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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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Progressives Romp In Primary '24; Ivey-Soto Crushed In Landslide; Three Conservative House Dems Also Fall, Plus: BernCo DA Bregman Prevails, Biden Sent Message On Israel And Republican Legislative Leadership Rebuked  

Berghmans On E Nite (Austria, Journal)
Statewide results here. Bernalillo county results here.

The progressive aren't done yet. 

Tuesday night in the Democratic primary they flexed their muscle again by soundly defeating their arch-enemy, state Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, and ousting conservative House Democrats Ambrose Castellano, Willie Madrid and Harry Garcia, all while bolstering turnout among women voters.

The signs of their domination came early and impressively when absentee and early voting results were posted by Bernalillo county soon after the polls closed and showed Ivey-Soto losing to progressive Heather Berghmans by an astounding 80 to 20 percent. 

What was even more astounding was at the end of the evening when Berghmans, whose PAC advocates ceaselessly attacked Ivey-Soto over charges of sex harassment, was still ahead 80 to 20 percent.

It was one of the worst drubbings in state history of a sitting state senator--if not the worst. 

Voters in the ABQ NE Heights District 15 sent a resounding message that they not only believed the legally unresolved allegations against the senator but were extremely dissatisfied with his failure to offer a credible explanation. After three terms he was done and Berghmans, a newcomer with little political experience, was a giant killer. 

Dem political consultant Sisto Abeyta noted on our KANW broadcast that the state's voting data revealed female participation in both the Democratic and Republican primary elections was much higher than that of men.

Ivey-Soto's fall was accompanied by female progressive wins over two other male Hispanic opponents, Ambrose Castellano, who was defeated 55-45 by MLG-endorsed Anita Gonzales in District 70 in the Las Vegas area, and in House District 69 where incumbent Harry Garcia fell in a three way way race to Michelle Abeyta, a lawyer and Navajo nation member.

Rep. Willie Madrid of House District 53 near Las Cruces was also defeated by a progressive--Dr. Jon Hill, a lifelong educator. 

The 70 member state House already has a female majority and now that appears set to grow.

ABQ Dem state reps Day Hochman-Vigil and Joy Garratt told our radio audience they saw reproductive rights below the surface in the results that defeated Dem incumbents, all who have pro-life records. To paraphrase the reps: 

Abortion is still drawing women to the polls. It is still top of mind with so many states still threatening their liberty. The defeat in the House by the conservative Democrats of the paid family and medical leave bill, which was messaged heavily against the losing incumbents, was an issue but the boost in women going to the polls appears to be motivated largely by abortion.

A reader/listener pushed back against that argument:

The votes in the North are being decided based on family and relationships. There is no consciousness of the "progressives" vs. moderates narrative whatsoever. 

In far NE Heights District 27 in ABQ Dem Rep. Marian Matthews came under attack from progressive Greg Seeley for voting against the family medical leave act but attorney Matthews defended her vote and defended the seat by defeating Seeley with 56 percent of the vote. Her supporters pointed out that she represents a conservative leaning district but sticks with with her party on most votes. They questioned the progressive move against her and she chastised the progressives in her victory statement.


House Speaker Javier Martinez and ABQ Mayor Keller told our audience that they did not expect any major ideological changes in the House as a result of Tuesday's balloting but the progressive agenda was reinforced.

Martinez supported all of his Dem House incumbents, refusing to side with progressives or conservatives. That decision seems sound looking in the rear view mirror as he now stands as not only the House leader but a unifer in a party always in need of one. 


In other Dem House action, progressive lobbyist/consultant Marianna Anaya, who was one of the women who brought the sex harassment charges against Sen. Ivey-Soto, received a good fight from three opponents but took the win with 49 percent of the vote. No R is running so she will take the liberal ABQ SE Heights seat that Rep. Gail Chasey is retiring from.


E Nite Team (Bralley)
The fighting Irishman did not go down without a fight but the new district that Sen. Bill O'Neill was placed in was too much to overcome and he lost to former BernCo Commissioner Debbie O'Malley 52 to 48. She will now take the seat in November since no R is running.

Heather Balas billed herself as a progressive but she was not progressive enough as she failed to keep pace with Cindy Nava, who had worked for the Obama administration. In Senate District 9 in the Placitas/Bernalillo area, Balas lost 55 to 45. Nava is expected to easily beat the Republican there in November.  

