Thursday, July 29, 2010

Speaker Pelosi Slated For Santa Fe Fund-Raiser; How's She Doing For NM? Plus: They Still Speculate On Big Bill Leaving Early

Our insiders report US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will slip into Santa Fe Tuesday to attend a fund-raiser at the home of Stephen and Karen Durkovich, longtime and major donors to the Democratic Party and its candidates. He is a trial lawyer.

Pelosi, excoriated by the R's as a San Francisco liberal, will be in friendly territory in heavily Democratic Santa Fe. We recall her last visit to the state was in 2008 for the successful campaign of now US Rep. Martin Heinrich.

She took over the Speaker's position in 2007. While there has been beefing from the R's here over national policies she and Obama have pursued, we have not heard major complaints about how she has dealt with federal funding issues of import to our state.

The White House has proposed a major increase in certain defense funds which is going to translate into increased budgets for the national laboratories. And only this week the Air Force announced that Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo will become home to two new squadrons of F-16 fighter jets, ensuring that employment levels there remain strong. (The newspaper reported that New Mexico congressmen insist the move is good for the state, but a former Kirtland Air Force Base commander wasn't so sure. He expressed concern over the base's loss of a newer jet for an older one.)

New Mexico's three Dem congressmen, all serving their first term, seemed to have fared well under Pelosi. Rep. Heinrich is on the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Lujan is not complaining about his treatment and Rep. Teague has been given a pass to vote "no" on some of the more liberal items coming before the House.

Pelosi may indeed be too liberal on major issues of the day for many New Mexicans, but it is the federal funding (and not just defense) that impacts our small state of barely 2 million that matters most. In that regard, Speaker Pelosi has shown herself to be a friend, not a foe.

THE BIG BILL BEAT

It's almost August--only five months to go on the Guv's term in office--and there's still speculation that Big Bill could get out of here for a bigger and better job, making Lt. Governor Diane Denish Governor.

Well, the conjecture has faded to a barely heard murmur, but it got above the whisper level again this week when former Senator Bob Kerrey withdrew his name for consideration as the new top lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America. Richardson's name had surfaced in February as a possible MPAA pick, but Kerrey's emergence quieted the talk. Now that Kerrey is gone, the name floaters are free to again mention Big Bill. Here's the news:

The Motion Picture Association of America needs to keep looking for a new chief. After flirting with becoming Hollywood’s main lobbyist for months, former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey has turned down the MPAA job, the organization announced on Thursday.

"The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) today announced that the MPAA Board and former Senator Bob Kerrey have agreed to end negotiations regarding the position of Chief Executive Officer of the MPAA. The search process for a new CEO will continue," the group said in a statement.

In an email to The Wrap, the former senator said that he broke things off.


"We couldn't reach agreement and I called to suggest we break off talks. They agreed," Kerrey wrote. "The decision was mutual. I like them a lot and wish them well."

But individuals close to the negotiations on the studios' side said that Kerrey had made mounting demands that resulted in some losing enthusiasm for giving him the job.

If Bill did leave at this late date and Di became Guv, how many points in the polls would it be worth to her in her race against Republican Susana Martinez? Or would it hurt? Such are the stray thoughts of the political class as they man their pool side chairs, awaiting the arrival of the fall campaign action.

FREE FALLING

A disgruntled Democratic member of the NM Legislature writes:

Joe, I have a hard time being sympathetic to my Democratic friends who now are trying to distance themselves from toxic Richardson. These same operatives elbowed each other out of the way to pucker up to Bill's oversized arse. They got jobs, contracts, contributions, endorsements, capital outlay and other rewards of questionable nature. Now that Bill is free falling, they want to pretend they don't know the guy. Sorry boys and girls, many of you built your career and businesses around being on Bill's gravy train. The party is over. Time to pay the tab. Politically, financially, and ethically.

Dems controlled the 4th floor and both Houses of the Legislature and couldn't pass anything meaningful on ethics reform. No ethics commission with teeth, no real campaign finance reform, no public financing. Their lobbyist friends made sure business as usual continued in Santa Fe. Well, now the Republicans and the voters will want to know why we did nothing to change the status quo in Santa Fe...

SANTA FE HOUSING CRASH

And this is not going to end anytime soon:

Home foreclosure activity has skyrocketed in Santa Fe County in the first half of 2010, according to an analysis by RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.

...Santa Fe County's foreclosure auctions increased from 23 in January to June of 2009 to 77 in the first six months of this year.

And total foreclosure activity, which includes pre-auction short sales and default notices, increased more than 200 percent to 638 actions in the first half of 2010...

ALAN LEONETTI

Well-known ABQ Republican activist Alan Leonetti is dead. From the Bernalillo County GOP:

Former Ward Chairman of District 20 Alan Leonetti passed away on Saturday. He was 68 years old. Alan was a passionate conservative and a member of our Republican Party of Bernalillo County Central Committee for many years.

Thanks for joining us this week. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Bill: A Lame Duck With Some Quack; Border Confab To Come In Middle Of Campaign, Plus: Dueling Guv Agendas: Corruption and Economy

They may be drawing nasty cartoons about him and eager to show him the door, but lame duck Governor Big Bill still has some time on the clock, and the campaign combat veteran will put it to good use as he works to prevent the Republicans from taking over his Fourth Floor office.

Richardson showed his campaign game is not rusty when he came with this announcement:

Governor Richardson and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that they will co-host an interim meeting of the Border Governors Conference on September 19-20th in Santa Fe...

The agenda for the one-and-a-half day meeting will focus on the key issues of border security, economic development and energy. The meeting will bridge the gap between last year’s conference in Nuevo Leon and next year’s meeting in Baja California, as this year’s conference in Arizona was cancelled.

The conference with the celebrity California Governor is going to gobble up two days of the state's news cycle smack dab in the middle of the Guv campaign between Dem Diane Denish and Susana Martinez. For a change, it's going to be positive coverage for Richardson who is being pummeled in those Martinez TV ads.

Martinez and the R's are attacking Richardson with impunity, believing the seamy side of his administration is their ticket to power. But he just took 48 hours away from them in the middle of September.

Richardson's early June approval rating was at 43% and disapproval at 57%. He would love nothing more than to finish his term at or near the 50% mark. That's going to be tough when you are getting creamed daily on TV as well as in the press. But the border announcement shows the duck sitting in Santa Fe may be lame, but it still has some quack in it.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

On the subject of border security and immigration, is there an opportunity here for Denish? A new CNN poll shows a whopping 71% of Hispanics oppose the controversial Arizona immigration law:

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey also indicates that Hispanic and whites don't see eye to eye over the law. Fifty-five percent of people questioned in the poll say they favor the measure, with four in 10 saying they oppose the law. Thirty-four percent of white respondents oppose the measure, but among Hispanics, that number jumps to 71 percent.

