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Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor, Including the Sexsational Week In La Politica 

It was a sexsational week in La Politica. Predictably,  the sex "scandal" involving GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener sucked up all the airtime and newsprint. Coming as it did just as the May ratings sweeps for TV news got underway, the feeding frenzy was especially vociferous. And the latest circulation figures for the nation's top newspapers were also out. There were no numbers released for our local fish wrapper but be sure the news there is about as good as it has been for Wiener.

That Wiener, 57, possesses a curious middle-aged libido and has a wildly inappropriate name to satisfy that curiosity in the red light district of a Philippine city, is nothing if not titillating. His insistence that he will stay on the June primary ballot and take a drubbing from his GOP foe only served to elongate the frenzy.

Wiener may be worthy of moral opprobrium, but he maintains he broke no laws and was not involved in sex slavery or pedophilia. What he is certainly guilty of is political stupidity and opaque thinking on a grand scale. That this mishap follows many others involving the commissioner makes this bizarre incident appear downright moronic. But this is politics, not neurosurgery. We're kind of used to that, aren't we?

The joke is Wiener will lose to challenger Lonnie Talbert on June 5, but will go out with a bang at his Election Night party where the special guests will be his friends from the Philippines. And it's okay to hear a joke or two. The self-righteousness, moral pedantry and feigned outrage over the Wiener affair is starting to grate. Enough already. (But thanks for the memories, Michael).

VERY SERIOUS

For those who see Wiener's infractions seriously indeed, there's this email circulating to get the county commission to censure him:

It’s time for the anti-workplace violence, anti-human trafficking, anti-domestic violence, anti-rape, immigrants rights, reproductive health, labor, and the empowerment communities to come together in solidarity against sexism and racism. It is unacceptable that all of the male County Commissioners are refusing to stand up for women, for those born outside of the US, for people of color, and for those who live in poverty.
  
GARY FOR GOVERNOR?

A reader writes of Attorney General Gary King:

The 2014 Guv campaign (Dem primary) is apparently underway. Just noticed that Gary King has created a Facebook Page “Gary King For New Mexico.” He says: “Lets discuss how to improve New Mexico. The beauties of our state and people are boundless and it's time to move New Mexico forward. Proud to be your A.G ”

Great. Now it’s time? Not during his past 6 years as AG ? 

They don't wait long, Gary.

MARTY'S AD

There's also an Alligator strike coming in on the first TV ad of former Mayor Marty Chavez who is seeking the Dem mod for the ABQ congressional seat:

We've all seen it happen too often when the ad maker puts so much emphasis on trying to make the ad pretty that it overshadows its message. They also totally forgot about the electorate: we're talking about 85% of the electorate being 50 or older. The last thing an ad should be doing is to force people to think about connecting the ad's visual to the message. 18-29 year olds will think the ad was "cool" but they won't vote.

We'll see. The congressional primary also features Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham. Both of them are also up with their first TV.

And what does Marty's campaign have to say about Eric's first TV ad:

“Eric Griego's ad is a continuation of his hollow campaign based on sound bites and idle talk. Grandstanding isn't going to recover our economy or actually protect Social Security and Medicare. His campaign doesn't cite a single accomplishment or plan for solving the problems we face. This is just more of the same from a politician with no record to stand on.


Come on fellas, tell us what you really think...

THE REAL SENIOR

Around here we call our tapped in political sources "Alligators" and our veteran sources "Senior Alligators."And one of those of a Senior variety could not resist sending us this photo of what he called "the real Senior Alligator."

Well, ours may not be as big, but sometimes they bite as hard.

Thanks for stopping by this week. The blog this week was composed in part at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris, Salt Lake City International Airport and my local Starbucks in Albuquerque.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.  I'm Joe Monahan reporting.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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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.

HOW ABOUT A WAR?

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. 

LOOKING AHEAD

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.

HER MAJESTY?

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...

MARTY TV

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.

THE WHINING

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."

THE BOTTOM LINES

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....

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's political community? Advertise here. Email us for details.