There will be no comeback for former Dem Sen. Clemente Sanchez. He lost the District 30 primary to Angel Charley, a Navajo and former director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. She has no Republican opponent in November in the Cibola county area seat. 

It was a big night for Native Americans as Michelle Abeyta will add to their ranks in the House with that win over Rep. Garcia and the Charley win gives them another Senate seat. Native Americans make up 10 percent of the state's population.

His progressive opponents never really had their hearts in the race so appointed ABQ Dem westside Senator Moe Maestas in District 26 easily passed his Dem rival to win 59 to 41. No R is running for the seat.


Jay Block
Hey, what about the Republicans? Glad you asked. They get their own special section. 

Internecine warfare was at a peak and very personal in several GOP primaries Tuesday. The Senate Republican leadership led by outgoing Sen. Greg Baca ended up backing all the wrong horses. 

Rancher Steve McCutcheon in Eddy county was whipped by state Rep. Larry Scott of Lea County who was scorched by Baca's boys who are part of the ex-Gov. Martinez/McCleskey faction that quarrels with the GOP Chairman Steve Pearce faction. McCutcheon was appointed to the Senate by Dem MLG to fill a vacancy. Scott will soon be there now.

The Baca brigade was also overwhelmed in the race to replace disgraced GOP Senator Cliff Pirtle. Their PAC, which attacked state Rep. Candy Ezzell with such intensity that one Dem labeled it "political violence," was firmly rebuked. Ezzell withstood the challenge from Pirtle and Baca who backed Chad Hamill. She will now move from the House to the Senate and Pirtle will move back to his farm. 

Nicole Tobiassen may be moving up. She defeated John Morton and former state Sen. Michael Wiener in another race that frothed at the mouth with negativity. The race was for the seat held by retiring Sen. Mark Moores. It is the only ABQ-based GOP Senate seat. Tobiassen should have a good chance of holding it for the R's in November. 

Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, an unabashed Trumper, put away former state Senator Candace Gould and can be expected to prevail over a Dem rival in the GOP leaning seat in November. He trounced Gould 68 to 32. She was consulted by Jay McCleskey who again became an issue in campaign material. 

MLG appointed Republican Greg Nibert to a state Senate vacancy on the eastside but the oil attorney could not stave off rancher Patrick Boone who took the nomination 43 to 41 percent. No R is running so Boone will be going to the Senate to replace veteran Stu Ingle.

In House District 31 in the far ABQ NE Heights, Nicole Chavez took the GOP nomination for the only Bernalillo county Republican House seat. But she is expected to get a strong Dem challenge in November so her campaigning isn't quite over. 

The GOP race for the ABQ-based 1st congressional district was tipping toward Steve Jones of Ruidoso and away from the better-known Louie Sanchez early Tuesday morning. Jones would face Dem Rep. Melanie Stansbury in November who is heavily favored to keep the Dem-dominated seat.


In the race for District Attorney in big BernCo, the most expensive contest in the state this primary, MLG-appointed DA Sam Bregman is on his way to becoming an elected one. He easily dispatched challenger and former US Attorney Damon Martinez 54 to 46. No Republican is running so Bregman will get the four year term in November.

The Santa Fe County DA's race also ended early with Mary Carmack-Altwies putting away former DA Marco Serna. 

And in the DA battle in Dona Ana county, veteran politico Fernando Macias, the candidate the blog Alligators said to keep an eye on, was eying victory in the Dem primary with the final vote pending.


The NM presidential primary topped the ballot but the outcome was a foregone conclusion with Biden and Trump having already put way their nominations. Still, Biden supporters could not be happy with the 10 percent of the Dem vote that went to "uncommitted." That was mainly a protest against Biden's policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Biden ended with 84 percent. Withdrawn candidate Marianne Williamson scored 7 percent. 

Trump received 85 percent of the vote with Nikki Haley getting 9 percent and uncommitted 3 percent. As with Biden that showed some discontent with his candidacy in his own party. Haley has endorsed Trump.  New Mexico is rated solid Dem for the presidential election,


It hit 23 percent of eligible voters statewide and the same in big BernCo. That's a bit below normal but not much. In the '22 primary statewide turnout was 25 percent.


(Mark Bralley photo)
It was actually a pretty quick Election Night by our standards. We wrapped up the radio broadcast shortly before 10 p.m. with only a couple of races still on the table.  

