 8.6 percent — or $66.9 billion — from 2008."

Given that NM's budget is only in the $5.5 Billion dollar range, if we were to experience a $66.9 Billion decrease in taxes....well, it just doesn't make sense.

Thanks for that blogging, Mark. Don't know how we let that one slip. Is it Spring Fever?

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