(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Park's Place: A High Rent District Indeed, Plus: Speaker Lujan's Farewell Gift To Dems, And: Dateline Europe: Notes On Our Recent Visit 

Rep. Park
Talk about luxury. Al Park is running for the Dem nod for an ABQ area seat on the often notorious but mostly obscure state Public Regulation Commission and is spending cash on statewide TV spots to get there. The ads will reach many more voters who can't cast ballots for Park than those who can but the hopeful has so much money banked he can light his cigars with $100 bills. Here's one of those spots.

Park, a 12 year state representative from ABQ's SE Heights, is saying sayonara to the Roundhouse to try his luck on the five member panel that regulates many state businesses. It's been a politically decadent hideout but Park is running as Mr. Ethics and has the dough to spread that message.

Years ago, Park, now 42, was an up and comer and banked thousands in campaign donations as he weighed a bid for attorney general. Then-Governor Richardson was instrumental in helping Park grow his bank account to a stunning total of over $250,000. He never did run for AG and the law allows him to use his cash for his PRC run--and he's doing just that. He recently transferred $30,000 from his legislative account to his PRC campaign account.

Park is opposed in the primary by Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya and Cynthia Hall, a former attorney for the PRC. They are taking public financing and will have just $30,000 to spend. Park matched that in one fell swoop.

It would seem Park would have a hard time losing this race. If he does, his political career would likely be over. Meanwhile, there is continued speculation that Park has not let go of his dream to be attorney general. Even if he spent as much as $100,000 of his kitty on the PRC race, he would have plenty left over to seed a 2014 AG run,

But Park is not without baggage. He was long known as a liberal when liberals were very unpopular. But he lost his street cred when he caved in to Governor Martinez and voted for the bill to repeal driver's licenses for undocumented workers. Other Dem ABQ reps--like Bill O'Neill--stood up to the Guv and voted against the measure. The politically ambitious Park may have made the right vote for the PRC race, but not for any future run in a Dem primary.

Park, in private law practice, landed a state contract this year with the state Risk Management Division.

Park's opponents have asked whether any of Park's campaign cash came from industries he would regulate--something state campaign law prohibits. But Park says the law does not apply to the money he raised for his legislative race and that is the money he is using. He also came under scrutiny for saying that congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham endorsed his candidacy, a claim he later withdrew via news release,

Park ascended to chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in Santa Fe, but his ambitions there were thwarted when he joined a failed coup attempt against Dem House Speaker Ben Lujan. After that he drifted away from the center of legislative power.

Ironically, now that Park is departing the state House, Rep. Kenny Martinez, his close friend and the man he backed in the coup effort against Lujan, is poised to become Speaker upon Lujan's retirement at year's end. And even as Park, an early supporter of Obama, veers more to the political right, Democratic liberals appear to be entering a new heyday with the nation pulling to the center again.

Yep, kids, this game is all about timing.

THE LONG GOODBYE

While Park looks to stay in the game, Speaker Lujan--forced to retire because of cancer--continues to collect accolades and honors for his long service. And the Dems are using Lujan's departure as a major fund-raising opportunity. Political consultant Amanda Cooper is helping to promote a June gala event. You might call it the Speaker's farewell gift to the Dems:

Dear Friends, This is a wonderful opportunity for us to honor Speaker Ben Lujan and his life dedicated to public service:

New Mexico Democratic Leaders Invite You to Join Them For A Special Tribute Dinner in honor of Speaker Ben Lujan For his 37 years of service to the  State of New Mexico Saturday, June 16th at Buffalo Thunder Resort Santa Fe. Dinner ~ 6:30 PM; $5,000 Table; $500 Ticket. For more information, please contact Sean Marcus at seanbmarcus@gmail.com. 

The money raised will go to the "Ben Lujan Speaker Fund." There was $80,000 in there when the April state reports were filed. That cash and the money raised in June will be used to help Dem legislative candidates this year. That will offset some of the heavy spending expected in the same contests from the Guv's SusanaPAC.

