Weekly Alibi's 2010 Election Guide

View the Weekly Alibi's entire 2010 Election Guide here

U.S. Congress

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, October 28, 2010

When we endorsed Rep. Martin Heinrich in 2008, our one concern was his relatively brief political experience. But his first term laid those fears to rest. He’s pushed many bills with direct impact on New Mexicans and, though a freshman Congressman, he was appointed to the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Natural Resources.

Two years later, he says people told him starting work in Congress would be “like drinking from a fire hose.” With so many problems facing the nation, there’s a lot to be done.

Heinrich got funding from the Department of Workforce Solutions to train New Mexico workers for jobs in clean energy. He authored legislation to help veterans register with the VA more easily and helped enact the new GI Bill, which ensures a full college education for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Heinrich co-sponsored the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He sponsored a tribal housing bill, which, if passed, will make it easier for people to get a mortgage on tribal land. He was also successful in including the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in health care reform.

When it comes to immigration, Heinrich supports comprehensive national reform that he describes as “tough and fair and practical.” He says if a person’s only crime is her immigration status, and if she’s willing to learn English and pay taxes, she ought to be allowed to eventually apply for citizenship. Illegal immigrants who are involved in crime, in his opinion, should be deported.

The Bush tax cut should be kept in place for middle-class families, he says, but allowed to expire for those whose annual income totals more than a quarter of a million dollars.

He supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which says states don’t need to recognize the marriage of same-sex couples performed in other states. In fact, Heinrich’s view of domestic partnerships is simple: “You can’t justify withholding legal benefits from any population.”

Heinrich’s a great congressman. He tells us something that sums him up perfectly: “I’m not a believer in big government or small government. I’m a believer in effective government.”

The Alibi enthusiastically endorses Heinrich for Congressional District 1.

Why is Jon Barela running for Congress? That’s what we’re trying to figure out. He says he’s unhappy with the way things are being run in Washington. Sure, OK, that’s what all candidates say. But why is this attorney—who's heavily funded by the Republican Party and who’s been out of the politics game for decades—running now? Your guess is as good as ours.

That said, Barela’s got some things working in his favor. “I’ll always be an American and New Mexican before my party,” he says. “I’ll never put my ideology before the people of this district.” Some of his stances back up those declarations of independence.

On immigration, Barela supports a temporary guest worker program for illegal immigrants who are already in the country and aren’t involved in illicit activities. He also says he’s “not a fan” of Arizona’s SB 1070. The war in Afghanistan lacks a solid mission or exit strategy, Barela says, and we shouldn’t be there unless they are identified. And he’s a proponent of alternative energy—specifically, biofuels technology.

But the thing about Barela is that he lacks solid details on how to accomplish what he wants. He wants to help fix the economy, but his only real solution is to “cut spending,” and his only suggestion on how to do that is to not spend the remaining stimulus money. He says veterans’ services are “good, but we can do better.” Still, he can't outline how.

We just don’t think Barela’s ready for Congress. When we have someone like Heinrich available, it doesn’t make sense to vote for anyone else.


Land Commissioner

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, October 28, 2010

Ray Powell comes with experience—loads of it. The man has already held the office for two-plus terms. When Jim Baca left the post in 1993 to join the Clinton administration, Powell was appointed in his stead; he was then elected to serve for two consecutive terms through 2002. Term limits kicked in at that point, preventing him from running again. But now he’s back.

In the interim, he served as the executive director the Valles Caldera National Preserve. He's the regional director of the Four Corners area for the Jane Goodall Institute. He’s also a veterinarian with a master’s in systematic botany and plant ecology from UNM. He got his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Tufts University with an emphasis in wildlife rehabilitation.

Powell’s big issue this election cycle is ethics. He says pay-to-play policies have been in effect at the Land Office, and he wants to eradicate them immediately and make the office transparent.

Oil and gas drilling generate more than 90 percent of the office’s revenue, so Powell doesn't oppose it, but he also talks of stringent regulation, transparency and groundwater protection. He wants to increase the state’s portfolio of energy sources.

He says he believes in working with communities closely before approving development projects (something he was known for the last time he was in office). He’s also a supporter of wolf reintroduction.

Powell has a deep understanding of all the issues that affect decision-making in the Land Office. He’s proven himself a steward of land, wildlife, communities and smart development. We’re lucky Powell wants to sit in the office again, because he’s a trustworthy and eager candidate, and we know he’ll serve our state well.

The Alibi wholeheartedly endorses Powell.

Matt Rush comes from eight generations of farming and cattle ranching in the state. He and his dad run a cow/calf operation in Roosevelt County, where they also farm wheat and hay. Two years ago, Rush ran for the state Legislature and lost.

We think it’s fair to say Rush knows agriculture. He’s involved in his community, and he obviously cares about doing some good. But why run for the land commissioner’s seat? His answer: Why not? Rush understands the office is a powerful one that wields much influence. He wonders why more people don’t run for it. Fair enough.

His main issues are energy, ethics and fiscal management, but his platform doesn’t go much beyond talking points. He wants to “restore ethics” to the office, but other than saying that he’ll be a vocal member of the State Investment Council (land commissioners are automatically members), he leaves out any particulars. He says he’ll be fiscally responsible, but his strategy for doing so is simply hanging on to the policies already in place in the Land Office. There’s just not a lot of meat to his platforms.

Rush says when it comes to drilling for gas and oil, groundwater should be protected. But, he adds, the industry may be over-regulated, and he also proposes giving drilling companies tax credits to ensure they stay in the state. He’s against wolf reintroduction.

Rush ran into a media snafu this fall when he told a reporter from the Albuquerque Journal that he had a degree from Lubbock Christian University, and the paper found out he didn’t. Turns out Rush is only one course away from a bachelor’s degree, so he says he assumed he automatically had an associate’s.

We’re left with a contender who may or may not have intentionally lied about his education, whose experience is confined to farming and ranching, and who doesn’t have strategies to back up his goals. He seems like a nice enough guy, but really, is this race a hard choice?