Thursday, March 03, 2022

"Paper Or Plastic?" Will ABQ Again Hear That Question? Councilor Seeks To Overturn Plastic Bag Ban; Veto Struggle Could Develop, Plus: Dateline Corrales  

Mayor Keller
Could ABQ residents again hear "paper or plastic" at the grocery checkout? They will if a bill sponsored by ABQ City Councilor Brook Bassan makes it through the council with at least six votes. 

She needs six to bring back the plastic because Mayor Keller is sure to veto the measure if it reaches his desk. It takes six votes to override a mayoral veto. If there is a veto and an override it would be the first one by the new council that took office in January and would represent a tick toward the center by the panel. 

The ban on the plastic bags is a fave of progressive enviros. Dem Councilors Pat Davis and Ike Benton are big Fans. But Republican Bassan says she's received numerous complaints from constituents over the issue which is on again off again. Keller temporarily allowed the popular bags during Covid but the ban took effect again last August. From her City Hall office Bassan tells us:

This ban is another annoyance on top of multiple annoyances that have afflicted us since Covid and it's one we can do something about--by giving people a choice. 

Okay. But what about going to all paper bags? She told TV news:

We can bolster paper all we want. But there's still some unintended consequences and problems with that. It takes seven truck full truckloads to transport the same amount of paper bags as it does for one truckful to transport the same amount of those single-use plastic bags.

Councilor Bassan
In the post-Covid era Bassan, who often tacks to the middle, says shoppers have grown skeptical of "dirty, germ carrying" bags they tote to the market and have to wash regularly but often don't. She also says the city should be more concerned with its subpar recycling effort of plastics, not the single use plastic bags. 

There appears to be a weariness toward some aspects of progressive politics as the city continues to be bedeviled by the ongoing crime wave. Bassan may have caught the vibe and Keller may have to play catch up as he has tried to do with a more tough on crime stance during the recent legislative session.

The Council is 5 to 4 with Dems in the majority. But Dem westside Councilor Louis Sanchez is a conservative and his could be the fifth vote for lifting the bag ban. The sixth? That could be Dem Councilor Klarissa Pena. 

Keller has been urging neighborhood groups to call their councilors in support of keeping the ban. The council meets Monday. It is uncertain whether there will be a final vote on the bill which has passed one council committee. 


State Dems head to Roswell this weekend for their preprimary convention. The GOP preprimary last weekend went off the rails because of vote counting snafus. That should be avoided by the Dems. Delegates will vote remotely and the results of the balloting to place candidates on the June 7 primary ballot won't be announced until March 13.  The event will be headlined by MLG and Senator Heinrich. 


Former Corrales Mayor Phil Gasteyer writes of this week's village election results:

Joe: We had an interesting mayoral election. Dr. Jim Fahey (a retired ortho surgeon, 3-time Councilor) defeated Gary Kanin (age 89, Village mayor '92-'06, former newscaster and ad exec). About 35% of those registered voted--compared to Rio Rancho's 14%. Though local elections are nonpartisan, significant GOP money backed Kanin. He had 5 mailers to postal patrons and hundreds of yard signs. One thing more: Republican state Rep. Jane Powdrell's District 44 has been changed to cover all of Corrales; the GOP's failed mayoral investment gambit may bode ill for Jane. 

Thanks, Phil. We didn't know Gary Kanin was running again. We remember him well from years ago. By then he was done with news anchoring and was in advertising at KOAT-TV but he still had the "voice of God."


A Senior Alligator of the Republican variety reports:

Joe, Claire Chase and family have moved to Dallas, TX. There had been speculation that she might run for Congress or lt. governor. Also, she will soon be resigning as chair of the Chaves County GOP, if she hasn't already. 

Chase ran and lost against Yvette Herrell in 2020 for the GOP nomination for the southern GOP congressional district. She is the mother of young twins and is married to Chance Chase of the wealthy Artesia NM oil family. Claire Chase is a former chair of the NM Oil and Gas Association. 


Labor leader Darrell Deaguero has joined former ABQ City Councilor Cynthia Borrego in the race for the Dem nomination in ABQ westside District 17. This is a swing seat and the R's are expected to make a go of it there. Filing day for all 70 state House seats is next Tuesday. 

