Friday, October 29, 2010

Save the West Side: GOP House Candidate David Doyle Caught Telling Blatant Lies in Race Against Rep. Ben Rodefer

BenRodefer It's well known that the GOP and its cronies have targeted regaining the New Mexico House seat in District 23 in Corrales as one of their top priorities this election cycle. Democrat Ben Rodefer (right) won the seat in a close election two years ago, and this year he's embroiled in another nail biter. It's really important that we help Ben keep his seat -- he's a champion on jobs, the environment and working families. His opponent? He's apparently the champion of big oil and other large corporate interests.

Doyle's Big Energy and Corporate Support
Right-wing opposition has been pouring in money and bussing in canvassers to help Republican David Doyle win the seat. Doyle, a wealthy developer, has received campaign cash from numerous moneyed corporate real estate and development interests, as well as energy giants like BP, Exxon and Conoco Phillips. No, I'm not kidding. Is this the kind of money we want coming into legislative races in New Mexico? Click to see Doyle's campaign reports; a partial list of corporate contributors is below.

Clearly, certain deep pocket donors don't want Rep. Rodefer in the legislature because he has consistently voted to protect the environment and improve the lot of New Mexico's working families. Ben was pivotal in the fight against the Sun-Cal TIDDs and the battle for green job initiatives, just for starters. And now we learn that Rodefer's challenger is running a dishonest, deceptive campaign.

Doyle's Lies
According to documents provided at SaveTheWestside.com, David Doyle has been lying about his background and making other false claims in a down and dirty campaign against Rep. Rodefer. For instance, the site shows that -- contrary to Doyle's claims -- he and his firm, Enterprise Builders, have been the recipients of government contracts. Doyle says he's always paid his taxes, but a settlement document from the US Treasury/IRS shows Doyle's long history of trying to evade paying his taxes, and reportedly there are additional documents on file with the Sandoval County Clerk showing Doyle not paying his property taxes when due.

Although Doyle claims he never paid any fines for pollution, the site shows two examples of "the multiple signed documents proving David Doyle is once again lying to us, that he has indeed been fined for polluting and has had to submit certified checks to pay those penalties." Doyle also contends his company received no stimulus funding, but it got a contract for an Alzheimer's care center financed with recovery funds.

The site also claims that "David Doyle further lied to the Albuquerque Journal about his criminal record (ABQ Journal 9-24-2010), claiming he had none. Indeed he has plead guilty to Contempt and other charges, and his campaign has committed multiple Felonies this year per New Mexico Statute §1-19-16 (Campaign Act)." A copy of a document on the Contempt charge is included on SaveTheWestside.com.

Doyle's campaign has also been claiming that Rep. Rodefer is rated "the biggest job killer in state." Nothing could be further from the truth, as the site explains:

An outright LIE. State Representative Benjamin Rodefer has actually created new jobs and saved taxpayers millions. Rodefer championed the 2009 Green Jobs Bill, fought for more funding for JTIP, a program that allows small businesses to receive rebates for money spent training employees for high paying jobs, and Rodefer supported the legislation that helped bring Hewlett Packard to our community with many good new jobs.

Since being elected in 2008 Rodefer has also helped slash the state budget by over $800 Million and voted against the Food Tax, the Tortilla Tax and a proposed increase to the Gross Receipts Tax.

Who stands with Rep. Rodefer and against David Doyle?

  • Albuquerque Police Officers Association
  • Albuquerque Firefighters
  • Albuquerque Teachers Federation
  • US Senator Jeff Bingaman
  • US Senator Tom Udall
  • Sierra Club
  • Conservation Voters
  • Animal Protection Voters
  • Albuquerque Fraternal Order of Police
  • NM Building & Construction Trades Council

Just some of Republican David Doyle's campaign contributors:

October 28, 2010 Report

Exxon Mobil Corporation - PO Box 2519, Houston TX 77252-2519 Oil and gas corporation $500.00

Western Refining - 123 W. Mills Ave. , El Paso TX 79901 Independent Oil Refiner $500.00

Freeport-McMoran New Mexico Political Action Committee - 333 N. Central Ave., Phoenix AZ 85004 Copper and Gold producer $300.00

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. - One Merck Drive, Whitehouse Station NJ 08889-3400 Pharmaceutical Company $500.00

Consumer Lending Alliance, Inc. - 92 Royster Drive, Crawfordville FL 32327-4625 Lending Alliance $500.00

Chevron Policy Govt & Publ Affairs - PO Box 9034, Concord CA 94524 Integrated Energy Company $1,500.00

DCP Midstream, LP - 370 17th Street, Suite 2500, Denver CO 80202 Natural Gas gatherer and producer $300.00

Mack Energy Corporation - PO Box 960 , Artesia NM 88211-0960 Energy Corporation $750.00

Mickey Barnett - 1616 Soplo Rd. SE, Albuquerque NM 87123 $100.00

BP North American Employee PAC - 501 Westlake Park Blvd, Houston TX 77079 Oil and Gas Company $1,000.00

ConocoPhillips Company - 1122 Colorado St., Ste 2323, Austin TX 78701 International Energy Corporation $1,000.00

October 12, 2010 Report

The Williams Companies, Inc. - PO Box 21218, Tulsa OK 74121-1218 Natural Gas Production $500.0

Devon Energy Production Company, L.P. - 20 N. Broadway, Oklahoma City OK 73102-8260 Oil and Natural Gas Production $1,000.00

Yates Petroleum Corporation - 105 South 4th Street, Artesia NM 88210 Petroleum Company $250.00

Primary July 1, 2010 Report

Helena Chemical Company - 225 Schilling Blvd. Suite 300, Collierville TN 38017 Chemical Company $300.00

May 27, 2010 Report

ConocoPhillips Company - 1122 Colorado Street, Austin TX 78701 Oil abd Gas $500.00

What Can We Do?
There's still time to canvass or call for Rep. Rodefer. Call Volunteer Coordinator Juan Reynosa at 505-907-3788. Or, make a donation online right now.

October 29, 2010 at 04:59 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Children and Families, Energy, Environment | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

End of the Road for "Sour Grapes" Lawsuit by Losing Legislators

Good riddance to bad rubbish. The Center for Civic Policy reports that the lawsuit filed by three former state legislators against several non-profit groups is officially dead. Former state Senators James Taylor and Shannon Robinson and state representative Dan Silva filed the so-called "sour grapes" suit in August 2008 against non-profit groups that publicized their voting records.