Also unusual was the amount of leftover food, including cake and pizza. That came in handy as we munched on that as well as donated chicharrones, red chile and tortillas while blogging into the wee morning hours.

Election Nights play havoc with your diet but they more than make up for it by boosting your adrenaline. Thanks to all who lent a hand or an ear to the effort. As always, it was our pleasure.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Primary Election Day '24 Arrives: Lower Turnout Expected; Our Election Night Coverage begins at 6:30 On KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM  

Our Primary Election Night coverage begins at 6:30 on public radio KANW 89.1 FM and  KANW.COM. Be sure to join us for the evey latest results and expert analysis. 

Bernalillo County results will be available here. Santa Fe county results here and all statewide results from the Secretary of State here.

We're not going to crush it when it comes to voter turnout for today's primary. We could drop below the 20 percent benchmark which is on the historic low side (25.4 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Primary '22.)

This year there are 1,011,000 Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians eligible to vote. To reach a 20 percent turnout we will have to hit about 202,000.

The SOS says early and absentee voting came in at 117,251 as of Monday morning--72,440 Democrats, 44,483 Republicans and 327 Libertarians.

Statewide registered voters total 1,337,000 when independents and other voters not eligible to vote today are included.

Percentage wise, the Dems have 43.3 percent; the GOP 31.2; independents; 23.5 with the remainder Libertarian or "other" parties. 

While the percentage of Democrats has slowly declined over the years, the propensity of Democrats to vote their own party appears to have grown, explaining their domination in statewide elections, especially in the cities of ABQ, Santa Fe and Las Cruces, 

That does not appear about to change. 

In fact Republicans like former NMGOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. and conservative Democrat Jeff Apodaca find themselves on the same page in trying to tilt the Democrats to a more centrist position rather than trying to build a GOP that has been truly decimated. 

Not one statewide office today is held by the GOP nor either chamber of the legislature, the governorship or the state Supreme Court. 

Today's election will be a test primarily of the progressives who began to dominate state politics following their big wins over conservative Democrats in the June 2020 primary election. Will the pendulum swing back a bit this year? That's one of the key questions for tonight as we monitor the face-offs between progressive and conservative Dems in a number of state House and Senate primaries. 


It has become customary for early and absentee ballots to considerably outnumber those cast on the actual election day. In big BernCo Clerk Linda Stover has voting info for the minority of voters who will trek to the polls today:  

72 election day voting convenience centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters can cast their ballots in person or hand-deliver completed absentee ballots by 7 p.m. "If you're in line by 7 p.m., you will be able to vote," said Stover. Find the nearest voting center and access unofficial results after 7 p.m. here

SOS Maggie Toulouse Oliver says same-day voter registration is available on Election Day at polling locations. Those who wish to change their party affiliation can update their registration at polling locations. 


Monahan anchoring Election Night
President Biden and Republican Donald Trump are expected to score overwhelming majorities at the primary polls today but the Biden campaign will be closely watching their exact percentage of victory. 

How many Dems will choose to vote for Marianne Williamson who is also on the ballot?

And what about the movement to have New Mexico Democrats vote the "uncommitted" line on the presidential ballot to show disagreement with the Biden policy on the Israeli-Palestinian war? 

For the GOP Nikki Haley and others will also be on the ballot. Will she make it to the 15 percent mark that election pros say could signal a bit of weakness for Trump? She has elsewhere. But since then has endorsed the Trump candidacy.

We'll have those answers and more when we gather for our traditional wall-to-wall KANW Election Night coverage. Our guests include Dem State Reps. Joy Garratt and Day Hochman-Vigil, GOP consultant Bob Cornelius and Dem consultant Sisto Abeyta. We]ll also have candidate interviews and even more analysis throughout the night.

We look forward to having you with us once again for the state's most comprehensive broadcast election coverage.

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Monday, June 03, 2024

Election Eve '24: Primary Flies Low Over Much Of State But Then There's The War Zones, Plus: Analysts Disappointed in First Domenici US Senate TV Ad; "Not Compelling", And: Previewing Our Election Night Coverage On KANW  

With much of the media taking a vacation from coverage, no competitive statewide races and most New Mexicans not living in a contested legislative district, Primary '24 has flown so far under the radar that it's scraping the tree tops in the Rio Grande bosque.

