Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Santa Fe New Mexican Endorses Alan Webber; ABQ Journal Poll Out Today with Democratic Gubernatorial Voter Preferences

With only 9 days left before the Democratic Primary Election in New Mexico, a telephone survey of 631 registered Democratic tells us that 29% of "likely voters" remain undecided on who they will vote for on June 3rd. The Republican-leaning Albuquerque Journal reports that their endorsed candidate, Attorney General Gary King, is leading with 22% of those polled, followed by Lawrence Rael and Alan Webber with 16% each.

Alan Webber

Lawrence Rael

Linda Lopez

Howie Morales
Howie Morales and Linda Lopez follow with 12% and 5% respectively. Gary King has the highest name recognition of the five candidates because he is the son of popular three term former NM Governor, Bruce King.  He only garnered about 10% of Democratic Pre-Primary Convention votes in March and is not the favorite of the active party workers. His fund-raising has been lackadaisical as well, although he was able to come up with enough money to put up a TV ad last week.
Gary King

The important fact here is that 29% undecided vote.  A political consultant was quoted in today's Albuquerque Journal article that the 29% undecided factor favors the lesser-known candidates on election day:  "Brian Sanderoff said it is typically more difficult for better-known candidates to pick up significant shares of that support.  King is the best known of the Democratic candidates, and the undecided voter pattern could give hope to his Democratic rivals...."  
The candidate who has the most momentum at the present time has the best chance of being elected on June 3rd.  Howie Morales is popular in the southern and southwest part of the state with 37% of those polled there favoring the State Senator from Silver City.  However, the more populated north central part of New Mexico  do not favor Howie.  It's clear to me that the two candidates who will take most of that "undecided vote" are Webber and Rael.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez
And just yesterday, The Santa Fe New Mexican endorsed Alan Webber for Governor with a very strong editorial:

New Mexico Democrats should have but one goal in selecting a nominee to face Gov. Susana Martinez come November. They must decide which of five personable candidates can muster the necessary firepower to unseat the incumbent.
And by firepower, we don’t just mean money, although money certainly matters. We are talking about Democrats selecting a candidate who demonstrates he or she can raise money, but one who also has concrete ideas, demonstrates passion for this state and can present a vision to move New Mexico forward. It’s not enough to win. The selected candidate should have the ability to govern.
Because let’s face it, New Mexico is down in the dumps. We are last in the country in job creation. We are losing population, seeing some of the state’s best and brightest pack up and leave for good. We depend on federal dollars at a time when government budgets are shrinking, yet lack a strategy to revitalize private businesses. We seem unable to meet big challenges — whether improving education, stopping out-of-control police officers at both the state and local levels, serving our neediest citizens and, especially, bettering the lot of children.
Despite what is essentially a crisis, New Mexico’s leaders remain passively on the sidelines as though they lack control to shape events. Yet action is what New Mexico needs, with initiatives from leaders who are bold, innovative and committed to the reality that New Mexico has greatness within it. Because despite the state’s problems, New Mexico remains a Land of Enchantment.
 Alan Webber, co-founder and publisher of Fast Company business magazine, believes in New Mexico. After selling the magazine, Webber chose New Mexico as his home base. He brings to his campaign a keen mind, a background spent developing policy at the city and national level, before he started his magazine, and the ability to get to the heart of a problem.
 Here’s why Alan Webber is the best bet for Democrats who want to beat Susana Martinez.

Electability? Despite being nearly unknown six months ago, Webber has worked the state hard and persuaded the Democratic Party faithful that he can compete. Webber also has the most money. Some he loaned to himself, a signal that he is serious about this campaign. More came from friends from all over the state and nation, showing that he is a man that people trust — enough so that they donate hard-earned money to see him succeed. His potential to raise money in general can’t be overlooked.
Ideas? Webber understands that New Mexico must improve. As a private entrepreneur, Webber built a business. He has signed both sides of paychecks. He is, in the flesh, what Republicans profess to love, a practicing capitalist, a business builder who believed in an idea and made it a reality. A business person — with contacts in the elite world of finance and business all over the world — can help New Mexico compete. Yet Webber is clear that New Mexico’s best successes will come from within, from ideas and people who are here. He believes a governor must encourage homegrown entrepreneurs.
Passion? Webber says it best: “I didn’t move to New Mexico to run for office. I moved to New Mexico because I wanted to live the rest of my life here. I love the state.” What he doesn’t love is the current state of affairs.
Vision? Here is where Webber shines. He understands that a state — our community, if you will — is only as strong as its weakest members. He has a vision of a kinder New Mexico, where poor children who lack basics at home get a helping hand through early childhood education. He knows standardized tests and unfair teacher evaluation systems aren’t going to improve education. His idea for New Mexico is not a place where citizens are pitted, one against another, but where we all pull together.
In the Democratic primary for governor, The New Mexican recommends Alan Webber.
For undecided voters, take 10 minutes to view this May 19th episode from New Mexico In Focus and you will see why Alan Webber is fast becoming the candidate of choice among Democrats who want to defeat Republican Susana Martinez in November:

