Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bailing Out New Mexico: How It May Be Done, Plus: Latest From The Guv Trail, And: Obama In ABQ; News & Political Gossip From His South Valley Trail 

Since the candidates for governor won't tell us how they're going to close a Grand Canyon sized budget shortfall that will shadow their administration, we'll take a stab at where they may find themselves January 1.

If oil and gas prices fail to rebound, depriving the state treasury of the hundreds of millions needed to get the budget in balance, we look for key state legislators and perhaps the new Governor to start circling the state's $14 billion permanent funds like hungry sharks.

The budget has gone from a peak of $6 billion to $5.2 billion. Can we take it down another $500 million without a political donnybrook? Unlikely. And with both Guv hopefuls whistling past the graveyard and saying they will not raise taxes, the political alternative that looms large is those permanent fund dollars.

That money is nearly sacred, with much of the cash having been built up since statehood. But if you aren't going to raise taxes, mammoth spending cuts are not politically feasible and federal stimulus funds are not gong to come to the rescue, what's a new Gal Guv to do?

The plan floating around Santa Fe, soon to gain steam, we think, would not directly raid those funds. That would require a constitutional amendment approved by voters. Instead, a bonding scheme would be proposed to get at royalty revenue headed towards the fund before it was banked.

Dem Di reacts lukewarmly to any fund raid that does not have the voters stamp of approval:

Any governor would have to seriously consider such a proposal on its individual merits. But, before even considering using permanent funds, I would like to see my government-reform agenda fully enacted. There's a good reason we ultimately leave these decisions to the voters--it's because they are so important and our permanent funds are a promise to New Mexico's future generations," she said.

Said conservatively, but important to note she kept the option open. 

Republican Susana is more emphatic in opposing the use of permanent fund cash to resolve this modern day depression:

The budget deficit is a result of overspending and mismanagement of the taxpayers' dollars," she said. "We can only solve the budget crisis by restoring fiscal sanity to our budgeting process."

With both candidates taking the tax hike option off the table, budget solutions are few when the Legislature convene in January. Under those circumstances the permanent fund solution--as dreaded as it may be--appears ready to take off. 


A lot of this final stretch is about establishing an emotional connection. That seems to be a problem for Lieutenant Governor Denish who is not a glad-hander and has a personality that is as laid back as a Lazy Boy recliner. But in her latest TV spot her handlers have her narrate the entire 30 seconds as they work to establish a more personal bond with Dem voters and get them to take ownership of her candidacy. Some of the copy:

I’m the only candidate who’s owned a small business, created jobs and has a plan to turn our economy around. My opponent’s plan?

(Martinez) wants to get rid of rules that protect us from big corporations allowing 400% interest on loans, mortgage lenders to kick people out of their homes and pollution of our precious land and water. We've been there before--As Governor I won't let us go back.

Looks like a solid effort, but the Martinez camp is not hearing any of it. This is a  paragraph they put out taking note of Di's new populist tone:

Trailing in the polls, Denish is desperately trying to recast herself as a populist and wage a class warfare campaign, which is a curious strategy for a woman of privilege whose household makes huge profits from insider deals with wealthy corporations.

And Martinez accompanies that broadside with a spin-off of the controversial ad accusing Denish and her husband Herb of promoting an insider deal with land developer Mesa del Sol so he could get big lobbying fees. The factual content of the first ad has been shot down by the nonpartisan factcheck.org.

Here's the reworked ad, called "China." It continues Susana's "all-corruption-all-the-time" campaign.


Republican Matt Chandler comes with is first TV as he challenges incumbent Dem Gary King for attorney general. It's a bio spot and can be seen here.


Talk about bad timing! We shot a video at the Barelas Coffee House on 4th Street Monday with our political analysts John Wertheim and Greg Payne (posted on yesterday's blog) but should have waited until Tuesday. That's because President Obama, in town for the morning, decided to stop in and get some take-out at the storied restaurant in the Barelas neighborhood.

