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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Historic Night In The Land Of Enchantment As Long March For Legal Marijuana Ends In Victory, Plus: The Stansbury Stunner; She Pulls Off Upset To Become Dem Party Congress Nominee 

Celebrating On Senate Floor (Journal)
An historic night in the Land of Enchantment Wednesday as New Mexico joined the ranks of states legalizing recreational marijuana. Whether that is for better or worse is to be determined but politically it is yet another event that cements a more liberal politics in a state that has so often hewed to the center or right. 

The 22 to 15 vote of approval in the Senate followed a 38 to 32 win for the measure in the House. The bill now goes to Gov. Lujan Grisham who called the special session to push the bill through, after it fell short in the regular 60 say session. 

It was like an Election Night with the winners popping the champagne corks and the losers drowning in their stale beer. MLG spoke for the champagne sippers (and pot mavens):

This is a good bill. This special session was a success. And the work of making sure that this industry is a success, that New Mexicans are able to reap the full economic and social benefit of legalized adult-use cannabis, that workplace and roadway safety are assured to the greatest degree possible – that work will go on. Change never comes easily and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like. But with this major step forward, we are signaling more clearly than ever before that we are ready, as a state, to truly break new ground, to think differently about ourselves and our economic future.

GOP Chairman Steve Pearce came forth with the bitter brew: 

This marijuana session was a travesty. As expected, progressive Democrats catered to the Governor’s wishes to make sure this legislation was passed. There was no need for lawmakers to return to the Roundhouse for this bill. With New Mexico’s collapsed economy, high unemployment and weak education system, it’s sad that marijuana takes priority in a Special Session. Legalizing pot is not an important issue with the state facing so many serious problems. In addition, recreational marijuana would lead to even more crime, underage use and impaired driving. 

ABQ Dem State Rep. Javier Martinez was a big winner, shepherding the measure for several years, showing the patience of Job and the passion of a Roman gladiator. In the regular session he had done the same with the constitutional amendment that would tap the Permanent Fund for early childhood education. That is significant legislating. And that may be an understatement. 

These are House-based measures that the Senate now agrees to. The power shift to the lower chamber is in our faces as the Senate is now chaotic, having lost veteran members in last year's election who kept the place together. Meantime, House Speaker Egolf has grown in stature--and importance. 

For MLG she was as much a survivor as a winner, coming dangerously close to losing the marijuana bill. But her bag of tricks worked, at least this time, and the adrenaline ride she got and gave paid off. 

Legalization could be a signature achievement for her, if the reality lives up to the hype, or it could be her Rail Runner, endlessly looking for light at the end of the tunnel. One sidebar: legalization takes effect in April of 2022, just in time for the next gubernatorial election.

THE COMEBACK KID

Melanie Stansbury 
She may have to take a cue from Bill Clinton and start calling herself "the comeback kid." 

After last night State Rep. Melanie Stansbury has surely earned the title. In a major upset she captured the Democratic Party nomination for the vacant ABQ congressional seat, narrowly getting by Antoinette Sedillo Lopez. That came on the heels of a 16 point loss to Sedillo Lopez in the first round of balloting Tuesday by 200 Dem Party Central Committee members who made the decision.

The stunning victory was a shock to the more progressive wing of the party (read Bernie Sanders) who rallied behind attorney Sedillo Lopez only to see her lose a heartbreaker, 103-97 or 51.24% to 48.26%.

But they might have seen it coming. Stansbury pulled off her first upset when she flipped a Republican state House seat in ABQ's NE Heights to the Dem column in 2018. 

She may have to wait a while to stun La Politica again. The 42 year old with a science background will enter the June 1 special election as a heavy favorite. She will run against Republican State Sen. Mark Moores and others. No R has won the ABQ district since 2006. 

HEALING TIME

The establishment Dems put on a last minute rally following the Tuesday night defeat, with Stansbury rolling out endorsements from a crop of them, including Julie Heinrich, as well as fellow House members. It paid off. 

