Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Run-Off Election For Control Of ABQ Council Taking Shape; Arnold-Jones Vs. Gibson, Plus: Guv's Big Lead In Money Race, And: A New Dem Candidate For Governor 

With control of the ABQ City Council at stake, there's little doubt that Mayor Berry's political operatives will play a major role in the Nov. 19 run-off election featuring GOP Councilor Janice Arnold-Jones and Dem challenger Diane Gibson.

This photo snapped by one of our Alligators just after the October 8 initial election lays to rest any remaining doubts.

It's Janice meeting with Mayor Berry campaign manager Missi Sousa, a GOP operative brought in this summer from out-of-state.

If Arnold-Jones, a former state representative, appointed by Berry this year to fill a vacancy on the nine member council, were to lose the mid NE Heights seat, the council would flip to the Dems 5 to 4. There is a run-off because Arnold-Jones feel just short of the required 50% to win in the first round.

After the October 8 election in which Berry was handily re-elected, the Dems picked up one council seat, taking the R's from 6 councilors to 5 on the nine member panel.

Arnold-Jones' relationship with Berry and his operatives is complicated. She ran against Susana Martinez for the 2010 GOP Guv nomination. After she finished last, she soured further on Jay McCleskey, the chief political adviser to both the Governor and Mayor.

Her relationship with former Bernalillo County Sheriff and ex-ABQ  public Safety Officer Darren White--a BFF of Jay's--has been in the ditch for years. One reason is because of her support for the repeal of the NM death penalty. White went to war against her for that.

The new councilor has positioned herself as a moderate in a party that has grown increasingly conservative. But, as they say, politics makes for strange bedfellows. Arnold-Jones was appointed by Mayor Berry to fill a vacancy on the city council this year and it was White who was the first to float the news on social media.


Reader Adrian Oglesby writes of the re-election win of ABQ Dem City Councilor Ike Benton over appointed GOP Councilor Roxanna Myers:

Ike was gerrymandered out of office when council Republicans eliminated his district. Ike dusted off and ran in his new home district against Meyers, with both accepting $47k in public financing. North Valley gadfly Jerry Ginsburg then threw a monkey-wrench into the democratic process when he gave $80,000 to a PAC supporting Meyers. That gave her a monstrous spending advantage. A lot of folks I talked to thought all that money would talk, but over 62% of District 2 had Ike's back. 

Nearly 60% of the registered voters in Benton's new district are Democrats.


An ABQ reader, a former news reporter, thinks the media left on the table a number of important issues in their coverage of the mayoral contest: 

--How exactly will the mayor deal with the looming $36 million loss in revenue that Gov. Martinez handed to him when she took local food tax subsidies to pay for her corporate tax cut package? Will he raise taxes like other cities, including Las Cruces, are doing? Will he further cut the police force?

--Speaking of public safety, how will the Mayor repair a relationship with the police and firefighters that appears to be toxic and beyond repair? How can citizens feel safe with that kind of distrust?

--What will the Mayor do differently to create jobs? 


Laura Mason (Bralley)
Reader Mick writes of today's retirement of longtime ABQ City Council Director Laura Mason:

Joe, a tip of the hat to Laura Mason who is retiring on October 15, wouldn't be a bad thing. She is one of the three women who, though not elected, have had a huge impact on the elected officials in New Mexico and have frequently kept them from derailing the democratic process of our governments. The others were Maralyn Budke and Paula Tackett. As was the case with the other ladies, it will be difficult to find a real replacement. An adequate one will be found, but not an equal.

Mason has served as council director for nearly 10 years. Budke was a longtime director of the NM Legislative Finance Committee and a former Chief of Staff to Republican Governor Dave Cargo. Tackett served for 22 years as director of the Legislative Council Service.

Mason, Budke and Tackett all had a knack for working both sides of the political aisle. Imagine that...


Governor Martinez continues to hold a huge cash advantage over her Democratic rivals in the '14 Guv race. She reports $3.3 million in cash on hand and total fund-raising so far of  $3.8 million.  Dem Gary King reports $142,000 in cash on hand as of Oct. 7. State Senator Linda Lopez did not file her report in Santa Fe Tuesday, but insiders report she has little cash on hand.  

Martinez has taken some heat for all the time she spend out-of-state raising money but it seems to have become a gubernatorial tradition, with Bill Richardson doing the same before her.

The dark cloud hovering over the Governor's race for state Dems looks ominously similar to the one in the recent ABQ mayoral race. Dems and their interest groups did not put up a fight and GOP mayor Berry won with the biggest totals in city history.

If that is going to be the case in the Governor's race Republican prospects for gaining ground in the state House will be enhanced and maybe they get a shot at a down ballot race or two.

$3.3 million banked for an election a year away is a large sum for Martinez, but experts say her personal campaign balance will no longer tell the full story. Martinez is already benefiting from so-called "dark money" from third party groups who are not required to tell who donates to them. If the Governor's race gets competitive, expect dark money to also back up the eventual Dem nominee.

Cash reports for the Dem state treasurer, secretary of state and auditor candidates are here, as well as for GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran.


Sen. Morales
Silver City area State Senator Howie Morales is set to throw his hat into the Dem guv derby. And why not? If lightning doesn't strike he stays in the state senate where he isn't up for re-election until 2016.

Morales, 40, faces the same problem as King and Lopez--being taken as a serious threat to Susana and able to raise money to compete.

Here's an email from Grant County Democrats letting everyone know Howie is coming in on Oct. 22:

Next Tuesday, Sen. Howie Morales will officially announce his candidacy for Governor! We need you there to cheer on a great legislator and a great Democrat as he enters the primary. Who better to take on the policies of Susana Martinez? Howie knows education and what New Mexicans need in order to educate our kids for the 21st century. Be at 6th Street School, Silver City, October 22nd. Event starts at 4pm. 

Morales, who started his career as a special ed teacher, should make the Dem nomination contest more interesting. Other possible names for it include ABQ's Lawrence Rael and State Sen. Joe Cervantes.

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.      

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