Thursday, November 11, 2021

An All Women Council For Cruces 

Just a short note today as we pause to observe Veterans Day 2021.

If this keeps up, soon it will be news if a man gets elected in Las Cruces. 

Here they are, the new all female six member Las Cruces City Council. Three of them are freshly elected from Nov. 2 and the other three were already on the panel. 

Unlike ABQ where two conservatives elbowed their way onto the city council and one in Santa Fe, Cruces maintains its all Dem progressive stance with this new council after last month's election.

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima also sits on the council as an at-large member. 

No pressure, Ken, but the weight of the brotherhood is on your shoulders. 

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.  


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

New Majority Leader Martinez Staffs Up, Plus: Ex-Guv Martinez Pulled Into Defamation Lawsuit Against Consultant McCleskey 

Rep. Martinez
New state House Majority Floor Leader Javier Martinez has hired Alicia Manzano, a former top aide to ABQ Mayor Tim Keller, as his Chief of Staff as he prepares for his first stint as leader at the December redistricting and 2022 legislative sessions. That's pretty heady stuff for a fellow who grew up in an El Paso Barrio as the son of Mexican immigrants and just steps from the border. 

Martinez, about 40, is an attorney but not in private practice, serving as Executive Director of the Partnership For Community Action," a community-based organization that works to build healthy communities."

Previous majority leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton was forced to quit after being accused of embezzling nearly $1 million from APS where she was employed.

Manzano, an ABQ native with a Masters in Public Administration from UNM, has served as Keller's dorector of communications as well as his liaison for strategic partnerships.

While there' been some buzz about Martinez eventually ascending to the Speaker's chair current Speaker Brian Egolf has signaled that he will seek another term from the House Dem Caucus following the 2022 election. He has served in the post since 2017.


Scott Chandler (Deming Headlight)
A closely watched lawsuit by La Politica insiders continues to bubble up. 

The latest is a request by Scott Chandler, a former GOP state House candidate who is suing longtime GOP consultant Jay McCleskey for defamation and seeking $1 million in damages, to add former Gov. Susan Martinez's name to the lawsuit:

Due to Jay McCleskey's sworn testimony in a lateral lawsuit which brings to light Governor Susanna Martinez's intimate involvement concerning the defamatory fliers used in the 2016 State Representative District 32 primary, we found it necessary to name her in this amended complaint. 

Full complaint here.

The case centers on a flyer attacking Chandler that was sent by the Advance Now NM PAC run by McCleskey. Chandler ran a ranch for at risk youth and the hit piece asked: 

How did a business accused of child abuse and torture avoid government oversight?

But Chandler and the ranch were exonerated from any wrongdoing despite attacks from Martinez and McCleskey. Chandler has previously won lawsuit settlements from the state for the state's public attacks on him so the defamation suit is no shot in the dark.

The Advance Now PAC was active in pursuing legislative Republicans who were not supportive of Martinez.

McCleskey lost a key decision in the case in December of last year when a Luna County District Court Judge ruled the case would proceed and shot down down a defense motion to dismiss.

McCleskey and Martinez
In the "lateral lawsuit" mentioned in the motion to include ex-Gov. Martinez in the defamation lawsuit, McCleskey is suing his insurance company for refusing to pay for his defense. The company argues that there is a policy for McCleskey's media firm but not the political action committee that he ran with the advice and assistance of the Governor.

It's quite the legal mess for McCleskey, known for his slash and burn attack ads, as he struggles to get back in the winner's circle. In November he lost the high profile ABQ mayoral race when his client, Democrat Manny Gonzales, tanked. In 2020 he managed Mark Ronchetti's media for the US senate race but again came up short. 

Now Ronchetti is again employing McCleskey in his high dollar race for Governor, dollars the controversial consultant can surely use as he fights for his political life against a rancher whose spurs are digging into him deeply. 