Also, even some supporters of Sedillo Lopez said she "had lost a step" since her last run for Congress in 2018.

While there isn’t a mile of policy distance between the two contenders, there is some. Stansbury is from the Obama wing and will bring a bit more pragmatism to the campaign than Sedillo Lopez.  

There was grumbling that a woman of color will not fill the seat any longer, breaking up the state's status as the only one with a US House delegation composed entirely of women of color. There were other unfortunate racial overtones in the campaign that will have to be addressed. 

After her win Stansbury gave the healing a shot : 

 I want to take a moment tonight to thank all of the candidates who ran for CD1 and particularly @ASL4Justice4all, who ran phenomenal campaigns filled with heart & vision. Thank you & your teams for lifting up the issues that matter most. Together we will win on June 1st. 

For her part, Sedillo Lopez said on Facebook:

It was a long drive home from Santa Fe...I want to thank my amazing team, friends and supporters who worked so hard on this incredible race. I am grateful to everyone who spoke with me about the future of our country and our state. I want to Congratulate Melanie Stansbury, our soon to be CD-1 Representative. We need to all come together to keep the seat blue!

The announcement of Stansbury's win was particularly poignant for Sedillo Lopez. It occurred as she and the other Senators began their first round of voting on the historic marijuana legalization bill. It was those kind of votes she will not be making in the US Congress.

Leave it to 'ol Steve Pearce to throw some dirt on the dance floor: 

 The decision to pick Stansbury, a California-style progressive, shows that Democrats are determined to continue on this path in Washington. She backs legislation that destroys jobs, cripples our economy and heavily taxes New Mexicans. This won’t change on Capitol Hill. Rep. Stansbury is one of the most radical lawmakers in this state. She is simply out of touch with the needs of New Mexico.

Dems will stay on their toes for Steve and the gang, but unless Stansbury's closet is filled with unspeakables, an aggressive get out the vote campaign combined with a heavy dose of advertising puts her in the driver's seat. 

What an event filled week. Even the Alligators are finally sated and ready for a respite, as we are sure you are.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Easter, New Mexico! 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

STANSBURY WINS CONGRESS RUNOFF ; Sedillo Lopez Scores Commanding First Round Win; She Faces Stansbury In Runoff Today For The ABQ Dem Congress Nomination, Plus: Marijuana Moves At Special Session  

Breaking Wednesday evening: 

State Rep. Melanie Stansbury scored an upset win at today’s Democratic Party runoff election, beating Antoinette Sedillo Lopez for the Democratic nomination for the June 1 special election to fill the vacant ABQ congressional seat. Sedillo Lopez had defeated Stansbury by 16 points in the first election round but prevailed today 103-97 in the central committee vote. Stansbury will face GOP State Sen. Mark Moores. 

More from the Dem Party: 

 The results are as follows: Melanie Stansbury - 103 votes, 51.24% Antoinette Sedillo Lopez - 97 votes, 48.26% In addition, one person wrote in “ABSTAIN” Therefore, Melanie Stansbury has received 51.24% of the votes and is the Democratic nominee in the CD-1 general election, which will take place on June 1, 2021.

She ran third in 2018 when she last sought the Democratic nod for the ABQ congressional seat but Tuesday she rose to the top of the heap. Now Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is closing in on becoming the party's nominee for the vacant ABQ US House seat that will be decided at a June 1 special election. 

Sedillo Lopez scored a commanding win Tuesday in the first round of voting by 199 members of the Dem Party's central committee. She garnered 74 votes or 37.19%, with second place finisher Melanie Stansbury getting 43 votes or 21.61 percent. 

Under party rules, because no candidate in the eight person field received 50% there will be a runoff election today between top finishers Sedillo Lopez and Stansbury. The winner will face Republican nominee and ABQ State Senator Mark Moores at the special election. 

Also on the ballot will be Libertarian nominee Chris Manning, although KOB-TV’s Ryan Laughlin reports a lawsuit has been filed over the legitimacy of his candidacy. Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is gathering signatures to run as an independent.

