Friday, June 13, 2014

Roundhouse Roundup Has Moved

This blog, which has been on the Google Blogger platform since Jan. 1, 2009 has packed its bags and moved over to the main New Mexican site.

It looks good: Check it out: and please bookmark it.There's already a new post there.

Still the same political news, still the same wisecracks. Just in a new spot.

The posts you see here will stay. Sometimes I'll even link back to posts here.

And, of course, for all my political posts before 2009, they're still on what now is my music blog.

See you at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Susana Counterpunches King's Counterpunch

There's a new ad up from Gov. Susana Martinez, this one calling Gary King's recent ad "ridiculous."

It deals mainly with King's criticism of Martinez in the area of equal pay for women -- when King has faced gender-discrimination lawsuits of his own.

There will be more about Martinez's new ad in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Meanwhile, ponder this: Is Susana Martinez the only Republican running for office in, say, the last 40 years to include praise from The American Civil Liberties Union in a campaign commercial?

"The ACLU already praised Gov. Martinez for signing the Equal Pay for Women Act, fighting to narrow the gender wage gap...," the ad says, flashing a quote from the organization over footage of the gov talking to women.

Here's the ad

And here's King's ad in case you haven't seen it.

Mary Helen Garcia Requests Recount

Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, who came out less than 20 votes behind her primary opponent Bealquin Bill Gomez last week, is requesting a recount.

“In the past week, I have received countless phone calls and emails asking me to request a recount and exhaust the options provided me under the State Election Code," Garcia said in a news release. "After discussing it with my family, I believe I owe it to my constituents to formally recount and review the results.

"Ironically, I have heard through testimony in my committee about elections being decided by one vote and results changing after a recount," Garcia said. Especially given the fact that only 16 votes separate us, the results can very easily shift.”

The news release also notes:

Some individuals have approached the Garcia campaign who were given sample ballots that may have been deliberately marked to confuse voters. There is a history of serious accusations of election fraud in Sunland Park and a pending legal case dealing with election fraud specifically involving absentee ballots. Rep. Garcia has been the most vocal advocate on of the behalf of the people of Sunland Park in the effort to combat such crimes. Given this fact, these people may have led an illegal effort to defeat Rep. Garcia. Depending on the outcome of the recount, Rep. Garcia will decide whether to challenge the election results.

Garcia was one of two incumbent House members who came out behind in the primary. The other was Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Albuquerque.

Updated 5:10 pm An earlier version of this post quoted the Garcia news release saying Garcia lost by 16 votes. However, according to the numbers on the Secretary of State's website, the margin is only 11 votes. That's been corrected in the above text. Also, I initially misspelled " Bealquin." That's been corrected.

Updated 5:25 pm Garcia campaign spokesman Carlos Trujillo just told me that after the canvass, the margin actually is 16 votes... I think we can all agree that it's close.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Second Susana Ad of the Day

I almost missed this because I thought the email announcing this was referring to the Republican Governors Association ad that came out earlier today.

Anyway, this is the latest ad from the Susana Martinez campaign itself. And unlike the RGA ad, which called Martinez's Democratic challenger Gary King a "terrible attorney general," this is pure sunshine and lollipops talking about her commitment to helping small businesses.

This 30-second spot has the governor talking about parents's security business, for which Martinez worked, guarding a Catholic church bingo game. There is even a photo of a young Martinez in uniform, apparently from when she worked for her folks.

The two ads might be revealing a little strategy here. Let the Martinez campaign talk about positive things and brag about accomplishments and let outside groups like the RGA tear into King.

It also illustrates King's problem -- how to respond to both fronts, when he currently doesn't have any money for TV ads.

Here's Martinez's ad:

It's Starting!

The Republican Governor's Association launched an attack on Gary King this morning.

Here's the script:

Gary King’s record as attorney general.

King was soft on corruption, and had one of the worst records in the country at stopping Medicaid fraud.

The Albuquerque Journal said Gary King’s record should make taxpayers sick.

The chairman of his own party called King the worst attorney general New Mexico’s ever had.

And the Santa Fe New Mexican said Gary King should consider resigning from office.

Gary King was a terrible attorney general.

He’d be a worse governor.

I guess the Democratic Governor's Association soon will be responding with an attack of it's own.

Wait a minute ...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I'll Be Danged! One of My Election Predictions Came True!

Before an election lots of people ask me who is going to win. Unless the race the person is talking about is real obvious, I usually shy away from answering -- because I'm so frequently wrong.

But here's a prediction I made back in 2012 that actually proved to be correct.

It was in my Nov. 18, 2012 Roundhouse Roundup column, My Nostradamus-like words were: 

Whoever the Dems put up against Martinez will not come from the state Legislature.

This isn’t a knock on the fine men and women who serve in our citizen Legislature. There are many excellent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and many of whom, I’m sure, would make competent governors. It’s just that it’s tough to make that jump from the House or Senate to the Fourth Floor.

History will bear me out — at least the history of the last few decades. Bruce King was the last governor who had spent any time in the state Legislature. (He was speaker of the House back in the ’60s.) But when he was elected governor in 1990, King was best known for being a former governor, not a lawmaker. That also was true for his second term as governor, to which he was elected in 1978. (His first term as governor came in 1970.)

(A similar dynamic probably will apply to King’s son, Gary King in 2014. He was in the House for many years, but voters almost certainly will judge him on his performance as attorney general, not for votes he cast in the Legislature in the ’80s and ’90s.)

With the exception of King, other governors going back to the '80s — Martinez, Bill Richardson, Gary Johnson, Garrey Carruthers and Toney Anaya — were never legislators. The last governor elected directly from the Legislature was Jerry Apodaca, a former senator from Las Cruces, in 1974

I have to admit, back in March after Sen. Howie Morales won the pre-primary convention, I was afraid I would have to eat crow over that column. 

But it didn't turn out that way.

So why don't we elect governors who come out of the Legislature? As I speculated back in 2012:

Maybe it’s because most voters are fairly satisfied with their own representatives and senators, but many tend to think of the rest of the state Legislature as a bunch of clowns or worse. Kind of like the way we feel about our own congressional representatives.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will Independents Be Allowed to Vote in 2016 primary?

As Democrats and Republicans began voting in the 2014 primary Tuesday, an Albuquerque lawyer filed a suit on behalf of the 248,741 voters barred by state law from voting because they are registered as “declined-to-state” or independent.

According to the suit, filed in state district court in Albuquerque by J. Edward Hollington, the law prohibiting independents violates the state constitution. The suit argues that the constitution grants all citizens who are “qualified electors” to “the right to vote “at all elections for public officers.” Also, the suit says, the constitution states that all elections are to be “free and open, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”

The suit notes that in New Mexico primary elections are paid for with tax dollars.

Hollington, according to his suit, went to an early voting center in Albuquerque on May 21, but — as he expected — was denied because he is registered as “declined-to-state.”

