Monday, July 15, 2013

Rise To The Occasion Or Just Watch The Sun Set? New Mexico's Choice, Plus: Is Susana Beatable? Dems See Glimmer Of Hope  

A reader sends this spectacular pic of the sun setting over Sandia Pueblo with the message:

This is why we live in New Mexico--displays of beauty like this almost every evening.

It's true that the state's natural beauty, climate and culture has given us our well-deserved moniker of "Land of Enchantment" but a jaw-dropping sunset doesn't put food on the table and you can't eat the majestic mountain views.

In this post-recession environment even the natural wonders of the state can't keep people from voting with their feet. Economic growth is flat, the population stagnant and the social conditions crisis now encompasses an even larger percentage of the people here.

When do we get the spirited public debate over the nature of this place changing, or do we just kick back and watch the sun set?


State Senator Linda Lopez rang the bell on Governor Martinez last week, challenging her to release all records pertaining to the controversial awarding of a 25 year racino lease for the Downs at ABQ. The Dem Guv candidate's statement got the Alligator juices flowing. Many of them are saying that while Martinez remains a favorite for re-election next year, the value of the Democratic nomination has just gone up. Here's why:

Suddenly, with the Downs deal, Gatorgate, emailgate, and the behavioral health crisis, Susana's world has become--as one Senior Alligator puts it--"a target rich environment." Here's the view of another Alligator who tries to put Susana on the spot:

What will Susana for run re-election on? Repealing drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants? That one is pretty well played out. The economy? As the national and regional economic recoveries pick up steam, leaving New Mexico behind again, there’s not much there. And it will likely get worse by mid-to-late 2014. It will be glaringly clear to all that New Mexico is even more of an economic laggard than it is now.

Her corporate tax cut that was passed with the help of the Democratic n the last session of the Legislature? Every New Mexican knows that the corporate tax cut was a gift from the Governor and both parties in the Legislature to their corporate contributors. How many net positive jobs will result from the corporate tax cut? Probably, not too many.

Despite her current high approval ratings, Governor Martinez is eminently beatable in 2014. What's truly remarkable is that here in New Mexico where the Democratic party dominates most state, city, and county politics, the Democrats don’t have a deeper bench of more capable candidates to take her on.

This is indeed a blue state and any GOP Governor has to tread carefully in assuming that re-election is a cakewalk. So why is Martinez not feeling more pain? She still sports high approval ratings.

Democratic Party ineptitude is a chief reason. Another is the goodwill she rode into office with as the first Hispanic female Governor in the USA. It has lasted longer than expected.

Another is her ability to show a warm TV personality, even though her off-screen persona doesn't match.

Another is how Dems have been cowed by the Guv's notorious attack machine. Many of them want to stay out of its way.

That's why Senator Lopez's public questioning of the ABQ Downs deal was a headline maker for the '14 race. The Governor's office had to play defense in response. That's what it takes to beat an incumbent. The eventual '14 Democratic nominee is going to have to repeat it in spades if they hope to pull off an upset.


Like so many other readers, Jason Libersky laments the political drift that we have been seeing in New Mexico.

Joe, Just wondering: Where is the leadership in NM? Worst place to be a child, no economic growth, significant brain-drain from the state as people give up on NM and move to Austin, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver/Boulder. The Governor and the Mayor of Albuquerque are nowhere to be seen. Senators Heinrich and Udall appear to be MIA. Is New Mexico, and our elected officials, clinically depressed?

Depressed? Maybe there's some of that, but helpless, hopeless, or in denial are probably more correct adjectives to describe the mood among the political elite.

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