The three former legislators asked in their suit that the outcome of the 2008 primary elections be voided, thereby returning them to their respective offices. All three former lawmakers lost their Democratic primary battles to reform candidates who are now serving in the New Mexico Legislature in Santa Fe -- namely, Sen. Eric Griego, Sen. Tim Keller and Rep. Eleanor Chavez.

District Judge Linda M. Vanzi dismissed the suit last November. At the time, the three legislators said they planned to appeal the dismissal. This week, court records confirm that the trio missed the deadlines for meeting any of the Court of Appeal's requirements for taking the appeal to a higher court by more than a month. As they say, all hat, no cattle.

"This lawsuit was nothing more than an attempt to muzzle and harass nonprofit organizations," stated Matt Brix, Policy Director for the Center for Civic Policy, in a written statement. Brix continued, "We will continue to aggressively oppose any effort to silence nonprofits from one of the critical roles we play - to educate citizens about how their elected leaders vote." In the 2009 state legislative session, nonprofit organizations anticipate efforts to force disclosure requirements on them as a way to stifle the "watchdog" role they play.

Stay tuned, as I'll be posting more on the effort that appears to be brewing in the dark corners of the Roundhouse to try and stymie the critical issue advocacy and transparency efforts conducted by a number of New Mexico's nonprofits. Certain powers that be don't like the public becoming informed about their voting records and the big dollar campaign donors who hold the clout. We all know why.

See several previous posts about the lawsuit and attacks on nonprofits in New Mexico here, here and here (with further links).

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February 5, 2009 at 11:14 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Justice, NM Legislature 2009, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Guest Blog by Bill Porter: Pro-Tem Tim Jennings and the Failed Leadership by 'Coalition'

This is an op-ed by Bill Porter, a Democrat who served in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1991 to 1999 in HD 36 in Las Cruces.

If Sen. Tim Jennings (D-Roswell) is re-elected as President Pro Tem of the New Mexico Senate in January, what can we expect from our legislature? The answer is more of the same, despite the fact that voters said No loudly to that in the November elections.

A successful bid by Jennings would constitute a new permutation of the "Rule by Coalition" we have seen in New Mexico in the recent past: a Democratic Senate boss elected only through the backing of the opposing party and against the wishes of his own. It's a prescription for disaster.

Last month, residents of New Mexico voted overwhelmingly for change in the policies coming out of the legislature, and change of a more progressive sort. After all, three new progressive Democrats were elected over Republicans incumbents in the Senate -- boosting the Democratic membership to 27 -- and three in the house.

Current Pro Tem Tim Jennings, however, can only be selected for the position with the support of all 15 Republicans in the Senate, because a majority of his fellow Democrats have already rejected him in a caucus vote earlier this month in favor Sen. Carlos Cisneros. One reason they did so was Jennings' campaigning on behalf of arch-conservative Republican Leonard Rawson against progressive Democrat Steve Fischmann. Happily, Fischmann prevailed anyway.

Now Jennings says openly that he will fight to maintain his job as Pro Tem and leader of the Senate with the backing of the disciplined GOP caucus. And it could succeed.

What kind of policies would we get from a Jennings-led, "coalition"-style Senate? To answer that, consider the past as prelude to the future.

Sen. Tim Jennings holds a dubious legacy on state wildlife policies as the author of a 1997 law giving farmers and ranchers the right to slaughter wildlife that present a supposed "immediate threat" to livestock or crops. They are not even required to obtain permission from the state Fish and Game Department.

This cruel law encouraged one rancher in northwestern New Mexico to slaughter 39 pronghorn antelope by shooting them with a shotgun from his ATV because they were grazing in his "dormant" alfalfa field. The wildlife were maimed and left to suffer before they died -- sadly, a common occurrence across our state thanks to 'Jennings Law.'

States have authority to regulate the killing of wildlife by ranchers and farmers who fear depredation of their property by elk, deer, wolves or cougars. The key is to find a humane balance between the competing interests of wildlife management and the commercial needs of New Mexico's agricultural producers.

Tim Jennings, unfortunately, understands nothing of the need for such rational balance. A review of his record in the Senate reveals that Jennings has been driven by the desire to be well-compensated by taxpayers for his private commercial losses.

Repeated attempts to reform the worst aspects of 'Jennings Law' have failed thanks to the opposition of the law's author and his allies in a GOP "coalition." During one reform try in 2003, Jennings successfully amended the bill (which he went on to oppose) with a measure allowing "unlimited" compensation by taxpayers of ranchers like himself for "damages" caused by wildlife.

Another Jennings-led "coalition" effort in 2003 nearly derailed creation of the popular Rail Runner line from Belen to Santa Fe and its accompanying network of public transit. Legislation that created regional transit districts allowing residents the choice to invest in rail and bus, SB 34, narrowly passed the Senate over the opposition of Jennings and most Republicans. The coalition showed a remarkable lack of vision. New Mexicans strongly support alternatives to congested highways and CO2-producing auto emissions.

When New Mexico's legislature required utilities to invest in greater energy efficiency rather than in new coal and fossil-burning plants, the Jennings "coalition" stood alone in opposition. HB 305, passed earlier this year, was a strong consensus measure supported by consumers, environmental advocates and even the utilities themselves that guarantees the use of more energy-efficient appliances while lowering the future energy costs of customers.

Our state's history of "coalition"-run legislatures has been a failure because the "coalition" is far out of step with the desires of New Mexicans. We need new leadership reflecting the mandate given by voters to deliver progressive, commonsense solutions to some tough challenges our state will face in the months ahead. A "coalition" made up of the Republican caucus but headed by Tim Jennings is exactly what the citizens of New Mexico voted against.

This is a guest blog by Bill Porter, a Democrat from Las Cruces who served in the New Mexico House of Representatives from 1991 to 1999, in HD 36.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

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December 26, 2008 at 10:53 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Guest Blogger, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Targeted Nonprofits File Federal Suit Against New Mexico Secretary of State

ImagesYesterday the Center for Civic Policy (CCP) and Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) filed a lawsuit (click for complaint) against Secretary of State Mary Herrera (right). The suit stems from Herrera's letters to the two nonprofit organizations earlier this summer – letters ordering CCP and SWOP to register as state political committees.

Following consultations with the Office of the Attorney General, Secretary Herrera reversed her earlier decision in which she determined that New Mexico Youth Organized did not have to file as a political committee. New Mexico Youth Organized is a project of the Center for Civic Policy.

In both cases, the Secretary of State has refused to disclose the cause for the registration orders.

