Thursday, August 04, 2005

Judge Goes For Judy As "Man of Steele" Makes ABQ Mayor Ballot, Plus: Light Guv Denish Draws Ire Of The Valley Alligators 

Who's on first? When it comes to the ABQ mayor's race it seems to depend on what day of the week it is. Judy Espinosa, her campaign all but dead,
was suddenly revived, at least briefly, when District Court Judge Geraldine Rivera Wednesday ruled that Judy should go on the ballot and reinstated over 2,000 petition signatures the diminutive former NM transportation secretary had had thrown out by the city clerk. Earlier, the man of Steele, Dem David Steele, managed to win a ballot spot, a testament to veteran politico Steve Schroder, who runs a consulting firm and collected Steele's John Does. So what now?

ABQ city attorney Bob White told me late Wednesday that the city will "defend the statute" that had attorney Espinosa failing to make the the ballot. A hearing should be held in 10 days. Political pros say there is still a chance that Judy could lose here position because they don't see the statute as unconstitutional. We shall see.

As for Steele, he has raised $50 Grand, but has been as quiet as a church mouse. His main impact on the race may be forcing a run-off between the top two contenders. Steele in the race makes four candidates and if Judy makes it we'll have five. Under that scenario the math does not look good for any candidate collecting 40% of the vote Election Night.


Meanwhile, Mayor Marty was giving his annual "State of the City" address last night and, according to KRQE-TV anchorman Dick Knipfing, "claiming" there had been a 7% decline in violent crime in the last three years. Maybe the mayor and Dick have different views on what constitutes "violent crime." TV viewers are saturated with images of the violent stuff and Knipfing, in the game now for forty plus years, was quoted recently as saying ABQ is a "violent town." This one comes down to perceptions and that will guide the upcoming campaign.


The Alligators in the ABQ South Valley have long memories and they used them in reaction to our Tuesday post concerning Lt. Guv Denish's decision to sign a petition to get GOP ABQ mayoral candidate Brad Winter on the Oct. 4 ballot. The Dem Light Guv said she did so because she believes in all candidates getting a ballot access. But take a look at this stinger in response.

"If Diane Denish were so interested in ballot access for candidates, why did she go to court to knock Linda Lopez of the ballot? Just asking." E-mailed a South Valley politico.

He was referring to Diane's 2002 court suit to keep ABQ Dem State Senator Linda Lopez off the Dem Lt. Guv primary ballot. The suit was successful and Diane avoided a possible, strong Hispanic opponent. But now that Linda is going to law school she might have a better chance of winning any future suits thrown her way by the aggressive Diane.


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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Big Bill Still On The Mayor Marty Bandwagon; Dem Chair Wertheim Also Weighs In On Coming Battle, Plus: Prez to Sandia, And: Remembering Eddie Lopez 

Big Bill
If you were wondering if Big Bill would back a different ABQ mayoral horse at the last minute, we have it on good authority--straight from the horse's mouth so to speak--that the Big Fella is sticking with Mayor Marty. Here's a direct on-the-scene report from one of our Senior Alligators who attended an event with the pair.

"I was at a Richardson Roundtable get together. About 200 people attended. Bill said the Roundtable now has 600 members. Mayor Marty arrived escorting actress Talia Shire who was here scouting out movie opportunities. The governor gave a strong endorsement of the mayor's candidacy. He introduced Marty and mentioned that he is a 'great mayor' who we all support. He also joked that he (Bill) saved Marty's Pandas for him," reported our deep insider.

City Councilor Eric Griego is the other Dem who has made the mayoral ballot so far, but the Guv can fade any heat for the Marty endorsement by noting that officially the mayor's race is nonpartisan. You know and I know that there is no love lost between Big Bill and Marty, but this is politics folks, not a marriage. A GOP mayor in the state's largest city is just not in the interest of a guy seeking re-election himself next year.


Now it's a slightly different story from Big Bill Dem chair John Wertheim. We ran into him and his wife Bianca, (who works for the Guv) at a trendy Nob Hill restaurant recently. (I posed as a waiter to get in) John nodded in the affirmative when I asked him if the party would get involved in the mayor's race if it comes down to a run-off between Marty and R Brad Winter. But unlike the state GOP, which is basically running Brad's operation, Wertheim indicated there would be no party involvement in the October 4 battle.