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Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Roswell Appears To Elect Dem Mayor; Former State Senator Tim Jennings Scoring Upset Over Kintigh, Plus; Jockeying For House Speaker To Be Influenced by Primary Election, And: Ivey-Soto Defended 

Tim Jennings
Rock solid Republican Chaves County apparently will see a Democrat lead its largest city. 

Former 34 year state Senator Tim Jennings prevailed by 57 votes in unofficial results over Roswell GOP Mayor Dennis Kintigh at Tuesday's city election, denying him a third, four year term and giving the Dems a morale boost in the deep red region. 

Conservative Dem Jennings was winning 2,420 votes or 44 percent to Kintigh's 2,363 or 43 percent. Two other candidates received the rest. About 5,500 votes were cast in the city of about 48,000. It would be a rarity for a 60 vote margin in such a turnout not to hold up in any recount that is conducted. 

Neither Kintigh or Jennings had made public comments on the election as of late Tuesday.

Roswell and other city election results from across the state are here.

Consultants close to the campaigns did not see the result as a sign of Democratic resurrection in the area in advance of the November Guv election. Offered one:

This was all about Kintigh. He had worn out his welcome by advancing large public works projects the public deemed wasteful while crime kept going up. 

An early sign of discontent with the incumbent came in March of 2020 when votes overwhelmingly defeated the mayor's proposed $34 million public safety complex which would have raised property taxes. On the crime front the murder rate in Roswell nearly doubled in 2021.

Importantly, prominent Roswell oilman and major Republican donor Mark Murphy had turned against Kintigh, raising campaign funds for Jennings and attracting disaffected Republicans to his camp. 

Campaign spending set a record with Kintigh appearing to approach $40,000 or more and Jennings more than that. 

Jennings, a Roswell native and rancher, always did have Republican appeal, getting elected to a SE NM district that leaned GOP and holding it for 34 years before being defeated in 2012 while serving as the Senate president pro tem.

In his candidate announcement Jennings pledged, if elected, he would concentrate on needed infrastructure repairs in the city and work to hire more police. 

While Dems had their morale boost in Roswell, the GOP got theirs in Rio Rancho where Republican Mayor Gregg Hull easily won re-election over two opponents by getting 68 percent of the vote. Unlike Kintigh, Hull retained his popularity for two terms and now will begin his third. 


The contest to become the next Speaker of the NM House could hinge on the outcome of Democratic primary races in a number of districts. 

That's the word from our Santa Fe watchers (and Alligators) who say right now the coast appears clear for House Majority Leader Javier Martinez to replace Speaker Brian Egolf who announced he will not seek reelection this year, but that could change if conservative and moderate Dems increase their numbers this election year. 

If conservative muscle grows as a result of the primaries, they say look for House Appropriations Committee Chair Patricia Lundstrom to talk more seriously about seeking the speakership and Martinez prepping for a challenge. On the other hand if progressives hold their own, Martinez could be expected to start picking out new furniture for the Speaker's office. 

The Republicans can't be counted out in this scenario. They believe they have a good chance of  reducing the ranks of Dems from the current 44 by picking up a couple of BernCo House seats in November. If that happened and several conservative D's win primaries in safe Dem districts, the prospect of a conservative coalition in the House could arise, with GOP members joining with the middle of the road Dems to take power. (The House is presently 44 Dems 25 GOP and 1 independent.)

That happened way back when (in the late 70's and early 80's when the "Cowboy Coalition" took power from the then prevailing liberal Dems. 

The Senate's decade-long conservative coalition was busted up in the June 2020 primaries with the defeat of several conservative Democrats. But coalition politics is complex and cunning and never quite ready for the grave in the intriguing world of La Politica. 


