Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sen. Mary Jane Garcia back in hospital with blood clot after attack

Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia is now in a Las Cruces hospital with a blood clot in her leg after being attacked in Albuquerque Sept. 16. She suffered a fractured leg in the incident at the Hotel Albuquerque.

Garcia, 73, has undergone physical therapy since the attack and has been in good spirits recently, sources who have been in contact with her said. She had been at home after the attack and even attended the Clinton rally in Espanola, albeit in a wheelchair. Doctors now want to keep her immobilized to prevent the clot from moving, someone who spoke with her by phone today said.

Garcia will talk in depth about the attack on the Report from Santa Fe show this weekend on KNME-TV, Channel 5. The show airs on Friday night at 10:30 and Sunday morning at 7:30.

Secretary of State back in the news for voting glitch

You've probably read this news today about the problems with early voting. You might also have seen this report from the New Mexico Independent about how few newspapers have endorsed Herrera. So I thought it was time to post the only real debate I've seen between Mary Herrera and Dianna Duran, courtesy of Report from Santa Fe with Lorene Mills.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New anti-Martinez ad focuses on water

Water hasn't been the biggest topic in the 2010 gubernatorial race, although I have written a little about it.

(Along with that, the environment in general hasn't been discussed much either, although my colleague Staci Matlock did pen this piece.)

With less than a week to go until the election, the group We Are New Mexico just came out with this ad on water.

Water - Five New Mexican Women Express Concern About Susana Martinez - from matthew betlej on Vimeo.

Richardson administration still stingy with exempt info

Here's a little nugget worth reading about this morning. Thom Cole's column delves into a still apparently tricky topic with the Gov. Bill Richardson administration: exempt employees.

We've seen how the current administration deals with such information. So how will the next governor deal with the media, public records requests and other open government topics? I've got a story in the works on just that topic. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Duran's campaign says she's ahead

Republican Sen. Dianna Duran has a double digit lead over incumbent Mary Herrera, Duran's campaign manager said today.

Sen. Rod Adair, who is running the GOP effort to take control of the Secretary of State's Office, said he's hopeful about the race.

"We have reason to believe we are up by a double digit lead and we are optimistic about that," he said "But we also know there are lots and lots of undecided voters out there and we're hoping those vote in our favor."

Adair said he couldn't cite any information about the lead but seemed extremely upbeat on the phone today.

The Republican Party is eager to take control of the office but has struggled in the past to come close. This year, Herrera has been dogged by bad headlines about her office, which is a theme of Duran's TV ad.

By contrast, Herrera says she's worked to clean up the office and focused on that theme in her ad. The ad, which delved into the improvements she's made since being elected, however, was recently pulled down from the Internet, which is curious . . .

$4 million mystery solved

OK so I did get some info on the mystery contract Susana Martinez mentioned during last night's debate. Turns out it was a recent renewal of an ongoing contract that the state has for risk management cases with the Robles, Rael and Anaya law firm, of which Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Brian Colon is a partner.

At the current time, Colon isn't billing any hours at the firm, a campaign spokesman said. The contract has been in place for about four years, according to Chris Salas, who said it is worth up to $4 million. Risk management has many similar contracts for services with other law firms, some of which are quite lucrative.

Anyone wishing for more debates?

Don't know about you, but I was sort of hoping to see the candidates square off a few more times after last night. Alas, that was the last scheduled debate before the Nov. 2. election. Check out our coverage here and here.

One big thing that went unanswered in my mind was the $4 million contract that Susana Martinez said Brian Colon had just gotten with the state. (I'm also still wondering about Martinez' grandparents and whether they were from Mexico, a question I asked her campaign about two weeks ago, after she said in a New Mexican story that her great grandparents were the most recent immigrant members of her family, something that appears to conflict with what she told the Laura Ingraham radio show.)

Of course, I'm also wondering what kind of tasty meals Diane Denish would be whipping up, after she said the mansion doesn't need a chef because she can cook.

Although the debates are over, expect many more TV ads between now and the election. Check out some spoof ads here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SOS ads on the air

Several people have asked to see the TV ads in the secretary of state race. Here they are, side by side.

First, Sen. Dianna Duran's ad:

and, the ad from Mary Herrera:

I haven't seen any polling in this race -- if you have, please let me know -- but it's a talker for sure, given the recent headlines about the office. THe fact that both campaigns have ads out, which usually doesn't happen in such a down ballot race, is an indicator that both parties think it might be close.

Friday, October 15, 2010

And now for some downballot news

I finally got around to writing my story on the state treasurer's race between incumbent James Lewis and Republican Jim Schoonover, which you can read here. You should also check out this piece by Heath Haussamen for more info on Schoonover's background.

Today, I'm working to finish my piece on the auditor's race, in which there's been a development. On Thursday night, GOP chairman Harvey Yates said the Republican candidate Errol Chavez has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. It's unclear at this point what that means for his candidacy.

Here's the statement from Yates:

"For the last several weeks Errol has been suffering from a medical condition, the cause of which was unknown. However, yesterday medical examinations revealed that Errol has a brain tumor. Tomorrow he is being transported to a major out-of-state hospital for further diagnosis and treatment of the tumor. While we wait for additional information, our thoughts and prayers are with Errol and his family during this difficult time."

My other story in today's paper, on the situation with Brian Colon's Florida condo is here.

Update, 9:50 a.m.

Chavez's campaign director just called to say he's not giving up on the election, despite having to go out of town now for treatment.

