Tuesday, October 07, 2003

EXCLUSIVE: Gary King Will Seek to Unseat Congressman Steve Pearce 

There's another Gary back on the New Mexico political scene and its not the former peripatetic governor. It's affable Gary King who says he has been bitten by the political bug again and will seek the Democratic nomination for New Mexico's Second Congressional District seat held by Republican Steve Pearce who was elected to a two year term last year. Pearce took over for Joe Skeen who held the seat for two decades. Gary gamely took on Big Bill for the Democratic governor nomination last year, but the stars never did line up right. Gary is an attorney, Ph.d and a former state representative whose father is legendary former Governor Bruce King. Rumors have circulated about his plans for a couple of months but this week Gary confirmed to me personally that he will definitely seek the Congressional seat and is busy lining up support. Jeff Steinborn, a former aide to Senator Jeff Bingaman, is also seeking the Democratic nod and the right to take on Pearce next November. Jeff's father is a former multi-term Mayor of Las Cruces.

Gary does not live in the Second Congressional District but his biggest law client is the WIPP project in Carlsbad and he spends most of his working time there. He plans on establishing residency full-time soon. Political observers down south tell me Pearce's fortunes could rest in part with the popularity of President Bush. If the Prez remains popular, a GOP congressman will be tough to beat, but if Bush continues to slip....

A congressman is most vulnerable to defeat in his first term which is a motivator for Gary to get in. He was mentioned as a possible Speaker of the House, a job his father had back in the 60's, but again the right timing was not to be. He hopes his watch is set right this time as he prepares to wage battle for a Congressional seat that is one of the largest in land area in the U.S. Gary feels his conservative/moderate political approach will play well down south. It certainly is not territory hospitable to liberal types. In fact, the Pearce TV ad screaming that Democratic challenger John Arthur Smith was "too liberal" is credited by political consultant and pollster Harry Pavlides as a key reason for the Smith shellacking at the hands of oilman Pearce. Pavlides managed former State Treasurer Michael Montoya's bid for Congress against Skeen in 2000.

Well over 90 per cent of U.S. Reps get re-elected so any challenger has an uphill battle from the start. Gary King has the political acumen and name id to get a fast start out of the gate so southern cd'ers are in for a political treat.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Let's Fight Over Ramsay 

I guess it depends where you are sitting when it comes to seeing how GOP State Chair Ramsay Gorham came out on the battle of constitutional amendment #2. I said after the tight fight she lost that her stock went up because the expectations of her were cleverly set low and she nearly upset the Governor in spite of Senator Domenici's's opposition to her position, as well as a slew of other Republicans. But my position is not shared in all quarters of the Republican Party.

State Senator Rod Adair, running mate to losing governor candidate John Sanchez, is a witty and bright guy who writes that Gorham could have and should have won the fight and that her stock is pointing down, not up, after the Conny 2 battle. He says Republican Congressman Steve Pearce offered to do radio spots for the GOP opposing the amendment but never did get a response from state headquarters. That's an allegation and Pearce, who was against the amendment, has yet to respond. Rod goes on to say that Ramsay may bolt her senate seat and try to turn it over to former State Rep. Judy Vanderstar Russell of Sandoval County, while Ramsay "seeks higher office.' Well, Rod if Ramsay is thinking of seeking higher office, someone is telling her she did pretty darn good Election Night!

I remain unmoved. Ramsay looked like a deer in the headlights when she took over and was placed in a very tough position when Senator Pete said no to Conny two and she had to lead the party in the opposite direction. She handled it with class and aplomb. Not one, I repeat, not one, respected political analyst came out and said the election would be as close as it was. Most said it was a done deal FOR the amendment. If Ramsay Gorham doesn't get credit for pulling out a near win no one expected, who does?

Case closed.

As for her seeking higher office, certainly John Sanchez should not count on automatic renomination as the GOP governor nominee in 2006, but then he could be running for mayor of Albuquerque well before that.

