Friday, January 04, 2013

Dateline DC: Heinrich Takes A Walk To The Capitol And Into State History, Plus: Grisham Also Takes Oath And Becomes New ABQ US Rep, Also: The Pearce Defection; He Votes Against Speaker Boehner; Future Impact?  

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There's goes Martin Heinrich with wife Julie and his two young sons taking a walk into New Mexico history.

They were snapped as they made their way over to the Capitol Thursday morning for Heinrich to be sworn in to a six year term in the US Senate. It was a term the 41 year old won in a hard-fought campaign with Republican Heather Wilson that showed tenaciousness, determination and a strong work ethic--all the stuff you usually need to make it to the US Senate.

(Video of Heinrich and other new and re-elected Senators being sworn in by Vice-President Biden is here.)

Heinrich, a two term congressman before winning the Senate prize, described his day to capitol newsman Michael Coleman as "surreal." One can imagine.

Heinrich did not even come to New Mexico until the mid-90's and now--if state history is any guide--he is poised to serve as a Senator for many, many years. He replaces Dem Jeff Bingaman who had a thirty year run.

The new Senator comes from a working class family who seemed somewhat adrift career-wise until 2003. That's when he won a seat on the ABQ city council. But it has been full speed ahead ever since.

It's pretty heady stuff for him and there will be questions as to whether his senatorial ego will get the better of him. But in his first official statement after taking the oath Heinrich said he was "humbled to serve the good people of New Mexico."

That's cool, Martin. Just don't bring that sleeping mat over to the Senate that you used in your House office. That would be way too much humility....


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 (ABQ Dem US Rep. Lujan Grisham announced Friday she has landed a position on the House Budget Committee and will also serve as the president of her freshman House class for a six month term starting in 2014. That news came after we filed this blog report)

 Michelle Lujan Grisham took the oath of office as the ABQ area's new member of the US House Thursday. She replaces Heinrich in that office. And can you believe it? Some desperate Dems are already wondering out loud if they could recruit her to run against Republican Governor Martinez in 2014. Hey, slow down, Gators.

And what's the deal with the criticism of Michelle's new chief of staff for being a Hispanic with Cuban, not New Mexican roots? Come on, doesn't Grisham's 400 year family history here count?

ABQ voters got a curve ball thrown at them when Michelle was named to the House Committee on Agriculture. But as we pointed out the district does have a fair amount of rural areas and then there is the nutrition and food programs that are important to all residents, especially the many lower-income families here. And then there is the conspiracy theory--the ag committee slot gives Grisham a statewide profile in rural NM on which to base a future political run.

University of New Mexico School of Law professor Jim Ellis says Grisham's appointment to the panel raised some memories:

Joe, Michelle's appointment to the Ag Committee despite representing an urban district reminded me of when newly-elected Shirley Chisholm received the same appointment in 1968. Here's a link:

Four years later, in 1968, Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress when she defeated James Farmer, a nationally recognized civil rights leader and founder of the Congress of Racial Equality. In Congress, where she represented the newly created 12th Congressional district, encompassing much of central Brooklyn, Chisholm was anything but demure. After being assigned to the House Agricultural Committee, a post she considered irrelevant to her urban constituency, Chisholm observed that “apparently all they know here in Washington about Brooklyn is that a tree grows there.” In a highly unusual move, she was reassigned to the Education and Labor Committee, where she felt her expertise in child education would be better put to use.

Interesting stuff, Jim. As for us, Grisham's placement on agriculture reminded us of New Mexico Dem Senator Clinton Anderson. He was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Truman back in 1945. He won election to the Senate in '48 and served until '73.


Will Steve Pearce pay a price for defecting from Republican US House Speaker John Boehner? Or will Pearce's vote some day prove to be shrewd as well as a statement about his very conservative ideology?

The southern NM congressman was one of only nine GOP US Reps to vote for a candidate other than Boehner who was narrowly re-elected Thursday as the new Congress convened. Pearce was one of only three congressmen who voted for Majority Leader Eric Cantor for Speaker. Cantor and Pearce were among the Republicans who opposed the fiscal cliff deal that Boehner pushed through the Republican caucus.

This Pearce vote stood out so much that he took to YouTube to further explain it,

Boehner could now punish Pearce via his committee assignments or other perks. But what if Boehner--as many speculate--just hangs on for another year or two? Then Eric Cantor will most likely be Speaker in the GOP-controlled US House. Being one of only three Repubs who voted for Cantor Thursday made Pearce look like the odd man out, but should Cantor rise to ultimate House power Pearce will suddenly look like an insider. (Just be careful, Steve, if you see Speaker Boehner walking your way with a hammer in his hand).


Okay, we already ran former Lt. Governor Diane Denish's statement that she is still considering running for mayor of ABQ, contrary to what some "insiders" said here. Now we get this from a political operative who promised free chicharrones at Barelas Coffee House if we used it.:

As someone who's close to Diane Denish and who has been meeting with and talking to her frequently as she weighs a potential run for Mayor, I can tell you Diane is taking a very real look at this race.... 

Sure, sure, pal. Whatever you say. Just pony up those chicharrones.

That's it for this week. Thanks to KKOB's Jim Villanucci (and sidekick Billy Cornelius) for hosting us on the radio show Thursday. Lots of fun there. And thanks to you for taking the time to visit here.

Reporting this week from points abroad as well as Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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