Friday, September 08, 2017

Colón Pole Vaults Over Two GOP Rivals In Latest Mayoral Public Poll; He's On The Heels Of Keller; Negative Ads Slated To Hit Race Next Week; PACS Plan Slams On Keller And Colón; Johnson Bashing Lewis For Top R Position  

Slowly but surely the narrative is being formed in the 2017 race for ABQ Mayor. The latest public polling has Democratic attorney Brian Colón pole vaulting over the two most prominent Republican hopefuls in the field and putting himself in a near tie with Progressive Dem State Auditor and early front-runner Tim Keller.

The survey conducted for KOB-TV by automatic phone calls by the PR firm Carrol Strategies has Keller at 22.6 percent, Colon at 19.3 and the two major GOP Candidates--Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson at 8 per cent each.

(In our first posting on Facebook and Twitter we reported based on our sources that Keller had 21 percent of the vote. )

The other four candidates are drawing low single digit support. Michelle Garcia Holmes polled at 5.8 percent; Ricardo Chaves at 3.5%; Gus Pedrotty received 1.9; Susan Wheeler-Deichsel was at 1.8 percent. Undecided is still a large 29.4 percent.

The poll seems under sampled with Republicans as Johnson and Lewis scored higher in the KRQE-TV poll as well as insider campaign polling that has been circulating.

The political buzz has been centered on the internecine warfare between the Republicans and whether it will keep both Lewis and Johnson from finishing in the top two and thus being denied a spot in the November run-off election that is expected to follow the October 3 balloting.

The poll of 513 voters, conducted September 3, 4 and 5, was done a week after Colón put up his first TV ad that focused on the city crime wave and featured an endorsement from Attorney General Balderas. It indicates that a Keller-Colón run-off is a real possibility.

(The margin of error in a poll of that size is about 4.5 percent.)

Keller's people warn there "is a lot to play out" and one of the R's could break free, displace Colón and get in that run-off, most probably with Keller. At least that's what they are hoping. Either Lewis or Johnson is seen as easy pickings for the Democratic hopeful in a one-on-one race in a Dem-dominated city. But Colón vs Keller is an entirely different matter, with the more conservative Colón seen as able to attract more R's than Keller.

The poll confirms what political observers of all stripes have agreed on--in a city election dominated by voters over the age of 50, TV can do some very heavy lifting.

Colón had the tube all to himself for a week and took advantage by making an appeal to the many Hispanic voters with that Balderas endorsement. He nearly doubled his support from 10 percent in the pre-TV ad poll conducted by KRQE-TV to the 19 percent in the KOB-TV survey.

Colón has now come with a second ad in which he doubles down on Balderas and again highlights the AG's support of his candidacy. Will it move him further up the ladder?

As for Johnson and Lewis, City Councilor Lewis does not have the appeal that BernCo Commissioner Johnson does to the conservative GOP base. But some of our Alligators say that Johnson will have to beat Lewis on the order of 60 to 40 percent among the GOP in order to catapult himself into a run-off. Ditto for Lewis against Johnson.

With Lewis failing to catch fire and not blocking Johnson yet, we are now adjusting our election model to fully include Johnson and have moved from "The Big 3.5" to "The Big Four." That would be Keller, Colón, Johnson and Lewis. One of them is now almost certain to be your next mayor.

This sleepy campaign is starting to awaken and the final stretch is turning out to be an engaging horse race. Early voting throughout the city begins on Wednesday.

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

Public Poll Confirms Insider Numbers: Keller Positioned To Make Run-Off; Wild Race For Second Slot Shaping Up, Plus: Will Sick Leave Measure Create A Voting Surge? And: It's One And Done For Javier Gonzales; He Won't Seek 2nd Term As Santa Fe Mayor 

Colón and Keller
The first public poll of ABQ Election '17 is out and it confirms what our blog readers have been well aware of for weeks--State Auditor Tim Keller starts the final phase of the eight way race for Mayor as the front-runner and the candidate most likely to secure a top two finish. That would give him a spot in a November run-off election if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote. And given the crowded field,  that threshold is not expected to be broken.

As for who will join Keller in that run-off, that question is much more cloudy.

The poll of 500 likely, registered voters conducted by mostly automated phone calls by KRQE-TV on August 26 and 27 shows Keller garnering 22% of the vote but his top three challengers had a hard time getting even half that amount.

Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis came in second with 11 percent, Democrat Brian Colón was at 10 and GOP County Commissioner Johnson had 8. The other candidates trailed, with independent Michelle Garcia Holmes getting 6 percent; Republican Ricardo Chavez at 5 and Democrats Susan Wheeler Deischel and Gus Pedrotty both at 1 percent.

The big issue is the undecided vote at 36 percent. The poll was conducted before Colón started his TV ads and before the major media push for all candidates begins for the October 3 balloting. There is a lot of voter education to do and if it doesn't motivate that huge block of undecided voters we could be headed for a lower turnout than expected.

The key question remains this: Can Colón with a warchest of well over $500,000 claim a spot in the run-off by jumping over Republicans Lewis, Johnson and Ricardo Chaves as they split the GOP vote and keep an R from making the run-off? Or will the R's end up uniting behind one of their own and sending him into a face-off with Keller?

KRQE-TV did not name the polling company that conducted the survey.


Keller released his first TV ad of the campaign, coming with a 15 second spot instead of the traditional 30 seconds because he opted for public financing and only has about $200,000 left. The ad, of course, focuses on the crime wave:

Albuquerque is going the wrong direction. I’m Tim Keller. As Mayor, I’ll stop the excuses and reform APD. Change Leadership. Add 400 new community officers, and attack violent crime. Let’s move Albuquerque forward.

Keller, who is known for being camera-friendly, narrates the ad himself. It's not a spot that is going to do him any harm as it dips his toe into all segments of the electorate. He's a solid favorite to make the run-off with his large progressive Democratic base so the decision was no boat rocking on the tube. The polling shows Keller performing strongly with female voters who make up a majority of the Democratic party.

Wayne Johnson at last report had about $208k in his campaign coffers. He spent a smidgen of that on Fox News this week, according to one of our media Alligators, who put the buy at $1,200. The point being that early in-person voting kicks off next week--on Sept. 13--and Johnson wants some kind of presence with the most likely of GOP voters before the early voting gets underway. A half dozen spots a day on Fox will get him some. . .

Keller opted for public financing and only has about $237,000 left to spend so his TV buy will be smallish. It will be supplemented, however, by a political committee set up on his behalf that will drop $200k or more in TV and mailings. Word is the committee will start working over Brian Colón in the days ahead Why?. . .

In a run-off election in a dominant Democratic city Keller will be heavily favored to beat any Republican. But fellow Dem Colón, more conservative than Keller, could give him headaches by getting the GOP and business groups to back him. Combined with Hispanic Dem support, that could put Colón over the top. So the Stop Colón Campaign can't begin soon enough for Keller. The question is whether it should have started much earlier. . .

Keller has been at the top of heap in getting local union endorsements. With business groups, not so much. But one of them--the ABQ Westside Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Democrat, reports longtime Dem politico Dan Serrano. . .

The KRQE poll and insider polling all show crime to be the overwhelming concern among those likely to vote--60 percent in the TV poll identify it as the number one problem, similar to campaign polls. And no wonder. Look at this upcoming agenda from the Tres Volcanes Neighborhood Association on the Westside. Every item deals with the crime crisis:

Crime Prevention
Forming a Neighborhood Watch
Neighborhood Patrols update and training
We value your input and ideas and we look forward to seeing you at our next meeting!

Meanwhile, thieves continue to target tourists and others staying overnight at local hotels and parking their U-Hauls there. It's really out of control when the police say they can't protect these places and when the local innkeepers absolve themselves by posting signs that say they are not responsible for the epidemic of thefts.


If the mayoral contest doesn't end up motivating a lot of voters maybe that controversial sick leave ordinance will do the trick. The proposal is on the ballot and drawing intense support and opposition.

The campaign committee of businessmen and realtors working to kill it has raised over $103,000 and the progressive committee of supporters reports spending about $65,000 so far and with more to come.

The proposal, which would make sick leave a right for all ABQ workers, is opposed by all the GOP mayoral candidates as well as independent Michelle Garcia Holmes who calls it a "job killer." Leading Dem candidates Keller and Colón give it lukewarm support.

Low income workers who would benefit most from the plan are notoriously difficult to get to the polls in a city election. Not so with small business owners. This one could tilt the turnout more to the conservative side unless the supporters can find a way to defy that low turnout trend.

We posted a flyer in support of the ordinance today and await the opposition literature. We won't have to wait long.


Gonzales (Reporter)
Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales gave no indication that he will seek another elective office when he announced Wednesday that he would not seek a second four year term in 2018. And he probably won't.