Susana Martinez has not endorsed the Arizona measure, which has been partially blocked from taking effect by a federal court, but has been sympathetic. Otherwise, she's been tough as nails on the immigration issue, saying those in the country illegally need to be sent back to where they came from. This cuts her way with many Anglo GOP voters, but Denish and the Dems would seem positioned to make trouble for her up North. That could help blockade movement to Martinez among Hispanic Dems. Here's some KOB-TV news coverage that includes interviews with Denish and Martinez.

By the way, eighty-one percent of people questioned in the CNN poll say they support creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the U.S. for a number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes, with 19 percent opposed to such a plan. Martinez is with the 19%.

DUELING AGENDAS

Wednesday gave us a good example of how the Guv campaign is dividing. Martinez came with this:

Susana Martinez's Plan to Crack Down on Corruption; A Bold Agenda for Fighting Corruption

And Denish came with this:

Diane Denish to Announce New Plan to Create High Tech & Renewable Energy Jobs to Fuel New Mexico's Economic Recovery

Which issue has the most sway with undecided voters? That's the question, isn't it?

Here is Martinez's anti-corruption plan. She's calling for a public corruption division within the NM State Police. Here's long-form video of the downtown ABQ news conference. We did not spot any TV news coverage of the event.

If you have not seen much of Martinez outside of her campaign ads--and many have not--this nine minutes gives you an idea of how she handles herself. Her style is prosecutorial and somewhat pedagogic--appropriate enough for a district attorney, which she is, but less effective in a political candidate. There is a rigidness in presentation here that we first noted when we watched her on a primary TV debate. Denish, in the game now for several decades, is more practiced and laid back. Our sense is she will press for engagements with Martinez to showcase the difference. (Of course, if one of the candidates were to break out in the polls, they would try to run and hide away.)

Martinez is at home with the corruption topic and there is more meat on the bones of this plan than her economic agenda. The danger for her is that she often seems more in tune for the job of attorney general or US attorney than that of governor. For Denish, the prospective pitfall is that she talks about creating all these new jobs, but she's been in office for eight years.

A JETLESS GUV?

That state jet that has caused Big Bill so many PR problems would be departing its hangar for good if Susana Martinez gets elected. She says she would sell the sleek aircraft. Her comments come in the wake of a TV news investigative report on alleged abuse of the plane. Dem Diane Denish probably won't sell the jet if she takes over but she's probably so snake-bit about using it, the jet would get used about as much as your grandma's Oldsmobile.

Don't fret over how the new governor will go to and fro. The jet may be put on cinder blocks or sold, but there are other state planes available to ferry Di or Susana around. But just in case, the ladies might want to learn how to change a flat SUV tire. The way the state economy is going voters may hijack all the state planes.

This is an emotional issue but in the larger scheme of things $1.6 million over four years for flights from the state's fleet--or $400,000 a year--is not outrageous. Readers remind us that the planes are used often to fly visually impaired New Mexicans in need of medical care back and forth from Alamogordo where the state school for blind is located. There are other legitimate uses for the aircraft--natural disasters, for example--that allow the state to respond to urgent needs.

FOLEY WATCH

It does not appear a political comeback attempt is in the cards this summer for former Roswell GOP state Rep. Dan Foley. One of the Alligators monitoring the action reports:

My info is that Dan won't run for the Rio Rancho legislative seat held by Democrat Jack Thomas. He switched insurance companies and his new employer says he can be politically active but can't run for office. So unless he decides to switch employers again...

Foley was the House Minority Whip before he lost his seat in 2008 to fellow R Dennis Kintigh. Tonia Harris was the GOP candidate challenging Thomas, but she has withdrawn. The Sandoval County GOP Central Committee is expected to name Tim Lewis, brother of ABQ GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis, as Thomas's new challenger. The seat is in a swing district.

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Extreme Hair Style Area| Design Celebrity box office Hair Style Area

Design Celebrity box office Hair Style AreaSelena Gomez is adorable, even when she's "talking" like a robot. The Disney star lost her voice due to strained vocal cords, but she didn't let that get her down. She still showed up for her spot on Lopez Tonight yesterday, though she had to answer all the host's questions using a Dynavox -- a computerized machine that spits out whatever you type in, in the funniest voice you can imagine.
Selena showed up for the show looking gorgeous in a black dress and nodded and smiled and laughed as the device talked for her. George Lopez gave Selena his questions before the taping, so she typed her answers into the machine prior to the appearance -- hilarity ensued.

Design Celebrity box office Hair Style AreaDisney star Demi Lovato said she won’t be changing her image with her new album.
The 17-year-old’s third album is due out soon and she admitted she won’t be following in Miley Cyrus’s footsteps and going for something more radical.

She said to E! Online: “I don’t think it’s going to change my image, not drastically. It’s going to be what you’re seeing of me right now. It’s going to be very Demi.” She added: “It’s more mature. It’s definitely grown up, but in a classy way.”

Extreme Hair Style Area| Design Celebrity Art Wedding Hair Style Area

Design Celebrity Art Wedding Hair Style AreaMiley Cyrus is on a great track," '80s singer Tiffany, now 38, told Us Magazine at Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday. "I know that there are a lot of people that say well when you are so young you shouldn't be sexy.

"I think that in today's world you kind of have to be [sexy] -- to be competitive in the market. I think that she is doing it appropriately. And it's always a fine line there."

Tiffany appeared at Comic-Con with '80s rival Debbie Gibson. The two star together in an upcoming campy sci-flick called Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which plays to their music rivalry. Gibson commented on Miley as well, but had a different take. She complimented Miley's vocal abilities, but said her new image is "a little too much too soon."

Design Celebrity Art Wedding Hair Style AreaIt looked like Lindsay Lohan might be getting out of jail this week, but the LA County Sheriff's office just confirmed that she'll stay put though the weekend, at least. We're sure she's not too happy about the news, but, hey, her original sentence was 90 days! Two weeks is nothing, right?

The 24-year-old actress - who has served a week of her sentence for violating the terms of her probation for a 2007 driving under the influence (DUI) charge - had hoped to be released this week due to prison overcrowding, but a jail spokesman has confirmed that will not happen.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department representative Steve Whitmore said: "She won't be released this week."

