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Friday, February 08, 2013

More On Mayor Race: Could Super PAC's Come In? Plus: Dem Chair Race Action, Hollywood Not Starstruck With ABQ And Readers Argue Against State Takeover Of Fed Lands 

What about those new Super PACS getting involved in the ABQ mayor's race? Those are the outside groups accountable to hardly anyone and who can spend as much as they like when they like. If they hit town with buckets of cash for a particular candidate it could sure upset things.

Reb Wayne of Mesa Media in Austin, Texas (Texans on the blog. Ye Gads!) comes with this reaction to our Thursday piece that explained the rules for getting your mayoral campaign publicly financed:

Since the US Supreme Court Citizens United ruling and the advent of Super PACs, why would anyone go through all that trouble to collect 3,500 $5 bills to run for Mayor?  Frankly, the law is probably shaky constitutionally and it would be just easier to put your name on the ballot and then have your friends do, in effect, an independent expenditure to get you elected. Yes, a candidate coordinating with a Super PAC is an issue, but the FEC really isn't defining that--not yet. I doubt Albuquerque will see an example of what I've just described this year, but the city is certainly legally exposed under the current system.

The city's complicated--and some say onerous rules--to qualify to have your mayoral campaign  publicly financed to the tune of about $350,000 does seem to be on shaky ice in this new era of wide-open campaign rules. We would be surprised if there was not a court challenge sometime down the line.

By the way, ABQ Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez--like Diane Denish before him--says the insiders and Alligators are premature to speculate that he won't run for mayor. He says he is still weighing the decision. So is Denish. Let's see how the Gators fare in their predictions when we get the final decisions.

(And we're not buying the idea that Republican Mayor Berry doesn't seek re-election and goes after the ABQ congressional seat held by Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham. Although it is fun to speculate over).

HEH HOPS IN

Retired ABQ police department Sgt. Paul Heh, 66, entered the mayor's race Friday morning. He is a Republican but says he is dissatisifed with both parties. Here is a quote from his announcement:

“Paul’s platform consists of a restoration to the basic pillars of sound government: Accountability, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Accessibility, Education, and Ownership.The Berry administration abandoned these basic principles and we are all paying for it. We are paying for it as a city as we see the evidence of his mismanagement:From the Department of Justice's fully comprehensive investigation into APD, spiraling private sector job losses, stagnant economic growth, and growing city expenses while city employees retire as soon as they can. All of this in a region where other cities have been prospering.”

Heh is a newcomer so his immediate challenge is going to be collecting the thousands of petition signatures needed to make the ballot as well as the thousands of individual $5 donations a candidate must get in order to qualify for public financing.

HAVE A PARTY

One of our Senior Alligators--a stiff foe of publicly financing campaigns--comes with this:

Joe, How about if we get a candidate for ABQ Mayor, go out and qualify him for public financing and then spend that $350,000 from the city on a giant block party for all those who helped us qualify? What's to stop us?

Well, it's hard to qualify for that money, but what a candidate spends it on is somewhat flexible. Instead of the block party, though, we'd take the trip to Europe.

CHAIR RACE

Sen. Linda Lopez
There's another political race going on besides Mayor. It's for the chairmanship of the state Dem party and features ABQ attorney Sam Bregman and Carlsbad attorney Roxanne Lara. We've heard other names are interested, but they are the two serious contenders.

Bregman's team, working to beat back the view that the party would be well-served by putting a Hispanic female in the chair seat, comes with this:

ABQ area Senator Linda Lopez, Chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, has agreed to serve as co-chair of his campaign to be elected NM Democratic State Party Chair.

". . .  Sam will bring vision and bold leadership to the State Party, leading us into the 21st century.  Join me in supporting a hardworking, proven leader--Sam Bregman." Lopez said.

Lopez sought the 2010 Dem lieutenant governor nomination and is said to still harbor statewide ambitions.

Meanwhile, Lara has hired consultant Brian Morris to help her round up votes. Current chair Javier Gonzale is not seeking another term. Some 400 Dem central committee members will select the new chair in late April.

NO CASE?