"We're concerned that if the Secretary of State is allowed to arbitrarily order nonprofits to register as political committees, without explanation, it will muzzle the important civic engagement work of our sector," said Matt Brix, Policy Director for the Center for Civic Policy. "While we didn't want to file suit against the state, we were left with no choice. Nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to inform the public about the votes of elected officials and the source of their contributions. Furthermore, the public has a right to know what elected officials are doing in their name."

The suit was filed in federal court.

Background
GaryKingClick to see Herrera's August 18, 2008 letter to New Mexico Youth Organized. And here's our August 19 post commenting on Herrera's action. Also refer to our August 10 post for more background on what prompted Herrera's August 18th letter, based on advice she received from Attorney General Gary King (right) that has been kept confidential.

A long and winding road to this juncture was set in motion when three status quo Dem lawmakers looked like they would be ousted in the June 2008 primary by three reform Dems in heavily Dem districts. The three challengers eventually were victorious, with Tim Keller defeating long-time incumbent Sen. Shannon Robinson in SD 17, Eric Griego beating Sen. Paul Taylor in SD 14 and Eleanor Chavez besting Rep. Dan Silva in HD 13.

Srobinson1Defeated Sen. Shannon Robinson (right) was particularly incensed about his pending (and later, actual) loss. He couldn't seem to grasp the fact that voters no longer believed he represented their interests, with the majority preferring to vote for his energetic, persuasive opponent. He launched into wildly accusatory public diatribes in the media -- and even on the NM Senate Floor -- claiming that he wuz being robbed. Robinson blamed nonprofits that had sent out direct mail pieces after the 2008 Legislative Session informing the public about his voting record, and how the votes he made seemed to be in sync with the wishes of his big donors. I guess in Shannon's world it's a bad thing when your constituents know what their State Senator is doing at the Roundhouse, and where they're getting their campaign cash.

Robinson ended up complaining to AG Gary King about the educational activities of several nonprofits and King's office reportedly issued a letter to Secretary of State Herrera the next day advising that New Mexico Youth Organized's legal status should be changed from a nonprofit to a PAC. Then King apparently withdrew the opinion, reportedly calling the Secretary of State's Office a day later to instruct them to ignore the letter. The nonprofits, meanwhile, laid out a defense of their actions in a June 6 letter to Mary Herrera.

Nothing else happened until King issued an odd press release on August 8th claiming he was standing by his original advice. He said NMYO's mail pieces were campaign materials based on criteria spelled out in this now infamous determination:

"There's an old saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then its probably a duck," say AG King. "And I think we know a duck when we see one."

The last message the public got from AG King about the matter of the legal status of the targeted nonprofits came in the form of -- get this -- a leak on Joe Monahan's blog. As I posted last month, Monahan wrote that AG King was going to "act" on the "nonprofit mess" by year's end. He claimed King "told" him the $21,000 in fines that were levied by the Secretary of State on PRC candidate Jerome Block Jr. for his violations of public campaign finance law should be seen as an example of the kinds of fines King "has in mind" for nonprofits if he decides their actions violate state laws. Does anyone think it's wise for an Attorney General to issue statements about a pending legal matter in a gossip blog? I didn't think so.

Previous Lawsuit Against Nonprofits Dismissed
In addition to Robinson's complaints to the AG, he and the two other defeated legislators filed a poorly reasoned and sloppily written lawsuit in District Court against the three candidates who beat them in the primary, as well as several nonprofits. The suit claimed the candidates and nonprofits had mounted a conspiracy against the losers, and it asked that the results of the three primary contests be reversed. That suit was dismissed without hearing last month by Judge Linda Vanzi.

Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold.

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December 17, 2008 at 11:24 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Civil Liberties, Crime, Government, Justice, Local Politics, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Guest Blog by John Wertheim: Bad Sport Tim Jennings Must Go as Senate Pro Tem

Wertheim2crThis is an Opinion Editorial by John V. Wertheim, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico:

New Mexico's Democratic state senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings gave his most open signal yet on Monday that he will collude with the Republican minority to keep power.

In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Jennings said "When you look at it, I think I've got enough votes to be elected the pro-tem by all the members of the state Senate."

The Senate Pro Tem's comments came after a weekend when Senate Democrats met in caucus and ousted Jennings from his position. In January there will be 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate. If Jennings convinces six other Democrats to join him on his proposed ego trip, he will remain Pro Tem with the backing of the Republican caucus. Instead of accepting defeat gracefully, Tim Jennings is just too special to play by normal rules. And just maybe, Jennings and his Republican backers have too much riding on the next legislative session.

The GOP and corporate special interests see Jennings as the one chance they have to jerk victory from the jaws of defeat. Jennings voted with Republicans in the Senate 80 percent of the time, according to New Mexico Legislative Reports. Elevating him to Pro Tem in January will represent a kind of coup d'etat.

"He has treated the Republican side of the aisle very fairly, and we're very satisfied with his leadership", said Republican Senate leader, Stuart Ingle. Indeed. While I'm all for fairness, Ingle should confer with New Mexico voters before deciding how content he should feel about the status quo.

The election showed that voters want change on energy, the environment, classrooms, health care and jobs. And not just Democratic voters, but plenty of independents and moderate Republicans helped win elections for Democrats up and down the ballot and send new progressive leaders to Santa Fe. How else could Tim Eichenberg, John Sapien and Steve Fischmann have defeated the incumbents in three Republican senate districts?

If Jennings is successful in his plan to grab the Pro Tem position by turning coat, it will be nothing less than overturning the outcome of the November election. Presidency of the Senate is a state-wide leadership position. Jennings is showing himself to be a poor specimen of Democrat, and is intent on proving that he is a poor 'small d' democrat too.

Why is Jennings doing this? No doubt, ego plays a big role. It's tough to lose. The healthy response is to man-up and take it with a measure of humility.

There also may be a more nefarious factor than egomania at work here. Look at Jennings' record:

He sided with Republicans in opposing Democrats' health care bill to cover 50,000 uninsured New Mexico children by saying they already are covered. "They only need to be signed up," according to Jennings. He dismissed his party's bill as "silly," although voters soundly rejected a similar argument about children's health care when it came from Steve Pearce in the U.S. Senate race.

During the legislative session that ended in February, Jennings led the Senate in defeating Richardson's plan to cover 400,000 uninsured state residents with healthcare. New Mexico has one of the highest levels of uninsured in the country.

Last month Jennings sent letters to all public school superintendents telling them to plan for classroom funding cuts and teacher layoffs in January when the legislature convenes.

