Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bridget Out Of Troubled Waters? First Shakeup In ABQ Mayor Race, Plus: Mickey Barnett Needs $50K, Will You Help? Forget A Holiday, NM's #1 Blog Is On 

"Joe, it's just a few days before the Fourth of July, why not chill and take a few days off from the blog," implored an associate who specializes in obsessive-compulsive-political disorder. And they almost had me. There I was, entranced with visions of very iced teas, exploding fireworks and lazy days in the hammock when all hell started to break loose. The politicos, apparently dreading the holiday and being denied their addiction, were back throwing their rattles and begging for attention. I know. They're like ants at a picnic. You can't quite ignore them and you cant get on with things until you get rid of them. So onward we go for a pre-holiday adventure into our burdensome but beloved La Politica.


Late Tuesday the tongue waggers were out in force as word came down that Bridget Cusick, ABQ Mayor Marty's young and aggressive campaign manager, was on her way out. It was the first of what promises to be several shakeups in the rough and tumble, down and dirty 05' fracas. Bridget was intent on going out like a pro, telling me she was departing for "personal reasons" and that the campaign was on the "right track." The Alligators, of course, would hear none of it and were ready to feast. "Bridget was not given the authority she wanted in the campaign. Marty is essentially the campaign manager and she was left to follow his lead," went the story line from several top Gators burning up the e-mail lines.

The Mayor is an old campaign hand himself getting his political feet wet as a strategist back in the 80's. He's had a penchant for running his own show ever since. Is it a strength or a weakness? "He has the experience, but it's like being your own lawyer. I would say Marty's love of the game and (City Councilor) Brad Winter's confusion over the game are the respective weaknesses of the two campaigns," analyzed one veteran of the mayoral scene.

But the campaign will go on. Maybe Bridget, who will return to her home state of Minnesota after serving Marty and Dem congressional candidate Richard Romero, might tune in 770 KKOB-AM radio while she's heading out on old Route 66. If she does, she might catch the first over-the-air media for the 05' campaign starting today. It will be her old boss thumping Winter over voter ID. Marty is trying to raid Brad's GOP base by trying to out-conservative him on the hot button issue. A first round of hits didn't quite do the trick, thus the radio buy. As for the Winter camp, they were doing their best to gloat over the Cusick coup, but like all the campaigns, they have their hands full getting the nearly 6,000 signatures together to make sure they are on the ballot, never mind being on the attack.


Still on the subject of petitions, the forces seeking over 13,000 of them to put a minimum wage proposal on the October 4 ABQ ballot, are looking like they might get them. And that has the name of lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett surfacing again. Mickey deserves a greatest hits section on this blog, as his controversial activities in the GOP helped kick us off back in 03' and have kept us busy since. Mickey, who spearheaded a renegade wing of the GOP last year and fielded Republicans against Republicans, is now looking to pick up a $50,000 check to knock down that wage plan. The NM Restaurant Association sent out a plea for funds for Mickey Tuesday who would earn his keep by invalidating signatures and for "court challenges."

The development came as former Dem Veep contender John Edwards made an ABQ appearance to push the measure which would hike ABQ minimum pay to $7.50 an hour, but exempt places with fewer than ten employees. Some politicos questioned the $50K Mickey deal, saying the usual way to check for valid signatures is to do a random check. "First, you random check to see what percentage of the signatures are bad. That costs way less than $50,000. If it turns out there are not many invalid ones you save a ton of money. If the random percentage is high you go ahead and spend the big bucks," explained an experienced pro.

But the business community would not be the business community if it did not panic at the prospect of hordes of workers marching to the polls to give themselves a buck an hour raise. Liberal Dem Mayoral candidate Eric Griego, looking for resuscitation after a stumbling start, was all smiles as the 13,000 signatures started coming in. If the minimum wage boost makes the ballot, he thinks it will maximize his mayoral chances.

One more time? OK. Back tomorrow, but then a holiday break, if they let me. See you then.

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