It seems only fair that if the R's are going to simply ignore the "nonpartisan" designation of ABQ elections, so shall the D's. The more they go this way the more you have to think partisan elections with primaries may be the way for us to go in the future.


It's just a hop and a skip from Crawford, Texas, where the Prez will hole up for August vacation, and ABQ's Sandia Labs. And he will make the hop over August 8 to sign the energy bill which NM's two U.S. Senators played a major role in crafting. The bill has been widely panned, but the signing ceremony will please Pete who will probably pry another couple of million out of the Prez for Sandia labs during the visit.


I gotta admit this one got by me. The NM General Services Department Cabinet Secretary and son of the late Santa Fe Democratic State Senator Eddie Lopez is a Republican. When Eddie Lopez Jr. blogged in last week defending the Guv's jet plane purchase we incorrectly called him a Dem. We should have know better, but watched his old man in action for years and naturally associated the son with the father.

Eddie Jr. reminds us that his father was not a liberal Dem. "I was with him in the voting booth when he went for Nixon in 72," he informs. And I will add I recall Eddie's conservative stewardship on tax and spending policy. He was one of the foremost experts ever in this area and I think the staff was less powerful then because of it. It's hard to say if Big Bill would have had a tougher time with the Legislature if he had to face-off with the pragmatic Senator Lopez. Many thought Eddie's longtime pal, Sen. Manny Aragon, would have have been tougher, but he was lured by a a big job at New Mexico Highlands. Would the same have happened to this other Legislative giant?

Senator Lopez was bedeviled by personal problems that often made headlines, but he was one of the few legislators who could dress you down on a news story (as he did me once in the early 80's at the legendary old Bullring) and you knew you had it coming. I miss his attention to detail, his voracious appetite for knowledge and politics and his warrior sprit. And I think the New Mexico Senate does too.


We didn't mean to create a mystery about which former U.S. House speaker was recently in the ABQ area, but we did for some of our readers when we omitted the name of Newt Gingrich from our insider report Tuesday. It was indeed Newt who visited here and who, by the way, reportedly chuckled when reminded of Big Bill's Prez plans. Whatever that means.

E-mail your news and insider stuff. Thanks to those of you who do so regularly. It is your blog too. See you tomorrow.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Diane To Marty: "Nothing Personal, Pal," And: Jeff To Pete: "No Offense, Buddy," Plus: Clippings From My Newsroom Floor; All On Your Dog Days Blog 

Lt. Guv Denish
NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish is a dyed in the wool Democrat so it was a shocker to a petition worker in ABQ recently when Diane agreed to sign a petition to get GOP ABQ City Councilor Brad Winter on the October 4 ballot. What made it even more surprising is that Diane ran as the running mate of Dem Mayor Marty when he unsuccessfully sought to unseat GOP Governor Johnson in 98.' Winter, of course, is now trying to unseat Marty. But not to worry D's. Di says she has not switched parties or is endorsing Battling Brad or carries a grudge against Marty. "She said she signed because she believes in ballot access for candidates," explained the worker who snagged the Light Guv's Jane Doe.


Meanwhile, mayoral contender Judy Espinosa hit the tube last night announcing she was going to sue the ABQ city clerk to prevent from being denied a place on the ballot for failing to file enough petition signatures. Why Judy is blaming the city clerk for doing her job is a riddle. The Espinosa campaign has raised over $50,000, but insiders say she refused to pay, like other candidates did, to get enough signatures. Espinosa filed about 7,600. She needs 5,811 valid ones. It's unlikely she has them. Judy is a bright, capable public servant, but someone needs to tell her that La Politica is hardball at its hardest. If you don't step up and play the Alligators attack.

Blog reader Alan Schwartz and I agree that the proposed ABQ legislation that would ban people from getting paid to collect petition signatures for candidates or causes is a bummer and likely unconstitutional. His latest update is that this issue is now being litigated in federal court in Ohio where last year voters passed a measure that allows candidates or organizations to hire help, but bars them from getting paid based on the number of signatures collected. The Ohio Sec of State says the ban is unconstitutional.


It's not that he was upset with GOP Senator Pete Domenici or had a personal axe to grind, says a Senator Jeff Bingaman insider in reaction to our Monday posting of a newspaper piece saying Jeff was put out when an attempt surfaced to name the energy bill after Pete, a bill they had worked on together. "Jeff felt the energy bill should be nonpartisan. It was nothing personal with Domenici.