On the other hand, Jennings is the author of a notorious 1997 law which gives farmers and ranchers the right to kill wildlife that present a supposed "immediate threat" to livestock or crops. The law encouraged one rancher in northwestern New Mexico to slaughter 39 pronghorn antelope by shooting them with a shotgun because they were grazing in his "dormant" alfalfa field. The wildlife were maimed and left to suffer before they died – sadly, a common occurrence across our state thanks to 'Jennings Law'.

Jennings doesn't stand with New Mexico voters on clean energy and the environment, either. He opposed an effort to strengthen the Efficient Use of Energy Act in 2008, requiring utilities to invest in better energy conservation methods (HB 305). Jennings was one of only two senators to vote No on a tax credit last year to promote greater use of carbon-clean power and solar generating facilities (SB 994).

And when it comes to the need for tougher ethics rules in the legislature, Jennings just doesn't get it. After the spectacle of former Pro Tem Manny Aragon going to jail for corruption, current Pro Tem Jennings' dismissed any calls for ethics legislation:

"How do you write legislation about being honest?" offered Jennings. "The things that Manny did were clearly illegal. It was clearly against the law. It doesn't have anything to do with ethics."

When it comes to working families' wages, Jennings sides with corporate interests. He strongly opposed Democrats' efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Jennings' public arguments for retaining the position of Pro Tem don't add up. They look like a smokescreen to hide the true motives.

After Sunday's ouster, Jennings cited his alleged ability to end negative campaign tactics in New Mexico as a reason to be kept on as Pro Tem. "I think I'm the best one suited for stopping the negative stuff that's going on," he said.

Talk about hypocrisy.

Tim Jennings is hardly the politician to end negativity in our state's politics. As the Senate's leader he has poured vitriol into the chamber's debates over the years, principally singling out Gov. Bill Richardson for negative attacks:

"I really have no earthly idea why we are in this building except to serve the political purposes of this governor," Senate Pro Tem Jennings said during a 2008 hearing on Richardson's proposal to provide health care to every child in the state.

"This whole process is just plain screwed up," Jennings said on the Senate floor in August. "I just wonder why we are here. I have no earthly idea. Other than for political purposes of this governor. Damnit it is true. We all know it. But we're too afraid to say it."

"I am going to tell you that if this body, and this Legislature, does not stand up on their feet and defend this institution, this governor will take us all straight to hell," according to Jennings last year.

When other senators lashed out with personal attacks on Richardson, Pro Tem Jennings listened approvingly and never once brought them to order.

Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, for instance, urged fellow senators on the floor last summer to "don't trust the governor on this thing. There is nothing bold about this legislation. It's a rip off. This is a scam." But boss of the Senate Jennings was silent. Even when Grubesic finished by saying that accepting on faith the governor's argument for his health care expansion bill "is like accepting a dinner invitation from Hannibal Lecter," Jennings could not be stirred.

Tim Jennings rushed to the public defense of Republican Senate minority whip Leonard Rawson in the final days of the recent election, however, decrying supposedly "negative" attacks on "a good man". But Jennings was silent while Republicans savaged Democratic candidates in 2008 like Tim Eichenberg ("viciously opposed our men and women in uniform"), Victor Raigoza, (wants to "tear down" our state's "wholesome way of life and its traditional values"), and Rep. Andrew Barreras, (promises "policy for a price").

Contrast this record with that of Sen. Carlos Cisneros, who the Democratic caucus selected on Sunday for Pro Tem. Cisneros is a solid Democrat with strong progressive values through more than 20 years serving in the legislature. The decision of the caucus, reinvigorated with incoming progressives and representing the views of a majority of New Mexico voters, should be respected. Democrats across our state should demand that Cisneros be installed as Pro Tem in January.

After all, allowing Tim Jennings to remain as head of the New Mexico Senate would be like leaving Bush and Cheney in the White House for another four years. The voters have spoken in our democracy, and they don't want it. Are Senate Democrats listening?

This is a guest blog by John V. Wertheim, past Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. See another recent guest blog by John Wertheim on this topic.

If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

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December 4, 2008 at 09:57 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Democratic Party, Guest Blogger, Local Politics, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, December 01, 2008

More on NM Senate Pro-Tem: Jennings Says He'll Fight to Keep Post

CCisnerosSen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa (right), was nominated yesterday in a three-hour-plus, closed-door caucus by Dems in the New Mexico Senate to serve as Senate Pro Tem. If Sen. Cisneros wins a majority in a vote of the full Senate when the New Mexico Legislature convenes in Santa Fe on January 20, he'll replace Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, as Pro Tem. Sen. Jennings was elected Pro Tem to complete the term of Sen. Ben Altamirano, who passed away late last December.

Images-1Now Jennings (right) has announced that he intends to fight to keep his job by putting together a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats to get the 22 votes needed to win. Currently, there are 27 Democrats and only 15 Republicans in the 42-member New Mexico Senate.

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, was quoted as saying he thinks Cisneros has 19 solid votes, but that a 21-21 tie is a distinct possibility. Although the Lt. Governor votes to break ties if they occur in the Senate in votes on regular legislation, that's not the case with a vote on leadership. I'm not sure what would happen if the vote on Pro Tem turned out to be 21-21. Anybody out there know?

The Challenge for Jennings
In order to gain a majority of support, Jennings would have to win over all the Reubs and peel away at least 7 of the 27 Democratic Senators, convincing them to take a public stand against Cisneros. And if Ortiz y Pino is correct in saying Cisneros has locked up 19 votes, the battle might come down to gaining the support of 3 Dems who are still reportedly undecided. It doesn't hurt that at least 3 more reform Dems are in the Senate this cycle compared to last year. Jennings, known as a fiscal conservative who fights tooth and nail against environmental protections, can be expected to try and woo conservative Dems like John Arthur Smith of Deming and Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, as well as moderate Hispanic Dems. But here's where it gets complicated and risky to cross party lines.

JasmithFirst off, it seems highly improbable that Hispanic Dems would vote against Cisneros, who would be the first Pro-Tem from Northern New Mexico. Secondly, if Sen. Smith, D-Deming (right), voted for Jennings and Jennings lost, do you think the Dems would vote to retain him as Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Commmittee? After all, it's rumored that many in the Dem caucus are already pushing for change there, supporting Sen. Pete Campos to head Appropriations. And in order to get Repubs to back him, would Jennings have to promise them one or more committee chair slots? If Jennings follows through on his threats to take on Cisneros, I don't see a future anywhere for him within the Dem caucus. Maybe he'll go all the way and cross the aisle for good. Oh, to be a fly on the wall (or within the cellphones) when our Senators are discussing the possibilities, and the stakes.