Hollington told The New Mexican Tuesday that he’s been thinking of pursuing such a suit for several years.

He said he’s doing this on his own. “No group is backing me.”

But the executive director of New Mexico Common Cause, which long has backed the idea, applauded the lawsuit. “For us, it just makes sense for all voters to be able to vote,” said Viki Harrison. “It’s just good old Democracy to let people vote.”

Check The New Mexican website later today for complete story

Monday, June 2, 2014

Final Early Voting Figures

As it turned out, there were slightly more early voters in the Democratic primary this year than there were in 2010. Keep in mind, however, in 2010 in the governor's race, there was only one candidate in the Dem primary, Diane Denish and this year there are five.

This year, 39,515 Democrats voted early in New Mexico, while a total of 7,794 absentee ballots have been received so far, for a total of 47,308.

These figures are from the Secretary of State's Office.

The numbers are slightly up from 2010, when 32,247 early in-person voters in the Democratic primary, plus 12,775 Democrats who voted absentee, for a total of 45,022.

On the Republican side, 23,772 voted early, while 6,182 absentee ballots have been received so far. Gov. Susana Martinez has no primary opponent. There is a contested U.S. Senate race though with former state Republican Party Chairman Allen Weh is facing newcomer David Clements.The winner will face incumbent Democrat Tom Udall, who is unopposed in his primary race.

My Sunday story about the final days of the governor primary is HERE

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Signs Point to Voter Apathy

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that there seems to be far fewer political signs this primary season than usual?

This is just a gut feeling. I haven’t made any scientific measure to measure against the number of political signs per square feet in Santa Fe from the last election.

It just seems that there aren’t as many as usual. The municipal election earlier this year seemed to have far more than the primary. By the end of that election, as is the case for most elections, I was so sick of seeing yard signs that I couldn’t wait to see them go. This year, I keep waiting for the signs to appear.

One indicator: I haven’t received any calls from candidates complaining that their opponents are stealing or defacing their signs.

But the strangest thing about the signs in this election is that for every one I see for a gubernatorial candidate, I see four or five for various judge candidates. I mean no disrespect intended for the esteemed and important office of probate judge. But if campaign signs are any indication, people seem more excited about that primary race for that part-time position than they are about the governor’s race.

For the rest of this column see The Santa Fe New Mexican

Friday, May 30, 2014

Morales Launches TV Ad

Sen. Howie Morales became the latest -- and probably the last -- Democratic candidate for governor to enter the TV ad arena.

He released "Believe," a 30-second spot. earlier today.

It's a positive ad with soft guitar music that doesn't mention any of his Democratic opponents.  His only mention of the Republican incumbent is Morales saying "I know I can defeat Susana Martinez and bring world-class education to New Mexico."

It's probably a coincidence, but only minutes after Morales' campaign announced the ad, the Martinez campaign emailed one of its opposition research "Voter Guides," this one about Morales. It said "Sen. Howie Morales Represents Fringe Of His Party."

As a senator, he also represents Silver City.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Last Campaign Finance Reports Before the Primary

State Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, is the first gubernatorial candidate to file his campaign finance report today.

His report shows that Morales raised $25,005, spent $44,581 and has $25,134 in the bank.

That's not good news for the Morales campaign, which has failed to raise the money necessary to put his message on television.

Earlier today the Susana Martinez re-election campaign tweeted that the incumbent has raised more than $400,000 in the past three weeks. (I haven't seen the actual report yet.) Martinez already had $4.2 million in the bank.

UPDATE 3:30 pm Alan Webber just reported raising $180,483 in the last period. He spent $474,575 and still has $161,795 in the bank.

I'll be updating this throughout the day as more reports roll in.

UPDATE 3:54 pm Another one just came in, this one from Lawrence Rael.

He raised $42,792 -- significantly lower than Webber's last haul -- and spent $142,862, Rael has $109,486 cash on hand.

UPDATE 4:12 pm Gary King raised $235,963 this period, but $195,400 was a loan from himself.
King spent $207,785 and has $75,518 in bank.

UPDATE 4:57 pm Yay! All the candidates filed their reports before 5 pm!

Gov. Susana Martinez raised Susana $403,307 in the last three weeks. She spent $325,536 and has just shy of $4.3 million left in the bank.

Linda Lopez is still in last place as far as finances go. She raised $11,950 in thye last period. She spent 6,149 and has $19,757 left in the bank.

There will be much more in tomorrow's Santa Fe New Mexican.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Susana Attacks Dems in New Ad

"Governor Susana Martinez Lays Out Positive Record & Vision For The Future" is the subject line of the news release announcing Martinez's latest campaign ad.

But actually, this positive, visionary spot is an attack ad -- at least the first part of it -- where all five of the Democrats running for governor morph into former Gov. Bill Richardson before your very eyes.

Running against Richardson worked for Martinez in 2010, even though the other name on the ballot was Diane Denish, not Richardson.

"Five politicians, same old failed agenda," an unseen narrator says. "Like social promotion, passing children to the next grade even when they can't read. New Mexico deserves better,"

Most of the ad though deals with education. "We're investing more in education than ever before," Martinez says in the ad. "But money alone isn't the answer. We raised standards and gave struggling students more help."

The narrator says "Graduation rates up. Reading scores on the rise."

There's more to do but let's focus on moving forward, not turning back," the governor says.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.

More on the Dem Gubernatorial Primary

Gary King
In my story in today's New Mexican, I interviewed Brian Sanderoff, who conducted the Albuquerque Journal's poll on the governor's race last week that showed Attorney General Gary King leading the Democratic primary (but with a huge percentage of undecided voters.)

Basically, Sanderoff's contention is the race is King's to lose. Despite King's anemic fundraising and other problems, Sanderoff said, “I’d much rather be the guy who is six points ahead.”

Some of the Democrats responded to the poll over the weekend. Here's what they had to say:

Alan Webber's campaign manager Neri Holguin, in an email to potential supporters, said the poll "shows what we’ve been experiencing on the ground for weeks: the excitement and enthusiasm for Alan’s candidacy is growing by leaps and bounds.

"After starting as an outsider running against four established political insiders, Alan has made this a very tight race. Despite Gary King’s overwhelming advantage in name identification, “he only has about one-fifth of the vote,” according to Brian Sanderoff, the pollster.  Alan is very close behind him (along with Lawrence Rael).

"Most importantly, all of the momentum is with Alan.  He is closing the campaign as the strongest candidate: we’ve ramped up television ads in the closing two weeks, and we’re launching a brand new spot this week (more on that to come!)"

Howie Morales' campaign manager, in an email, stressed the big undecided number -- 29 percent, which is seven percentage points higher than King's total (and 13 points higher than Morales') :

"In addition to the extremely high number of voters who have yet to make up their mind, we learned a few other things from the poll -- our campaign is earning 37% of the vote from southern New Mexico counties, we are doing well with Hispanic voters, and those with college degrees. 

