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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dem Guv Chase Taking Shape As Filing Day Passes: Webber Wonders: Is There Life After Pre-Primary? Plus: Wrap On All Filings For Statewide Offices, Also: The Pleas Of OMaree; Shocking 911 Call Revealed; Death Of 9 Year Old Rocks Anew The State, APD & City Hall 

2014 Dem governor candidates
Can Alan Webber go where no man (or woman) has gone before? It appears the Democratic candidate for Governor is setting up to do just that.

Webber, along with the other four Dem Guv hopefuls, filed nominating petition signatures with the secretary of state Tuesday. He indicated immediately afterwards that he may not be able to secure 20% of the delegate support at the party's March pre-primary convention. He has filed the required additional signatures to ensure he is on the June ballot.

No statewide  candidate who has failed to meet that 20 percent threshold has ever gone on to win the nomination of either the Republican or Democratic parties.

Webber's campaign says as an "outsider candidate" he is not as focused on the pre-primary and that he will attempt to "connect with new voters," especially younger ones who often don't vote in primary elections.

Still, Webber's decision to shake off the pre-primary as a game for "insiders" has its skeptics. Among them is independent and former Republican ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne who helped run Gary Johnson's successful insurgent Guv candidacy in 1994:

Webber's candidacy does not have the same feel yet that Gary's did. If he bypasses the pre-primary and is to still have a shot at the nomination, he will have to step up his campaign against Governor Martinez and become more of an aggressive populist. That's the big opening in this race but none of the five have yet to walk through it."

Maybe Webber is setting preprimary expectations low and will surprise. He does have a hole card. It's his personal wealth which can be used for TV ads. That will keep him in the game. As far as being a game changer who defies history and wins the nomination without the pre-primary stamp of approval, that's another story.

TAKING SHAPE

Rael on petition day
With filing day past the congressional and statewide races are starting to take shape. A complete list of those who filed for office on Tuesday is here. (Legislative and other candidates will file March 11.)

In the Dem race for Governor, informed insiders and Alligators are now saying that Gary King, Howie Morales and Lawrence Rael--in that order--are most likely to get over 20% delegate support at the March pre-primary convention.

The Dem lieutenant governor contest features Debra Haaland and Marie Julienne. Halland would be the first Native American on a NM Guv ticket. She is heavily favored.

State Auditor Hector Balderas will be unopposed for the Dem nomination for attorney general. He will face either Republican Susan Riedel, a Las Cruces judge, or ABQ attorney Paul Baiamonte. Balderas is favored in November.

In the secretary of state contest Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver was the only Dem who filed. She will face incumbent GOP Sec. of State Dianna Duran in November. Oliver is favored because of her big Bernalillo County base, but the race is not closed out.

The land commissioner contest features one Dem and one R. Incumbent Dem Ray Powell will face Republican Aubrey Dunn. Powell is favored.

In the Dem contest for state treasurer three candidates filed. Former state Sen. Tim Eichenberg, attorney John Wertheim and former Bernalillo County Treasurer Patrick Padilla. Padilla is embroiled in a county investment scandal. He may have been knocked out by it, but insiders are waiting for the first round of polling to see where this contest stands. Republican Rick Lopez will run unopposed for the GOP treasurer nod.

In the race for state auditor state Sen. Tim Keller is the sole hopeful. On the R side, ABQ atttorney Robert Aragon--who toyed with the idea of a US Senate run--filed Tuesday for the auditor position. Dem Keller is favored.

CONGRESS ACTION

In the race for US Senate, incumbent Dem Tom Udall is unopposed, Republicans Allen Weh and David Clements filed for the GOP nomination. Weh is favored in the pre-primary and primary, but libertarian R Clements needs to be watched for any out-of-state help he might attract.

Udall is heavily favored for re-election in November.

As for the US House races, incumbent Republican Steve Pearce and incumbent Dems Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan are all favored for re-election in November.

Lujan did draw a Dem primary challenger Tuesday--Robert Blanch of ABQ. He's an assistant district attorney in the Bernalillo County district attorney's office. Blanch, 51, tells us he thinks he can do a better job than the "current gang" in DC. GOP rancher Jeff Byrd of Tucumcari ran against Rep. Lujan two years ago. He is running again and is the lone R in the race.

Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for the ABQ seat held by Grisham are Richard Priem of ABQ and Michel Frese of Corrales. Former ABQ City Councilor Mike McEntee has ended his GOP candidacy. Grisham is unopposed for the primary nod,

Democrat Roxane "Rocky" Lara will face Leslie Endean-Singh in the Dem primary for the Pearce seat. Lara, a former Eddy County Commissioner, is getting national Dem backing and is favored. Pearce is unopposed for the GOP nomination.

HISTORY GUIDE

Republicans last elected a state auditor and state treasurer in 1966. The GOP last elected a state land commissioner in 2002 and an attorney general in 1986. Dianna Duran is the first GOP secretary of state since the 1930's.

THE PLEAS OF OMAREE

A sad, maddening and bone chilling development in the December abuse death of 9 year old Omaree Varela.

KOAT-TV reports Omaree did not make just one call to 911 crying out for help; he made two and one of them was six months before his beating death. His own mother is charged with his killing.

That 21 minute call was taped in its entirety and reveals unabashed hate and depravity as the boy is verbally abused most viciously by both his mother and an unidentified 41 year old man.

The duo--who repeatedly hurl expletives at the youngster--were apparently unaware that  Omaree was on the 911 line as they continually scorned him, often for simply being alive.

It is a phone call that should sear the conscience of New Mexico. Maybe they should play it at at joint session of the state legislature. The failure of government at all levels to prevent this preventable death continues to see officials scurrying to avoid responsibility--orr simply blame it on the mother. But that doesn't wash.

Despite two APD officers responding to the 911 call and--according to police records acquired by our readers--being at the scene for two hours, no action was taken. No report was even written. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

How many Omaree's are out there? We now are being told of two incidents (June 22 2013 and October 2012) where Omaree called for help and for some reason didn't receive it.

By state statute the only person who can legally remove a child from their guardians or parents (without a court order), is a law enforcement officer. The Children Youth and Families Department does not have this authority.  It is the police and district attorneys who put forth criminal charges. They can call CYFD as witnesses but CYFD does not criminally charge people.

So who is responsible for not pursuing criminal charges for Omaree? The low level officers who responded? Or should it rise to the top of APD and the city of Albuquerque?

It is natural to want to give the benefit of the doubt to the officers because not being at the scene of these two calls you don't know what went on, but with the way APD command staff has refused to speak to the media regarding Omaree, one has to wonder what's going on there? Was outgoing Chief Allen Banks stonewalling the media because he knew about the second Omaree call but hoped it would not surface?

Who is accountable for this child when his cries for help were ignored? Who is accountable for supervising and training the officers regarding crimes against children? At what point do we hold accountable the chiefs of police (past and present) for the action and inaction of their police department?

In Mayor Berry's world we apparently never hold the chief or the city's chief administrative officer accountable but we do give them them double digit raises.

Is the problem here that the higher you go up in the ranks the more pay and benefits you receive but the less accountable you are? Mayor  Berry is the one who is most accountable--he's the city's highest elected official. yet it is Chief Administrative Officer Perry who is trotted out for comment on the Omaree 911 call.

And where are the sleep-walking city councilors who have abdicated their responsibility to provide checks and balances on the executive?

Berry has given his CAO and police chief free reign. He essentially ignores the federal Department of Justice investigation into APD and the the millions in court settlements that are being paid out in numerous police shooting cases; the constant scandals at APD; the apparent connection between his chief administrative officer and lawyers suing the city over the police shootings and the reports of Omaree Varela crying out for help and receiving none.

As one City Hall insider put it:

Berry needs to change his persona. He can have the "good ole country boy" personality in public but he must start holding his top officials feet to the fire. He must be willing to fire a chief of police when that person has shown he cannot lead. Berry needs to look at the $8,000,000 Ellis family police shooting settlement and get focused and driven, holding those accountable (not just at APD but at the City Attorney's office) for this debacle. Albuquerque can't afford another 4 years of a "hold no one accountable" mayor. We don't have enough money. There are other Omaree Varela's out there who are depending upon Berry to start doing his job. Tossing money at the problem will not fix it. Holding the command staff and his appointees accountable will be a good start. The next Omaree is probably already on the APD radar screen, we can't let another child die this way.

Another reader writes:

How many personnel from APD were walking around the crime scene of ABQ civil rights lawyer Mary Han when her body was discovered at her North Valley home? Plenty. And yet these 911 calls from Omaree Varela slip through the cracks?

Controversy surrounds the death of Han, an attorney who often tangled with APD, and the numerous city and police officials who traipsed through her home in the hours following her death. The cause of Han's death remains uncertain.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2014. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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