Thursday, January 14, 2021

"She's Out" Shout The Analysts As Herrell Sides With Trump On Impeachment Vote; "Damned If She Did, Damned If She Didn't," Plus: Lujan's Heavy Hitter And ABQ's Murder Meter 

Rep. Herrell
"She's out." 

That was the flat declaration from longtime political analyst Greg Payne and others as southern GOP Congresswoman Yvette Herrell voted against impeaching President Trump Wednesday and with no regrets. Opined Payne, a Dem who was an ABQ GOP City Councilor:

Her votes to decertify the election already had her in the redistricting doghouse. Now this vote gives the Democrats even more motivation to redistrict her out of office when they carve out new boundaries this year. And I don't believe there will be much blowback against the Dems for doing it. But if Yvette had voted to impeach, she would have drawn a primary challenge from the Trump wing. She was damned if she did and damned if she didn't.

Former Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (who Herrell defeated in 2020) is watching intently. She is high on the list of Dems who may make a run for the seat in two years. Meantime, the pundits see no path for Yvette except the one leading to the exits.

So how about a path for the New Mexico Republican Party? Payne says somehow the party "must find its way back to the middle" with new personalities not associated with Trump. "I don't see anyone raising their hand," he declared.


Commenting on rebuilding the NM GOP, one of our readers maintained that the party could be encouraged by their 2020 showing in Dona Ana county, home of Democratic Las Cruces. But writing from DC Mike Bocian of GBAO Strategies says, No Way, Jose: 

Take a look at the Dona Ana County numbers for yourself.  In 2020: Lujan and Biden won the county by +19 %. In 2016 it was Hillary Clinton +18. In 2012 Obama carried it +15 and in 2008 Obama won  +18 percent. How are those encouraging numbers for Republicans--either on their face or as a trend line? 


Reader reaction now to our blogging about former GOP US Senate candidate Mark Ronchetti who has returned to his old job of weather forecasting for ABQ CBS affiliate KRQE-TV. Mark Rosebrough says:

Joe, I am dismayed by the efforts of some to undermine Mark Ronchetti's ability to engage in gainful employment. As an independent voter, I gave his candidacy for the Senate due consideration. Any chances of me voting for him ended the moment he embraced President Trump. Trumpism is toxic, and I cannot understand how anyone could support its tenets. But the proper recourse against Mr. Ronchetti's embrace of Trumpism was at the ballot box, not his ability to obtain employment. Such vendettas are unnecessarily divisive and will not help our nation to engage in the healing that it so desperately needs. Let the man feed his family.

 Larry Verr Bruggge writes:

I am very disappointed in KRQE manager Bill Anderson for having an agreement with Mark Ronchetti which is basically a golden parachute--a cash contract if all else fails. This leads me to believe that Mr. Anderson has some of the same political beliefs as Ronchetti and maybe Trump. Since this is a cash guarantee for Ronchetti, could this not be construed as a political contribution? 


Carlos Sanchez
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan has tapped a heavy hitter for his DC chief of staff, reports one of our Alligators. Carlos Sanchez had already been Lujan’s chief of staff when he was Assistant House Speaker and now has that role in the Senate office. 

Sanchez, a Texas product, is a former chief to Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio and served in 2016 as Hillary Clinton's Deputy National Political Director. Sanchez also had a stint as press secretary for Nancy Pelosi and put in time with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Just a reminder, Carlos, ABQ lost the competition for the US Space Command headquarters this week so whatever political acumen you bring to the table, use it to bring us some badly needed pork. We're waiting.


ABQ closed out 2020 with 76 murders, four shy of the 80 committed in 2019. That brought this rant from the reader mailbag: 

What if we weren't in lockdown? What would the murder rate look like then? And this self-congratulatory BS that because it's four lower than the record? The heads at City Hall are so far up their collective a##es they'd need abdomens of glass to see any semblance of the real world! 

We welcome your well-organized rants, comments, criticism, and existential angst. 