According to the Albuquerque Journal:

... Jennings said he wouldn't make any Republicans committee chairmen if the minority party helps him stay in power.

"All I've ever done is be a Democrat and that's all I'll do," Jennings said. "I haven't made any deals with anybody for anything."

Well, except that Jennings went out of his way to support a Republican -- now defeated Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson of Roswell. Jennings recorded a robocall and a radio ad on behalf of Rawson in his race against now Senator-Elect Stephen Fischmann, who beat Rawson in a close race in SD 37.

Jennings: Nonpartisan Puritan?
Jennings is now clearly trying to paint himself as some kind of pure and nonpartisan (or bipartisan), above-the-fray voice of fairness in all this:

He's defended his actions repeatedly, however, and said Sunday that the pro tem shouldn't be a partisan position.

"I think I'm the best one suited for stopping the negative stuff that's going on," said Jennings ...

Spare me. I'm not the only one who's noticed that the only time Jennings has criticized "negative stuff" was when the seat one of his supporters on the Repub side -- Rawson -- was in jeopardy last month. He didn't say a word about the sleaze being thrown at Dem legislative candidates like Victor Raigoza, Tim Eichenberg and Andrew Barreras this cycle -- or any other negative campaign tactics employed by Repubs over the years. Funny how that works

Plus, it's still unclear how Jennings was the recipient of a phone message he says labeled Rawson as a "crook" when he doesn't even live in Rawson's district. Jennings has claimed he got a so-called push-poll call from some "conservation group" whose name he can't recall. In comments on a previous post on DFNM, Sandy Buffet of the Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund defended a phone program undertaken by the PAC in Rawson's district:

Conservation Voters NM Action Fund conducted a live persuasion ID phone program in SD 37 as part of our PAC voter contact program, and our script DID NOT contain the word alleged by Senator Jennings. If the voter said they were undecided or could change their mind about which candidate they would support, we DID point out that Rawson had used capital outlay (as reported in the LC Sun) to pave a road outside of his district and clear across town in front of his family business. In contrast, we stated that Steve Fischmann will work for ordinary New Mexicans that live in his District and will work to create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. I don't believe these are "dirty tactics".

A Test for Sanchez
For his part, newly reelected Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has said he hopes to have the matter settled before it comes to a Senate floor vote. So he intends to have the Dem Senators lined up to support Cisneros in adequate numbers before the official vote. And he has a lot of power to wheel and deal, cajole and needle, to get there.

Cisneros has claimed in the past that Jennings agreed to step into the Pro Tem slot as only a temporary measure, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Sen. Altamirano. I guess Jennings thinks otherwise and is willing to go out on a limb to prove it. We'll see in the coming weeks whether Jennings is all hat and no cattle (er, sheep), or if he really does mount an all-out challenge to Cisneros in the face of intense pressure from Sen. Sanchez and other Dems. My money's definitely on Senator Cisneros to survive and triumph over the status-quo forces on Jennings' side.

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December 1, 2008 at 12:19 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Democratic Party, NM Legislature 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monahan Ignores Realities, Sticks to Spinning for Old Guard; AG King Now Issuing Threats in Blogosphere

SnakeoilI wonder if Joe Monahan gets paid on the side by the forces of darkness that are gathered together in unity to keep the voting records of legislators a secret from their constituents, or if he merely kisses their bottoms so he can be privy to "insider" leaks. You know -- so he can continue to be a member in good standing in the good ol' boys club, enjoying grand entrances into dark lounges and sleazing along Roundhouse hallways to get the "inside scoop." Well, somebody's inside scoop anyway -- with that somebody almost always being a politico out to protect his or her hold on big campaign cash and all the other perks of old guard turf control.

Lately, I haven't had much time to think about the travesties of the political shill who calls himself -- with a straight face -- the best political blogger in New Mexico, but this post at m-pyre got me back in the swing of things. Marjorie rightly points out the selectiveness (and oily language) with which Monahan reports on issues to do with ethics, campaign finance reform, the power of incumbency and the right of nonprofits to educate the public.

Monahan Ignores Lawsuit Dismissal
I've been wondering myself why Joe's readers were never alerted to the fact that the juvenile, poorly written lawsuit filed by fallen Dem incumbents Sen. Shannon Robinson, Sen. James Taylor and Rep. Dan Silva against certain nonprofits and the winning Dems had been dismissed in its entirety. After all, the suit was a laughing stock in both the legal and political communities, even though Joe and way too many of his alligators thought it was peachy keen for the vanquished to try and get their primary contests overturned on the basis of, well, nothing that makes sense.

ImagesThese old school types have a habit of foaming at the mouth in reptilian excitement whenever the forces of darkness try to hold back reform and renewal in the Legislature. They are that into protecting the cozy and lucrative relationships that have long made it worthwhile for some of them to stay in the game in Santa Fe -- representing monied interests to the detriment of the needs of ordinary people in the state.

The Voter Awakening
The enemies of reform (and their mouthpieces) have been more than a bit upset of late because voters seem to be catching on that they do, indeed, have the power to get rid of out-of-touch incumbents and elect lawmakers who will represent their interests -- not merely those of big donors. It helps that the public is getting more and more access to info on how the lawmakers are behaving in the Roundhouse, and why. The voter awakening means that reformers are starting to come into their own in the New Mexico Legislature -- so much so that the old guard is petrified they're losing their clout, and may soon lose their power perches.

The last straw was probably the November 4th election. It must have been frightening for the powers that be to witness the defeat of Senate Minority Whip Leonard Lee Rawson, along with other status-quo defenders like Sen. Diane Snyder and Sen. Steve Komadina, both Republicans -- especially after three Dem reformers won seats in the June primary. Some in the old guard also seem alarmed that Senate Pro-Tem Democrat Tim Jennings is being called on the carpet for publicly supporting Republican Sen. Rawson in his losing race against reform Dem Stephen Fischmann. This bunch was no doubt upset that the word got out to voters that Rawson arranged a tasty appropriation to pave a road outside his business, located in a district other than his own.

Monahan to the Barricades with AG King
Images-3Enter Joe Monahan, who can always be counted on to defend the cronies and leak their spin about those who dare to take them on. Unfortunately, it seems that our (now) nominally Democratic Attorney General, Gary King, may well be in on the action in the darkness in some way, and is willing to do his part to keep the lights out. King, you may recall, issued a secretive opinion to the Secretary of State about the actions of the nonprofit New Mexico Youth Organized, which had sent out info on legislator voting records two months or more before an election.