ABQ Dem state Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto is feeling much heat over charges from lobbyist Marianne Anaya that he sexually groped her in 2015 and abused her at the recent legislative session but reader Dennis Martinez is not among them:

Unfortunately, this is an old story. Lobbyist fails at her job and she makes allegations in order to influence legislation. This borders on political blackmail. I have met Ivey-Soto and he has done NM a huge favor. He is an expert on the election code and has done a lot of work on updating it. This was a lot of work and a badly needed improvement. Can more be done to improve the election code? Yes. Is there anyone else willing and able to do the necessary work in the Legislature? No. Should a Serial Alleger who is unelected be allowed to manipulate the Legislature in order pass legislation without due diligence? I must confess I like Ivey-Soto, he is one of few legislators who speaks fluent Spanish, and I have observed him assist Spanish-speaking constituents with respect.

Anaya's complaint of sexual harassment against Ivey-Soto is pending at the Legislature and expected to be investigated. She has called on him to resign. 


In a first draft Tuesday we blogged that no Republican has "held the post" of State Auditor for over 50 years. No R has been elected to the post during that time, but Republican Wayne Johnson was appointed State Auditor by Gov. Martinez in late '17 when Tim Keller became ABQ mayor. Johnson was defeated when he ran for election in 2018. . .

And the state House district in northern NM where Probate Judge Marlo Martinez is running in the Dem primary against Rep. Susan Herrera is #41, not #44. 

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Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Republicans Takes A Pass On State Auditor Election; Dem Primary Winner Will Get Post, Plus: The Ant Tames The Lyons In GOP Light Guv Contest, And: Pearce And Company Still Cleaning Up Pre-Primary mess 

There will be no Republican elected as State Auditor in 2022. That's not an earth-shaking prediction but it can be made with certainty because the GOP will not field a candidate for the position that has become a launching pad for Democratic political careers.

While tapping candidates for the other statewide offices--Treasurer, Land Commissioner and Attorney General--the R's took a pass on Auditor. That means either of two Dems--Joseph Maestas or Zach Quintero--will effectively be elected to the position when one of them wins the June 7th primary. 

The Libertarian Party has also taken a pass on the race. 

Maestas, a current public regulation commissioner, former Mayor of Española and Santa Fe City Councilor, is seen having the edge in a statewide race over the thirtysomething Quintero, a native of Mesilla, who ran a close but unsuccessful race for ABQ City Council in 2019. 

Maestas would probably be less likely to pursue higher office from the Auditor's perch than Quintero and those recently in the office. Current Auditor Brian Colón is seeking the Dem nod for Attorney General and Tim Keller, the Auditor before him, went on to become mayor of ABQ. 

Having a Dem as State Auditor is par for the course. In fact, no R has been elected since 1970 when Harold Thompson completed his second, two year term. After that terms were changed to four years and a Democrat has won ever since--a streak of over 50 years. However, Gov. Martinez did appoint Republican Wayne Johnson as state auditor to fill the post when Tim Keller left to assume the office of ABQ mayor. Johnson was defeated when he ran for Auditor in '18.


Ant Thornton in Ruidoso
Consider yourself tamed, Pat Lyons. That big name of La Politica took a major hit to his Light Guv candidacy this weekend when GOP delegates to the state preprimary convention failed to give him the required 20 percent support to win an official spot on the ballot. Lyons can still get on the ballot by filing additional petition signatures.

Clearly the Grand Old Party is a bit tired of Lyons and looking for new faces. They found one in political novice Anthony "Ant Thornton" of ABQ's East Mountains who is attempting to become the first Black man in state history to win a spot on a gubernatorial ticket. 

His Lt. Gov. candidacy was endorsed by 59 percent of the delegates. Neither Lyons or three other hopefuls managed to get the needed 20 percent. Lyons ran fourth among the five contenders.

No question Thornton, an aerospace engineer with a Ph.D and who worked 27 years at Sandia National Labs, would be a breakthrough candidate for the GOP which badly needs one in a majority-minority state that has turned its back on the party. There currently are no statewide elected Republican officials.

Lyons, 67, a former state senator and public regulation commissioner, was trying to resurrect his political career following his 2018 loss for land commissioner, a post he also previously held. But he didn't count on Ant the Lyons tamer storming the convention. Still, Ant can't turn his back. The old Lyons could still have some fight left in him.


