Thursday, June 16, 2022

Blog Photo Caption Contest; Scranton Joe Chats Up MLG; Free Lunch To The Winners 

An entire hour alone with the President of the USA. 

Just what did MLG and Joe Biden have to say to each other during that lengthy sojourn from ABQ to Santa Fe where last Saturday he was briefed on the state's wildfires?

There's been no release about the conversation so we turn it over to our dear readers to speculate on the give and take between the Guv and the Prez.

So email your captions. The best two win a free lunch to the famed Barelas Coffee House. 

Here's a starter:

Joe: Michelle, what do you say we make a run for the border while we're in the area? 

Michelle: Nah, Taco Bell is too far out, let's hit The Shed instead. 

Sure, you can do better than that. Email your entry to newsguy@yahoo.com. Good luck!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

MLG Camp Makes First Foray Into Negative Territory: Defends Crime Record While Questioning Ronchetti Experience, Plus: MLG Plays Defense On Possible ABQ Migrant Influx, And: Off The Rails In Otero; Commission There Won't Certify Primary Results; SOS Heads To Court 

MLG has released her first negative ad aimed at GOP nominee Mark Ronchetti, the start of what will be a mind-numbing five months of nonstop TV spots from her and from Ronchetti as soon as he can raise enough money to go on the tube and stay there. 

MLG's first foray into negative territory begins with an ad featuring former Bernalillo police chief Tom Romero who wonders how Ronchetti--with no experience other than being a TV weatherman--can fight crime. 

Mark Ronchetti, a TV weatherman attacking the Governor on crime? Mark Ronchetti only knows which way the wind blows.

Of course, the metro area crime wave has intensified under the leadership of experienced Democrats like MLG but the ad touts her crime fight, saying she gave police "the funding they need."

The GOP is hoping to use crime as a gateway issue in the ABQ metro where they must cut MLG's margins to have a chance, although that messaging did not work against Mayor Keller who easily won re-election last year. 

There is a yawning gap in cash on hand between the Guv and her opponent. She last reported over $3 million in cash and he just $470,000 after swamping his four opponents in the GOP primary. 

The early TV brings that gap into focus as the national GOP tries to pick up the slack for Ronchetti and has a negative ad up against her.

In the only public poll released in the Guv race conducted in late April and early May, Survey USA had the contest at 47 to 43 with MLG leading. 

Ronchetti responded to the TV hit in a fund-raising missive by calling MLG's crime record "a disaster" and that she has "failed to end catch and release" and "changed the law to make it easier for cops to be sued."

He also attacked the newspaper for their coverage of the new ad:

She got the Albuquerque Journal to write an article about it without so much as asking us for a comment.

The Journal responded:

We have fairly and thoroughly covered this year's election cycle, including the Governor's race, and intend to continue to do so. 

The paper endorsed Ronchetti in the June primary.

MLG also came with this positive ad that touts her opportunity scholarship program for higher education.

Both of her ads feature Hispanic spokespeople, a group that has been a polling soft spot for the Governor. 

Meanwhile, Ronchetti announced an endorsement--not from Donald Trump--but from the other wing of the GOP--former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who is said to be eying a 2024 run for the presidency gave him her backing. Like Ronchetti, Haley is not a big fan of the "Orange One."

The NM Governor's race is rated "lean Democrat" by national pundits. 


MLG is playing defense on the prospect of the Feds sending more migrants from Mexico into ABQ. Immigration is a key wedge issue for Ronchetti and the GOP. Her news release on the hot-button issue:

(MLG) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas requesting the federal government delay planned or expanded efforts to transport migrants to New Mexico as they would dramatically affect the state’s capacity to provide ongoing humanitarian assistance to wildfire relief efforts. The letter follows the governor’s meeting with DHS Sec. Mayorkas last month, where she requested additional wildfire disaster assistance from the federal government through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

The governor’s request was recently granted by President Biden, who announced that the federal government will cover 100% of costs for emergency protective work and debris removal under New Mexico’s existing wildfire disaster declaration. In the letter, the governor emphasizes that both state government and local humanitarian organizations are focused on supporting the thousands of New Mexicans displaced by and affected by the ongoing disaster as numerous wildfires continue to burn throughout the state. 

“The existing emergency arising from these wildfires has severely taxed the capacity of our state to provide resources to non-New Mexicans. I cannot allow the governments and communities of the state of New Mexico to shoulder additional burdens falling squarely within the federal government’s purview,” the governor writes. 