A reader suggested here this week that former University of New Mexico President Chris Garcia might consider suing the ABQ police department now that the prostitution case against him has imploded. The New Mexico Supreme Court issued a key ruling this week. Reader John Bussanich says he sees no lawsuit coming:

It's hard to see that Garcia was "defamed." Apparently he didn't break any laws and so should not have been arrested or prosecuted. But he trafficked info concerning prostitution. Just because he didn't profit financially does not restore his image one iota. Right? Of course the way things are around here, he could be appointed a UNM Regent or Athletic Director. 

NO TRANSFER, PLEASE

Blog reader and veteran lobbyist Dan Weaks got them out of their seats and to their keypads when he touted legislation here that would have New Mexico take control of all the federal lands in the state. He says we could make a bunch of money by doing that and use it fund education. But the pushback came fast and furious. Joel Gay of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation was among those pushing:

Hi Joe, Thanks for all you do to keep us informed. I can’t tell you how often I come to work and we find ourselves talking about what was on Monahan that morning.

I do have to take issue with Dan Weaks. He’s right that some are talking about the idea of “taking back” lands from the feds. Utah passed and signed such a bill last year. Arizona also passed a bill like this, but Gov. Jan Brewer recognized its many flaws and vetoed it. Supporters came through New Mexico last year and got people fired up about the idea here. There are two such bills this session, HB 292 and SB 404. I won’t list all the problems we see in this cockamamie idea. . . 

Sportsmen may have some qualms with the way the Feds manage their 20 million-plus acres in New Mexico, but at least we have access to the land. Our State Land Office manages about 9 million acres (down from 13 million at statehood) but with few exceptions you can’t camp on state land, you can hardly scout for hunts and you can’t even go hiking without a permit. When Dan Weaks talks about good state management, he neglects issues like former Land Commissioner Pat Lyons’ attempts to trade off thousands of acres of prime hunting land in a backroom, closed-door deal with landowners.

GOP Congressman Steve Pearce has been banging the same drum--he has said more than once that the U.S. needs to sell off public land. The people pushing these state initiatives say land sales are not their intention, but we’re skeptical. We see the transfer of millions of acres to the states as a shortcut to sale, lease or development, all of which leave hunters and anglers with fewer places to go.

And former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca, who is also is an ex-director of the federal Bureau of Land Management, ws quick to diss the transfer idea:

That move by Dan Weaks and his oil and gas friends is a bunch of malarkey. It would be easier to say that Dan Weaks' house should be given to Al Gore because that is what we think is right. This is just a move to lessen environmental protection...

NOT STARSTRUCK

Hollywood is not as starstruck with ABQ as it once was. We've now slipped from #1 to #8 on Moviemaker Magazine's list of the top 10 cities in which to shoot a film. This is largely a result of the state chopping away at financial incentives to keep the industry coming in here. But in the newspaper coverage of our tumble down the top 10 list, no one apparently asked Governor Martinez or Mayor Berry for a comment--or any of the legislators who voted to slash the incentives. What do those policy makers think now? Martinez supported cutting the incentives. Mayor Berry would not take a position. Inquiring minds would like to know...

AT THE MOVIES

For your weekend entertainment, movie buff Eric Lucero sends us a review of a film about President Franklin Roosevelt--Hyde Park On the Hudson--that is currently playing:

Joe, Actor Bill Murray plays FDR with aplomb, zeal and, most importantly, with humanity. This period tutorial revolves around the genesis of how FDR, as a beloved national father figure, developed America’s ‘Special Relationship’ with our cousins’ across the pond. Thus, during June 1939, FDR and his wife Eleanor, hosted the King & Queen of England for a weekend at the family compound at Hyde Park on the Hudson in upstate New York. 

As any student of history knows, FDR was a gifted politician and a powerful presence on the world stage.  But  two key scenes, in “Hyde”, one with “Daisy” and another with “Bertie” define FDR’s human flaws and strengths; unvarnished and without apology. . . .The lessons offered in “Hyde Park on the Hudson” are just valid today as they were in the previous so called ‘American Century.’

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

Thanks for stopping by this week. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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