Thursday, November 16, 2023

Other Voices: As '24 Legislative Session Approaches The Senate's Senior Member Offers Food For Thought On Healthcare, Water And Education  

Sen. Campos
Today's edition of "Other Voices" features the thoughts of the longest-serving member in the state senate, Senator Pete Campos whose sprawling district includes portions of eight counties, including Colfax, San Miguel and Taos. 

Campos, 68, will begin his 33rd year in the Senate when the Legislature convenes for a 30 day session in January. He is a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee where most ideas for improving the state find a hearing. Here is Campos' take on the upcoming session: 

With state revenues at record highs, much legislative talk is focused on how we can best use that money to improve the lives of New Mexicans. We know, based on a wealth of research, both that spending on programs that help the most vulnerable has a greater rate of return than other investments and that business leaders value quality of life and a stable tax environment more than tax cuts. 

With that in mind, I’m confident, if we ensure New Mexicans have access to a strong healthcare system, adequate water supplies, and an education system that both stimulates our children to be intellectually curious and prepares them for the workforce, we can lift up the lowest 25 percent and, within three years, move to the top of measures of well-being, becoming a leader in quality of life, the diversity of our economy, and the strength of our educational institutions. 

We can take the steps that will make this happen during the 30-day legislative session in January, and we can do it without taking anything away from any existing programs. 


Working together, the University of New Mexico Hospital, the New Mexico Hospitals Associations, and others in healthcare can build a strong statewide network of services that address the basic needs of people in all parts of the state. Among other actions, we should 

--Expand the UNMH School of Nursing and physician assistant training program. 

--Strengthen and coordinate school-based health clinics and tele-health services. 

--Continue making medical maltreatment insurance coverage more affordable. 

--Continue to improve guardianship and conservatorship approaches to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

--Educate and train more behavioral health and social work employees, develop and support recovery centers, and better fund the Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas and other statewide institutions. 

--Coordinate healthcare services in New Mexico’s rural areas and fund small rural critical care hospitals in appropriate locations. 


--Water resource management must expand to include preventing waste and consideration of wildlife and environmental needs along with growing demand from communities and business. Among other actions, we should. . . 

--Develop a capital outlay plan and invest in improvements that will reduce water lost to leaks and evaporation, with a focus on the repair of dams.

--Increase staff in the Office of the State Engineer and Department of Environment to assist with water storage, distribution, and quality decisions and to work more closely with acequia associations.

--Implement proven water reuse systems to maintain green spaces. 

--Build a native aquatic species restoration facility to bolster statewide endangered species and enhance our natural environment. 


Our education systems must both provide our children with the lessons they need to be successful adults and with the skills to be independent problem solvers. Strong skills in mathematics and reading are the foundation for all future education and workplace skills and can instill a thirst for lifelong learning. An education in STEMH—science, technology, engineering, math and health—has become essential to many jobs and is key to some of the highest paying positions and builds the critical thinking skills essential to solving problems. 

If we prepare our children to be the skilled workforce of tomorrow, businesses will find New Mexico an attractive place to grow, providing the jobs that will allow our children to stay in the state. 

Among other actions, we should. . . 

--Work with the military bases, the national laboratories, and other institutions that require specialized skills on the development of education and training that will serve their needs. 

--Build crucial career and technical education programs at the high school and postsecondary levels that include training that meets the needs of the alternative energy and construction sectors.

Other Voices is an occasional feature of NM Politics with Joe Monahan. Submissions are welcome via email. 

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 15, 2023

Piece of Heinrich Political Puzzle Falls Into Place As Sen. Manchin Bows Out Of Senate And Chair Of Energy, Plus: Replacing Sen Ingle; Commissions Start To Vote On Picks 

Sens. Manchin and Heinrich
A piece of the Martin Heinrich political jigsaw puzzle has fallen into place. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has announced he will not seek re-election to his West Virginia seat next year, opening a path for Heinrich to become chairman of this important and powerful Senate standing committee that has an immense influence on New Mexico.

It's a story first reported here Sept. 26 but now coming into focus for the national media.

E&E News in DC asked Heinrich about the possibility of his becoming chairman of the committee. He said: 

It's a fantastic committee. . .“I love my work on Energy but we aren’t going to cross any bridges until we know how all of the elections turn out. I still have to get reelected too.