My take on City Council District Two race as reported by the ABQ Tribune 

I handicapped each of the four contested Albuquerque City Council races for the Albuquerque Tribune this week. Here is the first entry. I will post the others as they appear. There is also an in-depth profile of each candidate on the site each day done by ace city hall reporter Ed Asher


Alibi's Ortiz y Pino Eyes Romero Senate Seat and He's not Alone 

You heard us right on KKOB last week if you heard us say that Alibi political columnist Jerry Ortiz y Pino is preparing to run for the State Senate seat held by Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero, if Romero, as expected, decides to step down and take a second run at Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Senate District 12 includes parts of downtown and the historic Barelas neighborhood and is safe Democratic. Ortiz y Pino recently retired from government service and thinks the Romero seat matches his liberal politics. He worked for Mayor Jim Baca in social services and for a brief time at the state Children, Youth and Families Department. His column in the Weekly Alibi is well-read by those of the liberal persuasion. He is also read in the Santa Fe Reporter where he ran for the city council back in the early 70's. But Ortiz y Pino would hardly be the only contender for the Democratic nomination if Romero decides to call it quits. Another name mentioned for the position is Albuquerque City Councilor Eric Griego, whose council district overlaps much of the Romero senate district.

When Griego came on the Council two years ago he was immediately touted by his fan club as Mayor material. But two years of over-the-top contentiousness may have the rookie councilor looking fondly at a state senate seat that could put him in a safe political perch from which he could watch for future opportunities. Romero has easily held the seat for eight years and the 30 something Griego is nothing if not ambitious. I have covered the City Council as a reporter and consultant since the inception of the council form of government in 1974 and cannot recall one of them ever going on to higher political office outside of Albuquerque. Several have switched over to the Bernalilo County Commission and Joe Abeyta became a State Rep. from Wagon Mound.

But city politics has become so embroiled in infighting and bad press that Griego may see the Romero seat as the easiest way out. If he did decide to run for Mayor in two years the smart money has him splitting up the Hispanic vote and playing the role of a spoiler, but not victor. Ortiz y Pino and Griego have much the same politics and would split a lot of votes in a senate primary, leaving the door open for all kinds of Democrats to get into the fray, as they surely will if Romero takes the Congressional plunge. On that subject, we hear friends of the senator are warning him that another run against Wilson may be too tough a battle and that he is best to hold on to what he has or finish his political career in shambles. But the critics ask: hold on to what? Romero is seen as back playing second fiddle again to Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, who was ousted as Pro Tem in favor of Romero by a Republican-Democrat coalition a couple of years ago. But it is Manny seen at the Lobo games with Governor Bill, not Romero. And it is Manny's big bills that Mr. Bill is signing. Seems Manny as majority leader tops Richard as pro tem. So even though Romero was bruised badly by Heather in 2002 he may feel it's time to vacate the Roundhouse if the future is more sparring with Senator Manny. Seems some guys don't need a full count to know when the fight's over.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

A Potpourri of Observations on Our Area 

---It seems negative campaigning is not confined to politics these days. The increasingly competitive casino market has prompted some not so subtle digging. Isleta's casino is saying in its ads that if you want real gambling action come see them and "if you want to sit around and watch people dance go to the competition." Well, it was only a matter of time. With the opening of the new Laguna casino west of Albuquerque the market is now officially saturated. I look for even tougher ads as the fight for the same dollars grows more fierce. Will any of the casinos go belly-up? Hard to say, but unless out-of-state gamblers are lured here in significant numbers, it's hard to see profit margins expanding.

---The Albuquerque Museum is one of those local institutions that has just been drifting along. Creative spark has not been its hallmark. But the museum deserves a pat on the back for bringing to town "Millet to Matisse," an exhibit of great master painters including van Gogh and Matisse. The museum has done a decent job concentrating on the history of the southwest over the years, but it needs to broaden its reach if it is to grow with the times. This exhibit is a step in that direction. Let's hope its just the first one.

---Albuquerque's National Hispanic Cultural Center has also had problems getting going, but not for lack of trying. An exhibit on Dennis Chávez, the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Senate, opens today (10-5) at the Center. "The Life of Senator Dennis 'El Senador' Chavez" is being made possible with the help of The Dennis Chávez Foundation. This will be a must see for New Mexico political junkies. Up until Senator Domenici, Chavez was the longest serving U.S. Senator in state history, but until quite recently you did not hear much about him. I think he has been rediscovered by the new generation who see his record through a steady advancement in civil rights. It's a bit ironic though because today New Mexico has no Hispanics representing it in the U.S. Congress.

Thanks for tuning in. It's good to have you. My e mail link on this page wasn't working properly, but is now so drop me a line and pass along your news. We don't have to use your name (unless you want) and your contribution will help all of us who love tracking New Mexico politics.


