Tuesday, January 12, 2021

One And Done: Ronchetti Back On TV, Plus NM Dem Party Chair Elliston Calls It A Day After Three Year Run, And: Polling And Tussling Over Early Childhood Amendment 

And that is that. The political career of TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti turns out to be a very brief one. 

Viewers of KRQE-TV Monday night were surprised to see Ronchetti back before the cameras--not delivering pointed campaign ads against Ben Ray Lujan--but returning to his old perch as TV meteorologist. 

Ronchetti, who lost the 2020 US Senate race to Democrat Lujan by six points, had been rumored to be a possible future GOP Guv candidate, but that no longer appears to be in the offing.

As could be expected, his image as a happy, go lucky weather guy with a sense of humor took a battering when he entered the political arena. How that impacts his ratings with KRQE remains to be seen. 

Apparently the station isn’t worried about the returning Ronchetti bringing a perception of bias or that many Democratic viewers will not be comforted by seeing him on their TV screens. They can argue he is not officially in the news department. Still independent Ryan Stark was quick to strike:

Bringing back Mark "I stand with President Trump" Ronchetti after last week's events? That's terminal tone-deafness. The "bust potential" for KRQE's ratings should be 100 percent. Pay whatever is left on his contract to make him go away. . . 

Ronchetti’s resurfacing was not trumpeted (get that?) and he was introduced by the news anchor as someone who had simply come back. Did he have a pre-arranged deal with the station?

Whatever the case, the weatherman who had his head in the clouds has returned to earth. 


She's getting out while the getting is good. NM Democratic Party Chair Marg Eliston will end her three year tenure and a replacement will be selected in April. Her time was marked by a run of Democratic dominance that had not been seen since the 70's:

Under her leadership New Mexico has elected strong leaders up-and-down the ballot and become a solidly blue state. In 2018 our party launched our New Mexico for All coordinated campaign, flipping the governor’s mansion and sweeping every statewide and federal office. In the recent 2020 elections, we delivered our electoral votes for President-elect Biden and continued to expand our lead in the Roundhouse. 

Elliston, wife of legendary US Senator Fred Harris, will be leaving the post at a historic low point for the R's, who not only have been kept out of all significant offices but face the mammoth undertaking of rebuilding the party in the wake of the Trump wreckage.

As for the next chair, don't be surprised if competition develops between the moderate Hillary Clinton forces and the left, who will want a Bernie Sanders type in the post. 


Nothing has changed. That's the result of the latest polling of registered voters on whether they support a constitutional amendment that would allow a small portion of the state's nearly $21 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to be tapped for very early childhood education. 

Dr. Gabe Sánchez of LD Insights reports a poll conducted January 3-9 for CHI St. Joseph's Children shows 72 percent support for the proposal, with even 63 percent of the R's now backing the amendment.

The amendment has gained support over a decade when New Mexico remained last or near last in public educational achievement.

The amendment, sponsored for years by ABQ Dem state Reps Moe Maestas and Javier Martinez, has passed the House several times but been thwarted in the Senate Finance Committee. But with the Senate's swing left as a result of the 2020 election, the amendment's chances are seen as much stronger this year.

MLG, in a conference call with lawmakers and amendment backers, called the House sponsors "stalwarts" and added, "I feel very good about getting this resolution over the finish line.”

Constitutional amendments don't require the signature of the Governor but a majority of the House and Senate. After that, they go to the voters.

Here is the zoom conference call with MLG, lawmakers and amendment backers. Passcode is WJc&c9pS.


There is still a bit of a tussle in the Senate over the amendment which would generate some $180 million annually for early childhood ed. Public school unions are pushing to share any new money. 

The longtime chair of Senate Finance--John Arthur Smith--was defeated last year. A new chair, who would likely be more supportive of the amendment, has yet to be named but many are lining up for the power post. 

Speaking of money and such, MLG's proposed budget for the year starting July 1 is out. It proposes spending $7.3 billion, 3 percent more than the current budget. The eyebrow raiser is the proposed 25 percent reserve or about $1.8 billion. (Complete budget here).

MLG calls that huge reserve "fiscally responsible" and that could be a problem. The argument being that she is overprotecting against a future economic crash while we already have one on our hands that needs ever bolder measures to address. NMSU economist Jim Peach is among those advocating for a near zero reserve as we confront depression-like conditions in a number of industries as well as many families. 

It's easy to stuff money under the mattress but harder to come up with imaginative ways to relieve the economic pain inflicted by the pandemic. But more imagination--not more mattress stuffing--is what's need at our historic capitol. More on that coming soon to a blog near you. . . 

Thanks for the company. 

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