Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Glory Of A New Mexico Fall. Plus: The Coming Of The Matanza Season  

Let's take a diversion from the usual tales of La Politica and celebrate the glorious fall weather and the season of the matanza. First, the pause that refreshes from Avi Shama, retired UNM professor:

It is this time of year again: the harvest is over, the kids are back in school, the fragrance of fresh apples perfumes the grocery stores, and in New Mexico the pungent, smoky smell of roasting chile peppers signals the beginning of the fall season. It is that pregnant time of year when the light becomes more transparent, soothing, almost loving; when the equinox tilts toward the long nights of winter, which make some people feel melancholy; when we look backward and forward to get our bearings, readying ourselves for what comes next. It is that bittersweet time of reflection and introspection on the personal, communal and national levels.


The crisp fall air signals it's time again for the matanza where the politicos put a pig in the ground, drink beer while waiting for it to cook and then drink more beer when they pull the pig out of the ground and start divvying up the chicharrones.

Here's Dem Guv candidate and Las Cruces area state Senator Joe Cervantes at a recent matanza with longtime lobbyist and ABQ South Valley native Dan Weaks. The event was a fund-raiser for state House Democrats for the '18 cycle.

We sent this picture to the Committee on Chicharrones of which we are an honorary member and are pleased to report that it passed muster with them.

First and foremost, it is a wooden chicharrone paddle on display, not the utterly offensive and fraudulent metal type that immediately disqualifies a politico from attending or hosting a matanza for a period of five years. The paddle gets extra points for looking exceptionally worn and in need of a thorough scrubbing.

Both Cervantes and Weaks also are commended for their matanza clothing. They sport outer wear that is excessively soiled. Cervantes looks as if he has grease droppings from the pig staining his shirt and Weaks' apron looks as though it was last laundered in 1986 when he was working for ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz. Very well done, gentlemen.

The only apparent departure from matanza tradition that the Committee on Chicharrones mentioned was the name tag Cervantes displayed:

"If you're a politician at a matanza everyone there should know who you are, and if they don't you have no right hosting the matanza but are permitted to attend," wrote the Committee in a letter sent by courier from deep in the heart of Rio Arriba County.

Well, a minor matter there, Senator, but you have been warned.

ABQ State Senator Michael Padilla, who is seeking the Dem nomination for lieutenant governor, will host his 6th Annual Matanza this Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. All appears to be in order. However, there has been some late grumbling that the Committee may want to review that early start time because it does not take into account the late Friday night habits of many matanza attendees. We'll let you know if anything comes of it.

The Committee on Chicharrones meets as circumstances demand. All meetings are held at a secret Morada in Mora County. Their word is final and there can be no appeal if they find a matanza in violation of regulations. No politico found in violation has ever been elected or re-elected.

A number of years back politico Brian Colón was photographed stirring the chicharrones with a metal paddle. Last week a number analysts attributed his loss in the mayoral race to that violation.

Thanks for making us the state's #1 site for NM politics year in and year out. See you back here Monday. 

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keller And Colón Hold Breakfast Meeting As Mayoral Run-off Looms; Colón Endorsement Coming? Plus: Dem Heavy Ed Romero Ditches Apodaca; Goes With Grisham 

Colón and Keller
So when is Tim Keller going to meet with Brian Colón and bury the hatchet? Well, they already have met. As for burying the hatchet, a Senior Alligator who spotted the pair having breakfast together at the famed Barelas Coffee House Tuesday morning says they were deep in conversation and "looked pleasant." The duo had a lot to talk about. . .

Keller trounced fellow Dem Colón in last week's mayoral election, along with six other challengers and took first place. Republican Dan Lewis came in second. Colón placed third despite spending over $800,000 on his campaign. Keller and Lewis will face each other in a run-off election for the city's top job on November 14.

Keller commanded 39 percent of the vote election night. Fellow Dem Colón garnered 16 percent. We're guessing that an endorsement of Keller by Colón had to be the centerpiece of their breakfast held in a back room at Barelas on 4th Street near the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Colón is a former Dem Party chairman and an endorsement of Keller can be expected. Of course, there would be terms to the agreement but what they might be is between the two rivals and not even for the ears of our Senior Alligator.

A notable sidebar: While Keller and Colón ate in the back of Barelas, in the front of the restaurant was former State Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon enjoying his chile. Manny's cousin, Robert Aragon, is also on the November 14th run-off ballot. He will face Democrat Cynthia Borrego in the battle for the west side council seat being vacated by Lewis.

As for what was on the menu for Brian and Tim, our Senior Gator reports: "Whatever Tim was having had a lot of red chile on it. Not so much for Brian."

Well, that's appropriate. Keller is the hot item of the moment while Colón has cooled down.