When GOP Guv candidate Jay Block went into attack mode on MLG, calling her a crotch-grabbing evil witch," the delegates to Saturday's preprimary convention handed him the top GOP ballot position in the June primary, But the comments rankled more than a few and we heard from them, including reader Kelley:

Calling women names, any woman, is terrible stuff. Even if you think she deserves it. Isn’t Block touting himself as the moral, decent type? “Evil witch?" Wow. Don’t we raise our boys to respect women, even women we don’t like? I know that’s how I raised my boy. Never raise a hand or your voice to any woman or child. If you don’t believe she’s a lady, walk away. Words have power and can lead to violence. Republican or Democrat, there’s no place for violent language.

Block told us he is unapologetic about the comments saying the Guv's campaign settled a lawsuit or $150K over her crotch grabbing and that he believes she is truly evil because of the way people suffered under her pandemic mandates. 


The state GOP needs a giant mop and pail to clean up the mess leftover from the ill-fated vote-counting at their preprimary convention Saturday . How much of a mess is it? Well, the party went public in knocking down rumors that everything was not on the up and up in the final vote count:

. . . There’s been speculation that some votes were not included, and this is a falsehood. Delegates used paper ballots, and all ballots were counted accurately and appropriately. The entire process was under the supervision of the Party’s Tabulation Chair, Amy Barela. “I know with 100% certainty that the tallying of the ballots was exact and done with extreme precision and accuracy,” said Barela. “We had well-organized teams working diligently and carefully, and some campaigns had representatives observing the counting and certification of the paper ballots. The entire process demonstrated transparency and precision and again shows RPNM’s commitment to election integrity.”

Hey Amy and Steve, we never did get our ballot over here. 

Uh. . . just joking.

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Monday, February 28, 2022

The Wreck In Ruidoso; GOP Voting Mess Dominates Preprimary Meet But Guv Show Goes On: Block Surprises; Dow Disappoints; Ronchetti Gets Cold Shoulder, Plus: More State House Candidates 

Jay Block in Ruidoso
A chaotic and dysfunctional GOP preprimary convention finally ended late Saturday night with the GOP Guv race still favoring longtime TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti but the window open for a challenger. 

That challenger was expected to emerge more fully at the convention in the candidacy of state Rep. Rebecca Dow who badly needed a win to give her the anti-Ronchetti crown. But delegates voting to place the candidates on the primary ballot gave Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block a narrow and unexpected victory (but not unexpected by him as he had predicted a win). 

According to the state GOP, Block, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel with service in Afghanistan, garnered 199 votes or 29 percent. Dow came in second with 192 votes or 28 percent. 

Financial advisor Greg Zanetti came in third, receiving 157 votes or 23 percent. That's over the required 20 percent to win an official spot on the ballot without having to obtain more voter signatures on petitions. His candidacy has proven conservative appeal and his ABQ base could still have him figuring in the contest.

Anti-abortion candidate Ethel Mahrag received 29 votes.  

A list of all the races voted on at the GOP preprimary for ballot placement is here.

As for Ronchetti, during the convention chaos he essentially released his delegates to vote for whomever they wanted, saying all the Guv candidates deserved a spot on the ballot. It was his way of fading the heat  over his continued inability to perform at these conservative grassroots events. He received only 110 votes or 16 percent. 

While not achieving the 20 percent threshold for an official ballot spot, Ronchetti has already submitted over 7,000 petitions signed by R voters to qualify for the ballot without the convention designation. 

While history says any candidate who fails to win 20 percent at the preprimary will not win the June 7 primary, that history was thrown out the window with the voting malfunctions. With over $1 million in cash and statewide name ID, Ronchetti has the resources to again win a nomination as he did in 2020 when he finished second at the preprimary and took the primary prize in that year's US Senate race. 

But one of our Alligators reports Dow recently told an ABQ event that she has raised $800,000. And while Ronchetti touts his $1.2 million fundraising haul in the first 60 days of his candidacy, he has not updated that number for two months. Finance reports are not due until mid-April. 

Dow in Ruidoso
Anonymous text messages attacking Dow and sent to the delegates during the convention seemed to have had an impact. One text brought up her problem with the State Ethics Commission regarding her financial disclosure forms. 

