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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Dullness To Take Holiday In City Election; Greg Payne Will Challenge Fellow R For Council; Race Could Impact Berry, Plus: Heather Cautious On Cuts 

Forget about the 2011 ABQ City Council election being a dull affair or one where the stakes are low. Greg Payne will make sure of that. Albuquerque's well-known political lightning rod announces that he will challenge fellow Republican and NE Heights Councilor Trudy Jones in the October balloting. Payne, 44, burst onto the scene when he won that council seat back in '99 and went on to engage Mayor Jim Baca in a series of clashes that made him a memorable, if controversial city politico.

After his stint on the council, he ran for a NE Heights legislative seat in 2004 and won again. He resigned from the Legislature in 2005 and in 2006 was hired by Dem Mayor ABQ Marty Chavez as the city's transit director. It his association with Chavez that Jones and other R's will seize upon to try and thwart Payne. And they will give it all they've got because his election could literally alter the balance of power on the nine member panel and present a major governing challenge to Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

Although he played it low-key in his announcement, Payne made it clear that if he gets on the council, there's going to be a wake-up call to the 11th Floor:

Mayor Berry has done a good job guiding the city through some difficult times, but I also know there's more we can do to re-structure City Hall and move Albuquerque forward. And we must do everything possible as a city to re-ignite our economy and attract private sector jobs to Albuquerque. I also believe the City Council can play a more active role in addressing the challenges Albuquerque faces.

I look forward to working with Mayor Berry and the other City Councilors to ensure taxpayers are getting their money's worth out of City Hall and to create a business climate that supports the private sector and high-paying jobs.

Payne, a divorced father of three, added that his campaign will participate in the city's public finance system. Jones has said she will not, giving her the opportunity to raise more money than public financing provides. However, Payne could be eligible for matching funds, depending on how high she goes.

Now, about that crucial balance of power.

For the first time since the 80's, the ABQ council is controlled by the R's. They have five members and the Dems have four. Payne is a Republican, but he is an independent R, who Republican Mayor Berry will not be able to count on for automatic support as he has with the present council.

Payne has conservative leanings but he is also an activist with populist blood in him. And he learned the art of high-performance governing when laboring under the three term Mayor Chavez.

He upset the Berry team when he made mildly critical newspaper comments about His Honor's first year in office. He reprised them in his announcement statement above.

Of course, veteran Payne watchers know he has a long list of venial sins--the infamous coke can and cop incident being the most sensational among them--and those will certainly will be rehashed in the pages of the Daily Chronicle and in the hit pieces sent to the mail boxes by the Jones forces.

TRUDY'S CHALLENGE

Despite the negative ammo available to puncture him with, Payne's chances of beating incumbent Jones are good. He may be a pain to some R's, but he is a proven vote-getter in District 8. He is also a professional political consultant who did contract work last year for PR company DW Turner, owned by 2010 GOP Guv candidate Doug Turner. His campaign experience is broad and deep. Also, much of the negative about him was already vetted by voters when they elected him to the Legislature.

Jones, prominent in the real estate biz, is supported by the mainstream business community and can count on support from the Berry forces (yes, that means Public Safety Director and former Sheriff Darren White and Guv Martinez consultant Jay McCleskey) but much of a city council race consists of going door-to-door. Only 5,000 or so souls are expected to vote in the district. Trudy will have to work it to win. In 2007, Jones ran unopposed and faced no campaign pressure. Also, Berry will have to be careful how far he goes in supporting Jones. Past mayors have found that their embrace can repel voters who don't like being told what to do.

There are four city council seats on the October ballot. Mayor Berry is not up for re-election until 2013.

The current city council and mayor have been among the most low-key in years, in contrast to when Payne was on the council. He and Dem Mayor Baca and Dem Councilor Eric Griego repeatedly clashed. That council was called uncivil while this one is is being called stagnant.

Whether Payne gets on the council and gives it a Vitamin B-12 shot will be settled in October, but his entry guarantees the forthcoming campaign has been given immunity from boredom. To that, City political junkies will shout, Hallelujah!

BLIND ART

Payne says one of his first $5.00 contributors to help him qualify under the city's public financing rules is none other than Art Schreiber, the blind activist and business leader who goes by the moniker "Blind Art." Schreiber himself ran for mayor a number of years ago. He would laugh if we joked that his support of Payne is a case of the blind leading the blind, wouldn't you, Art?

THE PLAN


While Payne and others pine for a somewhat more activist administration to get ABQ moving--especially when it comes to the economy--Mayor Berry says he is doing something--at least about the long-term future. Tonight he has a town hall meeting to discuss what he calls, "ABQ, The Plan."

