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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Positioning Underway For Stansbury House Seat If She Heads To DC, Plus: The Broadband Lag; NM Needs To Catch AZ And CO 

Michelle Peacock
The positioning has begun to replace Melanie Stansbury in the state House in the event she wins the June 1 special election to fill the vacant ABQ congressional seat. And there appears to be an early frontrunner. 

Democrat Michelle Peacock, a 13 year US Army veteran and a nurse practitioner who works at the ABQ VA hospital, is said by Dem consultants to be preparing a bid for the seat if Stansbury, who was elected to the NE Heights seat in 2018, heads to DC.

It would not be an ordinary bid, more like a job interview. That's because the Bernalillo County Commission would appoint a replacement to fill the remainder of Stansbury's term. 

With the Commission controlled by the Dems 4 to 1, no R's need apply. 

Peacock, 43, is a political newcomer but she did an able job in a TV interview that focused on how medical personnel were handling the Covid pandemic. She has also appeared before the commission to accept a proclamation honoring the county's nurse practitioners. 

Peacock, an ABQ native, has had some exposure to the legislative process. From her bio: 

Michelle is the president of the Board for Cuidando Los Niños. . .an organization committed to ending child homelessness in our local community. Michelle works with legislators and local community members and educates them on homelessness and its far-reaching effects.

Stansbury upset GOP State Rep. Jimmie Hall in '18 to put the seat--District 28--in the Dem column for the first time. Peacock's supporters think her military and medical background would serve her well when she would seek election to the moderate leaning area in 2022.

But the commission could decide to pull an upset of its own. Bunnie Benton Cruse, a transgender woman, has said she is interested in the appointment. The 48 year old would be the first transgender individual to be in the legislature. 

BROADENING BROADBAND

We get this update on New Mexico's broadband challenge from former Santa Fe State Senator Roman Maes who now lives in San Diego: 

To try to capture the scale of the U.S.'s broadband challenge, the White House released state-by-state fact sheets examining the status of each state's infrastructure. 

For broadband, the fact sheets look at what percentage of residents have access to 100/10 Mbps broadband service, how many providers compete to provide 100/10 service, and how many people remain unconnected. 

 Arizona--14% of Arizonans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 45% of Arizonans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 13% of Arizona households do not have an internet subscription. 

 Colorado 12.1% of Coloradans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 38.1% of Coloradans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 9% of Colorado households do not have an internet subscription. 

 New Mexico 22% of New Mexico residents live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides 100/10 speeds. 68.9% of New Mexicans live in areas where there is only one such internet provider. 21% of New Mexico households do not have an internet subscription. 

Meanwhile,  a lot of New Mexicans may have trouble accessing broadband to watch streaming movies even though Netflix, one of the biggest producers of such streams, has committed $1 billion to make them here over the next ten years. But is it a good deal for the state which is giving the company millions in financial incentives? That's the issue in this in-depth look from Bloomberg:

      
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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

He Stirs But She Does Not Shake; ABQ Congress TV Debate Has Stansbury Sticking To Dem Party Line While Moores Pushes Crime Crisis, Plus: Sanchez Throws Cold Water On Guv Run  

Moores and Stansbury
If the ABQ congressional district  "leaned Democratic" and was not solid Blue, Republican Mark Moores might have made more headway at last night's KOB-TV debate. He tried desperately to turn the city's crime epidemic into the needed crossover votes he must have to defeat Democrat Melanie Stansbury but despite repeated prodding by the state senator, the Dem state representative refused to acknowledge his soft on crime attacks. (Full debate here.)

Instead Stansbury emphasized her support of President Biden and his popular pandemic relief packages. When it came to crime, she took the traditional liberal view that "underlying" conditions of addiction and behavioral health must be addressed.

Moores repeatedly cited Stansbury's support of the Breathe Act which is supported by left wing congressional members as a means of reforming overzealous police departments. He said it would defund the police, close jails and even shut down immigration enforcement agencies. But Stansbury seemed to barely notice and was breathing easy. 

The special election to fill the US House seat is June 1. Limited early voting has started. 

The duo shared the stage with Libertarian Chris Manning but not conservative former land commissioner and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn who might have put more fire into the face-off. 

We asked a Senior Alligator to analyze the political impact of the debate, if any:

These events have become perfunctory and the parties are so divided and voters so set in their preferences I don’t know how these debates influence anyone. Stansbury just needed to stay the course and talk the party line, and she did. She looked professional, steady and informed. She didn’t try to do too much and she obviously practiced. It was on Moores to try to make points and take her off message and he didn’t.

Dems have carried the district in every election since 2008.

DOWN ON DOW

MLG was ripped by GOP State Rep. Rebecca Dow in an opinion piece this week over her cash settlement with a former campaign aide who accused her of sexual mistreatment. But several readers say Dow, a possible '22 GOP Guv candidate, missed the mark. Kelley DuPont writes: 

 Joe, Rep. Dow’s argument falls on my deaf ears when she wants to talk about “double standards.” Trump, the leader of her party, is a self-proclaimed crotch grabber. I’d like to see where she and GOP Chairman Steve Pearce denounced him. MLG maybe did or did not do some grabbing, but we now have a new standard upon which to judge those who demonstrate these transgressions. Courtesy of the GOP. 

