Thursday, June 13, 2024

NM Again Ranks Last In The Nation In Child Well-being; In A New Twist Leading Progressive Group Blames "Racism" For Dismal Standing; Critics Pounce: "We Are Well Past Excuses"  

New Mexico appears to be numbed by its perennial ranking as last in the nation for child well-being. 

We again came in 50th when the national 2024 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, was released this week. 

Reaction was muted and no call to arms to reverse the standing was heard but there was a new set of excuses for the dismal showing.  

Nonprofit advocacy group NM Voices for Children, which manages the state's Kids Count program, fell back on racism to explain away the lack of success:

New Mexico’s ranking in the education domain is heavily impacted by national standardized test scores. . . These scores do not reflect the ability of our children, but rather an education system that is not designed with our multicultural, multilingual students in mind. New Mexico K-12 students of color and those who are Native American, from low-income families, and who have disabilities tend to not fare as well as their white, more affluent peers, largely as a result of generations of underfunding the education system and a lack of culturally responsive instruction and support. 

Institutionalized and systemic racism exacerbate inequities in child well-being, which are demonstrated in many of the KIDS COUNT indicators. Bottom-ranked states in the Data Book tend to have higher populations of children of color, highlighting that programs and systems are not designed to support them. 

And here's the kicker: 

New Mexico’s ranking is not a reflection of who we are. . .

Okay, then who are we? We're not a state that lacks the political will and leadership to embark on a concerted effort to improve our child well-being performance?

It's astonishing that Voices, which was critical of the previous Republican Governor's childhood polices, but now that we have a Democratic Governor they revert to racism to wave away the lack of progress. 

The group is newly led by Gabrielle Uballez, the wife of Biden-appointed NM US attorney Alexander Uballez. 

As for the excuses, the state education system has been anything but "underfunded" since 2019 when MLG took over:

In fiscal year 2018, New Mexico’s education system was funded at the tune of $2.69 billion; in fiscal year 2024, the education system was being funded at $4.17 billion. That is an increase of $1.3 billion over five years. State funds have been channeled toward reducing class sizes, hiring additional teachers, improving professional development programs, and enhancing resources for English language learners and special education students.

But Voices and other progressives--with rare exceptions--are not demanding better results from the administration and PED--not to mention the debacle at CYFD--but instead provides political cover. 


Richard Eeds
Maralyn Beck, director of the foster care group NM Child First Network, came with this reaction to the racism charge:

It's absolutely poor leadership. We are well past excuses. To be in a position of leadership and authority, and be recognized as the authority on the well-being of our kids and to say stuff like this should be a fireable excuse. As long as we listen to authority figures who say it’s OK to be last, we will remain last.

GOP state Senator Crystal Brantley, who has been watch dogging state childhood programs, said: 

As long as we give power, credibility, and an audience to leaders who justify the state’s failure to care for our children, we will remain last in the nation. We have ample opportunities to improve, but Democratic leaders seem to just accept this moral failure as an immutable fact of life and an inevitability given our state’s poverty. But we are not a poor state, nor are we helpless. We must demand more from our leaders or vote to change directions this November.

Longtime Santa Fe radio talk show host and self-described "liberal Democrat" Richard Eeds commented;

I don't agree with this apologetic and excuse perspective and I never have. Every time they say that "we are working on improvements" and "just give us more time," I always want to ask don't you think the other 49 states continue towards improvement too? Or do you think that they just stop trying to help their kids improve outcomes after their 49th? There is no plan. It's a pure stall.

The switch to progressive leadership in the Legislature and sometime progressive leadership in the Governor's office has so far failed to stop the state from numbing itself, admit the pain of failure and commit to real change.


Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will make an appearance in ABQ Saturday. We reported this  week on how his campaign is working to get over 3,500 petition signatures by June 27 that are required for him to make the NM presidential ballot. From the campaign

Join Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Drew Pinsky at the premier of “Recovering America” a documentary revealing the most promising solutions to the nation's drug addiction crisis. A live panel discussion including Kennedy and moderated by Dr. Drew will follow the screening. The event will go from 2:00-4:30 p.m. MT. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. MT. at the Kiva Auditorium in ABQ.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Heinrich And Domenici Start To Square Off; He Takes First Dig at Her While She Spends More On Bio TV And Continues To Grapple With Abortion 

The politicos are still waiting for something with edge from GOP US Senate candidate Nella Domenici. 

She comes with a second TV ad that like the first is a soft bio spot. "Trailblazer" is "a story of Nella’s hard-fought journey to success as a mother, a student, and businesswoman."

The ad follows the standard formula of raising Domenici's positive ratings in preparation for her eventual attacks on Dem Senator Martin Heinrich and the hits that will then come her way. The question is whether the standard formula is the right one to pull off an upset in a Democratic state. 

Heinrich has now made his first comments about his wealthy opponent. In an MSNBC interview he questioned her "way of life" and her stance on abortion: 

Most New Mexicans just can't see themselves in a hedge fund executive. It’s a way of life that is completely foreign to them. And connecting with voters is at the center of what any campaign is all about. . . 

The Dobbs decision and other efforts to ban IVF and other things that take away our fundamental freedoms motivated a lot of people to go to the polls. If you look at where primaries changed hands from incumbents to challengers in New Mexico (primary night), much of it was motivated by this issue. And I think it is not going away. My opponent refuses to talk about it. But that's not going to make [it] go away. It’s going to be a very active discussion in the run-up to November.” 

Heinrich's statement that conservative state House Dems were defeated by progressives on primary night was motivated in large part by the abortion issue echoes what Dem state Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil told our KANW radio audience.

Domenici was questioned about it in a post primary interview:

Domenici notes that with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling abortion access is no longer a federal issue but is a matter decided at the state level. “Our state has its abortion policy, which, as a federal senator, I don't have any influence over,” Domenici said. When asked whether she would back legislation that would restrict abortion access at the federal level, Domenici indicated that she would not. But she wants to concentrate on reducing abortions by addressing unintended pregnancies. She argues that this can be accomplished through education and expanding access to contraception and birth control. “It is really very simple, if we can reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, we will reduce the number of abortions, and that is the right thing for our country to do,” she said.

Heinrich's campaign has yet to cut any TV ads but the state Democratic party is filling the void with this digital hit piece:

Nella Domenici touts her record as a New York hedge fund executive. She doesn’t want you to know that as CFO of Bridgewater Associates, she got rich while exploiting American workers. Maintaining ties to the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin. And investing in Chinese military companies later sanctioned by the U.S. She called it the “pinnacle” of her career. Now, she’s trying to buy our Senate seat. 


The Senate race is still ranked solid Dem despite partisan polls that put it in play. It is not but Domenici's personal wealth is enough to keep her front and center while still in need of that aforementioned "edge" to advance in a serious way.

ABQ attorney Armand Huertaz is still talking about her first ad: 

I wanted to find a spin zone for Nella’s first ad, but I could not. It is terrible, corny, and lame. I rate it as good as mayonnaise left in the sun. A Rolex purchased from a guy on the sidewalk had more authenticity than that spot. I am not saying she should pack up and leave already, but that was not the necessary first splash needed. Just be yourself. The voters appreciate authenticity. 

"Mayonnaise left in the sun?" Hey, Armand, you're moving in on our territory with that catchy stuff. 


Longtime activist Rick Lass writes from Mimbres in the SW about the Monday blog on RFK Jr. working to make the New Mexico presidential ballot:

Hi Joe, Was happy to see you reporting on the Kennedy Ballot Access drive. If Kennedy makes the ballot, New Mexico voters will have five choices. Chase Oliver got the Lib nomination and Jill Stein is on track to get the Green one. Almost like a real democracy like they have in Europe and in most of the Americas. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

RFK Jr. In Race To Make New Mexico Ballot; Needs 3,562 Voter Signatures To Compete With Biden And Trump Here; Deadline Fast Approaching 

There's a soft spot in northern New Mexico for the Kennedy family and Robert Kennedy Jr. is hoping to tap into that goodwill to win a spot on the state's presidential ballot this November.

