Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can R's Dethrone Senate Leader? Is It Worth A Try? Plus: Janice And Dan Spar, And: ABQ Convention Biz; Time For A Big Change? 

Sen. Sanchez
You really want to see some chaos in New Mexico politics? What if the R's make their chief 2012 legislative target Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and get lucky? That's the strategy some Republican Alligators are pondering. They know they don't have the stroke for an outright take over of the Senate, but if they knocked off the Dem leader it would throw the chamber into utter confusion. Their argument is that there is no natural successor to Sanchez and that his defeat could perhaps pave the way for a more conservative tilt.

Sanchez's Valencia County area district has grown increasingly conservative and Republican. Two state House seats that overlap his Senate district were lost to the R's in 2010. Sanchez went unopposed in 2008. Legislative redistricting, currently before the courts, is not expected to dramatically change the boundaries.

Sanchez's friends assert he is in good shape and not to worry. But what if the R's were to draw a bead on him and focused big money and resources on taking him out? Sanchez has $33,000 in his campaign account, not an overwhelming amount. Of course, if a serious challenge emerged, trial lawyers and others could be expected to flood Michael's campaign coffers. He is also reportedly not on good personal terms with Governor Martinez--another reason making him the top target may appeal to the GOP. There is no public polling on Sanchez, but the R's no doubt are looking at doing some.

The Republican wave of 2010 saw the party pick up eight state House seats, putting them close to taking over that chamber for the first time in decades. The Republican wave seems to have waned, but is some of it still out there? Senators like Sanchez who last faced voters four years ago have to be wondering.


Getting the R's to unify over anything can sometimes be like getting crabs in a barrel not to crawl all over one another. Take the scuttlebutt that because he has not been sufficiently obsequious to Governor Martinez, State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle could be the target of a Republican primary challenge. It probably won't happen, but Republican cannibalism is not unusual. Speaking of which...

Republicans Dan Lewis and Janice Arnold-Jones, vying for the GOP nod for the ABQ US House seat, are already going at each other. Arnold-Jones slammed City Councilor Lewis for approving a controversial ballot measure. It put on a single bond issue the popular proposed expansion of the Paseo del Norte and I-25 interchange and the decidedly unpopular sportsplex advocated by Mayor Berry. Arnold-Jones said the issues should have been separated. The bond issue was soundly defeated. Lewis fired back that Janice is too "moderate" for ABQ Republicans, criticizing her, for among other things, supporting repeal of the death penalty. Lewis is calling himself the "true conservative" in the race.


Back on the city beat, former ABQ city councilor and public safety director Pete Dinelli comes with thoughts on Mayor Berry's $20 million Convention Center upgrade.

A totally new approach is needed to make Albuquerque a destination city. The city needs to get out of the national convention business, at least for the short term, and look to long term alternatives. The city should make just enough repairs to keep the old facility open for local use and get the debt paid off in the next ten years.
City Hall needs to concentrate more on promoting the city as a whole and not just for conventions but for increasing tourism and economic development to the area as a whole. The money for the convention Center make over would be better utilized in reducing the overall debt owed on the Center or improving other existing facilities....

The city should partner with area Indian casinos as a short term substitute for national convention center space until the city either constructs a new Convention Center or an all purpose events center. The city needs to be more concerned about building and improving existing amenities and facilities that add to the quality of life of all residents rather than trying to attract a handful more of conventions for visitors...

The city needs to stop pouring money down the "money pit" known as the Convention Center and be realistic that the facility--even after a makeover--will not bring in more conventions.

ABQ convention business has been cratering for years, and went into an even deeper funk with the onset of the ongoing recession.


Here's a rare rebuke from the Martinez-friendly editorial pages of the ABQ Journal:

Stephanie Gardner is the new PED test coordinator, a $67,000-a-year classified job from which she can only be removed for cause under the state personnel system. She is the wife of Keith Gardner, a former legislator from Roswell and the governor’s chief of staff....Gardner has every right to compete for and win a state job —on a level playing field. The question is whether it was tailored for her. If there is a better explanation than the one given, it would be a good idea to lay it out. This administration campaigned against insider dealings under Richardson and Denish. It has set the standard it needs to follow.


We were in Tuscany in Italy searching for our identity and the finest extra virgin olive oil under the sun when Susana signed the $86 million capital outlay bill passed during the recent special legislative session. The bill was well short of the $212 million she proposed and which received widespread support on the left and right. She said:

“However, legislators had the opportunity to support projects that would lead to New Mexico businesses hiring New Mexico workers right away, and instead, they signaled to struggling contractors and unemployed workers that they simply need to wait.”

Conservative Senate Dems and R's thwarted the Guv's larger bill. It was an unusual example of a Republican Governor being outflanked on her right.


From the wires:

The U.S. Geological Survey is confirming that an earthquake happened at 10:38 a.m. Monday in Northern New Mexico. The center of the 3.8 magnitude earthquake was 11miles north of Santa Fe...

Authorities are studying whether the earthquake was set off by a stampede to Santa Fe by nearly 90 applicants for the $90,000 a year job on the Public Regulation Commission that became available when Jerome Block, Jr. was forced to resign.


In our first draft Monday we said southern GOP Congressman Steve Pearce does not have any 2012 opposition. Dems Evelyn Madrid Erhard and Frank McKinnon have announced bids. Neither has raised enough money to require them to file a federal campaign finance report...

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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