SPELL TEST

Cara Valente-Compton, challenging ABQ SE Heights Dem State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton in the June primary, writes in reaction to our analysis of her race:

Hey Joe,  I just wanted to direct your attention to a misspelling. It is Cara with a C, not a K. And don't count me out, I am one hell of a fighter, and I am hitting the campaign trail hard. Plus, as many people have noted, I am much, much more amiable and personable than my opponent and my intelligence from door-to-door work tells me that Sheryl is in for a surprise.  Burger bet?

Thanks, Cara, and sorry about that spelling mistake. As for the burger bet, we can't go there, but if someone else takes you up on it, we suggest the Nob Hill Grill for a great burger. They have a regular patty or the special Kobe beef. If this UNM area dining spot is not in you district, it is close.

DATELINE EUROPE
At the Élysée Palace in Paris
Some random notes from our visits to Italy and France the last two weeks of April....

Governments may be preaching austerity as the method to solve the deep economic woes facing Europe, but while we we were in France voters were poised to put in power the Socialist candidate and oust President Sarkozy (The election is May 6. We are pictured outside the official residence of the President).

We think there is commonality there with what is going on here in the states. The Dems appear poised for a fairly good election year because they own the issues of Social Security and Medicare. When job insecurity is rampant, those programs are even more important to the working and middle classes. The fiscal conservatives can argue that the "welfare state" is no longer affordable, but the man in the street is looking for the rich to pay more in taxes, not to take food out of his own mouth.

On the subject of food, France and Italy offer what many believe to be the best in the world. Meals are taken seriously and a celebration accompanied by great wines, but obesity appeared scarce. Fresh food--not the processed variety is preferred and portions are sensible but satisfying, Upon landing  back in the USA the obesity epidemic was, sadly, again on full display.

And what about health care? Well, the French and Italians we broached the subject with were quite pleased with their national health care, often demonized by politicians here as a socialistic evil. They expressed relief that they do not have to constantly worry about their family's financial future if they should take sick before they are 65 as is the case in the USA.

A  scientist who is a native of Rhode Island, living in Paris for over 30 years, explained that in France it is a two tier system where money will buy you more care, but that the public portion of the system is available to all. She spoke highly of the care and her personal experience with the system. One of her children was born with a mild case of cerebral palsy and received many hours of therapy at a price dramatically lower than what it would have cost here.

In Italy, we heard the same positive assessments about their national health care. Yes, you pay more in taxes, but your life is considerably calmer when you no longer pace the floor worrying what happens if you or your family are felled by illness and you are not covered. When--if ever--will that day come here?

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E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

It's May Day And Some Campaigns Are Sending Distress Signals, Plus: Chaos In Clovis; Guv's Political Team Runs Into Cowboy Courage As R's Go Cannibal In State Senate Battle 

It's May Day and the new month arrives with a sense of urgency for a number of the political campaigns. They now have only weeks to get their houses in order or else face extinction June 5. Maybe they don't even have weeks. With early voting so popular and getting underway in earnest May 18, if you're not firing on all cylinders by then, you may be a goner.

Right now no one is gone, but some are teetering. Dem US Senate candidate Hector Balderas is one. The underdog since the beginning of his campaign for the Dem US Senate nod against Rep. Martin Heinrich, Balderas is now running out of time. Heinrich is up with his TV, continues to roll out endorsements and has plenty of cash in the bank. Most campaigns running behind would have gone on the attack by now, but Hector has played it cool. His odds of victory are slim and he has a future political career to protect. That's been his problem since the start and remains so today on May Day.

Hector could use a prime-time TV debate or two to try to shake this one up, but there is no word yet on any being scheduled. If Heinrich stumbles badly, Hector is positioned to take advantage. The problem? Heinrich is taking no chances. Saccharine has more flavor than Martin's campaign.

HECTOR TV HITS

Balderas comes with his first TV ad today and it goes right to his core strength--his personal narrative of growing up in tiny Wagon Mound, his family using food stamps to get by and his becoming a law school graduate. He names education as his top issue and also hits upon his service as state auditor.

All in all, this ad can be slugged "local boy makes good." Remember, Martin Heinrich is not a local boy.