Her sentence has already been reduced to 88 days because of time she has previously spent in custody, but overcrowding at the Century Regional Correctional Facility in Lynwood, California, means she could still be released as early as August 1.

Meanwhile, Lindsay received a second visit from her mother Dina and sister Ali yesterday. The pair were not allowed to see the Mean Girls actress at the weekend as they had used up their visiting rights on her first day in prison last Wednesday, and so took the first opportunity they could to see her. A prison source said: "Lindsay might get visitors after the official visiting hours are over for the other inmates for security reasons. It's for the safety of everyone."

Lindsay's estranged father Michael has also reached out to some Hollywood stars to ask them to help his daughter "get her life back" after she completes her sentence and subsequent mandatory rehab period. He told Nashville radio station 107.5 The River:

Extreme Hair Style Area| Design Celebrity Hair Style Area

Design Celebrity Hair Style AreaKristin Cavallari may have played a mean girl during her season on The Hills, but she seems fairly down-to-earth when she's off-set. The California blond, who wore an edgy spike-embellished dress by The Blonds to the premiere of Salt earlier this week, has just announced she will be creating a shoe to benefit the children's charity OneKid OneWorld.

Cavallari told PeopleStyleWatch, "I'm designing a shoe for Shoe Dazzle right now, which is like a one time, one deal show which a portion of the proceeds [will] go to my charity 'OneKid OneWorld'. I'm excited about that because I want to have my own shoe line so it'll be like a good first shoe to get my feet wet with."

Design Celebrity Hair Style AreaHeidi Montag isn't exactly the kind of gal to shy out of the spotlight, hence our disbelief when it was revealed that she pulled out of the chance to star in another reality TV show. The blonde star was supposed to start up another show with her Hills co-star Jennifer Bunney this summer, but she apparently pulled the plug.
Jennifer has revealed on her blog: "Originally I was supposed to do a reality show with Heidi , but right now it looks like some things have changed."

She has denied the pair had a big fight and claims Heidi has simply changed her mind - saying she doesn't know if she "wants to be in a reality TV series at the moment with everything going on in her personal life".

She added: "No we are not in a fight and no Heidi is not 'dropping' me to do reality shows with the twins."

Heidi - who has had multiple plastic surgery procedures - had been rumoured to be planning a show with Hugh Hefner's ex-girlfriends, twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon.
The star had also talked about launching a music career after Heidi+Montag in Heidi and Spencer Pratt on the Set of 'Go With It'having the "best summer" of her life following her split from her husband Spencer Pratt. She has been working on a second album with Steve Morales - who has previously worked on records with Destiny's Child and Christina Aguilera.

Disappointed Jennifer, meanwhile, says her reality TV show is still going to air in January despite Heidi dropping out. She said: "Although I wanted to do this project with her, I also respect that she has a lot to deal with right now and have to decided to go ahead and move forward with it alone. My hope is that she will want to be involved later on."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

97 Days To Go; We Have The Latest Campaign Action, Plus: Di's Toughest Opponent: The Economy, And: Even More Summertime La Politica

Now just 97 days before Election Day and less than that before early voting kicks in. Let's head out to the trail...

It is essential that Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish corral the lion's share of the Hispanic vote. GOP contender Susana Martinez has a natural entree to that group. Di has in rotation a TV spot aimed at Hispanic women. Now she has launched "Hermanas Para Diane," (sisters of Diane) to bond with a group Dems fear could stray to the R's. The kick-off is this Saturday and is headlined by LaDonna Giron, Romaine Serna and Lorraine Aranda. They write:

"Hermanas para Diane” was established by a group of strong Hispanic women who endorse and support Diane Denish. We believe in her platform that emphasizes strengthening the economy, supporting small businesses including those businesses owned and operated by women, and making decisions with a focus on the well being of our families....

Denish also continues to court the "young professional" vote. We (half-jokingly) pointed out that we didn't think Santa Fe attorney Geno Zamora, now over 40, and ABQ State Rep. Al Park, also past the 40 mark, qualified as "young," even though both were listed as such on a Di invite. Now Zamora comes with the latest:

Joe, thanks to your investigative coverage this past spring, Denish events that I and people of my age co-sponsor now contain the language "young-ish or young feeling professional event." Thanks, Joe. Obviously, you didn't ask my wife's opinion. She thinks I still act like a child....

Indeed, the language on Di's latest youth invite has changed. It reads:

Please join us for apps and drinks at the Santa Fe young, young-ish or young-feeling professionals event in support of Lt. Governor Diane Denish July 29, 5:30-7:00 pm @ The Railyard Restaurant 530 south Guadalupe Street. Suggested Contribution: $25 -$500. RSVP to: Kate Ferlic (505) 699-0705 Kate.ferlic@gmail.com

Thanks for the update, Geno. We'll see you in the prune juice aisle at Whole Foods.

IT'S THE NEWS

It is the news backdrop that is Di's most powerful opponent. Consumer confidence continues to flat line or sink and then there's dreary news like this:

New Mexico’s national ranking slid to 46th in this year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book; down from last year’s 43rd. The report...ranks the states on ten indicators of child well-being, ranging from the prevalence of low birth-weight babies to child poverty and teen death rates. New Mexico has ranked in the bottom ten since the Annie E. Casey Foundation began issuing the report in 1990, and more often than not in the bottom five.


All that bull market money we had coming in to state coffers and so little to show for it. Eric Griego, ABQ Dem state senator and executive director for NM Voices for Children, pointed out:

Although New Mexico’s overall poverty rate for children under age 18 is at 24 percent, the situation is worse for children of color--with 40 percent of Native American children in poverty, 30 percent of Hispanic children, and 25 percent of African American children. Nationally, greater percentages of Native American, African American, and Hispanic children live without securely employed parents than Asian and non-Hispanic white peers.

Jobs for the parents and more early childhood intervention are possible answers. And New Mexico Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD reports that compared to 2000, we have made marked progress in lowering the teen birth rate and our infant mortality rate.

Camp Martinez, now watching the news closer than Sherlock Holmes looking for clues in a murder case, swung hard at the poverty report:

As governor, Susana Martinez will not accept or tolerate mediocrity and will stand up and defend children as she has done her entire career as Doña Ana County’s District Attorney. Today’s news is deplorable and further proof that every New Mexican, including our children, deserve a state government that functions properly and is able to deliver real results. For that reason, New Mexico is demanding bold change and will support Susana Martinez this November...

