Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Filling Top Fed Posts; The Latest, Plus: Berry Makes First Moves, And: Readers Write Far And Wide On The Recent Big News Stories Of La Politica 

Conrad Candelaria
It shouldn't be long now before the White House announces who will be the next US Marhsall for New Mexico. Insiders say a short list of possible nominees has been compiled and sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Conrad Candelaria, an ABQ police department commander, is first on the list of those monitoring the action. We ran into him recently and he said he is awaiting word. We asked him if the President calls you directly if you are nominated for Marshall: "I'd like to find out," he quipped.

NM senior Senator Jeff Bingaman gets the major say on the appointment which must be confirmed by the Senate. Besides his law enforcement experience, Candelaria, as a Hispanic Democrat, fits the political profile sought by the White House. Republican Gordon Eden has held the post since 2002.

If Candelaria doesn't get the nod for Marshall, he will consider a run for the Dem nod for Bernalillo County sheriff. Another possible being mentioned for Marshall is is Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano who is an announced candidate for the 2010 Dem Lt. Gov. race.

And what about that NM US attorney position, you ask? Well, that position is also expected to get a new face and soon. We're told the short list is at the White House.


Mayor-elect Berry's appointment Monday of businessman, banker and longtime ABQ booster Sherman McCorkle as chairman of this transition team should calm concerns that the newly minted Republican leader is going to try to govern from the far right.

McCorkle is a business-oriented, pragmatic Republican who will concentrate on the fiscal woes facing the city and finding new faces for city jobs. He is perhaps best known for his involvement in fighting the closure of Kirtland Air Force Base in the 1990's and more recently for his efforts to keep the Air Force fighter wing known as the "Tacos" at KAFB. Old timers will remember his association with Sunwest Bank, later bought by Bank of America. Since '93, he has served as head of
Technology Ventures Corporation, a firm that nurtures start-up companies and is funded in part by a federal appropriation.

McCorkle, who will not receive pay for the transition post, is close to former GOP Senator Pete Domenici who each year chaperoned an appropriation for McCorkle's TVC. Recently, Dem Senator Bingaman has picked up the ball, but it's lighter. Pete got McCorkle's company $3 million a year while Jeff made possible a $750,000 appropriation. The new transition leader is also close to former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Wilson. Some of her former staffers were involved with the Berry campaign.

While McCorkle has much business experience, he is not heavy with direct government experience. He is seen as a consensus seeker who shies away from controversy.

McCorkle, 65, a native of Roosevelt County (Elida) is as close to an establishment Republican as you can get around here. He has been at the top of heap at the Economic Forum and the Chamber of Commerce. His service as a trustee for the National Jewish Medical Research Center and having been awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Award are important items on his resume. Berry unified the GOP vote in the NE Heights to take the race. He is the first Anglo mayor of ABQ since Ken Schultz was elected.

Mayor-elect Barry
If it was Mayor Marty Chavez announcing his transition team chair there would have bells and whistles and lots of TV coverage. But Berry made the McCorkle announcement low-key, issuing a mid-afternoon news release. Two things on this. The new mayor is not ready to make a big deal out of anything while he learns the ropes. And, unlike his predecessor, he probably won't be making a big deal about things in general. Call it a return to mayoral normalcy. Second, Berry is not a publicity addict--at least not yet.


The mayor-elect also announced Monday he will resign his far ABQ NE Heights legislative seat. The Bernalillo County Commission is expected to name a replacement tonight. The Democratic-controlled commission can be expected to stay with a Republican for the heavy R district. Top on the replacement list is Jim White, 67, who is retired from the military and is a former treasurer for the NM GOP. He challenged Berry for the GOP nod in the district in 2006. TV news reports said Berry is asking the commission to name White. If the commission acts in a timely fashion, the new rep will report to Santa Fe Saturday in time for the special legislative session.


The first major money reports of the 2010 campaign season are filed with the state today and numbers started to trickle out Monday. The two leading Dem candidates in the crowded lieutenant governor's race are Brian Colon and Lawrence Rael. Colon says he will report he raised over $200,000 and Rael says he has raised about $145,000. Expect this pair to continue to set
the pace. A lot more more money reports--including those for Guv--coming your way today.


Yes, Tony Schaefer did tell us he would launch an independent run for Governor, and now it's over before it started. He is now expected to run for the GOP nod for the Public Regulation Commission seat being vacated by Sandy Jones and drop the guv run which would have required 17,000 petition signatures to make the ballot. But who knows what Schaefer will do next...

Up North, we are getting word that Adam Kokesh won't be the only candidate for the GOP nomination for the northern congressional seat held by Dem Ben Ray Lujan. Tom Mullins of Farmington is expected to enter the fray this month. He is the incoming president of the Independent Petroleum Association of NM.


