Thursday, June 10, 2021

Competition Heats Up To Fill Stansbury State House Seat, MLG Campaign Works To Turn Ill Fated Re-Elect Speech Into Positive And Best NM Retirement Spots 

Pamelya Herndon
The competition is heating up to fill the soon to be vacant state House seat held by Melanie Stansbury who will be sworn in Monday as the new ABQ congresswoman.

The latest hopeful is attorney and longtime Dem activist Pamelya Herndon. She joins Michelle Peacock, a 13 year US Army veteran and nurse practitioner, in seeking the appointment from the Bernalillo County Commission to fill out Stansbury's unexpired term which runs through 2022. We profiled Peacock May 6.

Also seeking the post is Bunnie Cruse who would be the first transgender woman in the state legislature.

Herndon has worked as a deputy cabinet secretary in the state General Services Department and in the litigation division under Attorney General Madrid. More recently she was executive director of the Southwest Women's Law Center. 

Herndon would be the first Black woman to represent an ABQ NE Heights district. Dem Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, who is also Black, represents a SE ABQ District and is the House Majority Floor Leader.  

The commission will begin accepting applications for the House seat after Stansbury takes her congressional seat. A Democrat is almost sure to get the legislative appointment The commission is 4 to 1 Democratic. 

House District 28 in the ABQ NE Heights was a longtime GOP bastion held by Rep. Jimmie Hall. But as the county turned more blue Stansbury ousted Hall in 2018 and was easily re-elected in 2020.


Working to turn lemons into lemonade the MLG campaign comes with a fund-raising video that puts her ill-fated re-election announcement at the ABQ Museum last Thursday in a better light. 

It uses video of the protesters to show that many were extremists who likened the Governor's pandemic actions to Nazi Germany and even painted a Hitler moustache on her. "These are not New Mexico values," says the video. It then switches to a strong part of MLG's speech in which she says she would not be intimidated:

We're going to protect New Mexico and no amount of noise will deter, intimidate leadership that makes a difference for every single New Mexican.

However, the video does not show the controversial portion of her speech in which she refers to the protesters as “QAnon Lizard People." The video concludes: "We cannot let extremists stop our progress. Donate now." 


One of the Gators took on former Democratic Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya Wednesday for signing up to help BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales beat Tim Keller in the mayoral race this year. Her comeback: 

Tim Keller campaigned on promises to fix crime, homelessness, mental health and the economy but each have spiraled so far out of control most of us don’t recognize our beloved city anymore. Record-breaking murders and violent crime are so bad that third world countries warn their citizens not to visit Albuquerque. Homelessness has exploded. . .and thousands of Albuquerque small businesses have been decimated by the unchecked property crimes, shoplifting and burglaries. No more marketing campaigns. . .We need a leader to clean up Keller’s war zone.


What are the two best places to retire in our state? It comes as no surprise that Las Cruces and Santa Fe top the Forbes list of places to hang it up here when you're done punching the clock. The magazine ranks the best retirement locales in all fifty states and says of NM:

College town Las Cruces (population 102,000) leads The Land of Enchantment. Median home price $164,000. Cost of living 10% below national average. PROS: Low serious crime rate. CONS: Low ratio of physicians per capita. Poor air quality. NOTED: Elevation 3,900 feet. RUNNER-UP: Trendy state capital Santa Fe (population 84,000). Median home price $349,000. Cost of living 17% above national average. Good rank on Milken Institute list of best cities for successful aging. Good air quality. Elevation 7,200 feet. TAXES: No state estate/inheritance tax. State income tax on Social Security earnings. Top marginal income tax rate 4.9%.

Las Cruces and Santa Fe have alway had a laid back, senior feel. More so now as the state's population ages. 