Reader Steve McCracken writes:

Hi Joe, I wanted to point out how flawed the comment from  "Whatagator" was on Tuesday's blog about the Carroll Strategies mayoral poll supposedly underestimating Dan Lewis. It is complete bunk! In the Carroll Strategies Poll in September they had Tim Keller with a 14.8 point lead over Dan Lewis. Keller actually did better than that on election day and beat Lewis by 16 points! This latest Carroll Strategies Poll has Keller with a 14 point lead. Seeing as how there are significantly more Colon/Pedrotty votes likely to break Keller's way than there are Johnson/Chavez votes likely to break Lewis' way, I think if anything the poll is probably underestimating Keller's lead. A heartfelt thanks for all you do for the citizens of New Mexico!

Thanks, Steve, the mayoral run-off election between Keller and Lewis is Nov. 14. Early voting begins October 25.


It is quite a blow to Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca and his parents, former Governor Jerry Apodaca and first lady Clara. Ed Romero, their longtime friend and prominent political ally, is endorsing Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Dem Guv nomination.

Romero, a longtime Dem activist who served as ambassador to Spain courtesy of President Clinton, said:

Michelle Lujan Grisham is a tireless champion for all New Mexicans and I'm proud to support her. . . As a 12th generation New Mexican, Michelle truly understands the unique nature of our people and our state. . . Michelle is the person we need to transform our state. As a seasoned leader in local, state and national government, she has a real record of accomplishment. . . As our next Governor, she will repair the damage of the disastrous policies of the last six years. . . 

It was speculated that Romero, 83, who has considerable personal wealth and is often a prodigious fund-raiser for candidates he backs, would soon be working for Apodaca. So what happened? Well, one theory is that Grisham is tighter with the Clintons than Apodaca and that connection was put to work in getting the Romero endorsement. Romero has been a soldier in the Clinton army for years.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

No Escaping It: Crime Wave Floods Into Exclusive Tanoan Neighborhood;We've Got The Scoop, Plus: Guv Money Chase: Lujan Grisham Leads TheDems And Handily; Pearce Off To Solid Start 

If you had any doubt this is the worst crime wave in ABQ's modern history, we'll settle the matter for you in a minute by quoting from the newsletter for the wealthiest gated community in the metro area, Tanoan.

Nestled in the far NE Heights not far from the Sandia Foothills, for over thirty years Tanoan has been the quiet hideaway for the metro area's business and professional aristocracy, with the norm being homes valued in the high six figures and not a few over the million dollar mark.

The gated community boasts its own security force and two secure entrances. Neighbors keep an eye out for one another. But this crime wave is a rolling tsunami and now has flooded the gilded gates of Tanoan. From Don Muller, president of Tanoan Community East, writing in the neighborhood's latest newsletter:

Tanoan is undergoing a distributing increase in home burglaries and auto thefts. . . A special meeting arranged by City Councilor Trudy Jones was held on Sept. 25. Representatives from the Foothills Police Area Command outlined steps homeowners can take to secure their home to make them less vulnerable to break-ins.

And in that same newsletter, Austin McFall, Community Association Manager, sounds the alarm:

Tanoan Community East is experiencing a concerning level of home and auto burglaries. In response, we have enhanced our documentation of visitors at the main Country Club Gate entry. . . The Community Patrol drives the entire 14 miles of Tanoan East roads every hour, 24 hours a day. . . Even so, with 14 miles of roads and 601 homes, they can't be everywhere all the time. Therefore, we also need to ask our residents to be proactive in maintaining the safety their homes and property. . .  

You often see statements from City Hall that this crime wave is not as bad as the one that bedeviled the city back in 1996. But this outbreak is different--and arguably more malicious. The crime wave in the 90's was contained geographically, not nearly as widespread as today, and we challenge City Hall to demonstrate otherwise.

And, of course, the crime epidemic back then did not go on for years as has been the case with this one. This has not been some temporary blip. This epidemic has changed the very fabric of this city.

With even the toniest of neighborhoods providing no respite from the crime wave, entrepreneurs thinking about living in ABQ and who seek out safe and upscale neighborhoods, are given yet another reason to stay away.

Mayor Berry's legacy is secure, but a sorry one. The city's dangerous and heartbreaking descent into a haven for crime will be the lasting memory he leaves when his time in office ends December 1. The ironic upside for him is that he has brought together the richest and poorest communities of this city who now have a common enemy--the criminal class that roam all quadrants of ABQ without regard to race, color or creed.


