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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sen. Cervantes Next Up For '18 Dem Guv Race; Says "He's All In", Plus: First Big Reversal In Mayor's Race; Colón Now Says Eden Would Be Out, And: A Not So Special Welcome To ABQ 

Sen. Cervantes
Next in line to announce their candidacy for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination is veteran legislator Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces. He tells me: "I am all in" and says he will make a formal entry into the contest in April.

Already the big question hovering over the state Senator is how much of his considerable personal wealth he will put at risk in pursuing the nomination. A political consultant who has worked with Cervantes said he has advised the candidate that if he opts to personally finance his effort he should be prepared to bring $1 to $2 million to the table. Cervantes offered no comment to us on his financing plans.

A mention of a possible Cervantes candidacy has drawn chuckles from some longtime political observers who remember his past tentativeness in deciding whether to get in big state races. But he says this time there will be no hesitation.

The attorney, a 12 year House member who was elected to the Senate from Dona Ana County in 2012 and re-elected in '16, is expected to run as a moderate Democrat, pitting him against what is expected to be a more liberal campaign from ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham who has already announced her candidacy.

Expected to also officially hop in the race soon is ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca, the son of former NM Gov. Jerry Apodaca. He and Cervantes appear to be vying for much of the same Dem vote.

In a bit of irony, if Cervantes were to become governor he would be the first legislator to do so since Jeff's father, also a state Senator from Las Cruces, pulled off the feat in 1974.

Attorney General Hector Balderas is another big name still on the sidelines in the Dem Guv battle. A decision on whether he will jump in is expected sooner rather than later.

REVERSING ON EDEN

Brian Colón
We've had the first major policy reversal among the ABQ mayor candidates. Former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colón, who has been hedging on whether if, as mayor, he would fire APD Chief Gorden Eden, reversed himself at a Tuesday North Valley mayoral forum, saying he has told Eden if he wins Eden is out.

But in a February interview with the ABQ Free Press, Colón said he was undecided about firing Eden, saying then,  "Anyone who has devoted themselves to public service deserves to have a sit-down with their new boss."

That might have been the end of it, but then Colón was back with mixed messaging about Eden in a campaign fundraising letter from Jered Trujillo sent following the mayoral forum:

I was impressed that Brian was the only mayoral candidate to have reached out to the current Chief of Police. Improving public safety is a cornerstone to Brian’s campaign, and his involvement of those on the front lines shows he will involve those with experience at the table.

Colón's gaming of both sides of the political aisle has been his early strategy. Whether it stands the test of time and scrutiny remains to be seen.

GOOD CROWD

A large crowd for a mayoral forum--about 150--turned out, perhaps signaling a healthier interest and a good voter turnout come October 3. For Colón it may have signaled that with the city facing deep-seated problems he and the other major hopefuls--all of whom earlier said that Chief Eden would not be retained--could be facing an electorate that is keenly interested in the meat and potatoes of policy concerning the crime wave fueled in large part by drug addiction, speeding up Federally mandated APD reforms and bolstering our city's long-standing anemic economy.

The forum was welcome but early. Come April 28, when candidates are required to turn in 3,000 petition signatures from registered city voters, the field that now numbers in the double-digits will thin considerably.

Sadly, here's the latest example of monumental mismanagement at APD that the new mayor will have to confront:

The Albuquerque Police Department has gone $3.9 million over budget to pay overtime for its strained and understaffed force, according to a report from the city's Internal Audit Office. The office has been looking into APD's overtime spending after an anonymous tip came into the office. The findings show overtime APD spending soaring to nearly $4 million over the $8.9 million overtime budget in 2016. It is a pattern that seems to show overtime spending climbing as officer numbers decrease. The Albuquerque police officer's union says it puts cops and the people they serve in danger.

WELCOME TO ABQ

And then there's this most common and menacing crime in the city. . .

A visitor flew into Albuquerque from Atlanta Tuesday for a golf trip, but moments after landing at the Sunport, he had a gun in his face as a victim of a carjacking. David Carpenter was loading his luggage into his friend’s BMW curbside when the suspects pulled up in a small sedan. “The girl screams at us to get out, another guy comes up with a gun, points it at us, tells us to get out of the fucking car,” Carpenter said. Carpenter grabbed his computer and golf bags from the BMW. “They were still pointing the gun at us, and we backed off behind the car and about that time, all the police cars came around,” he said.

Don't worry, David. All will end well with Mayor Berry presenting you with the keys to the city--if they haven't already been stolen.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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