Morales a shoe in for Altamirano’s seat?

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I’ve been far too consumed by the New Hampshire results (seriously, wow) that I never had time to get a blog written about the state Senate seat opened by the untimely death of Ben Altamirano. Anyhoo, it looks like, after getting the nod from both Sierra and Grant counties, Howie Morales might be the newest member of the New Mexico Legislature.

As I alluded earlier, this is interesting: while home, virtually nobody mentioned Howie’s name. I kept hearing that Tony Trujillo ((see this previous Silver City Sun News article)) would be the replacement.

Trujillo has been a mover and shaker in Santa Fe the past five years: as a lobbyist for Phelps Dodge, regent president for Western New Mexico University, and for a period as president of the Association of Commerce and Industry (the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce). In fact, many people thought Altamirano was showing Trujillo the ropes, grooming him as a replacement.

Suddenly, Trujillo doesn’t even appear to be in the running.

Howie is a good candidate: he’s been incredibly active in the community, was easily elected to his position as Grant County Clerk, and is well respected. If there are any skeletons in the closet I haven’t heard of them.

With two of three counties putting forth Howie’s name, I find it hard to see Gov. Bill Richardson siding with the right-leaning Catron County commission if they name somebody other than Morales.

Again, more on this later, but two quick questions:

  1. Does anybody know who Richardson is meeting in New Mexico tomorrow? According to Heath Haussamen, it’s a candidate to replace Benny.
  2. Can Richardson name whomever he wants to the seat? Or is he required to name somebody nominated by one of the county commissions?

Also, for full disclosure: Tony Trujillo has been a family friend for many years — I attended grade school with his son. In addition, I went to high school with Howie’s brother. Yeah, Silver City is a small world.

UPDATE: 1/9/08 — According to this Sun News article, Morales is the candidate meeting with Richardson.

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