"In the Journal’s words, “The race is not over by any means.” Our campaign is in a position to earn votes from the large segment of the voting population who haven’t yet made up their minds.

"But what else do we know that the Journal doesn’t capture?

"We know our campaign is driven by grassroots outreach – everyday volunteers who are knocking on doors, calling undecided voters and talking to their friends and families.

"We also know it’s often a personal touch from our campaign which wins people over to Team Morales.  ..."

But most interestingly, Lawrence Rael, in an email response to the poll went beyond the "Rah! Rah! Team!" rhetoric and tipped his hand on what his closing strategy will be:

"Today’s poll results from the Albuquerque Journal reveal just how this race will be won:

* 30% of likely Democratic voters remain undecided – a group that is less likely to support Gary King, whose momentum has slowed. 
* My campaign is leading among other candidates in northern New Mexico (a region Susana won in 2010) and in Albuquerque, where the most votes will be cast.
* The largest group of undecided voters is Hispanic.

Meanwhile, Republican Susana Martinez's re-election responded to the poll by emailing a "Voter's Guide" featuring several quotes from news stories critical of frontrunner King. "As the Democratic Primary approaches, voters deserve to know that Gary King's tenure as attorney general has been marked by incompetence and failure, the result of bungling corruption case after corruption case," the news release said.

(I'm sure Democrats appreciate the governor thinking of them and creating a "Voter's Guide. True bipartisan spirit!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Clarifying Redactions

There's something simple and graceful about redacted government documents. In this morning's paper I wrote about the ongoing public records lawsuit filed by former state Finance Authority CEO Rick May against Gov. Susana Martinez. (Read that HERE)

Here's one of the conversations that May's lawyer got from the Department of Finance & Administration. This is a message to Martinez from her then-policy director Janel Anderson:

Can you believe she said that?

And here's a clarification from DFA Secretary Tom Clifford:

That clears things up, right?

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Liberal Radio Talkers Dropping

Bring back Jerry Springer?
Fans of KTRC, the liberal talk radio station in Santa Fe — and fans of liberal talk radio everywhere for that matter — have taken a couple of vicious blows in recent days

On Thursday, syndicated radio host Ed Schultz — who promotes himself as “America’s Number One liberal talker” — announced that he’s quitting his three-hour weekday radio show.

The way he made it sound, he just wants to go fishing. However, Schultz said he’ll continue doing his weeknight television show on MSNBC and he’s going to start doing an hourlong audio show that will be available on his website.

That was last week. The week before that, another popular syndicated host, Randi Rhodes also called it quits.

For the rest of Sunday's column go to the Santa Fe New Mexican's site.

UPDATE 4:15 pm I just got word from KTRC about their new weekday schedule:

Next week Thom Hartmann will move permanently to 10a-1p and will be live. Then Sam Seder will be on live 1pm-4pm. Seder is one of the hosts of Ring of Fire which airs Sundays 5pm-8pm on KTRC,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Who is Behind the Anti-Rael Robo Call?

Lawrence Rael's campaign on Friday complained about an automated "push poll" that has bad things to say about Rael and good things about his Democratic primary opponent Alan Webber.

However, Rael doesn't think Webber is behind it.

"Alan Webber has twice personally promised that they are not behind these calls," a news release from Rael said. "Furthermore, it appears that the phone number that is making these calls ... has previously made calls on behalf of conservative causes."

The news release links to a letter to the editor of the Las Cruces Sun News in February about a poll that slams the creation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. Many Republicans were opposed to creating the national monument, which was signed into law this week by President Obama.

I called the number, which has a 202 area code, (Washington, D.C.) I was answered by a recording that said "All circuits are busy." A later call resulted in a busy signal.

The call doesn't say who paid for it, as required by law. Rael's campaign has filed a formal complaint with the Secretary of State’s office, requesting that they investigate.

“These calls aren't just dirty politics, they’re illegal,” said campaign spokesperson Kyle Armstrong.

King Campaign Goes on TV

With a little more than a week before the primary, Attorney General Gary King has a new ad for his campaign for governor.

He joins Democratic rivals Alan Webber and Lawrence Rael, the first Dem candidates to go on TV,

King's ad is all positive. He doesn't mention his primary opponents and, unlike Webber and Rael, doesn't talk about Republican incumbent Susana Martinez.

Of course, that didn't stop Republicans from attacking him. A news release from the state GOP said "His two terms as attorney general have been marred by his ineptitude and failure to prosecute some of the state’s biggest corruption cases,,,"

Here's the ad

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

So What's With the Ballots in District 7?

Earlier today I spoke with former Rep. Andrew Barreras of Valencia County, who is running for his old District 7 House Seat. He me that the ballots in his race have the name of his primary opponent, Teresa Smith de Cherif "highlighted."

Barreras said his parents noted this earlier this week when they went to vote. A lawyer for his campaign notified the Secretary of State's Office, who, in turn, referred the matter to Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal.

After review of the Democratic Primary Sample Ballots submitted with your letter we have determined that a glitch in our copying machine has caused the names of the candidates for State Representative District 7, Ms. Smith De Cherif and Mr. Barreras to be darker than the candidates for the other offices. While it appears that on the samples that you submitted Ms. Smith De Cherif’s name is “bolder” than Mr. Barreras’ name, some samples we have retrieved show Mr. Barreras’ name to be bolder than Ms. Smith De Cherif’s.  This indicates the “bold effect” on the copies appears to be related to the position of that particular contest on the ballot—and the way in which that area of the ballot was scanned by the copy machine.

In other words each of the candidates got highlighted, depending on which sample ballot you saw.

Cajabajal continued:

Smith de Cherif
Staff is immediately removing every sample ballot from every early voting polling site in the County. Although it appears that only a small number of the ballots were “bolded” we want to ensure that none are distributed.

The clerk also said her office has contracted with an off-site elections vendor to print new sample ballots for immediate distribution and that her staff will review each printed actual ballot to ensure there are no “bolded” candidate names.

But these are just the sample ballots. How about the actual ballots people use to vote? Barreras' lawyer had written “. . . we are requesting a view of the ballots cast, with appropriate safeguards to protect confidentiality, in early voting to see if any of the actual ballots cast also had the name of Mr. Barrera’s opponent highlighted.”

But that's not going to happen. Carabajal wrote:

Unfortunately, neither this Office nor the Office of Secretary of State has the lawful authority to open a ballot box at this time to inspect its contents and to do so would be a violation of NMSA 1978, Section 1-20-4 (1969).  There is no indication that any actual ballots were subject to printing errors as they are printed on ballot stock paper on specialized separate printers. These specialized printers are separate and apart from the machine that copied the sample ballots, making it implausible that actual ballots were subject to the error.

Ken Ortiz, chief of staff of the Secretary of State's Office told me his office agrees with Carabajal's conclusions.

