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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Here He Comes: ABQ Mayor Chavez Set to Make Candidacy Official This Sunday; Veteran Leader Enters Race As Prohibitive Favorite; Seeks Record 4th Term 

ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez will return to where his political career was born--the city's West side--to make official his candidacy for a third mayoral term in a row and a fourth overall. That word comes from my senior political sources. They say Chavez will kick off his campaign for re-election at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Don Newton (Taylor Ranch) Community Center.

The West Side is where it all started for Chavez, in 1988, when he was elected to represent the area in the state Senate. He scored a landslide mayoral re-election win there in 2005 and needs that base of support in 2009 to fend off challengers Richard Romero, a Democrat, and Republican Richard "RJ" Berry.

In recent months Chavez has played possum with a willing press corp who have given him considerable attention over when he would make his announcement. Sunday's event will come as a surprise only to those who live in a cave.

By announcing Sunday, Chavez will make this a less than 90 day run to the October 6 election, limiting the time his opponents have to inflict damage. Early voting starts at the beginning of September. An afternoon Sunday event will also score well-watched evening TV news coverage.

The 57 year old leader is positioned for another win, say my veteran analysts, but they caution that unexpected events in the news cycle could open the door for the mayor's foes.

THE GATORS SET THE ODDS

We (a survey of my Alligators) are putting the "over-under" for Chavez's re-election at 43.5 percent. It takes 40 percent to avoid a run-0ff election which Chavez did in 2005.

The campaign thus far has been fairly quiet, with the exception of a sensational murder at a Denny's restaurant on the West Side. His challengers scored their first political points by focusing on the issue. In response, Democrat Chavez is now again proposing to add officers to the police department. What could be the defining moment of the campaign, if Chavez wins, may have come in late May when the labor union AFSCME for the first time endorsed Chavez for Mayor. The union represents 3,500 city workers. Not all union members were happy with the decision, but it will stand and be heavily promoted by the incumbent.

All contenders have qualified for public financing. They will each have about $330,000 to spend. That will keep expensive network TV ads from coming probably until at least mid-August. One unknown is how much, if any, third party money will come on behalf of the candidates. Republicans have already spent some cash to help Berry get on the ballot. Nonprofit groups active for liberals in the '08 state cycle have so far been quiet.

Some Chavez insiders think under ideal conditions he could head toward 50 percent on Election Night. However, the chief executive will have to guard against impulsiveness and a streak of flippancy that has sometimes surfaced in his campaign statements.

MORE STARTING GATE ANALYSIS

One break for the middle-of-the-road Mayor is this: Anti-growth progressives who have long been a thorn in his side may not be as much of a problem this year because of the economic slowdown. Rapid and sprawling growth is not an in-your-face issue. In fact, the ABQ commercial real estate market is experiencing severe recessionary conditions and unemployment is at a decades high rate of 7 percent. On the other hand, the housing slowdown and high unemployment might give his challengers an opportunity, but they will have to be creative.

Longtime state political analyst and pollster Harry Pavlides who has worked for Chavez in the past, says right now he sees an electorate that is not so interested in change at City Hall, but more concerned about restoring the city to its previous economic health; he says they don't blame Chavez for the economy falling off the cliff.

"The devil you know is better than the devil you don't," analyzed the veteran politico.

Another Chavez worry is how tired portions of the electorate may be of the longtime incumbent. That's why the over-under is set by the Alligators at a somewhat conservative 43.5 percent in a three way contest. In 2005, Chavez won with 47 percent of the vote in a four way race. He was first elected Mayor in 1993 when he beat Republican Dave Cargo by the narrowest margin--less than 600 votes-- since we went to the modern council-mayor form of government in 1974.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Senator Tom Udall has begun a weekly news conference with NM radio reporters dubbed, "Tuesdays with Tom." Senator Bingaman continues his radio news conferences on Mondays. Bingaman's are generally posted on his Web site and available to the public. Access to Udall's are by password for now, but his office says they will also soon be available on the Senator's site....Freshman Dem State Rep. Eliseo Lee Alcon is not shooting low in his 2010 fundraising. His July 14 event being hosted by Isleta Pueblo Governor Robert Benavides and Acoma Pueblo Governor Chandler Sanchez is going for either $1000 or $300 a pop...

Ted Martinez is Diane Denish's campaign chairman, not her Treasurer as we first blogged Wednesday...Ted is a longtime NM educator who has major league public service under his belt....And we said the state Senate Majority leader "lurks" as a possible Dem guv candidate.
We did not say that leader is Michael Sanchez.

Thanks for tuning in. E-mail your news and comments.


(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2009
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