Saturday, October 04, 2003

Saturdays's ABQ Tribune on My thoughts and Others on City Election 

Reporter Ed Asher is out today with a set-up piece on the October 28th city election. My thoughts, along with other political watchers, are quoted in the article. Ed notes that the pro-business Greater Albuquerque Committee has raised nearly $90,000 to influence the four City Council Races! I know they have spent over $25,000 already, but that still leaves a huge chunk of money for these contests. Read all about that and more in today's Trib at http://www.abqtrib.com/archives/news03/100403_news_elect.shtml

Starting Monday the Tribune will run profiles of all the city council races. I will be handicapping each race for the newspaper so be sure to look for it all this week

TRIBUNE VOTERS' GUIDES Find out more about the City Council candidates and their positions on key issues.

Monday: District 2

Tuesday: District 4

Wednesday: District 6

Thursday: District 8

Friday, October 03, 2003

Send Us Your Candidate and Issue Web Sites----Here's Two 

Absentee voting is underway for the city election so get those candidate and issue web sites to me and I will post them. Here are the sites for City Council District Two candidate Jens Deichmann and District Six contender Martin Heinrich. Use the email link at the top right of this page to send me more.



Councilor Winter Prepares for a Fight 

We posted a couple of days ago (see Making Radiowaves below) about how the race for City Council District Four is shaping up. Lobbyist Scott Scanland said it came up on his radar when he heard Republican heavyweights were backing challenger Patrick Milligan. Now comes word that Winter has Vic Segura, himself a two time City Council candidate, as his campaign manager. It's a sign that Winter is taking the bid seriously as we know Vic as a guy familiar with the rough and tumble of ABQ politics. He ran against Sam Bregman in 1995 in Winter's District and he made another stab at the Council from the Westside in 01.'

As we have reported, the town awaits how the pro-business PAC Greater Albuquerque Committee will spend its bankroll. They have started with some rough phone calls against their opponents. Will they stay rough? They have not endorsed Winter, who at first decided not to seek re-election, then said he was back in because the Greater ABQ PAC was trying to keep neighborhood involvement out of city politics. Both Winter and Milligan are Republicans but the Greater ABQ PAC likes its politics conservative, not moderate like Winter, so they threw their endorsement to Milligan. We'll talk to Winter and Milligan in the coming days to get a better handle on this race. Before its all over, Winter may be glad he has a tough political operative like Segura on his side. By the way, Vic's brother, Anthony, also doesn't shy away from politics. He was deep in the trenches with Marty Chavez in the 01' mayoral battle.

Thanks for tuning in. Tell your friends about us. Our address is: http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/. Email news of interest at jmonahan@ix.netcom.com. There is a link on the top of the page to send the e mail.

Mrs. David Norvell-------Confirmed 

Thanks to one of our contributors for confirming New Mexico's latest political marriage revealed in an earlier report here. Indeed, State. Rep. Gail Beam of ABQ has tied the knot with attorney and former State House Speaker and Attorney General David Norvell. Our faithful correspondent writes:

"I am going to their wedding reception tomorrow (Saturday) in Pendaries, NM. I'll fill you in!"

That's up in Mora county by the way and a very beautiful setting this time of year. Good Luck to Gail and Dave.