Neither President Biden or Donald Trump are happy over the prospect because they are uncertain just where votes for RFK Jr., son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy who was gunned down by an assassin in 1968, would come from. 

Both major parties fear his impact in what is expected to be a close presidential election. 

Catholics and Hispanics in the North have always been friendly toward the Irish-American Kennedys, sharing their religious faith and appreciative of the family's history on civil rights. 

Kennedy will need 3,562 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot here as an independent. His campaign says their goal is to collect triple that amount so it wan withstand possible legal challenges. 

The deadline for submitting the signatures is June 27.

Jean Salisbury of Glorieta is among those determined to determined to help meet that deadline:

I have been focusing on Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Pecos, Glorieta and Las Vegas. I average about five signatures per hour. Responses vary: some are enthusiastic, some are hesitant, and some are opposed, fearing it may affect the election outcome. Younger voters are particularly receptive to an alternative to the two-party system, often recognizing RFK Jr. Older voters in places like Las Vegas and Pecos remember his family’s legacy and express positive sentiments. My primary interest in his candidacy is his commitment to winding down the war machine, a stance that sets him apart from other candidates. I fully support this courageous path.

The Kennedy/Shanahan ticket has mad the ballot in seven states: Utah, Michigan, California, Delaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Texas. 

The NM Kennedy campaign is holding a series of petition signing events concentrated in heavy Dem Santa Fe county and the north. They are also targeting liberal Las Cruces and have an active Facebook page.

Biden won New Mexico 54 to 44 over Trump four years ago and the state is ranked strong Democratic by the pundits this year.

Still, looking at where he is focusing his signature drive it appears Kennedy is more a of a threat to Biden than Trump, especially with Hispanics.

Will Kennedy, 70, make the ballot? If he does, how much time and money will he spend here? Stay tuned.

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Monday, June 10, 2024

No Rematch For Dan Lewis; City Council President Says He Won't Run Against Keller Next Year; Also Conservative Dem Louie Sanchez Comes Back To The Party Fold 

Lewis in 2017
No sooner is the page turned on Primary '24 and we're quickly onto the 2025 ABQ mayoral election. 

Shortly before the polls closed last Tuesday ABQ City Council President Dan Lewis already had that '25 mayoral contest on his mind, but not in the way one might assume. 

In a text message received at our broadcast studios he told me he is "not interested" in running for the city's top job at next year's election. He declared:

I've never said to anyone or given any indication that I'm running for Mayor. I'm not interested.

While Lewis says there will be no rematch for him with ABQ Mayor Tim Keller, the Mayor is already off and running and seeking an unprecedented third consecutive four year term.

Lewis' text was apparently prompted by his irritation with recent coverage of a State Ethics Commission probe into whether his new job posed a conflict of interest with his council duties. We said the development would not be good for any upcoming mayoral run. The news:

The State Ethics Commission has entered into a pre-litigation settlement agreement with Albuquerque City Council President Dan Lewis for violation of the Governmental Conduct Act. The agreement addresses allegations that Councilor Lewis acquired a financial interest in employment with the Albuquerque Pavement Association of New Mexico when he had reason to believe that his sponsorship and votes on legislation related to the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Joint Air Quality Control Board would directly affect his employment.

In addition to his text, District 5 Councilor Lewis sent us this news report from 2017 when the City Ethics Board found that Mayor Keller broke the rules in that year's election. Lewis told us: 

Keller is the only one found guilty of ethics violations. 

Lewis's contention that he never gave "any indication" that he was running for Mayor flies in the face of his recent and stern opposition to Keller as evidenced by his backing of proposed City Charter amendments that Keller is opposing. 