With an impressive showing in the first round Sedillo Lopez, 63, an attorney and ABQ state senator, is the  favorite to win today. But Stansbury, 40, an ABQ state representative, has waged a feisty campaign. After the first round vote was announced she rolled out more endorsements in the hope of scoring an upset win. 

The low-key, insider method for picking the Dem nominee belies the fact that this is a high-stakes happening. The party's choice will be heavily favored to become the next US Rep. The Dems have held the seat since claiming it in the 2008 election. 

As in the first round, today's second round will take place via email from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

Here are the complete results from round one:  

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez - 74 votes; Melanie Stansbury - 43 votes; Randi McGinn - 34 votes; Victor Reyes - 18 votes; Selinda Guerrero - 13 votes; Georgene Louis - 13 votes; Francisco Fernández - 2 votes; Patricia Roybal Caballero - 1 vote. In addition, one person abstained.

Sedillo Lopez, who wears her progressive stripes on her sleeve and who was helped in the committee voting by supporters of Bernie Sanders, now seeks the backers of other candidates: 

I’m honored to earn the trust, confidence, and enough of the vote to enter a runoff. . . Our campaign is based on equity, justice, and stewardship. Running amongst talented, hard-working Democratic candidates for this seat has been the privilege of a lifetime. Each of my fellow Democratic candidates demonstrated will, passion, and dedication. Coming out of the first round with a 16% lead is a testament to this campaign's hardworking supporters, volunteers, and staff.

For her part, Stansbury said

I am proud to have the support of so many in our communities and looking forward to Tuesday's second round of voting. As someone who was born and raised in New Mexico, I have the grit, determination, and heart to win this election. . .With eight candidates in this race, it's been a tireless effort to get here. My team is thrilled to advance to the runoff,

Third place finisher McGinn made no endorsement for the runoff in the hours after the votes were announced.

The seat became vacant when Rep. Deb Haaland was appointed Sec. of Interior. She made no endorsement in the contest.

No matter what happens today the Dems will field a woman nominee for the ABQ seat as they have since MLG first won the seat in 2012. 

MOVING MARIJUANA ALONG

If there is to be any fireworks at the special legislative session over legalizing recreational cannabis in New Mexico they should come today, after the state House approves the bill and sends it over to a more skeptical Senate. 

The bill is nearly 180 pages long and has not dramatically changed since it failed to win Senate approval in the regular 60 day session which prompted MLG to call the special session. There is plenty of room to debate, amend and maybe filibuster. 

The session began at noon Tuesday and could end late today if the Governor and pro-pot lawmakers manage to extinguish any blazes that erupt in the Senate. If not, well, that's when things would get interesting.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Sedillo Lopez And Stansbury Head To Runoff To Decide Dem Nominee For ABQ Congress Special Election; Cannabis Chaos: Republicans Bolt On Special Session; Call for Delay; Sen. Candelaria Uncut; Rips Guv; She Bites Back;  

Breaking Tuesday night. Results are in from the first round of voting by Dem Party Central Committee members to nominate a candidate for the vacant ABQ US House seat for the June 1 special election. There will be a runoff election tomorrow between Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Melanie Stansbury. From the Dems: 

 199 Democratic State Central Committee (SCC) members in CD-1 cast their first votes today to determine who will be the Democratic nominee for the first Congressional District seat recently vacated by Secretary Deb Haaland. Candidates must receive 50% plus 1 vote in order to secure the nomination. The results are as follows: 

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez - 74 votes Melanie Stansbury - 43 votes Randi McGinn - 34 votes Victor Reyes - 18 votes Selinda Guerrero - 13 votes Georgene Louis - 13 votes Francisco Fernández - 2 votes Patricia Roybal Caballero - 1 vote In addition, one person wrote in "ABSTAIN." 

