Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bittersweet Tuesday For ABQ Mayor Marty; He Loses Council Race Big As Archrival Zangara Quits GOP Post; Exclusive Details And Analysis Are Up Next 

Councilor-elect Harris
The warm climes of Chihuahua, Mexico were replaced by the chilly winds of the Big Duke City as ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez arrived back in town to learn that his chosen candidate in a city council run-off election had crashed and burned. But as he absorbed the news of Councilor Tina Cummins' landslide loss to attorney Don Harris, he was warmed by the news that his recent archrival, Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman Ken Zangara, has resigned, just six weeks after he and GOP State Chair Allen Weh were handed a major setback when Marty defeated their chosen mayoral candidate, Brad Winter.

Let's start with the Harris victory and the power and policy implications for the state's largest city.

"It's not good for the mayor. He overreached by getting so involved for Tina. After winning the mayor's race he has just burned a lot of political capital. He used his campaign staff and went very public against Don. The Harris win could shake-up the balance of power and make the councilors more bold." Analyzed one city politico in the game for decades.

Another observer called it a case of "incumbentitis." "He has nothing to lose since he's not running again so he decided to go for it. When you come off a big win, you sometimes think you are invincible. The voters are quick to remind you otherwise," said our South Valley Alligator who has a rotary phone and no computer but a surplus of political savvy.


About that balance of power. It comes down to this. It takes six votes on the nine member council to override a mayoral veto. Not that there are a bunch of vetoes, but some observers were saying that the Harris victory puts those six votes more in reach than at any other time since Chavez has been mayor.

"This could give the council more incentive to act independent of the mayor. It's a complete turnaround from last month when he ruled supreme with his huge win. The first test will be who gets council president. I would bet it will not be candidate aligned with the 11th floor," decalred another political junkie picking apart the results from the far Northeast Heights council district.

Lt. Guv Denish
Calling from his victory party late last night Harris told me he will be an "independent" councilor. He said not only did Chavez weigh in against him, but that NM Dem Light Guv Diane Denish recorded an automatic phone call urging Democratic women to support Republican Cummins. A Harris backer was quick to point out that Denish's husband, Herb, runs a consulting business that lobbies the city council. Ouch!

As for Mayor Marty, his campaign received a treasure trove of loot from the development community and the Alligators pegged his misstep, in part, on his loyalty to them as represented by Cummins who is in the real estate business.

Harris said the mayor called and congratulated him on the victory but they did not discuss the mayor's active campaign against him. "We will meet later." Harris informed. He also said his top priority, one shared by Chavez, is to put more cops on the street. But Harris, obviously still smarting from Chavez's impotent sting, dismissed the mayor's approach saying" "We need to get this done the right way."

The outspoken Republican must be looking forward to his meeting with the city's chief executive. His constituents too. After all, there must be some things Councilor-elect Harris' district is in need of that the mayor could help with. If not, trying to override a mayoral veto sometime just might look appealing. Stay tuned.


And now the Zangara saga. The county chair let loose for ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter in the mayoral race, so much so that Mayor Marty took to the airwaves on our KANW 89.1 FM Election Night broadcast and declared Zangara "a crook."

For Zangara the news of late has not been uplifting. A presidential nomination for an ambassadorship never came through, his car dealership has been under fire from the attorney general's office and the auto business, if you read the biz pages, is much more demanding these days.

Zangara's stint as county chair goes back to the 01' ABQ mayor's race when he was unable to deliver the prize to Mike McEntee despite another loud public endorsement. But Zangara wins praise from his fellow R's for raising a boatload of money for President Bush and for trying hard to keep the local party relevant. He was also a major player in the state GOP wars pitting ex-chair Ramsay Gorham against the GOP renegade faction led by lawyer-lobbyist Mickey Barnett. His ultimately unsuccessful support of Gorham is seen as contributing to Barnett's defeat as NM GOP National Committeeman and the weakened state of that faction today.

Fernando C de Baca is expected to take over the chairmanship. Fernando is an old-line R who sought a Bernalillo county senate seat in 04' and is expected by insiders to provide a smooth transition.

Ken Zangara was a loyal solider in many storied battles of New Mexico La Politica. His exit comes at a troubled time for his beloved President and party. Now the story goes on without him, as one day it will for all of us. May it ever be so.

Thanks for tuning in today. Drop me an e-mail with your latest political news and keep all of us up to date.

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