Our Report On Negative Campaigning Confirmed By Journal 

The Journal is out with a story this morning confirming what we reported on KKOB radio and this web site earlier in the week: that the first wave of negative campaigning has hit the October 28th city election. We had earlier reported here that Jay McCleskey, the Republican campaign manager for unsuccessful GOP governor candidate John Sanchez was heading up the Citizens for Greater Albuquerque Committee campaign effort. This has led to accusations that the PAC is nothing but a front group for the Republican Party. Further questions are being raised today as details of the negative accusations against Council candidates Debbie O'Malley, Martin Heinrich and Brad Winter are revealed. Basically, the Greater ABQ phone calls paint their opponents as extreme liberals who are afiliated with "radicals." Consultant McCleskey has been paid about $20,000 so far. The initial fund raising by the PAC raised $60,000. I have checked the campaign contributions list and can confirm that the majority of the large givers (over $1000.00) are mostly Republican party donors as well. Four years ago State Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl interjected himself into the Council races and received much criticism. Albuquerque officially has a non-partisan election system. But Dendahl did manage to oust Sam Bregman in District Four. Ironically, back then the GOP supported Brad Winter, who today is being targeted by Greater Albuquerque. In District Eight Dendahl gave the punch four years ago to Tim Cummins who was ousted by Greg Payne. Cummins is now on the Bernalillo County Commission. The question this time is will the negative attacks stick or backfire? Is Greater Albuquerque Committee a front for a Republican Party that does not want to get out in front on this one and subject itself to the heat it took four years ago? And what about the Democrats? Will they "out" the Committee and pitch in some money for the candidates being attacked? Many folks here think the "non-partisan" election system is in shreds and a partisan system should have been adopted long ago so the public could determine where everyone stood. But Albuquerque voters have warmed to the neighborhood feel of their Council contests. Will 'big time" negative campaign tactics backed up by big bucks be enough to move voters away from a candidate who in many cases they know personally? After all only about 5,000 votes are cast in each of these Council Districts. Stay with us for continuing comment and coverage and check out Saturday's Albuquerque Tribune for my comments on the big issues facing our city. Thanks for tuning in.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Death Claims NM State House sergeant-at-arms 

Oct 2, 2003, 09:16
SANTA FE (AP) Gov. Bill Richardson ordered flags flown at half-staff across New Mexico for Gilbert Baca, longtime sergeant-at-arms for the state House of Representatives.
Baca, 66, of Santa Fe, died at home Thursday after a lengthy illness, according to his wife, Marie. He had held the House position — elected by lawmakers — since 1989.
“He was a great friend and an outstanding public servant and a wonderful family man,” said House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe. Richardson said he was “personally very saddened” by the death of Baca, whom he described as a close friend. “There is nobody more responsible for my early success in politics in New Mexico than the Baca family, and Gilbert was the ringleader in that effort,” Richardson recalled. When he first moved to Santa Fe, Richardson lived next door to Baca’s mother, Delphine, a prominent Democrat who served as his campaign treasurer.

Limbaugh Storm Conjures Memories of Chris Jackson, Ardy Patton on KKOB 

Rush Limbaugh isn't the first and probably won't be the last talk show host to put his foot in his mouth on the issue of race. In New Mexico we've seen it all before. Chris Jackson was a race-baiting afternoon talk show host on KKOB-AM in the late 90's and Ardy Patton had a similar shtick in the nighttime hours on the same station but in a different era. Patton was forced off the airwaves by management when he made disparaging remarks about immigrants, repeatedly pointing the finger at "wetbacks." Jackson would say things to callers like: "Oh, that is soooooo New Mexican," leaving little question of what he was trying to put across. The Jackson and Patton shows spawned terrible public image problems for the state's largest station. Democrats took to calling it "hate radio" as Jackson vented his racially tinted tirades. The station never did recover a large portion of the mainstream audience it lost. Today it remains a powerhouse and expertly managed by Albuquerque's Milt McConnell, a veteran broadcaster who takes standards more serious than his predecessors. Will Rush remain on the KKOB airwaves? Surely he is in jeopardy and millions of dollars of radio profits across the nation depend on the answer. The ratings services will be extra busy tracking to see if Limbaugh has lost popularity because of his latest controversies. As long ago KOB disc jockey Chuck Logan told me once: "In the radio business, you live and die by the ratings book."

Is State Rep. Gail Beam Now Mrs. David Norvell? 

That's what we hear. The SE Heights Rep. is said to have tied the knot with attorney David Norvell recently. Norvell was a major player on the state political scene in the 60's and 70's. He was Speaker of the State House for a few years and later New Mexico Attorney General. So if Gail needs some tips on how to get things done in the House (the State House, that is!) her new marriage mate will be ready and able. Both are Democrats.

Latest Vote Count has Amendment #2 picking up some votes 

If we don't have another error "transposing" results, or undiscovered ballots, it's hard to see where the votes would come from to turn this around. Still, no one can call this one with certainty and a final decision awaits the state canvassing board October 14th.