Obama's Organ Mountain Speech

President Obama today officially designated the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Here's his speech, applause lines and all:

From the White House Twitter feed 
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  As somebody who lives in the neighborhood, I thought I might just drop by and see what all the fuss is about.  (Laughter.)  I want to thank Sally for hosting me here today.

And I am thrilled to be with all of you because of your work -- not to mention some of the art on the walls reminds me that one of the great blessings of being an American is that we are blessed with some of the most beautiful landscapes and real estate on Earth.  I think about the awe that I felt as a little boy the first time I saw the Grand Canyon.  I think about the pride that I felt when I took my daughters to see Yellowstone. I think about the memories of what it’s like to go on a hike without a security detail behind me.  (Laughter.)  It’s a wistful feeling.  (Laughter.)

But most of all, I think about our obligation to be good stewards to the next generation -- to make sure that our children’s children get the same chance to experience all of these natural wonders.  So today, I’m here to announce that I am using my executive authority to protect more of our pristine landscapes by designating the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region a National Monument.  (Applause.)  I am grateful for the incredible partnership of so many residents of this region -- including ranchers and tribal leaders and hunters -- and many of you here today, especially Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall and former Senator Jeff Bingaman, who were instrumental in helping preserve this treasured landscape.  (Applause.)

Anyone who’s ever seen the Organ Mountains that overlook Las Cruces, New Mexico will tell you that they are a spectacular sight.  Secretary Jewell told me as much after her visit there.  You got massive rocks that jut up 9,000 feet in the air and stretch for 20 miles, like the organ pipes of a giant.  And they’re home to many of God’s smaller creatures, as well -- deer and antelope roam; falcons, mountain lions.  There are even plant species that don’t grow anywhere else in the world.

     But it’s not just the natural beauty of this region that makes it invaluable to future generations.  Its caves and peaks and cliffs bear the marks of millennia of history.  From the rock art of some of the first Native peoples living on the land to the trail traveled by some of the first overland mail carriers.  Some of the most notorious adventures of the Wild West were written in the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

More than 130 years ago, Billy the Kid took cover in the Robledo Mountains and literally left his mark –- inscribing his name into what we now know as “Outlaw Rock.”  You can see it today, and I want to make sure that future generations can see it as well.   Legend has it that Apache chief Geronimo hid in these same mountains and staged a miraculous escape from what is now called “Geronimo’s Cave.”

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans visit the region to discover what still remains of these landmarks, and to explore what lies along its beautiful trails.  Families go on vacation.  Tribes return to uphold rich traditions.  Archeologists dig for ancient artifacts.  Scientists study a thriving environment.  And all of it supports the local economy and jobs in the region.

So, we’re not just preserving history.  Outdoor recreation at parks and forests and other public lands brings in tourism dollars -- attracting new businesses and encouraging spending at lodgings and food establishments and, of course, park souvenirs.  One recent study says that the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks designation alone could double the number of visitors to the area and help grow the local economy by more than 70 percent.

It’s impossible to put a price on towering peaks and pristine forests and America’s cultural history, but we know that our national parks have an economic impact that extends beyond their boundaries.  In 2012, hundreds of millions of recreational visits to public lands and waters generated over $50 billion for local communities, and supported nearly 900,000 jobs.  So whether they’re hiking or camping or fishing, visitors to our parks and public lands are not only enjoying the bounty of our natural resources, but also they’re promoting jobs and they’re promoting growth.  And continuing to set aside federal land for outdoor recreation will drive critical revenue for those local communities, and preserve our pristine lands for generations to come.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is the second national monument I’ve designated this year, the 11th overall.  I’ve preserved more than 3 million acres of public lands for future generations.  And I am not finished.  (Applause.)

As I said in my State of the Union address, I’m searching for more opportunities to preserve federal lands where communities are speaking up.  Because wherever I see an opening to get things done for the American people, I’m going to take it.  I’ve said before:  I want to work with anyone in Congress who is ready to get to work and shares those goals, but recently they haven’t gotten the job done.

Congress is sitting on dozens of bills that would help protect our precious land and wildlife.  And by one count, there’s a set of 10 land conservation bills that have been introduced a combined 52 times over the past 30 years, and they are still stuck.  So I’m here to pick up a little bit of the slack.  (Laughter and applause.)  Because there is no time to waste to preserve our precious resources and give a shot in the arm to local economies, like Las Cruces.

So I want to thank everybody, again, not just here on stage but all of those at the Department of the Interior who worked so hard on this project.  And I want to thank all the public servants around the country for everything that you do to guide Americans through God-given wonders, and keep our national landscapes pristine -– not only today, but for many years to come.

Thanks, everybody.  And now I’m going to sign this proclamation.                

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rep. Youngblood Gets National Attention

State Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, has been in the national news twice recently.

The latest time is today when she was in the Washington Post's "40 Under 40" list. (40 people under the age of 40 "who have made names for themselves in politics outside of Washington, D.C.")

For all the attention paid to Wendy Davis in neighboring Texas, Monica Youngblood’s personal story is similar, even as her party is different. She has said she was raised in poverty by a single mother, and she later became a teenage single mom herself. She later started her own real estate business and is now serving her first term in the New Mexico state House. She was recently named a rising star by the Republican National Committee, and she serves on the board of the Future Majority Project at the Republican State Leadership Committee -- a national group for state-level Republicans.

Youngblood also was featured on a recent NPR story about women in politics. The May 5 story starts with a segment about her.

When Monica Youngblood got the call, she thought it was a joke. The call came from a man she had worked to help get elected.

"It's your time," she says he told her. "We need people like you in Santa Fe. We need a voice like yours who's lived here, who's been through what you've been through. I think you need to really consider it."

When she realized it wasn't a joke, Youngblood had a lot of questions — and self-doubt. ...

Listen HERE

Monday, May 19, 2014

More NM Political Ads

The primary is just two weeks from tomorrow. And the TV ads just keep coming

Democratic gubernatorial candidate released one over the weekend. It's generally positive, though he does take one (relatively mild) swipe at Republican Gov. Susana Martinez-- without actually mentioning her name.

Webber: When you look at New Mexico, what do you see?  I see possibilities:
Great schools, with early education for every child.
Clean energy jobs from all this wind and solar.
And a minimum wage that pays $10.10 an hour.
We can do it if we stop giving tax breaks to big out of state corporations, and start investing right here instead. Our Governor sees everything we can’t do…I’m Alan Webber and I’m running for governor because of everything we can.

Here's what it looks like:

Then, this morning the John Wertheim for State Treasurer campaign released one: and he "went negative on his primary opponent Former state Sen. Tim Eichenberg

How can you tell I’m a real Democrat? It’s written all over my life.
From leading our state for Bill Clinton. To championing living wage laws. To recovering millions lost to fraud and ensuring it went to our schools.
As Treasurer, I’ll be a progressive voice for investing in education and protecting our retirement funds.

But is Tim Eichenberg a real Democrat?
He sided with Republicans to prevent equality for gay couples and failed to stand up to insurance companies that discriminate against women.
John Wertheim, the real Democrat for Treasurer.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: UN Coming for Your Guns?

