Friday, March 01, 2013

Advantage Berry: Diane Denish Says She's Done And Will Not Run For Mayor, Plus: ABQ Mayor's High Popularity Confirmed In New Polling; Where The Race Stands Now 

Mayor Berry had a rough week trying to minimize damage over enforcing the city's new minimum wage but the week ended well for him. Very well. Former Democratic NM Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish--seen as perhaps the most viable threat to Berry's re-election--ended weeks of speculation and told me she will not make the run against Berry.

Denish's decision means it is unlikely the Mayor will face a big name opponent in the October election. And it increases the odds that former ABQ Public Safety Director Pete Dinelli will emerge as the Republican mayor's main challenger.

Denish, 63, is a native of Hobbs and a fixture on the state's political scene. She is a onetime NM Dem Party Chair and a former two term. Lt. Governor who lost the 2010 Guv battle to Republican Susana Martinez. She gave this statement on her decision:

I have received encouragement from people in the city and around New Mexico to run for Mayor of Albuquerque.  I have given it serious thought. . ..And while the prospect of serving the public in an elected capacity has its appeal, right now I am more focused on the future of our children rather than future elections.  I want to continue my work to secure passage of the Early Childhood Constitutional Amendment--one of the few opportunities we have to make a lasting difference in our children’s lives and in New Mexico’s economic future. 

Although I will not be a candidate, I do hope the Mayoral race will ultimately force the Mayor and his opponents to take on the real challenges our city faces such as the crushing lack of job creation, the threatened rights of workers and their opportunity to make a living wage, and making much needed changes in the approach to protecting all of our citizens from crime and gun violence. 

ABQ Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez also announced Thursday he has decided not to run for mayor this year and instead will seek a third, four year term on the city council from his west side district. Little opposition is expected.


Now the back story on the Denish move. Insiders confirm that Denish conducted a professional poll assessing the lay of the land for a mayoral run. They tell us that the news was not encouraging for any Democratic challenger. Berry's popularity remains exceptionally strong--with registered voters surveyed giving him an approval rating of 71%.

But it is not just Berry's impressive approval rating that is the problem for the opposition. When voters were asked about the economy some 50% of them said it was in lousy condition here, but they did not fault the Mayor's performance for it. As for the federal Department of Justice investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department, that also did not put a dent in his popularity. Those are two of the major issues cited by Dinelli in his campaign. If the poll has it right, he is going to have to run some very hard-hitting ads to break through.

We've talked about Berry's popularity and whether it is solid or soft. Insiders say when it comes to the key economic issue, the survey indicated it is more solid than you might expect. One of those familiar with the survey commented:

People in ABQ have been conditioned to the bad conditions. They are saying it's the way things are any more and they don't fault Berry. It was similar for President Obama when he won re-election, despite high unemployment levels. Most people did not blame him.

Indeed. Some 64% of those surveyed by Strategies 360 in Denver said the city was on the right track.

Another tidbit from that Denish survey. Over two years into her term Governor Martinez is getting an approval rating of 66% among ABQ voters. In a Democratic city? That's impressive.

And former Governor Richardson--who Denish served with for eight years? His approval rating in ABQ is dismal--below 30%. That surely had to influence Denish in her decision to stay out of the race.

As we've blogged and documented ABQ has become a much bluer city in the past five years but Berry and Martinez are drawing support across the board. Dems say the pair have no real record of accomplishment and that their approval numbers are soaring because they have not made any tough decisions, have had a softball press and present pleasing personalities to the public.But they are wining and in politics that's everything.

Whoever finally becomes Berry's foe (or foes) in the upcoming October election are going to have to be prepared to unload both barrels on the Mayor to have any chance of pulling the upset. It won't be Diane Denish. She now joins the rest of us in the bleacher seats.


Reader Pete Baston--"Idea Pete"--had us chuckling when he came with this question: Does New Mexico need "A Kiss My Ass Day?" The news:

He's called Beppe Grillo, he's 64 years old, a comedian, and he's the clear winner of the Italian parliamentary election. His "Five-Star Movement" emerged as the biggest single party in the lower house of parliament. The left- and right-wing party grandees--Pier Luigi Bersani and Silvio Berlusconi--only managed to muster more votes than him with the help of their respective allied parties. Grillo, who already brought thousands on to the streets in 2007 for his "Kiss My Ass Day," is the mouthpiece of Italy's disenchanted, angry voters. The numbers of these protests voters are growing dramatically. 

Good one, Pete. But we need an angry New Mexico comedian to have a "Kiss My Ass Day" here. Any ideas?


From the UNM Cancer Center:

State Senators and Representatives usually work together but on March 1 they will go head-to-head in the annual “Hoops for Hope” legislative basketball game. The game, which pits the House “Aggies” against the Senate “Lobos,” raises awareness and money for cancer treatment and research. All proceeds benefit the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. . . The “Hoops 4 Hope” legislative basketball game will be held in the Santa Fe High School Gymnasium, 2100 Yucca Road, Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door or in advance in Room 125 of the Capitol. For questions, contact Billy Gupton at 505-480-9316. All proceeds benefit the UNM Cancer Center.

The House has won 11 of the last 12 encounters with the Senate, but some handicappers are saying the House team is ripe for the taking. But the Senate a 14 point favrotie? We'll take the points and the House for the win.


Joe Monahan
A reader in DC writes of coverage of the nomination of a new Secretary of the Interior: 

It is “Secretary of the Interior” not Secretary of Interior. Please note “the” in the proper title. The same applies when saying the Department.. “Department of the Interior.” It is not Department of Interior. Unlike Egypt, Iraq, Syria and many other foreign republics, the US does not have a Department of Interior or a Minister of Interior. We do have…”of the Interior” though. 

However, due to the upcoming sequester the "the" in the Secretary's title will be temporarily dropped to save stationary costs.

That's it for this week. Thanks for being with us.

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