There are just 5 days left for "Early Voting".  You must be a registered Democrat to vote in the June Primary.  If you do not vote by 6PM on Saturday, May 31st, at your early voting location in your County, please go to the Polls on Tuesday, June 3rd, from 7AM to 7PM.  Access your Sample Ballot here.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Largely Ignored New Mexico Gubernatorial Election Highly Important to GOP Plans for 2016

The Chairman of the Democratic Governor's Association, Peter Shumlin (Governor of Vermont),  says that the DGA won't make media buys in New Mexico  in support of the Democratic challenger to Republican Governor Susana Martinez.  This is discouraging and is a decision that fails to understand the national importance of defeating Susana Martinez.  If Susana Martinez is re-elected in November she will be promoted to the top of the list for the national 2016 GOP ticket because it provides something money can’t buy – credibility; credibility that an Hispanic female Republican can win the votes of Democrats, Independents, Women, and Hispanics.  Not only is it morally and politically wrong for national Democrats to not challenge a Republican Governor in a majority Democratic state that elected President Obama in 2008 and 2012, but it insures that thousands of New Mexicans will continue to slip into poverty and that New Mexico’s precious resources will continue to be sold off to the oil and gas boys who care little about spoiling our water, land and air.  

The DGA and the national Democratic Party ought to support the Democratic candidate elected in the June 3rd Primary because New Mexico is a state where the national GOP is investing millions of dollars because they want to use Susana Martinez for propaganda purposes in their 2016 Presidential Election.  In 2012, after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the Republicans used PACS to flood New Mexico with political propaganda to promote conservative candidates.  One such shady group headed by Susana Martinez's political director and handler, Jay McCleskeyReform New Mexico Now PAC, attracted a lot of national conservative political interest including Nevada casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson's $250,000 contribution and thousands of dollars from the billionaire Koch brothers.  This year, former Republican VP,  Dick Cheney, NJ Governor Chris Christie, and national GOP politicians are raising millions of dollars for Susana Martinez because they are all looking forward to 2016 where Susana Martinez will be central in their propaganda to win over women and Hispanic voters - key sectors of the national voting population. 

Susana Martinez's public image has been carefully manufactured
to portray a caring Hispanic woman. The reality is that she has failed to improve the lives of most New Mexicans and she is a carefully controlled tool of an ambitious political consultant, the oil and gas industry and the national GOP

The DGA and national Democratic Party organizations are thinking small in not contributing money toward the Democratic gubernatorial race.  So, if New Mexico is to convince the national Democratic donors of the importance of this race, what must it do?  New Mexico has shown (most recently in the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Presidential, Senate and Congressional races) that People trump Big Money if they get involved in the election campaign and get out the vote.  Democrats hold a 52% to 31% advantage in voter registration in New Mexico.  19% of registered voters do not declare a party and cannot vote in the closed June 3rd Primary. There are five Democratic candidates on the ballot for the June 3rd Democratic Primary.  One of them will face Susana Martinez in November and it should be the strongest candidate who can present both the vision and the leadership ability to turn our state around from being at the bottom of almost every socio-economic factor.  The candidate we elect must excite and mobilize the people to vote in November and must win over a significant portion of the 19% of registered voters who are independent.  

Apathy: Enemy of Democracy  The main problem in this election year is "apathy" because 2014 isn't a “Presidential Election” year.  To those voters who seem uninvolved with this year's election, I tell them that a win for Martinez makes 2014 as important as a Presidential Year because it catapults her- undeservedly - to the national ticket in 2016.  A strong Democratic candidate for Governor will help carry to victory the rest of the Democratic ticket. 

Infographic from a Redesigning Democracy Summit
held in North Carolina in December, 2012
“Defeatist thinking” by people who think it won’t make a difference if they vote or not,  or who believe Susana Martinez is “unbeatable,” is a bigger threat to democracy in New Mexico than Big Money.  Big Money is used to generate and enforce defeatist thinking everywhere from negative and false media ads to Fox News.  Every New Mexican who wants to oust Susana Martinez should be volunteering right now for the Democratic candidate(s) they like and they should be giving money (whatever they can afford) to the political campaigns of those candidates.  Even a small amount helps.  But...making those phone calls, canvassing a neighborhood, using your Facebook account and other social media to get people excited about voting, and talking to your neighbors, friends and family are the most important things we can do.  It’s really a simple game of numbers and Democrats have the numbers but we need to be loud and pervasive in our message that Susana Martinez is not a “sweet and caring Hispanic woman” but a tool of the big corporations and a racist and anti-worker political party. By the simple act of voting, people in our small state of New Mexico can defeat the regressive ideology of the Tea Party/Republicans that threaten human rights, democracy, and  well-being of people and their families.

If we want to defeat Susana Martinez without  a lot of money to do it, you need to volunteer to register more Democrats to vote, work for a Democratic candidate,  talk to voters to get them  to vote, and mobilize our grassroots support like we already know how to do.  That’s how you beat Susana Martinez in 2014.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New Mexico's Sad History of Corruption and the Current Race for Governor

One of the biggest barriers to improving New Mexico's quality of life is corruption. The Institute for State Integrity ranks New Mexico as 39th out of 50 states, giving New Mexico a grade of D- for overall integrity based on 14 measurements of state practices and systems to insure integrity in government.  Gwyneth Doland of the State Integrity Investigation Project provides the story behind the low grade for New Mexico.

Thomas Nast cartoon of political corruption in 19th century American politics

In the most recent decade, the Democratic Party had a bunch of grifters and schemers who entrenched themselves into local and state offices, unchallenged for the most part, because of close family ties and no oversight. One of the worst cases to go public was when the State Treasurer and former State Treasurer were arrested in 2005 for corruption. Then-Governor Bill Richardson appointed Doug Brown, a UNM Business School professor, to straighten things out as the acting State Treasurer.  His story about what he found in the State Treasurer's office is horrendous:
An investigation by Deloitte & Touche begun weeks before had determined that the state’s checkbook was out of balance by $160 million, and unreconciled items stretched back over five years. The officer in charge of this department had no banking experience. His previous job was as a baggage handler for America West. Only one of my staff of 42 had any previous investment experience, and we were running a $5 billion portfolio. There were few controls, little disclosure, and no effective oversight. Investment guidelines, purchasing policies, and personnel policies were routinely ignored. All efforts had been directed to overpaying on commissions and purchases to generate the wherewithal for “campaign contributions.” The agency’s outside auditor was a small firm from downstate that had for years given the Treasurer’s Office clean opinions with no material weaknesses. That relationship was so cozy that other CPA firms had stopped bothering to bid. I came to appreciate Warren Buffet’s observation that there is seldom just one cockroach in the kitchen.
Now for the scary part. Document shredders had been working overtime. The alarm contacts on doors and windows had been super-glued together to enable after-hours entry. Video cameras had been redirected and videotapes erased. Staff members who were reluctant to go along with these schemes had their personnel evaluations downgraded retroactively. One had her car vandalized. Alerted to this pattern of criminality, I had a detective agency check the premises for telephone bugs. They found five, including one on my phone.
The most chilling moment came after I immediately had the alarm system repaired. The very next morning, an early-arriving employee went to her desk and realized she had forgotten to turn off the alarm. Her panic turned to puzzlement when there was no police response. The alarm was not working. Later that day, the alarm company revisited and informed us that someone had tampered with the system the night before by inserting a sophisticated lens to divert the electric beam.
James Lewis
The voters elected James Lewis as their Treasurer the following year and he put integrity back into the State Treasurer's office. Lewis was not only competent, but he also had the kind of character that did not allow for the slightest suggestion of corruption.

Bill Richardson
The Governor, however, had his own problems.  Bill Richardson began running for President in 2007 and in 2008 rumors swirled that his administration had its own corruption problems involving political contributions from investment company managers of state investment funds.

Bill Richardson not only dropped out of the Presidential race in 2008, but his announced appointment to be Secretary of Commerce in the new Obama administration was withdrawn in December, 2008, when an investigation into his alleged improper business dealings began.  Although charges were not pursued against the Governor, the Richardson administration became a tainted brand and the Democrats in the 2010 election were target of a vocal Tea Party movement and the Republican Party.  The Republicans ran a non-politician, Susana Martinez, against Richardson's Lt. Governor, Diane Denish, on a platform of clean government and a racial appeal to the majority of New Mexico voters who were Hispanic to elect the state's first female Latina Governor.  Riding on an anti-corruption appeal, Martinez defeated Diane Denish, 53.6% to 46.4%.