We blogged this week that the only announced GOP 2022 gubernatorial candidate is Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block. Karen Bedoni is also an announced candidate for the GOP nod.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Mano A Mano: Early Suspense In ABQ Mayor's Race Begins To Resolve; Keller And Gonzales Now Both Expected To Get Public Financing; Race Set To Be Two Man Duel; No Third Candidate Appears; City's Alarming Murder Meter Will Be Top Issue 

Early suspense in the ABQ mayoral race is being resolved. The bottom line is that Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales is on his way to qualifying for critical public financing of $661,000 and the Nov. 2 race will apparently be limited to him and Mayor Tim Keller who will be the only other candidate to receive public funds. 

Gonzales' campaign this week flooded the city clerk's office with $5 individual contributions needed to qualify for the taxpayer money, according to a Gonzales associate. The Keller campaign is quick to point out that he has done so with the help of canvassers from California. Gonzales' side does not dispute that.

That means Gonzales is closing in on the 3,779 individual $5 donations he needs. Without them he would be forced to run a privately financed campaign, not an easy task against an incumbent.

For any mayoral candidates not seeking public financing, Tuesday was their first day to begin collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot  but so far there are no takers.

That leaves the city with a Keller vs. Gonzales do-or-die battle with no run-off election because one of them will get the 50 percent required for the win.

So when will the public see this mano a mano duel in person? Probably not until August when the first round of forums traditionally kick things off. 

What we will see next week are the money reports from outside finance committees supporting the two combatants and which could play an outsized role in the forthcoming political fesitivities. 


Saving Lives At UNMH Trauma
Keeping up with the ABQ murder meter is like keeping score at a fast moving NBA game. 

No sooner had the city recorded two weekend murders when another two happened Monday. That brings the official toll to a gruesome 54 and on track for an all time yearly high. 

But it's even worse, says retired APD Sergeant and crime watcher Dan Klein. His unofficial count has the number of homicides at 63. He explains:

Remember APD says these are "homicides" not murders. In my tally homicides have to include those that are deemed "justified." I also include vehicular homicides and child abuse resulting in death. 

Klein says the FBI has categories for both methods of calculating the homicide rate. He adds that the city's  Emergency Medical Services and UNMH's Level One Trauma Center deserve the community's thanks for keeping that homicide number lower by providing excellent medical care for shooting victims.

"I think we would already be over 100 murders without their life saving skills and dedication," he said.

Agreed. And a shout out to the EMS crews, the medical teams at UNMH and the city's other hospitals dealing with the crime crisis. 


Former Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya has enlisted as an officer of the Save Our City PAC that is supporting Manny Gonzales. She fast became the victim of an Alligator strike for faulting Mayor Keller over the city's crime crisis:

Someone needs to tell Karen Montoya the dysfunction and crime started under Mayor RJ Berry. Her hometown of Albuquerque and mine became “decimated” by his failed leadership. The excess force of his police force that brought the DOJ here has kneecapped police. Keller inherited a big mess. I’ll agree, it’s Keller’s mess to fix now. Sadly, if Gonzales were to be elected I predict more excessive force and more problems.


They might want to rename our famous basketball arena "The Money Pit:"

The Athletics department received over $10 million for the 2021 fiscal year as a result of a second (federal) pandemic stimulus package, according to documents from the UNM Controller Administration. Yet, in spite of the infusion of aid, the department still expects to fall short of meeting its budget goals by the end of the fiscal year. “It's not going to give us everything we're looking for, but it is allowing us to make up some lost revenue. Even with the $10 million, we're still looking at about anywhere between a $1 (million) and a $3 million loss this year,” Eddie Nuñez, the athletics director, said.

Hey, maybe Eddie can win that $5 million state lottery for getting your Covid vaccination. That would keep Lobo Louie fed for a while.  

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Stansbury Set To Take Oath June 14 As Next ABQ Congresswoman, Down To The Wire As Manny Gonzales Chases Public Financing And More Reaction Over MLG Re-Elect Rally 

Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury will take the oath of office from the House floor Monday, June 14 and become the seventh person and fourth woman and fourth Democrat to fill the ABQ area congressional district since its founding in 1968.

The 42 year old is expected to be a loyal lieutenant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her campaign says the Speaker will conduct a ceremonial swearing in of the new congresswoman at 4:40 p.m. June 14 ABQ time. That will be streamed here.