The problem for Martinez? What constitutes "bold change?" What will she do differently? Specific programs? Budgets? Goals?

Specificity and attention to detail remain her Achilles Heel, even as the day to day news breaks her way.

MORE ON THIS


Continuing on the econ beat, Dr. Moises Venegas drew some immediate reaction when he emailed our blog:

“Why is there such poverty in NM and why have we had it so long? We will soon be celebrating 100 years of poverty as a state. Why do we not compare with our good neighbor states but find ourselves in the good company of the South? Are there patterns of poverty in NM, or as some Americans say, "they just do not want to work."

Republican Tony Olmi stepped up:

Joe, you might ask him who has had control of the Roundhouse and state government for 80 years and what he would propose NM should do differently to escape the Culture of Poverty. Who is stepping on whose shoe laces?


And reader Peter Ives came with this:

I sympathize with Dr. Venegas on the plight of our poor folks, but it's not for lack of any research being done. He could pop on over to UNM and read "Poverty in New Mexico: Who Are the Poor" by Adelamar Alcantara from 1997..
.

In addition, there are many social and economic statistics published by UNM's Bureau of Business & Economic Research...I wonder if any of our politicians has "Poverty in NM" on their shelf--or has even read it?

Thanks, Peter. If it doesn't fit in a thirty second campaign spot, the cynical side of us says it probably doesn't get read.

ON TOP OF IT?

Are the Feds on top of this? ABQ-based First State Bancorporation has lost its listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange because its stock price has traded below $1 for too long a period. We've asked before why this bank that is saddled with sour real estate loans that are not coming back hasn't been shut down and/or merged by the Feds with a more healthy bank? Guess we're asking again before the loans explode and more damage is done.

THE BEAR MARKET


If some of the many stubborn home sellers in New Mexico would start to crack under the pressure and lower asking prices, we could get to where we are going to--and where we have to go--that much quicker. We could then start rebuilding from the greatest housing bubble in state history.

Housing prices are set to decline for at least another year. But Santa Fe's inexorable decline is slow:

...The median sales price of houses sold in the city dropped from $307,500 to $288,000 in the second quarter of 2010. In Santa Fe County at the same time period, the median price of a home fell to $411,250 from $450,000.

These are still bizarre prices. Before this savage and epic bear market is through (it will be years) we expect the median price in the city of Santa Fe to flirt with the $200,000 level and the county median (held up in part by those Texans' million dollar mansions) to head toward the $300,000 area. When it does, the bubble will finally be burst and a new and saner era in housing can begin. We hope.

#9

It's the ninth officer-involved shooting of the year in ABQ, a subject we blogged on June 16th.. Is Mayor Berry counting? He recently touted the arrest rate for property crime offenders, but this rate of shootings prompts a new round of questions. As we've said before, if the mayor, APD Chief Schulz and Public Safety Director White don't get a handle on this, the trial lawyers will. If and when the public has to start paying out, that's when the mayor will find that this story has more political punch than he thinks and that efforts to dismiss it are ill-advised.

KOB-TV reported that the police involved shooting rate in ABQ is much higher than other comparable sized cities. However, the link to the story was not working at blog deadline time.

BOXING MATCH?

The news that Jake Martinez, father of GOP Guv contender Susana, was a three time Texas amateur lightweight boxing champ, brought an email from Ernesto Baca who wondered if Jake had ever boxed Diane Denish's Uncle Bill. He sent this bio info:

Born in Greeley, Colorado in 1920, Bill lived with his family in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa as a child. The family moved to Hobbs, New Mexico when Bill was a teenager, and he attended the New Mexico Military Institute in nearby Roswell. As a young man, he was an undefeated Golden Gloves Champion of New Mexico.


New Mexicans and Texans have been beating up on one another for generations but even though Martinez is a native of El Paso, it's hard for Denish to take advantage. She's a native of Hobbs, also known as "Little Texas" to political old timers.

THE BOTTOM LINES


There are--count 'em--12 candidates running in the Aug. 3 primary election for president of the Navajo Nation. The two winners will select running mates for the race for the office, which will be decided in the Nov. 2 general election.

Dems like that because NM Navajos are reliable D's. The more interested in voting, the better for them....

We blogged Tuesday that a poll conducted this month by Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich showed him 13 points ahead, but it was actually 12 points...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

National GOP Chairman To ABQ For Susana, Plus: Heinrich's Summer Scare; Barela Leads In Poll, And: Browbeating Big Bill

RNC Chairman Steele
Only yesterday we speculated about the big guns that would be brought to bear on the 2010 New Mexico Guv race. Now comes word that Susana Martinez is about to fire one off. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will appear as a special guest at a fund-raising reception to be held this Thursday at the ABQ home of GOP Light Guv candidate John Sanchez. (The invite is posted here. Click to enlarge.)

VIP tickets are going for $1,000 a couple and $250 a person for the general reception. Susana could use the cash. Dem nominee Diane Denish reported $2.2 million in the bank at the end of June while Susana barely topped $130,000 after an expensive primary battle. Tickets for the event featuring Steele are available by calling 575-636-5844.

Martinez is a candidate with potential political sex appeal for the power starved Republicans. She would be America's first Hispanic female Governor and the GOP needs to start focusing on that to create excitement. So far, however, her TV ads have been solely about hitting Dem nominee Denish. The state (and the nation) awaits a more positive and uplifting profile of this unusual standard bearer. Steele might give that a kick start in his speech to the party faithful Thursday.

Steele's tenure at the national party has been marked by a series of controversies. The latest over his remark that the war in Afghanistan was "a war of Obama's choosing" and that it is failing.

His appearance here will help Martinez raise money and her profile in the state's media and population center.

HEINRICH'S SUMMER SCARE
Barela and Heinrich
They dropped their fishing rods and golf clubs when they heard this one--a new poll shows Republican Jon Barela leading Democratic US Rep. Martin Heinrich 51% to 45% with 4% undecided in the race for the ABQ congressional seat.

Say what?

Didn't Heinrich beat Darren White by 12 points in 2008 to become the first Dem to take the ABQ seat? And didn't Heinrich release a poll of his own May 2 that showed him in good shape, beating Barela 55% to 38%? And didn't a February PPP poll also put Heinrich ahead 45% to 36%?

The SurveyUSA poll (MOE + or 4.2%) conducted among 559 likely voters July 22-25 for KOB-TV shook the lemonade stands from here to D.C, and left the pundits--including yours truly--scrambling for explanations. There are several.