Therefore, no candidate has reached the 50% +1 threshold. In accordance with DPNM Rules, the smallest number of candidates whose vote totals exceed 50% will move on to a runoff. In this case Antoinette Sedillo Lopez received 37.19% of the vote and State Representative Melanie Stansbury received 21.61% of the vote. These candidates will move on to a runoff to be held tomorrow, March 31st, from 7:00am to 7:00pm, via remote balloting. 

State Sen. Mark Moores has been nominated by the R's for the special election to fill the seat left vacant by Rep. Deb Haaland who she became Sec. of Interior.

Cannabis chaos wrapped itself around the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana Monday and like a boa constrictor started to squeeze the life out of its prey. 

Senate Republicans essentially walked out of the session before it even begins at noon today. The caucus said they are sick of the closed door dealmaking going on over one of the most important bills in state history. They called for delaying the session.

The R's are important because one of them, Sen. Cliff Pirtle, was poised to vote for a bill as were a couple more of his colleagues. Now that block of 15 in the 42 member Senate seems aligned against MLG. If seven Dem Senators defect with them, cannabis goes down.

But it could be a filibuster that dooms legal weed, if history is any guide. The R's would have 8 hours to filibuster the bill once it hit the Senate floor and that could be enough to crack support. 

On the other hand, the Governor has her prestige and future leadership on the line. She will push with all she's got but if she goes over the line into bullying and too many threats over legislators bills sitting on her desk and their capital outlay money, she risks a backfire. 

And not releasing the bill to all the lawmakers before the session is a power play that is hard for many of them to swallow. 

(The House is like the old Soviet style Politburo and will rubber stamp whatever is sent them.)

MLG is popular in her party but this once in a generation vote is already tearing the Senate apart. 

CANDELARIA UNCUT

ABQ Dem Senator Jacob Candelaria, now a constant critic of MLG, lashed out at her again on the eve of the session, predicting it is headed for a "complete meltdown" because of the failure to reach an agreement before lawmakers convene. Like the R's, he called for the session to be called off. 

The Fourth Floor bit back, noting Candelaria's employment as an attorney for a leading medical marijuana company, Ultra Health:

 It's hard sometimes to tell where the senator ends and the attorney for the state's largest medical cannabis company begins. He is welcome to his criticism and certainly his own vote but not his own facts about the legislation that will be introduced and what the governor does and does not support. 

Behind the scenes lawmakers were telling close associates that they were flabbergasted that they were being called back without a firm deal

But there was a bill circulating, our sources said, but according to them did not advance the ball much, but does turn over a lot of power to determine what to do to the state's regulation and licensing department. But most Senators want more than that and that's where we stand. 

As for the whip count, how can there be one when there is no bill yet to discuss? Stay tuned.

ABOUT THOSE JOBS

So what about those 11,000 jobs that optimistic projections say New Mexico will get from legalization in five to ten years time? Will they truly diversify our economy as backers claim or simply add more low wage employment as happened when Indian gambling was approved 25 years ago? 

The evidence is on the side of low wage employment which is not to be knocked but that does not diversify the economy into high wage or even middle wage employment.

In Denver, budtenders at legal marijuana dispensaries make about $13.80 an hour. Statewide the average is $13.57 an hour. In Trinidad, a rural area similar to those in our state, the budtenders average just $12.70 an hour. 

New Mexico's minimum wage will go to $11.50 January 1, 2022 and to $12 per hour in 2023. 

There will be big money made by many licensees and cannabis growers and that money could trickle down, but the promotion of legal cannabis as an economic revival act for good paying employment doesn't cut the mustard.

How about including a collective bargaining clause in the marijuana bill so New Mexico can lead and start these jobs at good pay and include a health care and retirement package? It's not just about social justice. Santa Fe can do better than replicating the pay for call center jobs, can't it?

DEM CONGRESS PICK

The conventional wisdom now believes State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and State Rep. Melanie Stansbury will emerge as the top two contenders tonight when the first round of votes by some 200 Dem Central Committee members are counted in the contest for the Dem nomination for the June 1 special election to fill the vacant US House seat of Deb Haaland who was named Sec. of Interior.

