Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big News; Big Blog: The 2010 Money Primary: Who Scored & Who Didn't; A Complete Wrap & Analysis, Plus: Campbell As CAO; White At Safety; What it Means 

New Mexico's #2 continues to take large strides toward becoming the state's #1. That's the lead story among many stories contained in the first campaign reports filed for the 2010 election cycle.

Lt. Governor Denish, unopposed for the 2010 Dem Guv nomination, took the Best in Show Trophy for raising $932,000 in cash from early May thru early October. She now has $2.2 million in cash on hand. We enlisted the Senior Alligators to help us compile the highlights for you and they came with Di's top givers:

SW Regional Council of Carpenters, Albuquerque, $25,000; SunRay Gaming of NM, Farmington, $14,000; SW Investment Trust Inc., Albuquerque, $11,500; Pueblo of Sandia, $10,000; David Poms, Malibu, CA, $10,000; Tru-flex Metal Hose Corp, Albuquerque, $10,000; Peterson Properties Investments, LLC, Albuquerque, $10,000

But Denish was bragging not about her big donors, but the little ones. In this recession, she has been having fund-raisers with Wal-Mart like price tags, some as low as 25 bucks a head. From her spin doctors:

More than 3,300 contributors have given to Lt. Gov. Denish’s campaign and more than two-thirds of those contributions (68%) were for $100 or less, showing strong grassroots strength across the state.

And the NM Democratic Party was pleased to point out that Denish raised during the reporting period more than all the Republican candidates combined.

Any bad news for Di? Hard to find any when you put nearly a million in the bank, but inquiring GOP minds will look through the report for ties to any of the pay-to-play characters that have populated the Big Bill administration and try to take her down a notch.

The prospect of anyone challenging Denish for the nomination has grown increasingly remote. That means she won't have to spend much cash in the primary, an advantage she would take into the November election.

Di's problems are not in her bank account. They are in the state's bank account--the one that is running dry. The upcoming special legislative session to deal with an immense budget shortfall is looking like it will be dominated by Democratic infighting.

Di may have to use some of her cash for dry cleaning bills. There's going to be mud splashing as she presides over the state Senate.

Dem analysts were impressed with the $275,000 raised and the $251,00 cash on hand held by former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon. That compares to the $147,000 raised by Lawrence Rael ($106,000 cash on hand). Santa Rosa area State Rep. Jose Campos came with $148,000, but $100,000 of it was in personal loans. Rael loaned his effort $15,000. While impressed with Colon, the analysts still see this race as very competitive. One of them told us:

"This is a wake-up call for Lawrence. He needs to intensify his efforts. But Brian may have picked the low-lying fruit. The next round will be harder. Rael has a lot of business connections, but you did not see that many of them on this report. They can still be tapped."

Pollster Brian Sanderoff told the paper: The amounts raised by Colón, Campos and Rael could end up being a good chunk of what the current contestants for the job might be able to raise.

Insiders also say Colon should be expected to lead the pack, considering that he was head of the party for so long and has ties to all the major money givers as well as Big Bill who is the king of the fundraisers. But they also pointed out that in this ethically challenged environment, Colon flexing his money muscle is not necessarily an attractive sight to the progressive wing of his party which he has been assiduously courting.

Rael and Campos
The handicappers take the long view. They believe both Rael and Colon will win spots on the June primary ballot at the March 2010 Dem pre-primary convention. They see room for one other candidate to also get 20 percent of the vote at that convention and qualify for the ballot. Then it is off to the races--the TV races. From these reports, Rael and Colon are positioned to have TV money. Campos is too if he is willing to spend the money he has loaned himself, and maybe more. And then there is ABQ Dem State Sen. Tim Eichenberg waiting in the wings wondering if he should launch a self-financed Light Guv run. He would be the only Anglo in the all-Hispanic field.

We're still awaiting candidate Linda Lopez's numbers. Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano has about $4,000 in cash on hand.

Deep on the inside, the handicappers see Rael as the Denish favorite and Colon as a fave of Big Bill, but neither Di or Bill are showing a lot of leg on this. If Colon or Rael or anyone else starts to pull away, they are still positioned to follow the wind.


Liberal ABQ Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino reported he had $22,000 in cash. His obstacle is Colon's possible liberal and progressive support. Already Pino's supporters note he is for raising taxes on the well-off to solve the state budget crisis and that he favors gay marriage--positions appealing to the left. Where, they ask, is money-leader Colon on these key issues? Stay tuned.


Top contributors to Colon: Adrian Perez, Santa Fe businessman, $25,000 Richard & Jocelyn Herig, Albuquerque, $25,000; James Long, ABQ businessman, $15,000; Michael Padilla, ABQ businessman, $10,000; Edgar Lopez, Las Cruces realtor, $5,000; Margaret Branch, attorney, $5,000; Bruce Malott, ABQ accountant, $3,000.

