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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Look Out Below? Analysts See Turnout Dropping in Today's City Election, Plus: Join Us At 7 Tonight For Live Election Results, And: The Pope And You 

OUR KANW 89.1 FM ABQ ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE STARTS AT 7 P.M. YOU CAN HEAR IT ON THE DIAL OR VIA THIS LIVE WEB STREAM

How low can you go? That seems to be the big question about City Election '13--not who will be elected Mayor.

The air of apathy surrounding the mayoral contest between Republican Mayor Richard Berry, Dem challenger Pete Dinelli and Republican challenger Paul Heh has our election analysts saying "look out below!"

None of them is predicting that turnout will match the 2009 turnout of 83,000 when Berry beat Dem Mayor Marty Chavez and Dem Richard Romero.

On the low end consultant Harry Pavlides comes with a projection of 71,000. On the high end former NM Dem Party Chairman John Wertheim crosses his fingers and hopes for just below 83,000.

Republican consultant and pollster Bruce Donisthorpe says look for 75,000 to 77,000 to cast ballots and former Dem ABQ City Councilor Miguel Gomez says "low 70's."

Not that it matters all that much to Mayor Berry. Each of the aforementioned predictors all said on our KANW-FM radio pre-game show Monday that it is "unlikely" or "very unlikely" that Dinelli will manage to keep Berry below the 50% mark and force a run-off election on November 19.

Dinelli was hearing none of it, saying:

You’re gonna see a few people surprised that there’s gonna be a runoff.

Dinelli's last minute hopes are pinned on this: Dems outnumber R's in the city 46% to 31% so if he can get his party out he feels he has a run-off shot.

A key factor working against Dinelli, say our analysts, is the failure of third party groups to come in and help him in a significant way. He opted for public financing and spent around $360,000. Berry raised over $800,000 and also had some third party media buys as well.

Both major polls conducted in the mayoral race in September--by the ABQ Journal and NM Politics with Joe Monahan--had Berry in a commanding lead--63% in the Journal survey and 61% in ours.

SUBPLOT

A subplot to the election is that proposal to ban late term abortions.

City Council President Dan Lewis says if the mayoral election or none of the city council races are forced into run-offs, the Nov. 19 referendum on the abortion matter will be conducted by mail.

If, however, there is at least one run-off election, the abortion referendum will be conducted like a regular city election with absentee and in-person voting.

NOW THE GUV

The end of the ABQ mayor's race today will mark the real start of the 2014 Guv contest. Contenders could start collecting the necessary petition signatures on October 1. Gov. Martinez begins as the heavy favorite among local analysts as well as national pundits. The liberal Daily Kos comes with its first ranking of the NM Guv battle and ranks it "likely Republican." The ratings are subject to change as the race takes shape.

Gary King and Linda Lopez are the only announced Dem candidates and Governor Martinez has no primary opposition.

A WEAKENED WEDGE?

The first three years of Governor Martinez's term have been dominated by her insistence that New Mexico repeal driver's license for undocumented workers. Each legislative session she has fought for the measure--unsuccessfully--and repeatedly used it is a political weapon on the campaign trail  against legislators who support the licenses. It has been a good wedge issue for her, but those days may be behind us. The news:

California (last week) joined the growing list of states that allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver's licenses—a measure supported not only by Latino activists but by police chiefs and insurance authorities. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill...predicting other parts of the country will follow the example set by the nation's most populous state. The licenses, which are expected to become available no later than January 2015, will carry a special designation on the front and a notice stating that the document is not official federal identification and cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment or public benefits.

No word yet on whether Martinez will again ask the Legislature in January to repeal the licenses here.

Sidebar: You wonder if the tide is turning enough so that it will help out Los Alamos Dem State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard. She got tied up in knots over the issue, leaving analysts to predict that the driver's licenses could pose a threat to her re-election next year. Governor Martinez attacked Garcia Richard over the issue in a March radio appearance;

THE POPE AND YOU

The new Pope rocked the world when he declared the Catholic church has become "obsessed" with gays and abortion. A new poll says American Catholics believe he's right.

We asked Allen Sanchez, CEO of St Joseph Community Health, (one of our sponsors) how he sees that playing out on the state political landscape:


Pope Francis didn't say that those traditional issues aren't important but that other issues are also important and that is why the Bishops of New Mexico have made the Constitutional Amendment for early childhood a priority.

Passage of this funding is a moral and ethical issue. We can not leave our children on a track for a life time in poverty when an investment in early programs can have a huge effect on our little ones' future.

...Pope Francis is challenging all of us to find new ways to take care of each other. New Mexico's challenge is evident in our ranking of 50th in children's well-being. Hoarding the amount of money generated by gas and oil royalties, and accumulating it into the second largest Permanent Fund in the nation is immoral when the need grows and grows.

 As the Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Bishops I can tell you the Bishops recognize what Pope Francis is saying and will continue to lead the efforts to find new ways to address the poverty our children are living in.

The early childhood Constitutional Amendment would be subject to voter approval. The issue is expected to surface again in the 2014 legislative session.

OF BARS AND BEARDS

A furloughed Federal employee in ABQ--awaiting the reopening of the partially shut government--writes:

This is the first time in 12 years I've had this much time off. I hear we might go back on the 17th, but who knows? Until then I am living out the life of the unemployed--growing a beard and hanging out in bars. Speaker John Boehner did this to me!

Hanging out in bars and growing beards? Heck, that's a New Mexico vacation tradition.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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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