But for those living in the handful of targeted state Senate or House seats featuring seriously contested primaries, it's been a war zone filled with the equivalent of F-15 fighters on bombing runs. None more so than ABQ NE Heights Senate District 15 where progressives are on the march against conservative Dem Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto as they try to oust him with Heather Berghmans. Voters there must wince each time they open their mailboxes. 

Courtesy of one of our intrepid blog readers in the district, we bring the scope of that battle right to your doorstep:

Joe, the Ivey-Soto-Berghmans race in the last days has brought the following mailers. 

There have been six hit pieces against Ivey-Soto, including:

--“I don’t know why you won’t kiss me.” – Planned Parenthood. 

--"Daniel Ivy Soto banking on corporate special interests – follow the money." Voters New Mexico.

--"No Longer Welcome – Rejected by NM Democrats." NM Working Families Party PAC.

There have been two hit pieces against Ivey-Soto’s opponent Heather Berghmans:

Berghmans & Ivey-Soto
"Most politicians take years to learn how to lie about their records. Berghmans figured it out right away." New Mexico Justice Project.

"More Crime, More Violence, More Problems. She is just wrong for us. " New Mexico Justice Project.

There have been three positive pieces about Ivey-Soto:

 --"On our side." Ivey-Soto Committee.

--"Fighting for Democratic and progressive values."Ivey-Soto Committee.

--"Always looked out for us." Ivey-Soto Committee.

 There have been six positive pieces about Berghmans, including:

"Advocate for our kids." NMVC Action Fund

"Full of bright ideas." CVNM Verde Voters Fund

So what's your favorite mailer? "I don't know why you won't kiss me?" 


After hearing the feedback on Nella Domenici's first TV ad the title of the spot could be "the lady doth protest too much."  

That's because this 30 second homage to her father, the late GOP Senator Pete Domenici, is so strenuously determined to portray her as a homegrown product and not the New York City multi-millionaire hedge fund manager she grew up to be. 

The ad is heavy on nostalgia and sentimentality with the Senator the centerpiece of his daughter's introductory foray into La Politica. But for our observers the ad tries too hard and speaks of a far away time that may have appeal to longtime Republicans voting in Tuesday's primary in which Domenici has no opponent but does little to get Democrats and independents out of their seats. 

The transcript:

Nella Domenici grew up here, one of eight kids. With Nella’s dad serving our state, her mom had her hands full. Nella saw first-hand, those values are timeless. So, she stepped up, juggling part time jobs and plenty of chores. Trying to balance it all, like she did as a mom, working her way up to CFO. 

I’m Nella Domenici and I approve this ad. Because New Mexico is Home. Demand More. Nella Domenici for Senate.

Domenici, 63, left her native ABQ when she was a mere 12 years old. Her ties here are tenuous but that is not deadly. Her Dem opponent, Sen. Martin Heinrich, has carried the carpetbagger label and look where it got him. Ditto for Bill Richardson and scores of other politicos. 

While her ad may unduly labor to shirk the carpetbagger tag, it commits a more concerning sin--it becomes boring, according to a number of consultants and longtime observers.

Former GOP ABQ city councilor, state legislator and now independent Santa Fe attorney Greg Payne, who has consulted numerous campaigns, came with this reaction:

This is a weak ad.  She assumes everyone remembers her dad the way she does, or did--almost two decades ago. There is no real message. The ad should be about how she will fight for New Mexico, the economy, crime and secure the border. She and her brother Pete Jr. (who ran for Governor in 2010) seem to assume that they deserve to be elected--simply because of who their dad used to be. One other thing... the ad asserts she worked "her way up to CFO."  Her dad was chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, something that is not lost on the locals who Nella is so eager to be identified with. 

Mike Santullo, an independent, a pioneer of ABQ talk radio programming and a several time political candidate, had a similar reaction: 

I fully understand that the campaign wants to tie her in with her father and that's acceptable, but we are living in trying times with issues that demand immediate attention, The ad is too general and not compelling enough to grab the viewer's attention. It is the first spot and they are trying to establish who she is in but she doesn't have the luxury of time when trying to unseat an entrenched incumbent like Heinrich.  Finally, in the ad's last sequence, I don't think it catches her at her best from a photogenic standpoint. There's work to be done. 

Tough reviews but candid and offered without bias. 

The highlight of her first media effort isn't the ad but the ad buy. Domenici, who according to Senate financial statements is worth upwards of $90 million, is spending $500,000 for the ad buy. That will bolster her name ID--and if voters are more forgiving than our critics--her standing in the polls. 

