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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On The Trail: Latest US Senate Action; Sanchez Touts Endorsement, And: Winter Vs. Tallman In ABQ Election, Plus: Housing Bear Still Growling Here 


Let's kick-off this Wednesday by heading out to the campaign trail and the latest action in the US Senate race as well as next Tuesday's ABQ election...

John Sanchez comes with his first major endorsement in his bid for the GOP Senate nomination. Freshman Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul, a favorite of the Tea Party, says:

There is only one...Constitutional conservative in the race committed to standing up every day to fight higher taxes, increased spending and unrestrained government growth and that candidate is Lt. Governor John Sanchez...New Mexico needs John Sanchez and his commitment to the pro-life, pro-family, limited government principles that we need so badly in Washington. Conservatives cannot win back the majority in the U.S. Senate without winning New Mexico. And John Sanchez is the only true conservative in the race and Iā€™m glad to stand by him.ā€

Hear that, Heather Wilson? Sanchez's rival for the nomination surely heard it loud and clear. Paul's endorsement is the first sign of what the Alligators have been predicting--major right wing opposition is just around the corner for Heather who is perceived as too middle of the road or even too liberal by a host of Republicans.

But hold on, John. You've got some right wing problems of your own. As you pin the Tea Party button on your lapel, gadfly conservative Senate contender Greg Sowards is making his own play. He's been endorsed by Tea Party darling Sharron Angle of Nevada, who made an unsuccessful play for a US Senate seat there.

Sanchez can put Sowards in his place by coming with a good money report for the current quarter and more big name endorsements. Sowards has loaned himself $200,000 and had over $300,000 in cash at the end of June. His path to the nomination is very difficult, but he could hurt Sanchez by eating into that Tea Party pie.

Sowards has hired professional consultants and is showing more credibility than he has in his past congressional runs. If Wilson and Sanchez get in a dog fight and only a couple of points separates them, will Sowards, a Las Cruces day care center owner, tip the scales to Heather? She can hope. But she's not counting on Sowards to do her dirty work. Heather slams John this week for calling himself a conservative but having a "71% AFL-CIO voting record."

HECTOR'S HOUSE

The Hector Balderas Senate campaign continues to dress up its "fiscal accountability" message to try to make it more appealing to the many Dem liberals who will be voting next June. In a fund-raising letter sent out on behalf of Balderas by former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, the campaign put it this way:

As our State Auditor, Hector knows that fiscal accountability is not a Republican phrase ā€” it's a progressive principle. And he's not interested in using fiscal accountability as an excuse to say we can't afford to invest in our kids or protect our seniors. Hector is focused on holding government and corporations accountable so we can invest in our schools, in job creation and in protecting our seniors.


We've been among those hung up on Hector's reliance on the fiscal accountability phrase. We still are, although we do look forward to seeing how the consultants package the opaque language in their 30 second TV spots.

As for Dem Senate front-runner and US Rep. Martin Heinrich, he's getting a head start on his Oct. 17th 40th birthday by holding a fund-raiser at El Pinto in ABQ's North Valley. Invites top out at a thousand a pop.

Now that Martin is about to hit the over the hill mark of 40, does this mean that Hector, 38, is now the official "youth candidate?"

IN THE CITY

The sometimes nasty battle between City Councilor Trudy Jones and challenger Greg Payne has naturally dominated the mostly low-key city election, but there's another council contest in the NE Heights that has some sparks flying. Dem Bill Tallman, challenging longtime GOP councilor Brad Winter, has come with a mailer that faults Winter for supporting the Mayor's $25 million bond issue for a sportsplex. That bond is packaged with another that would set aside $25 million for the rebuilding of the Paseo del Norte-I-25 interchange. Tallman faults Winter for not supporting the full $50 million for Paseo. He hit Winter in an earlier piece for supporting the city's red light camera program after initially being opposed. The cameras are on the Oct. 4 ballot.

Winter's campaign says he has a total of six mailers planned and his campaign remains on track to take the win. They say his theme has been taking care of his neighbors and they cite the opening of the Domingo Baca Multigeneration Center as one example of how Winter has made a difference.

The race is sharply partisan with Dems lining up behind Tallman, who like Winter qualified for about $40,000 in public financing. The district is R oriented, but it was represented by Dem Sam Bregman who lost the seat to Winter in 1999.

TURNOUT TAKE

There's continued worry over all the bond issues on the city ballot. Because the two competitive council races are in Republican dominated areas, analysts wonder if that means more conservative voters will dominate the polling. They're the type to vote against bond issues. Also, city council candidate Greg Payne has cut a radio spot in which he talks about defeating the Mayors $50 million Paseo and sportsplex bonds, rather than tout his own council candidacy. Obviously, he is hoping to cash in on anti-bond sentiment among cash-strapped voters.

In addition to Mayor Berry's pet project bonds, there are the regular $164 million in bond issues for this cycle. Those are being supported by a committee that reports raising over $16,000 in the most recent city campaign report.

THE BEAR MARKET

Is the Great Bear getting even hungrier in ABQ? Seems so. From Builder Magazine:

New home sales in the Albuquerque market declined year-over-year in June, and there were suggestions of worsening market conditions as the percentage fall was steeper than May 2011. There was a 61.9% decline in new home sales in 106 from a year earlier. This came after a 23.2% fall year-over-year last month. In the 12 months ending June 2011, there were 1,389 new home sales, down from an annualized 1,561 in May.

You know the drill. No jobs means no bull market in housing. When the jobs tick up out come the hammer and nails.

And where are the most expensive houses in NM? Nothing new there. Los Alamos and Santa Fe top the list:

The typical house in Los Alamos County is worth $287,900, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. A typical house in Santa Fe County is worth $287,700. The median value of homes in the two counties are the most expensive in the state.

THE SPIN CYCLE


Breana (Cox) Anderson, a public information office for Bernalillo County, will move over to PIO duties at the Mayor's office. She previously worked as a marketing specialist for the city's transit department when Dem Marty Chavez was mayor.

Two PIO's are leaving the 11th floor. Erin Kinnard-Thompson has already left for a state job. Chris Ramirez is also exit bound and headed for state government which like ABQ City Hall is controlled by the GOP.

Coming aboard to replace Ramirez is Dayna Crawford Gardner, who was recently VP of French Family of Companies--the mortuary firm. Before that, she was VP of the non profit Tijeras Foundation. She has long Republican ties, including serving as a finance director at the Republican National Committee and as an aide to former NM GOP Governor Garrey Carruthers. She is a UNM and West Mesa High grad.

Dayna has some cleaning up to do.

Ramirez is a former KOAT-TV reporter who took some severe hits (at least around here) for a bunker-mentality news conference conducted by top city officials in July when they tried to save the political skin of Public Safety Director Darren White. But White was ultimately ousted because of his actions at the scene of an auto accident involving his wife. Ramirez and others who tried to media bash White's way out of it were left with egg on their faces. It cost Ramirez his credibility, but he should be able to learn from the lesson and recoup in his new gig. Live and learn.

(An earlier version of this story reported that Dana Feldman had taken on the PIO chores. We apologize for the error.)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2011
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