Gonzales, a former NM Dem Party chairman, took a body blow when he campaigned vigorously for a two cents an ounce tax on soda to be used for pre-k programs only to see it lose in a landslide. That rapidly quieted talk that he might be a 2018 gubernatorial contender.

(His complete statement here.)

Although his approval rating was put at 51 percent in a recent poll conducted by a business group, that is not all that great. Remember, ABQ Mayor Berry was polling much higher when he sought re-election four years ago as did Mayor Chavez in his heyday.

The next mayor of Santa Fe will be full-time and get a salary of $110,000 a year. With populist City Councilor Ron Trujillo already announced for Mayor and breathing down his neck, Gonzales, a longtime businessman, probably saw this as the time to make his getaway, get back into the private sector and make some serious coin. He has two teenaged daughters who will soon be on their way to college.

That poll showed Gonzales is presiding over a city torn asunder over income equality, with the Hispanic natives coming up short compared to the Anglos. It's a ready made play for populist Trujillo but not progressive Gonzales.

Mayor Gonzales will be remembered as a competent administrator who helped guide the city through a budget crisis brought on by the Great Recession, as the first openly gay Mayor of the City Different, for presiding over an administration free from major scandal, for keeping tourism stable if not overly robust and for genuinely caring about his hometown and its people.


There's a plethora of campaign forums for the mayoral hopefuls and some of the city council contenders this cycle. And that's a good thing:

NAACP Civil Rights and Diversity Conference Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 8, Embassy Suites Hotel near Downtown.

Three Neighborhood Associations (Hoffmantown, Indian School ) are sponsoring a Mayoral/District 7 City Council Candidates Q & A on Saturday, Sept. 9th, 1:30p-4p (doors open @ 1p). Location: St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 9100 Menaul Blvd. NE (south side of Menaul, between Wyoming and Eubank.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

More Second Term Creepy-Crawlers For Susana; UNM Exposé Reveals Raw ManeuverIng, Plus: Mayor '17; More Reader Clashes Over Colón, And: Cervantes Coming Out Party 

The second term creepy-crawlers continue to emerge from under the gubernatorial carpets of Susana Martinez.

Journalist Daniel Libit, who authored a memorable 2013 National Journal piece on Susana's "Shadow Governor" and chief political consultant, Jay McCleskey, now comes with a 20,000 word missive on the backroom wheeling and dealing between UNM, the Governor, McCleskey, former Lobo basketball Coach Craig Neal and the UNM Board of Regents. Highlights of this soap opera gone sad include:

--Did Susana have "a crush" on Coach Neal, as one former UNM Regent says on the record, and did that crush lead--bizarrely--to Neal becoming the prime contact with the Governor for UNM?

--If Martinez Secretary of Higher Education Barbara Damron is named the new UNM president by the Martinez Board of Regents, will UNM become a dumping ground for Martinez appointees like Chief of Staff Keith Gardner who are going to need jobs when her term ends next year?

---Did something so petty as personal hatred for her former Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi, who secured a job at the UNM Health Sciences Department and is also chairman of the NM GOP, a big reason the Governor and Regents punishing that department as well as stalling efforts to build a new UNM hospital?

--Has McCleskey and his pollster wife Nicole gone into the basketball coaching business? Yes:

Last summer, the McCleskeys filed paperwork with the Secretary of State to create Dream Basketball Training Center LLC. They now operate an Albuquerque hoops gym out of an office park off Jefferson Street. In July, they hosted a two-day camp for kids. Former Lobos Obij Aget and Devon Williams, two of Craig Neal’s favorite players, served as instructors.

Libit, a native of ABQ who is a national freelancer based in Chicago, now authors the UNM watchdog blog NM Fishbowl. In this saga, the hallmarks of the now unpopular administration are peeled back like scabs--the pettiness, the vindictiveness and the lack of interest in public policy.

Screwing your enemies and demanding fealty from all you encounter has been the "governing" principle of the administration. The Fishbowl piece shows they did that pretty well at UNM but not much else. One wag on Facebook calls the Martinez UNM maneuvering a product of "Mayberry Machiavellians."