 This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Ronchetti Redux; More On His TV Move, A Little Gloating For SOS And Dem Chair Race Starts 

Reader Frank Aranda did some legwork and says he discovered that KRQE-TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti had a deal with station management before he announced his Republican candidacy for the US Senate seat that he eventually lost to Dem Ben Ray Lujan. First, Aranda sent management an email critical of Ronchetti's rehiring:

I watch CBS news for its integrity but if you keep this mouthpiece on your staff you will only tarnish the CBS legacy as well as that of your local news staff and I will seek out an alternate station and purposely contact every one of your sponsors to inform that I will do no business with them and encourage my friends to do likewise. . 

Aranda reports he then had a phone conversation with manager Bill Anderson: 

Mr Anderson said Ronchetti was his guy and that last January he said Ronchetti could return if he lost election and that in essence Ronchetti was here to stay. 

So it seems Ronchetti did not take the major risk of losing his well-paying weather gig but was given a safety net for his long shot US Senate campaign. Aranda quotes Anderson as saying Ronchetti is here to stay, which seems to rule out another political bid with the station providing that unusually generous safety net. But if we see a Ronchetti for Governor banner hung outside of KRQE, we'll be sure to let you know.  


Commenting on rebuilding the NM GOP, one of our readers maintained that the party could be encouraged by their showing in Dona Ana county, home of Democratic Las Cruces but writing from DC Mike Bocian of GBAO Strategies says no way, Jose: 

Take a look at the Dona Ana County numbers for yourself.  In 2020: Lujan and Biden won the county by +19 %. In 2016 it was Hillary Clinton +18. In 2012 Obama carried it +15 and in 2008 Obama won  +18 percent. How are those encouraging numbers for Republicans - either on their face or as a trend line?  


Maybe a little gloating is in order after you've been called a dishonest, election-rigging Secretary of State:

The Trump campaign (has withdrawn) their lawsuit against my Office attempting to invalidate New Mexico’s secure and lawful 2020 General Election and withdrew their overly burdensome public records requests motivated by an outlandish conspiracy theory involving Dominion Voting Systems. As no new facts have come to light since they filed this lawsuit, except the anti-democratic horror show that played out as the U.S. Capitol, this withdrawal suggests that the Trump campaign knew from the very beginning that their lawsuit was baseless. . . Let me be clear: New Mexican election officials ran one of the safest and most secure elections in our state’s history and yet this lawsuit attempted to throw out the votes of every New Mexico voter . . .

Biden won New Mexico by nearly 100,000 votes. 

And here's something for R's involved in the election conspiracy nonsense to make them even more depressed. Because she was elected in 2016 to fill out two years of the unexpired term of the previous SOS, Maggie Toulouse Oliver is eligible for two full terms of her own. The second of which she could seek in 2022 and, if successful, would keep her in office until 2027.  


Jessica Velasquez is the first announced candidate for Dem Party chair, a position that Marg Elliston announced she will leave. State Central Committee members will chose the new chair in April. In '20 Velasquez was a candidate for a state House in the East Mountains of ABQ. 

Meanwhile, Elliston and GOP Party Chairman Steve Pearce did TV interviews About the capitol riots and what motivated them. You can read that here. But R readers be forewarned: Elliston took Steve to the cleaners on this one. 


Dem BernCo District 5 Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty is the new chair of the Bernalillo County Commission for 2021 and District 2 Dem Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada is the new vice chair. They were elected unanimously. The commission has 4 Dems and one R.

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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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Monday, January 11, 2021

Trump Spasms Cause More NM Fallout; Redistricting Herrell; Easier Confirmation Path For Haaland, And: Reader Vox Populi Is Back 

Pearce and Herrell
Welcome back. The wreckage of Trumpism is creating more fallout in La Politica. Here's the deal. . . 

Chatter in Dem circles has the Legislature redistricting GOP Trump ally Rep. Yvette Herrell out of office by moving heavily Native American precincts in McKinley county into her southern congressional district from the northern district

Redistricting--set for later this year for congressional and legislative seats--could also see precincts in BernCo's South Valley go into the southern district to help pave the way for the Dems to take the seat back in 2022. 

Herrell's maiden speech on the House floor in the wee morning hours Friday was an objection to certifying the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania. 

