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Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Monkey Off Our Back And Hers; State's Anticipated Reopening Gives MLG Opportunity For A Reset; Keller Too 

The Governor was noticeably excited as she announced that at the end of June the state should essentially be over the pandemic and the closed doors will finally swing wide open. It's back to business--and summer fun as well. 

Her excitement was understandable, after a full year of being demonized by her opposition for being too restrictive in response to the virus and losing some popularity because of her own missteps. 

But the timing of the reopening could not be better for MLG, coming as it will nearly a year and a half before the 2022 election and giving her plenty of time to define herself as the Governor who conquered Covid, never mind any missteps along the way.

If the economy cooperates, and it should with the record amount of state and federal stimulus being pumped into it, she should have ample opportunity for a reset, along with the rest of the state that has been frozen in time. 

The implications of a reopening are more front and center for ABQ Mayor Tim Keller who is seeking re-election this November. The sour outlook for the city being framed by his foes could be offset by Fourth of July celebrations, a state fair, a balloon fiesta and restaurants and bars welcoming back the partiers. Expect Keller to be leading the toasting to happier days. 

GAMING GOP GUV

Rep. Dow
R's are closely eyeing candidates and possible candidates emerging for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination. Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block is already in and former Lt. Governor John Sanchez is making noise, but State Rep. Rebecca Dow, who says she's looking at the race, may match up best against Governor MLG.

The R's are heavy with men and it will be women who decide the election. Given her background in early childhood education, Dow, the belief goes, could chip away at MLG's female support. She also has honed her debating skills at the Roundhouse and would be expected to perform well on the campaign trail and TV stage.

A possible issue? Legislators get addicted to their Roundhouse spots and Dow of T or C would have to give hers up to make a Guv run. 

NOT SIMPATICO

Apparently the League of Women Voters is another organization that is not simpatico with GOP ABQ congressional candidate Mark Moores. 

After deciding not to take part in the April 20 NM Black Voters Collaborative forum, Moores is now avoiding the traditional League of Women Voters candidate questionnaire. However, his opponents--Dem Melanie Stansbury, former Republican turned independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning--have responded to League questions including those on immigration, gun control and health care. 

As he did at the Black collaborative forum, Dunn again came with a conservative platform in the Q and A. 

A number of R's fault the League for leaning left of center but if candidate Moores is going to ignore such groups, he's going to be left talking to the mirror and there's only one vote in that. (The forum can be seen here.) 

THE BOTTOM LINES 

From the April 17 Taos police blotter:

Suspicious Circumstances, Tractor Supply - Caller said there was a man in the arroyo screaming for help and for someone to call 911, saying that he and his girlfriend were fighting and she broke his leg. However, he was seen running on Gusdorf.

Thanks for stopping by.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

ABQ Murder Meter Set To Make Historic Highs So Where's The Outrage? Analysts Explain, Plus: State Makes a Blimp Blooper 

ABQ's murder meter for the year has officially hit 40, putting us on the road to an historic annual high of over 100 slayings. The crimes often generate sensational headlines but the public outrage you might expect isn't happening. We asked several political pros for their frank analysis why that is. Here's a consensus of their views:

As tragic as the killings are many involve criminal on criminal. The impact isn't internalized by many residents. Murder has become more widespread geographically but is still centered near or in the city's SE Heights, once known as the War Zone and much of which remains crime-infested. People citywide don't necessarily feel threatened by the increase in homicides because they are not random and not occurring at businesses or because of home invasions. Think the Hollywood Video store murders of 1996 that claimed five innocent lives. That set the city on its ear. What we largely have now, according to police, are murders connected to drug dealing and usage and domestic violence. Yes, there was the shocking murder last year of a woman in her Westside driveway but that random act has been the exception not the rule.