Top money givers to Rael: Forest City Covington (Mesa del Sol), Albuquerque, $5,000; Santo Domingo Pueblo, $5,000; Tru Flex Metal Hose Corporation, $5,000 (gave $10,000 to Denish campaign); Kathleen Sanchez, Raton $5,000; Dennis Goggin, Corrales $5,000; Cochiti Pueblo, $2,500; Carlos Perea, Corrales, $2,500; David Campbell, Albuquerque, $1,000 (Albq CAO-designate)

How about that David Campbell donation to Lawrence. The two go way back. Rael was chief administrative officer for the city under several mayors including Louis Saavedra who was served by Campbell as city attorney. The ties that bind last, don't they? (More on Campbell and his appointment as ABQ's chief administrative office is below).

Next up: the Republican Guv money beat and this compilation report from my Gators:

Former GOP Chairman Allen Weh of Albuquerque wins the latest round of fundraising reports in the May-to-October cycle by a wide margin. Weh reported nearly $375,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period, compared to $211,000 for Albuquerque businessman Doug Turner, $130,000 for Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez and $8,500 for Albuquerque State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. Weh loaned himself a quarter of a million and Turner put up $243,000 of his own cash.

(Weh had three large contributions of $25,000 each: son-in-law Steven Maestas of Albuquerque; the Chase oil family of Artesia (Mack Energy) and Belen healthcare businessman Michael Merrill. Allen also pulled in 4 other significant contributions in the $10,000 category).

If you don't count Weh's loans, for the reporting period he and Martinez were not that far apart in fundraising. However, Weh wins the period because he wrote a personal check of $250,000, something Martinez did not (and could not) do. In addition, Weh can afford to spend the money and write more checks.

Another problem for Martinez is that almost 2/3 of her money came from Dona Ana County. On the surface, that is pretty good (almost $85k-$90k), however, she's raised the easy money and it gets much harder from here. Martinez's only large checks ($1000+) outside the Las Cruces/El Paso area came from Roswell, Nogal and Albuquerque. And that is a problem for Susana, who is viewed as a regional candidate. The question is if she can expand her donor base in geography and size.

Martinez's spinners say she has narrowed the race to a two person match between her and Weh. The Gator compilation says there's some sense to that. One major opportunity is her ability to capitalize on the "No-Weh" vote. She can make the case that her campaign is now the only one that can dislodge Allen's effort to win the GOP nomination. Of course, Doug Turner might argue that point--if he isn't just parking that $243,000 in personal loans and is willing to start spending.

ABQ State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones tepid fun-raising means she is going to have to give the campaign a jolt if she is going to get noticed. Perhaps the upcoming special legislative session will give her a chance to convince GOP donors she is worth an investment.


Denish is now listing in her money reports her staff and the amount they are paid. In an earlier report, she turned money over to a payroll company that paid everyone, but to whom and how much was not listed. We questioned the move and Denish's camp said if the R's would disclose their payroll details, they would follow. Well, Allen Weh assured us his payroll--staff and salary would be transparent--so Denish began disclosing. Now in this first report, Allen is not transparent at all. His employees and their salaries are not disclosed. He gives the money to a payroll company!

We'd like to hear why he dropped the transparency and hope Denish does not use it as a reason to backtrack. This is big deal because many of the people in the campaigns will end up working for the government,. ABQ Journal money watchdog Thom Cole could make a good column out of this one. Meanwhile, come on Allen. You are throwing corruption bombs at the Dems, but you are hiding who is working for you and what you are paying them? Say it ain't so.


White, Berry & Campbell
Wasn't it just a couple of days ago that insiders were talking about how longtime ABQ attorney David Campbell was shutting down his law practice and was headed for a dream job with the US Foreign Service? It sure was, so insiders were surprised when Campbell, 55, surfaced Tuesday as Mayor-elect Richard Berry's choice for the second most important job at City Hall--Chief Administrative Officer. TV coverage here.

What a difference an election made for Campbell. Berry unexpectedly was elected mayor last Tuesday without a run-off election and suddenly needed a CAO like yesterday. Campbell, who has been associated with ABQ government since the early 80's, unpacked his suitcase and prepared for a job he must have thought would never be in his reach. (It wasn't all serendipity. Our Alligators report Campbell was advising Berry during the campaign.)

Campbell worked with former Mayor Kinney in the early 80's and was city attorney under Mayor Louis Saavedra from '89 to '93. In recent years, he has been a familiar presence at city council meetings, representing a variety of companies and developers in land use cases. He has also been a familiar voice in city affairs, sitting on the committee to amend the city charter and actively advocating that the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County be consolidated into one government.

Campbell's appointment was greeted respectfully by those we interviewed and who had a special interest in city affairs. They said Berry will have his hands full learning about the government he will lead and Campbell will be a knowledgeable and level-headed guide through the bureaucratic maze. That he is an experienced attorney is seen as an added bonus.

One concern expressed over Campbell was possible conflicts of interest Campbell could have because of the varied business interests he has represented before the city. Under the city charter, he must be confirmed by the nine member council. Most councilors know him, but Republican Brad Winter, who ran and lost for mayor in 2005, is calling the Campbell appointment "a little premature." He cites the Campbell client issue.

It's a sign that this city council will assert itself with the new mayor and they want to set that tone early. Campbell will likely be approved, but not until Brad and others send a message that they don't want to be bullied as they felt they were with Mayor Chavez.

