Thursday, September 03, 2009

Shades Of Gray On Mayor Campaign Trail, And: Another Round Of Fouratt Fallout, Plus: Reader React On No Indictment Day 

To see ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez in person and to see him on his colorful billboards that dot the major intersections of the state's largest city raises the question of whether he has had a "Just for Men" moment. The contrast between the gray and somewhat nongray Chavez is such that it has become one of those below the radar issues in this era of photoshop. But Chavez's campaign manager says there is no deliberate intent to trick the voters into thinking a a fourth term of Marty would be a young Marty.

"That photo for the billboard was taken around Thanksgiving 2007. More gray has come since then." Said Mark Fleisher recently.

The mayor in the 2007 photo does have a number of gray hairs, but far fewer than are now sported on the pate of the chief executive. In the billboard pictured here and that we showed once before, ABQ's intrepid graffiti artists supply the mayor with a moustache and goatee, both of which we note are painted on in a deep black, not gray.

At 57, Chavez doesn't have to have any stressful reasons for going grayer in two years. When we moderated a mayoral forum the other night for the Westside Chamber of Commerce, I remarked to His Honor that both he and I had done quite a number of such events over the years. He quipped: "That's before we had all this gray hair."

So the debate is not over whether Chavez is too old and gray, it's whether after three terms his ideas are too old.


GOP mayoral contender Richard "RJ" Berry seems not to have one strand of gray in his brown mane. In fact, the candidate is tanned and relaxed and looks like he just got home from a cruise in the Bahamas. As long as he doesn't look at any polls, he should keep the gray away.

Berry hit the mailboxes this week with a large, slick color bio piece. The state representative is going to benefit from one trend in the final weeks before the October 6 election--R's tend to come home late and if Berry runs a picture-perfect campaign his strength could surprise. He took another bite out of Chavez Wednesday, aware that absentee voting is underway. For his part, Chavez said he has been endorsed by the Laborers' International Union of North America Local Union #16

The campaign insiders say TV ads for the race will not come until at least late next week--after Labor Day. The campaigns are all taking public financing and $328,000 doesn't go too far. Chavez and Berry will be on the tube. Alligators report Dem Richard Romero may opt out of the TV game, in favor of more direct mail.


The debate goes on over that letter GOP US Attorney Greg Fouratt wrote to lawyers for Big Bill and his top aides informing them they would not be indicted in the CDR pay-to-play probe, but added that "pressure from the Governor's office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process so that CDR would be awarded such work."

The ABQ Journal pulls out the US attorney rule book and says it is clear that Fouratt had the authority to write such a letter and to let the targets of the investigation know that they should not take the no-indictment decision as being exonerated. That puts to rest speculation to the contrary. However, the newspaper does not carry the quote that sparked the controversy and that was carried by the AP and in newspapers coast-to-coast. Nor do they address the argument made in that quote by Joseph diGenova, a former US Attorney in the Reagan Administration. He said:

"That letter is an outrage and the U.S. Attorney who wrote it should be fired,” diGenova told The AP. “The case is closed. If he had charges, bring them. Otherwise, he should shut up. He’s being a politician now, not a prosecutor.”

diGenova was not questioning Fouratt's right to author a letter, but the content. He believed it went over the line. Did it? Perhaps diGenova was over reacting and prosecutors commonly put these corruption zingers in their going away letters. That question would seem to merit as much attention as the US attorney's right to pen the letter.


A number of e-mails on our coverage of the CDR case and the decision not to indict anyone in Big Bill's administration. This one took exception with one way we turned a phrase:

How do you "escape indictment?" Maybe by being innocent? That's not an "escape." Remember in this country you are innocent until/unless proven guilty...I get sick when the media start sounding like someone is guilty just because they were charged by someone else--the US attorney or otherwise. "Escaped indictment" sounds like they were actually guilty but didn't get caught. At any rate I really question your use of the phrase "escape indictment" to describe the Gov and his staff. I am surely biased and I believe they didn't do anything illegal, but on the other hand I think it's fair to criticize your use of a phrase that makes it sound like they got out by the skin of their teeth. No such thing in American justice....


From the paper:

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has a campaign manager for her 2010 run for governor. Oren Shur, a veteran of statewide races in Maryland and Missouri, said this week he has taken over running Denish's Democratic bid for the state's top office. Shur's last campaign position was as a spokesman for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. He has also worked on campaigns for Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. Shur was working for Cardin when the senator defeated Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Some video of Shur here.

Brian Moore
While the GOP Guv race has been in full swing for a month or more, there has been no contest for the GOP Light Guv position--Until now. Former Clayton area State Rep.
Brian Moore has announced his candidacy for the slot. We blogged on the expected run by the grocery store owner back on July 1st.

Moore served on the House Appropriations Committee, experience that could help the GOP ticket as budget issues seem destined to stay on center stage for the next several years.

Moore is not perceived as a firebrand and his supporters say that could also be an advantage in attracting independents and conservative Dems. He said in his announcement:

“When I went to Santa Fe to work for my legislative district, I knew the only way to be effective was to build relations with people from both parties. If we truly want to change the face of politics in New Mexico, working together is the only way to get it done, and I believe I can help make that happen.”

Moore is not from ABQ, giving the potential GOP ticket geographic balance if the Guv nominee comes from the big city.

Santa Fe Dr. J.R. Damron has told friends he is going to get in the GOP Light Guv race, but he has yet to make a formal announcement. Will Moore's entry keep J.R. out?


Conan O'Brien: "Of course, the healthcare debate is raging. And yesterday, John McCain spoke to nearly 100 doctors and nurses. ... It wasn't a political meeting. It was McCain's annual checkup."

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