Sedillo Lopez, 63, has heavy backing from Bernie Sanders supporters who are well represented on the committee. Stansbury, 40, has secured support from allies like the Sierra Club and more younger members of the committee could be her natural allies. 

In a clever move, the campaigns of Sedillo Lopez and Stansbury rolled out on social media a series of endorsements from actual voting members of the committee who begin casting ballots this morning. They included a statement and photo of the member.

It would take 50 percent of the vote for a candidate to win the nomination outright, and in an eight way race that is unlikely to happen. What is more probable is that Sedillo Lopez and Stansbury will face each other in a run-off election. If so, the suspense could mount. The runoff won't be held until Wednesday.

Of course, the conventional wisdom is not always on the mark and with so few votes being cast the chances of an upset are real. However, if one candidate separates themselves from the pack by a double digit win, it's difficult to see that candidate losing the runoff. 

As for dark horses, there are six other candidates including Native American State Rep. Georgene Louis and Victor Reyes who have waged intensive campaigns as has attorney Randi McGinn.

Today's voting is by email and runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The party expects a vote tally around 9 p.m. The runoff would be held Wedneday with the same voting hours. Follow us here and on Twitter for the latest.

Freshly picked Republican nominee Sen. Mark Moores can't start campaigning because he's at the special legislative session. It's a tricky time for him. Moores is one of the few R lawmakers who supports legalizing recreational use of cannabis, a position that is at odds with many in his conservative party. 

In the final moments of the regular 60 day session where marijuana legalization died, Moores withdrew his co-sponsorship of a legalization bill. He is expected to vote against legalization at the special session. 

Looking at all of this is Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block who says he will announce his candidacy for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination next month. Moores faces an uphill battle for the congressional seat--no matter who the Dems nominate--but could use the contest to build momentum for his own run at the '22 GOP nod. 

THE BOTTOM LINES 

Manning 
We misstated the name of the Libertarian Party nominee for the June 1 special election to fill the ABQ area congressional seat. The nominee is Chris Manning from the Four Corners region. 

It's commonly assumed that a member of the US House must be a resident of the district they represent but only residency of the state is required. There are political implications for not living in the district so expect the residency and home ownership histories of the nominated candidates to be scrutinized. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday Monster Blog: Flood Of Easter Week Political News; Moores is GOP Congress Nominee; Dems May Take 2 Days To Pick Theirs, Search For Pot Deal On Eve Of Special Session, Santa Fe Mayor Race Gets New Entrant And Haaland Hits DC Rough Patch 

Mark Moores is the decided underdog to win the vacant ABQ congressional seat in the June 1 special election, but he's already completed his main assignment. He's kept what's left of the NM GOP from falling into the hands of firebrand radio talk host Eddy Aragon and his anti-establishment following. 

ABQ State Senator Moores was nominated Saturday by 121 members of the GOP Central Committee from the ABQ district to replace former Dem Rep. Deb Haaland who is now Sec. of Interior. He secured 49 votes or 40 percent of the vote to Aragon's 34 votes or 28 percent. Elisa Martinez managed 17 percent and the rest of the field trailed. 

Moores jumped in the race less than two weeks before the meeting and as Aragon was hammering GOP Chairman Steve Pearce and drawing cheers from the Trump wing. Aragon's nomination would have been a disaster for Pearce and the establishment. The serious threat appeared to force their hand and they recruited Moores to save the day who saw a way to get Aragon out and get the nomination that will increase his name ID going forward.

Aragon's voting strength showed the divisions in the state's minority party continue to run deep. 

So now what? Moores, who is of Hispanic heritage on his mother's side, says he's already raised $250,000 (from the oil boys and "personal friends"). Will national R's target a long shot and come with a money boost? 

Moores and GOP Chairman Steve Pearce say this is a great time to explain "Republican values" but the district last year voted for Joe Biden 60 to 37, a 23 point win that was the largest ever Dem presidential victory in the ABQ district. Even Moores had a rough go of it, fending off a Dem challenger for his senate seat by the thin margin of 53-47. 