By the way, the attorney for Chandler is none other than Pete Domenici, Jr. who lost the 2010 GOP Guv nomination to Martinez. 

Well, Jay and Mark, good luck with all of that. . . or something. 

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.  


Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Murder Meter Goes Over 100 As Early Positioning Begins In ABQ City Council December Runoffs; Two Seats At Stake; If Underdog R's Pulled Upsets They Would Flip Dem Majority 

The city's exploding murder rate has shattered the century mark for the year and is now in unchartered territory. 

Mayor Keller is safely re-elected which means the R's will push the issue into the Governor's race hoping to gain traction in big Bernco against MLG. 

The GOP Guv nomination contest is already seeing mild sparks with Greg Zanetti running a digital ad that says Mark Ronchetti is a TV weatherman not up to the job:

These are serious times that deserve serious conservative leadership. New Meico Republicans are going to have a choice. General Greg Zanetti served our country and kept us safe. Then he built a successful business right here in New Mexico. Mark Ronchetti spent his career as a weatherman. He has no executive or business experience. In these serious times who can New Mexico Republicans really trust to move our state forward?

Zanetti is retired from the US Army National Guard. 

Besides Zanetti and Ronchetti there are six other candidates in the race, including T or C State Rep. Rebecca Dow.


Back on the soaring murder rate, look for it to be brought back full force in the two city council runoff elections slated for December 7. Here's a peek at the early action. 

District 9 Dem contender Rob Grilley says the $14,000 in public financing available for the runoff is not enough so after receiving $41,000 in public money for the initial Nov. 2 election, Grilley has decided to switch to private financing for the runoff. He says he is doing so because he expects "an onslaught of money from the far right" to come into the race. By taking private financing Grilley can tap in to Dem Party donor lists and those of Mayor Keller. 

Grilley faces Republican small business owner Renee Grout in the runoff. She also accepted public financing in the first round. There's no word yet on whether Grout will go to private financing but Grilley appears to expect that and/or an outside PAC to come in for his foe. 

District 9 is in the far NE Heights (including Four Hills) and has been represented mainly by R's but the Dems say the district is ripe to flip. Grout finished first in the initial balloting beating Grilley and Dem Byron Powdrell. Grilley barely got past Powdrell. Now he needs his endorsement.

In District 7 in the mid NE Heights, Dem Tammy Fiebelkorn finished second in a six person field in the initial Nov. 2 election. She faces GOP real estate agent Lori Lee Robertson who came in first with 32 percent of the vote. Robertson was the lone R and the five Dems split the D vote. Fiebelkorn now needs the support of her former Dem rivals and is getting some:

District 7 City Council candidate Mauro Montoya, progressive leader and civil rights attorney, announced that he will enthusiastically support runoff candidate Tammy Fiebelkorn in December. . .Our safety, our health, and our future depend on the commitment we have made to each other, and our work will continue as we unite behind our future Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn. 

Montoya finished 5th in the race, getting 9 percent.

The council would flip from a majority of Dems to a majority of R's ( 5 to 4) if Republicans Grout and Robertson were to prevail in December. 


Nyika Allen
Nyika Allen, Director of the City of Albuquerque’s Aviation Department, is stepping down to take a new job at the Port of Oakland as Assistant Director of Aviation at Oakland International Airport. 

That would be a rather routine announcement from City Hall, but Allen is coming off a mayoral campaign that dragged her name through the mud when BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales shocked a TV debate audience by making unfounded allegations that a woman in the employ of the city was having an extramarital affair with Mayor Keller. 

Gonzales mentioned no names but the consultant for the PAC supporting him, James Hallinan, dropped Allen's name on Twitter as the woman in question. The City Attorney quickly responded with a rebuke and a threat of legal action against the consultant. 

The city says Allen's departure was in the mix well before her name surfaced in the campaign. Deputy Director Richard McCurley has been named the new director.

Meanwhile, the ABQ Sunport continues to be one of the more welcoming airports in the region, even garnering this video compliment from actor Alec Baldwin before the recent tragedy at his Santa Fe movie set. 