Balderas closes out the ad with a full camera shot and the director coaxes out a confident Balderas, although the spot seems to end a bit abruptly. Copy from the ad:

Most Senators don’t come from places like this. Don’t grow up on food stamps. Or become the first person from their village to earn a law degree. But because Hector Balderas did…


He understands the power of education in a way most Senators never will. As Auditor, Balderas stopped corrupt officials who stole from schools. As Senator, he’ll invest in our future again.

I’m Hector Balderas, and I’m sponsoring this ad because I know education is the road to the middle class.

This ad is going to pull votes from rural New Mexico, but probably not so much from the cities where Heinrich has a large lead. But the ad does lay the groundwork for a spot that contrasts Balderas with Heinrich--if Balderas wants to go there.

MARTY'S MAY DAY

Marty Chavez is nothing if not a fighter, and he will have to don his boxing gloves again if he is to pull out a victory against Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat. His moderate and conservative stripes continue to pen in him with a liberal leaning primary electorate.

He finished third in the fund-raising sweepstakes for the first quarter and the Alligators were all over him for it. His supporters countered that Chavez has superior name ID and that his substandard fund-raising performance will not hurt because he doesn't need as much money as his lesser known rivals. But there's a problem. If you have superior name ID, you should have superior fund-raising.

Chavez probably remains ahead in the race based on that name ID but this is the kind of race that is set up to break toward the liberal late in the game. Marty will need to ride herd on Griego in the coming days. Griego has raised the money, put together the organization, wrangled the endorsements and is the love child of the left.

Michelle Lujan Grisham gets kudos for her aggressive fund-raising and her first TV ad which is superior to that of Griego's, but Griego still has the organizational edge. She needs to find a quick way to get campaign trail dust under her fingernails.

A major question that looms: Can Chavez make Griego lose his famous temper? Marty needs some kind of emotional drama to start turning this one around. Like Hector, some TV debates could give him the opporunity that has so far eluded him. And we have news on that front...

DEBATE TIME

My insiders report at least one TV debate has now been scheduled for the ABQ Dem congressional candidates. It will take place on KOAT-TV on Saturday, May 19th from 6 to 7 p.m. That is borderline primetime, but still better than late Sunday afternoon where in the past the station has pigeonholed its debates. A  TV face-off between Dem US Senate hopefuls Heinrich and Balderas is also slated. Our insiders say the KOAT debate will take place June 3 at 6 p.m.. too late to influence the outcome of the June 5 election--the way front-runner Heinrich wants it.

JANICE'S MAY DAY

While she has no primary opposition, ABQ GOP congressional hopeful Janice Arnold-Jones still has work to do this May Day. How about raising oodles of cash and putting up some media that grabs your attention? Her race is already begin written off as a Dem pick-up in November. Arnold-Jones could use May to begin changing that perception. The problem? She needs money to do it.
 Back to the phones, Janice.

HEATHER TUBE

Can Heather Wilson, who served 10 years in the US House from ABQ, be made to appear fresh and new? Her campaign gives it a shot in their first TV ad for the June 5 primary. In it she talks about her Air Force record but nary a peep about being a professional politico and ex-member of Congress. It's a softie spot and maybe it will help make her more likable.

And where is Greg Sowards, Wilson's opponent for the GOP Senate nomination? Not much of anywhere yet. The hard-right candidate has a war chest of $600,000, mostly coming from his personal bank account, but so far he isn't spending it.

CLOVIS CHAOS
Pat Woods
We've said that the Governor's political team may have bit off more than they can chew when they directly interfered in a GOP state senate primary on the east side. The news from there keeps confirming our impression:

A heated state senate primary became a heated two-person race. Mark  Myers dropped out of the state senate District 7 race and endorsed  fellow Republican candidate Pat Woods. Both said the move was made  out of concerns Gov. Martinez has lined up resources behind  Angie Spears, the other candidate in the GOP race--a move Woods said  he’s never seen before in a primary race. Woods and Angie  Spears are now the only candidates in the June 5 Republican primary. The  winner faces no Democratic opposition in the general election.

This is the seat held by Clint Harden who was forced from the fray when it became clear the Governor's political team was gunning for him. SusnaPAC has donated heavily to Spears.