What potential projects can improve Albuquerque? Discuss with Mayor Richard J. Berry potential projects to improve Albuquerque. When May 05, 2011 7:00-8:00 pm-- Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, 2000 Mountain NW

We are looking at large public projects that will shape the future of our community. These projects will make visitors want to vacation in Albuquerque and make our residents proud that they live here. These enhancements will entice new and existing businesses to grow here, creating new quality jobs.

One plus for Berry? Job creation is a nationwide problem. Citizens here may be reluctant to blame him for the still sky-high unemployment.

(Hey, Mayor, don't be disappointed if you don't get a really big crowd. Looks like you are competing with Cinco de Mayo happy hour).

HEATHER AND SPENDING

The Tea Party types might not be ecstatic about it but GOP US Senate candidate Heather Wilson is staking out some important ground on federal spending cuts. She says she wants to bring that spending under control, but is not going to do at the expense of the military. In other words, if elected, she is going to work to protect the federal military bases here.

Wilson, an Air Force Academy graduate, said her candidacy is about cutting the deficit and reducing government spending. What (she says) makes her different is that she has a good reputation for supporting defense spending and some of the strongest supporters of defense in the Senate are retiring. Wilson said the Senate needs to have a Republican majority to stop runaway government spending, but it can’t be done at the expense of the military.

Knowing Wilson's record as a five term ABQ congresswoman, you can probably expand that to include resisting cuts to Los Alamos and Sandia Labs which are funded by the Department of Energy to the tune of billions annually.

Protecting the federal funding and employment in the state are a time-honored role for a New Mexico Senator. In that regard, Wilson would be on strong footing with general election voters if she were the nominee. Her problem remains a Republican primary electorate, a large segment of which can be fairly described as radicalized when it comes to any federal spending being protected.

If Lt. Governor John Sanchez challenges Wilson for the GOP nomination, will he share Wilson's views on defense spending? And what about declared candidate Greg Sowards?

A NEW CONGRESS?

Well, maybe what the country needs is a brand new Congress. Something like this?

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In a startling measurement of public opinion since the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Americans in record numbers are signing a petition to replace Congress with SEAL Team Six, the elite unit that took out the al-Qaeda madman.
The petition echoes the results of a new poll by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, in which the Navy SEALS trounce Congress by a lopsided 97% to 2% margin, with the remaining 1% answering, “Superman.”

Professor Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota said that the numbers behind the numbers were even more striking: “By a wide margin, Americans favor SEAL Team Six landing on the Capitol building with helicopters and taking out Congress by force.”

Well, we think it's a joke.

Meanwhile, toasts are being lifted across the nation to those exceptionally skillful, but unknown Seals who took out Bin Laden.

NM southern Congressman Steve Pearce ended up outside the White House Sunday night and came with a moving account of the spontaneous celebration there.

Like Steve, a Vietnam vet, we were moved by the young people who turned out for the momentous occasion and we wrote about it on Monday's blog.

MEDIA BEAT

A media Alligator reacts to the news that State Auditor and Dem US Senate candidate Hector Balderas has hired Hilltop Public Solutions of DC to assist with this campaign:

Hilltop was also Diane Denish's campaign communications firm/consultancy for her 2010 Governor run. Funny how they don't advertise her Guv race on their website. They can be pinned for most of the messaging that failed to connect with "those everyday" New Mexicans the campaign talked so much about. There were frequent objections to the messaging from New Mexico communications, political and field advisors....

We remember that well as Denish was urged by the Senior Alligators, among others, to take a more populist bent in the closing weeks of the campaign but it fell on deaf ears. Not to put all the blame on Hilltop, but it a player in a Guv campaign that was and is frequently criticized for having its head in the sand.

KOB-TV has hired a new news director with some local roots:

Laurie Passman comes to KOB-TV from KTVK-TV...in Phoenix where she was the Assistant News Director. Passman...grew up in the North Valley, attended Cibola High School and the University of New Mexico. She started in news as an intern at KOB 4 in 1996. Passman left KOB in 1999 to join KTVK...

THE BOTTOM LINES

Our old friend and veteran media maven Arthur Alpert tossed a compliment our way the other day, saying, "Joe, You're an institution!"

"Well," we responded, "then how come Big Bill didn't name one of those state buildings after us like he did for every Tom, Dick and Harry?"

Arthur replied, "It's too late for that. But Governor Martinez's staff has agreed to take up a collection for a going away gift for you anytime it's needed."

Thanks, Arthur. It's so nice to be thought of (I think).

This is the home of New Mexico politics. It's led by your humble servant, Joe Monahan.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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