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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

ABQ Mayor '13: One Week To Go; We Start With The Big Picture And Then Analyze The Final Debate, Plus: Valley Council Race Watched For Possible Run-Off 

Heh, Berry & Dinelli
For Pete Dinelli the 2013 mayor's race has been like rowing a boat while stuck on concrete.

Most of those who plan on voting in next Tuesday's mayoral election think things are okey-dokey in ABQ and are poised to re-elect Republican Mayor Richard Berry.

The many who are not happy with the direction of the city are apparently mostly staying home.

With perhaps record low voter turnout in store, an even older, conservative and more Anglo turnout than in past mayoral elections will be the likely result.

Contrast that with the victims of the Great Recession here. Those hit hardest are in lower income households and those with less education.

It was always the task of Dinelli and the Dems to increase turnout if they wanted to get the race in play. There are 364,000 registered voters. A turnout of 80,000 would mean 22% of those registered cast ballots. We're starting to think it will be even lower.

Hispanics, working class and middle class voters who would side mainly with the Dems have not been motivated. Perhaps the die was cast when the party and Dem city councilors backed off from taking on Berry from the beginning of his term in 2009.  When you let the horse out of the barn, it will run.

The economic malaise that hangs over the city, the troubled police department and the city's uncertain future are very real. But they are more real for the masses who are not voting and who seem to feel City Hall is not the place to look for answers. For most who are casting ballots, the view of the future is mainly from secure, comfortable armchairs.

NO MORE POLLING

We said in a first draft of the Monday blog that we expected one more mayoral poll from the ABQ Journal, but pollster Brian Sanderoff says there will be no more. That's a first.

The Journal has always done at least two polls for the elections they survey. But this one has been a sleeper and a ripe time to drop that precedent.

The Journal had Mayor Berry at 63% in their poll released early in the month. The poll we conducted for NM Politics with Joe Monahan last Wednesday had Berry at 62%...

Mayor Berry critic Silvio Dell'Angela criticized the polling from the newspaper and the blog as being "propaganda tools." But a pollster who chose to remain anonymous disagrees:

These public polls are conducted and publicized because people are interested in the relative standing of candidates at the time the polls are taken. In general, people like to know what other people are doing and thinking. How do political polls "tell...citizens how to vote"? Where is the coercive element? 

In fact polls often simply give people additional information to think about as to how they might vote or what they might do for their candidate, whether leading or lagging in a poll. How are they "propaganda" tools? I do not see a well-designed, scientific survey as a one-sided attempt to persuade people towards any particular viewpoint or course of action. Of course some polls, such as "push polls," or badly designed and executed polls, can be used as propaganda of sorts....

FINAL DEBATE

After watching the third and final mayor TV debate last night one of our Senior Alligators lamented: "I want that hour of my life back." Come on, it wasn't that bad. Sure, the three hopefuls don't brim with charisma and we've never seen three fellas who can avoid smiling at one another for hours on end, but they are earnest.

At the KNME-TV face-off, Berry showed improvement over the first outing on KOAT when he seemed defensive and a tad unprepared. He lost that one on points to Dinelli. Sunday morning on KOB he battled Dinelli to a draw. Monday night he came with new material to answer Dinelli's charges on APD and other issues. That helped give him the win on points. Dinelli needed to throw a curve ball but came with the same pitches that Berry has grown accustomed to.

Paul Heh started shaky but gained steamed as he made his populist points. "We're in a death spiral, Albuquerque!"

Berry avoided the big snafu which is your job when you nurse a huge lead in the polls, but he went out of character when he made a character attack on Dinelli and Heh, accusing both of not believing in the city they hope to lead. Both have long records of public service here--much longer than the mayor's. It was Berry stepping outside of his "nice guy" persona and seeming small and punitive and it was unnecessary.

Here's the take from the spin rooms of Dinelli and Berry.

THEY WERE ASKED

You can't say the mayoral candidates of 2013 were not asked the tough questions. All three TV debates featured solid questions, even if they were asked mostly out of the spotlight of prime time. Many of the questions came from the community. On KOB-TV Sunday anchors Tom Joles and Nicole Brady hit the key issues and Gene Grant did the same on KNME.

Berry's optimism and his "Geez, Joe, what problems?" attitude has served him well in addressing the narrow portion of the electorate that is voting. Former prosecutor Dinelli repeatedly and effectively indicted Berry's record, but he started very late. Berry's likable, laid back personality needed to be eroded over a period of months--not weeks. The straight talk of a nonprofessional political like Heh is always welcome.

CITY SCENE

Klarissa Peña
It's not just that red-hot ABQ City Council race in District 7 in the Mid and NE Heights that could result in a run-off election. Our Alligators say to monitor your political radar in District 3 in the SW ABQ Valley.

Like Dist. 7 it's a three way battle with a way-ahead frontrunner. But insiders say that the front-runner--Klarrisa Peña--is fighting to get the necessary 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off with her top competitor.

The district is heavy Dem.

Peña, a director at the nonprofit Youth Development Inc., faces political newcomer and Republican Tania Silva who has not backed off and Ron Garcia, a retired city employee who won the endorsement of the newspaper. Like Peña, Garcia is a Dem.

Any run-off would be held Nov. 19. If Peña can't close the deal but ends up close to the 50% mark in the first round on October 8, she would be heavily favored to take the seat in November.

Sidebar: If there are no runoff elections for mayor or council, the proposed ordinance to restrict late term abortions would be conducted through the mail instead of through in person voting.

VOTER GUIDE

The League of Women Voters comes with a comprehensive voting guide for City Election '13. It's well done.

BULLISH CANDIDATES

Click to enlarge
ABQ Journal cartoonist Trever comes with his take on Mayor '13. He keys off of candidate Paul Heh's pronouncement that one of Mayor Berry's debate answers was "bullshit."

And that was the closet thing that approached humor in this sluggish campaign...

Former Dem ABQ City Councilor Michael Cadigan writes of the change in a road project that has been a cornerstone of Mayor berry's re-election effort:

So the big I-25 project that Mayor Berry is taking credit for (it is a 10 year old idea) was supposed to allow traffic to flow with no stop lights on Paseo del Norte from San Pedro to Golf Course Road. Now we learn that there will be traffic signals at Paseo and I-25 for getting on I-25 north. This significantly reduces the reduction in congestion and defeats the purpose of the project. I-25/Paseo was always a $200 million project that the state and city have cheapened for a quick political hit to make it look like they are doing something when they really aren't.

Berry recently broke ground on a $93 million rebuild of the I-25/Paseo interchange in north ABQ.

DID YOU HEAR?

Despite the nonsense going on in Washington with a partial government shutdown or a threatened one, Obamacare is here...today:

Starting Oct. 1, 2013, individuals can sign up for coverage online at www.bewellnm.com

NMHIX offers information...to allow individuals and small businesses to compare a variety of plans from a number of health insurance companies...NMHIX will open a bilingual Call Center, 1-855-99NMHIX, to handle calls 24/7 starting at 8 a.m. October 1, 2013.

Oh, yeah. That partial government shutdown. Southern GOP conservative US Rep. Steve Pearce got some good press from the newspaper and here when he said he was not locked into repealing parts of Obamacare as a condition for keeping the government open. The headline read: "Pearce won't vote for shutdown of government."

Pearce will now argue that he never got a chance to vote for a measure that did not include a hit on Obamacare, but that he would have voted for it if given the chance. Not very strong stuff, Steve. Not strong at all.

BREAKING IT OFF

Breaking up is hard to do as ABQ found out with Breaking Bad.

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

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