Another message delved into her $260,000 settlement of a lawsuit in 2017 that accused her of negligence when she hired a man to work with children at her Boys and Girls Club of Sierra County who was later charged with having sexual contact with two boys he was caring for. 

"Imagine the Democratic attacks" shouted one of the messages.

In addition, Block out delivered Dow with a fiery anti-MLG speech to the convention, calling the Governor "a crotch grabbing, evil witch" and showed organizational ability in scoring his win. 

The red meat he tossed to the conservative delegates helped vault him to the top of the field but reminded voters in blue New Mexico how far right the GOP has lurched and how the last two elections have devastated their ranks, leaving them with no statewide elected officials. 

The Block victory flew under the media radar as headlines blared about the voting mess. Still, Block now has some chance to surpass Dow as the stop Ronchetti candidate, even as the Dems claim the nomination of the tough-talking, pro-Trumper would surface talk of a Dem landslide. 


Zanetti in Ruidoso
GOP Chairman Steve Pearce's attempt at damage control had him portraying an alternate reality. He actually called the convention "magnificent." The absurdity was not lost on his fellow Republicans and rumblings were heard expressing relief that Pearce's tenure as chairman concludes at the end of the year. 

Democrats relished the GOP confusion and in a news release faulted the party for "stunning incompetence." Their supporters crowded social media with messages deriding the GOP for repeatedly questioning the integrity of elections and then conducting one riddled with serious issues. 

The main problem was with the email system set up for the delegates' use. When that failed the party switched to paper ballots. But hours elapsed and many delegates left the convention headed for home. And then there were more problems counting the many proxy votes. 

With the convention stacked against him from the beginning Ronchetti seized the moment and faulted the party "elite" for the breakdown. But he did not get away unscathed. His inability to improve his standing with pro-Trump Republicans and hardcore conservatives since his run two years ago spoke to his effectiveness as a potential leader. And his attacks on the GOP struck some observers as too stiff and could prompt the Pearce wing to try to steer money away from him. 

On the positive side the GOP convention did show the nearly rabid dislike for the sitting Governor and their enthusiasm to vote against her. That could be potent if they are joined by disgruntled independents. 

In the end state Democrats watched the convention with more pleasure than Republicans. They dreaded a convention where the GOP would come out looking sure-footed and ready for battle. Instead the GOP stumbled out of Ruidoso in the late night hours looking like they had a party where they had too many pulls on the bottle. 


Judge Martinez
March 8 is filing day for the state House candidates so a slew of early announcements are already coming in. A notable one is that of former Dem City Councilor Cynthia Borrego who says she will seek the Dem nomination in ABQ westside District 17. That district is being vacated by longtime Dem Rep. Deborah Armstrong. Borrego lost her westside District 5 ABQ city council seat to Republican Dan Lewis in the 2021 city election. Borrego is a moderate Dem and a retired city planner. 

The major development thus far in the House races is the entry of conservative/moderate Dems in House races where they will duke it out with progressive incumbents. Another example comes from House District 41 in Rio Arriba County where Probate Judge Marlo Martinez, a moderate Dem, is challenging incumbent progressive Rep. Susan Herrera. She is also getting a challenge on her left so that's a race to watch. 

Late last week ABQ Dem westside state Rep. Georgene Louis, charged with aggravated DWI on Super Bowl Sunday, announced she will not seek re-election to a sixth term. We earlier reported that former state Rep. Eleanor Chavez has announced her Dem candidacy for the nomination in the heavy D district. Moderate Dem Felipa Cruz Coon has also announced for the seat. 

The Louis announcement takes the heat off MLG who was coming under pressure to comment on the arrest. On the resignation the Guv said Louis was doing the “right thing.” “By making the decision not to run for reelection, the representative has demonstrated. . . that she takes full responsibility for her actions, adding that public officials must be held to a higher standard of conduct.

Tomorrow--March 1--is city election day for those locales that did not opt to switch their elections to November. Among the  major races are contests for mayor of Roswell, Rio Rancho and Espanola. 

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