There's also the no small matter of the Democrats holding on to the Senate majority following the 2024 elections. If they don't, Heinrich would be in line not for chairman but for ranking member of the committee--the top minority position. A nice boost but nothing like being chair. 

As for his re-election, nothing is a sure thing but Heinrich still has no major announced GOP opponent as he seeks a third Senate term.

To become chair Heinrich, 52, would have to hop over several other Dem Senators who outrank him in seniority on the energy panel but they already chair other major committees and don't appear likely to compete for Energy

Also hovering over Heinrich has been his toying with the possibility of running for Governor way down the road in 2026. Securing the chairmanship of Energy, a committee that deals with issues (climate change, renewable energy) near and dear to him might make the Senator pause any such plans. 

Our state, dominated as it is by the multi-billion dollar national energy labs, a burgeoning renewable energy industry and an oil sector in an historic boom, will watch closely as more pieces of the Heinrich puzzle come into play.


New Mexico is not used to being out of power in the corridors of the Capitol. 

From 1941 to 1947, when the Energy Committee was known as the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys, it was chaired by Dem NM US Senator Carl Hatch. 

When it was known for a time as the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, Dem NM Senator Clinton P. Anderson was chairman from 1961-1963. 

Since it became the Energy Committee in 1977 Dem NM Senator Jeff Bingaman chaired it from 2001-2003 and again from 2007-2013. 

GOP Senator Pete Domenici was chairman of the committee from 2003-2007. 


Five county commissions will send recommendations to the Governor to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of GOP Sen. Stuart Ingle and one of them has now spoken. 

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle says at last night's commission meeting Roswell GOP state Rep. Greg Nibert, an attorney for the oil biz, won their approval; 

Joe, It was a 4 to 1 vote for Nibert.

Who the Governor will select to fill Ingle's shoes is being closely eyed. The Eastside District 27 is heavy on agriculture and oil. Which will prevail?  So far, it's oil but we still need to hear from the county commissions in Roosevelt, Chaves, De Baca and Lea. 

The candidates seeking the recommendation in addition to Rep. Nibert are Elida rancher Pat Boone. Tatum School Board President Travis Glenn and entrperneuer Larry Marker of Roswell.

Rancher Boone is from Roosevelt County, the home county of Ingle, and like him is a rancher. As a Senator he likely would be close to ENMU, a pet concern of Ingle's. Boone might also be easier for the Dem Governor to swallow than Nibert and his close ties to big oil. Stay tuned. 


Everybody likes Bob White, the former ABQ city councilor from the SE Heights and longtime City Attorney for ABQ who has been a political player for decades. Still, eyebrows were raised in January of 2022 when the septuagenarian unretired and was named to a top position at City Hall by Mayor Keller. But White persevered and is now finally ready to give his Bob Dylan record collection more attention:

Associate Chief Administrative Officer Bob White will retire. . .White has been a presence in government in New Mexico for over 40 years as an attorney and public servant, formerly serving as assistant city attorney and city attorney. White was also elected as an Albuquerque City Councilor from 1979 to 1983, where he served as Council President in 1983. “It’s been a pleasure to serve the city in many different roles. I’m grateful to have been here for so many major milestones that have changed Albuquerque and set it on a path toward a great future.

That's quite the run but White will still be around Route 66 (and Highway 61 too.)

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 14, 2023

State GOP Now Ranks Third In Voter Registration in Five Counties, Including Dona Ana And Santa Fe; Formula For Revival Is Elusive, Plus: In Election '23 Early Voting Again Beat E-Day Turnout But Not By Much, And: Black History On ABQ's City Council  

It's no secret the state Republican Party has a very deep hole to climb out of and the latest voter registration numbers confirm that the GOP better keep their shovels at the ready.

As of November 1 the Secretary of State reports there are now five counties that have more independent voters than Republicans, including the two largest of the 33 counties. 

--In Dona Ana County, the second largest by voter registration, Independents--or "Decline to State" as the SOS categorizes them--Republicans have 26.1 percent of the registered voters while Independents have 27.8.

--In Santa Fe County, the third largest by registration, the independents outdo the GOP 20.9 percent to 15.0.

--In McKinley County, with its large number of Native American voters, the GOP has shrunk to 16.5 of the registered while the Indys are at 23.6 percent. 

