Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Down And Out State House Dems Start Campaign To Get Back In, Today Is A Stealth Election Day And WIPP And The Spaceport 

Invite (click to enlarge)
Beleaguered state House Democrats kick off their fund-raising drive this week for what they are calling the "The Campaign To Retake The Majority In The New Mexico House Of Representatives?" It won't be easy, say a wide array of insiders.

Several point to ABQ as the main problem and Republican State Reps Conrad James and Sarah Maestas Barnes. Both were elected to once Democratic seats in 2014 and were key to the GOP's historic takeover of the 70 member House. Legislative experts say the path for the Dems retaking the chamber will go through at least one of those districts and probably both.

Maestas Barnes and James are the result of a superior recruiting effort by the Guv's political machine. Both are young, attractive candidates who will be amply financed. Their vulnerability is greater in a presidential year when voter turnout will bring more Dems to the polls but so far neither have run into major  problems and both have appeal to minority voters (James is African-American).

One Dem consultant says the vote the pair took this year in favor of abortion restrictions might be an opening, but it will take much more to oust these incumbents.

The House is divided 37 to 33 so Dems will need to pick up three seats next year to retake the chamber from the R's.

The Thursday fund-raiser features mostly ABQ reps and will be held at the home of former NM Dem Chairman Jonn Wertheim and wife Bianca, who is a top aide to Dem US Senator Tom Udall.

The GOP continues to score Dem State Auditor Tim Keller for serving as a co-host for such events, claiming he has a conflict of interest. Keller has not responded to their allegations but Attorney General Balderas--who along with Keller is being criticized by the GOP for soliciting campaign contributions to defeat Republicans--is not listed as a cohost.

Both Keller and Balderas are seen as future key players for higher office thus the intense Republican scrutiny on the duo. Keller is a former state senator and Balderas is a former state representative.


Never mind 2016 there's an election to follow today. It's that below-the-radar (way below) election for seats on the board of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. Board member Adrian Oglesby helpfully explains:

The MRGCD election is as important as it is ignored. As a current Board member I am thrilled that we have competitive races but dismayed at the lack of coverage. The MRGCD is undergoing a remarkable transformation. . . It is now transparent, efficient, and engaged with all of its communities. The MRGCD plays a huge role in the Middle Rio Grande: it owns 30,000 acres of the best remaining cottonwood Bosque; a third of its 1,200 miles of ditch are used for recreation; the farms we serve are still getting water even in the worst of droughts; and it is fortifying our levees. All this is happening with new high-quality professional management. We still have a lot of work to do to take advantage of all the MRGCD has to offer. Today's election will have a big influence on the future of our valley.

Only homeowners in the district can vote. Election info is here and candidate info here.


Let's have a bet. What's going to happen first? The NM Spaceport launches passengers into space or the WIPP site reopens? We may have to wait awhile to resolve our friendly wager. WIPP is a shambles and the Spaceport, well, it's more of the same:

After the October accident, Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said the company would be flight testing its replacement spacecraft by April 2015. This hope has not materialised either and even plans to resume flying trials before the end of the year now appear to be in doubt. Asked when the company might get someone into space, Mr Whitesides told Newsnight: "I am hesitant to give a specific date because I want to give our flight test team the time that they need to do it right."

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