Monday, July 29, 2013

New Twist To City Election Piques Interest; Dems Relish R's Predicament On Abortion Measure, Plus: Berry Early Re-election Strategy: "What Election?"  

Berry prays at Civic Plaza (Journal)
Dems are relishing the box the GOP is in when it comes to that controversy over putting a very stiff anti-abortion measure on the October 8 ABQ election ballot. If the majority R's decide not to put the issue on the regular ballot and approve a costly ($500,000) special election, they will be scored by the anti-abortion crowd for bailing out on them and fiscal conservatives will blast them for wasting taxpayer money for a special election.

Assuming enough of the petition signatures gathered by Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups are valid for an election to be called, insiders are betting that the R's decide to risk damaging their conservative credentials and vote not to approve the Oct. 8 abortion election.

The three council Dems are expected to cheerily say "bring on the election" because the abortion question it would likely bring more Dem voters to the polls than R's, bettering the chances of Dem mayoral hopeful Pete Dinelli.

Political pressure on the R councilors could change the current outlook but the sticky issue is sure to occupy many hours for the GOP--to the delight of the downtrodden Dems as they seek to oust a GOP Mayor who has high approval ratings.

Then there's Berry's iffy relationship with the city's evangelical community which is gung-ho for the abortion measure which would ban just about all abortions once a mother completed her 20th week of pregnancy. Pastor Steve Smotherman of Legacy Church toyed with running against Berry because he thinks Berry is not conservative enough on social issues like abortion. Now Smotherman--like the Dems--is watching Berry squirm as the Mayor ponders the best way out of his abortion election conundrum.


Mayor Berry apparently remains confident that his best early strategy for re-election is to stay away from the campaign trail. The Dinelli camp says their man and GOP contender Paul Heh have both accepted an invite to debate the issues before an August 20 ABQ Tea Party forum, but Berry has not.

We are only five weeks or so from early voting and there has yet to be one forum where the three candidates have sat down together and talked about the future of the city. Obviously, that benefits Berry as his two foes are not able to take pot shots at him in person and make headlines.

Let's go back to Paul Heh for a minute. Some observers are saying that Heh could eat into Berry's conservative support by fully embracing the anti-abortion measure and its many advocates. 27,000 petition signatures were gathered in favor of the proposal. That's a lot of potential votes. Berry is trying to attract moderate as well as conservative votes, leaving an opening for Heh if he knows how to take it.

A strong Heh showing among conservative voters would increase the chances of Dinelli holding Berry below the 50% mark and forcing a run-off election between the mayor and himself.


Mayor Berry refused to appear on KOB-TV to address the hyper-controversial remarks from his police chief about sexual affairs at the ABQ police department. Chief Schultz called them "nature at play," a statement that was widely derided as being insensitive as well as revealing about the problematic culture at APD.

Berry issued a written statement saying he expected the "highest level of conduct" from police officers and he is "disappointed" when that doesn't happen. The statement was criticized for being tepid and dodging the issue of married police officers having sexual affairs within APD and subordinate officers having sex with their superiors. But Berry is hoping the story will fade away.

He says he will not expedite Schultz's exit from APD. The chief is set to retire in early August and stay on as a paid advisor until early September. Berry has rejected calls that he let Schultz leave in August.

Berry and Schultz were both before the media Friday night when they reported on the severe weather that struck the ABQ metro, but Berry was not asked to comment on the "nature at play" remark.


New NM Dem Party Chairman Sam Bregman was talking up the ABQ mayoral race when he took over in late April, but the party has gone dark on Pete Dinelli. The reason? Money. Or the lack thereof.

Bregman is finding out how hard it can be to raise cash for a party that has been roundly criticized for failing to take on Republican Governor Martinez or Mayor Berry and keeping their approval numbers in check. The lack of punch doesn't exactly get the troops fired up and it shows in the Dems latest finance report. Sam has less than $30,000 in cash on hand, despite his campaign vow to raise hundreds of thousands in his first months.

Bregman also is still operating without an executive director, leaving the party vulnerable to appearing rudderless--the same charge Bregman made against Javier Gonzales, the chairman he replaced.

The Dems latest finance report is here. (In an earlier draft we said ex-Guv Big Bill was on the state Dem donor list. He was not. It was another Bill Richardson--from Gallup).


We blogged last week of how Governor Martinez has been named as one of the "worst governors" by the DC ethics watchdog group "CREW." Big Bill was also named to that list when he was NM Guv. Here's the watchdog's group full report on Martinez.

The Guv's office says CREW is a blatantly partisan group, targeting GOP Governors, even though they also hit Democrat Big Bill.

Let's not forget that it was CREW that filed an ethics complaint against then-GOP NM US Senator Pete Domenici over the US Attorney scandal. In 2008, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Domenici for his involvement. Crew was proven right.

So while CREW may tilt left, that doesn't mean they have no credibility. Just ask Senator Domenici.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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