Thursday, December 03, 2015

Battle Joined Over State Political Narrative As '16 Nears; R's Are All Crime; Dems Pounce On Corruption And Economy, Plus: Calling NM Blue For Prez Race Has R Seeing Red 

The fight for the 2016 state political narrative is underway with the GOP marketing "an all crime all the time" agenda and the Dems saying it's all about corruption that Gov. Martinez promised to clean up but hasn't and thus the state economy remains in the gutter.

In Alamogordo, the Dem Party executive director advanced the argument this way:

Right now I think you're seeing a big push from us talking about the corruption in Santa Fe and what we can do as a party to fix that. (Martinez) ran in 2010 to clean up corruption and specifically said when you clean up corruption then you create jobs. What we're seeing is that she's done neither. Economically, you can't read a paper in this state daily without seeing some concerning sign about the economy.

Meantime, a group of GOP legislators is calling on the NM Supreme Court to liberalize the amount of time ABQ police and prosecutors have to present evidence of a crime to the defense or risk getting cases dismissed. ABQ has been struck by a violent crime wave that has dominated recent headlines. Of course, the R's will also hammer Senate Dems over the perennial issue of driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and try to paint them in a corner over a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow judges to deny bail to criminal defendants.

The stakes are future control of the state House which the R's took over in 2014 for the first time in 60 years and the GOP effort to add the state Senate to their column.

At the starting gate it appears the status quo--the House stays under the R's and the Dems continue to control the Senate--is the safest bet. But starting in a few months millions will be spent by both sides to advance the above narratives and to change the odds of the eventual outcome.


We posted a comment from the chief WaPo political pundit this week saying that NM is now reliably blue when it comes to presidential contests. We agree but veteran GOP politico and DC lobbyist Jim Richards, who has ties to NM, comes with the counterargument:

I have to take issue with the Chris Cilizza blurb you posted on a Blue New Mexico. While we did lose NM in 2000 (thanks to an Eastside snow storm!) and lost again in  '08 and '12, the last time I checked my home state currently has a Republican Governor and State House, the latter for the first time since most of your readers were born and the former, much to the chagrin of many on the left, is a Hispanic Female Republican! Contrary to the conventional wisdom of many, I would argue that Hispanics are not a Democrat monolith.  In fact, as a strong supporter of Marco Rubio and someone who is actively working to advance his campaign, I would argue that a Rubio led ticket has great potential to turn NM red again. When that happens I will happily serve the pundits a healthy plate of crow. . . 

Thanks, Jim. But Chris and I are on the same page on the prez race here. We're looking very blue for a very long time. That, however, does not play out on the state level where the R's have done a good job in advancing their party, thanks in part to the much lower voter turnout in non presidential years. But if we're wrong about the prez race, please serve our crow medium rare with a side of Hatch green chile to soften the taste.


Rep. Javier Martinez
Not much is expected to change in the legislative battle over a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow voters to decide if they want to tap the state's nearly $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund and devote about $125 a million a year of it for ten years to very early chil hood programs--from infancy through five years old.

Advocates, of which we are one, will introduce the measure in the '16 session of the Legislature to keep momentum for it going. ABQ Dem State Sen. Michael Padilla will carry it in the Senate and ABQ Dem Reps. Javier Martinez and Antonio "Moe" Maestas will sponsor it in the House.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith is the annual brick wall to the proposal and he says he will again oppose it. The GOP controlled House is also not friendly toward the measure. But the state has slipped to some of its worst social conditions rankings in history in recent years, prompting Veronica Garcia, head of NM Voices for Children, to describe herself as "angry." That anger will again be channeled through debate over the amendment, even if immediate success is not on the table.

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