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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another Fatal Police Shooting Only Hours After Big Protest; ABQ's Long Nap Over Fatal Police Shooting Ends In The Streets; Protesters Flood Downtown, Plus: New Guv Poll Shows Martinez Strong, But Not Invincible: Dem Guv Primary Still Muddled 

Surreal best describes what's been happening. ..

Only hours after the big protest downtown there was another APD fatal shooting near 60th and Coors NW.

Here is video of that shooting taken by a neighbor.

ABQ police chief Eden said APD responded to 911 calls that a man pulled a gun on a juvenile. After they arrived, Eden says, the man fired at them and officers returned fire. Witnesses say the man had a gun but had it pointed at his head not at the officers and he did not fire shots.

Neighbors expressed outrage over the shooting.

The Journal reported a next-door neighbor said he heard four distinct shots and saw the family of the man "begging" police not to shoot.

Now to the big protest downtown. . .

Upwards of 1,000 protesters enraged at the killing of a homeless and mentally ill man by ABQ police flooded into downtown ABQ Tuesday night, putting city leaders on notice that the public's long nap over the deeply troubled department has finally come to an end.

The checks and balances over the department that were somehow lost these past four years have now been reestablished by last resort--by a melting pot of people in the streets.

Going forward the scrutiny of APD will soar, the critics will be emboldened and political leaders will be more cautious in expressing unquestioned support for the men and women in blue.

The city has essentially slept through over 20 fatal police shootings since 2010, even as millions of dollars was shelled out to settle wrongful death lawsuits and the US Justice Department launched an investigation into the APD's use of force.

It took shocking video of the brutal killing of 38 year old Boyd in the foothills of the Sandias in a police operation that resembled something out of the battle zones of Afghanistan or Iraq--or maybe even a state execution.

Politicians who have previously gone missing in action are now surfacing. Veteran newsman Peter St. Cyr noted that Dem ABQ City Councilor Rey Garduno, who has been little heard from despite representing the city's liberal SE Heights, was among those at the rally. Garduno said APD has entrenched systemic problem and said that new police chief Gorden Eden may not be equipped to handle the clean-up that lies ahead.

Garduno now says the city should have hired a true outsider to replace Chief Schultz. "It's regrettable and maybe even a disservice to Mr. Eden." He said.

APD put the number of protesters at around 500 but most news reporters estimated it at about 1,000--the same number one of the organizers of the protest--Danny Hernandez--put it at. He said about 500 marched from Central and 1st street to APD headquarters where another 500 joined.

Whatever the number, it was a healthy turnout in a city not known in recent years for being much interested in much of anything local, except the occasional hot-bun social issue like abortion or immigration.

It wasn't so much what the protesters were asking for which sometimes seemed shrill, it was that their presence that mattered. From now on all those eyes will be watching. That's the start of a deterrent to the dysfunction that has afflicted the city's police force. And that's democracy.

POLITICAL IMPACT

One of the Alligators opines about the protest:

All I gotta say after watching those protest images is, Mayor Berry, welcome to your second term. This is nothing, just wait until they ask you to answer for the economy next.

Speaking of Berry, we posted in the first draft of our blog Tuesday that he had been in Brazil with local officials for a trade mission last week. We are now told Berry did not make that trip but was on a spring break vacation with his son in Arizona.. . .

Among those at the rally and making no secret of it on social media was ABQ Dem State Senator Tim Keller who is running for state auditor.

His presence immediately gave rise to speculation that he might have his eyes on running for ABQ mayor in 2017, joining City Councilors Dan Lewis and Ken Sanchez.

Another name that is floating for that far away contest is that of Beverlee McClure, who heads up the Association of Commerce and Industry.

STRONG BUT NOT INVINCIBLE


It's hard to get excited about any of the early polling going on in the 2014 race for Governor. Things are just too much in flux to get a firm grasp of what this race is going to look like.

The Dem leaning PPP firm--which is routinely attacked by the GOP--has Governor Martinez's approval rating at 52% in a survey conducted March 20-23. She won election in 2010 with 53% of the vote.

That 52% approval irks the R's who insist it is much higher when polling is done of "likely" voters not only the registered voters PPP polled this month (The full poll is here).

They also say the PPP poll under weights Republicans at 28% when the number of R voters on Election Day will actually be about 38%. In an off-year, low turnout election voters tend to skew more conservative.

Having said that, this is a Democratic state and while the East Coast pundits may think Martinez is going to chalk up a 60% win, it is very unlikely. A good win--a big win--for a GOP Governor here would be in the mid-50's.

Her numbers with independents are crucial and in good shape in PPP. She scores 53% favorability among them.

Martinez's December approval rating in a Common Cause poll of registered voters was 55%. And insider polling has it about the same. Gone are the heady days of 60 percent or more. She remains the favorite but not a runaway. As one website put it, she is "strong but not invincible."

We do find it interesting that Martinez fails to get over the important 50% mark when matched up with each of her possible Dem foes. For example, she scores 47% to 42% against Gary King. That's five points below her approval rating and something to keep an eye on. Martinez's high mark in the head-to- head match ups is 50% against Linda Lopez.

The Governor is expected to have a huge campaign war chest. No one would be surprised if she started spending some of it on TV ads in May to bolster her early poll numbers and try to scare off any developing national interest in the contest.

DEM PRIMARY ACTION


As for the Dem primary contest, PPP has Gary King solidly in first place garnering 34% of the vote. Howie Morales gets 15%, Linda Lopez comes with 13%, Lawrence Rael is at 7% and Alan Webber at 5%.

But King can't get carried away. This is largely a name ID poll. He suffered a stunning setback when he came in fifth--last place--at the party's preprimary convention this month. There will be a big price to pay for that.

Rael released a poll of his own this week that showed him over 20% in the Dem race, but PPP puts him well below Morales who appears to have gotten a bump from his first place pre-primary finish.

Still, the Dem race remains muddled. The media, messaging and money will begin to sort it out next month.

SENATE ACTION

The PPP poll confirms that a competitive US Senate race in NM remains highly unlikely this year. Dem Senator Tom Udall, seeking a second term, polls at 53% against Allen Weh and 55% when matched against David Clements, the other GOP US Senate primary candidate.

Udall's job approval is at 52%. Gone are the days when New Mexico senators scored approval ratings over 60%. Washington is just too unpopular, but compared to his colleagues Udall's rating is high.

HILLARY IN THE HOUSE

Hillary Clinton looks pleased to be back in New Mexico as she and former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez pose for their selfie.

Hillary was in town Sunday to attend a fund-raiser for the Clinton Foundation at the home of Ed Romero, a veteran Dem politico who served as US ambassador to Spain under President Clinton.

Could there be another President Clinton elected in 2016?

She could not find the magic in 2008 when Obama surprised her, but Hillary remains popular among NM Democrats.

MORE PREZ POLITICS


Bush, Jack & Terri Fortner & Guv
Maybe we had the leaders of the '16 tickets in the state at about the same time? Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was making the fund-raising rounds Tuesday for Governor Martinez's re-election campaign in Farmington and will do more of it today in Santa Fe.

The Rs are winless in New Mexico for the past two presidential cycles, but some observers think Jeb's moderate tinge and his relationship with the Hispanic community just might make him the strongest GOP candidate here.

Neither Clinton or Bush have announced their presidential plans. . . .

JEFF WATCH


The hearing on the challenge to Dem Rep. Sandra Jeff's petition signatures did not go forward Tuesday because the judge recused himself. A new hearing date on the challenge is expected to be announced today.

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