First off, if this poll has captured something, it might be an anti-incumbent trend among voters. It can't be a vote for Jon Barela because he has done no TV ads, no significant newspaper or media stories have been generated about him or the contest and he has never sought a major elective office in the district. But in this chaotic year voters can be of a mind to be against whoever is in office. (KOB'S Stuart Dyson has more on the polls specifics in this report.)

The Heinrich camp was having none of it. The congressman's chief of staff, Steve Haro, speaking with us from the embattled halls of Congress, called the SurveyUSA poll an "outlier" and an "anomaly," citing the results from earlier polls and adding one of his own--a "benchmark poll" conducted for Heinrich July 8 through the 13th by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. That poll shows Heinrich holding on to a solid lead. From Haro on the Hill:

We tested our vulnerabilities and then beat the heck out of each candidate to see where we would end up. We started out with a 12 point lead--53% to 41%. After beating one another up, we still ended with a winning margin--49% to 36%.

I don't know what what is going on with the SurveyUSA poll. It is one of those outliers, an anomaly...If you believe that poll..then you have to accept the fact that this district made a 19 point swing in less than 13 days and I don't see how that is possible...


Haro insisted he saw no message in the surprising findings:

I don't think the poll is telling us anything...Clearly there is an anti-incumbent mood across the country, but we have a positive job approval rating--52 percent. When we ask voters what they like about Martin, they mention that he is very hard working...

The Heinrich campaign released this brief polling memo.

Not surprisingly Barela was milking this one for all it's worth:

Washington is seriously off track. I believe that Washington is out of touch with the average New Mexico family. This far-left drift in Mr. Heinrich's voting record--97 percent of the time with (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi--has led to higher taxes, a higher deficit and certainly higher unemployment.

This was the second tidbit of recent good news for Barela. He earlier reported he has over $500,000 cash in the bank to Heinrich's $1.3 million. That's still a considerable disadvantage but enough to take advantage if something big happens.

Has something big happened in in the district? Probably not. The SurveyUSA automatic phone method seems to work better when both candidates are widely known by the public. But both Barela and Heinrich will use this survey to raise money. Barela more so. And the message to Heinrich in this unsettled year is that nothing less than a picture perfect campaign will do to secure his first re-election. For Barela, the message is to get out of his headquarters and out on the streets---and onto the airwaves.

TV FOR TEAGUE?

National Dems have reserved $500,000 of ABQ TV time for the final two weeks of the campaign. Most of it would likely go to help southern Dem Congressman Harry Teague who is locked in a fierce battle with Republican Steve Pearce. A final decision on whether to actually buy that air time will be based on polling closer to the election.

Meanwhile, NPR comes with this coverage of the Teague-Pearce contest.

Pearce played "gotcha" with Teague over that broadcast:

Teague stated "we went from losing a half million [jobs] a month to having a positive increase every month. I think most people are aware of that and will vote accordingly."

The Department of Workforce Solutions' release says:

"The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing June 2010 with June 2009, was negative 1.8 percent, representing a loss of 14,200 jobs...."

But the Teague forces retort that NPR described how Pearce had gotten lost in Weed, NM, and they had a good laugh at his expense.

It might be one of the few laughs the Dems get in this contest. Pearce is now seen as the favorite among the Alligators closely following the action.

PROFILE TIME

The El Paso Times comes with profiles of Guv hopefuls Dem Diane Denish and R Susana Martinez. Some highlights:

State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, said Denish "is a person of integrity--honest, thorough, fair, and was willing to work with both parties. I also like Susana Martinez, and I think she is a good prosecutor, but that's all she knows."

And from Martinez:

After eight years of deplorable and unethical conduct, New Mexicans deserve a leader who will put principles before politics. My work ethic has earned respect and support across the political spectrum because I am willing to confront the most pressing challenges and work to deliver results, not excuses.

TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK

Now it's time for a good old fashioned summertime rage. Hold on to your iced tea, folks. Here comes reader Yolanda Acosta with bare knuckles and brass for Big Bill:

I would like to have a website where citizens of New Mexico could sign their names welcoming the governors from the Border States and Mexico to the most corrupt, pay to play, bankrupt, high crime, low wages, no job creation, cronyism filled state in the nation. And let's not forget Governor Richardson is proud to proclaim he supports issuing driver's licenses to undocumented persons from Mexico, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries. It doesn't matter where you are from--you want a driver's license you've come to the right state...

That was so entertaining we wouldn't be surprised to hear that Susana Martinez has offered Yolanda a speech writing job.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Name Visitors For Guv Candidates Mulled; Will Obama Drop By? Plus: The Lewis Brothers: One On ABQ Council; Another Goes For House

We've already had that other Big Bill---Bill Clinton--campaign in ABQ for Dem Guv hopeful Diane Denish, but it was a closed event. Expect to see him back here more publicly before the election, especially with his strong approval numbers among critical independents. And what about Hillary? She too could make an appearance for Denish who was an early supporter of her presidential campaign.

As for the President, Obama retains popularity in the ABQ metro. We suspect a stop here and maybe in the north could be in the offing before Campaign '10 heads to the history books. And depending on how Dem Congressman Harry Teague is doing, we could also see the Prez touch down in Las Cruces.

As for GOP nominee Susana Martinez, she dropped Sarah Palin on the state right before the primary. Don't expect her back in the spotlight for Susana--too polarizing. The R bench is lighter on celebrities, but we'll probably see some B-listers here before it's over.

Will such visits help? The candidates can raise money from them and get supporters more enthusiastic. Denish could use Obama around the center of ABQ to spike turnout for her which is always a major concern for Dems in a mid-term election in which older and conservative voters traditionally turn out in larger numbers.

A PERILOUS RACE?

Some out-of-state Guv analysis from the WaP0:

Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez's (R) latest TV ad pretty much sums up the race: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D) is struggling to separate herself from the unpopular administration of Gov. Bill Richardson (D) while Martinez is running as an outsider who will shake up the system. Polls show the race is still neck-and-neck, but unless Denish can find a way to change the topic away from Richardson this could be perilous for Democrats in the fall.

The paper ranks the 15 Guv races around the nation most likely to switch parties this fall. They put New Mexico at #15.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Corruption will continue to be a major theme of of GOP Guv nominee Martinez, but the Dems were given a break when the corruption trial of former Dem Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron was delayed until Jan. 3. That means no splashy TV and newspaper corruption stories in the middle of October. Such stories could help Martinez press her corruption case against the D's.

