Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Month Of May And The ABQ Mayor's Race; What Changed? Plus Idle Guv Chatter Surfaces Possible But Unlikely New Dem Guv Contender, And: Powell Positioning On Early Childhood Amendment Could Change 

Colon, Keller. Lewis (NM Pol. Report)
As we wrap this month the ABQ mayoral race is basically where it was when we flipped the calendar to the merry month of May. Dem State Auditor Tim Keller, GOP ABQ City Councilor Dan Lewis and former NM Dem Chairman Brian Colon lead the eight person pack. But there is an important change to note. Colon continues to lag significantly behind Keller and Lewis in varied insider polling circulating.

That's worrisome for Colon, but he has raised a lot of money and not spent much yet so he'll have a chance to pull closer to his rivals with a media and grassroots campaign.

However, rather than a contest that features a "Big Three" as we dubbed it at the start of the month, for now it's more like "The Big Two And A Half." Colon has come serious catching up to do if he hopes to be one of the two top vote getters and advance to a likely run-off election in November.

The first round of the mayoral balloting is October 3, but early voting starts a month before that. In an eight person field, no one is expected to get the 50 percent of the vote that would make them the outright winner.

Keller is the only mayoral candidate to qualify for public financing but that means he's limited to spending less than $400,000. His supporters are saying they are sure a political action committee will come in to help Keller be more competitive financially with Lewis and Colon. That PAC would likely be financed by labor unions--like this:

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union No. 412 has endorsed Tim Keller for Mayor of Albuquerque, the union’s vice president announced. 

Tim Keller has done an excellent job representing not only himself but all the citizens of Albuquerque and New Mexico in his roles working with us as a state senator and a state auditor,” said Mike Archuleta, Union Vice President.


With the withdrawal from the mayoral race of former BernCo Commissioner Deanna Arhculeta, the chances that ABQ will get its first female mayor have plunged. The other two women on the ballot--Michelle Garcia Holmes and Susan Wheeler-Deichel--are no slouches, but neither has shown the fund-raising muscle needed in these modern campaigns to break into the top tier. Archuleta was the best known of the candidates but her chances were never all that good either. Her fund-raising and polling numbers lagged.

(Old Town's Stella Padilla continues a court challenge to overturn a decision by the city clerk denying her a place on the mayoral ballot because she failed to turn in enough valid petition signatures).

There are currently three women on the nine member city council. The highest ranking woman in the current mayoral administration is City Attorney Jessica Hernandez.


Some scuttlebutt that you may want to put on your political radar: How about Joshua Cooper Ramo seeking the Dem nomination for Governor, joining Rep. Lujan Grisham and ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca who are already in the contest?


Okay, we're not saying it is likely to happen but our reliable Alligators report Ramo has been having conversations with Dem politicos about the possibility. And just who is Joshua Cooper Ramo? Well, his parents are sure to beat him in the name ID game, at least in ABQ. His father is Dr. Barry Ramo, a familiar visage to Channel 7 viewers where for decades he has served as medical reporter in addition to being a long-established heart specialist. His mother is Roberta Ramo Cooper who hails from a once prominent business family here and is a nationally recognized attorney. As for Joshua he's built a reputation in foreign affairs and to quote Wikipedia:

. . . is vice chairman and co-chief executive of Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He is also the author of several non-fiction books including two New York Times best-sellers, The Age of the Unthinkable and The Seventh Sense.

Cooper was born and raised in Los Ranchos but left here in his teens to attend the University of Chicago and never looked back thus he has few ties to the state, other than his parents and friends.

An outsider coming in and shaking up the scene could appeal to voters but how far outside the circle would voters allow? Then there's the financing of an effort. And how would a Ramo candidacy appeal to Hispanic voters? Is he more familiar with Russia than Rio Arriba? In any event, we mention it--just in case.

But there is one big reason New Mexicans may want to lend an ear to Ramo should he run. He's on the board of directors of worldwide coffee giant Starbucks. Never mind a matanza, think of all those free coffee coupons he could shower on voters.


Former State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, now locked in a battle with environmentalist Garret VeneKlasen for the '18 Democratic land office nomination, may be positioning to change his mind on using a portion of the state's $16 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for early childhood education. We blogged Tuesday that VeneKlasen was for a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to tap the fund and that Powell was opposed. Here's what Powell said in 2013:

Powell says the risk of eroding the permanent fund could be averted by looking in a different direction: toward the estimated 1 million acres of federal lands in New Mexico that the Bureau of Land Management has designated as “disposal lands” because they don’t fit the BLM’s mission. He wants New Mexico to ask the federal government to grant the state some of that land. . .  that could earn revenue from leases. . . Under the plan, the revenue derived from the leases would go into a newly created separate fund, not the Land Grant Permanent Fund, for use on early childhood or other education-related programs.

And here is a statement from Powell this week:

I am meeting today with one of the main supporters of early childhood education and I hope to have an update of the current proposal to use $ from the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) for early childhood education, including who is accountable and how to measure success. To me there is no better investment than education. 

One point that many people don't appreciate is that the Land Commissioner is the Constitutional Trustee of moneys generated on State Trust Lands through the distribution from the LGPF to the designated 22 Trust beneficiaries. It is truly One Trust and the Land Commissioner must pay close attention to the investment, and distribution of that money. I  know from experience it is easy to be a candidate and give yes or no answers. When you actually have taken the oath of office and have gained knowledge and experience about this complex job - answers are much more complicated.

This is a litmus test issue among the nominating wing of the Democratic Party and they will wait with anticipation a complete answer from Powell on the early childhood amendment. The legislature continues to debate the constitutional amendment. The House passed the measure in the January legislative session, but it died in the Senate.


Calling all New Mexicans! New Mexico First invites you to THE policy event of the year on June 7th. U.S. Senators Tom Daschle and Trent Lott will headline the event and highlight important issues facing our state! Bipartisanship awards will be given to Rep. James Smith, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richards, Rep. Jim Dines and Sherman McCorkle. Buy tickets here.

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