And John Rey also pushes back against Dow:

Joe, I guess Rebecca forgot about former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her state police lover who the state paid $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement. Not to say MLG's grabbing is less serious--just saying. 

COLD WATER

Sanchez
Former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez threw cold water on a statement made by Dona Ana County GOP Chairwoman Kim Skaggs who following Sanchez's recent visit to the county emailed this to party faithful: 

We look forward to his formal declaration for governor.

To which Sanchez responded via text: 

You should go to the source and not from a county chair's quote who by the way I just met today.

Well, asking a candidate directly whether they are running for Governor or not at this early stage is like asking the cat if he ate the mice. But we get John's pique. Chairwoman Skaggs is not his campaign manager but her misstep did flush out that Sanchez does not appear likely to be a Guv candidate. 

Skaggs is also the new executive director of the NMGOP. Interesting that Chairman Pearce is letting her wear two hats. As for Sanchez, we'll keep watching for any signs of political life. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

Finally, Janet Blair of the League of Women Voters NM writes of Mark Moores not answering that group's questionnaire: 

(We) go to great effort to pose questions that represent the interests of voters of all political persuasions. We are deeply disappointed when any candidate ignores our request for answers to those questions because such a refusal denies voters the right to be fully informed. For more than 100 years, the League has been “empowering voters and defending democracy.”. . .We are particularly distressed to see that Mark Moores has not responded to our questionnaire. . .because we worked closely with him and co-sponsor Rep. Melanie Stansbury, the Democratic congressional nominee, to pass the re-districting bill, one of our top priorities. 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

GOP's Dow Slashes MLG Over Crotchgate As She Eyes Guv Race And Top Las Cruces R Says Sanchez Is Nearly All In, Also: Congress TV Debate Tonight Won't Be Well Dunn, And: The Dancing Candidates 

State Rep. Rebecca Dow is slashing away at MLG over Crotchgate and a visit with Las Cruces R's by former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez is getting tongues wagging as the early competition for the '22 GOP gubernatorial nomination heats up. 

Dow, of T or C, came with a fiery opinion piece that blasted MLG for getting away with a "double standard" in the case of former campaign aide James Hallinan who accused her of throwing water on his crotch, grabbing it and all the while laughing. The Guv's campaign recently paid Hallinan $62,500 to settle the sexual mistreatment case. That brought this Dow scorching:

The governor has continuously denied these accusations, yet she still felt compelled to pay off this former employee anyway in order to “avoid a costly court case.” This astonishing turn of events has received almost no critical comments from New Mexico’s political pundits. . .This deafening silence is a classic example of the double standard applied to some powerful people. . .The governor has been calling her accuser. . .a liar but what does that say about her own judgement and character if she hired “a liar” to help communicate her campaign message and win an election?. . .

Women in powerful positions should be held to the same standard as men when it comes to inappropriate behavior. . . This whole incident reeks of corruption and abuse of position. 

Dow is going for the jugular, where she has to go to win the primary because according to the chair of the Dona Ana County GOP, Sanchez is nearly all in for the race: 

John Sanchez was hosted at the Grapevine and we look forward to his formal declaration for the Governor’s race. It looks as if we had approximately 90 people attend and the event was a success.

John Sanchez came with this rejoinder in response to that statement from Chair Kim Skaggs who is also executive director of the NMGOP: 

You should go to the source and not from a county chairs quote who by the way I just met today. 

Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block is the sole GOP candidate officially in the contest, but he might want to enjoy the standing while it lasts. 

DEBATING AND DANCING

Three of the four major candidates for the open ABQ congressional seat in the June 1 special election will have an hour long debate at 6 tonight on KOB-TV. 

Missing from the event will be independent and former NM state land commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who KOB (as well as KRQE) do not consider a "qualified" candidate because he is not a member of a major political party.

But KOB did do a lengthy profile of Dunn, along with the other candidates, raising the question of why they would put Dunn on equal footing for the profiles but not the debate. Excluding him is an obviously poor journalistic decision and KOB's owners, Hubbard Broadcasting, have been around long enough to know better. 

Nevertheless, Dem Melanie Stansbury, Republican Mark Moores and Libertarian Chris Manning will be there to field relevant questions. Meanwhile. . . 

The Journal questionnaire for the ABQ congressional candidates had Republican Mark Moores and Dem Melanie Stansbury getting a bit evasive as they tried not to alienate voters.

For Stansbury the sticky issue was whether she supports President Biden's moratorium on oil and gas leases on federal lands in New Mexico. Royalties and taxes from the industry provide upwards of 40 percent of state revenue.

The Biden administration has issued a temporary moratorium on issuing new oil and gas leases on federal lands. Where do you stand on the issue? 