Couy Griffin Vs. MTO
The three member Republican-controlled Otero County Commission in SE NM splashed into the national headlines when it refused Monday to certify the June 7th primary results because of distrust of voting machines. Now it falls to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to ward off the MAGA conspirators and ensure the integrity of the election process is protected and a precedent set for the future. Her office reports:

(The SOS) filed a writ of mandamus with the New Mexico Supreme Court seeking to compel the Otero County Commission to certify the 2022 Primary Election results after the commission illegally refused to certify the results, potentially disenfranchising every Otero County voter who legally and securely cast a ballot and harming candidates seeking to have their names on the General Election ballot. 

“New Mexico’s 2022 Primary Election was conducted with the highest standards of election administration by dedicated county clerks and civil servants across our state. The post-election canvassing process is a key component of how we maintain our high levels of election integrity in New Mexico and the Otero County Commission is flaunting that process by appeasing unfounded conspiracy theories and potentially nullifying the votes of every Otero County voter who participated in the Primary.” Toulouse Oliver said  

County canvassing boards have ten days from the election to certify the results. Under state law, county canvassing boards must certify the results of the election unless there is proof of discrepancies in the election returns. The Otero County Commission’s stated reason for not certifying the 2022 Primary Election results is that they do not trust the vote tabulators used in the election, though they offered no evidence to prove any problems with the vote tabulators or election returns. 

New Mexico’s vote tabulator systems undergo a bi-partisan certification process by the voting system certification committee following every presidential election and this process was most recently completed in 2021. The Otero County Commission took their vote Tuesday over the objection of their County Clerk, who provided the commission with findings about the Primary Election proving it was conducted legally and securely and election returns were accurate. The Secretary of State’s Office filed this writ  to ensure state law is being followed and to ensure that the voices of every legal voter in Otero County are heard. 

This most recent action by the Otero County Commission is part of a disturbing trend across the nation motivated by conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that have been debunked time and time again (most notably in the failure of over 60 lawsuits filed in the wake of 2020). All county officials take an oath to uphold the constitution and laws of New Mexico. 

Because of these violations of their oaths, the Secretary of State’s Office is also preparing a criminal referral to the New Mexico Attorney General related to these willful violations of the Election Code by county officers and their willful failure or refusal to perform their duties under the Election Code. 

The state Supremes ought to make quick work of the renegade and unlawful action happening in AlamogordoAmong the members of the Otero County Commission are Cowboys for Trump co-founder copy Griffin. Enough said. 


ABQ Dem US Rep. Melanie Stansbury is celebrating her first year in office this week, having won her seat at a special election in June of 2021. She comes with this video highlighting that first year. She is opposed in the November election by Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Recession Flags Wave: What Would It Be Like Here? Plus: New Mexico Sees Impact Of Tougher Texan Abortion Law 

The Bear Market came crashing through the gates Monday as markets worldwide experienced sharp declines and the red flag warnings of recession were frantically waved. What to expect if the Bear comes calling on our enchanted land? 

--A recession would chop away at the too-high home prices in ABQ and Santa Fe--the median selling price in ABQ is now over $340,000 and in Santa Fe nearly $600,000. That's a market disorder ripe for a recession to correct. 

---Recession could also halt and even reduce the astonishing price hikes landlords are slapping on their apartment tenants--anywhere from $200 to $500 month in one fell swoop.

---With massive budget reserves the pain of a recession would not be felt much in state government, unless the downturn was a very prolonged one. 

---Funding for the national labs here, which have some of the highest paying jobs in the state, is on a tear as the DC hawks continue to win increases in nuclear weapons funding. That's a soft (and long-term) cushion underneath the state's economy.

--Future oil prices are an unknown but experts say even if the price of a barrel of the liquid gold was sliced in half, the TX/NM Permian Basin would remain profitable and oil would continue to be pumped, generating funds for state government. Experts expect the boom to continue until at least 2025. Chevron just announced that it will be increasing its production in the Permian by at least 15 percent in the months ahead.)

—Tourism is the most obvious casualty of a downturn here. Ski areas and hotels now have to fret over not only getting enough snow but whether the customers will be there to enjoy the white stuff. 

One of the sad ironies of a recession in New Mexico is that the spike in the closure of small businesses during the long Covid pandemic would mean fewer of them going out of business when and if the Bear paid a visit. 

--Recession would increase the jobless rate but with so many New Mexicans employed by government and with many others part of an aging population not in the job market, the blow could be gentle. Also, many potential job seekers in their 20's and 30's fled the state in the 2010's as the state's economy stagnated. 

No one wants to taunt the bear by crying "bring it on" but it is good to know New Mexico is less exposed to his recessionary fangs than our neighbors. 


From the New Yorker:

As the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to an abortion, we already have a picture of what the near future might look like: a fourteen-year-old girl from Dallas, travelling seven hundred miles to Santa Teresa, New Mexico, to visit what, post-Roe, could be among the last remaining abortion clinics in the Southwest. 

The report says at the Santa Teresa clinic near El Paso the girl's appointment to get a sonogram and obtain the five abortion pills would cost the family seven hundred dollars.