--In Los Alamos the Republicans are inched out by Independent voters 28.2 to 28.1 percent.

--In Rio Arriba County the GOP could soon see its sixth county where they rank third in registration. As of November 1 the GOP had 14.9 of the registered voters in that northern Democratic stronghold compared to 14.8 percent Independents.

It's not only the R's who are bleeding support to the Independent column. Not that long ago 49 percent pf the voters in the state were registered Democrats. Today that is down to 43.8 percent. The Republicans have 31.1 percent statewide; Independents are at 23.1 percent and other parties achieve one percent of the registered. 


The numbers are stark for the GOP and another reason the minority party has no prominent statewide elected officials. 

With such a large Democratic base in large counties like Dona Ana, Santa Fe and ABQ it has become exceedingly difficult for the GOP to win even if they do well with Independents. 

(In big Bernco Dems are at 46.9 of the registered, the GOP at 27.6 percent and Indys at 23.5 percent.)

The old GOP showed it was capable of overcoming a deficit by fielding candidates that appealed to many Democrats as they did in 2010 and 2014 in helping to elect Republican Susana Martinez as Governor. Since then the state has grown increasingly Blue and the GOP needs a new formula to repeat that history. What is that formula? That is one of the deeper mysteries of La Politica. 


It's not only party affiliation that has undergone major changes in the state in the last decade. So has the way voters cast their ballots. Voting before Election Day by absentee and at in-person locations almost always exceeds 50 percent and sometimes goes over 60. Voters like the convenience. In the Nov. 7 New Mexico election a majority of voters again opted to go early but not by much:

Ballots cast in-person on Election Day were neck-and-neck with early and absentee ballots.. . 51% of New Mexicans came in person on Election Day to cast their ballots and another 49% did it during early voting or via absentee ballots. . . Out of the 250,657 people who voted, 122,106 New Mexicans voted early or with absentee ballots. . . A total of 33,619 absentee ballots (were) cast in the election, according to the Secretary of State. Another 88,487 went to a poll to vote early. That’s compared to the 128,551 people who voted in person during Election Day on Tuesday. 


Councilor Brown
The history of Black representation on the nine member ABQ City Council can be a bit confusing, with the issue again raised in the SE Heights District 6 City Council run-off election set for December 12. That's when Nichole Rogers goes up against fellow Dem Jeff Hoehn.  

Rogers would be the first elected Black to serve on the council since its inception in 1974. However, she would not be the first Black to serve. That honor goes to Dr. Solomon Brown. He was appointed by Mayor Harry Kinney to fill a vacancy in District 3 in 1977. Brown did not seek election to the seat and served just four months. 

So if Rogers wins the District 6 seat next month she would become the first elected Black city councilor in modern ABQ history. 


Talk about getting stuck on something. On Monday we again referred to new ABQ City Councilor-elect Joaquin Baca as Joaquin Romero. That was not the first time we conjured up former state Sen. Richard Romero whose senate district included much of the council district. Sorry about that but we may have a possible fix. How about just Councilor Joaquin?  

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 13, 2023

Election Night Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor: Our Watchers Offer More Insightful Analysis On '23 Vote, Plus: Handicapping The City Council Run-Off And Heinrich's Win-Loss Record 

Election Night '23
We didn't get it all in on the Election Night radio broadcast last Tuesday or on our blog covering the results. We never do but we have the luxury of coming back with items that fell to our newsroom floor in the wee morning hours but are still noteworthy. We begin with some post-election Alligator analysis:

Joe, ABQ is an increasingly progressive town. I do agree with attorney David Buchholtz who said on KANW on Election Night that we’ve reached "a peak" of sorts with the progressives but it's a very high one. The fact that a a Democratic candidate with as much baggage as Idalia Lechuga Tena kept the District 8 city council race competitive in the Northeast Heights tells you something. Hard to believe but once red Tramway Blvd. is now progressive territory. 

Lechuga Tena lost District 8 to Republican Dan Champine 52 to 48 percent. 

Joe, Progressives romped in Santa Fe defeating Geno Zamora and electing progressive Alma Castro. However, she is an inexperienced newcomer in a city that desperately needs some professional government expertise on that council. 