NM Governor Susana Martinez
Change comes slowly in New Mexico and, now, the Republican Governor Susana Martinez has her own charges of corruption and lack of transparency in the 2014 gubernatorial election.  Her critics attack Martinez for the selection of her closest advisors who are as dark, manipulative and self-seeking as any hard-bitten politicians. Martinez, like Bill Richardson, has her eye on national office and so the scrutiny of her political life has become intense.  She has become the darling of the American Right, much like Sarah Palin was in 2008.  As a woman and an Hispanic, Martinez has the kind of attributes the national GOP is sorely lacking in its candidates.  However, now that Martinez is finding herself in the limelight of the national press, will she be tarnished by her missteps?

Currently, five Democratic candidates are running to be the nominee of their party for Governor. The largest newspaper in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal, is a political supporter of Governor Martinez, and despite an occasional critical article, treats her with positive media coverage while attacking her Democratic opponents with articles of slander and innuendo.  The press, which should be doing its job to cover politics fairly and with accurate information about the candidates who would be Governor, is too often partisan in its coverage and/or lacks the journalistic investigatory skills needed to dig beyond the smiling faces of political PR.   This is a disservice to our state and is a primary reason why corruption and lack of transparency find fertile ground in New Mexico due to voter ignorance.

Alan Webber and his family
I like several of the Democratic candidates running for office in New Mexico this year and have previously blogged about Alan Webber and why I think he would be a good candidate for Governor against Susana Martinez.  I still run into resistance from narrow-thinking Democrats (almost all of  them Anglos) because he is isn't Hispanic and they think you have to be Hispanic to run for Governor in New Mexico. Well, to that I say: Bullshit!  This is an amazingly diverse state racially and ethnically. Too many times, Democrats in New Mexico have used stereotypical thinking and elected really terrible people. Many of the candidates in 2014 have excellent backgrounds and strong ethical character in the vein of Treasurer James Lewis. I do not believe that a candidate has to be Hispanic to win in New Mexico.  We should elect the best candidates, regardless of their ethnicity.

The key to getting good government is involvement in the political process by the voters.  When we allow so much money in politics to control who gets elected, then the only antidote is transparency and grassroots participation.  I volunteer for the candidates I like and I donate small sums of money. That is what I advise to others to do, especially in mid-term elections when the press and the voters seem to ignore it as less important than a Presidential year.  Who we elect as our local government officials can mean the difference between a lousy or excellent quality of life for us in New Mexico. Working closely with local candidates will tell you a lot about their character.   Please, get involved.

There are several political newcomers running for state-wide office.  The years of political corruption have brought a response from many of our New Mexico citizens who are bravely coming forth to try and put an end to cess-pool politics.  To my Democratic friends, I would like to recommend the following candidates for the Democratic New Mexican Primary scheduled for June 3, 2014:

Governor:   Alan Webber
Lt. Governor: Debra Haaland
Treasurer: Tim Eichenberg
Attorney General: Hector Balderas
Secretary of State: Maggie Toulouse Oliver
State Auditor: Tim Keller
Commissioner of Public Lands: Ray Powell
U.S. Senator: Tom Udall
Congress CD-1: Michelle Lujan Grisham
Congress CD-2: Roxanne "Rocky" Lara
Congress CD-3: Ben Ray Lujan, Jr. 

Congressman (CD-3) Ben Ray Lujan, Jr. 

Deb Haaland, tribal administrator for the Pueblo of San Felipe, running for Lt. Governor

Hector Balderas, State Auditor, and his family.  Hector is seeking the AG office.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Bernalillo County Clerk,
wants to be Secretary of State
CD-1 Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham with a fan

Ray Powell, Land Comissioner

Roxanne "Rocky" Lara is running against
Tea Party favorite, Steve Pearce, for Congress CD-2

Tim Keller, currently a State Senator, with his wife and new baby.  Tim wants to be State Auditor.

Senator Tom Udall 

Tim Eichenberg is a candidate for State Treasurer

With positive candidates like these, I am optimistic that New Mexico can turn the corner on political corruption, but only if we people keep a close eye on our politicians and stay involved!

Update: October 2, 2015

Too bad New Mexican voters returned Republican Dianna Duran to Secretary of State.  Now she stands accused of embezzling campaign funds to fuel an out-of-contral gambling habit.  More bad news for our state's political and economic state of affairs and so it goes....