BernCo Sheriff Many Gonzales is making crime the central issue in his campaign against incumbent Dem Mayor Tim Keller. Public reaction thus far indicates Gonzales will need to drive home more than a rising murder meter to get voters off their couches

BLIMP BLOOPER

Here's a blimp idea that's a real blooper from the eggheads at the state's economic development department: 

New Mexico is finalizing a $3.2 million contract with an airship manufacturer to study the viability of distributing high-speed internet from the stratosphere. . . The contract to Switzerland-based Sceye (is) still in the works. . .Airships will be launched from Roswell. . .Last year, the department committed $5 million in incentives for Sceye to move its operations to New Mexico but the money hasn’t been released because the company hasn’t met all the benchmarks. . It had committed to investing $50 million and creating 140 jobs.

Never mind that the internet from blimps idea has already been dumped by Goggle or that Elon Musk is investing billions in a satellite network what would serve up broadband to this state and others. Why not simply invest that $3.2 million in blimp bootie in an area already lacking broadband service? Perhaps that's too simple?

THE BOTTOM LINES 

ABQ Dem congressional hopeful Melanie Stansbury goes mostly positive in her latest TV effort, highlighting her legislative priorities. The ad does take a general swipe at Republicans with a statement from a Hispanic mother surrounded by her family, saying: "During the pandemic Republicans didn't do anything for our people. That's why we need Melanie in Congress." Stansbury faces Republican Mark Moores in the June 1 special election as well as independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning.

In a first draft Tuesday we identified mayoral candidate Nicholas Bevins as a progressive Democrat. He is a registered independent. 

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Keller Team Labels Gonzales "GOP Establishment Candidate", His Early Donations Mainly From R's; Hires GOP Consultant; Sheriff Says He Welcomes Support "From All", Plus: ABQ's Stalled Out Congress Campaign  

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller's campaign is warning city Democrats that conservative Dem BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales is the de facto Republican candidate in the 2021 mayoral contest. 

They say that's because he's relying on R's to garner qualifying donations for public financing and by hiring longtime Republican political consultant Jay McCleskey.

Keller campaign manager Neri Holguin came with this: 

Gonzales has hired Republican Jay McCleskey and so far 80 percent of his qualifying donations are from Republicans. Gonzales is the Republican establishment candidate.

In a TV interview following his mayoral announcement this month Gonzales said it's time for the city to set partisanship aside and that he welcomed support from members of all political parties.

Gonzales and Keller are expected to be the only two candidates who qualify for public financing of $661,000. 

After the first week of collections Keller reports to the city clerk that he has collected 595 of the required $5 donations and Gonzales reports 452. 

A third candidate, progressive independent Nicholas Bevins, collected only 15 donations, a sign that he is likely to come up short.

Contenders need 3,779 donations by June 19 to get the public cash.

Holguin said employees of McCleskey's media firm are being employed to collect donations for the sheriff. Keller's campaign has also hired help.  

In addition to public financing, Keller and Gonzales will have independent committees working on their behalf. They can collect unlimited private donations but are prohibited from coordinating with the official campaigns. 

Two such committees have registered to back Gonzales, including one headed by Sam Vigil, a Democrat whose wife was brutally murdered at the couple's westside driveway. A Keller committee is headed by progressive activist and consultant Michelle Mayorga.

The hiring of McCleskey by Gonzales gives the Dems a chance to pigeonhole the two term sheriff as a replica of former GOP Mayor RJ Berry and former Gov Susana Martinez, both of whose elections were engineered by McCleskey and who held sway over policy during their administrations. 

ARAGON OUT

Radio talk show host, Republican and avid Trump backer Eddy Aragon told us Monday he will not be launching a mayoral candidacy, after speculation that he might:

I don't have the motivation to run. I have a business to attend to but I will continue to point out the wrong direction the NMGOP is taking including the role of Steve Pearce and Jay McCleskey. Republicans are backing Democrat Gonzales and that is traitorous. Not to mention that the current crime wave has happened under Gonzales' watch.

Aragon recently ran second to Mark Moores for the GOP central committee nomination for the vacant ABQ congressional seat up for election June 1.

The ABQ election is officially nonpartisan but that's become a fig leaf. 

The GOP establishment labels Aragon tempestuous and a danger to the party's prospects but no Republican is actively running.

At the November 2 election a mayoral candidate is required to get 50 percent of the vote or else there is a runoff election between the two top vote-getters about a month later. 

