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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

ABQ Mayor's Race: Candidate Polling And A Trip to The Polls For City Voters Before October Election, Plus: The Bear Market: In the Economy And On The Education Scene 

Here's the latest on the political scene this Tuesday...

Dem ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez says he will do a poll this month before he makes a final decision on entering the 2013 ABQ mayoral race. Incumbent GOP Mayor RJ Berry is expected to seek a second term, despite speculation that he could drop out and make a run against Dem US Senator Tom Udall in '14.

Meanwhile, city unions say they have gathered enough petition signatures to force an election on a City Charter amendment that could endanger Berry's re-election chances, but insiders say it may have a hard time winning voter approval.

Currently, if a mayoral candidate gets 40% or more of the vote he (or she) is elected without a run-off. However, if no one reaches 40% the top two contenders face off in a run-off. The proposed amendment would change that. A candidate would have to get 50% to avoid a run-off. That means the chances of a first round victory--as Berry pulled off in 2009--would be greatly diminished. In addition, if the run-off featured one Dem and one R--as is likely--the Dem would have a big advantage in ABQ where Dems far outnumber R's.

The problem? A special election will be called for sometime around March at a cost of $500,000 or so. Taxpayers aren't going to be too happy with that. And then there's the issue of fairness. Should not the change apply to future mayoral elections--not the one we are in the thick of?

Dem consultant Harry Pavlides, sympathetic to the proposal, says "it is the wrong one at the wrong time. Turnout would be exceptionally low and that would favor opponents of the measure. More older and conservative voters would dominate. The unions will have a difficult time motivating voters."

But a union official sees it differently:

My understanding is there will be more than 20,000 signatures filed. Those signing are pretty evenly distributed between Republicans & Democrats. In a special election it will probably take no more than 25,000 votes to win this. There are at least that many motivated people upset at the current system that will show up and vote. This could be an issue where both Labor and the Tea Party are turning out people for the same side of  a referendum...

Once the petition signatures are submitted to the city council an election has to be called within three months.

SOUNDS OF SILENCE

While Berry may dodge a bullet with that 50% run-off measure, others wonder if the recent announcement that the Department of Justice will investigate the ABQ police department for possible civil rights violation will weaken the incumbent.

It certainly could, but so far the silence in the city has been deafening. There have been few comments about the DOJ probe sparked by several dozen police shootings here since 2010--when Berry took over. Nothing from the nine member City Council. No comment from Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg. Nothing from the police union either. And nothing from any business leaders.

The apathy surrounding city events and policy is quite the spectacle for a town that has seen more than its fair share of upheavals over the decades. It will take a vigorous mayoral campaign to get them off their seats. The Dems have their work cut out for them.

THE BEAR MARKET

You've got to think that Mayor Berry is most vulnerable over the terrible state of the city's economy. Take a look:

The Albuquerque metropolitan area remained in a full recession in 2012, and in terms of economic recovery the area ranked 282nd within the world’s top 300 metro areas, according to a study released Friday by the Brookings Institution. The area’s per capita GDP had a negative 1 percent growth rate in the year, and its job-growth rate was a negative 0.6 percent, said Brookings’ Global MetroMonitor survey.

And then there's the matter of the ABQ City Council. For the first time in a quarter century it and the Mayor's office is controlled by the Republicans (Five R councilors and 4 Dems). And they have presided over the city's worst economic bust sine the 30's. Several of those GOP councilors face voters next year. They too would appear vulnerable, if ABQ's voters and community leaders awaken from their slumber.

THANK GOD FOR MISSISSIPPI

ABQ is stagnated economically and so is the state. The latest grim reminder:

According to 2011 data, in the Land of Enchantment the percentage of  families living below the poverty level is 16.60 percent. Individuals  living below the poverty level sits at 21.50 percent.
Only Mississippi has worse rates in both categories--17.40 percent and 22.60 percent, respectively.

Not to be a grinch, but there's more (and thank God for Nevada):


Only Nevada, the District of Columbia and the Bureau of Indian Education rank below New Mexico on the percentage of students graduating in four years. Nevada had the lowest graduation rate, with 62 percent graduation, just ahead of New Mexico’s 63 percent...Across the board, from low-income to Native American to black students, New Mexico always fell in the bottom quarter nationwide. 

White students were the second most likely to graduate in four years at 70 percent, numbers showed. They make up 26 percent of New Mexican students. Hispanic students, the majority of students at 59 percent, posted a 59 percent graduation rate. Native American and Alaskan Native students, who make up 10 percent of the New Mexican student body, had a 56 percent graduation rate...

We have a minority education crisis in this state---but you already knew that.

PALS OF PAUL

Lance Klafeta
There will be a third contender for the chairmanship of the state Republican Party when delegates gather in convention Saturday. He's Lance Klafeta, a supporter of libertarian/GOP Congressman Ron Paul, and a longtime libertarian activist in his own right. He says:

A life long libertarian activist, I believe a coup d'etat to establish a period of nationalist capitalist dictatorship, and the carrying out of a cultural revolution under a vanguard One Party is our only hope to save this country.

The two leading candidates for the chairmanship and the right to replace outgoing chair Monty Newman are Lincoln County GOP Chairman John Billingsley and John Rockwell, owner of an ABQ engineering firm.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Reader Dan Balzek writes of our Monday blog in which we informed of the Governor's appearance last night on the conservative Fox News TV network:

Thanks for warning us that "The Guv will appear on the (conservative!) Fox News." Any thought about headlining the "Liberal"  New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan? How about if she were to appear on the (liberal) MSNBC?"

Thanks, Dan. If the Guv appears on MSNBC--which we don't anticipate anytime soon--we would dub it a "liberal leaning" network. As for our site being "liberal," we have our moments in that camp as well as the conservative one. More often, we are independent.

But your note raises another issue, Dan. Why you don't see Governor Martinez going one-on-one on national TV interview programs like "Meet the Press" or "Face the Nation?" We believe it's because her handlers don't believe she's ready for that kind of tough cross examination, preferring to showcase her in the friendly confines of conservative media like Fox News. Nothing wrong with that, but you are not going to carve out a national reputation--beyond the symbolic--until you are able to take it to the top.

Hey, maybe former Governor Big Bill who is still appearing on those broadcasts can give her some tips?

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