It's another sorrowful creepy-crawler tale that, as Libit writes, has "everyone counting" the days until the Martinez era finally concludes on Dec. 31 2018. As the Grateful Dead sang so memorably: "What a long, strange trip it's been. . . "


Where in the heck has Joe Cervantes been? That's what inquiring minds have been asking ever since the Las Cruces area state Senator announced July 5 he will seek the 2018 Dem Guv nod. Apparently Joe was taking it easy since announcing but is now ready to switch gears. Cervantes will be hosted this Friday, Sept. 8 at the NE Heights home of veteran Dem consultant Mark Fleisher at an ABQ coming out party. Fleisher says on the invite:

This will not be a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to meet Joe and Jennifer Cervantes and talk about issues that are important to you. I would personally appreciate you coming to meet and talk with Joe. 

The event runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. More info at mfleisher@aol.com.

There's really only one question the political community has right now for Cervantes, an attorney whose family has large agricultural interests in Dona Ana County. That's whether the rumor is true that he will salt his own campaign kitty with as much as $2 million in personal money? If he does, the game is on with his main competitors Jeff Apodaca and Rep. Lujan Grisham who have been on the campaign trail for months. If not, Cervantes may have trouble getting traction.

Cervantes is a former state House member as well as a state Senator so knowing the issues is no problem. But knowing when and if he should take out his wallet for a tough primary battle is tricky.

On the party invite Cervantes unveils a possible campaign slogan: "Transforming New Mexico."


For the past week the TV airwaves in the ABQ mayoral race have belonged to Brian Colón alone. That higher profile has sparked a reader debate over his association with the Robles Rael Anaya law firm that has done considerable business defending the city police department and its officers during its most turbulent time ever.

That association, Colon critics argue, means he can't be put in charge of reforming the department. We pick up again on the debate. First with another defender of the candidate and then another critic:

Brian Colón was never interested in practicing law. He has always been interested in politics, and that is where his energy has been directed. He was not generating money for the law firm. He and managing partner Marcus Rael went to NMSU and UNM law school, and are close friends (along with third friend, AG Hector Balderas). “Of counsel” can mean almost anything. What it means for Brian is that he has an office and a telephone, and is not expected to practice law. The obvious benefit for the law firm is that if Brian is elected to anything the firm expects to win its share of government contracts (although, as I wrote earlier, the firm has some excellent lawyers). Optics aside, if Brian is elected Mayor, the City will be well served if RRA continues to do work for the City.

And another view:

I want to call B.S. on Colón and reader Catherine Sherwood’s comments about Colón’s role at Robles, Rael and Anaya. The truth is that Brian’s role at the firm changes based on what crowd he’s talking to. Colon’s team is trying to cloud the issue. 

At the Albuquerque Police Officers Association meeting just two weeks ago, Colón says: 

“Those of you who know me know that I have built a career at Robles, Rael and Anaya. That name is familiar to you because that’s the law firm that stands besides officers when they are in their deepest and darkest days. When they are involved in use of force cases, our law firm has stood tall by them. I’ve got some competitors that like to use that against me and say that my firm has stood with law enforcement when they’ve shot innocent Albuquerque citizens. I wear this as a badge of honor." (Video here).

Let’s unpack that. First, Colón shamelessly touts his role at a law firm that has collected millions from the Berry Administration representing the worst use of force cases. Regardless of his role at the firm, he is happy to use that affiliation to get votes from police (by the way, up until a few weeks ago, Colón listed himself as “partner” at the firm in his LinkedIn account). 

Second, wearing the shooting of innocent Albuquerque citizens as “a badge of honor” takes his pandering to police to a whole different level and is insulting to the families of victims. Lets remember that Colón’s firm settles all of its cases for millions, implying that they don’t have a strong enough case to win. 

Finally, Colón didn’t talk about how the firm benefits from their sweetheart relationship with the Berry Administration collecting millions in contracts. In those contracts, Colón’s services are listed at $150/hr. That doesn’t sound like someone who has absolutely no association with those cases. Brian needs to come clean. It’s time to see his tax returns, employment agreement and other documents that prove he is not part of defending APD and the Berry Administration. Because voters are going to want to know, how can Colón be a part of reforming Berry’s APD when he benefits from defending it?


Services have been set for longtime Santa Fe State Rep. Lucky Varela who died over the weekend at the age of 82. Varela will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. The rosary for Varela will be recited Sunday, Sept. 10th at 2 p.m. at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. The Christian funeral mass is scheduled for noon Monday, Sept. 11th at St. Anne’s, with interment at 2:15 p.m at Santa Fe National Cemetery.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Young Gun Gus Pedrotty: Trying To Make A Mark On Mayoral Race, Plus: Marty's Crime Wave; Former Mayor Speaks Out, Also: Ranking Berry Among The Mayors And More From The Campaign Trail  

Gus Pedrotty
Peripatetic Gus Pedrotty, the 22 year old recent UNM grad who is running for Mayor, won't have money to go up on television but he has come with a series of eye-catching social media videos that describe in-depth his views on major issues like crime and the economy. The videos have garnered quite a bit of attention.