We say the Governor's political team because our best intelligence out of Santa Fe doesn't tell us whether Martinez is personally sitting in a war room declaring who she will work to oust or whether the decision is left entirely to political advisor Jay McCleskey. Our sense is that Jay decides and the Guv signs on to the war strategy with relish--in this case too much relish.

WOODS' WORD

Now back to Mr. Pat Woods. Unlike some of his squishy brethren in the big city, Woods, a wheat farmer with long family ties in Clovis, isn't taking any guff from the Governor. Our Clovis Alligators send us this full-page ad that Woods took out in the Clovis newspaper listing dozens of supporters in the small city.

Jay and company are pounding the snot out of Woods in robo phone calls for giving campaign donations to Democrats, including ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller. Woods says it isn't that big of a deal, but Spears says it shows Woods is for the "liberal" agenda.

But what it really shows is that Woods is the first prominent Republican to openly split with the Martinez machine and go to war. It is going to cost the Guv with Woods' many GOP friends.

And remember when the Guv's political posse toyed with fielding a Republican more to their liking against State Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, also from the Clovis area? They didn't, but memories are long out on the open range.

And what does Martinez get for all this grief? Any Republican elected from Clovis would have carried her water in the Senate, but she apparently wants R's who will never question her. Susana and Jay have been able to lead the big city R's around with a ring through their noses, but Woods is showing them the backbone they thought their machine had turned to mush.

Angie Spears may get elected to the Senate, but it could be Woods who has the lasting impact by giving other Republicans the courage to question--not kowtow--when the Fourth Floor tells them how to herd their cattle.

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Why The Whining? R's Still Faulting Polls In Senate Race, Plus: Roasting Wiener; Vultures Circle Over Commissioner, And: The Guv: Heritage Issue And Veep Watch 

Why so much whining from the R's over the US Senate polls? After all, we've got a long way to go before we get to the November finish line. Republican Heather Wilson running behind Dem Martin Heinrich in a general election match-up is of concern but it is not the end of the story. But R's fear it could be.

You see, it's not the numbers in April and May that are of paramount concern here. It's what those weak polling numbers can do to the all-important fund-raising. The April PPP Poll--associated with the Dems--has Wilson trailing Heinrich by 5 points. The R's bash those numbers, saying the poll is biased and not weighted correctly, but the Rasmussen survey, often said to lean toward the R's, also has Wilson running behind Heinrich, 46 to 42.

But Wilson has enlisted allies in the media and elsewhere to try to punish the pollsters because there is very real concern that the New Mexico Senate race--now ranked "Lean Dem" on this blog, but still in the toss-up column by other analysts--could begin to be written off by the financial powers that be.

It's not there yet and maybe never will be, but when every poll shows the Dem leading, it induces a severe case of political fright in Heather land.

We can't blame the R's for doing all they can to keep the race alive and the cash coming in, but don't ask us to believe that all of these polls are made up out of thin air. Not when every one of them agrees she is behind. And while you do hear lots of whining,  you don't see Heather putting out any surveys showing she's ahead.

The pollsters will tell you their surveys are snapshots in time. It's fine for the candidates to beat up on them and use their friends to push their cause, but that doesn't change the reality on the ground--New Mexico is currently leaning heavily Dem in the Presidential race and the Senate race is tilting D. The R's are going to have to do more than say we shouldn't believe our own eyes if they want to start turning things around.

GRIEGO TV

Eric Griego's first TV ad in his bid for the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat is not going to have many heads turning. Most of the spot is devoted to a senior citizen describing the importance of Social Security and Medicare and attacking the "Tea Party Republicans" for threatening them. Griego then appears at the end to denounce those same "Tea Party Republicans," allowing how he "would never" allow the tea partiers to cut the programs. It's an unusual opening in that it tells us nothing about Griego.

We know TV is not the be all end all for Griego who is concentrating on putting troops on the ground, but an operative who told us this ad was a "missed opportunity" may have had a point.

One other thing. Social Security and Medicare are the Holy Grail for the Dems this year and it's a good topic for Griego, but cosmetically Griego does not look his best. What's up with that?

