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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Lujan Grisham And Her First Year On The Trail; Plus: New PR Faces For Keller And More Debate On ABQ Animal Agency Boss 

Lujan Grisham
Could it already be a year since Rep. Michelle Lujan announced her candidacy for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination? The general public barely notices but the insiders marvel at how these expensive campaigns launch so early.

To mark her one year anniversary on the trail Grisham released a video and asked her supporters to gather the required signatures for her to get on the ballot.

She remains the front-runner in the race, far outpacing her rivals in fund-raising and name ID, but the year ended for her on a somewhat rocky note.

Her decision to ask Senator Michael Padilla to get out of the race for lieutenant governor--which he did--was hailed by her progressive backers but drew noticeable grumbling in other wings of the party. And the surfacing of a transgender intern who accused Grisham of discrimination while working for her further added to the rocky close for the year.

Political pros tell us there is a narrow window for Jeff Apodaca, currently seen as her strongest challenger. They say he may need to pull a surprise at the March Democratic preprimary nominating convention or Grisham's nomination could look inevitable.

Also in the hunt are state Sen. Joe Cervantes and progressive Peter DeBenedittis who will need some surprises of their own.

But what the field needs most is a fumble by the congresswoman. She has held the ball for a year and forcing her to drop it remains the best hope for any upset. Otherwise it will be on to Grisham vs. Rep. Steve Pearce for the title of Governor.

One of those who help Grisham from fumbling is her communications director Gilbert Gallegos. But he won't be with her for the final push. He is joining the Mayor Keller administration as communications director for the troubled ABQ police department.

Gallegos will bring a respected civilian face to the PR team which lost major credibility when two spokesmen--one a civilian and another an officer out and out lied to the media and were disciplined for doing so.

Gallegos, who is a former political reporter for the ABQ Tribune and a top aide to Gov. Richardson, knows the rules of the game. He should be able to restore some of the trust the media and public have lost in the truth-telling ability of APD.

Keller's belief appears to be that putting a civilian PR expert into the mix will ensure that the department puts its best foot forward but also sheds the overly protective and bunker mentality that has infected the department's community relations.

The mayor has also named Alicia Manzano as his Interim Communications Director. She is a longtime PR specialist, a native of ABQ who speaks Spanish and holds a Masters in Public Administration from UNM.

THE LEGACY

They just can't resist. An Alligator of the Republican variety chimes in:

Joe, I see that Gov. Martinez has a new political action committee working to boost her popularity called Legacy PAC. It reminds me of  Legacy.com, the site that lists all the obituaries. That seems appropriate.

THREE NOT TWO

It's true as we blogged Wednesday that two NM lieutenant governors became governor when chief executives died. But there was also a third who assumed the top job and like the other two was never elected to the governorship in their own right. That would be Lt. Governor Tom Bolack who in 1962 was named Governor when Gov. Ed Mechem appointed himself to a US Senate vacancy.

Thanks to photographer and armchair historian Mark Bralley for that catch.

DEFENDING LUDWICK

One of the Alligators on the beat Wednesday worked to shoot down the possibility of Jim Ludwick taking command of the Animal Welfare Department under Mayor Keller. But Lisa Jennings of Animal Protection Voters of NM responds to that Gator strike with a spirited defense of Ludwick, a former ABQ Journal reporter, now an animal analyst, who has in the past tangled with the department's leadership:

Joe, I don’t know which Alligator you relied on for your information, but what they provided about Jim Ludwick and AWD was almost entirely a work of fiction.

Ludwick has been a tireless advocate of animals for decades, and probably knows more about the AWD operation than anyone. . . Jim has served under three mayors and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the budget, the department's operation, and its needs. . . He oversaw the successful completion of a massive physical expansion of the shelter and a new spay-neuter facility, he built a city-wide coalition to successfully address the tragic situation with street cats (dramatically driving down cat euthanasia rates), and he has promoted the sensible idea that the department should have professionals (like the veterinary and professional kennel staff) leading decisions about animal care and disposition in the kennels.

Jim has shared with Animal Protection Voters his vision for the entire operation. . .  That vision involves building a stronger field officer operation, and most importantly ramping up a spay-neuter division that will reduce the crushing number of animals the staff and volunteers have to try to manage humanely. . .

Finally, your Alligator was dead wrong on another point. Jim has worked with Animal Protection Voters to OPPOSE breed-specific legislation every time it rears its ugly head in the legislature. A small group of people continue to lie about Jim’s position on this issue on Facebook.

Okay, we've now covered both sides of this one. Our furry friends await the mayor's decision.

THE BOTTOM LINES 

We end our blogging week with a kind note from Berlin and former UNM professors Jim and Connie Thorson who are doing research there but still enjoying the blog:

Hello Joe, You are our favorite blogger, too! Thought we would bring this to your attention since we did not vote in the ABQ The Magazine contest. Your blog always tells us things we need to know but don't know. We find it especially interesting and informative when we are away from NM. We are in Berlin now and will be for seven more weeks. It is a city we find amazingly interesting, and we are enjoying all the delights it has to offer--music, museums, historical sites, excellent food. Keep up the great blogging! We depend on it! Happy Holidays!

Gosh, the holidays are upon us already. Enjoy the parties this weekend and we'll see you back here Monday.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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