Those amendments include reverting to a mayoral election system where only 40 percent of the vote would be required to win, repealing the current 50 percent requirement that is more likely to result in run-off elections between the two top finishers. 

Lowering that threshold is seen as friendly to potential GOP mayoral and council candidates who are outnumbered by registered Dems in the city.

In 2009 when 40 percent was the requirement for election victory, Republican Richard Berry beat then-Democratic Mayor Marty Chavez and Dem candidate Richard Romero by garnering 44 percent of the vote and winning election without a run-off.

On the other hand in 2017 when the 50 percent requirement was in effect, Keller and Lewis were forced into a run-off election when no one in the eight person field was able to muster a majority of votes. In the run-off Keller crushed northwest GOP Councilor Lewis with 62 percent of the vote in Democratic ABQ.

I broke the news of Lewis saying he is not running next year to Mayor Keller during our KANW election night broadcast. He called the development "interesting" but said he expects a lot of candidates to run for Mayor against him.


Lewis is a passionate conservative who has mad no noticeable moves to the middle in his latest term. His council seat is up for election next year. He has not made an announcement regarding a re-election bid but that has now become the expectation.

Now that Lewis is out will another prominent Republicans consider the race? That question may have to wait. If the Council passes the proposed 40 percent election rule, voters will then have to approve it at the November election  If it passes there the calculus changes, perhaps making it more likely for Republicans and others to get in. 

Radio talk show host and Trumper Eddy Aragon tells us he is looking at another mayoral run after getting 18 percent of the vote in a three way race with Keller and Manny Gonzales in 2021, but has not made up his mind. Keller won that election with 56 percent of the vote. 


Councilor Sanchez
Another development in ABQ politics that could shape the mayoral election happened last week when westside Councilor Louie Sanchez returned to the fold and voted with his party and against Republican Republican councilors who proposed eliminating ABQ's status as a sanctuary city. 

The measure, "which would allow local law enforcement to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers if someone is charged with drug or human trafficking or a violent felon," was defeated on a 5 to 4 party line vote. 

That's unusual because it has often been 5 to 4 with the four Republicans and conservative Dem Councilor Sanchez voting to pass or kill legislation, sometimes leaving it to Mayor Keller to cast a veto. 

Sanchez's immigration vote meant Keller avoided a possibly politically painful veto on the immigration issue. Did it also mean that Louie Sanchez, who has been mentioned as a possible mayoral contender, will instead seek re-election to his council seat next year? Probably. 


One of our Senior Alligators chimes in on the latest Duke City political maneuvers:

Joe, the progressive rout at last Tuesday's primary election has to scare the conservatives on the City Council. They are a unicorn in this town. Republican Councilors Renee Grout and Lewis, conservative Dem Sanchez and even moderate Dem Councilor Klarissa Pena--all of whom are up for re-election next year-- should all be worried.  

Also, the primary may have been good news for Dem US Rep. Gabe Vasquez. The disaffection of Hispanic male Democrats on the city's Democratic westside did not seem to materialize. It might be there but it is not metastasizing at the rate people like me thought it was. 

The big progressive primary vote should scare Sen. Heinrich about running for Governor in '26 if he wins re-election this year and Mayor Keller is going to have to lock down progressives early to avoid a possible challenge on his left next year. 


In our post-election Monster blog Wednesday we had incorrect numbers in our first draft on the GOP presidential race. Trump received 85 percent of the vote with Nikki Haley getting 9 percent, uncommitted 3 percent and the rest went to former NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Also, victorious Dem primary state Senate candidate Angel Charley in District 9 does not have any Republican opposition in November. 

Finally, we get this from an avid reader:  

It’s 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. First thing is my coffee and the Joe Monahan blog. In my opinion, all things being equal (and they’re not), women will decide 2024. Have a good day. KBV.

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