The R's signaled in the aftermath of Moores' nomination that they want to run against MLG and score her for closing down much of the state during the pandemic, especially the schools.

Aragon and Pearce
But in politics timing is everything and when May rolls around and the campaign reaches its peak so will the vaccine shots be at their peak along with more reopenings. The anti-MLG play will help consolidate R's for Moores, but that gets him nowhere near the win. He needs an across the aisle message and in the current GOP that is simply not tolerated. For example, he's already dodging questions on whether he would have supported the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package or the certification of Biden as president.

Of course, there will also be a Dem candidate on the field nominated by Central Committee members this week. Their candidate will be sure to plant the feet of Moores firmly in Trump territory and try to nationalize the election. 

The Dem challenge is to get the vote out in an off year special election when the party in power (the Dems) tends to have a tougher time. But a tougher time in this now deep blue district would be a nine or ten point win instead of something bigger.

That's why the Dem vote Tuesday is so critical. Whoever is nominated is very likely to be the next congresswoman for quite a while. Emotions are running high on the eve of that vote with murmurs that the nominee will be seriously challenged in a Dem primary in 2022 but that's a pipe dream. When's the last time that happened?

But for the ruling R's some emotionalism has been drained out of their party--namely the insurgency of Eddy Aragon. For the beleaguered GOP, with not a single statewide office to their name and towering deficits in both chambers of the legislature, that little win may have to suffice. 

We have much more today on this unusually busy week in state politics. . . .

DEM PATIENCE ALERT

There's a good chance that the Democratic nominee for the vacant congressional district will not be known Tuesday when about 200 Central Committee members begin to vote. We say "begin" because if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the eight person field on the first ballot Tuesday there will be a runoff election. However, that wouldn't take place until Wednesday:

 The smallest number of top vote-getter candidates whose percentages of the vote add up to at least 50% + 1 will proceed to a runoff the next day at 7:00 A.M.

Tuesday's email voting will begin at 7 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. The party expects to have a vote count around 9 p.m. We will then know if someone pulled off a surprise and got 50 percent--or more likely--who the candidates will be in the Wednesday runoff. 

Meantime the three top contenders in the eight way race for the nomination have been raising money in anticipation of a victory and an upcoming campaign.

Attorney Randi McGinn leads the pack, reporting $215,000 in contributions, mostly from fellow lawyers.

State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez reports raising $67,000.

State Rep. Melanie Stansbury reports raising $53,000, including cash from five lobbyists who gave during the recent legislative prohibited period. Normally such contributions aren't permitted but there is a loophole that says donations to a legislator seeking federal office are permissible while the legislative prohibition period is in place. Her campaign says the lobbyist donations make up only 2 percent of what she has raised.

All the Dem candidates took part in a virtual forum Sunday. Video is here

THE CONSERVATIVE PROBLEM

The problem for the conservatives in the ABQ congressional race is that they have too many candidates. Republican Moores will be joined by Libertarian Party nominee Chris Manning and probably independent and former Republican Aubrey Dunn, Jr. That's a lot of potential vote splitting that could make Moores' job that much tougher. 

EXTRA INNINGS 

The political calendar is jam packed with the race for Congress front and center this week and a special session of the legislature kicking off Tuesday at noon to decide whether recreational marijuana use will be legalized in the state. 

The Governor has gambled by calling a special without a specific deal in hand, after legalization was defeated at the regular 60 day session. Key players have been working on a deal and have another day to bring it off or else the special session could get very sloppy and difficult while lawmakers work under pressure to get something.

Good Friday and Easter Sunday loom as well as the $50,000 a day cost of the special session. Not to mention that the vast majority of New Mexicans are not pot smokers and a special session to them is not so special, or even necessary. 

The criticism is that this is no way to craft major legislation but is being pushed because cannabis backers, including MLG, fear their momentum will dissipate (or already has) and that major campaign contributors are among those holding sway over a deal and want action now. 

