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Goodman: Thoughts On Tuesday's New Mexico Primary

Jun 3, 2018

Credit peter goodman

Commentary: I voted Friday. 

In the county sheriff primary, I wish incumbent Kiki Vigil had only one challenger. Having talked to deputies and watched the department deteriorate, I hope Kiki – for whom I voted in 2014 – loses. With name recognition and four challengers, he probably won't; but Eddie Lerma and Kim Stewart, two very different candidates, offer the best chances. Lerma has extensive local law-enforcement experience, and law-enforcement endorsements, while Stewart offers new ideas and extensive law-enforcement experience elsewhere. 

Last-minute information strengthened my preference for Steve Fischmann in the PRC race, despite annoying ads from both sides. We have a clear choice between a public-interest candidate (Fischmann) who'll fight for a fair shake from the utilities and for faster progress toward renewables at fair prices, and current PRC Chair Sandy Jones. Jones seems too close to regulated utilities. He complains that environmental groups concerned about climate change are backing Fischmann; but Jones is getting huge backing from companies that benefit from his decisions. PNM, a major utility he regulates, dropped $440,000 this month on a PAC that's been inundating us with misleading mailers against Fischmann. Officially, Jones has no connection with “New Mexicans for Progress.” But a PRC source has described seeing top PNM officials visiting with Jones in his office before meetings. Judging from Jones's mailer attacking Merrie Lee Soules the Saturday before the 2014 primary, expect a similarly misleading attack on Fischmann.

I voted for Xochitl Torres-Small for Congress – with great delight. I'll strongly support either Democrat against any of the Republicans; but I know and trust Xochitl. Years ago I thought she'd be a great candidate for this seat. 

Nothing against Mad Hildebrandt. However, recently, she seems to be on the attack over Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) interest in Xochitl. Yes, reasonable folks could differ on the DCCC, and do; but Mad may not be the right one to raise those issues. Xochi's a popular local candidate, with numerous volunteers and small contributors. Mad's getting a bundle of money from wealthy California software developer Maciej Ceglowski – upwards of $100K from Ceglowski, his PAC, and his friends, mostly out-of-state. Good for her. But instead of attacking Xochi because the DCCC sees in her what a lot of us see, Mad should focus on issues and how Dems take back this seat. DCCC apparently has not contributed money during the primary. While Mad's getting big contributions from tech folks at Google, Apple, and Yahoo!, Xochitl is getting donations from people who live in New Mexico, mostly in CD-2. 

Land Commissioner is a far more important job than folks realize. Garrett VeneKlasen and Stephanie Garcia Richard are viable candidates, the former the favorite of environmental groups. George Muñoz, who voted against banning coyote-killing contests, doesn't deserve our votes. He's raging at conservation groups now, calling them “special-interest groups” because their concern about our environment makes them leery of him. 

I voted for Bill McCamley, a dream candidate for state auditor. I voted for Billy Garrett for Lieutenant-Governor because he's the real deal. Deputy County Assessor Paul Ponce has learned the job in eight years as deputy, and deserves our votes. I voted for Micaela Lara Cadeña for State Rep. I recommend Karen Trujillo, who seems likely to be a thoughtful, responsive, and responsible commissioner for District 5. (Delighted so many capable young women running!) 

Many great folks have worked hard. Please vote – thoughtfully.

 

[Do want to emphasize appreciation for all local candidates, who ran good races.  A lot of votes were tough decisions between or among good candidates.  And from what I saw, a lot of the races were run in a positive way, with each candidate mostly promoting himself or herself, and her or his ideas and positions, rather than attacking each other.  (The PRC race was an unseemly exception.)]

 

[With regard to the PRC: as I mentioned in the column, Mr. Jones is not legally permitted to coordinate activities with the PNM PAC, and we should presume he's not breaking the law.  However, the very size, nature, and timing of the donations are extremely telling.  For PNM to contribute $440,000 in two weeks' time is unusual -- unprecedented, so far as I can tell -- which means PNM really cares about this one.  (The money is also going to support another PRC incumbent up north against challenger Janine Yazzi.)  PNM would stand to make millions of dollars more in the next few years under a Jones-led PRC than a PRC with Fischmann on it.  

I discuss the PNM funding of New Mexicans for Progress, and include some PNM documents, in a post from yesterday, Saturday.  [To reach that material, either page down or click here. ]

 

[Should note that just as PNM jumped on the scales in the PRC race, two big oil-and-gas companies jumped into the Land Commissioner race to support Muñoz.  There too, conservationists have been supporting Garrett VeneKlasen or Stephanie Garcia-Richard.  It'll be interesting to see how the industries' huge media show will affect the voting.   (Thanks again, Citizens United!)]