Happening today:

Redistricting consultants Research and Polling will present newly revised concepts to the Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 9. “We are continuing to improve the boundaries of the conceptual maps to ensure that the districts that will be in place for the next 10 years will honor communities of interest and provide every citizen fair access to their representatives,” says Commission Chair Charlene Pyskoty. For background information and to provide public comment visit here.

The 5 p.m. meeting will be carried live on GOVTV, YouTube and Bernco.gov. Click here to sign up for public comment.

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.  


Monday, November 08, 2021

Public Sentiment Appears To Shift; MLG And Company Face Flexibility Test On Mandatory Masks As Vaccinated Break Away; Only Five Other States As Rigid As NM, Plus: MLG And Keller Advised On Midterms 

Public sentiment in the state appears to have shifted from fighting Covid to working out an accomadation and getting back to normal life. 

The shift could make it increasingly difficult for Governor Lujan Grisham to mandate indoor mask wearing by both the vaccinated and unvaccinated without suffering consequences. 

As this map shows the state is already an island unto itself when it comes to masks. Only six states, including ours, now have mask mandates for the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Unless renewed, the current mask mandate expires Friday.

Even with the mandate, New Mexico infections have climbed in recent weeks. However, with over 70 percent of state residents at least partially vaccinated it is the unvaccinated who are bearing the brunt of the Covid burden, facing serious illness and sometimes death while the vaccinated generally face only mild consequences if they get a breakthrough infection. That is key to understanding the apparent political shift underway. 

The changing circumstances are evident even in liberal Santa Fe:

. . . Dr. Wendy Johnson, chief medical officer at La Familia Medical Center, expressed disappointment in the lack of vigilance she sees. “We’re not following the guidelines anymore,” Johnson said. . .Even with a comparatively high vaccination rate of 83 percent in Santa Fe County, that leaves 20,000 or more unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, Johnson said. People gather now at birthday parties, theaters and other entertainment spots, she said, letting down their guard at a time when the disease’s intensity is picking up. “Our restaurants are packed,” she said. Statistics, anecdotal evidence and expert observation indicate the situation has worsened in New Mexico. 

But blaming a restless public that has had its vaccinations may not cut the political mustard. It is the unvaccinated upon which the burden rests. 

MLG and company won kudos for their initial performance in dealing with Covid but like the virus itself the political (and medical) landscape has morphed. The question is can she adapt and pivot to more flexible policies? With rising cases a policy revision now could look like a cave-in, but with no revision it is her popularity that could cave.


MLG & Keller
MLG and ABQ Mayor Tim Keller are getting an earful following last Tuesday's Republican gains around the nation and some here. One of our Senior Alligators comes with a combined analysis/rant as he looks to the 2022 midterm election:

Michelle has to find a re-election message that stays away from culture wars, masks and COVID. We may not have a critical race theory debate going on in our school boards, but after last Tuesday the state GOP won’t try to create one? 

MLG has to make-up with the Legislature and start deploying federal recovery funds for bread and butter investments in health care, education and infrastructure. Democrats are sitting on $1 billion  in funds that could jumpstart NM. Stop pumping the brakes on our recovery. 

Keller may have won a mandate but he faces a city council that may no longer be a bunch of pushovers. Republican Councilors Dan Lewis and Brook Bassan will feel empowered to criticize the Mayor and second guess how he runs the city. Dan Lewis will want to avenge his 2017 mayoral loss to Keller and take a chunk out of him. Second terms are no fun and the Mayor has to shift his approach. 

Democrats must approach the midterms as the governing, responsible party not as the renegade, progressive, force issues down-your-throat party. You have to be for something that voters can latch on to, not just anti-Trump. 

Jessica Velasquez, the Dem Party chair, has to shift her operation from an expert Facebook photo production company to a badass election operation. 

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.  

website design by limwebdesign