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Morning Word: Republicans and the Governor's Office

June 12, 2017, 7:30 am

Waiting on Pearce
A lot of people are wondering whether Rep. Steve Pearce will decide to abandon his 2nd Congressional District seat in Southern New Mexico to run for governor. Pearce, a Republican, has openly spoken about the possibility. If he does get into the gubernatorial race, are Republicans in danger of losing the seat? Is Pearce the party's best hope for governor? Andrew Oxford runs down the possibilities.

Berry veto override blowback
The other high-profile, undeclared hope for Republicans to keep the governorship is Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry. The Albuquerque City Council recently dealt Berry a blow by overriding his budget veto. Berry said the politics of the override endangered the city's credit rating. Fellow Republican Dan Lewis shot back with this: "The damage done to the city of Albuquerque’s reputation by the current public safety crisis costs the city more in one day … than a credit watch would do over decades." Worth noting is there's a Yates/McCleskey divide in the party, with Pearce closer to the Yates camp and Berry tied to McCleskey.

Is LANL pit facility the pits?
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said at a meeting last week that, while Los Alamos National Labs is the only place in the nation's nuclear weapons complex that can make plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons known as "pits," there's no guarantee the lab will stay that way. Ongoing safety concerns at LANL's production facility remain a concern. The Defense Department and Congress want 50-80 replacement pits produced each year starting in 2030.

Another Border Patrol agent assaulted
An off-duty Border Patrol agent was found on the side of the road severely beaten on Friday night near Las Cruces. He's the second off-duty Border Patrol agent to be assaulted in the last month; the other agent died after being stabbed in the eye. The FBI is investigating.

VIP golf memberships 
There's a new company running the Black Mesa Golf Course near Española. When the Pueblo of Santa Clara, which owns the course, terminated the lease with the old company, it triggered an option that let the new guys cancel VIP memberships. Some people paid thousands for what they believed to be essentially a lifetime membership. The five-paragraph exchange with the golf course director in the article is worth a click.

New Mexico school funding goes to trial
Two groups suing the state say the Public Education Department has chronically underfunded schools and it's having an outsized impact on Native Americans, English-language learners and low-income students. The case is in court in Santa Fe starting today. While schools get $2.7 billion now, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says that's a whopping $600 million short.

Could Interior Department privatize campgrounds?
It could, and it's under consideration. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said the move might result in more well-run campgrounds and a better-run Department of the Interior. No one's quite sure if campground costs would be more likely to go up or down, but most agree public campgrounds are an economic generator.

Bad connection
New Mexico's internet speeds are slower than every place in the country except Idaho. The state's average speed is two-thirds that of the nationwide average and less than half of the average speed in South Korea. They are, on balance, still faster than the global average internet speed.

Thanks for reading! The Word can vouch for that internet speed thing. Because ... just ... one ... more ... second ...

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