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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Scramble On For Reform That Would Be Big Deal For Next Mayoral Race, Plus: Dems Get A Hit In On Barnes, And: Supreme Court TV  

The scramble to find a place on the November ballot for a measure that would dramatically increase public financing for the 2017 ABQ mayoral race isn't simply about finding space on an already crowded ballot. There's also behind-the-scenes skirmishing over the proposal that would allow a mayoral candidate to qualify for $630,000 in public financing, up from the current $362,000. 

Insiders report that announced mayoral hopeful Democrat Deanna Archuleta and presumed candidate Dem Brian Colon are quietly opposed to the Bernalillo County Commission placing the measure on the November ballot. Their supporters say the pair plan on privately financing their mayoral bids and the increase in the public financing would benefit Tim Keller, the Dem state auditor who is widely expected to launch a mayoral bid and has signaled that he would like to publicly finance.

The city council passed the reform on an 8 to 1 vote and sent it to the county commission to place on the ballot but it has stalled out. The position of outgoing Dem Commissioner Art De LA Cruz is key but he's sending mixed messages. 

Keller is seen as more progressive than Colon or Archuleta and De La Cruz tangled with progressives mightily over the controversial Santolina development project, as well as other enviro issues.

Progressive Dems are putting pressure on the commission to approve the measure. Their candidates (like Keller) would have a harder time raising big money from traditional sources such as the development community. 

Also hoping for public financing is Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis who has become vocal over the commission placing it on the ballot. Lewis is also expected to use public financing if he runs for mayor next year. 

The commission has until September 13 to make a decision.  If they put it on the ballot it is widely expect to easily pass. If they don't the '17 mayoral race could take on a more conservative tinge as candidates like Keller might be forced to go the private financing route.

Here are other names circulating for the mayor's race that we've blogged about:

Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez, '13 Dem mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli, GOP advertising executive Steve McKee and Republican Celina Bussey, cabinet secretary for the Workforce Solutions Department.

MORE MAYORAL

Mayor Berry has said he will not run for a third term and is expected to seek the '18 GOP Guv nod, but observers are going to second guess a third mayoral run by Berry right up until he makes an official announcement.

Speaking of Dinelli, the former city councilor and longtime attorney notes that while several cabinet secretaries of Gov. Martinez are jumping ship as her second and final term nears the halfway point,  Mayor Berry's top political appointments are staying put,  even though they are closer to the end--Dec. 1, 2017--than Martinez's:

Supposedly, Berry is not running for re-election but for Governor, which means he has 16 months left in office, yet no city department heads are announcing they are leaving for other jobs. Perhaps the city cxecutives hope to hang on to their high-paying jobs if Berry runs for re-election or are hoping another Republican is elected Mayor so they can keep their jobs. 

Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry make $200,000 a year, APD Chief Gordon Eden makes $175,000 a year, City Attorney Jessica Hernandez makes $160,000 a year, Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan makes $150,000 a year and Economic Director Gary Oppedahl makes $130,000 a year. I am aware of at least one possible candidate for Mayor who has already committed to keeping Eden, two other unannounced candidates are saying they will keep  Oppedahl to get Economic Forum and Chamber of Commerce support.

Given the controversy over APD, you can be sure that all the mayoral candidates will be forced to take a stand on keeping Eden, unless he signals early that he will not seek to stay in the job under a new mayor.

HOUSE HIT

Ane Romero
This is a pretty good hit on ABQ GOP State Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes who is in a battle for her swing seat with Dem Ane Romero. But why are they releasing it now and giving Maestas Barnes all the time in the world to fade the heat. The news:

(Rep. Maestas Barnes). . . did not report a $91,000 annual deal to rent space to a state agency, as required by New Mexico’s financial disclosure law for elected officials. The state Democratic Party’s executive director filed a complaint with the secretary of state l in which he raised questions about whether Maestas Barnes knew that her husband had a multi-year lease with the state Human Services Department . . . But Maestas Barnes, who filed a corrected financial disclosure form earlier this month, said she did not know about the lease agreement and called the complaint “clearly politically motivated.”

The state says it had a lease on the building before it was owned by the husband of Maestas Barnes and renewed the lease before she was elected. The Dems say the contract was "illegal" because it did not go through the "proper bidding process."

Barnes' Dem challenger, Ane Romero, took the opportunity to take a dig at her foe:

Voters expect and deserve the highest ethical standards from public officials and it is clear Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes has failed to uphold these values. The non-disclosure of a lucrative government contract was dishonest and in clear violation of the responsibilities we entrust to our elected officials.

That's a nice bundle of rent money from the state, but the Dems might have been able to make more hay of it if they had hit with it in October, not in late August. They seemed to be aiming to rain on the Wednesday job fair that Barnes was conducting. Constituents in her district will probably see the hit in their mailboxes later in the campaign but the element of surprise is gone. The Dems full complaint is here.

SUPREME BATTLE

It's appointed Supreme Court Republican Judy Nakamura versus Democratic Court of Appeals Chief Judge Michael Vigil for a seat on the Supreme Court this cycle. They will each receive about $177,000 in public financing for their campaigns. Both are expected to spend half of it or more on statewide TV (Vigil has booked $110,000 and Nakamura about $95,000) for the final weeks of the campaign). Right now, Vigil is getting an early start with a TV ad for social media. The ad is here and in Spanish here.

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