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Thursday, September 27, 2007

City Election Special: Who's Up And Who's Down In Council Races, Plus: Final Hours Bring Charges In Two Key Contests; It's My Kind Of Town 

Now just hours before the climax of ABQ Election '07 when voters decide four city council seats and whether to recall District Nine Councilor Don Harris. The conventional wisdom to this point has been that incumbents Brad Winter and Debbie O'Malley will earn re-election nods and that Democrat Rey Garduño will take a victory in District 6, although the potential for a run-off in that four way contest remains.

The modest change in the political outlook is in the recall of Harris in the far Heights in District 9. A month ago the conventional thinking had Harris dead and buried, but that was before Harris began fighting by sending thousands of DVD's into the district, a number of mailers and vigorously contesting ethics charges.

"This will be a low turnout re-election. They are the hardest to predict. I don't know if the recall effort has the needed spark,. There has never been one in city history. The higher the turnout the better for Harris. A lower turnout will mean those fired up to vote against him would have a bigger impact,"analyzed one our Alligators who now says he is on the fence on whether Don is doomed.

Others are emphatic that the recall will succeed based on the low threshold of voters needed. Only 1,844 voters need to vote on the issue, with a simple majority required to end Harris's council career.

HOT ON THE TRAIL

Last night, Harris, hitting it hard in the final days, called a news conference to allege that a handful of some of the signatures that were gathered to place the recall on the District 9 ballot were forged, casting doubt on the authenticity of the election. The group proposing the recall retorted that this is a "wild allegation by Mr. Harris to divert attention from the September 24th Ethics Board hearing and inquiry into his campaign finance reports and the finding of “guilty” on five of the six charges." But a spokeswoman told KOB-TV the group and Harris will meet with the city clerk to go over the signatures.

We'll have this one on our watch list when we take to the airwaves of KANW 89.1 FM at 6:30 p.m. for out exclusive continuous Election Night Coverage and Monday at 5 p.m. for our Election Eve special.

AT THE RACES

DISTRICT 2--Council Prez Debbie O'Malley appears to be on her way to a another four years.

"The League of Conservation voters just mailed a hit piece against Katherine Martinez, and her campaign seems to be fizzling here in the close," reports one of our Alligators in the North Valley district.

One of Martinez's latest mail pieces is here. (Patience. It's a big file.)

O'Malley commands the respect of her peers and is currently devoting full-time to the council. Katherine is a political newcomer, but has made a good impression and worked hard going door-to-door in the North Valley district.

DISTRICT 4-Brad Winter will likely close the deal and win a third four year term.

"Paulette de'Pascal's credibility has been damaged by both Winter and in the free media," said one of our district watchers. An Alligator sympathetic towards Winter chimed in: "Brad should win this one big. Remember, four years ago he had the Republican machine against him. That's not the case this time." He said.

Republican Winter won by five percent in 2003 when the conservative wing of the NM GOP went after him. Winter is now more associated with that wing. Brad is a lifelong community leader and is well-liked throughout his district. Paulette has had a tough campaign, but she has won kudos for her resilience and concern for ABQ.

A HEATED RACE
Rey Garduño
DISTRICT 6--The only thing that slowed down Democrat Rey Garduño was his failure to reveal a misdemeanor shoplifting conviction from the 1980's on his ABQ Journal questionnaire, but with just days left it appears the retired UNM marketing director is positioned to take first place in this liberal SE Heights district. Can ad agency owner Joanie Griffin, hobby store owner Kevin Wilson and centrist Democrat Blair Kaufman keep Garduño below 40% and force a November 20 run-off election between the top two contenders?

Garduño was hit over the shoplifting incident in a telephone "push-poll" Tuesday. His campaign said it was anonymous and therefore a violation of city ethics rules. They said it came from Joanie Griffin's campaign and they demanded she apologize. Griffin unloaded on Garduño in a late night phone call of her own saying Garduño is the one who should "be apologizing for lying about his record."

She said the poll was done by a polling firm and that there was a disclaimer letting voters know it had come from her campaign and did not violate ethics rules. She added fuel to the fire by saying her campaign has learned that Garduno's son and campaign manager, Tomas Garduño, also has a shoplifting conviction from the late 1990's.

Tomas Garduño said he was cited for misdemeanor shoplifting when he was a teenager and it was a "teenaged mistake." He questioned "what any of this" has to do with the city council race.

"Joanie Griffin is desperate and wants to run on mud, not issues. What about stopping sprawl and protecting our water?"

He said he expects supporters of the campaign to file ethics charges against Griffin.

Griffin says Tomas Garduño's shoplifting incident is relevant because Tomas manages a publicly financed campaign.

BOTTOM LINING THIS ONE

Rey Garduño, 64, has said the shoplifting conviction resulted when he forgetfully, not intentionally, walked out of a Sears store with other merchandise he had purchased. But he failed to disclose the incident on his ABQ Journal questionnaire, giving Griffin's campaign ammo. He has aplogized for the omission.

The endorsement of Garduño by outgoing Councilor Martin Heinrich and Light Guv Diane Denish has helped Garduño move forward. If he is not at 40%, he is close, and if he doesn't make it Tuesday he will remain the favorite in a runoff.

Rey, Joanie, Kevin and Blair are all qualified for the council, each having long involvement in community affairs.

FLYING SOLO

DISTRICT 8--Realtor Trudy Jones is unopposed in this NE Heights district. I have talked with her on your behalf. She is well-informed and sees service on the council as a civic duty, not a political opportunity. She will bring traditional conservative GOP representation to this district, providing needed balance on the nine member body.

CAN WE BOND?


There is a somewhat complicated bond issue on the city ballot that would set aside $10 million for affordable housing in the city. After reading a Journal editorial and an opinion piece by Lieutenant Governor Denish, the proposal makes sense, although the concern of the ABQ Chamber of Commerce is duly noted. I will be curious to see how Bond #10 fares with the voters Tuesday night.

On the other hand, ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez has it right when he urges voters to reject a pay raise for the city council and another proposition that would make it harder to force recall elections of councilors. The Mayor notes that the pay raise has been defeated at least 10 times and that no city official has ever been recalled. He says a vote against both these measures will keep our city government closer to the people--where it belongs.

OUR SPONSORS

Thanks to New Mexico's Enterprise rent-a-car, Ladera Golf, Bill Campbell Agency (Realtors) and Serrano & Sons Construction for helping to make possible public radio coverage of Election '07.

And thanks for making us the home of New Mexico politics. Email us from here and stop by again soon.


(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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