As far as posting an existential threat to Heinrich, that day has yet to come. 

(The Cook Political Report ranks the NM Senate race "Solid Democratic."


Besides her media campaign, Domenici is dealing with the yoke of Donald Trump around her neck in a Democratic state. She has already said she will not endorse his candidacy or ask for his endorsement of hers. But state Dems keep asking whether she will vote for him--a question that awaits her answer. Meanwhile, she released this statement in reaction to Trump's conviction at his New York trial:

It is a sad day in our country when Americans see our justice system weaponized. Thankfully there is an appeals process that can correct miscarriages of justice. We stand at an unprecedented time, with our country growing more and more divided each day. This must end. We must come together. We must have leaders who restore trust in our institutions, trust in the rule of law, and trust in one another. 

Demonstrating the fine line Domenici faces in dealing with Trump, conservative radio host and Trump supporter Eddy Aragon pounced on her statement, saying he can't support her because:

She can't even mention Trump's name. 


Kristin Davison
The Domenici campaign has parted ways with local consulting firm Rival Strategy Group and hired national firm Axiom. Rival's Michael Horanberg says: 

We resigned in April to focus on other projects but. . . are 100 percent supportive of her campaign to defeat Martin Heinrich. Republicans are united to win in November.

Rival will continue to consult NM GOP US Rep. candidate Yvette Herrell.

Axiom's Kristin Davison is now the lead consultant on the Domenici campaign, says a spokesman. She was the senior strategist for Glenn Youngkin's successful '22 Virginia gubernatorial campaign. Davison is a former chief of staff to consultant Karl Rove, ex-chief of staff to President George W. Bush. 

She was also the lead consultant for Nella Domenici's half brother, Adam Laxalt of Nevada, when he made an unsuccessful bid for Governor in 2018.


Rep. Hochman-Vigil
We're looking forward to being back on the radio tomorrow night at 6:30 for our live, continuous Election Night coverage on public radio KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

Despite this being a low-key election, much about the future of the state legislature will actually be decided Tuesday. The winners of many of the primary contests will face little or no opposition at the November election, making the primary the be-all, end-all.

Our panel of guest experts will be able to get a handle on the future consequences and also what caused the winners to win and the losers to lose. 

ABQ Dem westside state Rep. Joy Garratt (not "Jay" as a misspelling here had it) will be back with her in-depth knowledge of state Democratic politics. Joy is a retired teacher serving her third term in the House. So heads up class and no throwing erasers at your anchorman. 

ABQ NE Heights Dem Rep. Day Hochman-Vigil, another third term House member, is an attorney and aviation expert. She's back with us and will help our coverage fly high with insights on the campaigns, candidates and the issues to come at the storied Roundhouse. Just don't ask her if Virgin Galactic will fly again.

Rep. Joy Garratt
Attorney David Buchholtz of ABQ's Rodey Law Firm is the state's foremost expert on municipal bonds. But there's no bonds on the ballot tomorrow. Don't worry. He knows about everything else, too.

Dem consultant Sisto Abeyta, an ally of the conservative wing of his party, again joins the KANW roundtable, bringing a bunch of computer models and math formulas that only he can make sense of, but so will you by the time he's done for the night.  

Republican consultant Bob Cornelius has been spending time in SE NM where Republican candidates have been tearing each other limb to limb in several legislative races. Bob calls that fun, so who better to describe the action?

Election Night usually has a surprise or two--or three. So join us tomorrow night on KANW to find out what they are this time around and also for some solid laughs. We promise. 


Our first Election Night on KANW was way back in 1988 and we haven't missed a primary or general election there since then. (Hold your applause.) 

Our very first Election Night on air was at ABQ's KUNM-FM, covering the June 1974 mayoral election between Harry Kinney and Herb Smith (Harry won) so Primary 2024 will be our 50th anniversary of election night broadcasts. 

That's either an Alligator strike on us for being around so long or cause for a mini-celebration with cold pizza that Bob or Sisto (the monied wing of the panel) usually order. 

In any event, we deeply appreciate those of you who have been tuning in over these many decades as well as those new to our efforts. We are thankful for the privilege of sharing so many exciting and eventful Election Nights with New Mexico. Tomorrow night will be yet another. See you then.