The move to name the bill originated in the House. Pete did not even know about," the insider asserted. The reporter and editor for Roll Call who wrote the piece citing jeff's irritation, John Bresnahan, defended it from D.C. "We're not changing anything in that story." The bill was finally named the Energy Independence Act of 2005, avoiding any further real or imagined clashes of the ego in the worlds most exclusive club.


Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and possible 08' GOP Prez candidate was spotted in New Mexico recently. The conservative Georgian was collecting a check for speaking at a corporate retreat dealing with medical issues at the tony Hyatt Tamaya Resort.

The pro-choicers want equal time in this space with the pro-lifers. This after we interviewed anti-abortion advocate Dauneen Dolce on a recent poll. Giovanna Rossi heads up the pro-choice group in NM and urges readers to check it out.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Lady Lawmakers Heading For Law School, And: More On Mayor Marty's Million, Plus: NM Senators In Ego Clash On Energy Bill; It's All On Your August Blog 

Senator Lopez
There's going to be a couple of familiar faces on the University of New Mexico School of Law campus come August 16th. Dem ABQ State Senator Linda Lopez and Dem ABQ State Rep Gail Beam have decided to become lawyers and will start classes then. The insiders say it's a chance for Lopez to burnish her resume with career credentials she lacks. She briefly sought the Dem nomination for Lt. Governor. A law degree could not only give her a career, but more political opportunity.

As for Gail, the wall-leaners in Santa Fe wonder if some day she could use a law degree to become chair of House Judiciary. When State House Speaker Ben Lujan retires some day, it's anticipated that State Rep Ken Martinez will succeed him. Isn't Majority Leader Ken, a former chair of Judiciary, a protégé of sorts of ex- House Speaker Raymond Sanchez? And isn't Raymond good friends with Gail and her husband, former House Speaker and Attorney General David Norvell? And wouldn't "Speaker Martinez" have the power to name the Judiciary chair? And wouldn't it be cool if Gail was appointed chair and then Raymond, Gail, Ken and Dave could all party together at the Roundhouse? Or is it possible Gail just wants to be a lawyer? Long live the conspiracies, real or otherwise, of La Politica!


Million Dollar Marty is going to have to spend it all or give it away. So reports our finance Alligator who reacted to a musing here that the Dem ABQ mayor could save some of the $1.2 million he plans on raising for a future campaign. Sorry to get your hopes up mayor, but here's the scoop.

The City Charter, Article XIII, Section 4 states:

"Any contributions not expended on the campaign shall be disposed of, at the option of the candidate, by one of the following methods: 1. Retained in the campaign bank checking account for a possible runoff election for that office. 2. Returned to the person who made the contribution 3. Placed in the City's General Fund, or 4. Given to a charity identified by the candidate."

Maybe Marty can can use any leftovers to get that Panda bear in here from China.


Pete & Jeff
Sure, NM Senators Pete and Jeff worked darn hard on that energy bill. There they were on TV in the middle of the night hammering out a compromise. And the bill, after years of delay, finally passed. Trouble is hardly anyone likes it, including most newspapers such as the conservative Wall Street Journal.

It was not widely reported, but there was behind the scenes friction between NM's two senators. They got into it last year when Dem Jeff said R Pete was ignoring him. This time, according to our friends at the Capitol Hill Newspaper Roll Call, Jeff was upset at the attempt to name the energy bill the Domenici-Barton bill, after the two GOP sponsors. Hey, this is supposed to be a bipartisan measure, cried Jeff as he objected to giving Pete the limelight. Can someone email in and let us know the final name of the bill?

It's hard to see how the energy bill does much for Senator Bingaman's re-election prospects as it does nothing to lower the onerous gas prices hurting drivers, especially those in rural NM. But the last we checked Jeff didn't have much of a race for re-election, did he?

Camel Rock
But who cares if gasoline is well north of two bucks a gallon? We New Mexicans love our cars. And why not? You drive an hour in any direction and it seem you have crossed into another country. And the drive just got much easier up North. The long and painful reconstruction of Highway 64/285 is finally done and I can say from experience it is a very cool drive. Great scenery on a slick, new highway with the satellite radio blasting and the top down. It doesn't get much better than that. The folks at the state transportation department, who might merit crucifixion for the pace of their work, deserve a pat on the back for getting the design on this one right. Just hurry it up next time. We got Saudi oil to burn.

Keep the politics coming. Email your comments, news, complaints or whatever else is on your mind. I look forward to hearing from you.

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