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Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Garduño Goof: Shake-Up Seen In ABQ Council Race Over Shoplifting Incident, Plus: Big Bill's Salty Language, And: Potential Pearce Foe Goes MIA 

Rey Garduño
Bad news for frontrunner Rey Garduño's ABQ city council campaign has the politicos in the ABQ SE Heights district scratching their heads as they ponder how this one will end up October 2nd. Garduño, 64, made a rookie error by failing to disclose on his ABQ Journal questionnaire that in 1988 he had pleaded no contest and was found guilty of a shoplifting charge.

Garduño isn't the first candidate to foolishly omit such information and probably won't be the last. This, despite numerous examples over the years that the fudging often becomes a bigger issue than the actual infraction that the candidate fails to reveal. Two years ago, during the last city election, city council candidate Diana Dorn-Jones imploded when it was discovered she had not correctly answered the Journal questionnaire.

Garduño was accused of lifting a $200 phone from the ABQ Sears store. (What kind of phone was going for $200 back then?) The charge was a misdemeanor. Garduño now says he didn't remember being found guilty. He also says he didn't intend to leave the store without paying for the phone. But he revealed none of this when the Journal asked him and other candidates whether "they have ever been charged with...any misdemeanor or any felony in NM..."

"This definitely muddles the race. It's hard to say just how much it will hurt Rey, but the odds of there being a run-off in the district have just gone up," said a longtime SE Heights politico.

There are four candidates in the contest and if none of them gets 40% of the vote October 2, there will be a run-off between the top two finishers.

Democrat Garduño has been the darling of the many District 6 progressives and has even picked up the endorsement of outgoing City Councilor Martin Heinrich. But this is his second major problem since entering the race. He was also nailed for using a UNM e-mail address for his campaign.

The shoplifting charge is long ago, but Garduño's failure to come clean on the questionnaire has his opponents salivating because it will allow them to cast doubts on his integrity, a key issue for all voters. Still, Garduño has been seen as far ahead in the race and if his opponents don't take effective advantage, the damage could be minimized.

WHO BENEFITS?
Griffin
Garduño and Joanie Griffin have the biggest sign presence in the liberal district and seem to be running the most aggressive campaigns. However, Griffin, an ad agency owner, has baggage of her own. She was a registered Republican until recently and even though city elections are officially nonpartisan, she has taken hits. She has tried to convince voters she is now closer to the Democrats. Griffin has ties to Democratic Mayor Chavez, but he is unpopular in the district. Still, Griffin is proving to be a determined campaigner and has been handed a gift with Garduno's flub.

"Joanie has been the target of an anonymous Internet hate campaign from people who openly say they support Rey. With Rey taking this hit, the shoe is on the other foot, and voters who have been scared away will want to give her another look," a Griffin sympathizer said.

It may be some days before Griffin is fully engaged in the campaign, however. A friend reports she suffered a death in her family Wednesday.

Blair Kaufman, a self-described moderate Democrat, and Republican Kevin Wilson are also campaigning. At first blush, it could be Kaufman, an elected member of the CNM board (the old TV-I) who would stand to benefit most from the Garduno misstep.

"If Garduno supporters start to peel, they will be looking for another Democrat. Griffin's ties to the Republicans could cost her and Kaufman could benefit most, but he is going to have to step up and run a professional campaign,"analyzed our politico.

Kaufman, unlike the other three contenders, is not receiving public financing and has only raised a couple of thousand, compared to the nearly $30,000 his taxpayer supported foes each receive.

Analysts say Wilson, a hobby store owner, could also benefit from the Garduno goof because Republicans may be enthused at any faltering by Rey and rally behind their lone entrant. In a four way race, Wilson remains the dark horse to sneak into second and make a run-off.

City council races are akin to minor league baseball; there's a lot of hits, but also a lot of errors. Garduno now needs extra hits to balance his early blunders on the field of La Politica where he is learning the hard way that our game is played under the brightest and harshest of lights.

AN X RATED BILL

Gays gathered for a recent Big Bill Santa Fe fundraiser reportedly heard him use some salty language in explaining his recent gaffe at a debate on gay rights issues. "I fucked up," he is said to have told the friendly crowd enjoying the gubernatorial presence at a ritzy City Different locale.

The Guv also told the supporters he will place a domestic partners bill on the agenda of January's legislative session. The measure died during this year's special session, despite prodding from the Guv who has courted the gay community for support for his Prez campaign.

This wasn't the first time the Guv dropped the F-Bomb. Back on February 28, 2005 we blogged of a meeting between the Guv and legislative leaders.

"According to my senior Alligators, men who are accustomed to the most brutal tactics imaginable in the pursuit of power, the Guv strode into the room, looked around and bellowed at these top guns of La Politica: "You're fucking me!" The room was stunned, but there was more to come..."

If that sent a chill down your spine, you're at the right Web site.

MORE BILL

The Guv didn't use the F word on the liberal bloggers who have been blasting him, but he did respond Wednesday to the attack from the Daily Kos in which he was called a buffoon.

THREE'S A CROWD?

Will it be just a two man race in the Dem nomination fight for the right to take on southern NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce? It's looking more like it each day.

Dem Al Kissling, who won the primary to take on Pearce two years ago and lost to him in the general election, will formally announce his '08 challenge in Mesilla in Dona Ana county on Sunday. Dona Ana county Commissioner Bill McCamley has also declared, but Rick Bolanos, who was saying he was serious about a run, has fallen off the radar and shows no signs of launching a campaign.

Bolanos, a native of Las Vegas, NM and a Vietnam war veteran, ran for the US House from Texas two years ago. Even though he is not a Hispanic of southern NM, his entry in the race could jumble the numbers and complicate the bids of Kissling and McCamley. But Bonales, living in Dona Ana county, is looking more and more like a no show. Maybe someone had a talk with him. We'll keep you posted.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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