The only public info we have on King's basis for claiming NMYO is a PAC is his now infamous declaration to the media that, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck." Classy. King avoids questioning from the media or the public, yet is perfectly comfortable commenting about the official business of his office via wacky press releases and ... Joe Monahan?

Monahan was cranking away in spin mode today, revealing that King is going to "act" on the "nonprofit mess" by year's end. Monahan claimed that NMYO has "refused" to register as a PAC, as directed by the Secretary of State. Well, except that the last anyone heard, NMYO had been informed they didn't have to comply with that demand by the stated deadline because common sense negotiations would be undertaken between the parties. You can read Monahan's blather here, but I can't give you a direct link to the post because Joe evidently hasn't learned how to set up his "blog" in the proper manner yet.

AG King Now Announcing Legal Intentions Via Political Blog
Anyway, Monahan reported that AG King "told" him the $21,000 in fines that were levied by the Secretary of State on PRC candidate Jerome Block Jr. for his violations of public campaign finance law should be seen as an example of the kinds of fines King "has in mind" for nonprofits if he decides their actions violate state laws. That kind of statement sounds more like it originated in a mob den than in a New Mexico Attorney General's office.

First of all, am I the only one that finds it odd -- and unacceptable -- that our Attorney General is using a blog known for rumor-mongering to reveal his views on a legal matter currently being considered by the Attorney General's Office and the Secretary of State? Secondly, since when does the Attorney General levy fines? It's my understanding that the Secretary of State's office levies fines in cases like this, not the AG. Gary must either be feeling his oats -- or is so scared he doesn't have a leg to stand on that he's sunk to issuing threats in the blogosphere to try and put a "chill" on efforts to educate voters. Either way, this is getting more like a bad melodrama by the week -- pumped up by the well-placed leaks and "hit list" language of Joe Monahan.

Worries Plague "Pro-Business" Lawmakers
Monahan also "reveals" that certain lawmakers with what he calls a "pro-business bent" are worried about whose voting records and campaign contributions will be outed next by issue advocates. Joe predicts that Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez will be a "key player" in some kind of "action" to ice the nonprofits that dare to do the job they're legally sanctioned to perform. This I want to see. Democrats and voters in general have had it with the old, business-as-usual ways of doing things -- and the damage that is done by public servants using government to serve the wealthy elites and increase the profit margins of corporate interests. We're having some eureka moments out here in little-people land, and we've only just begun. Wait and see. And time -- and younger voters -- are on our side.

November 18, 2008 at 06:06 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Government, Local Politics, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (11)

Ellen Wedum Guest Blog: View of Jennings from SE New Mexico

EWedumThis is a guest blog by Ellen Wedum written in response to a recent guest blog by John Wertheim. Ellen was a candidate for State Representative in HD 59 this year, but lost to incumbent Republican Nora Espinoza. She chairs the Democratic Party of Otero County.

It is really easy for people like Wertheim, who have lived and worked “north of I-40,” to comment on what goes on in the neglected SE corner of New Mexico. Wertheim wrote in his blog: "Why are Jennings and Papen so afraid of the progressive agenda..."

Wertheim ignores the reasons that were stated by Senator Tim Jennings and makes up his own. The big question in my mind is, WHO authorized the 'push poll' that led to Jennings’ reaction? I doubt very much that it was authorized by Senator-elect Fischmann. I would expect him to also condemn this dirty tactic.

Now my campaign for House District 59 was negatively affected by Democratic Senator Nava of Las Cruces, as she allowed my Republican opponent, Nora Espinoza, to sign on to SB 31, Nava's bill to expand the number of schools in dual-credit programs. This doubled Espinoza’s total of bills she can take credit for passing in her first two years in the legislature. Big whoop there. Espinoza also tried to sign on to the $5 million bailout for flood damage that passed in the special session, but Senator Tim Jennings, the true sponsor of the bill, apparently told her no, as she hasn't bragged about that. Jennings also donated $300 to my campaign. Only two other legislators helped me out: Representatives Chasey and Lundstrom. Espinoza received $500 each from Republicans Keith Gardner and Dub Williams, and $250 from Boitano, plus small donations from over 20 PACs.

Remember that Espinoza was the Republican representative who not only voted against House Bill 9, the Domestic Partnership bill, but also spoke against it in the Senate and ‘turned’ Democratic Senators Rainaldi and Taylor, who both voted against HB9 in the Senate Judiciary committee and prevented it from receiving a Senate floor vote. Apparently Rainaldi got so much flack for his harsh questioning of Representative Stewart that he did not even run for re-election (I was there and heard it all), and Taylor was defeated by Eric Griego.

And by the way I am very glad Rawson was defeated, he was one of those ‘snipers,’ like Carraro, Foley and Candy Spence Ezzell, who would waste time, and our tax dollars, with nasty comments and stupid questions during the floor sessions. Carraro and Rawson are now gone and the Republicans, mainly due to the investment of $200,000 by Big Oilmen like Mark Murphy, got rid of Foley for us. Republican Dennis Kintigh, his replacement, is a pretty decent guy, more like the new minority whip Keith Gardner. (Gardner has been given the title “the gentle giant of the quad counties” for his size and mild demeanor.)

So let’s not attack our Democratic legislators because they get upset when dirty tactics are used. I doubt that news of the nastiness that went on in the Albuquerque area in the three races Wertheim mentioned ever reached “south of I-40.” Both Bernalillo and Valencia counties are comfortably, if not overwhelmingly, Democratic, while Tim Jennings is the ONLY Democratic legislator from Chaves county. I’d appreciate it if you Albuquerque area folks would give more support to Democrats like George Peterson and me that are running in the tough districts down here, and help us get rid of Ezzell and Espinoza, instead of trying to remove Democratic influence from Chaves county entirely. It has long been absent from Lincoln county and from most of the eastern side of New Mexico. And also think about supporting special ed teacher Doug Post of Alamogordo in Otero county, who got nearly 46% of the vote against Republican representative Gloria Vaughn. That should be an interesting race in 2010.

This is a guest blog by Ellen Wedum. You can see an Alamogordo Daily News profile of the HD 59 race and the candidates here and here.