Campbell is a Democrat, so Berry gets a little bipartisan bump for the appointment. It's not unusual. Ed Adams, the CAO who Campbell will replace, is a Republican serving under Dem Mayor Martin Chavez. A couple of years ago Campbell ran for a state legislative seat from his home district in the far NE Heights and was trounced by the Republican in the heavy R district.

Your correspondent recalls when the legendary Frank Kleinhenz was chief administrative officer for a total of eight years under Mayor Kinney. We saw Campbell learn at the knee of Kleinhenz, now deceased, and that experience should serve him well. However, his chief mentor was Art Blumenfeld, the chief administrative officer under Mayor Saavedra. Blumenfeld, also deceased, had to wield the axe on employees in the early 90's recession. Now it looks as though Campbell will be emulating him in this downturn.


The mayor-to-be didn't give potential foes of Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White much time to make hay. He named the sometimes controversial Republican as his public safety director, overseeing the police and fire departments. He replaces Pete Dinelli. White's future was the subject of speculation immediately after Berry was elected. His appointment was greeted with mixed reactions, but even White's critics were willing to give Berry the benefit of the doubt--at least for now.

White, a New York state native who moved here in 1987, has solid law enforcement credentials, but became a highly partisan figure when he ran against Dem Martin Heinrich for the ABQ congressional seat in 2008 and lost. He resigned as head of Governor Johnson's Department of Public Safety, saying he was protesting Johnson's desire to legalize certain drugs. He was first elected Sheriff in 2002. He is term limited and headed out at the end of 2010. There have been some personnel battles at the department, but White is given generally high marks for his performance.

It is White's involvement in the emotional "sanctuary city" issue that has made his critics most wary of him becoming police chief or public safety director. The sheriff's policy is more aggressive toward illegal immigrants than the city's. Foes say it borders on racial profiling and they want no part of it at the ABQ police department. Berry called ABQ a sanctuary city in his high-profile TV campaign spot, but he may want to give the issue a rest now that he is about to assume command in one of America's most ethnically diverse cities. If White puts it at the top of law enforcement's agenda, we could see city politics rapidly descend into race-baiting. TV news started running with the issue right after White was named by the new mayor.

Chief Schultz
White's appointment signals to insiders that APD Chief Ray Schultz will soon be gone. My sources said Tuesday the new mayor had not phoned Schultz since his election win. But that's not unusual. Every new mayoral administration replaces the chief. But how much involvement White will have in the day-to-day running of the APD with a new chief is critical. Can he avoid the temptation to micromanage? And what of his relationship with the powerful police union? White had major trouble with the state police officers union when he served with Governor Johnson. They gave him a vote of no-confidence.

Like Campbell, White brings in-depth experience to his position. He was a lateral transfer to APD from the Houston police department, is an army veteran, has a command of police procedure and understands crisis management.

Mike Santullo, former communications officer for Mayor Ken Schultz, says White's law enforcement credentials give him entree with the fellow professionals he will lead, but the sheriff's reputation as a "publicity hound" is a potential pothole. He said White, a former reporter for KRQE-TV, may want do dial down his profile as Berry works to establish his image as the city's leader.

Some observers see the stamp of former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson on the White appointment. The two are close and City Hall could provide jobs for out of power Republicans. That's to be expected--to the victor go the spoils. The main threat to the embryonic Berry administration will be the far right wing of the Republican Party and undue pressure it places on the new mayor.

For White, the new job will be a boost to his standard of living. Dinelli makes about $122,000 a year. The Sheriff makes around $75,000.

Cris Sanchez
When White resigns as Sheriff to take his new gig (Berry takes office Dec. 1) he will likely be handing over the keys to a Democrat. The Bernalillo County Commission--three Dems and two R's--will name White's replacement who will fill out his term until the end of 2010. If the Dems don't start fighting among themselves, they will be able to name the new sheriff.

Early handicapping has Cris Sanchez, (spelled that way), a retired Sheriff's department officer who ran against White in 2002, as one of the favorites. Also, ABQ police commander Conrad Candelaria is being mentioned. As we blogged Tuesday, he has applied for the post of US Marshal for NM, but has said if he did not get that job, he would seek the sheriff's post. An announcement on the Marshal position is expected soon.

For the R's, US Marshal Gordon Eden, presumed to be out soon, is mentioned as a possible sheriff contender. But the two R commissioners will have to hope the three Dems are divided if they are to have a chance at getting one of their own. The appointed term runs until the end of 2010.


Jim White, no relation to Darren, was, as expected, named last night by the Bernalillo County Commission to fill the far NE Heights state House seat that Mayor-elect Berry resigned. White, 67, ran for the seat against Berry four years ago. This is a heavy R seat and the party can be expected to hold it again in 2010. White says he will run in the June primary. Dem Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins voted against the appointment, saying she needed more time. But the special legislative session starts Saturday and the commission--rightly so--decided the district deserved to be heard there.


There's more. Steve Pearce comes with $508,000 to kick off his campaign to reclaim the southern NM House seat now held by Dem Harry Teague who at the end of June had $574K on hand. Boy, the campaign consultants are going to make some dough on that race.

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