Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Race Underway For Dem Party Chair; Haaland First In; Status Quo Or A Bloodletting? Plus: Filling Mimi's Shoes; House Vacancy Eyed By Former Senator, And: No Frozen Inaugural Fingers; Guv Opts For Indoor Oath 

Deb Haaland
2014 Dem lieutenant governor candidate Deb Haaland has made official her bid for the chairmanship of the NM Democratic Party. The election to replace Sam Bregman will be held in April. Haaland's candidacy comes against the backdrop of a Democratic disaster including her own loss as the running mate of Gary King. She said in her letter to state Dem central committee members:

We must build bridges in our communities, capitalize on our strengths and focus on winning elections. I am not one to sit idle, nor will I speculate on what went wrong this past election, or criticize anyone for what they did or didn't do. I see that many House races were lost by 300-400 votes, and all I know is that those seats belong to Democrats.

But what went wrong with this election for the Democrats is exactly what many of them want to talk about. Haaland seems to be saying that because some of the Dem House seats were lost by 300 or 400 votes that the election was somewhat of a fluke and not a deeper commentary on the messaging crisis the state Dems have had.

The Dems have lost two governor elections in a row, lost the NM House for the first time in 60 years, failed to regain the secretary of state's office this year and appear to have lost the state land commission office. In addition, they continue to confront a ruling conservative coalition in the state Senate that is cemented by Martinez Democrats.

The passion and energy in New Mexican politics is all on the Republican side. Worred Democrats say their party needs new blood and perhaps a bloodletting. If Haaland is content to preside over the status quo that could make room for a stiff challenge. That is, if the veil of apathy over what has happened to the majority party is to be lifted.


Dems are mulling over who will replace ABQ Dem State Rep. Mimi Stewart now that the Bernalillo County Commission has appointed her to the state senate to fill the vacancy created when Sen. Tim Keller was elected state auditor. One name that has surfaced has some controversy around it.

Former ABQ Dem State Senator Bernadette Sanchez now lives in Stewart's NE Heights district and is said to be interested in being named by the BernCo Commission to fill her shoes. But some Dems fret that Sanchez might not be a reliable Dem vote, citing her move to reinstate the tax on food in 2010. It didn't go anywhere but in the process Sanchez alienated the liberal wing of the party who called her bill "The Tortilla Tax" and passed out tortillas at the Roundhouse.

If Sanchez wins the appointment it won't make much of a difference for now. The House is newly controlled by the Republicans. But down the road--in 2016--the Dems hope to take the House back. If they do that by just a vote or two they worry that Sanchez could thwart their efforts by entering into a coalition with the House R's. Will that give the majority Dems on the commission second thoughts about sending her to Santa Fe? A decision is expected later this month. Stay tuned.


Newshound Steve Terrell says it was so cold at Susana Martinez's first inauguration that the ink in his pen froze. We know. Why in the heck is a reporter in the digital age using ink? In any event, Terrell and the public at large won't have to worry about being frozen out at Susana's second inauguration. Wisely, it has been scheduled indoors--for the state House Chambers at 9:00 a.m. January 1st. That will be followed by a reception--also open to the public--at 10:30 a.m. at the capitol Rotunda.

In a twist the inaugural ball on New Year's night will not be in Santa Fe, but at the ABQ Convention Center. Tickets are required. Pre-inaugural events include a "Governor's Gala" Dec. 28 in Las Cruses at the Pan American Center and a December 31st 5 p.m. mass at Santa Fe's Cathedral Basilica. Info and tickets for all events is here.

By the way, Maria Berry, wife of ABQ GOP Mayor Richard Berry, will chair the ABQ inaugural ball. Hey, what about Debbie Sanchez, wife of Lt. Gov. John Sanchez? He's running for Governor in 2018, too, you know.


Readers have been weighing on what is New Mexico's most iconic building after the UNM athletic director nominated the famous basketball "Pit" as numero uno. Reader Joe Craig comes with his faves:

Los Poblanos is one of the top three cultural gems in New Mexico. From the huge Peter Hurd mural to the Gustave Bauman carvings, it is a continuous work of art with a history going back to 1716. With its John Gaw Meem architecture from 1930's to the current stewardship of the Rembe family it is nothing short of remarkable. Los Poblanos coupled with Acoma Pueblo and Taos Pueblo all take your breath away. There is nothing in Santa Fe that even comes close to Los Poblanos.....

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