Larry Ahrens is a longtime radio talk show host that graced New Mexico airwaves in the mornings for 30 plus years.
Mr. Ahrens is acutely tuned into the pulse of New Mexico politics because of his years in the radio business in New Mexico.
Larry and I are on clearly on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but we have also gotten along, we are friends, we have known each other for decades and we have always been able to have what I believe are productive political discussions.
One week after the 2018 midterms, Larry Ahrens offered his thoughts on the “blue wave” in New Mexico and what it may mean for our economic future in the age of Donald Trump.
PREFACE FROM LARRY AHRENS:
When I wrote this, I approached it from genuine concern about our economic future in New Mexico. We’re a state that depends quite heavily on government dollars. This is not a criticism of the voters of New Mexico. Voters really don’t think about these kinds of situations when they cast their ballots. This also not a partisan complaint about the results of the election. The slate of candidates on both sides were lacking a certain amount of experience and influence in Washington DC. But this is where we find ourselves today and I’m concerned.
TITLE: PRAY FOR NEW MEXICO
The people have spoken. The election has turned New Mexico from a Blue State to a Deep Blue State. The Democrats are rightfully delighted and they deserve to spike the football and do a dance in the end zone after the win. Like all New Mexicans I hope for good things to come. But I’ve also heard from several of my Democrat friends that this is their way of sticking it to President Trump. OK fine. But be very, very careful what you wish for.
It goes without saying that President Trump plays hardball. He rewards his friends and vanquishes his enemies. The man is tough and he knows the score.
This is the part that gets rather ominous. It’s uncomfortable to write this.
New Mexico is now politically powerless to prevent significant Federal closures of military bases and perhaps one or both of our national labs.
We are sitting ducks.
The President has already asked his cabinet to find at least 5% savings in all parts of government. All it would take is one phone call by the President to Defense Secretary Mattis who would order him to reassign the mission of Cannon AFB in Clovis or Holloman AFB in Alamogordo and send those military assignments to bases in Texas or Florida. That would happen so fast it would make heads spin. Or reassign Kirtland AFB to North Dakota, Arizona or somewhere else [friendlier] to Trump. The economic impact of any of those bases closing would be dramatic in our state. Maybe the word cataclysmic would better describe it.
How about our national labs? Sandia and Los Alamos are lifeblood to the economies in Albuquerque and the Santa Fe area. It’s not too far of a reach to imagine the mission of LANL being absorbed by our national lab facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – a much friendlier Trump state. Same for Sandia National Laboratory.
Here’s a real Doomsday scenario – both Kirtland AFB and Sandia Lab get notice to close by the Feds and are assigned elsewhere. That move would literally break the economic back of Albuquerque for many years to come. It would affect every single aspect of local business and drive down property values in a big way.
Who’s going to stop it?
With this election New Mexico placed two freshmen Democrats into the House of Representatives. Both new members are well advertised as anti-Trump people. The other Democrat member Rep. Ben Ray Lujan is the same guy that was chairman of the committee coordinating the Democrats fundraising and recruiting efforts to unseat Republicans in Congress. I don’t believe Rep. Lujan will be invited over to the White House for lunch anytime soon.
Then there’s the U. S. Senate. New Mexico just re-elected Senator Martin Heinrich. Not exactly the most influential guy in DC. Truth be told Sen. Heinrich is not regarded by his Senate peers as someone very effective or even likeable. Also, the Senator is a virulent anti-Trump politician. Same is said about our other Senator Tom Udall. Not remarkable and vocal anti-Trump. If you don’t think President Trump hasn’t noticed then maybe I could interest you in buying the Montano bridge?
New Mexico no longer has a man like Sen. Pete Domenici to protect the Federal installations. We no longer have the all-star talent that fended off the closure of Kirtland AFB many years ago with the BRAC hearings. Those men and women have long since retired, left NM or have passed away.
New Mexicans are proud people. We like it when our state gets noticed or becomes famous for something. I hear the phrase all the time “That will put New Mexico on the map!” Well we’re on the map alright. We’re the big blue state in the middle of several red states on Trump’s map. He doesn’t need us. Our state is chump change in any reelection scenario he has. Don’t be surprised to see Federal dollars start draining away from our big blue anti-Trump state. President Trump rewards his friends (Texas, Florida, Tennessee etc.) and vanquishes his detractors.
See that image in your mind of a dollar bill with wings flying away? Over the next months and years that’s what New Mexico could likely experience. Federal dollars flying away to other states that are far friendlier to the current administration. It’s not going to be pretty.
Larry Ahrens has announced he is returning to radio after being retired for a few years.
His new show will be called “Coffee and Conversation” and it will be heard mornings 7 to 9 am on KDAZ Radio and simulcast on KCHF TV.
The target start date is January 7, 2019.
Stay tuned New Mexico!