Friday, September 04, 2009

Berry Hits with First Mayor TV; Pops Cable Buy Before Holiday, Plus: Even More Fouratt Fallout As Big Bill's Future Is Weighed, And: Weh's Run 

We blogged that we should not expect any mayoral TV until after Labor Day. Well, amend that to any over-the-air mayoral TV. GOP contender Richard "RJ" Berry hit with the first spot of the 2009 mayoral derby today (Friday) but will start out on less expensive cable TV before going to over-the-air stations after Labor Day.

The spot takes some mild hits on Dem Mayor Chavez, saying after 12 years in the office it's "time to turn the page" on the incumbent. The spot crams in a lot. It calls Berry "impeccably honest." It labels him "tough on crime," saying he will end the "sanctuary city" policy. And Berry comes on camera to say he "is a common sense guy" and that he won't spend "$300 million on a trolley car."

Chavez has talked about building a modern street car system, dubbed a "trolley" by his foes, but no money has been approved for such a project. The mayor also says ABQ is not a sanctuary city.

Overall, the Berry spot is what you would expect in a low-budget race (public spending capped at $328,000). His 30 second introductory ad builds him up while taking his chief rival down a notch.

Berry may step up criticism in the final weeks, but in his first burst from the gate he needed to introduce himself without turning off the electorate. The low-key negative, mixed with the positive family man and businessman image, seems to accomplish that.

Chavez is seen as having a healthy lead and a solid bet to take first place. However, if Berry and Dem Richard Romero hold him below 40 percent, there would be a run-off election between the top two contenders.

The new ad also features Berry's wife, Maria Medina. The couple operate Cumbre Construction. Berry is a state representative whose far NE Heights district is heavily Anglo and Republican. The presence of his wife in the spot could be seen as an effort to broaden his appeal to Hispanics.

While Berry was coming with his first TV, Chavez was getting the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, a key one in a race where crime is always a major issue. Earlier, the mayor was awarded the endorsement of the ABQ Police Officers Association.


Big Bill seems to be getting the better of it in the national press in his battle with NM US Attorney Greg Fouratt. That battle has come in the aftermath of Fouratt's controversial letter that said Big Bill and his top aides will not be indicted in the CDR pay-to-play probe. Fouratt, a Republican, stepped in it when he accused Richardson in his letter to defense attorneys of "corrupting the procurement process" even though he did not have the goods for indictments.

The hometown paper gave Fouratt an apologia, saying the rules covering US attorneys give Fouratt the right to author such a letter, but former prominent US attorneys--who have lived and worked under the guidelines of that handbook--are pounding Fouratt mercilessly for the content of the letter. The latest hits came in a front page piece from the Politico, the well-read national Web site.

Mike McKay, who served as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington state under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, called Fouratt’s letter “virtually unprecedented. It reflects extremely poor judgment.”

“The very existence of federal criminal investigations is not supposed to be disclosed,” he said, citing the potential damage to the subjects’ reputations. “And certainly for the same reasons, you don’t disclose closed investigations,” he said.

And a veteran defense lawyer with a national reputation told the Politico:

Fouratt thought he had a case, he should have filed charges, but if he didn’t, he should have let the investigation end without comment, said Stan Brand, a top Washington defense attorney. “Put up or shut up,” said Brand, who called the letter “a cheap shot.”

Earlier former GOP US Attorney Joseph diGenova called Fouratt's letter "stupid" and said he ought to be fired.


The more Fouratt is taken out and shot, the better for Richardson who needs closure on this probe to rehabilitate his national political career. Pundits quoted in the Politico seem to think Bill is most likely to get a gig with the Obama administration after he finishes his Guv term here at the end of 2010. But local observers seem more inclined to believe that Richardson's chances of getting out of here sooner have improved.

Syndicated columnist Jay Miller opines that Richardson has Santa Fe "in his rear view mirror" and that the speculation in the capital is that Bill could be gone within five weeks.

The guessing game has centered on Richardson possibly being named a special envoy to Cuba as the USA works to normalize relations with the island nation.

Whether he leaves now or stays, this Governor, who the R's had on the ropes and being measured for prison stripes only a month ago, has shown he has yet to use up his allotted nine lives. How far his next act will get him is anyone's guess. The story is that there will be a next act.


It appears the oldest Guv candidate might have some of the youngest spectators when he makes his formal entry into the race. Former GOP Chairman Allen Weh, who has been traveling the state for several months, will make his candidacy official next Tuesday at noon the Student Union Building in the heart of the University of New Mexico campus. Weh, 66, can be expected to use the locale to highlight education issues which have become an increasingly important piece of the political dialogue since the release of the latest NM high school dropout numbers.

Weh carries a lot of baggage from his tenure as state GOP chair, but it will be up to his foes to make that an issue. One thing he has that they don't is the personal wealth to write a check and keep his campaign going in lean economic times.

Weh, a retired Marine Colonel, is the Chief Executive Officer of CSI Aviation Services, Inc., an international air charter and leasing services company that has been the recipient of some big government contracts in connection with the Iraq war.


Another Light Guv announcement coming to a neighborhood near you:

ABQ Dem State Senator Linda Lopez will kick off her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination for Lieutenant Governor this Saturday from 9:30 A.M. to 10:30 A.M. at Washington Middle School Park (10th and Park Ave). Senator Lopez her family, friends and supporters will then take the Rail Runner to Santa Fe where they’ll kick off Senator Lopez’s Northern New Mexico campaign at The Market Place from 1:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.


From a fundraising letter sent by Dem Guv front-runner Diane Denish:

It seems like every time you turn around, there's a new Republican candidate for Governor. By my count, there are now four. And we all know what that means. More character attacks. More attempts to distort my record. More of the kind of politics that makes us sick. When the time is right, we'll fight back, make no mistake about it. But I'll need your help.

If you need an indication of how negative our opponents will get, listen to this. The election isn't for 15 months, and the Republicans have already launched a negative TV ad against me. That might be an all-time low in New Mexico politics.


ABQ GOP Congressional candidate Jon Barela is off and running on the Web. So far, he is the only R contender seeking the GOP nod and the right to face-off with Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich, and it appears it will stay that way now that funeral home owner Kevin Daniels and GOP State Senator Kent Cravens have decided not to go.

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