Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tracking Mayor Marty's Moves, Where's He Headed? Plus: Payne's World: It Could Include Mayor Bid, And: Big Bill And Capitol Hill 

Mayor Chavez
What is this "exploratory committee" that ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez is setting up in preparation for a run at the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination? I've never heard of such committees on the state level and neither have the financial Alligators I consulted. Federal rules permit exploratory committees for candidates to test the waters for a presidential run. Big Bill just formed one, as did a bunch of other hopefuls. Here's how it was explained to us:

"There are two kinds of committees in New Mexico--a candidate committee and a political action committee, or PAC. It appears Marty is hedging. He wants the option of not making the race, especially if (Lieutenant Governor) Diane Denish becomes Governor before the next election. But it's a name game. He will have to file disclosure forms at the required deadline in May stating what office he is running for. There is no 'exploration' option.

"He could form a political action committee," continued our Gator, "but if the Legislature passes limits on campaign contributions, as it is considering, Marty might not be able to transfer the money from his PAC to his candidate committee. To avoid that, he will need to set up a campaign committee and basically declare himself a candidate."

Denish recently announced her Guv candidacy. In May, she plans on transferring the money from her Light Guv account into a committee for Governor account.

Chavez could not use any of the money he has raised for Governor in a city race. Using money raised for a state race for a mayor run would be a violation of state law and the city charter. That further complicates matters. Is he going to raise money simultaneously for a 2010 Guv race and an '09 Mayor's race?

Chavez is having a hard time mapping out his political future. He does not want to seek another term as Mayor, but might have to if Diane is in the Governor's chair in '09. It would be unlikely he would challenge a sitting Dem Guv. But if the wants to run again for mayor he, or his associates, will have to go to court to get the current two term limit overturned. That probably wouldn't be a big issue as the courts have already overturned term limits for city councilors.


Chavez's use of the term 'exploratory committee' may be innocuous, but anything that has to do with his fundraising will be closely monitored because of the major controversy that developed over the ABQPAC he formed in 2001 and caused him to be censured by the city ethics board.

At this stage, the mayor has little choice but to start going after the Guv nod. Denish already has a million bucks banked and is the frontrunner. Also, a lot of the campaign money will be coming from individuals who do business with the state. Those funds are now all going to Diane. Chavez hopes to get his share. He is holding a $2000 a pop fundraiser at the end of the month.

Chavez, arguably the most popular mayor in city history, is a man in search of an office to run for. But time will clear the air and victory could again be his, if patience is his guide and political positioning doesn't take precedent over running the city that has rewarded him with three terms at the helm.


Also on spending today, will the Legislature have our state join just about every other one and limit the amount someone can donate to a campaign? Right now, the sky is the limit. The Guv's ethics panel is proposing to limit individual contributions to state campaigns to federal levels. That limit is now $2300.00 (I said yesterday it was $2100, but it was raised January 1 to $2300.)

Of all the ethics measures, donation limits may have the best chance of passing. However, (House) Speaker Lujan is not supportive and that could mean failure or the limit being established at a higher level, reports one insider.

As for establishing an independent ethics commission to watch over legislative behavior, "Forget it. That was dead on arrival," emails in one State Senator.

Campaign finance can be one of those MEGO topics. (My eyes glaze over.) And there are sometimes different interpretations. If we didn't get it exactly right, drop me an email and we will of course run any necessary correction.

Greg Payne
If Marty Chavez does leave the mayor's chair, there will be no shortage of hopefuls to replace him. As with the Guv race, they are lining up early. Greg Payne says it's not too early to let people know he is eyeing a run for the Mayor's job in '09 if Marty is a no-go. Republican Payne, currently director of transit under Democrat Chavez, is also a former one term ABQ GOP State Rep. He has been a lightning rod in ABQ politics and would surely liven up the mayoral festivities which will probably also feature current councilors Ken Sanchez and Michael Cadigan.


Here's some insider stuff for you on Big Bill's Prez bid and his hopes for Dem congressional support. It's from the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call:

"Senator Bingaman already has endorsed Richardson and Marissa Padilla, Udall’s spokeswoman, said the Congressman hopes to serve as Richardson’s Congressional liaison. “He’s endorsed him, urged him to run prior to his decision, and will do anything he can to help him reach out to other Members of Congress,” Padilla said. But the governor and Udall have a complex relationship. The two were rivals for the House seat Richardson won in 1982—-and Udall now holds. Richardson also has a wealth of Congressional contacts from his 15 years in the House, and he also could benefit from support from Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus." So reported Roll Call.

I don't know how "complex" the Udall-Richardson relationship is anymore. Tom's daughter, Amanda, is a chief operative for the Guv and Udall has never been the jealous or needy type, at least not publicly. And with his new seat on House Appropriations, he's getting plenty of attention himself.


The Guv isn't the only New Mexico politico to make a splash with his Internet presence. A couple of months ago GOP Senator Pete Domenici unveiled his slick looking, "Domenici Report." It's his email newsletter and keeps him competitive in the new media world.

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