Last Update: 10/02/2003 7:18:46 AM
By: Associated Press

(Albuquerque-AP) -- A constitutional amendment on education has taken a slightly larger lead.
The amendment to increase the payout from a state permanent fund was ahead by 194 votes statewide out of 184,216 votes cast. That’s according to an unofficial poll of county clerks by The Associated Press Wednesday.
Election results will not be official until the state canvassing board meets to certify them October 14th.
Of New Mexico'’s 33 counties, 31 have reported final canvassed results to the AP. The others hadn’t completed their canvasses or hadn’t given the AP their final reports.
Dona Ana County was finishing its canvass and is expected to report the results Thursday. Sandoval County will also hold its canvass Thursday.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Check Saturday's Trib for a Big Piece on the City Election--and A Longtime Legislator Looks to Move On 

City Hall reporter Ed Asher is working hard on a set-up piece looking at the big picture for the October 28th City Election. I interviewed with Ed this week and my thoughts will be posted here as well as in Saturday's paper. So be sure to get a copy this Saturday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Greg Payne may be leaving the Council, but apparently not politics. The rumor mill has him running on the Republican side for the Albuquerque Northeast Heights Seat now held by Joe Thompson. Thompson is ready to announce a bid for the Republican nomination for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) seat held by outgoing GOP'er Herb Hughes. But Payne might not have it to himself. Patrick Milligan, who is seeking to unseat Councilor Brad Winter in the City Election, is rumored to be a contender for the GOP for the safe Republican Thompson seat--if he comes up short against Winter.

And what about the Democrats for that PRC seat being vacated? The district leans Republican, but Bernalillo County Assessor Mark Carillo has conservative credentials and some Dems say go for it Mark. Which leads us to the question: What about the Bernalillo County Assessor job? Well, if it doesn't get done away with by passage of the city-county unification measure in the November 4th election, Deputy Assessor Mike Garcia might find himself asking the voters to make him a top tax man. Isn't politics a lot like dominoes? One little move can cause a whole lot of other moves!

Thanks for tuning in!

Making Some Radio Waves 

We had a good time doing the KKOB-AM radio show and catching up on the latest political buzz. Lobbyist Scott Scanland told the audience he felt City Council District Four featuring two Republicans, incumbent Brad Winter and challenger Patrick Milligan could be a potential race to watch as Milligan is working the District and getting help from some well-know Republicans. I chimed in that the Democrats could very well decide that race since they will have to pick among two GOP guys. I think Winter, the moderate Republican, may have the edge because of that, but with the Greater Albuquerque Committee pro-business PAC apparently poised to help Milligan, we will watch for any movement toward him.

I reported that the first negative campaigning in the October 28 Albuquerque election has developed, or at least that is the accusation from the Progress for Albuquerque Committee. This was set up in direct response to the formation of the Greater Albuquerque Committee. The Progress folks claim their opponents are now using "push polling," where callers are given negative information about a candidate when being asked who they will support for Council. I also reported that the campaign chief for unsuccessful GOP governor candidate John Sanchez is the chief consultant for the Greater Albuquerque group and that many of its contributions are coming from donors who give considerably to the Republican Party. This has led to accusations that the Committee, rather than simply being concerned about the business environment here is also concerned about there not being enough Republicans elected. Fuel to this fire was added when the PAC endorsed all Republican candidates, except in District Two where no Republicans are running. Could all this controversy reduce the impact of the $60,000 raised by the PAC? Stay tuned.

Radio host Mike Santullo had a non-political prediction: That Rush Limbaugh would have to give up his TV gig because of the controversial comments he made about an African-American NFL quarterback. Mike was proved right late Wednesday night when Limbaugh pulled the plug on the TV job.

Back to Albuquerque, Scott and I agreed that Debbie O'Malley may have a slight edge in the City Council District Two race because of her clearly defined liberal views. She is also one of three hispanics in the race but with an anglo last name. In New Mexico the ethnic factor is always a factor to consider. Michelle Garcia, retired from APD, tells me she is working the District hard and is hopeful. Mary Molina Mescall won the Greater Albuquerque PAC endorsement. No word yet if the labor union ASFSCME will make an endorsement in this race. It would be a boost for the candidate who got it considering the resources they have.

There was a lot more good ol' political scuttlebutt tossed about on KKOB radio Wednesday night, and a lot off the air as well! I will post more about all of it in the next couple of days, plus fresh speculation on key State Legislative races, city-county unification and our Congressional delegation. So we will see you back here soon.

Joe Monahan is a veteran New Mexico political analyst, broadcaster and consultant. E-Mail him from the link on this page.
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