Monday, June 04, 2007
The Prez Debate: Hill Snuggles With Bill; Our Exclusive Analysis, Plus: ABQ Election Heats Up, And: Death Calls Ex-NM TV Anchorman
The 2nd Tier
Bill Richardson scored a breakthrough at last night's Democratic presidential New Hampshire debate, but it wasn't for his long shot candidacy--although he didn't hurt himself--the breakthrough came in his relationship with front runner and likely Prez nominee Hillary Clinton. Was that Hill pouring the praise on our Bill not once but twice? And was that him taking it all in with the smile of a Cheshire cat? Now for Big Bill fans convinced that he can breakout and somehow win the Dem nomination, the Hill-Bill rapprochement was a nonevent, but for those moving the chess pieces ahead a few moves and wondering if the New Mexico governor might just land a job with a President Hillary Clinton, it was a moment of note.
The Guv teed up up the ball when the candidates were asked what role they would envision for former President Clinton in their administrations. In answering, Richardson looked at Hillary and half-joked that the former President wasn't "too happy with him" as he was running against his wife. But later in the debate Hillary made sure to praise the globetrotting governor saying, “In my administration, (we'd have)) diplomacy, patient, careful diplomacy, the kind of diplomacy that Bill Richardson did for my husband, that really gets people to stay with it over time." Later she dropped a second love line on the Guv's international abilities.
Richardson' candidacy has been haunted by suggestions that he is actually running for secretary of state or vice-president. He says firmly he isn't, but praise from the Democratic candidate currently leading the pack surely didn't hurt his feelings, nor his chances of representing the USA in a major capacity should the White House stationary become embossed with the initials HRC.
As for the debate, the Guv needed redemption from his sloppy Meet the Press appearance. He didn't get it, but he didn't hurt himself either, perhaps at least putting a band aid on the bleeding. At the Drudge Report, Bill was being voted the surprising second place finisher, behind Obama. Richardson had bad luck with timing. He was not called on until 18 minutes into the CNN affair and then he fumbled around with a question on whether his Iraq withdrawal plan would result in sectarian genocide there. Cosmetically, his weight is back up, but he is wearing it better than in the past, appearing thick, but somewhat athletic in the head and shoulders shots. The clothes fit well and the hair is manageable. He rounded out his appearance with shiny black cowboy boots, noticeable to the audience when the candidates sat in chairs for the debates second hour.
Where was Bill on whether the USA should adopt English as its official language? It was a natural for him as NM is officially a bilingual state, and he is the only Hispanic candidate. All the major hopefuls were against making English official, but Richardson should have swung harder at the softball.
The Guv's insistence that he just happens to be a Hispanic candidate has not worked in rallying the many Hispanics who will vote in the early Dem primaries. Also, his campaign by resume is starting to tire. He needs some fresh material. Not unexpectedly, the Guv again shined on foreign policy questions, including the Darfur disaster. CNN GOP commentator Michael Murphy called Bill's campaign a "nonstop train wreck" since his Meet the Press performance, but we saw a more confident conductor last night as well as one who knew that there will be a time to try to break speeding records, but that time lies ahead.
ABQ CAMPAIGN HEAT RISES
ABQ Campaign '07 is heating up along with the June temperatures. The opponent of Councilor Brad Winter is leveling a broadside against the incumbent and another councilor, Republican Don Harris, is the target of a recall effort. What's the deal?
Winter has been a strident foe of ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez, especially since he lost his 2005 mayoral challenge to Marty. Now comes Winter challenger Paulette de'Pascal charging that the two term councilor is allowing "his personal feelings" to interfere with "sound judgment." She tells me Winter's support of a six month delay in the mayor's 1/8 of a cent cut in the city's gross receipts tax is a sign of his being "out of touch" with his conservative to moderate NE Heights district. Winter fires back, "It's goofy season. The Mayor and I have agreed on two tax cuts in excess of $30 million in the last year. I proposed the first one; I agreed with him that Albuquerque needed the second cut."
The ABQ Journal reported May 22: "Craig Loy, Sally Mayer, Ken Sanchez and Brad Winter voted against delaying the tax reduction. Voting to delay were Isaac Benton, Michael Cadigan, Don Harris, Martin Heinrich and Debbie O'Malley. Once the date was changed, the tax cut was approved 7-2, over the protests of Loy and Sanchez." Winter did not join Sanchez and Loy.
Chavez has vetoed $9 million in funding for Bernalillo County's Metropolitan Detention Center that comes from delaying his tax cut. The council meets today to consider overriding that veto. They need six votes to do so. Winter is a key vote. If he votes to override Chavez and not call for an earlier tax cut, de'Pascal is sure to make it a campaign issue, but Winter is a heavy favorite and has room to maneuver. Also, the public does not seem to be clamoring over having the small tax cut take effect six months earlier.
Meanwhile, in the far NE Heights--the Four Hills area in particular--freshman city councilor and and Republican Don Harris is under attack, with area insiders telling me a move to recall Harris is the real deal. "This has legs; it is not symbolic. Don has crossed a lot of people in the area," one in the know source reports.
Is Mayor Chavez behind the recall because Harris voted to delay his tax cut so the city council could give money to the Bernalillo county jail? "That's one of the reasons, but the recall talk has been going on for several months. Chavez may be egging it on, but I don't think it originates with him. They are upset with Don on a number of other local issues," explains our insider.
If Harris were recalled at the October 2 election, the mayor would get to appoint his replacement. That would give him more leverage with the council, leverage he seems to need more of with each passing month.
MESA DEL SOL
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Our reader's blog last week bemoaning the meltdown of the state's payroll and accounting system known as SHARE, drew some pointed reaction, especially from a supporter of State Rep. and Legislative Finance Committee Chairman Lucky Varela. Our reader said Varela was "running for cover" over SHARE, but a close ally of Varela's says the lawmaker and the LFC "has had a lengthy and persistent record of raising concerns about implementation." A March column from Jay Miller's Inside the Capitol points out:
"LFC Chairman Luciano "Lucky" Varela, of Santa Fe, notes that the committee spent six months calling state officials before it to answer many questions about the system's failures. Evidently the committee now has decided that the assurances it received were nothing more than empty promises."
The SHARE fiasco is providing inspiration to the state government jokesters. This one is making the rounds: "We call it GROAN--Governor Richardson's Ongoing Accounting Nightmare." But a SHARE supporter asserts: "SHARE has some problems. All new systems have them; but SHARE does work. People are being paid. Initial problems were primarily due to people not reacting to the change in payroll system--(employees making mistakes even though they were trained."
THE BOTTOM LINES
For years he was a household name in New Mexico. George Morrison, longtime TV news anchor for KOAT and KRQE-TV in the 60's and 70's, died Friday. He was 82. George, also an attorney, was retired in ABQ where he enjoyed writing, including this book on the early days of NM TV news...Senator Bingaman aide Terry Brunner invokes the famous General Douglas MacArthur in telling us that he will not seek the Dem nod for the ABQ congressional seat in '08. "I shall return," he promises. Better be careful, Terry. Wasn't MacArthur fired by Democratic President Harry Truman?
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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