Guest blogs provide an opportunity for our readers to express themselves on topics of interest to the political discourse here, and may or may not express the views of the DFNM blog. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

November 18, 2008 at 10:08 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Democratic Party, Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (17)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Guest Blog by John Wertheim: Tim Jennings' Double Standard on Negative Campaigns

This is an Opinion Editorial by John V. Wertheim, former Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico:

The 2008 elections brought many surprises to New Mexico: voters delivering handily for Barack Obama, all federal positions now in Democratic hands for the first time in decades, and even additional seats for Democrats in the State Legislature. As a former Democratic chairman, I felt a mixture of pride -- at the ascendancy of important progressive policy ideas -- and awesome responsibility at the shear size of the work ahead of us. Both feelings were welcome, albeit sobering.

Seeing a top Democratic leader campaigning on behalf of a particularly partisan Republican was, however, decidedly unwelcome.

Democratic Senator and President Pro Tem, Tim Jennings, who raised eyebrows by ardently defending the Republican Senate Minority Whip, Leonard Rawson (SD-37, Las Cruces) in the final days of a tight election contest against criticism of Rawson's lrecord, demonstrated an indefensible double standard.

After all, quite a few of Jennings' fellow Democratic candidates this year were falsely accused and roughed up by Republicans during the give-and-take of the election season. But Senator Jennings said not a word in defense of them. What gives here?

I've known Senator Jennings for years and have often admired his principled stances, even when he opposed the Party mainstream. I consider him a friend, and friends should be able to tell each other when they've done something wrong. And make no mistake: it's wrong to apply double standards, especially for purely political motivations.

Fearful of losing his President Pro Tem job to the cadre of new progressive senators coming into the Legislature, Jennings recorded a robo-call and radio spot on behalf of Republican Senator Leonard Rawson, who lost narrowly to progressive Democrat Steve Fischmann.

Jennings, of course, has cut many an amiable deal in the Senate with Republican Rawson over the years. Much of Jennings' power comes from such horse trading. Nothing wrong with that. Politics is just that way a lot of times. But to try to preserve the status quo at all costs, even when the voters don't seem to like the status quo all that much? Well . . . nothing right about that.

The Roswell Democrat says he recorded the robo-call and radio spot only after getting a campaign call at home [interesting: Jennings does not live in the district] that supposedly called Rawson a "crook". The unkind words about "a good man", Rawson, drove Jennings to campaign for his re-election. After being upbraided by the state's Democrat leaders for the unusual action, Jennings expressed pious motives for campaigning for Rawson to the media. Ask whether they're not a little too pious, coming from a seasoned, hard-ball politician like Jennings:

"I have no desire to go against my party or anything else, but I for one believe you should stand up when somebody says something that isn't true... his mother should not have to listen to that crap." [11.03.08, Heath Haussmann blog]

"I look at that as a true attack on democracy. When someone goes out and falsely accuses someone of something, you should stand up." [11.03.08, Green Chile Chatter blog]

"If someone is spreading lies about someone, I'm not going to sit and say, 'Go ahead.'" [11.6.08, the Santa Fe New Mexican]

The mothers of a few New Mexico Democrats cannot be too pleased with the harsh and untrue character attacks made by Republicans on their children, but Senator Jennings - stalwart defender of 'What is True' and of Democracy -- was silent in their cases.

Tim Eichenberg, successful Democratic Senate candidate from Albuquerque, was attacked by Republicans with direct mail that said he was "bankrolled by anti-military extremists", "viciously oppose[d] our men and women in uniform" and that "Tim Eichenberg dishonors our men and women in uniform" - all because he utilized ActBlue, a Democratic online credit card processing platform to raise campaign funds. The mailer featured a grisly-looking photo of a wad of money splashed with fake blood.

Victor Raigoza, Democratic candidate for Senate in Albuquerque this year, was harshly attacked with mail and phones by New Mexico Republicans saying he was a "radical" who wants to "tear down" our state's "wholesome way of life and it's traditional values", and strongly implied he was gay. The piece was widely condemned by civil rights leaders and moderate Republicans.

Rep. Andrew Barreras, Democrat from Tome, N.M., was attacked in this election by Republicans with mail that featured his photo festooned with marijuana leaves, suggesting he was in favor of illegal drugs. With mail and phones, the New Mexico GOP said Barreras promised "policy for a price", "favors for friends", was corrupt and sold his votes in the Legislature to the highest bidder.

Where was Tim Jennings when these good Democrats were "falsely accused", personally maligned and attacked by New Mexico Republicans? He never said a word in defense of any of them.

Oh, and if Jennings tries to say lack of familiarity explains his deafening silence, I know everyone mentioned above very well, including Sen. Rawson, and let me vouch for Messrs. Eichenberg, Raigoza and Barrerras. They're good men, too, and just as deserving of a spirited defense.

Unless it's a anti-progressive Republican named Leonard Rawson - a sure vote for Jennings to remain as President Pro Tem in the 2009 Session – Tim Jennings can't be bothered to stand up for victims of campaign smears.

Another anti-progressive Democrat, State Senator Mary Kay Papen was busy forwarding Jennings' robo call via e-mail to voters in the 37th district.

Obviously, lofty ideals do not lay behind this behind-the-scenes machination.

So here are two questions Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans should ask:

Why are Jennings and Papen so afraid of the progressive agenda that voters embraced in this recent historic election?

Can we count on Tim Jennings to give up his double standards as President Pro Tem of the Senate?

The stakes are high. In just two years, the state legislature will have responsibility for creating a new redistricting plan for all of New Mexico's legislative and congressional electoral boundaries - boundaries that will go far in determining the future of progressive politics in New Mexico for years to come.

This is a guest blog by John V. Wertheim, the former Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico.

If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

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November 15, 2008 at 10:20 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Democratic Party, Guest Blogger, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (12)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tim Keller Releases Statement on Dismissal of Suit by Opponent; New Faces in NM Legislature

TkellerSee below for a statement by State Senator-Elect Tim Keller (right), another target of the misguided, sour grapes lawsuit filed by defeated lawmakers Sen. Shannon Robinson, Rep. Dan Silva and Sen. James Taylor against the winning candidates, several nonprofits and other individuals. The suit, which sought to overturn the results of three June Democratic primary contests, was recently dismissed by District Court Judge Linda M. Vanzi. In essence, the accusations made in the suit were seen as baseless and nonsensical.

We look forward to the swearing in of three terrific new lawmakers who were harrassed by the lawsuit -- Senator-Elect Tim Keller (SD 17), Senator-Elect Eric Griego (SD 14) and Representative-Elect Eleanor Chavez (HD 13). They'll be joined by some other impressive Democrats who won (or appear to have won) Legislative races this time around by challenging Republicans -- based on the latest unofficial tally by the Secretary of State.