About that survey we blogged of Monday showing Dem Tim Keller with a commanding 16 point lead over Republican Dan Lewis in the ABQ mayoral race--49 to 36--and conducted for KOB-TV by PR firm Carroll Strategies, we get this from the self-described "Whatagator:

Joe, Carroll Strategies had a September poll that substantially underestimated Lewis' support, not just compared to election day results but compared to KRQE and Journal polls that were closer to the same time frame. Unless he's made a compensating adjustment to his methodology, there's reason to believe Mr. Carroll is again underestimating Lewis. Should be an interesting runoff at any rate.

The mayoral run-off is set for November 14th. Early voting will be held Oct. 25 thru Nov. 10.


Maria Bautista took to Facebook to complain that the Alligator figuring out how much each voter cost the ABQ mayoral contenders did not include the several hundred thousand dollars a PAC spent on Keller's campaign. "BS on Keller. Count PAC money!" she declared. A reader calculates the Keller's cost per vote would rise to near $15, up from $9.98, if the PAC money was included.

The cost per vote report is on the Monday blog. If you missed it, just scroll down.


Rep. Lujan Grisham
Sad but true. It takes exceptionally big money to run for Governor of New Mexico and until that changes the money chase is going to be a huge factor in determining who the voters will see in front of them. So we're off to the money chase where fresh campaign reports were filed by the contenders on Monday.

ABQ Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and GOP hopeful Rep. Steve Pearce did what was expected of them and remain the front-runners for their party primaries next June. Pearce especially so since he is the only GOP candidate and will likely remain the only one.

Grisham has two major foes--State Senator Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces and ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca. While both stepped up their money game with large personal loans--Cervantes $400,000 and Apodaca $450,000--Grisham reported raising $1.369 million for the period and a cash on hand balance of $1.590 million. That compares to Cervantes' cash balance of $747,000 and Apodaca's $697,000.

Pearce has $911,000 in cash and if he wins his legal battle to transfer $1 million in his congressional account to his Guv account that total would zoom to near $2 million. Grisham has already passed the $2 million mark in total funds raised.

Apodaca and Cervantes avoided getting blown out by drawing on their personal bank accounts but they will have to hustle in the next four months if they are to avoid being overwhelmed by Grisham when the spending starts.

Apodaca confirmed to us in July that he expected to raise in the vicinity of $600,000 in his first report and although he reports a total haul of $900,000 that statement drew an Alligator strike:

You verified from the candidate himself that he raised about $600 to 700K at that point--through July 5. If you look at his report, he had only raised $179K through July 5. Even if you count his $50K in loans in April, that would be just $229K. Maybe he knew he was going to loan another $400K, but he didn't do that until last week, on Oct. 2. They exaggerated their fundraising ability. 

Obviously, there's no slack now. The race for the New Mexican governorship is on and anything you say can and will be used against you.

Apodaca's contributors included old hands from the Guv administration of his father, Jerry Apodaca. Nino Trujillo gave $2,500 and George Goldstein came with $2,000.

Rep. Pearce
ABQ restaurateur Nick Kapnison split his bets--giving both Grisham and Apodaca $2,500 apiece. Ditto for Pojoaque Pueblo which gave both hopefuls $5,500. Ultra Health, a big player in medical cannabis in the state, was another splitter, coming with $5,000 each for Michelle and Jeff.

Grisham took in $5,000 from the Robles Rael Anaya law firm that specializes in government work. Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid, who counts among her clients the developers of the controversial Santolina project, gave Grisham $5,500.

Cervantes received most of his contributions from relatives and entities involved in his family's large farming and property management businesses in Dona Ana County.

Pearce raised big bucks from the oil and gas industry, with the Chase family of Artesia giving heavily. He paid his longtime fund-raiser Andrea Goff nearly $50,000 for helping him bring in his haul.

Grisham paid out tens of thousands to DC's Anne Lewis Strategies for online communications. She also made payments to the consulting firm run by former Gov. Richardson Chief of Staff Dave Contarino. He is producing commercials for the campaign. Apodaca shelled out major dollars to the ubiquitous Rio Strategies headed by Alan Packman who has become a prominent consultant for Democrats. He is also handling Tim Keller's campaign for mayor.


Finally, this one must have been especially sweet for the congresswoman. Entravision, the former employer of Apodaca, gave her $5,500. Apodaca filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the company but lost. Guess Entravision got a bit of revenge but Apodaca did not walk away broke, judging by that $450,000 in loans he gave himself.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Lewis Vs. Keller: A Done Deal Or Can Lewis Find A Way? Plus: First Candidate Debate Set And How Much Did Each Mayoral Vote Cost?  

Dan Lewis is getting an early glimpse at the steep hill he has to climb. Will he find the stamina to scale it or is the ABQ mayoral race already a done deal?

A robo call poll conducted the night after last Tuesday's city election that dialed only landlines of likely voters--no cellphones--showed Dem Tim Keller already at the threshold of victory in the November 14 ABQ mayoral run-off election against Republican Lewis. Keller garnered 49 percent to Lewis's 36 percent. Only 10 percent were undecided.