STALLED OUT

The ABQ congressional race is a stalled out, low interest affair. That's fine with Democrats who think the Republican candidacy of ABQ State Senator Mark Moores has hit the wall and that conservative independent Aubery Dunn is tugging at Moores' coattails to their advantage. 

Moores has fired another negative TV salvo at Stansbury. This one alleges she is for defunding the police, but like his attack on her position on repealing the state tax on Social Security, the ad does not offer citations for its claims. 

The Stansbury campaign appeared underwhelmed and even left a response to the ad to the state Dem Party instead of directly taking on Moores. 

There is no public polling on the race but you don't need Mark Ronchetti to tell you which way the wind is blowing on this one. If the Dems decide to lock Stansbury in a cabin in Chama until the June 1 election, you'll understand why.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Monday, April 26, 2021

State Dems Elect New Officers For '22 Cycle; Are All The Easy Pickings Already Picked? Plus: AG Election Talk And A Famous NM Whistleblower Passes  

State Democrats passed the baton to new party officers over the weekend as they began their drive for the 2022 election cycle. Some younger Dems may not realize it but their party is now in its most dominant position since the 1970's. 

Can the Dems continue to run the board or have they picked all the chile from the political fields possible?

Their domination includes a hold on all statewide executive offices, the entire NM Supreme Court, the governorship, the two chambers of the legislature, the mayoral offices in the state's two largest cities and four of the five congressional seats. 

Just holding on to those gains next year would be a high point. But there could be some expansion, depending on how the redistricting of the legislative and congressional seats shakes out at a special session session later this year. That session could jeopardize southern GOP US Rep. Yvette Herrell and could open the door for a Dem pick up or two in the state Senate and House. 

The massive Dem gains this decade have been abetted by a torn apart Republican opposition. The GOP also faces a shrinking base of Anglo voters, a Trump wing that is powerful yet not broadly popular here and a leadership bench that is wanting.

In the 70's the GOP was so weakened that the Dems acted as the oppostion party, harboring a conservative cowboy wing under their big tent while still housing liberals. 

In this century New Mexico conservatism has slid, making it easier for the Dems to avoid splitting in two and paving the way for a GOP resurgence (as happened in the 80's).

R's are saying it is inevitable that progressives in the Dem party will lead it over the cliff, but MLG and others have walked that tightrope quite ably, giving the progressives major victories but mostly veering away from the culture wars that could imperil the party's standing.

Absent an ideological recovery, history says the way back for the Republicans is corruption in a Democratic Party that grows too fat and too happy.  It seems even with overwhelming majorities, there's alway something to worry about when it comes to holding on to power in La Politica.

RESULTS

At the Saturday Dem convention held virtually Jessica Velasquez of Sandia Park easily passed four challengers to become the new Dem Party chair, replacing the retiring Marg Elliston. 

Velasquez twice ran for the state House ('18 and '20) in her Republican leaning District 22. She is a former APS teacher who now works in the family metal plating business headed by Aaron Velasquez. 

Manny Crespin was elected vice chair; attorney Pam Herndon secretary and Rayellen Smith treasurer. 

NOT SO FAST 

The race for the '22 Democratic nomination for attorney general seems to be cementing around State Auditor Brian Colón and BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez. But some in the peanut gallery are saying "not so fast." 

For example, what if former southern Dem Congresswoman and attorney Xochitl Torres Small were to join the fray? She'd be the only woman in the race and arguably has a larger political base than either of the men. And she has the ability to raise money. If the ambitious 36 year old Torrres Small still hungers for public service running between Brian and Raul may be a play worth making. 

FRANK FOY 

Foy
Word arrives of the death of Frank Foy, the former investment director of the Educational Retirement Board who blew the whistle on alleged corruption in the state's investment funds during the Richardson administration. 

Foy battled for higher reimbursements for the state from investment firms that benefited from the alleged wrongdoing. Millions in court settlements were clawed back from some of the companies but Foy said it was insufficient. Richardson denied the corruption allegations and no one in the administration was charged with a crime. 

Frank Foy was 75. 

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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