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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Cookie-Cutter Senate Ads Clutter The Campaign Mailboxes, Councilor Lewis Dealt An Ethics Loss, And: Ethics Commission And Ethnicity  

Debbie O'Malley ad 

At this stage of the primary voters weary of political ads might say, "you've seen one; you've seen them all."

And in this case we bring to light they would be right on the money.

Posted is an ad for ABQ Dem state senate candidate Debbie O'Malley and another for ABQ Dem senate contender Heather Berghmans. See any difference? That's because there is none. Only the names of the candidates have been changed. (Click to enlarge.)

Heather Berghmans ad

Talk about cookie-cutter ads. Can't the well-paid consultants do better and can't their candidates make sure they do? 

But it is good to know that Debbie and Heather are identical twins. Who would have guessed? 

Berghmans is trying to oust Dem Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto in District 15 but as the campaign draws to a close observers are pointing to the superior effort the embattled but deeply experienced Ivey-Soto has been putting on. 

Berghmans is a first-time candidate and her digital ads are not grabbers. His are. And the fact that she did her KOB-TV interview over the phone and not in person as Ivey-Soto did was a bad look and a rookie error.

That's not a prediction on how the race will end up. We'll know soon enough when we broadcast the Election Night results on pubic radio KANW-FM over the air and on the stream starting at 6:30 Tuesday, June 4. 

Back to the action. . . 

Debbie O'Malley, a former city councilor and county commissioner, is as experienced as Ivey-Soto--if not more so--and it shows. Despite the cookie-cutter ad we chide the candidates over, she is comfortable in her own skin and at home in the newly designed District 13 that includes the ABQ North Valley and downtown where she is seeking to oust Dem Senator Bill O'Neill. 

Did O'Neill take for granted the redistricting that has now put him at risk? To be answered on E Night. 

Speaking of which. . .

We're pleased to welcome back to the KANW microphones ABQ Dem State Reps Day Hochman-Vigil and Joy Garratt. This election is all about the 112 seats in the legislature so who better than two well-informed lawmakers to explain the ins and outs of Primary '24. Be sure to join them and yours truly.


The progressive group OLÉ is flooding the socials with a plethora of ads supporting their favorite progressive candidates and dissing their not so favorite non-progressives. You can view them here.


This is not going to help further the mayoral aspirations of Dan Lewis: 

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. The GCA prohibits public officials from acquiring a new financial interest while in office if there is reason to believe the financial interest will be directly impacted by the public official’s governmental acts. Further, the GCA requires that public officials recuse from official acts directly affecting their financial interests. 

Lewis ran for mayor against Tim Keller in 2017 and suffered a landslide loss. Our Alligators are saying it is becoming clear that if Keller's popularity remains low, it is increasingly unlikely that Lewis will be the main challenger to Keller as he seeks a third term next year. They look for a stronger candidate to emerge and probably not a Republican like Lewis. We shall see. . . 


Reaction now to another Ethics Commission action carried here this week. The commission filed a lawsuit against The New Mexico Project led by conservative Dem businessman Jeff Apodaca for failing to disclose its donors and expenditures to the SOS. A reader writes:

Joe, I am having a hard time understanding why the Ethics Commission singled out the NMP and Apodaca, when progressive 501c4's have been doing what the NMP is doing and supporting Democratic candidates for years without disclosing their donors. One can't help but think that the Ethics Commission is being used by powerful state progressives to attack and cripple the NMP, since the NMP is exposing progressives as targeting Hispanic state senators and representatives disproportionately over the past several election cycles. In this election alone, 100% (4/4) of incumbent state senators and 80% (4/5) of incumbent state representatives are Hispanics targeted by progressives. The challenge of Hispanic incumbents by progressives appears to have been an ongoing, coordinated effort and should be exposed. It definitely appears to be another effort aimed at silencing native Hispanics in this state. This is very disturbing to me, as a native Hispanic Democrat. 

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Two Pro Choice Women Arguing Over Issue In Senate Dem Primary; Heather Balas Mailer Irks Progressive Cindy Nava, Plus: Guv And House Speaker Relationship Eyed As They Hit Campaign Trail In Opposite Directions  

Balas mailer
Can abortion become the defining issue in a Democratic state senate primary featuring two women who are pro-choice? 

That somewhat unusual question hovers over the contest in Senate District 9 that includes the village of Corrales, Placitas and the town of Bernalillo. 

Progressive Democrat Cindy Nava, "a proud immigrant" who served as a senior policy advisor at the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development, has received the official endorsement from the influential political arm of Planned Parenthood.

