Thursday, September 07, 2023

See You Back Here Monday  

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

First NM Prez Polling Of Cycle Shows Little Change; Biden Still Prevailing over Trump, Plus: MLG Approval Below 50 And Heinrich Sports Anemic Numbers 

Those looking for a sign--any sign--that New Mexico might return to its once vaunted status as a presidential swing state are not receiving any encouragement from the first presidential polling of the '24 cycle. 

A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling says a '24 rematch between Biden and Trump is pretty much where things left off after the 2020 election. That year Biden beat Trump in NM 54-44. In the August 23-24 poll of 767 registered voters Biden wins 49-41 over Trump--an eight point gap. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis does slightly better against Biden but like Trump is mired in the low 40's with 43 percent of the vote to Biden's 49 percent. 

George W. Bush was the last Republican to win our state's five electoral votes. That was in 2004. 

Dem Gov. Lujan Grisham's approval rating has slipped to 47 percent with her disapproval rating at 43 percent, according to the PPP survey. She was re-elected last year with 52 percent of the vote. 

The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus 3.5 percent. 


The next Guv election is in 2026 and Senator Martin Heinrich, who continues to plan for a possible Guv candidacy, can take no joy in the poll. His approval rating is an anemic 38 percent with 33 percent who disapprove. The most interesting number is the 29 percent of voters who said they were not sure about the job he was doing. That's high.

Heinrich was first elected to the US House in 2008. He has served in the US Senate since 2012. Those numbers are not going to do anything to help him clear the field to succeed MLG. In fact, he has to keep his eyes focused on 2024 when he seeks a third US Senate term. He has yet to draw a Republican opponent or a Dem primary foe but those numbers for a state's senior senator are not inspiring. 

In Heinrich's defense the Congress is not all that popular overall with voters so getting an approval rating north of 50 percent is more difficult than in the past but the number can get there with plenty of campaign advertising. Heinrich easily won re-election in 2018 when he received 54 percent of the vote with Republican Mick Rich getting 30 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson 15 percent. 

Meantime, Sen. Ben Ray Lujan slightly outpolled Heinrich in the approval department garnering 42 percent approval and 37 percent disapproval. 22 percent said they were uncertain about his job performance. Lujan is not up for re-election until 2026. 

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Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Funeral Arrangements Set For Gov. Richardson; Will Lie In State in Rotunda; Archbishop Wester To Officiate Mass; MLG To Host Reception, Plus: Our Personal Reflections On The Passing Of Big Bill, And: The Bizarre White House Error in Announcing His Death  

Richardson & Pope Benedict XVI
Funeral arrangements have been announced by the Richardson Center for former Governor Bill Richardson who died at his summer home in Massachusetts Friday. Those plans include a funeral mass to be officiated by Archdiocese of Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester.

Governor Richardson will lie in state Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the Capitol Rotunda from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be open to the public; a funeral mass is set for 11 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Fe officiated by the Archbishop and open to the public; there will be a 1 p.m. to 2 p.m public reception at the Rotunda following the mass and hosted by Governor Lujan Grisham and open to the public. 

The Richardson Center did not announce where the former Governor will be laid to rest.

This will be the second gubernatorial funeral the Capitol will see this year, an unusual occurrence. Former Governor Jerry Apodaca ('75-78') died in April at 88.

There are now four surviving state governors: Democrat Toney Anaya ('83-'87); Republican Garrey Carruthers ('87-'91); Republican Gary Johnson ('95-'03) and Republican Susana Martinez (2011-'19). 

Democrat Richardson, 75, served two terms as Governor ('03'-'11). He was a pro-choice Catholic who counted among his achievements the repeal of the state's death penalty. The Richardson Center said he died in his sleep after retiring Friday night. No cause of death was given. 


Indulge me, please, for some rare personal reflections on the significant occasion of Bill Richardson's passing. . . 

There would not be a blog without Bill Richardson. It's true. In 2003 I was struggling with how to go forward with a career that had started in journalism but morphed into a public relations and a political consulting firm. Things were not going that well. But what was going well--and full steam ahead--was the first year of the administration of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson. The action was intense, delivering all the twists and turns that politics can offer and which had first attracted me to the field as a teenager. 

With a burning desire to get back onto the political playing field and the advent of a new and novel form of communication--blogging--I rejoined the fray and never looked back. NM Politics with Joe Monahan was born in September 2003, just nine months into Gov. Richardson's extraordinary first term. Richardson's death Saturday came as we marked our 20th year of regular blogging of New Mexico politics, a record for any column in any media format in the state, most of which is chronicled in our weekly archives links on the right side of this page.

The blog was a start-up business but it was only a matter of months before it expoloded in popularity, putting us at the center of the universe of La Politica and smack dab in the middle of the state's most consequential debates. That we were one of the first local Internet businesses to make a profit was not lost on us but it was the gripping political action that hooked us and soon had us serving as the chief political analyst for two ABQ network TV affiliates, a regular contributor to national publications on Richardson and state politics and, of course, our continuing coverage of Election Night on public radio. 

This was comfortable territory, coming as it did before the advent of the divisiveness and polarization that followed those innocent days filled with awe over the Internet. There was plenty of rough and tumble in politics in the Richardson years but there were also more rules of decorum, respect and tolerance. 

Thanks to the multitude of stories generated by Richardson, the ceaseless fascination in the political community with all things Bill and our ongoing and exhaustive coverage, we had established ourselves, say our generous friends, as the most influential political columnist in state history. 

There was a much earlier encounter with Richardson that also shaped our professional life. In 1980 I was the communications director for longtime ABQ GOP Congressman Manuel Lujan when a young thirty-something Richardson launched a vigorous challenge to his re-election. Lujan eeked out a victory of a couple thousand votes but for Richardson it was only the beginning. In 1982 he was easily elected to the state's new northern congressional district and, as they say, the rest is history. 

For me it was a wake-up call that long odds should not be a deterrent. It would be another 20 years before I faced such odds in going all-in on a new form of communication fraught with the potential for failure. But I fought hard and worked even harder as I watched Richardson scale the peaks. In a much smaller way, I had done the same. And the rest is history.  . .


A bizarre error by the White House in reacting to the death of Gov Richardson had locals scratching their heads and wondering if they had missed a key chapter in the late Governor's personal life. In the first draft of President Biden's remarks on the passing of Richardson, the White Hosue statement said:

Jill and I send our love to his family, including his wife of over 50 years, Barbara, and their daughter Heather.

Daughter Heather? Who might that be, wondered the Alligators of La Politica? After all it was widely reported for decades that Richardson and his wife Barbara had no children. 

But the NYT and other media (including your blog), feeding off the erroneous White House transcript, also mentioned a Richardson daughter as one of his survivors. (The NYT has since dropped the reference).

The conspiracy theories got some legs with that--until the White House finally redacted the error, simply dropping it without explanation. 

So how did such a primary fact of Richardson's life get by the White House fact checkers? Well, it appears there is a big gap in fact checking there. Our sources indicate that this internet article from a gossip site called "wealthypeeps.com," claiming Richardson had a daughter--Heather Blaine Richardson who was born in 1973--was the source for the incorrect information:

Let's hope the staffers involved in the Big Bill mishap aren't the ones drafting statements on behalf of the President about high-stakes foreign policy matters.

Here is the original White House statement on Richardson's death including the daughter reference.  

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