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Thursday, January 12, 2017

ABQ Mayoral Contenders Hits Double Digits But Will They All Last? Plus: Food Tax Talk Proved Sticky For One State Rep. 

Keller (Bralley)
Maybe we should charter a bus for all the ABQ mayoral candidates and drive them around town to make their case to the public. We're well on the way to filling up  a bus. The latest to shout "'all aboard" is Dem State Auditor Tim Keller who made his entry official Wednesday, coming with a website, a video announcement and a flurry of media interviews.

Keller is being closely watched as insiders place him among the top tier of the many candidates seeking to replace two-term Republican Mayor Berry this year. Veteran GOP consultant Bob Cornelius is among them:

Keller's announcement message was good and his video was good. A line that may resonate with Democrats is: 'We don't just need a mayor. We need a mission and a movement."  Democrats need to light a fire under their base to get the vote out. The lower the turnout the better it will be for the R's. Keller is mindful of that.'

Keller will be one of the few candidates to go the public financing route and if successful will collect $379,000 to run his campaign. Insiders say if he takes off he could also win support from a political action committee backed by labor and/or other interests. PAC's are free to play in the city election with few restrictions.

He was welcomed to the race by the state GOP which said:

Keller has evidently temporarily abandoned his gubernatorial aspirations and set his sights on adding another line on his resume. The voters of Albuquerque deserve a Mayor that views the office as an opportunity to make a positive impact upon the city, not as another step towards higher office.

Keller says he will answer that GOP call to make "a positive impact" by replacing APD Chief Gorden Eden and Assistant Chief Huntsman on "day one." Republican City Councilor and mayoral candidate Dan Lewis did not go that far in his Sunday announcement, saying, if elected, he will bring in new police leadership but did not explicitly say Eden would be out.

With so many candidates lining up our Alligators and analysts have formed a first tier and second tier of contenders as we wait and see who submits enough signatures of registered voters (3,000) on April 28 to win a place on the Oct. 3 ballot. Until then, the race will be in flux.

So far, there are four officially registered candidates on the city clerk's website. They are Democrat Stella Padilla, talk show host and independent Eddy Aragon; Dem Scott Madison who works at Kirtland AFB and independent Michelle Garcia Holmes. Independent Susan Wheeler-Deichsel, founder of Urban ABQ, is expected to join the race next month. All of those candidates are in our second tier.

In the first tier is Keller; former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon who announces January 25; former Dem BernCo Commissioner Deanna Archuleta who announced earlier this year; GOP BernCO Commissioner Wayne Johnson who will announce next month; GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis who announced Sunday and possibly '13 Dem mayoral hopeful Pete Dinelli and Dem City Councilor Ken Sanchez who may instead opt for a run at the ABQ congressional seat.

That gives us nine certain contenders and 11 if you count Sanchez and Dinelli. We told you that bus was filling up fast.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

Reps McCamley, Gentry and Harper
Las Cruces area Dem State Rep. Bill McCamley styles himself as a progressive but he ran afoul of them when he teamed with GOP State Rep. Jason Harper on a tax reform plan (no bill was introduced) that included a reinstatement of the food tax. We mentioned that here Wednesday, noting that Gov. Martinez will not support any such reinstatement. As for McCamley, a sympathizer asserts he never explicitly supported the reinstatement:

Rep. McCamley is not in favor of reinstating the gross receipts tax (GRT) on purchases of food. If the legislature is considering reforming the GRT structure, including repealing the deduction for food purchases, he wants to make sure that repeal is coupled with legislation to assist the poor and middle income residents who will get hit the hardest by that change. He presented a bill with Rep. Harper that would offset some of the regressivity of reimposing that tax by allowing SNAP recipients to use their EBT card to not pay GRT on all food purchased. The bill would have also increased the amount of and income threshold amount to receive the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate. But he made it clear at that meeting that he is not in favor of the repeal, and has serious concerns about the entire proposed reform package. He even said something like "The only reason I agreed to get on this political suicide train..." is to ensure poor people are not significantly hurt by the legislation.

McCamley said this at a December legislative hearing that drew the scrutiny of the anti-food tax crowd:

What happens is that at the very very least, you come out even because you’re getting the same amount of money you would’ve spent on food tax anyway...but...you’re paying less of a tax on everything else that you’re buying.

Maybe next time the majority Democrats might want to present their own comprehensive tax package (minus the food tax) instead of trying to slow down the "suicide train" that voters had already derailed at the polls in November when they stripped Harper and the Republicans of their House majority.

Meanwhile, Santa Fe's Alan Webber, toying with another run for the Dem Guv nomination in 2018, continue to court the progressive crowd. About taxes to resolve the budget crisis, he says:

--Impose a state-wide tax on sugar-laced drinks. Increase “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol
--Health care providers are volunteering to pay an assessment because they know their contributions will underwrite critically important Medicaid for New Mexicans.
--Pegging the gas tax so it goes up and down with the price we pay at the pump will provide money for infrastructure investments, create jobs and make the actual tax adjustable to changing circumstances.

Guess we can call our tax coverage today food for thought.

Enjoy the holiday weekend. See you back here Tuesday.

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