Let's catch up with the e-mail today. We have a lot of good stuff for you from our diverse and politically attuned readership. ABQ reader Jim McClure forwards to us his missive on cutting the state budget that he sent to his representatives--State Senator Bernadette Sanchez and State Rep. Moe Maestas:

Please spare us the charade of threatening to lay off teachers. New Mexico can make significant headcount reductions by doing what private companies have been doing for years: eliminating layers of management, reducing administrative and staff positions, outsourcing some services and redeploying employees where they’re needed most...Please remember that taxpayers outnumber government employees, and that nobody is entitled to hang onto a job forever. That’s what Mayor Chavez learned recently

This reader has another way to cut the immense $650 million shortfall the state faces:

...Alcohol taxes...have not been raised in over 20 years and a "dime-a-drink" could raise in the neighborhood of $70 million dollars. While not a silver bullet, it could raise 10-15% of the deficit which isn't chump change either...There is usually majority support as a tax of this nature will not effect our almost 50% of NM abstainers and the other 30% who drink socially.. And who can argue against New Mexicans drinking a little bit less across the board with our tremendous DWI problem, cirrhosis, underage drinking problem, etc...

Hayden Toulouse has this idea to help rid us of this shortfall:

What needs to be looked at is the cost of contracts. Many government staff are located in leased buildings which cost 30K+ a month, while 1/2 those buildings are empty. We still cannot shop at office depot for most anything when it may be the cheapest. Also, far too many high level officials are still traveling.


Reader reaction to our Monday blog saying there is reason to believe former ABQ US Rep. Heather Wilson is inching closer to a 2010 GOP Guv run;

Tossing grenades in Lady Di's direction is not necessarily a sign of interest in the guv's race for Heather herself. I see tossing grenades as proxy for the Republican nominee. Keeps the other girls clean by doing the negatives as expected from her. Heather likes Washington. She does not like Santa Fe.


And if you are a Republican supporting one of the GOP candidates already in the race--Allen Weh, Janice Arnold-Jones, Doug Turner or Susana Martinez--all this talk about waiting on Heather can be frustrating. Here's a reaction from a backer of Dona Ana County DA Martinez:

..Someone who is gaining steam is Susana Martinez. It would be a big mistake to take her for granted...She is the most conservative Republican in the race and she will continue to pick up support in that direction as she becomes better known. Also, I would imagine that she will win handily in Dona Ana County. Also, Martinez will appeal to Hispanics...Hispanics constitute 10-15% of the Republican electorate..If Martinez can raise sufficient money, she can win the primary and be a strong candidate against Denish.

Susana more conservative than Allen Weh? Well, we'll see. It's not certain that an entrance by Wilson would clear the GOP field. This is a group of candidates showing commitment to the race. Their finance reports will be released today, revealing how active they have been and whether much support has moved their way or, as we suspect, major support remains on the fence awaiting Wilson's word.


We blogged that if Big Bill scores an appointment with the Obama administration and Light Guv Denish becomes Guv she would be the favorite to retain the title against Wilson or any other GOP contender in the 2010 election. Another view comes from reader Jim McCrory:

Joe, You say, "Denish becomes governor and the favorite to win the election." I have thought the same for a long time. But then I suddenly had an image of Wilson savaging Denish on the ethics issue with Denish's weakly delivered response. And I remembered how Ed Mechem was beaten in 1964 after his insider arranged succession.** Will the public see Diane's succession the same way? As another Democrat party insider fix? I remember the public perception was that Mechem had unfairly gamed the system and Joe Montoya won. Different but similar.

* *. . .Joseph Montoya in 1964 defeated incumbent Republican Edwin Mechem for the US Senate. Mechem was governor and had himself appointed to the Senate seat in '62 when Senator Chavez passed away...

How about that? Jim not only has an opinion, but did the historical research for us.


Our coverage of the 2009 ABQ mayoral race and the win by Republican RJ Berry brought in the e-mail.

Nice reporting, Joe Here's my thought. The one person who should be concerned about the results is (Democratic US Rep.) Martin Heinrich. Is the Republican Party alive and well in Albuquerque? Was the Marty fatigue in part a reflection by the electorate of disappointing Obama and Democratic leadership? Should the state Democratic party from Denish on down be concerned? Is there a voter undercurrent that can be drawn from the surprising size of the Berry victory? Sounds like your Senior Alligators have their work cut out for them in the next several months.

Joe Barela of Rio Rancho tends to surface for the big events. Here he is with his take:

What this all really means is that the Democrats can be beaten & Denish could lose for Governor if she is seen as more of the same (Richardson). Denish is very vulnerable and perceived as part of the status quo and hasn’t done much to distinguish herself from Richardson. Denish may have a Hispanic problem...That is why the Democratic Party is pushing for someone like a Hispanic male from the North to compliment her and diffuse the concern.