Both Pedrotty and Democratic hopeful Tim Keller tackle crime from a progressive viewpoint and some Keller supporters wonder just how many votes the young and aggressive Pedrotty could siphon away from Keller.

One controversial proposal of Pedrotty's is to add a new layer of bureaucracy at City Hall  to tackle the crime problem--a Public Safety Department. But the problem with City Hall the past eight years has been the lack of accountability for the crime wave from the Mayor, the city council and the chief administrative officer (CAO). Creating a new department of public safety could further shift responsibility away from the mayor and his CAO who is charged under the City Charter with running the day to day affairs of the city and ensuring that all department heads--including the police chief--are doing their jobs. Why has that become so difficult with an APD of only 850 officers?

For 35 years the current system worked quite well, with the mayor, the council and the CAO responding to the public's crime concerns. The breakdown in the line of authority directly to the Mayor and CAO was violated when Mayor Berry took office in 2009 and hired former BernCo Sheriff Darren White as his public safety director and "boss" of the police chief. Soon Berry's attention was diverted and White and Chief Ray Schultz presided over one of the bloodiest chapters in city history that eventually brought APD under the purview of the Department of Justice and has cost us tens of millions in dollars in lawsuit settlements.

Is a public safety department that further separates the CAO and Mayor from direct accountability really the answer? Perhaps after what has happened to our beloved city what we need is not another layer of bureaucracy but a mayor and CAO who take full responsibility for the problem--just as they did for 35 years.


Talk about a blogging find. Take a look at this video we dug up of a 14 year old Pedrotty (or thereabouts) interviewing Mayor Berry in 2010 for a program run by Youth Development Inc. (YDI). At first it was like watching little Gus visiting Santa Claus but the precocious Pedrotty does a serviceable interview and maybe that's when he got inspired to seek the city's top job. Wild stuff, folks.

By the way, Pedrotty recently told me has no interest in becoming a politician if he is not elected mayor. But he's made quite a favorable impression on the nominating wing of the Dem Party so you have to wonder if we won't see more of him down the road.


Democrat Martin Chavez also presided over a crime wave--albeit a much briefer one--back in the late 90's. We mentioned that he managed to clean it up and that prompted reader George Mozurkewich and others to ask what exactly Chavez did to get us over the hump. We put that question directly to the former Mayor who served three terms:

1. Community Oriented Policing (grow the department as quickly as responsibly possible in a COPs format) with close ties to neighborhoods including neighborhood police stations. Our goal was a department that reflected Albuquerque's diversity. Police officers make a difference!
2. Broken Window - Graffiti and Litter cleanup (take care of the small stuff and the larger will follow)
3. Target repeat offenders. The "solve" rates were over 80% because we were getting the bad guys.
4. We put real hard dollars into APD - more police, better salaries, benefits and equipment. Budgets are the truest reflection of public priorities and our budgets favored public safety.
6. Partnership with D.A. and where they would, with judges to assure that arrests stuck and that there were ultimately consequences for bad conduct.
7. Specialized Units flexible enough to grow or shrink depending on the crime situation (Gangs, Burglary, Auto Theft, etc.)
8. Saturation patrols - let the bad guys know APD was in their faces.
9. Pushing crack houses out (shutting down the crack houses) and demolishing abandoned buildings.
11. Mental Illness recognition training for APD.
12. Non-lethal alternatives for APD.
13. Expanded Community Center Hours, skateboard parks, after school programs, summer youth hiring programs and anything that provided an alternative for teens.
14. Arrest processing center (reducing cop time for transit).
15. Civilianization (anything that would get more officers onto the streets).
17. Really important: Officers knew that City Hall had their backs.
18. AFD to the forefront in programs like Stand by the Schools.
19. No politics in APD.
20. Complete reformation of 911.

There was much more and certainly not every strategy was a 100% success and not every initiative from that period would necessarily work today. For example, with APD officer numbers slashed and paperwork increased, Community Oriented Policing would be highly problematic.

Okay "no politics" in APD is a stretch and Chavez can be faulted for being so desperate to increase the size of the police force that he let bad guys be hired and they started shooting up the city (and its citizens) which contributed to today's crisis. Still, under him the city did not suffer the long-term epidemic of crime we have today and our national reputation was not tarnished to the point that businesses and young people did not want to come here.