Not that our timing was all bad. While there Monday the three of us ran into Diane Denish who was having lunch with her campaign manager. She expressed guilt over having a small plate of calorie-rich   chicharrones on her table. Judging from the pictures, she may have been too busy to have a second order when she accompanied the President to the restaurant on Tuesday. But he ordered some of the pork morsels along with some Huevos to go....

Big Bill was pictured sitting and listening to the President as he addressed a backyard crowd of 35 at the home of a retired Marine in the ABQ South Valley. Wonder what he was thinking: "What could have been?"....

Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich also got face time with the Prez by attending the backyard event. Whether it is a Democrat or Republican representing the ABQ district, we always get a kick when they get to hang out with the Prez. Guess it's what you would call a vicarious thrill....

Wonder how Mayor Berry felt greeting President Obama at Kirtland Air Force Base Monday night? That's one of the perks of his job--and a nice one at that....

Maybe Obama will give Di a bit of a pop in the Journal poll that is being conducted this week and that will be released Sunday, but the visit was primarily aimed at the early voting that begins On Oct. 5 and continues all month. Obama's approval rating among Hispanics remains high....

Maybe he calls her Di? The President mispronounced Denish's last name when introducing her at the South Valley event. He dubbed her: "Duh-neesh." Or is that the Hobbs pronunciation?.....

What a contrast. Remember when Obama drew the largest crowd in New Mexico political history--about 40,000 in the fall of 2008 at the University of New Mexico? Yesterday 35 people were at the backyard event. Security is a lot easier that way, but you also manage expectations better. The video of that event is posted here....

Nice symbolism for the TV cameras. Obama was framed by a red chile ristra and the American flag during his backyard speech. That was pretty cool....

Did you get the demos (demographics)? The Prez made two stops and both were keyed to New Mexico Hispanics and culture. The South Valley visit with a Hispanic family and then to the Barelas Coffee House. This was not a stop to rouse independent voters, it was a stop to engage Democrats in this election....


Here is Kendra Marr of the Politico giving us the White House Press Pool report from Obama's Barelas Coffee house visit. He made it no secret that he was there to help Di:

Obama rolled up to the restaurant at 11:53 am and the four ladies behind the counter started screaming and clapping.

"Hey guys," Obama said, sleeves still rolled up from the backyard event. Diane Denish stood by his side.

Obama began shaking hands with employees in red aprons, then eventually all the workers came out of the kitchen.

"I hear you guys have the best huevos rancheros," he said.

The owner, who has operated the restaurant for 32 years, came to the front to greet the president and Denish.

Obama said, "Here's a steady customer. She's gonna be a great governor."

And then he proclaimed: "Let's go see some customers."

Obama weaved around the restaurant shaking hands and obliging to cell phone pictures. "Everyone know your lieutenant governor? Soon to be ..."

"Our governor!" a man finishes the sentence.

"Tell everyone to get out and vote for Diane," Obama said.

There was more hand shaking and Obama reiterating, "Thank you so much"

"Everyone working hard for Diane I hope," he said.

Obama told customers that their food looked "terrific." He said he was happy to be in a "beautiful community" with "wonderful people."

The president met a young military veteran  Kiel Ellis. "You serve overseas?" Obama asked.

"Yes sir I got out in 2002," Ellis responded.

The president also met a firefighter and found a Chicago Bears fan in the corner of the restaurant.

More hugs and cell phone photos.

One lunch patron, Venny Sedillo, 78, who met Obama at the restaurant said after the encounter,"We need that kind of president. I told him thank you for what you've been doing."

Finally Obama rounded up the entire staff for a group photo, directing people where to stand and who should get in front --"you guys are small"

An employee handed him a bag of takeout and Obama began to holler
"Where's my bill? Where's my bill?"

Pointing to the press --"They'll write about it."

The President in Barelas...a day in the life of our beloved La Politica...

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