Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Big Day In ABQ Mayor Race; Three To Qualify For Public Money; We've Got the News & The Analysis, Also: Latest NM DC Info, Plus: The Dying Newspapers 

Chavez, Romero & Berry
Today is a landmark day for the 2009 ABQ mayoral election. When it's over we should have three candidates qualifying for public financing and the race will be engaged--a six month run to the October 6 election.

The City Clerk reported Monday that GOP State Rep. RJ Berry submitted additional five dollar donations to qualify for $328,000 in public financing, bringing his total to 4,793, well over the 3,287 donations needed to make the grade. He did so with a major push financed by the Bernalillo County Republican Party. The clerk is expected to announce shortly that Berry has qualified for public money. Meanwhile, former ABQ Dem State Sen. Richard Romero told supporters Monday he has been certified for the public money after turning in 4,615 donations. Mayor Chavez weeks ago turned in over 5,000 donations as well as the over 6,500 petition signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Berry and Romero will now focus on those petitions which are due April 28th. Today was the deadline to qualify for public financing.

My city political experts don't expect any other candidates to qualify for the ballot. They say to get 6,500 valid signatures a candidate will have to gather as many as 8,000, if not more. and they see only the big three candidates easily doing that. Developer Rob Dickson could be the long-shot to watch.. Although liberal-leaning, as an Anglo candidate Dickson could help Chavez by peeling some NE Heights votes away from Berry. Dickson declined to pursue public financing and would likely use personal funds to finance a run if he makes the ballot. But Dickson is going to have to spend some of that development dough to make a play. According to his campaign, he has compiled just 386 signatures. That's as depressing as the real estate market Rob is dealing with.


City Hall watchers are now framing the race this way: Chavez is positioned to get 40% of the vote and avoid a run-off election. However, they see the fly in the ointment as Rep. Berry, but do not see him as the strongest Chavez challenger. They see Berry in the role of spoiler, peeling conservative and Republican votes away from Chavez and boosting Romero, giving him a chance to hold Marty below the magic 40% and forcing a run-off election.

Naturally, the Berry camp and the R's disagree with that analysis saying Berry can consolidate conservative and Anglo votes and force the run-off between him and Chavez, leaving Romero in the dust.

Celebrating his qualifying for the public financing, Romero referenced the grass-roots strategy that he thinks will surprise Chavez:

“Our Campaign for Change has been embraced by the voters as we’ve now surpassed our first major milestone--thanks to a army of fantastic volunteers. Day after day, our grassroots momentum has been building – and it will continue to build.

Romero is leaning heavily on organizers who helped put the Obama campaign over the top. The idea is to motivate voters who don't normally cast ballots in city elections and are likely to be
unfriendly towards the mostly centrist, but sometimes conservative Chavez.


Jim Baca
Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca ('97-'01), a liberal Dem, is waving yellow flags at the Chavez challengers and echoing sentiment being heard around the city in the early stages of this contest.

...Not one of the candidates so far has given us the "Big Picture" of what our city would be like after four years of the next administration. What is the overarching goal? Will everyone, as usual, fall back on crime reduction as the major issue? Or will someone just lay out for us their vision for a better city?The Mayor has not done so. Richard Romero has not done so. The Republican candidate seems to be running on one issue only, and that is that he is a Republican."

As the incumbent, Chavez is under less pressure to paint that "big picture," falling back on the job he has done for three terms, but Baca's analysis is especially relevant for Romero and Berry. Most voters we hear from seem to think the city is in pretty good shape and while Chavez is not a loved personalty, he is respected. What is, as former Mayor Baca put it "the overarching goal" of the challengers? Not being Marty Chavez will attract some votes, but elections are ultimately about ideas. Do the challengers have any? Albuquerque awaits the answer.


At the White House as reported by the NM Congressional Delegation:

Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Martin Heinrich and Harry Teague attended the bill signing of the Omnibus Public Land Bill at the White House with President Barack Obama. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, long-time advocates of the legislation, also attended the signing. As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Bingaman authored the Omnibus Bill and shepherded it through the Senate. The Omnibus Land Bill included more than 160 separate provisions that will protect our national parks and forests, preserve historic places, and invest in water infrastructure.


We haven't posted audio from one of our US Senator's radio news conferences lately. Here's
the latest one, held Monday by Dem NM senior Senator Bingaman.

Suedeen Kelly
Also from Capitol Hill:

The White House intends to re-appoint
Suedeen G. Kelly of New Mexico to another term on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Kelly’s current term expires in June. With Senate approval, her new term will expire in 2014. The appointment requires Senate confirmation. Energy Committee Chair Bingaman will shepherd the nomination:

Chairman Bingaman has known Suedeen Kelly for more than 25 years, since he hired her as an attorney in the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. She also has been a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, and she chaired the New Mexico Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s electric, gas and water utilities.


Here's the recent 60 day session of the NM Legislature by the numbers and as compiled by the
NM Municipal League:

...There were a total of 1,609 regular bills introduced: 907 in the House and 702 in the Senate. The House introduced 85 Joint Memorials, 133 Memorials, 29 Joint Resolutions, and 4 Resolutions. In the Senate, there were 71 Joint Memorials, 104 Memorials, 17 Joint Resolutions, and 4 Resolutions. This makes for a grand total of 2,056 pieces of legislation introduced. A total of 322 bills passed and have been sent to the Governor for his action, or just over 20% of the regular bills introduced during the session. The Governor has until noon on April 10, 2009 to act on the legislation. Remember, all appropriations bills, including Capital Outlay projects, are subject to the Governor’s line-item veto power.


Newspapers are dying, but does that really endanger Democracy. From
Slate Magazine:

The insistence on coupling newspapering to democracy irritates me not just because it overstates the quality and urgency of most of the work done by newspapers but because it inflates the capacity of newspapers to make us better citizens, wiser voters, and more enlightened taxpayers. I love news on newsprint, believe me, I do. But I hate seeing newspapers reduced to a compulsory cheat sheet for democracy. All this lovey-dovey about how essential newspapers are to civic life and the political process makes me nostalgic for the days, not all that long ago, when everybody hated them.


NM Chair Harvey Yates has yet to fill the top position at the state party---executive director--but he has had no delay in naming a communications director to replace Whitney Cheshire who left the position recently. The GOP says Janel Causey now has the job:

Causey served as deputy press secretary for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens...and oversaw community outreach efforts and volunteer coordination for the senator’s re-election. Causey also worked as a policy analyst for Hawaii Republican Governor Linda Lingle. (She) holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Southern Mississippi and earned her master’s degree at Indiana University.


Our Raton correspondent got it right when he reported that Jesse Johnson had won election as the new Colfax County Dem Party chairman. We don't know why in our first blog draft we called him Jesse Jackson, but we did.....David Montoya, elected chair of the Sandoval County Dems, is not a lobbyist as we referred to him in our first take. He runs a defense contracting firm that works on the federal level. The company has a communications and government relations division led by veteran lobbyist Bruce Donisthorpe who has been a mainstay on our KANW-FM radio Election Night broadcasts for several cycles...

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