Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Latest From The Frontlines of ABQ Election '07 As Candidates Gear Up, And: It's Both Beer & Champagne For Big Bill 

ABQ City Councilor Don Harris has begun what city hall insiders believe is an uphill campaign to avoid becoming the first councilor to ever be kicked out of his seat via a recall election. The attorney and freshman lawmaker has hit the mailboxes with a piece exhorting voters in his far NE Heights district to reject the recall, and he is using ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez as an issue.

"All deserve to be served, not just the few. And the voters should choose our Councilor, not the mayor, " rips Harris.

If voters oust Harris, Mayor Marty gets to choose a replacement to fill out his term which expires in 2009. Harris is not a reliable Chavez vote and has become part of the council's Gang of 6 that has formed on occasion to override mayoral vetoes.

Meantime, the numbers are tough for Harris. The city clerk's office told me Tuesday:

"1,844 voters in City Council district 9 must vote in the recall election on October 2, in order for the office to become vacant. In addition, a majority of those voting must vote in favor of the recall in order for the office to be come vacant. As an example, if 1842 voters vote for the recall and only one voter votes against the recall, the recall will fail because 1844 voters did not vote."

That is not a very high bar to cross because Harris was elected over incumbent Tina Cummins in 2005 during a low turnout run-off election and those are the numbers used for the recall. Turnout for this October's election could easily reach four or five thousand voters in the Harris district so getting enough turnout is not going to be an issue for recall supporters. Harris must campaign as if he is running for re-election. The city ethics board this month considers complaints against him. Its findings could influence the recall.

The Four Hills Alligators say Harris has alienated important neighborhood groups and remain pessimistic about his survival chances. In his mail piece Harris terms the upcoming balloting "a hateful recall election" and says voters chose him with 66% of the vote and again warns that if he loses Chavez will pick someone to fill out the remainder of his term, not voters.

This one will be a featured race in our wall-to-wall coverage of City Election '07 when we take to the airwaves of KANW 89.1 FM at 6:30 p.m. October 2 .


Another hot race is that four way duel in the city's SE Heights where Rey Garduño was recently rattled when he failed to mention a long-ago shoplifting incident on his ABQ Journal questionnaire. Observers in the liberal district still think Garduño is the frontrunner, but wonder if there now could be a run-off election. If no candidate gets 40% October 2, a run-off featuring the top two finishers would be held November 2oth.

Those seeking to slow Garduño will get a chance to make some news tonight when they have a live, on-line Q and A with the ABQ Journal. Blair Kaufman, Joanie Griffin and Kevin Wilson will join Garduño in the chatroom at 7:30 tonight.

Rey's questionnaire woes aren't quite over yet. The ABQ Tribune also asked the candidates about past incidents, and Garduño will also take a hit there for not reporting the shoplifting incident.


Is everyone living in a state of bliss in the largely affluent NE Heights city council district 8? We ask because for the second time in a row there is no contested race. Realtor Trudy Jones is the automatic winner, replacing Republican Jim Loy who also ran unopposed in 2005. Not much will change with this one. Like Loy, Trudy is a reliable Mayor Marty supporter.

Early in-person voting starts at four locations in the city today. They are listed in the link in the above story.


We didn't get a chance to post the official announcement that Dem State Rep. Tom Swisstack will seek to become the mayor of Rio Rancho for the second time, so here it is. We broke that story a couple of weeks ago when Tom told us he will give up his seat in the Legislature if he gets elected leader of the City of Vision. His chances look pretty good for the March election. No other big name has emerged to run, not yet anyway.

Republicans need to get moving and recruit a strong candidate for Swisstack's Roundhouse seat. If he leaves it, the numbers crunchers say it has an excellent chance of going R.


ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson argues that her recent travel outside of the ABQ based district is not unusual and that we shouldn't read it as a sign that she has her eye on the US Senate seat held by fellow R Pete Domenici if it should become available. Not unusual? Well, we'll give her the benefit on that. But what is definitely unusual is that her out-of-district visits have been accompanied by news article in the Las Cruces Sun-News, The Farmington Daily Times and the Clovis News-Journal and the Los Alamos Monitor. If Heather wants to quash the speculation about a possible Senate bid, why not rule out a run, instead of debating her travel schedule? Yeah, we love this game...


On Tuesday we told you about that cheap seats ABQ September 21 fundraiser Big Bill is having for his Prez campaign. You get in for a measly 25 bucks. But don't worry about the Guv going wanting. We're told that on the very same night the Joe Six Pack crowd gets to greet the Guv, he is also scheduled for backslapping with the Dom Pèrignon sippers at high-dollar fundraiser at the home of his old friend and Downs at ABQ owner Paul Blanchard. Yes, that's the same Paul Blanchard who is asking the state to let him move his racetrack out to Moriarty.

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