Centrist Democrat Heather Balas, who served over a decade as executive director of New Mexico First, a public policy group co-founded by former US Senators Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici, pushes back with an endorsement from former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. She's a former Planned Parenthood board member who calls the group's backing of Nava the result of Democratic "intra party politics" and says Balas will "fiercely defend reproductive freedom."

Apparently Balas feels her positioning on abortion could be a deciding factor in her race as she came with a mailer (posted here) that Nava said mimicked the the endorsement logo of Planned Parenthood and was busted for it by the Nava camp:

Cindy Nava is the only candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes NM, because they only trust Cindy Nava to stand up for reproductive choice to ensure women’s healthcare is protected. It seems a bit desperate that Heather Balas would resort to plagiarizing the Planned Parenthood Votes logo in her mail. Don’t be fooled by imitations or people who are obviously misrepresenting themselves. In this race for Senate District 9, there’s only one candidate endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes NM. 

The Balas response: 

I’m a lifelong champion of reproductive freedom and – unlike my opponent – have actually worked on abortion policy nationally.  So, we created our own reproductive health graphic in a round-badge style that is one of the most commonly used motifs to communicate a position of any nature. No single group or organization can claim exclusive rights to this style of graphic – which is why there are thousands out there. In no way did I claim this graphic represented any organization. . .I accurately illustrated my own commitment to being a protector of reproductive health -- using a pink graphic. . . I’m a proud defender of reproductive health, and I want voters to know it. . .I will always stand up to extremists who want to undermine bodily autonomy.  

Abortion is settled law in New Mexico with one of the most liberal standards in the nation, thanks in part to MLG who has carved out a national reputation on the issue. But arguments still rage across the nation over reproductive rights--including neighboring Arizona and  remains a litmus test issue among many Democrats, including in NM Senate District 9. 


This race is consequential in that a Nava win would keep a progressive Dem in the seat while a Balas win could add strength to the conservative Dem senate wing. 

For example, Nava is endorsed by progressive Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart whose campaign donated $2,500 to Nava and House Speaker Javier Martinez and former House Speaker Brian Egolf.

Balas is receiving support from conservative Dem and former network newsman Sam Donaldson. He and his wife each donated $5,500 to her campaign. Also, former conservative Dem state Senator John Sapien, who once represented District 9, is also a supporter of Balas.

In their individual campaigns, they are pretty evenly matched with Balas starting early May with $61,000 in cash and Nava $69,000$. 

There are two Republicans running in the primary but this district has a Democratic lean and the winner of the Dem primary is likely to take the November election.


Abortion is also having impact in that hotly contested northern state House Dem primary featuring Rep. Ambrose Castellano and progressive challenger Anita Gonzales. 

District 70 Rep. Castellano of Las Vegas cast a vote against repealing a 1969 statute that pro choice advocates said that if kept on the books cold have severely restricted the procedure in the state. That vote, among others, apparently drew the wrath of MLG who gave a somewhat rare primary endorsement to Gonzales. 

The Guv, as seen in this pic, is now on the campaign trail drumming up votes for Gonzales. A victory by Castellano would be a major  embarrassment for MLG. 

With her personal support for Gonzales and progressive PACS jamming the mailboxes, they are doing all they can to ensure her victory. 


Look at this pic of Rep. Castellano shoulder-to-shoulder with progressive House Speaker Javier Martinez and a pack of his House Dem colleagues, 18 of whom have endorsed his candidacy. Clearly, Castellano is not throwing in the towel early. 

The pic also raises the issue of the current relationship between the Speaker and the Governor. 

Martinez has endorsed all incumbent House Dems--whether they be be progressive or conservative. But he has also cut a digital TV ad for Castellano in addition to appearing in his literature. That's not backing away from gubernatorial power. 

Also, his unease at the Guv calling a special July session of the legislature to tackle crime is an open secret.

Then there's the more subtle matter of the growing rift between the Hispanic men of La Politica and Anglo progressive women who have become such a force and may even be eying one of their own for the House speakership down the road. 

Well, all the angles and very latest results and expert analysis will be on the table when we gather for Election Night at KANW. The broadcast kicks off at 6:30 Tuesday. 

Among our experts will be Republican consultant Bob Cornelius and Dem consultant Sisto Abeyta so be sure to join us for the state's best coverage.

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.  


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