Friday, January 18, 2008

Turf War Between Big Bill & Mayor Marty: Leak Of Jobs News Sets It off, Plus: Our Readers Write, And: Even More NM Politics 

Chavez & Bill-Happier Times
Long simmering resentments between Governor Big Bill and ABQ Mayor Marty have been on hold as the two pursued their political ambitions, but now that both have crashed to earth, the duo is sparring again and it isn't making our Enchanted Land looking like an ideal place to do business.

The turf war went public when the ABQ Journal hit the driveways Thursday with a headline announcing that the giant financial firm, Fidelity Investments, would be opening a facility at ABQ's Mesa del Sol development that could employ 1,250 workers over the next five years with salaries ranging form $25,000 to $60,000. Mayor Chavez was quoted as the source for the story, but the Governor had scheduled a 1:30 p.m. news conference to announce the big economic get.

Richardson and his staff were obviously livid over what they saw as a serious breach of political etiquette. When quizzed about the news leak, Big Bill said there had been an agreement between all parties not to release the news until the Guv news conference, but KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson told me that a Chavez spokeswoman said the mayor was never told to hold back the news.

Whatever the case, the public spat showed how rapidly the political landscape has shifted in the past month. Chavez has started and ended races for US Senate and Governor, and Richardson has ended a presidential campaign. Both of these high-profile politicos have, for the time being, stalled. They are determined to keep in the good graces of the public and there is nothing like a big jobs announcement to spread goodwill, unless, of course, you fight over who gets credit.


Chavez is desperate for good news. His popularity has been slammed over the unpopular red light cameras, his terrible polling numbers among Dems that forced his withdrawal from the Senate race and a rebellious city council that is starting to gain ground in its own turf wars with the mayor. In addition, Marty had to demote a department head for giving bad information to the newspapers recently. And he gave some more bad info when he leaked the Fidelity announcement, saying the jobs would pay an average of $60,000.

Big Bill has his share of woes, too. The early end of his presidential campaign has cost him some prestige; he has had political troubles with Hillary Clinton and the Legislature is signaling it will not pass his big health care plan.

Without assigning blame, it's clear that the mayor and governor are not communicating effectively, which is no big deal unless it impacts public policy. In this case, it embarrassed the state in front of a sought after economic prospect, and will have the tongues wagging in the biz community about those turf war prone New Mexicans.

Some advisers to Chavez feel he needs to dial it down for a couple of months and regain his footing as he contemplates running for yet another mayoral term in 2009. (If the courts overturn term limits.) Publicity is not always his friend. As for the Guv, he is expert at pushing Marty's buttons, and may have been getting a little pay back with the jobs leak.

Richardson and Chavez may technically be lame-ducks, but they still have plenty of power and influence over their respective agendas. More turf wars are not going to serve the advancement of those agendas.


We headlined a recent piece, "Health Care--Who Cares?" as we took note of the difficulty the Guv's plan for universal health coverage appears to be having in Santa Fe. Several readers said we were too cavalier, including Claire Wiener: "For you to casually and blithely write off 400,000 uninsured New Mexicans and say that health care is an issue that has no traction seems, well, ignorant at best and cruel at worst. Health care is emerging again as one of the top three issues facing voters nationally as well. There are many competing ideas and interests in our health care debate, but I think your column was much too dismissive of the whole issue. Write another one and pay attention!"

Thanks Claire. Per your request and others, I will revisit this one soon.


Not everyone was able to see the TV spot released by the Steve Pearce for US Senate campaign so we are posting it again, and also some reaction from a blog reader who mused over what was omitted from the first political commercial of the 2008 campaign season: "Is Rep. Pearce ashamed of his strong position on Iraq? Shoot, he should stand tall, hand in hand with his President!"

Pearce may support the war, but don't expect him to shout about on TV where all the Dems and independents can see what he is up to.


GOP Senator Pete Domenici's high-priced barrister doesn't have to worry about getting his legal bills paid. Pete has won permission, as expected, to use his leftover campaign funds to pay those bills. They resulted when Domenici was the target of an preliminary Senate Ethics Committee probe into the US Attorney scandal. The committee is no longer investigating.


It hasn't gone away and we're still tracking it. The police chief in the City Different tries to put some spin on the recent numbers, but we doubt they are making capital city residents feel any safer. Mayor Coss and company have major work to do in 2008, or the festering crime problem could seep deeper into the city's soul, changing the laid-back atmosphere that has made it a tourist mecca. And what about the candidates running in the March 4 city election? Can they get away from the trivial and get serious about the crime wave?


Former NM GOP State Rep. Terry Marquardt is hoping seven is indeed the lucky number. He is the seventh candidate to join the race for the GOP nomination for the southern US House seat being vacated by Steve Pearce. Marquardt, 58, could have an uphill climb. After 12 years of service, the Alamogordo optometrist and House minority leader was ousted from his seat in the 2006 election.

We're still hearing names of candidates thinking about getting in the congressional races, but they better hurry. They have until February 12th to collect their petition signatures. Filing for state offices is March 18th, and contrary to what some of our morning readers saw here Thursday, we are now informed that State Senator Lynda Lovejoy has drawn an opponent for the June Dem primary. We will track down details on that...Did I incorrectly spell Dan Weaks as "Dan Weeks" yesterday? Lobbyist Weaks didn't mind, but his family might...

Thanks for checking in and for your continued support, comments and criticisms.

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