We must diversify our economy, invest in new technologies and renewable energy and tackle climate change. I support a reevaluation of federal energy policies to examine how to best achieve our climate and energy goals. I’m running for Congress to work with the Administration to build a more resilient economy. 

So does "reevaluating" federal polices mean she supports the moratorium? Stansbury left wiggle room. 

For Moores, a sticky issue is how to appeal to supporters of Biden in the heavy Democratic district. His dance around a key question went like this: 

What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages, including the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Biden? Is there anything you would have done differently? 

I was on the front lines battling COVID-19, having personally collected thousands of COVID tests during the pandemic. I supported the state coronavirus response bills, including payments for essential workers, loan programs for small businesses and waiver of fees for restaurants and bars that were shut down due to the pandemic. 

Clearly, Moores is not fan of the Biden packages but didn't say that as he went for crossover support by backing MLG's response to Covid.

Independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning also answered the questionnaire.

Early in-person voting for the congressional contest begins today at the BernCo Clerk's Annex.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Monday, May 03, 2021

Boom! Intel Announces $3.5 Billion Rio Rancho Upgrade; News Comes as Census Data Puts In Stark Relief One Of The Worst Decades In State History  

Intel at Rio Rancho
Talk about shots in the arm. After years of taking a pass on a major upgrade of its Rio Rancho facility, Intel Corp. is reversing course in a very big way

Amid an epic worldwide boom in semiconductor demand, Intel announced a $3.5 billion expansion of its Sandoval County facility today, an expansion that will provide a shot of adrenaline to the struggling ABQ metro economy just as it begins to ease out of the pandemic induced slowdown. 

Chipmaker Intel will make the announcement at 10 a.m today with Gov. Lujan Grisham on hand. A live stream can be seen here.

The politicos will be quick to grab credit for the important economic news but supply and demand is the reason for the sweeping upgrade at Rio Rancho. The NM announcement follows the company's $20 billion spending spree in Arizona and more overseas investments to keep up with sizzling demand.

Employment at the Intel plant, once over 7,000, has drifted down to around 1,800 as Intel decided not to modernize the facility. 

The size of this expansion indicates several thousand high-paying jobs will result, recapturing much of the facilities glory days. But in the past enviros have scored the company over its water usage and policies. 

(Intel announced that the upgrade will generate 700 new permanent positions over three years and about 1,000 construction jobs.)

While MLG can't take direct credit for the expansion, it is happening on her watch and as she inches closer to her 2022 re-election bid. The development for her is as welcome as a shot of vaccine.

GLOOMY OUTLOOK

The Intel announcement comes on the heels of some of the most dreadful news ever for the state, contained in the first batch of US Census data for the 2010 decade. 

The data holds no surprises but does put in stark relief the critical issues that have developed in the past ten years and that we reported on extensively throughout the period. 

The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) summation of the population stats and more is a must read. The takeaways are as insightful as they are depressing. 

--For example, New Mexico has not only experienced population stagnation but in ten years the Land of Enchantment is likely to actually lose population.

--A major restructuring of public education is needed as there are fewer births and as more youth leave the state in search of jobs.

--The flight from the rural to the urban counties accelerated and will continue (which will likely reinforce continued Dem Party dominance.)

--Those 65 and older comprised the only significant growth demographic in the decade, signaling that issues such as property taxes and health care will be in the forefront. 

--New Mexico has lousy education outcomes, a too high mortality rate and stubbornly high poverty. One glimmer of hope for change--teenagers bore fewer children during the past 10 years. 

The state remans a natural wonder but the historic loss of momentum in categories across the board means policy makers will need to look inward--not outward--for solutions. 

It's not the lack of population growth per se that is so damning but the loss of the quality of life for so many New Mexicans. The needed agenda going forward includes a sustained and massive education effort, drug abuse intervention and broadband expansion.

For the entire decade the descent of the state into a permanent cellar dweller was mostly ignored. The good news is that with a repositioning of federal policy and recent election results here, the state is finally awakening to the consequences of its long slumber. 

The bottom line? New Mexico's destiny is in its own hands. No cavalry is coming.

A CONSERVATIVE MAYOR 

 In a recent missive to the party faithful NMGOP Chairman Steve Pearce had this to say about the Nov. 2 ABQ mayor election: 

 We will work hard to get a conservative mayor into Albuquerque City Hall this fall. 

Does Dem BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales qualify as a "conservative" for Pearce?" Gonzales is getting early support from the GOP whose members are contributing the majority of his $5 contributions to qualify him for public financing. 

ABQ elections are officially nonpartisan so don't expect a public Pearce endorsement of Gonzales. 

Meantime, the chair of the Dona Ana County GOP is treating the possible entrance of former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez into the race for the party's 2022 Guv nomination as a done deal: 

 John Sanchez was hosted at the Grapevine and we look forward to his formal declaration for the Governor’s race. It looks as if we had approximately 90 people attend and the event was a success. 

Sanchez has made no public statements about his Guv intentions but he's obviously looking at a '22 run. 

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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