THE NEW TONE

A reader writes:

Joe, There is a change in the tone of the political ads now that the mudslinging has subsided between Denish and Martinez.

Denish is bringing out the Latina women to show that she might be white on the outside, but that she will be the first Latina Governor because she is more like a Latina woman. Sort of like Bill Clinton being the First Black President.

On the other side, Martinez is bringing out the old stereotype of the Latina coconut, that she might be brown on the outside but trying to convince the right wing Republican that she is just as white as them on the inside. Sort of like Linda Chavez.

At least they are both sticking to the fact that they are both women and not trying to be too manly!

DEAR DI AND SUSANA...

Reader Dr, Moises Venegas writes:

The most basic question I have is, “Why is there such poverty in NM and why have we had it so long? We will soon be celebrating 100 years of poverty as a state. Why do we not compare with our good neighbor states but find ourselves in the good company of the South? Are there patterns of poverty in NM or as some Americans say,”they just do not want to work.”

Diane y Susana where are you?

THE LEWIS BROTHERS
Tim & Dan Lewis
The move to replace Tonia Harris as the GOP candidate for the Rio Rancho state House seat held by Dem Jack Thomas gets interesting. Tim Lewis, a Cibola High school teacher and brother of ABQ west side GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis, is asking the Sandoval County GOP Central Committee to put his name on the ballot. Tonia Harris has withdrawn from the race, citing family concerns.

Another name floated by the Alligators will have veteran politicos taking a second look. Former Roswell GOP State Rep. Dan Foley now lives in the Thomas district. Will he try to get appointed by the committee and go for a political comeback?

Maybe, but Lewis, 47, a certified high school athletic coach and longer term resident of the Rio Rancho area than Foley would seem to have the upper hand if any contest did develop between the two.

The 195 member central committee is expected to make their decision within a couple of weeks.

A notable sidebar: Dan Lewis, 40, donated a kidney to older brother Tim who is now a member of the National Kidney Foundation. Also, political consultant and attorney Doug Antoon, who helped Dan Lewis win his '09 city council race, is serving as political director of the state GOP this cycle, concentrating on state House races.

The politics of Dan Lewis, and we presume brother Tim, has drawn particular support from evangelical Christians who are aligned with the R's. Dan Lewis is the pastor of a west side church.

Harris was considered a strong candidate because she is the widow of slain Sandoval County Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Harris who was killed in a shoot out last July with the "Cookie Bandit."

District 60 seat can swing either way. Thomas took it over from Democrat Tom Swisstack in 2008 when Swisstack left it to become mayor of Rio Rancho. Expect the R's to throw some money at this one as Thomas goes for his first critical re-election test.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Our Friday missive about the new and lucrative contract signed by University of new Mexico basketball Coach Steve Alford drew reader reaction, including this from ABQ's Andrew Leo Lopez wjo is squarely in the coach's cheering section:

Steve Alford and other UNM coaches are among the few employees of the state of New Mexico whose work people actually pay to see. Further, the academic qualifications and performance of the student athletes attracted to UNM by Steve Alford and other UNM coaches disproportionately raises the quality of the student body. Therefore, Steve Alford and other coaches at UNM are worth the money they take home. Go Lobos!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Guv Campaign Turns To What Matters Most: Your Economic Security, Plus: Blogging Loboland; The Alford Deal; Is It Worth It?

After starting out with irritating trivia over crime and punishment that induced voter ennui, the 2010 race for Governor is now fast turning to the matters of most import--jobs, the overall economy and education.

This will be a three month effort by Dem Diane Denish and Republican Susana Martinez to convince voters they have their arms around the historic economic crisis that has cast a pall over the Land of Enchantment.

Martinez has hit with a new TV ad blaming "Richardson-Denish" for the loss of nearly 60,000 jobs during the Great Recession. She also brings up the issue of Denish using the state jet, something she was attacked for by GOP primary candidate Allen Weh. Denish hit the air this week touting her ability to create jobs. Unlike Martinez, Denish's latest spot does not go negative. Make of that what you will.

We are now on the deciding territory of this campaign. Economic issues in troubled times often favor Democrats. Martinez has stumbled out of the gate, drawing criticism for not having any in-depth ideas to get the state moving. That's a common critique of R candidates who can get caught playing the same tax cutting record over and over again. If she continues to shy away from giving specifics, she could fritter away any advantage she has in this unsettled political climate.

Here's a newspaper quote from Martinez that sums up her problem:

Martinez estimates that she can cut at least 5 percent of the estimated $2 billion by which state government spending has increased since Richardson took office in 2003,

"This type of review is nearly impossible at the current time because the administration continues to play a shell game with state finances," Martinez said in the statement.


A review is nearly impossible? With information abounding from Republican lawmakers, the Legislative Finance Committee and the press, that seems like an excuse to avoid taking any controversial stand on budget cuts. Will she be able to maintain that stand during statewide TV debates?

Denish has gained the upper hand with the media, insiders and early campaign watchers by coming with specific economic proposals, including budget cuts that would make a dent in the shortfall, if not end it.

Dems like to use the government to solve economic problems and Republicans don't. Denish's obstacle is having been in office as Lt. Governor during the epic downturn. Will voters want to punish the incumbent, even if she comes out on top in handling the issue on the campaign trail?

HER HERO

We came first this week--courtesy of our reader/Alligators with the background of Martinez's father, Jake Martinez. He was a noted amateur boxer in El Paso who founded a security firm that eventually had a payroll "in the millions," according to articles tucked away on the web.

Interestingly, when asked for a state GOP newsletter who her personal hero is, Martinez replied: "My mother."

Her mother is identified in the articles we linked to as Paula Aguirre, but we've seen nothing else about her.

The Martinez campaign obviously has a personal narrative to tell about their candidate who would be the first Hispanic female governor in the nation's history. But they sure aren't telling it in these early stages. Neither is the press.

The newspapers are giving only spotty coverage to the campaign. This is due in part to reduced staffs as well as tradition. However, lengthy personal profiles of the GOP Guv primary contenders--a common write-up in the past--were nonexistent this year. Again, that's because of reduced staffing, particularly at the state's largest newspaper--the ABQ Journal. That has left readers (and voters) wanting.

We suppose in due time the in-depth personal profiles we all await and which will tell us more about the characters of the pair will be published and broadcast. But for the first Guv campaign featuring two female contestants and one that was hyped mightily following the June 1 primary, the state's media seems somewhat disinterested in these summer months.