Chavez, now 65, is an attorney and native of the city. He recently moved back here from Washington, DC where he was working in public affairs. He was defeated by Mayor Berry when he sought a fourth term in 2009.

Even though crime then was nowhere near as widespread as it is today, Berry successfully ran on the issue, employing TV ads to tell voters the city's property crime rate was significantly higher than that of neighboring cities. Now Berry presides over a city with the highest rate of stolen vehicles in the nation and crime so widespread and constant that many fear that much of it is going unreported.

Berry and the R's also faulted Chavez for trying to make ABQ a "Sanctuary City." But Chavez's defenders shoot back that under Berry ABQ has indeed become a Sanctuary City--not for the undocumented--but for criminals from far and wide.

Chavez left the Mayor's chair with low approval ratings. The economy had tanked, people were tired of him and fellow Democrat Richard Romero split the Dem vote with him, making possible the rare election of a Republican mayor.

Now Berry's political career has been ended by his mismanagement of the crime crisis. Insider polling indicates his approval rating has dropped into the 30's. He has not announced what his plans are when he leaves office December 1. His most zealous critics derisively claim that Berry, who ran a construction company with his wife before becoming mayor, will become associated with one of the big construction firms that benefited from his decision to build the controversial ART project that is costing some $119 million in mostly federal dollars.


Where will Berry rank among those who have been Mayor since we went to the Mayor/ Council form of government in 1974? The secretive and aloof Louis Saavedra (1989-'92) is generally regarded as the worst. And while Berry may be given somewhat of a pass for the lousy city economy because many factors play into that, his management of the crime wave and APD may hurtle him into Saavedra territory when future citizens look back on this era.


One of the odder aspects of this campaign has been the notable absence of Berry's name from the proceedings. The leading Democratic candidates--Keller and Colón--have shown no stomach for calling out Berry by name. Republican Dan Lewis has mentioned what he calls Berry's failure, but that's about it. It's as if a ghost was in charge the last eight years. And it is yet another example of how City Hall has not been held accountable. It's a stunning turn for a city that once prided itself on Mayor bashing and held their leaders' feet to the fire.

Maybe Berry won't rank anywhere among the mayors. His actions during his two terms will simply be erased as they have been during this campaign.


They beat up Brian on the blog pretty good last week. No surprise, given that Colón bought a boatload of TV ads and was the first mayoral hopeful up on the tube.

(Tim Keller is starting his ads this week. Republican Dan Lewis promises a "strong" TV buy. Staff for Republican Ricardo Chaves says his TV ads are about a week out. Republican Wayne Johnson is also expected to be on the air and we may see a smallish buy from independent Michelle Garcia Holmes before the Oct. 3 balloting.)

But back to Brian who was excoriated here for among other things his association with a law firm that has close ties to the Berry administration and APD. Colón backer Catherine Sherwood comes with the rebuttal:

Brian is neither a Partner nor an Associate at Robles, Rael & Anaya but is designated as “of Counsel.” That means he does not have an equity stake in RRA nor is he on a track to become one. He is an employee and – because of that – is not the one making the decisions about who the major clients are. I believe that he made that decision in 2010 when he ran for Lt. Governor. As a lawyer “of Counsel” he had the time to pursue not only his political aspirations, but also serve community organizations either as a fundraiser or on their boards. It meant less financial gain, but it was the choice he made. I don’t mind people being hit for shortcomings, but people should put his involvement in context and then decide what meaning to give to it. I am not speaking from a partisan perspective, I just want to provide clarification on a subject I know something about.


Former Santa Fe State Rep. Luciano  "Lucky" Varela, known for his state budget expertise and who served 30 years in the Roundhouse, died over the Labor Day weekend. He was 82. Former Governor Bill Richardson said:

Lucky Varela was a master legislator whose expertise on the budget and finances was unparalleled. He was also a gentle soul who cared deeply about his Santa Fe constituents and his wonderful family.

Northern Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan said this of his fellow Democrat:

Representative Varela was seen by many as the conscience of the legislature – thoughtful, knowledgeable and always ready to lend a hand to anyone in need. During his 30 years of dedicated service, he became one of New Mexico's most profound political leaders. His leadership and compassion shined throughout his life, and his legacy will live on through the many people he mentored. We will miss you Lucky, but we will never forget you.

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