This reader says old-fashioned ethnic voting played an important role in the defeat of ABQ Mayor Chavez:

...Mayor Marty suffered due to the lack of interest by Westside Hispanics. I know that it sounds bad to bring up the subject of ethnic voting, but it is alive and well in NM politics. No Hispanic in the District 5 city council race (Cadigan vs. Lewis) was definitely a factor...I also have to point out the split of the votes by two Hispanic Democrats (Chavez and Romero)!...The NM GOP sure played it right. This is their biggest win since Governor Johnson and its the first Republican Albuquerque Mayor since 1981.


This letter did not come into us, but to the NM Daily Lobo. It is from UNM student Muhajir Salam and hits on a concern left over from Berry's hard-hitting campaign:

I would like to extend my congratulations to Mayor-elect Berry on his victory. However, I was disturbed by his campaign rhetoric against immigrants living in Albuquerque. Berry scored political points with scared white voters by claiming that Mayor Chávez had turned Albuquerque into a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. This kind of talk is nothing more than good old-fashioned white supremacy, which will only polarize the racial communities. Not only is this kind of talk irresponsible, but it sets the stage for a possible racial conflict in the future...

Ana Canales, chair of the Bernalillo County Democratic Party, called the election results "devastating."

Every election cycle I put together a canvassing team that walks throughout the county to help candidates who need our help. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that in the mayoral race as it is a nonpartisan race but, for the 2010 elections I need an army especially in the wake of this past week's devastating loss...This past week we witnessed what happens when Democrats stay at home and don't vote. We can't let that happen in 2010 because we have too, too much to lose...


Mayor Swisstack
This politics watchers now has his eye on the March 2010 race for mayor in the city of Rio Rancho:

Great coverage on your part, Joe, the best. Mayor (Tom) Swisstack of Rio Rancho is the next to go. A lot of unrest about his lack of leadership and more importantly serious action. The city did not fare well with stimulus money. A strong candidate running against him will make him a one term mayor. He acts uncomfortable with the position and has made some appointments that were unpopular. Gary

Well, Mayor Swisstack has proven to be a popular choice in Rio Rancho--for mayor and state representative, but in these times all incumbents have reason to worry.

This South Valley Alligator says the left wing of the Democratic Party will be blamed for the election of a GOP mayor in ABQ because they encouraged Richard Romero's candidacy and he split votes with fellow Hispanic Dem Chavez:

The left coasters took a shellacking and incurred the wrath of the rest of Democrats and payback will not be a day at the beach. Moderate and conservative Democrats will route the left coasters in the lite guv race and toss out Von Heine in the congressional race.
Oh...do not kill the messenger. Even people like me who are not Marty fans are unhappy to see a Republican as mayor of Albuquerque.

In case you wondered, "Von Heine" is Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich. It's true. You can't make this stuff up.

MAYOR 2013!

Forget that Mayor-elect Berry doesn't even take office until December 1, let's get busy on the 2013 mayor's race. No kidding. ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller popped up on Alligator radar when he sent out an e-mail to Democrats urging them to get out and vote so Berry would not take the prize. He then popped up on our KANW 89.1 FM broadcast doing yeomanly service gathering early election results and text messaging in some analysis. Keller, who represents a broad band of the SE Heights, only won election to the Senate in 2008 and isn't up for re-election until 2012. But Tim's sudden interest in city politics will keep his name in the pool of possibles for 2013. Talk about planning ahead.


That $10,000 a month University of New Mexico public relations contract for consultant Michael Collins ended about three months ago--in June--according to UNM. We referenced it in our Monday blog on the state budget deficit. The contract was in addition to UNM's fully staffed communication and marketing department. It was held by D.C. based consultant Michael Collins who was hired in 2007 and had previously worked with UNM Prez Schmidly. The issue in this corner was not Collins' skill, but the necessity of the contract in light of the budget crisis.

Benson Hendrix of the UNM communications department asserts that we made some kind of error because we did not call UNM for an answer before we asked our question. You gotta love the way the ex-reporters turned PR folks get self-righteous once they start drawing the big paychecks from taxpayers. We asked the question to again point out the over-the-top spending that has taken place at UNM. There was no factual error in our blog, but we welcome the retort. There is something deliciously ironic about one UNM PR man spinning the 10 Grand a month contract of another UNM PR man.

But let's put it right back on the nicely compensated Mr. Hendrix. Why didn't he put out a news release to the press and us when the Collins contract expired? It had been in the state's major newspaper and on this blog several times. It was controversial. What? That isn't news? Well, we know why there was no news release. Some things are best left unsaid when you are protecting the boss. That's PR for you. And this is blogging--101.

Nice try, Benson, but you've just been fisked by a Senior Alligator.

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