BLOGGING LOBOLAND
Steve Alford
Here are the money lines--literally--from University of New Mexico Athletic Director Paul Krebs on the handsome contract extension announced this week for Lobo basketball coach Steve Alford:

Krebs said he understands the economic situation but said the money for Alford's contract comes from funds generated by the athletic department.

"The more successful he is, the more we generate," Krebs said. "We only get 11 percent of our (athletic department) budget from the state, and that's not money used for salaries. Basically we're having to generate and find the monies to pay him. It's not money that could have gone to the campus community. It's not money we're receiving in lieu of an academic area. I think that's an important point to make."

Alford made $1.119 million in the 2009-10 season. He could make a lot more in the new deal.

Krebs was politically astute to point out Alford's compensation was--in the main--not paid for by taxpayers. Otherwise, there would be an uproar.

Krebs is saying that Alford is being paid the big bucks because UNM wants to be a "national power" in basketball. This is a generations-old chimera that has led to major disappointment, not to mention the demise of more than one Lobo coach.

Perhaps UNM can be a "national power" in some years, but not consistently. Recruiting limitations is the primary reason. Even Alford will find it a stumbling block as he competes for the best high school players against better known universities and athletic programs. UNM and the magic kingdom of the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen" have never been united and probably never will.

If the stated goal of making UNM a national power is somewhat fantastical, it becomes difficult to justify the Alford deal. However, UNM's reputation has suffered greatly in recent years as the politicization of the institution has led to open rebellion among the prominent factions. It will take a new Governor and a new Board of Regents to return the school to some semblance of stability. Given that backdrop, Alford has been a bright spot, giving the public and the nation an example of superior achievement at UNM. How much is that worth? You be the judge.

COVERING SPORTS

Covering sports full-time in ABQ has to be one of the more frustrating journalistic endeavors. We live in a mid-sized market that has no professional sports franchises of note, yet for some unfathomable reason the fans, the sports writers and TV jocks continue to bang their heads against the wall over it. They also seem to apply professional standards to the UNM Lobos as a substitute.

Everyone accepts, for example, that ABQ can't be a major national convention destination because it is not large enough. Why do the sports writers and giant arena advocates believe it is any different for them? It isn't.

You would think sports coverage would be more fun, but it is often a dreary and self-flagellating recounting of the inevitable setbacks that come with being in a minor league market. Why folks here trap themselves in this Sisyphusean mind-set is another of those New Mexico quirks that is as charming as it is annoying.

Thanks for stopping by this week. Reporting to you from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2010
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Santa Fe's Kicked Can Shows Up At The Door; Budget Debacle Continues; More Cuts Coming, Plus: More Coverage Of The Story Of The Decade--The Great Bear

Guess just what showed up at the door? Why, it's the can that got kicked down the road by the no-can-do New Mexico Legislature. As you may recall, they walked out of their last session claiming they had a balanced budget. But now come the bean counters for the Legislative Finance Committee to tell us that we have to cut over $150 million for the budget year that just got started July 1. That's because the can lawmakers kicked had printed on it "Six percent revenue growth." What's in that can anyway? Those funny mushrooms?

Not to say that the no-end-in-sight-Great Recession isn't wreaking havoc with the budget. Growth is even slower than many expected. But when the lack of intestinal fortitude--a common ailment among today's political class--is allowed to go untreated, what you get is more uncertainty about public school funding as well as overall spending and tax policy.

We are now witnessing a government being run on the run. In response to the shortfall, the Governor says he will slash spending by three percent across the board starting in September. Priorities? Forget it. That would take contemplation. Just take the hacksaw and hack. (More state employee furloughs could be in the cards. As for layoffs, never say never).

This time the lawmakers took no chances of having to grow some backbone. When they left Santa Fe in March they knew they were doing some serious can kicking so they gave Governor Big Bill the authority to unilaterally cut the budget before they came back into session in January. We didn't know the children's game of "you're it" qualified as legislating, but if you're already playing kick the can, what the heck.

But don't shed any crocodile (or Alligator) tears for Big Bill. He went through a billion or so in state surplus dollars during his tenure (with the help of the Legislature) faster than Doug Vaughan can shout "Ponzi scheme!" Now it will be Bill's ironic duty to take out the shears. He's about as anxious for that chore as he is for another Elephant Butte boat ride. But somebody has to do it, and if you can't pull off an appointment to the Obama cabinet, or at least a summer vacation in North Korea, you get the job.

A LONG WAY OUT

Our Guv hopefuls--Dem Diane Denish and R Susana Martinez--are watching all this from the sidelines, but telling them that whoever wins will have less money and therefore less power than this governor is like telling a pit bull that hamburger tastes lousy. They're gonna take whatever you give them.

So what will the new Guv get when they take over January 1, 2011? According to the numbers crunchers, more of the same and maybe more of it--meaning less of everything--for their entire four year term. Isn't that special?

Another budget shortfall is already anticipated for the budget year that starts July 1, 2011. Of course, lawmakers could decide to stop the games of "kick the can" and "you're it" and give us a reality based budget. But that's no fun. A game of "keep away" is more in tune with the spirit of Santa Fe where Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom would feel right at home.

BEAR MARKET COVERAGE


Your blog's coverage of the story of the decade continues as reader Kevin McMullan writes:

Joe, Your blog last Friday summed up one big reason why NM is having major economic difficulties like being number one in jobs lost. This CNBC article shows NM to be 45th for " business friendliness."

Ask your readers for examples and we will become very knowledgeable about why it is hard to do business in New Mexico. If forty-four other states can do a better job, maybe Santa Fe and city halls across the state can ask how they do it. If Colorado can be 4th, Arizona 5th and Texas 19th in business friendliness, it is no wonder we have a capital exodus and brain drain with our kids. The money, jobs and kids do not have to go very far.


Thanks, Kevin. We appreciate you and the many others writing to express their concerns and offer their ideas to improve the state's economic climate.

As to your point, it's true that many of our young people leave here for greener pastures. But it is not a new development under the current governor. It has been that way for decades. The reasons are numerous and include the regulatory framework you refer to. But let's not leave out our underperforming educational system that repels prospective blue-chip employers. If you educate them, they will come.

Also, our dependence on government employment of all types has been a blessing as well as a curse. The government largesse has made the private sector here less than zealous in competing for capital and companies. When billions are pouring into the defense establishment every year, it can be hard to get motivated.

With the private sector flat on its back, we've argued that actually working to increase the Federal presence here offers hope for job growth. It really is the foundation of the state economy. Just look at what the expansion at Cannon Air Force Base has done for the Clovis area. It is driving economic expansion in the rural area.