Does U.S. Sen. Tom Udall really want to “turn over our constitutional right to bear arms to the United Nations for regulation”?

I’m getting dark visions of jack-booted U.N. troops parachuting in, kicking down my door and confiscating my guns as Tom Udall looks on smiling.

Wait a minute. I don’t own any guns.

But the claim that Udall wants gun rights turned over to the U.N. comes directly from one of the Republicans running for Udall’s Senate seat. In a recent fundraising appeal, GOP hopeful Allen Weh was up in arms over an arms treaty coming out of the United Nations.

In that email to supporters, Weh attacked Udall over a United Nations treaty concerning the international gun trade.

For the rest of this column, go to The New Mexican site

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Christie and Cheney are Coming to Raise Funds for Susana

Two of the most controversial figures in Republican politics are coming to New Mexico to campaign for Gov. Susana Martinez.

As first reported by the New Mexico Telegram today, former Vice President Dick Cheney will appear at a Las Cruces fundraiser for Martinez in June at the Ramada Palms..

There is no price for the event, just a strong hint in the fine print: "Contributions to Susana Martinez for Governor are limited to $10,400 per election cycle."

Cheney is controversial because of his unapologetic role in pushing for the war in Iraq.

Also, the Chris Christie New Mexico visit, first reported by Real Clear Politics, is official.

In an invitation to supporters, also sent to at least some reporters, Susana Martinez's re-election campaign just announced a raffle for the chance to meet the New Jersey governor.

Gov. Christie is a remarkable leader, and I would love for you to meet both of us. Contribute $10 today and you’ll be entered to join me and Gov. Christie in New Mexico.

Gov. Christie understands that we are trying to move New Mexico forward. Giving him the opportunity to meet with one of my great supporters and truly see and hear the progress for himself is a great opportunity.

So please, consider joining us this month by contributing $10 for your chance to participate.

The release doesn't say how many of the $10 donors will get to meet Christie. Real Clear Politics reported the date as May 29. The news release doesn't mention a date or location.

Christie is considering a run for president in 2016 despite the controversy over the blocking of lanes on the George Washington bridge last year allegedly for political retaliation. Christie has denied knowing anything about lane closures.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rep. Garcia Apologizes to "Anglo Dems"


Rep. Miguel Garcia, D- Albuquerque, today apologized to two legislative candidates he had disparaged earlier this week in an email to some of his legislative colleagues.

Alex Goldsmith of KRQE had the scoop about the original letter last night. In that message to "Fellow House Members, Senate Colleagues, Elected Official Friends," Garcia endorsed  Valencia County Democrats Frank Otero and Andrew Barreras, who are running against Republican  incumbents Kelly Fajardo and Alonzo Baldonado.

But he also said this of Democratic candidates Jim Danner and Teresa Smith de Cherif:

A minority of unsuspecting Democratic leaders are supporting the Democratic Anglo newcomer opponents in Andrew's and Frank's Primary races.  Anglo Democrats with egos as big as Texas, mouths as big as the Grand Canyon, and much "green" mula from the east and the west coast. 

However, after some Democrats -- including candidate Otero -- called on Garcia to apologize, he did.

"I am making all my comments to the two Democrats I offended with my inappropriate comments," he told me in an email this afternoon.

Here's the letter he sent to Danner:


I sent an email to my different contacts of people who I have worked with throughout the years as a Civil Rights leader and legislator asking for their support of Andrew Barreras in HD 7 and Frank Otero in HD 8.

In the email I used inappropriate language to define your character.  Regardless of what I think your reason are for running for State Rep-- I want to ask for your forgiveness regarding the negative manner in which I questioned your character or campaign pursuits.

It is not in me to speak negatively of fellow Democrats, or anyone for that fact, that I am not personally acquainted with or familiar with.  In my legislative career I pride myself on always taking the "moral high ground" on issues of bigotry, discrimination, inequality, prejudice, intolerance, hatred-- I faltered in reaching that in my email.

Best of Health and Good Luck In Your Race.

State Rep Miguel P Garcia  

UPDATE 5-15 11:07 am: Here is the link to the story in today's New Mexican.

Also, candidate Andrew Barreras, a former state representative running for Fajardo's seat, got back to me this morning. He also disapproved of Garcia's letter. "I guess Miguel wasn't thinking," he said. Barreras said that much of his own family is Anglo. "They wouldn't like that," he said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ex Police Chief Now in Webber Camp

Democratic candidate for governor has a former high ranking member of Gov. Susana Martinez's administration among his supporters.

Robert Shilling, a former state police chief who was appointed by Martinez, showed up as a contributor of $100 in Webber's campaign finance report Monday.

In an interview Monday, Shilling, who described himself as a “hard-core conservative,” confirmed that he's supporting the Democrat. He said he recently attended a Webber fundraiser.

Shilling insisted there was no animosity between him and Martinez. That's also what he said when  he resigned last July. At that time, both he and the governor said he wasn't forced out and a spokesman for Martinez at the time called Shilling “a tremendous public servant.”

But Shilling said Monday he’s supporting Webber over Martinez because “things are dismal in the state.” Martinez, he said, “lacks the business background” he believes is necessary for a governor. He said he likes Webber’s background and “entrepreneurial spirit.”

Shilling was appointed by Public Safety Secretary Gordon Eden in early 2011 at the outset of the Martinez administration. During his 20-plus year career with New Mexico State Police, he worked  in Deming , Raton and several other areas of the state.

A native of southwestern New Mexico, Shilling worked as budget director of law enforcement operations and commander of investigations before becoming chief.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Weh Goes on TV, Hugs an Old Rival

Allen Weh, one of two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate released his first television ad, a 30-second spot.

The ad doesn't mention either his primary opponent, David Clements, or Democrat Tom Udall, the incumbent senator seeking re-election. So far neither Udall nor Clements has aired any television ads.

Definitely the most interesting moment in the ad comes in at 23 seconds into it. Right when the narrator says "Allen Weh will protect our federal facilities" there's footage of Weh hugging Gov. Susana Martinez (who is not a federal facility.)

The last time I remember seeing the two of them in a video together was back in 2010 in this KOB News segment with Stuart Dyson:

That was a bitter election, but Weh has said he's patched things up with Martinez, who beat him in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary.

UPDATE: 4:13 PM Here's the script for the Weh ad

Washington is broken. Too many weak leaders mean too many bad decisions.

Meet Allen Weh. A proud husband, father and grandfather. A decorated marine. A successful businessman with a plan to bring good, private-sector jobs to New Mexico.

As our next Senator, Allen Weh will stop wasteful spending, balance the budget and get Washington off our backs. Allen Weh will protect our federal facilities and take some New Mexico common sense to Washington D.C.

Allen Weh: I’m Allen Weh and I approve this message.

New Round of Campaign Finance Reports

Today is the deadline for the second round of campaign finance reports in state races.

