Thursday, February 21, 2008
Red Light Cameras Make Tempers Red Hot, Plus: Fresh Analysis Of the GOP US Senate Race, And: The Tribune Funeral Is Saturday
Bill & Marty
A bullying Big Bill and a cocky Mayor Marty are on full display in the skirmish over the controversial red light camera program, with a new low reached in the relationship Wednesday. Asked about settling his differences with the Guv, Chavez said: "He's got my cell number."
It does seem that the Governor has Marty's number, but it's not to his cell phone. Ever since Bill helped pushed through the Legislature the measure that would send to state coffers most of the fines raised from the red light cameras, Marty has been downright spastic. First he canceled the program and then on Wednesday he reactivated the dreaded cameras.
"Politics in the city is being run on emotion and anger," analyzed KKOB-AM radio talk show host Jim Villanucci who has been in the forefront in opposing the cameras.
While the radio talker's charge rang true, so did the charge from the mayor's allies that a newly vengeful Big Bill seems to have emerged since losing his battle for the Dem Prez nod. But it's the Guv who has the upper hand. Marty has been told by one of his lobbyists that Bill is going to sign the bill that could make the red lights go dark.
The two political players have long had a beneath-the-radar resentment towards one another, with both vying to be perceived as top dog. The duo had a run-in last month when the Guv charged that Marty had jumped the gun in making a major jobs announcement that should have been done jointly.
With the red light squabble becoming a macho thing, both Bill and Marty are apparently locked into their positions. Chavez is more determined than ever to keep the program going, even if it is to his political detriment. Bill has no reason to compromise when he has a proposed law on his desk that could zap the mayor and actually improve his standing with a good portion of the public. As for Mr. & Mrs. Albuquerque, they are tired of the red light cameras, but maybe more so of the red-hot tempers this battle has set off. Stay tuned.
GOP SENATE SCRAMBLE
You don't need a poll to know where the race for the Republican nomination for US Senate stands. Heather Wilson told us loud and clear this week she is the underdog and as a result will run an attack campaign against rival Steve Pearce. The ABQ congresswoman chose border security and saving Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis as her favored weapons in her initial foray against the southern NM congressman. Why these issues? Because Pearce's exceptional strength in his sprawling southern district could deliver the nomination to him even if Wilson, as expected, scores a healthy win in Bernalillo County.
The poll we relayed to you from our insiders was taken in mid-January, apparently commissioned by the state GOP and had Pearce leading 38% to 33% with a large undecided. Pearce is not that well known outside of his home district. For him to be ahead or tied, he must be delivering blow-out margins there.
Reports from GOP county conventions being held around the state this week confirm Pearce's strength in small town New Mexico. Those conventions send delegates to the March 15th statewide pre-primary convention in ABQ where Wilson and Pearce will face off for the top spot on the June primary ballot. Our spotters say Pearce has done well in Otero and Lincoln counties in the southeast and had a very strong showing in San Juan in the Four Corners. However, Wilson's strong showing at the weekend Bernalillo County convention keeps her in the game.
Wilson must landslide here and cut down Pearce's winning margin down south. Her attacks using Cannon AFB and border security are aimed at making southern inroads. She is using her support of the children's health insurance program known as SCHIP and Pearce's opposition to it to appeal to women and more moderate ABQ area voters. Wilson may not be able to persuade southern Pearce voters to jump ship to her, but if she can dampen enthusiasm and weaken turnout in his stronghold, she will reduce the pressure to win Bernalillo county and its suburbs by a less commanding margin.
ABQ TRIBUNE TO CLOSE
One of the great ironies in the life of the Albuquerque Tribune is how it was saved from death by the government then went on to become one of the more effective and aggressive watchdogs of the government. The Tribune, which will publish the final edition of its 86 year history Saturday, was spared from a Great Depression death in 1933 by a federally approved joint operating agreement with the larger ABQ Journal. Back then, long before the Internet and TV news, preserving a media voice was a big deal given how few voices there were. The government made the right call in saving the afternoon daily, and the paper made the most of the artificial life it had been granted.
We'll miss the Trib. We've been reading her since 1971. But we welcome what is to come--a new generation of voices who won't need government breaks or millions of dollars to join the marketplace of ideas.
The final and fitting words on the Trib come from the paper's owner, E. W. Scripps:
"As The Tribune passes into history, we take some solace in the knowledge that Albuquerque and New Mexico are better places to live today thanks to the newspaper's commitment to community service."
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THE BOTTOM LINES
Newly installed NM Dem Party interim executive director Josh Geise says he did not have a consulting role in the '06 ABQ state rep candidacy of Traci Cadigan. We blogged that he had. Meantime, Geise's boss, Dem Party Chair Brian Colòn, tells us the party is looking for a press secretary as it prepares for the historic election year. Contact the party if you're interested....
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2008
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