Thursday, May 03, 2012

Campaign 2012: A Big Picture Issue Emerges, Plus: First Marty TV, And: Guv Plays GOP Favorites; "Her Majesty?" 

After weeks of eyes glazing over about who is or isn't qualified to be on the June primary ballot, New Mexico legislative candidates are finally getting down to the real business at hand. ABQ Dem State Senate candidate Michael Padilla is one of those starting to come with some meat and potatoes about the state's future. And in doing so he breaks with powerful conservative Dem State Senator John Arthur Smith.

New Mexico has a real opportunity to get our children excited about learning at a very young age by properly funding early childhood programs...By investing a very small portion of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, this can become a reality. In this year’s legislative session there were two bills that could have altered the face of New Mexico for decades. These bills would not only have had the impact of getting our children off on the right foot for the rest of their lives, but would have also had a lasting effect on our economy. This legislation would have pumped hundreds of millions of desperately needed new dollars into the struggling New Mexico economy...Certainly, even Senator Smith (and Senator Papen) can understand that this is the best investment we can make for New Mexico.

Interesting stuff as Smith is central to the coalition of Dems and R's that control the state Senate. 

No one wants to "raid"the state's cherished land grant fund (now at about $10 billion) but does the state want to continue to occupy last place or nearly last in poverty and school graduation rates?

Smith and the Legislative Finance Committee insist early childhood programs are getting more and sufficient funding, but they don't offer a precise plan of attack to solve the perpetual poverty that keeps the state in the cellar economically and socially.

A concentrated and targeted effort at youth aged zero to five who are being brought up in homes where there is no understanding of the value of education and nutrition just might be the elixir that helps us turn the corner.


Some of you may remember Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." That's the same idea here. Otherwise, you are going to have yet another generation ill-prepared for the jobs of the future and the state's long economic malaise will be perpetuated.

Multiple experts say by the time kids are only eight or nine years old, bad patterns are instilled and they can be very difficult to change. (We see that in the stats, don't we?)

The bills to set aside a portion of the Permanent Fund for early childhood is in the form of a Constitutional amendment/ It requires only simple majorities in the state House and Senate and then would be sent to the voters to decide. Senator Smith has been instrumental in killing these bills in his Senate Finance Committee.

By the way, Padilla is seeking the ABQ valley area Senate seat being vacated by Eric Griego who is running for congress. State Rep. Eleanor Chavez and former State Senator James Taylor are the other contenders for the Dem nomination. 


Governor Martinez would veto any bill that would tap the Permanent Fund which is why getting it before the voters is the only way to win its approval. It's a big picture measure which is another strike against it in this administration. The Guv's legislative agenda has been lilliputian, even as her political spinners and the media portray the passage of very minor bills as somehow changing the prevailing paradigm of the state. (They don't).

When a company like Intel can't find qualified workers for its New Mexico plant, you have a workforce crisis. Lowering taxes and removing regulations is not going to resolve that. Only the aforementioned "war" on the third world conditions that many of this state's children are surrounded by offers hope. But we're going to have to get off our butts and demand it from the legislators we elect.


The Governor may be hesitant about putting forth any major government initiatives but she does enjoy interfering in all kinds of political races. Our blog, "Chaos in Clovis," detailing the storm caused by the Guv playing favorites in a hotly contested GOP state Senate primary, brings this reader insight:

Your May 1st articles titled "Clovis Chaos" and "Woods' Word" are great and right on target. If you will remember, the Governors office got in the middle of the Heather Wilson-John Sanchez GOP US Senate fight by stripping away all of Sanchez's lieutenant governor duties.. Then she jumped in the middle of the Albuquerque City Council race between Republicans Trudy Jones and Greg Payne. It's as if her majesty has forgotten this is not a dictatorship but a democracy, but f you want to stay on the Governor's good side you better learn how to goose step...

Well, they used to call Gov. Richardson "King Bill," so why not "Her Majesty" for Susana?

There is indeed overreach going on here by the Guv and there will be be some long-term consequences. Don't say we didn't tell you...


Prevailing opinion in political circles is that former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez needs some kind of game changer if he is going to take the hotly contested three way fight for the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat. His first TV spot doesn't do that, but the money line in the spot will resonate:

"You know me," Chavez declares, "I want to get things done."

Aaah, Mayor Marty and the glory years of the late great Bull Market. Can he recapture that can-do spirit and climb the ladder in time to beat Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham?

The spot is jaunty and Chavez, an old pro, carries the ball for the full thirty seconds. It is set at Balloon Fiesta and uses the visual gimmick of Marty driving a pick-up with a balloon tethered to it. He drives away pulling the balloon while saying the politicians need to "be yanked in the right direction." (Hey, aren't you a "politician, Marty?).

That direction, he explains while driving (at least he isn't texting) is repealing the Bush tax cuts and protecting Obama's health care law.

Those are liberal themes for the moderate Mayor and that has been his bugaboo. The libs aren't convinced. But this is a good TV spot and will help Chavez reconnect. However, he has less cash on hand than his rivals and we're told his first TV buy is mainly on cable.


We wondered aloud this week about all the GOP whining over the polls showing Heather Wilson trailing Dem Martin Heinrich and that brought this reader observation:

Good point about the GOP whining about the PPP poll. The simple solution for the Wilson campaign is to release a poll that counters the PPP/Rasmussen narrative. That is what the Governor did in 2010 every time the Diane Denish campaign released one or if a news outlet showed a close race. It’s telling that the Wilson campaign hasn’t done so and neither has the National Republican Senatorial Committee...

Yeah, and what it tells us is that the GOP polls confirm the trend of the public polls--that Wilson will not start her race with Heinrich in the "pole position."


Al Park will have served 12 years in the state House, not ten as we blogged yesterday. He also still serves as chair of the Judiciary Committee. He said he thought the blog made it seemed like he was no longer chair....

Thanks to Phil Chavez, owner of The Grill restaurant in ABQ, for having us to dinner there recently. He's grilling up tasty steaks and cheeseburgers for the midtown area. This is a reasonably priced, very casual hang out. Phil has long experience in the city restaurant scene so when you order it medium rare, that's what you get....

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