Wednesday, August 08, 2007

State Rep. Swisstack Eyes Rio Rancho Mayor Run; Plus: Betting On Big Bill; The Latest Odds, Plus: My Bottom Lines For A New Mexico Summer Wednesday 

Rep. Swisstack
State Representative and former Rio Rancho Mayor Tom Swisstack appears to be ready for a return to city hall. The three term Democratic lawmaker told me Tuesday he is giving "very serious consideration" to running for mayor in Rio Rancho's March '08 election and will make a final decision "within a week."

Politics in New Mexico's fastest growing city has lately taken a turn toward the Byzantine. The ethically and legally challenged Kevin Jackson has resigned as mayor. Deputy Mayor Mike Williams, a city councilor, is expected to be named today by his fellow councilors to fill the portion of Jackson's term that runs until next March. There will be a regular March election for city council and to fill out the remaining two years of Jackson's term. That's where Swisstack comes in.

The New Jersey native, who has called Rio Rancho home since the mid-80's, said if he ran for mayor he would stay in the Legislature until the election. If he won, he would resign and the Democratic controlled Sandoval County Commission would name a replacement who would also presumably be the Dem's June'08 primary candidate. If Swisstack lost for mayor, he would keep his legislative seat and consider running for it again. His record makes a loss seem unlikely, if he pulls the political trigger.


Swisstack's seat is important to note because it has been a lean Republican one with Swisstack winning it from an R in '02 by only seven votes. He expanded his margin of victory in his two elections since, but the R's would have renewed hope if the popular Democrat were to leave the Roundhouse for city hall. However, Rio Rancho would again have a Democratic mayor as it did from 1994 to 1998 when Swisstack served a term. He did not seek re-election.

Democrat Williams sought the mayor's job, but lost it to Jackson in '06. Observers say he could be expected to step aside if Swisstack were to make the run. Former GOP Rio Rancho Mayor Jim Owen is the other well-known name poised as a contender for the '08 battle and who also ran and lost against Jackson.

Swisstack, 59, the longtime director of the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center, says he is nearing retirement and would be a full-time mayor. He says Rio Rancho, with a population of around 75,000, needs a leader who can restore confidence in local government and one who has "measurable goals" when it comes to flooding, education and growth. He also points to what he calls his well-respected term as mayor and a productive tenure as a legislator. City of Vision voters could again have the chance to take the measure of Swisstack as they look to put the troubled Jackson era behind them. Stay tuned.

Big Bill
We keep an eye around here on the "predictions market" at Intrade.com. It's where real money is wagered to set the odds of a particular candidate winning the '08 Presidential nomination. Big Bill has held steady the last three months, with traders recently pegging his chances of winning the Dem Prez prize next year at just 2.5%. By contrast, Hillary is given a 50.8% chance and Obama a 32.8% chance. If Richardson starts to make a move, those who bought contracts on him at current prices stand to trade them at a nice profit. If he goes down, the contract price falls. If you think the market is undervaluing or overvaluing your candidate, you can open an account and start trading. Even for non-traders, the site is worth keeping up with as some argue the large pool of players and real money at stake increases the predictive power.

Some of you are frustrated by the individual state polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. They are volatile, and often disagree with each other. One way of getting a handle on how Richardson or the other candidates are doing is to take a look at the average of all the current polls. That's what the political pros do by checking in at Real Clear Politics. There's a permanent link to the site at the top of this page.


Our Tuesday blog exclusive on Los Ranchos Mayor Abraham's hosting of President Bush for a Senator Domenici fund-raiser later this month was picked up by a bunch of media with the electronic ABQ Journal and KOB-TV leading the pack. We appreciate the credit when credit is due...Dem congressional contender Martin Heinrich will announce today he has the support of several prominent Dems in his primary battle with Bryon Paez. State Senator Pino and State Rep. Maestas are among those throwing their support to the ABQ city councilor who is seeking the right to take on GOP US Rep Heather Wilson...

For all you policy wonks, here's Big Bill's freshly unveiled universal health care plan...And here is even more policy wonk stuff featuring Senator Pete and Senator Jeff and their squabble over the future of nuclear power. I wouldn't advise reading them in one sitting, unless you have plenty of Starbucks on hand..

In case you were wondering, we are paying off our lunch prizes awarded in the recent blog contest. This week we pulled out our thin wallet to treat former Gallup Mayor Bob Rosebrough. We lived it up at Seasons across from ABQ's Old Town, but the New Mexico native and UNM Law School grad went easy on us. The tab came to $22.40. Who said Democrats can't be fiscally conservative?

We head to Santa Fe soon to award prize winner Santiago Sandoval his lunch. We may have to collect contributions to finance that one. Turns out that Santiago's dad is the clerk of the NM House of Representatives, Steve Arias, and he wants to join us. That's fine, Steve. But could you hit up Ben Lujan or Kenny Martinez for a sawbuck or two? We don't have a campaign treasury to tap.

Breaking the big political stories and having fun doin' it--This is the home of New Mexico politics. Send your news scoops from the e-mail link at the top of the page.

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