Monday, April 08, 2013

Can Dinelli Do It? Underdog Dem Faces High Polling Mayor Berry; How The Race Could Turn Tight--Or Not, Plus: Arnold-Jones And Berry; Will He Name Her To Council? 

Pete Dinelli
Mayor Berry
Can Dinelli do it? That's the question that will dominate the warm weather months leading up to the October mayoral race.

Democrat Pete Dinelli has qualified for public financing which means he will get $362,000 to run his race (not including support from outside PACS), but incumbent GOP Mayor Richard Berry has opted out of public financing and is raising private cash. He is expected to spend considerably more than Dinelli.

Then there's those high approval ratings of Berry--somewhere north of 60%. Are they hard numbers or does he have a glass jaw?

You won't get very good odds today if you pick Dinelli to take the prize, but one of our Senior Alligators comes with the first analysis that points out how the attorney and ABQ native might get the race in play:

With Dinelli qualifying for public financing, Albuquerque has a real race for mayor. This one will be closer than most people expect. And, yes,  there is a chance Dinelli can pull it off. 

The base Democratic vote in Albuquerque is almost 60%. Marty Chavez and Richard Romero garnered 56% of the vote in the 2009 mayoral race. The recent special election to require a candidate to get 50% of the vote or face a run-off election, won with over 55% support. The minimum wage passed last November with 66% support...

Even with high poll numbers, the mayor and his advisers know he is vulnerable. We have an economy with no pulse, thousands of jobs lost, millions in lawsuit payouts and APD in its worst shape ever .

Dinelli is still a relative unknown. Look for the Mayor to conjure up former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez--who Dinelli served under--as a way of defining Dinelli.

The Mayor's TV ads ad could go something like this: "Remember how bad it was when Chavez was mayor? Do you want to return to the past --when Albuquerque was a Sanctuary City?  Pete Dinelli is a Marty Chavez clone. Keep Albuquerque moving forward (said with a straight face). Re-elect RJ Berry."

Dinelli has two ways to go: 1) run from his work with Chavez or 2) defend his work with Chavez--and contrast the Berry record with what Chavez accomplished as Mayor. Defense or offense. If Dinelli chooses defense, the race is over before it even gets started. But Dinelli is making it clear he's not the typical New Mexico Democrat these days. He's willing to stand up to the mayoral attack machine and, most important, to fight back. Albuquerque may be in for a long, hot summer. 

Interesting stuff as we look forard to the next six months of campaigning. While Dinelli has a bevy of issues that he could make hay with, his style is giving some Dems worry. They fear Berry will be able to portray Dinelli, a former prosecutor, as a scowling, angry man. If voters get stuck with a negative perception of his personality, they may not pay much attention to him when he brings forth the many city problems that could spark interest in his effort.

There are two other potential candidates working to get on the ballot--Republican Paul Heh and Democrat Margaret Chavez. If they do manage to make it on, neither will qualify for public financing. They will have to raise cash privately to compete.


Veteran GOP politico Janice Arnold-Jones is letting it be known that she would like Mayor Berry to appoint her to the city council to replace Michael Cook who resigned his NE Heights seat in the aftermath of his DWI bust last week. But there are complications. Chief among them? Janice--to put it mildly--does not get along well with Berry political adviser Jay McCleskey who has a large say in Berry's political decisions. Still, appointing Arnold-Jones would increase the chances the R's could keep the seat in their column this October. Arnold-Jones is a former state rep and 2010 Guv candidate who has a proven track record in the district. And she could be key in keeping the council under Republican control. The Cook district is being hotly contested by the Dems. Arnold-Jones might also be a swing vote on the council--sometimes siding with the Dems--which could weigh on Berry as he makes his decision. But Janice's appointment could help Berry mend fences he and Jay have torn some holes into. We'll keep you posted.


Reader Randy Truman writes of a recent blog typo regarding ABQ Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham:

Please post a picture of Michelle when she finds her seal legs--It would be hilarious!

We meant "sea legs," of course. But then we're on the road and trying to do this thing on our new I-Pad and,well, anyway....The I-Pad is going back and we're coming back.

Reporting south of the border--down Mexico way--I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

Interested in reaching New Mexico's most informed audience? Advertise here.      

Not for reproduction without permission of the author   
website design by limwebdesign