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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Campaign To Stop Keller Has Started; Hit On Campaign Money Could Be Followed By Attack On Sex Offender Vote, Plus: Jaw Dropper: Conspiracy Theory Over Susana As NMSU Head, And: Jay Signs With Monty In Southern CD Race 

The campaign to stop Tim Keller has started. The newspaper--carrying the spear for city conservatives--kicked off the effort with a nearly1300 word article--the longest report of its sparing '17 ABQ mayoral coverage. It calls into question Keller's commitment to public financing, a favorite theme of his progressive base that has helped catapult the state auditor into the polling lead and is pushing him toward a top two finish in the October 3 mayoral balloting that would land him in the expected November 7 run-off election.

And that critical piece is only the beginning of what is to come. Our insiders confirm a political committee backed by major business interests is in the making and collecting cash to further the attacks on Keller. Word we get is that they will use as a key weapon his hyper-controversial 2011 vote as a state senator in favor of Senate Bill 184 dealing with sex offenders. That bill said in part:

A city, county, home rule municipality or other political subdivision of the state is prohibited from adopting or continuing in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation, resolution or other law that imposes distance restrictions for a registered sex offender's place of residence or that creates an exclusionary zone from which all registered sex offenders are excluded.

The same bill, which was defeated on a 20-14 vote, was used to defeat State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in his re-election bid last year. Expect the campaign mailers to soon scream that Keller, like Sanchez, is more concerned with protecting child molesters than children.

The incendiary charge in a political climate stoked by a city crime wave of historic proportions is sure to inflame the mayoral contest which right now is an ember ready to billow. Also, how much the biz groups put into the effort and how Keller responds could be a key element on who succeeds Republican Mayor Berry. We anticipate it will be at least several hundred thousand, major money for a mayoral race.

On the public financing issue the paper trots out Pat Rogers, the old Republican warhorse, member of and sometimes attorney for the Martinez political machine and often times rabid attorney who officially has nothing to do with the mayor's race. He's employed to condemn the money committee that has formed to support Keller's publicly financed candidacy and is receiving large donations from labor unions:

Keller’s grab of public funds and the huge donation totals in the committee run by his former campaign manager only feeds the skepticism and suspicions of the sucker taxpayers who now know there are no bounds for hypocritical politicians,” said Albuquerque attorney Pat Rogers.

Keller boasts of receiving public financing which he says protects him from being bought by special interests. He has received about $380,000 in city public financing but the outside committee will strengthen his hand and help him compete better with the candidates who opted for private financing and who are raising more than $380,0000.  It would be against the rules for the outside committee to coordinate with Keller's campaign and Keller, rebutting Rogers, says there is no such coordination occurring.

MORE EXCLUSIVE STUFF

Campaign polling shows that attacks on Democrat Keller help rival Democrat Brian Colón. Look for a chief supporter of Colón, wealthy hotel developer Jim Long, to kick in major bucks to that anti-Keller committee expected to soon emerge. Don't say we didn't tell you.

THE SUSANA ELEPHANT

Martinez & Carruthers
Hey, will somebody wake up that elephant in the room because it sure resembles Governor Susana Martinez. That elephant would be the one with a message on its big backside that says Susana is jockeying to become the next leader of New Mexico State University. Say what? Yep.

The conspiracy theory making the rounds is that Martinez has her hand-picked NMSU Board of Regents rushing the departure of NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers in order pave the way for Susana to take the job when her Guv term ends next year.

Carruthers, a former GOP Governor, was unsparing in his criticism of Martinez when this year she vetoed the entire higher education budget to make a political point. Now, the theory goes, it's payback time by getting the Regents to cut short the Carruthers reign. His contract is set to expire next July and he is not being offered an extension.

Meantime, Carruthers is whining a bit that he is willing to stay on longer. Three state senators (two Dems and an R) penned an op-ed saying he has done a great job and should stay around longer. The implication being that this would be until the next Governor takes over in 2019 and who is widely expected to be a Democrat.

By nearly all accounts Governor Garrey has done a great job at NMSU. But he turns 78 in a few days and the challenges of attracting more students and doing something about the collapsing athletic department there need new leadership. The proposal to attract students from Mexico to boost enrollment is chasing fool's gold. And on the athletic department, he is unable to buck powerful Las Cruces boosters who refuse to believe the glory years are indeed over for good. Maybe the new fella or gal in charge could get a fresh start.

Democrats are acting true to form and again shying away from the red meat and picking at the vegetables. Instead of trying to salvage Carruthers by persuading the Governor's operatives on the Regents to keep him on (good luck with that), why not just call out the Governor and have her asked if she is entertaining the possibility of leading NMSU. Her answer (or nonanswer) ought to make things plain in a hurry. And you can put that in your next op-ed, Senators.

MACHINE MARCHES

And the Machine marches on, at least what's left of it. Alligators far and wide are taking note of the newest client of Martinez chief political adviser and the man known as the "Shadow Governor." Jay McCleskey's media firm, they inform, has been signed for the campaign of former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman. He is seeking the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat being vacated by Republican US Rep. Steve Peace who is running for Governor.

Will that hurt or help Monty? Jay is reviled by the now dominant wing of the GOP led by GOP National Committeeman Harvey Yates, Jr. That will hurt. But McCleskey's aggressive attack tactics could help Newman who faces strong opponents like State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. and Alamogordo State Rep. Yvette Harrell.

And another twist. Lt. Governor John Sanchez, still looking for something--anything--that will rescue his drowning political career could be entering the southern congressional race.

John did eveything but announce for the US Senate recently when he began attacking Dem Senator Martin Heinrich. But that talk has died down and Sanchez has gone dark in recent weeks. Now the Gators are chanting that Sanchez of ABQ, who can't run for Governor because of Martinez's unpopularity, may buy a homestead (or already has) in the southern district and launch a congressional campaign.

The twist is that McCleskey is a bitter foe of Sanchez who is member of the Yates wing of the party. And Sanchez has had no relationship to speak of with Martinez, the politico who made McCleskey mucho money and willingly handed off her power to him.

Will McCleskey soon be on the warpath against Sanchez and vice versa? If so, the irony will be supreme. Remember, it was back in 2000 that John Sanchez made his political bones by ousting longtime Dem State House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. And who was Sanchez's chief consultant in that historic effort? It was Jay McCleskey.

And so turns the world of La Politica.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Here's a list of upcoming forums for the five city council races on this year's ballot. They are moderated by the League of Women voters and the first one is this evening. Click on the logo for details.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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