So far (as of 11:30 am)  only two gubernatorial candidates have filed: Alan Webber and Gary King.

Webber reported raising $115,682 since early April. He spent $99,810 in the past month, leaving him with $455,886 cash on hand. Except for an in-kind (non-cash) donation of $1,100, it looks like Webber didn't put any more of his own money into the campaign.

King is lagging far behind Webber in fundraising. He  reported raising $12,270 since early April and spending $53,106 during that period, He has $48,340 in the bank.

I'll update this with totals as they come in and will have a deeper look into the reports in tomorrow's New Mexican.

UPDATE: 1:15 pm Her report is not yet up on the Secretary of State's website, but Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign spokesman tweeted that the governor has raised more than $560,000 in the past month -- nearly five times the amount Webber did. No word on Martinez's expenditures or cash on hand. I'll update when the report comes in. Also still waiting on Rael, Morales and Lopez.

UPDATE 2:45 pm Democrat Howie Morales has filed his report. He took in $22,012 in contributions, spent $27,299 and has $44,711 in the bank.

UPDATE 4:25 pm Lawrence Rael reported that he raised $58,030.00 in the last month, spent $77,240.13
and has $209,557.37 cash on hand..

I still don't see the governor's report online but an email from her campaign said she's raised  $561,586, spent $552,546 and has $4,221,427 in the bank.

Final Update: Sen. Linda Lopez raised $10,236 this period, spent $15,568 and has $13,956 cash on hand.

Gov. Martinez's report was filed. She reported what her press release said.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Beneath the Underdog

I don’t always chuckle at campaign emails. I get about a zillion a day, so usually I just glance at them, make sure there’s nothing relevant I need and hit the delete button.

But one that caught my eye early last week came from Florida U.S. senator and possible Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. ... “Susana [Martinez] is facing a fundraising deadline and your contribution will help her catch up to her opponents, who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into their campaigns.”

Susana needs to catch up? ...

But Martinez certainly isn’t the only frontrunner with a huge cash advantage trying to come off as an underdog. ...

Find out who else at the Santa Fe New Mexican site 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shoot With The Colonel

Allen Weh, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, is hosting a unique campaign event Sunday.

He's  inviting supporters to :come out and exercise their Second Amendment rights by shooting with him."

Weh: He can shoot AND cook.
"This is an opportunity for me to meet supporters who are concerned about the eroding of our Second Amendment rights," Weh said in a news release. "I look forward to hearing their concerns and talking with them about Tom Udall's record of voting to further diminish those rights."

The event is taking place at Calibers Indoor Shooting Range this Sunday, May 11 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Weh's campaign has reserved half the lanes at the range for those wanting to take part.

Firearms will be provided for those who do not have one. Those attending will only need to bring their own ammunition or buy it at Caliber's.

Food and beverages will be provided and shooting is free. "Attendees will also have the opportunity to have their photo taken shooting alongside Colonel Weh," the news release said. (Weh is a retired Marine colonel.)

Suggested contribution is $25, the Weh campaign says, but it's not required.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mea Culpa: Koch Bros DID Give to Susana

The Koch Brothers.
I screwed up something in my story in today's paper about the latest ad for Alan Webber.

The story mistakenly said that Gov. Susana Martinez had not received any campaign contributions from the Koch Brothers or their businesses.


In fact,  Koch Industries has contributed $4,694 to Martinez's campaign this year so far and $10,000 to her 2010 campaign.

In addition, Koch Industries contributed $5,000 to the governor's political committee, SusanaPAC, which mainly is used to contribute to other Republican candidates in the state.

It should be corrected in the online version soon.

If I find out I was wrong about the helicopter I'll really feel stupid.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Some Groovy News

Who will be the first politician to capitalize on this state-ranking list -- in which New Mexico is in the Top 10?

According to a real estate site called The Estately Blog ("an addictive easy way to shop for homes"), the Land of Enchantment is the seventh "most hippie" state.

Here's what the blog has to say about us:

New Mexico has more interest in tie-dye and cannabis than any other state, it’s fifth in selling hemp products on Etsy, and it boasts a high population of hippie artists wearing turquoise jewelry. Some say you can hear the drum circles in Taos as far away as Texas.

(Of course some of those drum sounds might be coming from actual American Indians in Taos Pueblo ...)

Here's the criteria the blog used in determining the rankings.

* Number of communes and intentional communities per capita in each state (source:  Fellowship for Intentional Community)

* Number of food co-ops per capita in each state (source: Coop Directory)

* Number of local Etsy stores per capita selling hemp, patchouli, and tie-dye products (source:  Etsy)

* Percentage of Facebook users who express interest in the following: Grateful Dead, Phish, cannabis, tie-dye, peace, LSD, Bob Dylan, and hippies (source:  Facebook)

High Flying Campaign Ads

Updated 5:35 pm  with Martinez ad script.

Two new ads by gubernatorial candidates popped up today.

Both Democratic hopeful Alan Webber and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez apparently have aviation on their minds.

Webber's ad is more hard-hitting, alluding to the secretive GOP confab at Santa Ana Pueblo hosted by the Koch Brothers and attended by several top Republicans last year. Martinez spoke at the conference.


The script is:

The Koch brothers choppered into New Mexico just like this.  Out of state billionaires looking to spread their radical agenda here.  Susana Martinez may take orders from them. I never will.

I’m Alan Webber. I’ll invest in early childhood education. End tax breaks to out of state corporations. And up the minimum wage so folks can actually live on it.

Those are my ideas. I want to hear yours.  Because it's time we had a Governor who listened to you, not them.

(Actually the Koch brothers flew to New Mexico in their own plane, not a helicopter.)

The Martinez campaign responded:

 “Alan Webber’s bizarre attack against Gov. Martinez lacks any credibility — particularly since he’s taken a greater percentage of out-of-state contributions than any other candidate, and it's even stranger that he would attack out-of-state millionaires when he himself is an out-of-state millionaire who is completely out of touch with New Mexicans ..."

(Actually the Kochs are billionaires)

Meanwhile, Martinez's ad, her thrid one during the primary season, stays positive.

Here's the script:

Susana Martinez: When I took office, we had the largest deficit in state history.  That’s why I sold the state’s luxury jet.  The maintenance alone cost taxpayers about $250,000 every year.

Now, we spend that amount providing every first grader with a summer reading book of their very own.  A book they can read with their parents.  Because education reform begins at home. 

I believe it’s better to buy reading books for first graders than to pay for a luxury jet.  

Announcer: She’s our governor. Susana Martinez.   

More in tomorrow's New Mexican

"Ready For Hillary" Coming to Santa Fe

Sick of the 2014 election yet? How about 2016?

Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez is involved in the "Ready for Hillary" PAC and he's helped organize an event in Santa Fe scheduled for May 21 at Hotel Santa Fe.