That further inflamed those already seeking her ouster citing her as the prime symbol and a chief actor in the radicalization of a large swath of the New Mexican Republican party. A GOP consultant choosing anonymity, opined of the speech:

Honestly I thought it was an embarrassment, I can see that speech being used in an attack ad against her with unforgettable images of the rioters. The country saw something unthinkable that day and here she is trying to please her shrinking base in CD-2. She’s going to need more than her base in 2022. 

Meanwhile, Dem fears that Rep. Deb Haaland could have rough going with Senate R's when she appears for confirmation as Secretary of Interior have been muted now that D victories in Georgia have given the party a Senate majority. 

The contest for Haaland's seat, which would become vacant upon her joining the Biden cabinet, is getting more crowded. Victor Reyes, legislative director for MLG, announces he will become the first Dem male to seek the seat, joining four women in the race. (Video here.)

Reyes, who would be the first openly gay member of Congress from NM, says:

I’ll fight for racial justice, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ and transgender rights. Together, with the support of the voters of the district, we’ll prioritize criminal justice reform and provide real support for our families and small businesses amid this pandemic. Just like I’ve done here in New Mexico, I’ll never back down to the NRA. . . 

Members of the D and R Central Committees will choose nominees for a special election to fill the ABQ seat, probably to occur in June.

And former Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr., a onetime Republican who enjoys stirring the waters, says he'll run for Haaland's seat as an independent. Not a bad idea as the R's are on the ropes after the mob attack in DC.

2022 is a long way off but T or C State Rep. Rebecca Dow is toying with a run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination as scuttlebutt grows louder that GOP chairman Steve Pearce will seek the nod. 

The Pearce possibility is raising concern because he lost the last Governor's race in a landslide and has also suffered a landslide defeat for US Senate. 


Former NM Environment Secretary and Dem Judith Espinosa comments on Rep. Herrell and the GOP:

What was Rep. Herrell's first order of business? Was it to stand to assist New Mexicans who have lost their livelihoods, health and family members because of the pandemic? Herrell’s first action was to prostrate herself before Trump and object to certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Steve Pearce, Yvette Herrell and the GOP have assisted Trump in turning our country into a state of homegrown insurrection whose chief sponsor promotes the ruination of our great Democracy. It will be decades before we regain our democratic standing in the world thanks to the pandering to Trump from people like them who hold influential positions. No, Joe, there is no rescue for the NM GOP or the US GOP and frankly I’m not shedding any tears. Salud y Paz.

Former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez writes:

Joe; I caught your headline Thursday, saying, “Trumpism hits bottom. . . ”. While this may be a new low for Trump, his tenure has taught us repeatedly that with him, there is no bottom. Heaven help us between now and the 20th. 


Reader Doug Chilson, retired from the Air Force and living near Lovington, writes of his unwavering support for Trump:

Trump is not going away. I voted Trump twice. Will gladly do so again with zero hesitation, hopefully in 2024. We saw Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA riot and loot last summer. Peaceful protests? Horse kaka. I note they were not called domestic terrorists. Are Democrats even aware of how hypocritical they sound?  

Former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish writes of the events of the day: 

With the Dems securing the majority in the Senate the confirmation of Deb Haaland will likely be accelerated and the race for CD1 will pick up speed. The Republicans will continue to be irrelevant and irresponsible (note the tweets of  Michelle Garcia Homes supporting the insurrection).   

Yvette Herrell will try to slink into oblivion after her miscalculation of objecting to certifying the election not realizing that even the voters of CD2 are horrified at what happened at the Capitol. All the enablers/hoodlums will be remembered and she is one of them. Such a bad start to her stint as a congressperson. We promise to make it a short one. 


Conservative intellectual Andrew Sullivan on last week's Capitol upheaval:

The week was, in many ways, the essence of American “conservatism” in 2021. It has morphed from a politics to a theological movement to a personality cult. It is a threat to the very foundations of liberal democracy. It is nihilist, performative, incoherent and bristling with the certainty of fundamentalists and the corruption of grifters. It has destroyed this country’s fiscal standing, wrecked this country’s international reputation, trashed the norms and practices of liberal democracy, perverted the rule of law, accelerated climate change, and now physically vandalized the most sacred civil place in America.  

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