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Thursday, September 12, 2013

King Signs Up Campaign Manager With Ties To Big Bill, Plus: Mayor Action Underway In Both ABQ And Santa Fe, Also: Reader Mail Brings Political Insights  

Welcome back...Let's check the latest action in La Politica....

Gary King is gearing up. The attorney general and '14 Dem Guv hopeful has signed up a campaign manager. He says:

Jim Farrell was a senior aide and campaign communications director to the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone...In 2005 he was a communications advisor to the California teachers and unions that defeated Gov. Schwarzenegger’s ballot initiatives. Farrell also worked as a policy advisor to Gov. Bill Richardson, and as deputy campaign manager of Richardson for President in Iowa. Most recently he served as communications and development director for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. He resides in Las Cruces...

Interesting that Farrell has Big Bill experience. Remember back in 2002 when Richardson kept Gary from making the primary ballot when he tried to run against him for that year's Dem Guv nod? Maybe Farrell can pull a similar trick for King who faces opposition for the nomination next year from State Senator Linda Lopez....

It's getting spirited in the Santa Fe mayoral race, even though the election isn't until March. Eight candidates have announced bids to replace outgoing Mayor David Coss. But how to choose since most of them are Dems who agree with one another? Well, there is that corporate tax cut passed by the 2013 Dem controlled Legislature that has progressives and populists so upset.

Former NM Dem Party Chairman Javier Gonzales, one of the leading candidates to replace Coss, vigorously defended the tax cut and now it is coming back to haunt him in the liberal city. It's a key issue to watch as the Santa Fe mayor's race unfolds....

This tidbit from the ABQ mayoral trail....

The second hearing on Mayor Berry's controversial plan to develop the bosque along the Rio Grande in ABQ has been "postponed." The first hearing drew hundreds of disgruntled citizens. The second one promised to do the same and make major news as the first one did. The city says it will review the plan in light of the negative comments.

When will the next hearing be on the bosque plan? Well, if there is another one, we'd bet the risk-averse Mayor Berry is planning it for well after the election....

Pete Dinelli comes with his second TV ad of the mayoral campaign, emphasizing Mayor Berry's opposition to the minimum wage and abortion rights and enlisting video clips from big Democratic names to buttress his case. Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton and the late Sen. Kennedy are all showcased in the ad as Dinelli continues to try to excite the Democratic base and get them to the polls. The ad is here.

Analysis: The ad is well-done, but it is too soft to pole vault Dinelli. And pole vault he must as he is nearly 40 points behind the incumbent. The campaign is acting like it has a realistic shot at forcing a run-off when that is now a very longshot. Dinelli needs to throw the kitchen sink at Berry to make this a race. Using the minimum wage in two consecutive ads is mild munitions, when you need nukes.

A PHANTOM AND A SHADOW

Berry & McCleskey
A reader who describes himself (or herself?) as the "ABQ Phantom" comes with this take on city politics:

I would like to connect the dots for your readers regarding Albuquerque City Clerk Amy Bailey who said she could not count in time the number of required petition signatures needed for an anti-abortion measure to be placed on the October 8 ballot, along with the mayoral candidates.

The Republicans did not want this issue on the ballot for fear of rallying the opposition--primarily Democrats who greatly outnumber Republicans. Although the Albuquerque mayoral race is supposed to be nonpartisan, Amy takes her marching orders from the Mayor and/or the shadow Mayor Jay McCleskey.

Amy Bailey was appointed by Mayor Berry and is a former employee of ABQ attorney and former GOP National Committeeman Mickey Barnett who is a member of Jay McCleskey's inner circle.  McCleskey is the puppeteer who controls both Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry.

As a result, the taxpayers of Albuquerque, now face the possibility of a special election that could cost $550,000. That could have been avoided if the bests interests of Albuquerque taxpayers were placed ahead of political gain by Berry and McCleskey.

McCleskey, who is again handling Berry's election strategy, has in the past denied that he is a shadow mayor or governor. There's not an informed soul in the state political community who believes it. In fact, a good theme song for Susana's 2014 re-elect might be: "Me and My Shadow." :)

MINIMIZING MINIMUM

A reader writes:

According to a letter published in the Sept. 10 ABQ Journal, Mayor Berry is still refusing to enforce the city’s new minimum wage ordinance. According to the letter, a representative of the Mayor is telling voters that “any worker not being paid the current minimum wage needs to get an attorney and sue their employer, and that the city will not enforce it [the ordinance] on behalf of the employee.”

This causes me to do a double-take because the same people who overwhelmingly voted in favor of the minimum wage mandate are, according to the polls, prepared to overwhelmingly re-elect a mayor who refuses to enforce that same mandate. In his oath of office, Mayor Berry swore to uphold and enforce the laws and ordinances. Usually, if an employee refuses to comply with the expectations of his or her employer, then that employee is fired.

It's true that the new minimum wage of $8.50 an hour was passed by 66% of the voters last November. But in a city election many of those same voters won't go to the polls. The turnout is dominated by an older and more conservative electorate. That helps explain some of the disconnect.

THE NEW TREND

A reader writes of a trend he's noticed in the ABQ economy:

Have you noticed how many new thrift stores there are in Albuquerque? I don’t have any numbers, but I notice the increase as I drive around, and they heavily advertise items mostly of little value on Craigslist, in violation of the established rules.

The reason this is so obvious to me is that I am from Kansas and have read Thomas Frank’s book “What’s the Matter with Kansas” numerous times. The political gist is that Kansans vote to their own detriment time after time after time.

But there is a second part of the book that is disturbing--that many of the small western towns that I knew as vibrant when I was a child have deteriorated to the point that the one business that survives is the junk store. “They sell old stuff that in a more prosperous era would have gone to the Salvation Army or the trash….this is a civilization in the early stages of irreversible decay.” (pg 59) So obviously when I see the increase in such stores here in Albuquerque, it screams out to me “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” A trend that I think is worth watching.

THOSE SUSANA ADS

Here's more on the story we broke here this week with the help of our Alligators--the radio ads supporting a controversial decision from Governor Martinez:

A nonprofit group run by a former official in Gov. Martinez's administration is airing radio ads in support of the Republican administration's decision to halt payments to mental health providers under investigation for possible fraud. Sara Lister, executive director of New Mexico Competes, said  the ads are running statewide through this week. Lister said the group is a nonprofit and not affiliated with any political committees. Jay McCleskey, the governor's political adviser, said, "Gov. Martinez and her political committee did not form this organization, nor control its activities." The group's ads underscore the growing role of certain nonprofits in the political arena because they can raise unlimited amounts of money and generally aren't required to disclose their donors. Democratic lawmakers have sharply criticized Martinez for shutting off Medicaid payments to more than a dozen providers of mental health and substance abuse services.

Here's the ad:

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The group financing the ad is taking advantage of the part of the IRS code that lets them keep their donors secret. Lister is a Martinez/McCleskey/White political operative and it's clear that these ads are meant to benefit Martinez's re-election.

Lister was forced out of the shadows when we blogged of the radio ads Tuesday and the story was then advanced by the New Mexican and now The AP.

Following the money is now more than ever a cat and mouse game. How about some voluntary sunshine, Sara (and Jay)? That would mean releasing the donors to "NM Competes" as well as the amount spent and raised by this shadowy group. After all, you are acting on behalf of Governor Martinez who promised a new level of transparency." Aren't you?

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