Hosts for the event are Mayor Javier Gonzales, Joe Wilson & Valarie Plame and former state Democratic Chairman Earl Potter and his wife Deborah Potter.

Craig Smith will be the featured speaker. This is a former White House political director, not the guy who used to do classical music review for Pasatiempo.

Former Secretary of State, U.S. senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton probably won't be there. She hasn't officially decided whether she's running yet.

Tickets start at $250.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

NEA Endorses Webber (and, Uh..., All the Other Dems)

OK, I realize I'm not the fastest blogger/Tweeter, one-man-band journalist etc around these parts. I'm an old guy and trying to get over that old 20th Century newspaper mindset in which in most cases you have until the end of the work day to get your story out.

But ever-so-often there's an advantage to that.

Take this morning, when checking my email. One of the first things I saw was one from the Alan Webber campaign that said the National Education Association had endorsed him.

Given how important education has been in my life, and the lives of my family and friends, I can’t describe how much it means to me that professional educators have publicly expressed their faith in me—specifically, in my commitment to public education, and in my ability to deliver on the investments we so desperately need to build a brighter future for our children.

I don't write about every endorsement that comes down, but I thought this one probably blogworthy. After all, the other teacher's union, the American Federation of Teachers, already had endorsed Howie Morales.

But I got distracted by other things, (mostly making coffee) and decided to wait. And I'm glad I did. Shortly after 9 a.m., the Lawrence Rael campaign sent an email saying Rael had been endorsed by the NEA. But his email had a little extra information:

I am pleased to announce that I have been endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA-NM), along with all five Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

(And yes, the Rael email did use red letters for that last part.)

A few minutes later, a similar email came from the Morales campaign. I suppose Gary King and Linda Lopez might do the same later today.

In other words, Webber told the truth, but not the whole truth. Sometimes it's good to go make some coffee before jumping on the first email to come along.

(Speaking of slow, I just noticed that my colleague Milan Simonich beat me to blogging this!)

UPDATE 2:57 pm: Webber's campaign manager, Neri Holguin just responded to this post:

Of course it was never our intention to cause confusion but we fully expected each campaign to tout their own NEA-NM endorsements—and quickly. Previously, we followed an example by another campaign with respect to joint endorsements and no confusion seemed to result from that, but lesson learned. We worked hard to earn NEA-NM's endorsement and we're proud of it. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Susana Needs to Catch Up!

I don't think U.S Sen. Marco Rubio has actually read Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign finance reports.

He just wrote a fundraising letter for the governor and one line caught my eye:

Susana is facing a fundraising deadline and your contribution will help her catch up to her opponents, who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into their campaigns. 

According to the latest round of reports last month, Democrat Alan Webber had $439,914 in the bank, Lawrence Rael had $228,767, Gary King King had $89,177, Howie Morales had $46,624 and Linda Lopez had $19,289.

Martinez was lagging way behind with only $4.2 million. She really needs to catch up.

UPDATE: 10:10 am Rubio is one of many GOP stars who will be hosting a May 21 fundraiser in Chevy Chase Maryland for Martinez. Others include Sen. Rand Paul, Congressman Paul Ryan, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and more.

This should help her catch up.

Andy Kroll, author of the infamous Mother Jones article about Martinez, just posted an invitation. You can see that HERE.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Agreeing to Agree: No Fireworks at Dem Forum

The five Democratic candidates for governor seemed to be adhering to a self-imposed “fireworks ban” at a forum Saturday, as they fastidiously avoided taking any shots at each other.

In fact, at the end of the two-hour debate sponsored by the state Democratic Party, Attorney General Gary King, state Sens. Linda Lopez and Howie Morales, longtime government administrator Lawrence Rael and Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber all pledged to enthusiastically support whoever wins the June primary to take on incumbent Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

All five agreed on several issues including raising the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, allowing undocumented immigrants to be issued driver’s licenses, and adopting a comprehensive state water plan. And, to the delight of the 175 or so Democrats who attended the forum at the Nativo Lodge, all five contenders happily tore into Martinez.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Cowboy Hippie" Mayor Endorses Susana

Gov. Susana Martinez's campaign is boasting about winning the endorsement of another Democratic mayor: Jackie McKinney of Gallup.

McKinney, who called himself "just an old cowboy hippie" in an interview with The Albuquerque Journal  a few years ago, said the recordings of Martinez and her staff that emerged in that Mother Jones article last week is a factor that helped lead him to the endorsement.

According to a news release:

 ... I am profoundly disappointed by the personal and unfair attacks launched against Gov. Martinez by those trying to divide our state along partisan, political lines.  Using four-year-old audio tapes of a private conversation in which the governor curses is a cheap shot, and I stand by her because she tackled the issue head-on and refuses to allow this petty bullying and gotcha politics to distract her from focusing on the issues important to New Mexico.

McKinney also said:

"I know Gov.  Martinez very well and have worked closely with her over the years on various issues, including honoring New Mexico’s veterans, helping small businesses create more jobs through increased tourism and serving the needs of our Native American communities. "

Last week Martinez launched a TV ad featuring two other Democrats endorsing her --  Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz and former Taos Mayor Darren Cordova (who in March lost his re-election bid in a landslide.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anti-Susana Ad Emerges

A political committee that has been harshly critical of Gov. Susana Martinez released a hard-hitting 30-second ad denouncing the governor as being two-faced.

Called  '¡Qué Vergüenza!,' ("how embarassing") the spot refers to the controversial recordings of Martinez and her staff released recently by Mother Jones. It;s the work of the Better New Mexico PAC, which is associated with ProgressNow New Mexico.

Here's the script:

We all want to be proud of our leaders, but Susana Martinez is not the leader we thought she was. Turns out, she's just another politician.
Behind closed doors, Susana Martinez played along when her staff laughed and shamed Spanish speaking families, like mine.
Caught on tape, she refuses to apologize. Que Verguenza!
Susana Martinez is not right for New Mexico. She's not right for me, she's not right for you.

Martinez's campaign spokesman told my colleague Milan Simonich, “This is a false ad run by an extreme, dark-money group that has a history of peddling fictional and misleading attacks against Gov. Martinez.”

Here's the ad:

Rael Becomes 1st Dem Governor Candidate to Run TV ad

Lawrence Rael is the first of the five gubernatorial candidates to go on television with a campaign ad.

It's a positive ad full of optimism. Lots of images of children can be found here, as well as footage of a rancher, a teacher, a lumberjack, some medical professionals and a guy making espresso.

And though it's called "Contrast," and says Rael sees the state "in a very different light," it doesn't actually contrast Rael's view with that of Gov. Susana Martinez or any of his Democratic primary opponents.

Lawrence Rael sees New Mexico in a very different light. He sees a New Mexico that can thrive.
Where we lift up our children with an education that nurtures and inspires their full potential. A state with no shortage of good jobs and opportunities.
A place that grows local business and welcomes others. Where poverty is transformed into prosperity and the life we all deserve.
Lawrence Rael sees a very different New Mexico.
And as governor, you can trust Lawrence to get us there.

