Monday, September 17, 2007
Paez Set To Fold Congress Candidacy; Others Positioning, Plus: Foley Charges Set To Move Forward, And: No Moving Vans For Mrs. Big Bill
Get ready for some major reshuffling in the ABQ congressional race. Contender Bryon Paez is close to dropping out; Michelle Lujan Grisham is about to get in. Paez told me Sunday he is hitting the wall in his fundraising and will make a final decision on his candidacy this week.
"I am finding there is so much competition for campaign money," the Marine veteran said as he contemplated the end of his two month old effort.
With former Big Bill aide and lobbyist Paez appeared headed toward the exits, former Bill cabinet secretary Lujan Grisham was headed into the political theater. Friends of hers told me she is in the race and a formal announcement is expected next month.
And that's not all. State Treasurer James B. Lewis, just elected last November, is now said to be seriously considering getting in, but he is feeling heat from some Dem insiders. They say that Lewis, who ran for Congress long ago and lost, may be seen to have a "moral obligation" to clean up the Treasurer's office after the biggest scandal in state history. Launching a campaign after pledging to do that job could hurt him, they fret, as he is out raising campaign money and perhaps detracting from his performance as Treasurer.
Watching all this while working the phones for more campaign cash is ABQ City Councilor Martin Heinrich. He has raised over 200 grand for the fight to come. Attorney Jon Adams is also in the fray, but has not come with the big bucks. School teacher Jason Call also says he is going to run, but has not filed federal papers and is not yet seen as serious. Lujan Grisham is seen as serious, but can she raise the money? She could come with some of her own and see where it takes her.
Opinion is split on whether a spirited Dem primary battle will help or hurt the D's chances in ousting longtime ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson who narrowly won re-election last year, but the game of musical chairs is providing enough entertainment to rival the attractions at the State Fair Midway.
FORWARD ON FOLEY
Talk that disorderly conduct charges against Roswell Sate Rep. Dan Foley would not go forward is being quashed by the Chaves county district attorney who tells the Roswell Record he is looking for an out-of-county prosecutor to take on the controversial charges.
The House minority leader is accused of rushing onto a basketball court screaming obscenities, apparently in defense of his son. Officer Greg Carrasco said the incident got physical and ended with him wrestling the state representative to the ground. Foley was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer by the Roswell Police Department.
An investigator for the DA, quashing speculation to the contrary, flatly declares, " There will be charges filed." But who will prosecute the case is unknown. "I asked for assistance from other law enforcement agencies and they said 'no,'" said DA Terry Haake, recently turned down by the state attorney general's office and now searching outside of Roswell for help.
THE ROSIEST OF SCENARIOS
What's the rosiest scenario for ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez for City Election '07? How about a 5 to 4 majority on the nine member council? You heard right--a majority. The Mayor's glass is half full crowd explains how today's 6 to 3 council against Marty could end up in his favor.
First, Don Harris loses his recall election in District 9. Marty gets to appoint a friendly face. That gives him a council 5 to 4 against him. Then, Chavez ally Joanie Griffin forces a run-off with Rey Garduño in District 6 and against the odds takes the victory. That gives the Mayor his majority 5 to 4 council.
One missing factor, however, is GOP Councilor Sally Mayer who has bolted from the Mayor's side after he made changes she didn't like at the city's animal control agency. So Mayer conceivably takes the Mayor back to 6 to 3 on major issues and a council that can still override his vetoes. But if he were to make the peace with Sally and all the other pieces fell into place, he would get that veto proof council.
Will it happen? Unlikely, but even the prospect might be causing some sleepless nights for the coalition that currently controls the council. And it might make the Mayor pucker up when he sees Councilor Sally walking around Government Center.
CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG?
The Mayor also might want to pull ABQ police chief Ray Schultz aside and give him a history lesson on how to handle anti-war protests. The cops took a hit for their performance at a weekend anti-war rally. Chavez was around for the big ABQ anti-Vietnam demonstrations of the early 70's, and knows emotions run high. He was also mayor during the APD's controversial conduct at a March '03 demonstration protesting the start of the war. That conduct led to a lawsuit.
Both police and protest organizers need to work this out, and the mayor needs to mediate. The way this war is going and with the election rapidly approaching, the protests are only going to get bigger.
VOTE EARLY...AND OFTEN
All you absentee voters who live in District 9 and who will be voting on whether to recall Councilor Harris, you will be getting two ballots in the mail one for the regular election and one for the recall,. If you don't fill in and mail back the recall ballot, don't think you can show up at the polls on Election Day to do it. Election officials say you can't. So vote early, and in this case, they really do mean often.
THE PARTY'S OVER
How about those plummeting Santa Fe real estate sales numbers? Like elsewhere, they were bound to come in the overheated market Now, the money mavens are asking if prices will start to come down from sky high levels, or will owners hang tough, refusing to cut prices as they await a rebound. Maybe. But what happens if you throw in a thousand or more layoffs at Los Alamos Labs, a threat that looms large as Congress debates the budget?
The state's congressional delegation can be taken to task for looking the other way since the end of the Cold War and supporting increased budgets for Los Alamos and Sandia Labs, even as they knew the music was bound to stop. But we send them there to bring home the pork and celebrate when they do. There's no accolades for taking the punch bowl away, and that's why this hangover could be a whopper.
NO MOVING VANS YET
Barbara Richardson isn't getting ready to measure the curtains at the White House--anything but. The NM First Lady tells Time Magazine it would be "presumptuous" to discuss what would be her "signature issue" if she were to become First Lady Of the USA. Hey, she can read the polls, too.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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