How vibrant of a private sector New Mexico can have after lagging behind its neighbors for so many decades is questionable. But the debate is becoming more vigorous and that's a start as we face a new economic paradigm that is defying the understanding of even our state's most insightful intellects.

BACK IN THE PIT


Let's stay with the reader mail bag for more thoughtful stuff. We've challenged the notion that the environmental "pit rule" has directly cost us jobs in our oil and gas industry and asked for specific examples of those lost jobs. Neither the industry or the campaign of GOP Guv hopeful Susana Martinez, who also asserts the rule cost jobs, have provided specific examples of workers being laid off or fired because of the pit rule. Now to our reader who sends this along to add fuel to the fire:

If the oil and gas business in New Mexico is so bad, I wonder why Concho just paid $1.65 BILLION ($1.45 in CASH) for Marbob’s New Mexico assets, reserves, etc.:

Concho Resources Inc. (NYSE: CXO) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all the oil and gas assets of Marbob Energy Corporation and certain affiliated entities for $1.65 billion in cash and Concho securities. Marbob is a privately-held exploration and production company with substantially all of its operations located in the Permian Basin of Southeast New Mexico...


Indeed. The primary reason for the decline in oil and gas revenues is the worldwide bear market. Other reasons, at best, are ancillary. When prices go up the money flow spikes like a gusher. It's been that way--boom and bust--for the better part of 80 years. The major players in the energy industry are not talking about the pit rule. They know their history and it's demonstrated by the deal-making our reader made note of today.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Untold Story: The Fighter Behind Susana: Father Was Famed El Paso Boxer; The Jake Martinez Story Exclusively Here, And: NM #1 In Jobs Lost In June

Martinez, stepson Carlo (l) & husband Chuck
Where does GOP Guv nominee Susana Martinez get her fight? Well, look no further than her father, Jake Martinez, who it turns out is an icon in the amateur boxing world in El Paso and whose life story closely tracks the American Dream of the mid-twentieth century.

Our Alligators and insiders, curious about the background of the family of the Dona Ana County district attorney and unwilling to wait, came with the info on Jake Martinez's storied boxing career, combing through the catacombs of the Internet and uncovering a three part series on Jake published by the specialty boxing site, "Convicted Artist Magazine." (It has nothing to do with convicts).

This is must-reading if you seek to understand more about Martinez's roots. Here are the links to the series: Part one is here. Part two is here. And part three is here.

FROM THE SERIES

Jake Martinez stood tall and proud as he accepted his trophy and accolades from the Fort Worth Golden Gloves staff and print media for winning three consecutive state lightweight championships. His magnificent feat has not been equaled from any El Pasoan to this date in time. He was duly honored in El Paso by The El Paso times and The El Paso Herald Post.

One wonders why we haven't heard more about this from the Martinez camp as it is a compelling and uplifting life story. More from the series:

Jake loved his job on the Sheriff’s Department. However, besides winning state in 1955 he and Paula had their first son, Jacob. In 1957 they welcomed a lovely daughter, Leticia. Their beautiful daughter with a thirst for knowledge, Susanna, was born in 1959. As most informed people in the southwest know, Susanna is the District Attorney in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Jake and his wife sacrificed much of their social life and nonessential items to maintain a budget that would help their children obtain a higher education. Susanna was an intellect and she attended UTEP before graduating with a law degree from Oklahoma University.

In 1993, Martinez was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame:

While reviewing records in the early days of the hall’s formation president McKay was surprised to learn that Jake Martinez had not been inducted into The El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. Since their elections of candidates was earlier in the year Tom took Jake’s credentials to the Athletic Halls Board of Directors, presented the boxing facts and the fine citizenship of Jake and waited for their final votes. Yes, Jake was honored at their great location at UTEP in 1993 and a plaque with his name and photo is a permanent fixture in the surrounding hallways of the Don Haskins Center.

FAMILY FORTUNE


And the series reveals that Jake Martinez and the Martinez family may have struggled in the early years but the security firm he eventually founded had a payroll "in the millions of dollars" putting the family in the ranks of the affluent:

Jake soon left the Sheriff’s office around 1972 for greener pastures in the garment industry. He was hired as Chief of Security for Mann Manufacturing and his family benefited well from the extra dollars he earned. Life was good and Jake was able to find the time to immerse himself into his boxing sport as an official, trainer, and referee. That being said he also aspired to own his own business. After two years of research and study, Jake opened his own security company and through his entrepreneurship built the firm into a major industry with a payroll in the millions of dollars. And he accomplished those goals without giving up a minute of his boxing time.

We found the Martinez business currently listed in an El Paso directory:

Jake Martinez Enterprises 3535 North Yarbrough Drive El Paso, TX 79925 Industry: Detective and armored car service


Martinez enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1951. While serving he won the "All Marine Corps Boxing Championships" in 1953. He was honorably discharged in 1954.

Today Jake Martinez is 78 and battling cancer as he watches the biggest fight of them all--his daughter's bid to become Governor of New Mexico. One suspects she's calling on him for some ringside advice and inspiration.

DI'S DAD

The father of Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish also rose to prominence in his lifetime. Jack Daniels went to work in his father's Hobbs-based insurance company and served in the NM House for several terms. He was the Dem US Senate nominee in 1972 and lost to Pete Domenici. Daniels died in 2003 at age 79.

THE BEAR MARKET

More grizzly numbers about the ferocious bear market ravaging our state came in shortly after we put up Tuesday's blog describing the damage being done here in NM's largest city. The Feds report New Mexico was number one in the USA in the percentage of jobs lost in June, at 1.4 percent. And is also the worst in the nation when it comes to percentage of jobs lost in the last 12 months, 2.2 percent or nearly 15,000 jobs.

The state's jobless rate dropped in June from 8.4% to 8.2%. But don't be deceived. The reason for the decline is because the state's workforce is shrinking. People are giving up--throwing in the towel--and are quitting the search for work. We had 804,400 people working in NM in June, but that plunged to 793,200 in June, a downright scary drop.

The housing debacle has sent unemployment in the construction and related industries soaring into Great Depression levels. The credit bubble has cost thousands of financial services sectors jobs; the slowdown in the energy sector contributes more lost jobs.

Never mind crime, corruption and immigration. The unemployment and ancillary economic crisis wreaking havoc in this state will be front in center in the 2010 Guv campaign come October--and it ought to be.

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