Another Democrat, Alan Webber told me this morning that he'll have a TV ad on the air in the very near future.

Discouraging Words for NM Dems from Democratic Governors Association

Democratic Governors Association Chairman Peter Shumlin, whose day job is governor of Vermont, said what some national pundits have been saying for a long time: He doesn't expect Democrats to win gubernatorial races in New Mexico (or Nevada. And he's not real hopeful about Texas).

Real Clear Politics quoted Shumlin saying yesterday “I wish that we could spend money for Democrats in all 50 states. My job is not to promote governors’ races in states where we can’t win.”

Sam Bregman, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party told KRQE “I’m a little disappointed. I’m not surprised. ... I gather they’re basing that decision on polls that are old and showing Gov. [Susana] Martinez at high poll ratings. But I think now and certainly once we get a nominee that they may be reconsidering that decision.”

There's no way Shumlin's statement will make it easier on the five Democratic gubernatorial candidates to attract national money for their campaigns.

In 2010, the DGA contributed more than $300,000 directly to the unsuccessful campaign of Democrat Diane Denish. Plus, the association spent more than  $770,000 on "media buys" (television time for campaign ads) for Denish in 2010.

UPDATE 12:45 pm The earlier version of this post didn't include the part about the DGA spending money for media buys on behalf of Denish.

Friday, April 25, 2014

GOP Lawmaker Talks Up ALEC

Rep. Herrell
I hadn't even thought of the American Legislative Exchange lately, but I just got this news release from the state Republican Party that has Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo talking about her trip next week to an ALEC meeting in Kansas City.

ALEC hasn't been in the news much since the 2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. That state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun law was based on model legislation from ALEC. In recent months, several corporations have left the group.

Earlier in 2012, there was a confrontation between ALEC and Occupy Santa Fe, which crashed a legislative dinner for ALEC at the Eldorado. One legislator's girlfriend was injured, but didn't press charges. The only people convicted were two hotel employees accused of roughing up a photographer . The two pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges in Municipal Court.

The organization includes state lawmakers from all over the country. Not only does it have corporate sponsors -- which is the case for many national organizations -- corporations also are members. Their representatives help legislators craft model legislation.

Anyway, here's what Rep. Herrell had to say today about ALEC.

Next week, I will be traveling to Kansas City for the American Legislative Exchange Council spring meeting. As a volunteer leader of the organization in New Mexico, I am glad to attend these meetings and support state-based, free market initiatives. You will no doubt hear claims of undue influence by those who disagree with ALEC ideas and would rather attempt to discredit the organization than debate its proposals.

What is often and conveniently omitted from the anti-ALEC narrative is that member legislators believe in and support limited government, free market and federalism priorities, and we were elected by citizens who share the same views. As a legislator, I stand for my constituents’ interests and the interests of all New Mexicans first, and to make the best decision that is most consistent with the desires of my community, I need to be well informed.

Seeking information does not mean I agree with or act upon everything I hear.  Sometimes, standing up for New Mexicans involves discussing policy with other legislators from New Hampshire or New York or learning about what regulations might stifle free enterprise and innovation. These discussions and education are desperately needed in New Mexico.

Nearly half of all land in New Mexico and more than a third of our state budget comes from the federal government. But, as population growth slows, baby boomers age and the national debt increases, New Mexico needs to find new approaches to attracting businesses, creating opportunity and funding our state programs. As the federal money-well dries up, New Mexico continues to increase its dependence on a well that gives no water. Between 2001 and 2012, our state budget coming from the federal government increased from 28 percent to 37 percent. This is a serious problem—one that needs to be solved now.

So why should New Mexico legislators share with and learn from other state legislators about economic policy? Without smart and innovative policy, excessive federal spending will curtail competitiveness and stagnate growth in New Mexico. We are too dependent on the federal government and need innovative, free-market solutions to balance our budget and put New Mexico on a path to a sustainable future.

For proof that state-based solutions work, look no further than our neighbor, Texas.

The Lone Star state doesn’t collect a personal income tax and its hands-off approach allows businesses to thrive. The results have been impressive. Over the last decade, Texas’ job growth topped 12.5 percent – well above the national average – and more than a million more Americans moved to Texas than moved out.

Private sector enterprises are flocking to Texas, with tech firms leading the charge. In 2012, Apple alone created 3,600 new jobs across Texas. The Lone Star state is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing technology sector in the country.

Meanwhile, economic growth in states that impose high-taxes and burdensome regulations has slowed to a crawl. In California, where the top individual income tax is a nation-high 13.3 percent, tax policy hasn’t solved the state’s economic woes. While Texas was creating jobs at a double-digit rate, California’s employment grew by only 0.4 percent.

Learning from the successes and failures of others helps me work with the New Mexico Legislature to create a bright future for all New Mexicans. A more informed legislator makes more informed decisions, and it is in this spirit that I am honored to serve New Mexico and glad to seek opinions and innovative solutions from all viewpoints.

Rael First to Blast Gardner for Credit Card Story

Keith Gardner
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael won the rapid-response prize for his reaction to the story about Gov. Susana Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner using a government credit card for personal purchases.

In a news release from his campaign, Rael said:

“The use of state resources by Keith Gardner for personal expenses is not a trivial matter. That the governor’s Chief of Staff either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that he can’t use public resources for private expenses is beyond comprehension. The governor’s top staff member shouldn’t get a pass when a subordinate would be subject to disciplinary measures, if not outright dismissal.

“The excuses provided by Gov. Martinez’s administration don’t match with the law. Keith Gardner’s actions should be fully investigated by the state auditor. Gov. Martinez promised ethical government but can’t even discipline her chief of ctaff on such an obvious misuse of taxpayer funds.”

Thom Cole of The Albuquerque Journal got the scoop, identifying more than $4,500 in personal purchases on Gardner's state card.

As Jerome Block, Jr. might say, that's a lot of chimichungas!  (Cheap shot: Unlike Block, Gardner reimbursed the state for his personal charges long before being forced to.)

Among the items purchased and later reimbursed: a necktie at a Williamsburg, Va., hotel, heartburn medication and iPhone accessories from Walmart, car fresheners from Best Buy, a copy of the magazine Popular Science from an airport gift shop, a coin display case from Michaels and a Southwest Airlines fee for Gardner’s wife.

Car fresheners from Best Buy?

Gardner told Cole his use of the government credit card didn't comply with state policy and was “poor practice and sloppy.” But the said the reimbursements were evidence he wasn't trying to rip off the taxpayers.

He got to keep the card and has faced no discipline for the matter. However, future charges on Garder's now have to be approved in advance.

Rael probably won't be the last  to comment on Gardner's credit card charges. He also was the first Dem candidate to blast Martinez over the behind-the-scenes recordings revealed in that Mother Jones story last week.

Meanwhile, here's a little flashback from Repo Man: