Inside the Capitol

Thursday, June 04, 2009

June column

RTR June 09 Jay Miller

When is that grand jury investigating the Governor's Office going to release its findings? Whether good or bad, the findings might affect what Gov. Bill Richardson does next. If he were to leave before his term ends, that could affect many state employees.
Meanwhile life goes on. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish continues her well organized gubernatorial campaign and gets farther ahead of any possible competition that may develop.
We haven't heard much from Val Kilmer lately. But Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez says on his Facebook page that he has formed an exploratory committee. The use of Facebook may be an indication that Sanchez is pretty serious about a run.
Cutting edge technology has become the big thing in political campaigns, especially since President Barack Obama used it so successfully in his unlikely presidential campaign last year. For Sen. Sanchez to jump into Facebook is quite a surprise, considering his previous old-fashioned ways.
Many will remember that a couple of years ago Sanchez sponsored legislation that would have allowed candidates to opt out of filing campaign finance reports electronically. As my son would say, "Oh, Dad. That's so 20th century."
But Sanchez is getting with it now. He says he will make a decision within the next few weeks whether to run or not. If he does, Senate sessions may get even more interesting because the lieutenant governor presides over them. And we may get to see it all on webcasts from the Senate floor.
Republican governor candidate Greg Zanetti, an Albuquerque financial adviser, has been traveling the state for weeks talking to business leaders, GOP leaders and journalists about his campaign.
Former state GOP chairman Allen Weh, of Albuquerque, recently has announced that he will travel 2,500 miles to 26 New Mexico counties to talk with business leaders about their concerns.
These are the only Republican gubernatorial candidates to announce so far but others have expressed interest. Former U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce both fall into that category. Pearce also is taking a close look at running for his former U.S. House seat in the 2nd Congressional District. There is evidence that is the direction he may go. State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones also is serious about the race. She's the one who brought Webcasting to the Legislature.

The Democrat lieutenant governor's race is beginning to fill up. Sen. Linda Lopez was one of the first to announce her interest in the post. Recently, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino got into the contest. Senators don't have to run for reelection next year so we may see additional solons looking at statewide office.
Others mentioned as being interested in the lieutenant governor race include Rep. Lucky Varela, state Veterans' Services Department Secretary John Garcia, longtime government chief executive Lawrence Rael, state Auditor Hector Balderas, Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas, Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera, Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuwart Paisano, state Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon and former chief counsel to Gov. Bill Richardson, Geno Zamora.

All statewide elected offices will be on the ballot next year. State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons is the only elected state official who is term-limited from seeking reelection. He is looking at a spot on the five-member Public Regulation Commission.
The state Land Office race always is hotly contested. Former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, an Albuquerque Democrat, would like to come back. On the Republican side, Bob Cornelius will seek the GOP nomination. Cornelius grew up in Southeast New Mexico and is a former executive director of the Bernalillo County GOP.
First-term state officials who can run for a second term are Secretary of State Mary Herrera, Attorney General Gary King, state Auditor Hector Balderas and state Treasurer James Lewis.

All three of New Mexico's newly-elected members of the U.S. House also face reelection next year. And all three began raising money and getting in close touch with constituents the day they took office.
Rep. Martin Heinrich's 1st Congressional District is seeing the most action with two possible Republican challengers, a Libertarian, an unregistered hopeful and a lawsuit. The Republicans considering the race are Albuquerque businessman Jon Barela and Kevin Daniels, an Albuquerque funeral home owner.
The Libertarians have nominated retired Albuquerque lawyer Alan Woodruff who also is serving as lead attorney in a suit being brought by the Libertarian and Green parties. The suit seeks to invalidate a wide range of state election provisions they say unfairly restrict ballot access for minor parties.

Last month's column addressed some of the problems with the state's new train service from Belen to Santa Fe. At about the same time, results of a passenger survey were released indicating over 90 percent satisfaction with the service.
State Transportation Secretary Gary Giron says the findings will be used to further improve the service and to give officials direction.
Passengers were asked the ideal time to reach their final destination in the morning and evening and about the convenience of connections getting them to their final destination. Some 90 percent of passengers are using the train to get to work or school.
Passengers obviously will be more satisfied with the train service than those who have chosen not to ride because of inconvenient timing or train delays. Getting their opinions will be more difficult since that would require a survey of the general public.




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