Monday, June 22, 2009
The King Thing: He Gets Indictments; How About Convictions? Plus: Denish & R's Position On Scandal Politics, And: Low Turnout Seen For ABQ Mayor Race
AG Gary King
Attorney General Gary King got his indictments, but now the question is can he get convictions in the Housing Authority scandal? It's not going to be easy, judging by the attorneys hired to fight the AG. Billy Blackburn is defending bond attorney Robert Strumor. He ridicules King's indictments, saying it proves the old adage that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich." High-powered ABQ defense attorney Paul Kennedy has been hired by former Clovis State Rep. Smiley Gallegos, who served as director of the housing authority in question, and said he expects his client to be vindicated. Both lawyers are talking the talk, but they have track records to back it up.
The indictments buff up King's ethics credentials which have been under attack by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party where King is seen as part of the old order. King is expected to seek re-election next year and wants to avoid a primary fight with a liberal challenger. If he wins convictions, the upside is obvious. But what happens if there are no convictions or plea bargains?
A failed prosecution could hurt King, but a Dem who wants to run against him will probably have to do it without knowing the outcome of the case. Money has to be raised and organization undertaken for the March 2010 pre-primary and the June 2010 primary. That has to start by the end of the year. As things stand today, King can expect to run unopposed.
DI AND THE INDICTMENTS
The R's will try to make ethics a tar baby for Light Guv Denish, presuming she is the 2010 Dem Guv nominee. Former GOP Chairman and possible 2010 GOP Guv contender Allen Weh, framed it this way:
...Entrenched politicians who abuse their positions and our tax dollars have once again given all of us a black eye. Corruption at the highest levels of government will be the biggest issue in the 2010 campaign.
But Di continues to put space between here and the onslaught of corruption cases making headlines. On the housing debacle she said:
Open and honest government should be a top priority. I've worked hard over the last three years, along with Senator Mary Kay Papen (D-Dona Ana), to make certain this kind of fraud and abuse does not happen in the future. I led the effort to reform the entire Regional Housing Authority and to make certain more oversight of public funds was in place.
Denish has avoided huge campaign contributions--over $10,000 or so, has kept her own office on the up and up and remains popular among progressive Democrats concerned about ethics. They have some stroke in the primary process, if not much in a general election.
Mud is not going to be easy to apply to the state's number two and Dems will now argue that King's indictments show they are capable of cleaning up their own house.
Santa Fe County Commissioner Mike Anaya is now doubtful on a run for the Dem nomination for state Land Commissioner, according to friends of Anaya. Former Commissioner Ray Powell is in and running and is so far the only announced D candidate. On the R side, retired federal DEA agent Errol Chavez has made it official for an exploratory committee. Earlier, Bob Cornelius of Tatum in Lea County also formed a committee.
The Land Office is the only executive statewide position the R's hold. There could be more candidates, but right now the opportunity may be on the Dem side if Anaya stays out. Powell was denied the Dem land office nod in 2006 when Jim Baca came with huge majorities in the northern Dem Hispanic counties. Powell has 10 years of experience in the post.
Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca is out with his prediction on voter turnout for the October 6 city election. "It will be low, perhaps the lowest ever. People have other things on their minds, the economy being foremost," said the liberal Democrat who held the city's top job from 1997-2001.
In 2005, ABQ established a new low turnout record for an ABQ mayor election when only 31 percent of the city's 281,000 registered voters, or about 87,000, went to the polls. Mayor Chavez won handily that year, besting three rivals and getting a record 47 percent of the vote. He will need to get above 40 percent again this year to avoid a run-off. The record low turnout helped him last time and if Baca is correct about this year's turnout it could bode well for the incumbent this October 6.
THE BOTTOM LINES
We wrote Friday that the Air Force fighter wing stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base and known as the "Tacos" was funded at $345 million. That figure was wrong. That's the cost of a larger Air Force fighter program we saw in a news article. The "Tacos," threatened with being disbanded, do employ 1,000 and the impact on ABQ is in millions. We'll dig up the total annual budget.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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