Stansbury has been celebrating her June 1 special election landslide win--60-36--over Republican Mark Moores but that joyful mood was jolted when Stansbury last Thursday addressed the re-election rally for Gov. Lujan Grisham. The new lawmaker was visibly taken aback by rowdy protesters who drowned out her talk and that of other guest speakers. The incident was a reminder of how emotions continue to run high in the post-pandemic, post-Trump era. 

Stansbury will fill out the unexpired term of Deb Haaland who is now Sec. of Interior. She will seek a two year term of her own in 2022. Talk of challenging her in next June's Dem primary has quieted but there were strong emotions when Stansbury defeated Antoinette Sedillo Lopez to become the Dem Party nominee. 

Republicans have the unenviable task of coming up with another candidate to take on Stansbury in a district that seems to be getting even more Blue. 


There's little doubt that the Stansbury win in that rare special election is good news for ABQ Dem Mayor Tim Keller who faces re-election this November. 

Progressives dominated the election and their voting history and campaign donations are now available to Keller's team. Turnout is hard to drive in a mayoral election and voters motivated enough to turn out for a special election will now be prodded to do the same for Keller. 

The Mayor's one and only opponent is conservative Dem Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. He's going down to the wire in collecting the $5 donations necessary to qualify for over $661,000 in public financing for his campaign. He is short 1,237 of the 3,779 required and has only until June 19 at 5 p.m. to get them. 

Keller is only a few dozen short and now his campaign is putting heat on Gonzales, filing an ethics complaint with the city clerk alleging fraud by the Gonzales campaign in collecting those $5 contributions: 

Keller’s reelection campaign is accusing Gonzales of committing fraud in his effort to obtain public financing. An ethics complaint filed by the Keller campaign alleges Gonzales personally told a voter that he did not have to pay the $5 contribution that Gonzales must collect from 3,779 city voters to qualify for public financing. In a statement, Megan McMillan, a Gonzales’ campaign official, called the complaint “baseless” and said “neither Sheriff Gonzales nor the campaign covered any contribution.”

A Gonzales associate says the campaign remains confident that they will qualify for public financing but is also raising questions about the fairness of the process. 

If Manny falls short he could still opt for private financing but could there be legal squabbling with the city clerk's office? Stay tuned.


Gonzales supporters continue to bang the drum over crime. That PAC supporting him--Save Our City-- rolled out an endorsement by former APD Chief Mike Geier who was embittered when Keller forced him out. Says Geier:

Manny Gonzales is the best hope for changing the city's direction concering the crime crisis.


A spokesman for MLG comes with this take on her Thursday ABQ re-election rally disrupted by protesters: 

I would not be so quick to say the protesters were simply "constituents who happen to disagree with MLG’s strict lockdown measures," who are not "on the far fringes of conspiratorial politics." These were the deep depths of the deep end -- with Nazi chants, heckles and salutes, signs and shouts about 5G and wifi conspiracies, screaming aggressively and making threats all night, including through the tribal invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem.  It was a sickening display, shades of Jan. 6 at the Capitol, and I'm glad no one was hurt. .  .To suggest this was just your average "we politely disagree with MLG" group is just not correct. 

Reader John Rey came with his reaction:

Now her true colors emerge and all of us ex-lounge lizards are happy about the shout out. Her Qlizard comment is right out of Orange Sunshine’s playbook. Is this the way to counter protests? Your words will come back to haunt you, MLG. It’s a good thing there is no competition so far. Remember not all who protested are Republicans. This state is last in everything and you call constituents names. Biden was right. You are not a good fit! 

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Monday, June 07, 2021

Unsteady Start: MLG's Re-elect Rally Implodes; Guv Image Cast In New Light As She Rips Protesters As "Lizard People"; R's Try To Take Advantage But Still No Name Candidate 

Messy, unnecessary and amateurish. Those were some of the takes from political pros weighing in after the worst PR debacle of Governor Lujan Grisham's tenure. 