WIENER ROASTED

The vultures are circling for the political corpse of Michael Wiener and feast day is June 5. The controversial GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner has never been a party favorite. His independent streak has set him apart. Now that he has landed in hot water--(more like boiling water)--because of his visit to a red light district in the Philippines and a picture that surfaced of Wiener posing with scantily clad ladies there, the party poohbahs are piling on. Governor Martinez is leading the pack in calling for Wiener to resign, followed by the state GOP and ABQ GOP Mayor RJ Berry.

The calls for him to get out could very well doom him as he wages a primary battle for his ABQ NE Heights seat against political newcomer and businessman Lonnie Talbert.

Wiener, a notshy New york native, has a reputation as one of the most effective campaigners the state has produced. He has served on the ABQ city council (as a Democrat), the county commission and in the state senate. He's the only one to have accomplished that trifecta in modern times, but overcoming this obstacle is a Herculean task.

It is easy to understand Martinez's call for Wiener's resignation. She is the titular head of the GOP, but the ABQ Mayor? Why is he messing around in that playpen when the city has to work closely with the county commission? He wasn't under the gun to say anything about Wiener so why not chill? Lately we are seeing Berry getting more and more partisan than his early months in office.

Wiener's crash and burn comes only weeks after another like-minded and independent Republican--former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne--bit the political dust when he was picked up for DWI. If these sorts of things run in threes, we are grimacing over who is next.

SAVING SHERYL

On the Dem side, the poster child for political trouble has been ABQ Dem State Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, but despite a boat load of political baggage (including calling the Governor "that Mexican" on the Fourth Floor) she is still pegged as the heavy favorite to win her June 5 primary battle with political newbie Cara Valente-Compton. Comments like this from prominent liberal Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino are one big reason why:

Stapleton's voting record on behalf of Democratic principles is exemplary. She has supported and championed labor issues, public education, fair wages, small business incentives, civil rights elder care...She is a passionate advocate of health insurance accessibility and affordability for all....

Williams Stapleton, the House Majority Whip, owes Jerry big time for those words. 

THE HERITAGE

All we can say is "Finally." The question of whether Gov. Martinez had any relatives who came to the USA illegally was first broached on this blog during the 2010 Guv campaign. It was met with derision by her political operatives and ignored by the mainstream media. But as we predicted then, it would not be for long. And not now especially as her name is bandied about as a possible GOP VP pick. From the AP:

Immigration documents obtained by The Associated Press, however, reveal a fact not even Martinez herself knew: Her Mexican-born grandfather was lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a permanent resident in 1918 and became a citizen in 1942. The discovery removes a trouble spot for someone talked about as a possible vice presidential prospect for Republican Mitt Romney...

And why is this an issue? Well, when you make the repeal of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants one of your top legislative priorities and then bash the hell out of any legislator who goes against you, how you and your family personally approached immigration becomes relevant indeed. It's called the double-standard watch and we're glad to see the media finally getting around to checking it out...

VEEP WATCH

And what is the latest on Susana and the VP beat? She's number ten on a DC top ten list of possible Romeny picks:

10. Martinez...is probably the least well known politician on this list. And, in a party still trying to get out from under the Palin pick, Martinez’s lack of experience at the national level may ultimately doom her chances. Still, she has much to recommend her as the first Hispanic woman elected governor of a state--and a swing state no less! The 2012 election may be too soon for Martinez’s debut on the national stage but she is someone to keep an eye on beyond this November. 

That sums it up, except NM does not appear to be a true swing state this time around. As to who is #1 on the WaPo VP list?  It's unknown GOP Senator Rob Portman. Now you've got something to Google.

FOOD OF THE GODS

Even now after two weeks of eating the food of the Gods in Paris and Florence, we come in praise of the Green Chile Cheeseburger. The latest:

In July 2009, practically overnight, the Green Chile Cheeseburger became a national foodie obsession in America. That's the month that Bobby Flay's macho-burger challenge to the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, N.M., aired on the Food Network. Truth be told, Flay had his East Coast butt whipped by local New Mexico burger master Bobby Olguin. But the real winner was the Green Chile Cheeseburger itself, which suddenly took on nearly mythic proportions across the country as the rodeo food of the cowboy gods.

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