Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Unvarnished Santa Fe Reality: Susana Is Winning; How And Why, Plus: Name Dropping A Potential Guv Foe For Susana; It Will Surprise You, And: Udall Positioning In DC; How's It Looking? 

We aren't the state's '"must-read" blog for nothing. Today we're back with more of the real story on what is happening in Santa Fe in this 60 day legislative session--the unvarnished political reality that is taking shape and that could set up Governor Martinez for her 2014 re-election.

She is calling this 60 day legislative session "very smooth" and state Democrats seem just fine with letting it stay that way. She is literally redefining herself right before their eyes--from a heels-in-cement ideologue to the compromiser in chief.

Here is one of the veteran Dem Alligators on how Susana is reshaping the political landscape while the Dems quietly acquiesce. In short, why and how she is in the process of scoring a major political victory:

Nearly midway through this legislative session and the Democrats have managed to do everything but crown Susana for a second term. Are they so lacking leadership and lacking a Governor candidate that they have just decided to give in and allow Susana to completely renovate her image as she gets ready to run?

Dems act as if this is a surprising tactic on Susana's part. In an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican this weekend, one of the most liberal members of the legislature--Democratic Senator Gerry Ortiz y Pino, called the Governor's new look on life to be "refreshing." Try again, Senator, how about insincere? Duplicitous?

Everyone who has a political bone in their body knew that Susana would use this session to moderate her image prior to the session.  But it seems to be a big surprise to Dems in the legislature. Either way, (Guv political adviser) Jay McCleskey sure seems to be enjoying life over long lunches at the Rio Chama. He should, these are his days of wine and roses.

As our state--with one of the worst economies in the nation--racks up bad ranking after bad ranking, Susana has the lifeless Democrats talking about HER compromise issues: gun control, Medicaid, and driver's licenses.  Of course this is a "very smooth" session for Susana.  It's a winning session and it will get her a second term. 

Some Democrats need to step up, throw caution to the wind, take a political risk and stand up for something besides their own re-election. When do the Dems plan to drag the lifeless body of (economic development secretary) Jon Barela to a committee hearing and start beating some sort of economic development plan out of  him?  When will Dems shine a light on the poverty, joblessness and hopelessness we are experiencing in this state?

Finally, a message to the thousands of people out of work and on hold at the Workforce "Solutions" Department: "Please continue to hold, your Democratic representatives at the state legislature are currently serving other customers.  Be patient, and we'll get right back to you.  In the meantime, press #2014 to hear about our plans for Governor Susana Martinez's re-election."

Yeah, that's red-hot stuff and cold hard reality.

The Governor deserves credit for making the pivot and getting ready for the next election. And if the opposition party is not going to hold her accountable, it is that much easier.


Roxanne Lara
The anguish in the Democratic Party over the lack of potential 2014 challengers to Governor Martinez grows more palpable as the legislative session continues to bend her way. But in a brainstorming session of our Alligators a surprising possibility emerged. What about attorney and former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne Lara who is currently seeking the chairmanship of the NM Democratic Party? For Governor? Yep.

None of us asked her or were prompted by any of her friends. It just popped up....

The Gators gamed it this way: If Lara does not win the chairmanship she could run for the Democratic nomination for Governor and would bring with her some major political attributes:

--She would be a Hispanic woman running against a Hispanic woman.

 --Her resume matches up nicely against Martinez who was a district attorney before becoming Governor. She ups the Guv by having small biz experience running her own law firm.

--As a native of Carlsbad in SE NM, Lara could cut into important Republican support for Martinez in that area. Also, she has some roots in Martinez's home county of Dona Ana. 

--Lara is now 37, younger than the Guv who is 53. That can be an advantage when presenting yourself as the fresh alternative.

--Lara is articulate and has been vetted because of her two runs for the county commission.

--Her nickname is "Rocky" and we all know how that movie turned out. (We don't know, however, if her husband Manuel likes bologna sandwiches).

Very interesting, isn't it? We thought so.


Senator Tom Udall filled out his subcommittee assignments on the all-important Senate Appropriations Committee this week. A Senior Alligator basking on the banks of the Potomac has the essential analysis:

For being a freshman on the committee which is so important to New Mexico he did well. He is on the agriculture, energy, interior, financial services and military construction subcommittees The most important of these is the energy subcommittee because that department spends billions at Sandia and Los Alamos. Interior is also important because of jurisdiction over Indian tribes, public lands and related spending.

Because we are not doing "earmarking" of Federal spending anymore, it's harder to steer money for pet projects so Udall will need to play the finesse game more than his predecessors.

A missing link here might be the defense subcommittee on appropriations which also plays a major role in the state's economy. However, with major cuts coming down, he may have opted not to be in the middle of a barroom brawl. He can still play  a role when it comes to military construction in the state.

Strategically for New Mexico, however, it is better for him to be in the energy fight than the battle over defense. Energy is where the really big bucks are for us.


Conrad James
A defense of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Conrad James today who was described here recently as not working particularly hard at his re-election which he lost to Dem Elizabeth Thomson. James got a consolation prize when Governor Martinez named him to the UNM Board of Regents. Here's real estate agent Toni Olmi going to bat for James:

Joe, Had the insiders you quote been out in the district, t hey would have bumped into Conrad James while he was out knocking on nearly three thousand doors. He out-performed Romney by 7 points while his opponent underperformed Obama by one point. Additionally, the new district put former Rep. James at an 8 point D to R party registration disadvantage. (See election info and new map at here) It would appear that former Rep. James did in fact work hard.

Thanks, Toni. Let's concede for a moment that James did work hard. But as the first Republican African-American elected to the Legislature whose district was solely in Bernalillo County, James was expected to tack to the center. But he did not separate himself from the GOP pack in the state House which is too conservative for his district. The R's in Bernalillo County need moderate Republicans to advance their cause. As a UNM Regent James now has the opportunity to put some points on the board--points we did not see him scoring during his brief tenure in Santa Fe.

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