Her Thursday evening re-election announcement at the ABQ Museum turned into such a fiasco that for the first time some doubt was cast over the conventional wisdom that her second term is as likely as the summer monsoons. 

The mishap has roots before the event when MLG and her team ordered up a public announcement of her intention to run for another four year term in 2022. 

Why do one at all when she had already said she was seeking re-election? Is there someone challenging her in the Dem primary? No. Is it too early to politicize the image of a sitting Governor and turn her into a candidate? Yes.

And why do it in a public venue like the museum amphitheater where protesters easily drowned out the entire event with indignant shouts powered with megaphones and who dominated the news coverage? 

And why make the event exclusive to the Democratic elite (e.g. House Speaker Egolf and Senate Leader Wirth), reinforcing the notion that the pandemic put her above the fray ordinary citizens faced?

And if you’re going to announce your re-election, can you inform the state what your plans are for the next four years instead of a program of speakers who conducted a pep rally?

Of course the protesters made sure that MLG had little chance of saying much of anything and what she did say only made matters worse. 

Frustrated by the overwhelming cacophony and the knowledge that the event was crashing and burning before her eyes she went after the protesters, calling them “QAnon lizard people.” Say what? 

She should have been kicking herself and her staff for the political folly not those who took advantage of the misadventure. Remember Hillary and the "deplorables?" Well, MLG just empowered the "lizard people."

The protesters are also constituents who happen to disagree with MLG’s strict lockdown measures. That's not a position that puts them on the far fringes of conspiratorial politics. Casting them as such again furthered the narrative that the Governor, already busted for high living ways during the pandemic, is out of touch. 

The chaos at the occasion was all the more remarkable because of MLG's recent legislative successes and her generally well received handling of the virus crisis. The image of that success was drowned out by a small group of protesters who effectively punctured the bubble MLG and her campaign staff have apparently been operating in. 

One mistake leads to another and now that MLG's fallibility has been showcased, the game is on to stage repeats. Heck, the flying dildo drone may even show up next time. (MLG was forced to cancel a Friday campaign event at Espanola because of security concerns).


Chase and Pence
The Governor is blessed with a weak opposition and we mean weak. The state GOP is at their lowest point since the 1970's. 

There still is no big name Republican Guv candidate but the Thursday mishap may have someone of note mulling over a run.

Who might that be? Probably a hopeful who can mostly self-finance an expensive campaign because raising money will be a challenge against an incumbent, unless her numbers are deep in the cellar. 

Claire Chase of the wealthy SE NM oil family who ran for the southern GOP congressional nomination in 2020 comes to mind. Besides money there is the need for a fresh R face. But Chase isn't even 40 and better opportunities may come along.

While without a campaign leader, the Rs are codifying their 2022 anti-MLG messaging that will rally their base: 

The Governor’s unfair and illegal decisions during the pandemic killed our economy, lost thousands of jobs and cost our children a school year with no classrooms. Many students and job seekers have had to move out of state. . .The Governor even gave her staff pay raises. . .

Her refusal to reopen has caused irreparable damage and has led to suicide and mental health problems. Lujan Grisham based her COVID decisions on political science, not medical science. . . 

Her character must be questioned. She continues to act like a monarch with absolute rule. . .Lujan Grisham has broken the rules that she decreed . . .She closed shops to the public but enjoyed buying jewelry for herself, closed grocery stores but feasted on steaks and exotic foods at taxpayers’ expense.

MLG could have laid back for months, making no political announcements and depriving the R's of a target. The silver lining for the D's is that it is still way early and there's plenty of time to forget. But there's no denying that with an ill-advised and poorly executed re-election event MLG shot herself in her colorful cowboy boots and instead of charging out of the gate, she comes out limping.     


The only announced GOP gubernatorial candidate, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, didn't waste any time incorporating lizard people, the state's newest political meme, into his campaign

I am very much looking forward to going back to Block Country in Artesia. We have tremendous support there and our campaign is moving along very well around the state. I also will have some huge news to share with you shortly. Stay tuned Lizards!

And don't forget the Alligators. They're still out there, too. 

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