Here's info on two top cannabis contributors in the '20 cycle:

. . .The state’s largest cannabis company, the Arizona-based Ultra Health contributed more than $55,000 to New Mexico campaigns during the general election period. Ultra Health’s CEO and president, Duke Rodriguez, a former Human Services secretary during Gov. Gary Johnson’s administration, personally contributed another $3,000. (Ultra Health also donated $25,000 to the Senate Dem Caucus Committee).

 A second major cannabis producer, the Albuquerque-based Purlife — owned by Republican Darren White, another Johnson Cabinet secretary and a former Bernalillo County Sheriff — contributed $25,000 during this period. All of Purlife’s contributions went to the New Mexico Senate Democrats’ political action committee. (Updated figures show PurLife gave $115,000 to NM lawmakers, 30 Dems and 8 R's.).

Raking in a total of $53,000 from cannabis interests during the general election, the Senate Democrats’ PAC received more contributions from this industry than any other PAC. 

 The major candidate recipients of cannabis money during the general election have been Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell. Both legislators reported a $5,000 contribution from Ultra Health. 

Martinez was the main sponsor of the legalization bill that passed the House in 2019 last year (and is the sponsor of the Hosue passed marijuana bill this year). Pirtle was one of three Republican senators who sponsored a legalization bill in 2019 (and is sponsoring another one in the special session).

Most of the money came after the November election but before the recent legislative session. 

White and Rodriguez companies were also contributors to Dem MLG's 2018 Guv campaign.

SANTA FE MAYOR

Vigil Coppler
As expected, Santa Fe City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler, 66, has announced she will run against Mayor Alan Webber in this November's election. The two may be the only major, well-financed candidates. The race featuring an Anglo versus a Hispanic may quickly devolve into combat laced heavily with racial overtones:  

Vigil Coppler pointed to an attempt by a state crew to remove the obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza at Webber’s request and the city’s removal of a Don Diego de Vargas statue from another downtown park as a flashpoint moment that riled some of her constituents. “In my whole years in public service, and I have had many, I have never seen anything like it,” Vigil Coppler said. “I think Santa Feans who have lived here a long time and others who got here as soon as they could, I think they were astonished. If someone can do that, what else is lurking?”. . . Vigil Coppler said she doesn’t see Santa Fe’s recent cultural clashes as an “us-versus-them” narrative. “I know there has been some talk about that,” Vigil Coppler said. “I grew up here. I was born here. I participated in everything here — I am a former princesa, good heavens.

The pandemic torn apart Santa Fe economy makes the race card play higher in the deck. Try to keep it clean La Princesa and your Honor.

ABQ ELECTION 

The Monster Blog is out of control! Now we’re getting word that two-term Albuquerque Dem City Councilor Diane Gibson will not seek reelection in November. She made the announcement on her Facebook page. Good luck, Diane. 

HAALAND TAKEDOWN 

A brutal DC takedown of New Mexican and new Sec. of Interior Deb Haaland. She's being inaugurated into the hardball ways of the Capitol as this long article hits over a party she planned was cancelled by the White House: 

The White House recently ordered that a 50-person, Southwest-themed indoor party the Interior Department was planning to celebrate Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation be canceled after senior
Sec. Haaland

administration officials raised concerns that it could become a superspreader event. Jennifer Van der Heide, the Interior chief of staff, had wanted a reception held for Haaland’s friends and allies and had even sought a catering estimate for New Mexican-style food, but senior Biden administration officials raised red flags about the party, according to two people familiar with the matter. The White House eventually got wind of the planned event, and the Office of Cabinet Affairs ordered it shut down before invitations could be sent out, the people said.

The Politico piece went on for over 1,200 words as the long knives emerged from the basement of Interior to slash at their new boss Haaland and her chief of staff. The power struggle is on and Sec. Haaland is going to have to watch her back--and also her partying. 

So concludes the Monday Monster Blog!

This is the home of New Mexico politics.   

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here. 

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021
 
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