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Monday, June 13, 2022

Biden In NM: MLG Gets A Gift But Further Fire Aid In Limbo; Spotlight Now Falls On State's DC Delegation, Plus: Optics Of Prez Visit And Herrell's Election Year Pivot  

MLG got what she wanted from President Biden's weekend visit to Santa Fe in a short "see for himself" visit that had Air Force One fly over fire-stricken areas in northern New Mexico. But residents of the scattered villages impacted by the historic blazes still have to wait and see whether their lives will be made whole by Uncle Sam and Scranton Joe.

(Full Biden/MLG presentation here.)

Agreeing with MLG about the fires caused by a US Forest Service prescribed burn gone wrong, Biden announced that the feds would exempt the state from any costs for the emergency response and debris removal. However, a bill sponsored by TLF and BRL to provide assistance to compensate thousands of residents for damaged property and lost income is already in limbo, caught in the never-ending crossfire of DC polarization. 

(Full Biden/MLG presentation here.)

The predicament shines a light on the state's smallish congressional delegation of three US House members--all first-termers and two US senators--first-termer Ben Ray Lujan and second-termer Martin Heinrich.

If it were 20 years ago and GOP Sen. Pete Domenici was around there would be no question that the disaster funding bill for fire victims being supported by the delegation would be on its way. But with no GOP senator in the delegation and none with considerable seniority, it could take heavy-lifting to get the bill thru the senate where Biden noted he will need GOP support.

Domenici was a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee when the giant Cerro Grande fire (also caused by a Forest Service prescribed burn) struck Los Alamos in 2000. With Domenici heading the delegation, a disaster fund was soon approved and dispensing millions to afflicted New Mexicans. 

Today Sen. Heinrich is a member of appropriations but without the heft or seniority of Domenici and most important without much goodwill from Republicans because of the ongoing partisan rancor. 

The House is more friendly for fire relief, being controlled by the Democrats and having the support of southern GOP Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, the lone R in the state's CODEL.


There's a lot on the line and landowners in the North aren't waiting. They are already lawyering up

Concerned that they will be stiff-armed in their fight for relief, they have begun suing the US Forest Service.

Heinrich and company need the legal back-up. In a state with such a junior delegation and with an election approaching in which the GOP is in a frenzy to take out MLG, the politics of fire relief are thorny. 


Biden at KAFB
The optics were solid for the president's visit. He can't help being the decent, affable guy he is and in a humanitarian crisis that is comforting. 

MLG's studious presentation given along side him avoided overexcitement which is not always the case. She handled the event with aplomb and perhaps took another step toward erasing the uncomfortable images she created for herself when administering her anti-Covid decrees that got the GOP so fired up. 

A big score for the Guv was an hour long car ride alone with the President to Santa Fe. That's a lot of time to cover a lot of territory. Did it go well? 

Senator Ben Ray Lujan, felled by a serious stroke earlier this year, looked robust and engaged. We're told by Capitol Hill Alligators that the peripatetic 50 year old, previously no stranger to 80 hour work weeks, has shaved those hours as he works his way back to a full recovery. 

Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland was among the greeting party for Biden when he landed Saturday afternoon at Kirtland Air Force Base. His appointment of the Native American to his cabinet was an historic first for the nation. Her presence was also a reminder that Haaland could be a powerful campaign presence for MLG come October. 


Rep. Herrell
It was rare to see Rep. Herrell sharing camaraderie with the delegation but there are fires blazing in her district too and her new district contains a healthy slice of ABQ that is dominated by Democrats. She needs to shed some of her edge to appeal to them. Working on the fires--as well as a bipartisan water bill with ABQ Dem Rep. Stansbury--is a start. 

Deep down, Herrell may want to eat her words and cancel her vote to not certify the 2020 election results showing President Biden was legitimately elected. She was among 147 House and Senate Republicans refusing to certify. But her presence with the President Saturday was a tacit admission that he won fair and square.

When it comes to walking back that vote she really can't without risking her GOP base. Instead she is trying to move past it. Here's what she had to say in a national interview when asked whether she had any regrets over the vote and what she thought of the congressional hearings into the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol:

No (regrets), not at all. I actually wish that Congress would be focusing on the skyrocketing gas prices. The only 6th that anybody in my district is talking to me about is the potential for $6 a gallon gas. We need really to start looking at what is important to the American people--economy (and) inflation. We are on the very cusp of a recession here. We need to make sure. . . that we are putting people back to work and that we are pushing our inflation down and helping our economy grow and that's what I wish we were focusing on. But as far as my vote (not to certify) in January, I don't have any regrets at all. 

Whether that pivot away from Trumpism and to the economy will sell on the campaign trail when she meets up with Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez may be a pivotal moment.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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