The survey, conducted by the PR firm Carroll Strategies for KOB-TV, may actually be more friendly toward Lewis than a poll that included cellphones and that would presumably contact younger and more moderate and liberal voters.

The poll indicates trouble for Lewis on the key issue that got him into the run-off. Forty-seven percent of the voters said Keller would be the best candidate to deal with the city's crime wave compared to Lewis' 35 percent. That follows a month of TV and other media from Lewis vowing he would be the toughest candidate on crime and would hold judges accountable. Keller also attacked the crime problem but not as directly as Lewis.

Lewis is saying Keller is weak on crime but the poll indicates he has a long way to go to convince the voting public. (The complete poll is here.)

Keller, currently the state auditor, scored a similar advantage over Lewis, an eight year ABQ city councilor, when likely voters were asked which candidate could best handle the city's economic challenges, with 49 percent picking Keller and 35 percent choosing Lewis.

The survey included 47 percent Democrats, 39% Republicans and 13% independents which is about in line with recent turnout for city elections.

The poll was badly timed for Lewis.  Keller's big 39 percent first place finish in the initial election was the headline grabber and dominated the night. Lewis finished far back at 23 percent to take second place.

Lewis' hope for pulling off the upset now appears to depend on Keller making a big mistake, either on his own or forced by an aggressive Lewis campaign. Otherwise, there isn't much of a path for a Republican to beat a Democrat in a one-on-one race in a city that has grown increasingly blue in recent years.

Maybe lower voter turnout could help Lewis since Republicans are more avid voters than Dems. Campaign consultants expect turnout in the Nov. 14 run-off to drop significantly from the 97,000 who cast ballots  in the first round last Tuesday. How much lower? That's tricky. No one saw the nearly 100,000 turnout--the highest since the 2001 city election--so forecasting the exact drop off is an art not a science. If it was 20 percent less that would take us to about 78,000 voters.


The two contenders will debate at Temple Albert next Sunday morning:

Congregation Albert Brotherhood’s Mayoral Debate will be Sunday, Oct. 15 at 3800 Louisiana Blvd. NE. . . The candidates will kick off their debate at 11:00 A.M. The cost of the pre-debate brunch is $14 while the 11:00 am debate is free and open to the public. For those not attending the brunch, the doors will open to the public for the debate at 10:45.

Temple Albert has been hosting political debates for over 50 years. This one will be broadcast at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

As the front-runner, Keller is in a position to pick and choose which forums he will appear at with Lewis. He's expected to do most of them but not all. For example, Keller declined to appear with Lewis on a radio program hosted by a hard-right conservative on the opening morning of the Balloon Fiesta.


One of our Alligators comes with a run down on the amount of money spent per vote by the 8 mayoral candidates:

If we calculate the average amount of money spent per vote starting with the lowest, Gus Pedrotty was at the top with a mere $2.68 per vote. Keller came in second with $9.98. Michelle Garcia Holmes was a close third with $11.94. Ricardo Chaves, not only came in last in total votes, but he also spent the most per vote at a whopping $601.20.

Vote, Total Money, Average Cost Per Vote

Garcia Holmes--3,748--$44,756--$11.94


We blogged Thursday that Keller did not mimic Lewis and open fire on his opponent in the immediate aftermath of the election, but that doesn't mean Lewis isn't taking hits. The independent committee that is helping Keller--ABQ Forward Together--is already  nuking Lewis in its fund-raising appeals:

And just who is Republican Dan Lewis? Well, he's as far right as they come: he was an early endorser of Donald Trump and as a City Councilor. . . he's anti-choice, anti-worker and anti-immigrant. Lewis is endorsed by extremist religious leaders who praise him for refusing to embrace a "homosexual agenda." We could go on. But what's clear is that Lewis will take no responsibility for the past eight years he's been an Albuquerque City Councilor where Albuquerque's job market has tanked and crime is out of control. 

That pretty much sums up the attack you will be hearing on Lewis in the coming weeks. Take note of the social issues mentioned there as Keller supporters work to prevent Lewis from making the election solely a referendum on crime.


Joe Monahan
Reader Jim Belshaw writes of our coverage of the city election on this blog and on KANW-FM radio:

You did some yeoman work. Well done. You are in fact the go-to guy for NM politics. Ain't nobody else can make that claim.

Thanks for that, Jim, and for your copy edits.

We started our 15th year on the blog this month and are the longest running political website in the state. That's a lot of digits pecked out about La Politica.

Our goal for our 15th year is simple: Keep being #1 by keeping you informed and entertained about all aspects of politics in our Land of Enchantment.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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