"He's been adamant he will stay in the race," said director Christopher Martinez. "He's been adamant that miracles do happen."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Weekly Standard: lien placed against Colon's Florida condo

The Weekly Standard is reporting that Brian Colon isn't up to date on payments for a Florida condo. See their story here.
In part, the story says
"Recently uncovered documents reveal that Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Brian Colón has refused to make payments on a condo that he owns in Florida. A representative of the Sunrise Lakes Condominium Apartments association in Sunrise, Florida claims that Colón has refused to pay his mortgage and his maintenance fee, which has resulted in a lien being placed on the property.

The representative says that Colón inherited the property in 2008, and that since then he has refused to respond to requests to pay for outstanding fees and mortgage payments. Colón is listed as the responsible party for the property. Letters and phone calls have been sent to Colón and his campaign in order to reclaim payment, but so far they have been ignored.

The Sunrise Lakes condominiums are designed as an affordable retirement home community for seniors with many of the units selling for under $20,000. The main point of his concern was that since Colón has refused to address his payments, other tenants have had to foot the costs with increases in their own fees.

Records with the Broward County courts show that as of last year, Colón owed $4,269.75 for outstanding condominium fees and $12,650.43 for the one-bedroom unit. The most recent court documents are from the July 2009, when the condominium association decided to take legal action against Colón."

I'm seeking comment from Colon.

Update, 9:04 pm

Colon said the apartment was his mother's home. "When she passed away, she handed it down to me and my siblings. We are working as a family to resolve this matter," he said in a statement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Martinez will donate money from controversial oil man to rape crisis center

Republican Susana Martinez said she will donate $20,000 in contributions from Texas oil man Clayton Williams to a Las Cruces rape crisis center.

The donation comes after Democrats called on her to return the money from Williams, a one-time gubernatorial candidate who the Associated Press has quoted about rape as saying "As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

La Pinon, the center that will get the money, is glad for the cash, but not taking sides in the gubernatorial race.

“I know first-hand that Susana has dedicated her life to fighting sexual abuse and helping turn victims into survivors. Claiming Susana is anything but a champion for rape survivors is reprehensible.” Donna Richmond, director of La Pinon.

Martinez got $5,000 from him in the primary and $15,000 for the general election. Her campaign manager said Martinez had met Williams, but didn't know the circumstances of their meeting.

Dems say Martinez should give back money of man who made rape joke

Democrats are calling on Republican Susana Martinez to return $15,000 from Texas oil man and former gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams after a joke he made about rape.

The Denish camp in a release said:

When he was running for Governor he (Williams) said bad weather is like rape. “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” [AP, 6/14/08] Williams' public statements are shocking and offensive to rape victims and women, and have no place in the New Mexico Governor’s race.

"This is absolutely outrageous and cuts to the core of why Susana Martinez is wrong for New Mexico,” Denish spokesman Chris Cervini said.

"She has taken yet another big donation from a Texas billionaire. But this time, he is also a Texas politician who jokes about the rape of women. Susana Martinez needs to immediately return the money and explain to New Mexicans why she thought it was acceptable to take money from someone who has made fun of rape victims so publicly," Cervini said.

"New Mexicans need to send a clear message to Susana Martinez that there is no place for this behavior in our state."

Sen. John McCain once cancelled an event with Williams, according to the Dallas Morning News.

I have a message into the Martinez people seeking comment.

Update, 5:21 pm

Martinez will donate the money to a rape crisis center in Las Cruces, campaign manager Ryan Cangiolosi just said.

"Susana doesn't want there to be any questions about how she feels about rape survivors. She's fought very hard for them throughout her career," he said.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gubernatorial profiles in today's paper

Check out what my colleague Steve Terrell and I have been up to for the past few weeks.

My profile of Republican Susana Martinez is here and his story on Diane Denish is here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

NYT: Richardson shapes NM guv race

If you thought Bill Richardson wasn't a big factor in this year's gubernatorial matchup, think again, the New York Times says today.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mary Herrera, Dianna Duran duke it out on TV tonight

If you've been following the drama at the Secretary of State's office these days, you'll want to check out Report from Santa Fe hosted by Lorene Mills tonight on PBS. She's got both Mary Herrera and Dianna Duran on her show. It airs on Channel 5, KNME, at 10:30 tonight at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. The show also airs on KANW-FM, 89.1 at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

If you're in the mood for debates -- and who isn't this time of year -- remember that the last two gubernatorial debates are coming up Oct. 17 and 21. ON the 17th, watch KOAT, Channel 7 at 6 p.m. On the 21st, check out Channel 4, KOB-TV at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New ads out again today

Let's hope the campaigns are saving money in other places as they spend what seems to be all their cash on ads. Check out the two latest in the gubernatorial war. At this rate, they might actually go broke before election day.

While the ads are new, the topics are not. Martinez is working to tie Denish to Richardson, as the Democrats paint Martinez as a Texan.

More questions about how business is being done at the PRC

The New Mexico Independent has another good story today about happenings at the Public Regulation Commission.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government suggests some one-on-one conversations between commissioners and State Insurance Superintendent John Franchini are a way to get around the state's Open Meetings Act. The talks are about a corrective action plan dealing with the insurance division -- steps to be taken after a critical audit.

According to the story, "The PRC doesn’t regulate the insurance industry, and therefore has no jurisdiction over the plan in question. But the PRC supervises the insurance superintendent, who is presenting the plan as a courtesy, officials said."

In addition, PRC member Sandy Jones and the insurance division's attorney told the news organization that "because they lack jurisdiction, Public Regulation Commission members can hear the details of the plan individually because they won’t be taking action on public policy."