It looks like Dem John Sapien beat Sen. Steve Komadina in SD 9 by 50.3% to 49.7%, although the margin of votes between them is so small as of today (132) it may trigger an automatic recount depending on how the provisional ballots and canvass go. Tim Eichenberg beat Sen. Diane Snyder in SD 15 by 56.5% to 43.5%, or a healthy margin of 2,900 votes. And in another tight race, Steve Fischmann defeated Minority Whip Sen. Leonard Lee Rawson in SD 37 by 51.1% to 48.9%, or 585 votes.

On the House side, new faces will include Dem Bill O'Neill, who beat Rep. Teresa Zanetti in HD 15 by 52% to 48% or 579 votes, and Ben Rodefer, who defeated Rep. Eric Youngberg in HD 23 by 51.4% to 48.6% or 430 votes. In another close race, it appears that Karen Gianinni beat Rep. Justine Fox-Young by 147 votes, or 50.6% to 49.4% in HD 30, according to the latest tally. It looks like Dem Jack Thomas beat Paula Papponi in HD 60 to replace Dem Rep. Thomas Swisstack by a margin of 279 votes, or 50.8% to 49.2%. Swisstack vacated his seat to successfully run for Mayor of Rio Rancho. 

Nothing is official until tomorrow, when the county canvasses are over, and November 25 when the statewide canvass happens  and the election must be certified. But it sure looks like we'll be getting more of the change we need, this time at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Statement from Tim Keller, State Senator-Elect, NM Senate District 17:

"I am pleased that the court ruled recently to dismiss the case which my former opponent and others sought to over-turn the results of the June primary election and have themselves re-instated as legislators.

In June the voters in my district spoke decisively in an election that was fair and complete. It's time that Shannon Robinson respect the will of the constituents he served and drop further appeals to a case that is baseless and a waste of elected official's time and taxpayer money.

I believe non-profits play an important role as advocates who hold elected officials accountable. They are a vital component of civic engagement and must be allowed to share the voting records of elected leaders with the public.

I am grateful to the voters who elected me to represent Senate District 17. I am looking forward to dealing with the issues which I was elected to address: economic development, investing more into our schools and finding solutions to our health care needs."

Also see our previous posts on the dismissal here, here and here. And you can check out a couple of our posts published when the frivolous lawsuit was filed here and here.

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November 13, 2008 at 01:00 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Justice, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

SD 37: Rawson Goes Down to Defeat by Fischmann

FamilyPIC
Steve Fischmann and wife Sandy

One of the most satisfying victories for Democrats has to be the defeat of longtime Republican State State Senator Leonard Lee Rawson, the Senate's minority whip, by Dem challenger Steve Fischmann in Senate Distict 37 in the Las Cruces area. Welcome to the New Mexico Legislature Senator-Elect Fischmann!

According to an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News, Fischmann won with a total of 13,131 votes or 51.1%, while Rawson got 12,587 votes or 48.9%. This tally represents unofficial results that now include almost all of the provisional and in-lieu-of ballots cast. Rawson has not yet publicly conceded defeat in the contest, and it's unknown whether he intends to pursue some kind of desperate legal action to try and muddy or overturn the results. I'm sure Rawson and GOP leaders are in shock over his loss.

You may recall that Rawson was supported by Dem Tim Jennings of Roswell, Senate President Pro-Tempore, in the form of a recorded robocall used in the waning days of the election. I've also heard that Jennings was featured in a radio ad defending Rawson, although that hasn't been confirmed. Jennings was soundly criticized by both Gov. Bill Richardson and Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Brian Colon for publicly advocating on behalf of Rawson in the closely contested battle between Rawson and Fischmann.  

Rawson was criticized on his ethics by opponents, including his involvement in obtaining a $100,000 appropriation to pave a road near a commercial development he owns that's located outside of the district he represents. Rawson was a high-ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and served on a number of finance-related interim legislative committees.

Fischmann ran a campaign that stressed the need to better manage development, more closely monitor deals by the State Land Office, promote renewable and affordable energy, conserve New Mexico's unique public lands and increase access to health care in the state. He also supports ethics and campaign finance reform measures.

It will be fascinating to watch what will happen to Jennings' clout in the Senate given the backlash that's developed within the Dem caucus to his out-of-bounds support for a Republican candidate during a close election. Jennings relied on a coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats to elect him Senate Pro-Tem.

Now Rawson has been replaced by a Dem, and reform-minded Dems Eric Griego and Tim Keller won Senate seats from status quo Dems James Taylor and Shannon Robinson. Also, Dem Tim Eichenberg defeated Repub Sen. Diane Snyder. And now it looks like Dem John Sapien has edged out Repub Sen. Steve Komadina. As a consequence, the balance of power within the State Senate is definitely in flux. Stay tuned.

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November 10, 2008 at 09:29 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Eric Griego Responds to Dismissal of Lawsuit by Taylor, Robinson, Silva

EgriegoEric Griego, State Senator-Elect in Senate District 14, released the statement below in response to the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Sen. James C. Taylor, Sen. Shannon Robinson and Rep. Dan Silva against certain nonprofits and the Dem candidates who defeated them in the June 2008 Democratic primary. It's satisfying that the lawsuit was seen for what it is by the court -- a silly and misguided attempt at revenge without any genuine legal basis. The progressive community is certainly looking forward to the day when Eric takes his oath of office and becomes another effective voice for change in the Legislature.

Statement by Eric Griego:
"I thank the District Court and Judge Linda Vanzi for a prudent decision to dismiss this frivolous lawsuit. The Court's decision to not intervene in the outcome of this election shows not only solid legal judgment on the merits of the case, but protects the important separation of powers fundamental to our democracy. It would have been a dangerous precedent for a Court to overturn an election based on unsubstantiated allegations.

"The crucial role non-profit groups play in educating the public about the voting records and campaign contributions of elected officials was also upheld in this important decision. As elected officials we all have to stand by the decisions we make and should not be afraid of those decisions being shared with the public before, during or after a campaign.

"I thank voters once again for electing me to the State Senate in District 14. I look forward to working hard on their behalf to strengthen our economy, bring ethics reform to our political system, provide universal healthcare for our families and improve public education for our children."

Also see our previous posts on the dismissal here and here. And you can check our a couple of my posts when the frivolous lawsuit was filed here and here.

November 8, 2008 at 02:57 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Justice | Permalink | Comments (0)