Monday, June 20, 2011

Barela Keeps Lewis On Ice; Inches Closer to Congress Run, Plus: Griego Waits On Chavez, And: Some Mo For Martin As We Await Hector's Money 

Don't presume the field is set for the GOP nomination for the ABQ U.S. House seat. Jon Barela, the 2010 nominee and current state economic development director (unconfirmed by the state senate), is still lurking. This is especially disconcerting to ABQ GOP west side City Councilor Dan Lewis who appears poised to take the prize--if Barela stays out. Unfortunately for Lewis, Barela is sounding an awful lot like a candidate. The latest:

Even though Jon Barela was at the first meeting of the newly formed Sandia Tea Party as the secretary-designate of the state's Economic Development Department, he sure sounded like a candidate. "I'm here to talk about how the sun will rise on America again," Barela said in his opening comments...Barela demurred when asked if he was considering another run for Congress. Barela was defeated by Rep. Martin Heinrich in 2010 for the right to represent New Mexico's First Congressional District.
"We're looking at it." He said.

"The sun will rise on America?" That sure sounds like the soaring oratory associated with a run for Congress, not from the state econ director.

In the GOP landslide year of 2010, Barela came close to knocking off incumbent Dem Martin Heinrich who is now giving up the seat to make a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Dem Jeff Bingaman. With a higher turnout in a Presidential election year, it will be even tougher for the GOP nominee--whoever it is.

Barela, Lewis and Janice Arnold-Jones, who is also looking at running, will be keeping a close eye on how the ABQ district looks after it is redistricted later this year. Barela could wait until after the September redistricting before announcing a decision, say watchful R's.

If Barela gets in, will he be the front-runner? Probably. His association with Governor Martinez will help him raise crucial campaign cash, something that could be a problem for Lewis who has already formally announced his candidacy. The councilor released a three minute web ad Sunday, as the footsteps behind him get louder.


Tonight Lewis gets to make some news when the city council takes up his proposal to have the public decide whether to keep the controversial red light camera program alive. A Lewis operative told us he expects the measure to carry and voters to get the issue at the October 4 election.

We thought a public vote might have died when the council recently signed a contract renewing the program. If voters get to vote and reject the cameras, it would not be legally binding, but Mayor Berry and the council would be hard-pressed to keep it going.


On the Dem side in the early action for the ABQ House nomination, Alligators are awaiting a decision from former Mayor Marty Chavez on whether he will make the run. It could come soon. Meanwhile, State Sen. Eric Griego continues to firm up support in the liberal wing of the party which will have an out sized influence on who wins the nod next June. His campaign says:

Progressive (ABQ) State Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Cisco McSorley announced their support of Griego’s campaign. Both Senators have worked with Griego during his time in the state legislature. State Representatives Miguel Garcia, and Eleanor Chavez have also endorsed Eric because of his longstanding commitment to the people of New Mexico.

There has been near panic in some Dem quarters over the possibility of Griego being the ABQ congressional candidate because they see him as too liberal and too caustic to carry the day next November, but still no major opponent has surfaced. Chavez, damaged by his '09 mayoral re-election defeat and always unpopular with the party's progressive wing, also draws mixed reviews.

The party also fears a bloodbath between Chavez and Griego who faced off with one another in the 2005 mayoral contest. That did not get nasty because Chavez was so far ahead. That will not be the case this time as liberals will rise up in full force as they did in the 2008 and 2010 cycles when Chavez sought the Dem nominations for Governor and Senator and was forced to back off. But Chavez is recognized as one of the finest campaigners of his generation. If he can find a way out of the primary, he could be formidable. Diane Denish is also in the shadows. But Griego is going about his business doing what he has to do. That can't hurt.

Rep. Heinrich
In the Dem contest for the US Senate nomination, you hear a lot of regrets from longtime D's who don't like having to choose between popular incumbent Congressman Martin Heinrich and also popular Hector Balderas, the state auditor. But choose they must and so far the traditional Dem constituencies continue to line up for Martin. On top of a bunch of union endorsements, he recently bagged the backing of Taos and Pojoaque Pueblos--an important breakthrough with Native Americans and the north.

Balderas knows the pressure is on him to turn in a solid fund-raising report for the second quarter or else risk being written off. Optimistic Balderas insiders say they expect him to show $200,000 to $250,000 in campaign money in that first report due at the end of the month. That would be respectable. Anything much lower is going to draw jeers from the national media that influence out-of-state fund-raising. Front-runner Heinrich raised $300,000 in the first quarter. Expectations are for him to come with a similar amount in the April-June quarter.

Brian Colon, the attorney, former NM Dem chairman and 2010 Dem Lt. Guv nominee is a close friend of Balderas who is handling money-raising chores. He has a successful track record in that regard, but it could be a bit more difficult because Colon was closely associated with Big Bill who is long gone.


Many New Mexico Republicans share the anguish being felt by the Dems. They have their own contested Senate primary and some see John Sanchez and Heather Wilson eventually tearing themselves apart and damaging GOP chances to take the Bingaman seat next year. But others point out the GOP Guv primary last year got pretty nasty but the party still unified and elected Susana Martinez. It helped that Martinez was an Hispanic Republican when the R's are working hard for Hispanic support. And Sanchez is already out on the stump saying his ethnicity boosts his appeal in a general election

I think a lot of Hispanics in New Mexico can understand the struggles of lifting themselves into a better place," he said. "In the Hispanic culture it's all about the family. They are very certain about where they stand about protecting the unborn, about personal responsibility. For those reasons, I think my candidacy appeals to those voters.


From Santa Fe and the Roundhouse:

The legislature's Redistricting Committee will conduct its first meeting on June 20, 2011 in Santa Fe. The committee is charged with recommending new political districts for congressional, legislative and Public Regulation Commission districts. The Redistricting Committee will travel throughout the state this summer to take testimony from interested residents and groups on issues surrounding redistricting. The committee is scheduled to meet on June 20 in Room 307 of the State Capitol in Santa Fe beginning at 10:00 a.m. Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Las Cruces, and Senator Linda M. Lopez, D-Albuquerque, are co-chairs of the committee....

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