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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Mayor Berry Approval Rating Plunges To New Lows; Insider Polling Has Nearly 60% Of Voters Disapproving, Plus: Liberal Councilor Davis Plays With The R's And Pays A Steep Political Price  

It appears the bottom has dropped out of ABQ Mayor Richard Berry's political support. Insider polling conducted last month shows nearly 60 percent of voters surveyed disapprove of his job performance--58 percent to be precise.

The survey was conducted by landlines among about 300 registered voters. It was done for a third party with an interest in city politics. We were given the numbers in exchange for anonymity but we can say the polling firm that did the survey has in the past been a very reliable source.

That Berry has apparently plummeted into the polling cellar is not a bolt out of the blue. The hyper-controversial ART transit project on Central Avenue, the continuing crime wave that sees more victims daily and a plodding city economy have all likely contributed to voter dissatisfaction with the two-term incumbent.  For example, here's a comment from Facebook reacting to the recent news of the city's soaring murder rate. It amplifies the Mayor's problems:

He's such an epic failure of a mayor. He will go down as one of the major reasons for the increase in crime, departure of many college grads, loss of jobs, poor infrastructure, businesses leaving, and dilapidation of the city. October can't come soon enough!

Berry will be out of office December 1. The political chatter over him possibly seeking the '18 GOP Guv nomination has long ceased, although the media still give it a pro forma mention when listing potential candidates.

One insider close to the administration says Berry would be more likely now to look at the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Dem. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grsham who is running for governor. But with numbers like his, Berry appears to already have a leg in the political graveyard.

So, does Berry's unpopularity mean a Democrat is a shoo-in to replace him in this year's city election, the first round of which is October 3? Not necessarily. There is no Dem contender who is known exceptionally well citywide and dominating the field. Dem State Auditor Tim Keller is in the early polling lead but GOP City Councilor Dan Lewis is not far behind and continues to try to position himself as an opponent of Berry. How they and the other candidates conduct their campaigns will be critical as voters don't yet seem to have deep-seated feelings about any of the hopefuls.

DAVIS PLAYS--AND PAYS

One Democratic congressional hopeful who has been running into a buzzsaw of criticism over his alleged switch from liberal to something more moderate made life even more difficult for himself when he again made nice with the very unpopular Berry.

City Councilor Pat Davis suffered a humiliating defeat this week when a budget compromise he attempted to craft with two conservative Republican Councilors--Brad Winter and Trudy Jones--blew up in his face. How badly was he injured? Well, for the first time since he took office nearly eight years ago, the city council overrode a Berry veto. And Davis was the only Democrat not to join in that rebuke of Berry's budget which was widely celebrated by his party brethren.

Davis, head of the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow NM, has for years positioned himself as a vociferous critic of both Berry and Gov. Martinez, but since he has joined the council he's donned less liberal stripes and has been very accommodating toward the Republican mayor. That is exactly the opposite of what Dems expected when he was elected from his liberal Southeast Heights district. And for that he is being subjected to blistering criticism by fellow D's. Among them is former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne:

After this latest cave-in to Berry, it's clear that electing Pat Davis to Congress to supposedly take on Donald Trump would be tantamount to sending Barney Fife to fight ISIS. If Davis can't stand up to a political wimp like R. J. Berry, what does anyone think he will do against a bona fide bully like Trump?

As for the "cave-ins" that Payne finds offensive, they are chronicled in detail by another former Dem City Councilor, Pete Dinelli, who was also a '13 mayoral candidate:

--Davis refused to put the ART Bus project on the ballot, voted to fund and support ART and saying there was nothing he could do.

--When he served on a task force to overhaul our public finance laws, Davis declined to advocate meaningful changes that would make it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance.

--Davis has done nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and has never challenged the APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms.

And that's just for starters.

All of this is making Davis' bid for the Dem nomination for the US House seat much more complicated. As his progressive credentials get tarnished, the reason for his candidacy diminishes. In other words, having a bromance with the Republican mayor doesn't set aflutter the hearts of the nominating wing of the Democratic Party.

HAALAND AND HARRIS

Coincidentally or not, the day after Davis was plowed under by his council colleagues in that 6 to 3 vote to override Berry's budget veto, Deb Haaland, one of his rivals for the Dem congressional nomination, came with an endorsement of her candidacy from former US Senator Fred Harris, one of the state's leading progressives:

As a former U.S. Senator, national chair of the Democratic Party, presidential candidate, and political science professor, I am proud to announce my support for Deb Haaland. Deb was an outstanding student of mine at the University of New Mexico. She knows firsthand what it means to work for a living, because she's had to work all her life - including working her way through the university and law school.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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