Our analysis: Okay, she may not have government experience but the newcomer knows how to put together an organization to beat the biggest name who ran in Santa Fe. That's a start. Zamora spent some $80,000 and had a collection of who's who in endorsements but ran as a Bill Richardson-Lujan Grisham Dem centrist. In small local elections and primaries in Dem territory progressives now often dominate and there isn't much room for a middle of the road contender.

Joe, If you were on the Republican side in Albuquerque you really have to start rethinking your strategy but the real focus is going to be on progressives and what they can truly achieve. The fact that they can do so well and win so many races, but still not have control of the city council really says something about their abilities as a movement. They can win races, but they don’t really change the dynamics in this town. 

Our analysis: The progressives have not been able to persuade working class Hispanic voters on the westside to go with them. Conservative Dem Council Louis Sanchez represents District 1 and often caucuses with the Republicans to give them a majority on the council. 


Jeff Hoehn
Nichole Rogers 
City politics isn't quite over for 2023. BernCo Clerk Linda Stover has set the schedule for the run-off election in City Council District 6 featuring Nichole Rogers and

Early voting for the runoff election will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 21 and continue through Saturday, Dec. 9.  Five Early Voting Convenience Centers will be open from Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Election Day, Tuesday, Dec. 12, voters can visit any of ten Election Day Voting Convenience Centers. Voters who wish to vote absentee must request an absentee application by Nov. 28.  The Clerk’s Office is at 505-243-VOTE (8683) or at clerk@bernco.gov.

ABQ voters must be registered in District 6 to be eligible to vote. As for the race, Rogers has been a favorite from the start and after taking 40 percent to Hoehn's 32 percent on Election Day she remains so. The remainder went to two other candidates. 

We asked one of of our Alligators keeping watch on the race for this first analysis of the run-off campaign:

Rogers takes the pole position into the run-off and she'll have big labor union backing in the city's most liberal council district. Hoehn made a gamble that not rejecting backing from the commercial real estate business PAC--HELP ABQ-- would not be noticed in the district but it probably was. If that Republican oriented PAC comes in again for him in the run-off, it will be an even bigger issue. 

Rogers may be vulnerable to Hoehn's attacks on her career and financial background which has still not been fully vetted. But it will take a major surprise to stop the Democratic machine from giving ABQ its first Black elected councilor with Nichole Rogers.

Hoehn noted on his website November 3 that he did not support the negative messaging that the HELP ABQ PAC had made against Rogers, but since the PAC is independent of his campaign there is nothing he can do about. He continues to reference himself as a "progressive Democrat" who "is not in the pocket" of developers despite the Republican dominated PAC spending heavily for him.


Heinrich's winners

US Sen. Martin Heinrich was once again a prolific endorser this election cycle, giving the nod to 16 candidates across the state. Ten of them were successful making for a win percentage of about 62 percent. 

But on some big races Heinrich took some hits.

His biggest loss was the aforementioned defeat of Santa Fe establishment candidate Geno Zamora who was beaten by the impressive grassroots campaign of Alma Castro. 

Heinrich was dealt another blow in the high profile Las Cruces mayoral race where he endorsed Kassandra Gandara, a social worker, Las Cruces city councilor and wife of Dem state Sen. Bill Soules. She was aced by veteran firefighter and city administrator Eric Enriquez. 

The First Endorser also fell short with Dem Abby Foster, his pick for ABQ City Council District 4 where incumbent Republican Brook Bassan hung on by a thread to take the win, 51 to 49, in what lived up to its billing as a toss-up race. 

Heinrich did score with his endorsement of Rolanda Tome-Warito, a Democrat who ousted longtime ABQ westside Republican APS School Board member Peggy Muller-Aragon. 

His pick for ABQ City Council District 2 was Joaquin Baca who took the victory in a three way race. 

The other endorsements Heinrich made were mostly in small towns and lower level races for Soil and Water Conservation boards, even though his campaign spun that all 11 of his successful picks were "big wins." 


Commentator Michael Hays of Las Cruces weighs in with more on the mayoral battle there:

I received a Kassandra Gandara flyer which featured the pictures of about a dozen Democratic state and federal legislators endorsing her. So her defeat says something interesting about the influence of these endorsements and/or about Gandara’s local support. 


Want more? Join me on 96.3 KKOB radio at 5 p.m. as we kick the political football around with TJ Trout. . . 

Thanks to Tesuque Pueblo for opening their homes to us for their annual Feast Day of San Diego on Sunday. Great food and great people. 

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