Friday, March 20, 2009

Chavez Continues Race Car Pace; Collects 10,000 Signatures For Re-elect Bid, Plus: Senate Votes To Let Light In, And: Reader Mail On Death Penalty 

ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez may be holding off on an official announcement of his re-election bid, but he is establishing an Indy 500 pace when it comes to meeting the complicated requirements to become an official contender. First, he filed over 5,000 five dollar individual donations to become the first and so far only candidate to qualify for public financing and today he will file over 10,000 petition signatures with the City Clerk, well over the 6,500 required to be certified for the ballot. As with the qualifying donations, Chavez is a very early bird. He and the other candidates have until April 28th to file the signatures and until March 31st for the qualifying donations. Now everything is in place for an official announcement that Chavez will seek an unprecedented fourth term to the city's top job. But don't expect him to be the early bird when it comes to that. The Mayor wants to be seen as the Mayor--not the mayoral candidate--for as long as possible.

The most likely candidates to join Chavez in qualifying for public financing and gathering the needed petition signatures are Dem Richard Romero and Republican RJ Berry. Both campaigns are working furiously to meet the March 31st contribution deadline as Chavez sits back and sips his favorite beverage and waits. Public financing provides each qualified contender with $328,000 for their campaign. The election is October 6.


What failed by only one vote in the State Senate last year passed overwhelmingly--33-8--late Thursday night. Following the House, lawmakers voted to open up conference committees between the House and Senate. Big Bill says he will sign the measure. The meetings in question are where differences over legislation approved by both bodies is ironed out. It's one of the more arcane ethics measures, but has been a favorite of the New Mexico press for what seems like decades.

An opponent of the legislation, Senator John Arthur Smith, argued that the holes in the new law are "phenomenal" and that future Legislatures will find a way around it. New Mexican Capitol correspondent Steve Terrell reported after the 2008 primary election that the addition of several new progressive Senators would mean the committees would finally be opened. Seen through that lens, the passage of the bill is a victory for the progressives who despite their increased numbers have had a pretty tough session. But we are still waiting for a really big ethics measure--like the one limiting campaign contributions--to make it up to the Fourth Floor. One day to go before Saturday adjournment.

(If the session breaks down into acrimony, back-stabbing and shouts of mutual disgust--preventing a timely adjournment--we will bring you the news on an updated Saturday blog. Of course, those things would never happen.)


Emotions were still running high in the aftermath of Big Bill signing the death penalty repeal. To the e-mail. First up is Greg Wyss:

Please get someone to ask the Governor’s office the following: How many of those phone calls and emails asking him to repeal the death penalty actually came from within New Mexico, and how many came from out-of-state advocacy groups? Did they use caller-ID to check the area code on these calls?... I bet we have just been spun by a bunch of New England and Left Coast bleeding heart activists!

Reader John Gniady thought the Guv used faulty reasoning in ditching the death clause:

C'mon Big Bill, when's the last time New Mexico executed someone who was innocent? Huh? Inquiring minds want to know. At least Big Bill could have used something other than an obvious red herring as political cover to burnish his liberal credentials.

Martin O'Malley gave the Guv his backing:

I'm not sure I agree completely with Governor Richardson's abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico, but my hat is off to him for what appears to be a thorough soul-searching to come to his decision. I wished he had demonstrated this side of him years ago, before the demands of national ambitions consumed his energies and may have sullied his career. My respect for Governor Richardson's leadership abilities have been restored by this difficult decision he so carefully made.

Attorney Doug Antoon gets the last word on this one:

You wrote: “…but the Guv's action…was largely symbolic.”

Very good point, and why even supporters of the death penalty are not over-zealous to work on a repeal of the legislature’s action. It would accomplish virtually nothing, and hence, New Mexico is really no different on the criminal punishment front than it was the day before the governor signed the death penalty out of existence in our state.


We haven't heard much reaction to the decision by State Senator Linda Lopez to delay a Rules Committee hearing on the nomination of controversial University of New Mexico Regent Jamie Koch for another six year term. There's a reason for that. This is Spring Break at UNM and elsewhere and the campus is quiet.

Lopez's decision to delay Koch's hearing came after she had promsied "tough questions" of the former chairman of the state Dem Party who was slapped with a no confidence resolution by UNM faculty. Many faculty and UNM watchers were looking forward to a Senate hearing to air UNM's issues and bring more oversight to the troubled campus. A faculty member closely involved in the matter tells us the recent faculty meeting with Big Bill and his decision to have Jamie step down as president of the Regents, "did not quite quiet the faculty. The pressure will continue." We'll see.


Mike Connor
We've moaned that since Big Bill was forced to withdraw his name as Obama's Commerce Secretary, we have seen no New Mexicans getting named to the upper ranks of the new adminstration. Well, we have finally scored one. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that Mike Connor, Las Cruces native, attorney and longtime staffer for Senator Bingaman on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will be nominated by the President to head the Bureau of Reclamation:

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has commended President Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate Michael L. Connor as Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Connor has more than 15 years of experience in the public sector, including having served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate and Natural Resources Committee since May 2001.

The Bureau has a major role in water policy in the Western states like ours.

The Connor nomination is a pretty good pop for the state, and hopefully not the last one. Big Bill may be off your radar, Mr. President, but we're still here.


Read this carefully, fellas, and maybe you can get a date with Tatianna Duran, the newly crowned 2009 Cherry Blossom Princess of the NM State Society in D.C.

Tatianna is a 2007 graduate of ABQ's Sandia Prep. She attends George Washington University in Washington, DC. where she majoring in International Affairs. While in high school, Tatianna was inducted into the National Honor Society and was on the varsity volleyball and varsity track teams. She still holds the record for the girls 100m at Sandia Prep. While at GWU, she is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and is on the GW Triathlon team. Tatianna is also interning for US Senator Jeff Bingaman. She is the daughter of Margaret and Bronson Duran.

You're welcome, guys, but now you're on your own...

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