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Monday, April 02, 2018

Guv Heat: Cervantes Lashes Out At Apodoca Lawsuit To Keep Him Off Ballot; Calls It "Underhanded" And "A Hail Mary" Plus: Can A Gay Republican Mayor Straighten Out Española? 

Apo and Joe 
A chief narrative of the '18 Dem primary race for Governor is that Joe Cervantes and Jeff Apodaca will split votes opposed to front-runner Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as a large portion of the Hispanic vote, making it nearly impossible for one of them to upset the ABQ  congresswoman. Now Jeff Apodaca is trying to change that narrative by making a play to keep Cervantes off the ballot. He's filed a lawsuit alleging Cervantes has not submitted enough valid petition signatures and should be kicked out of the June 5 primary. That led to a blistering response from Cervantes, a Dona Ana County state senator:

When Jeff realizes his campaign is devoid of tangible policy solutions, when Jeff fails to connect with voters and when Jeff realizes my candidacy is gaining momentum, he turns to typical underhanded campaign tactics. . .He filed a frivolous lawsuit to keep me off the ballot. Jeff wants the courts to disenfranchise my supporters, the thousands and thousands of Democratic voters who signed my petitions for Governor!

Cervantes failed  to win the required 20 percent of delegate support at the March Dem preprimary convention to qualify for an automatic spot on the primary ballot, forcing him to submit extra petition signatures to qualify. Apodaca received over 20 percent delegate support and did not have to file extra petition signatures. The total required for Cervantes is in the 5,000 area. That's not much but Apodaca's camp watched closely as Cervantes got a somewhat late start in cranking up his signature gathering effort. Now the lawsuit.

Cervantes calls Apodaca's move "a Hail Mary" and surely he is right. Neither man has gained much traction against Lujan Grisham but that could change if either could get her in a one on one race.

There are some rumblings of opposition to the front-runner. On Facebook a group called NM Democrats for Democracy has popped up and is taking some jabs at her. Apodaca and Cervantes, however, have held their fire. As one Alligator put it:

It is very difficult for a male candidate to go negative against a female candidate who already doesn't have high negatives. That's the way it is and with Cervantes and Apodaca already splitting the opposition vote it becomes even more problematic.

Lujan Grisham is cheerily watching from the sidelines as her opponents squabble. Her latest social media campaign features her reminiscing with her mother about family memories as the campaign works to put a likable glow around her. Any negativity that has crept in has been of her own making, like when she publicly tangled with a disgruntled intern who said Lujan Grisham engineered her firing because she is transgender.

But with only two months to go something significant is going to have to happen to shake the perception that Lujan Grisham is the de facto Dem nominee--something significant like Apodaca winning his lawsuit against Cervantes or Cervantes announcing he is putting up a pile of his personal wealth to derail the Michelle momentum.

CHOP UP THE CHOP SHOPS

How long has it been since we've seen a report like this? A long time:

Five people are accused of stealing motorcycles and facing charges for allegedly running a chop shop at aN ABQ Northeast Heights home. Investigators say when they searched their home they found several motorcycles in the backyard. Many were reportedly cut in half, missing engines or otherwise altered from their original form.

One of the enduring mysteries surrounding the years long crime epidemic is why we haven't seen more busts like this in ABQ, the stolen car capital of America. Maybe someone downtown is starting to get it.

What they certainly are getting downtown is gobs of cash, the result of a tax increase rushed through by the Mayor and City Council and which takes effect July 1. Because of that roughly $50 million annual increase in the gross receipts tax the city budget, which also takes effect July 1, is an easy balancing act.

Mayor Keller proposes that much of the extra tax money go to pay for recruiting and hiring police officers as well as programs to fight drugs, poverty and homelessness, root causes of the crime crisis. The city council will now consider the plan.

KEY APD MANAGER OUT

We're getting word from one of our City Hall Alligators that the attempt by Mayor Berry's administration to save the hide of T.J. Wilham, the director of the Real Time Crime Center, has apparently not worked. They report Wilham was "escorted out" of the center last week.

Berry's minions last year tried to save Wilham by making his position "classified" instead of subject to immediate dismissal for no cause.

Wilham was an ABQ Journal crime reporter when he was tapped in 2009 to handle the communications of then ABQ Public Safety Director Darren White, a key member of the Martinez political machine. Wilham was later appointed to manage the RTCC which is somewhat akin to managing a mini intelligence agency. No wonder he's headed for the exits.

NOT SO FAST 

The Cook Political Report in DC got Democratic hearts pumping when it recently ranked the state's conservative southern congressional district as "lean Republican." But rival pundit Larry Sabato slows down their pulse rates by putting it in the "likely Republican" category. We look forward to future rides on this roller-coaster.

HEADS UP 

Mayor Sánchez
Hey, did we lose your attention on this back to the action Monday? Then take a look at this:

The new mayor of Española — a Democratic stronghold notorious for its patron-style system of politics — is a gay Republican from Texas.

And he didn't vote for Donald Trump.

Mayor Javier Sánchez is a 44-year-old Yale University graduate, who also has a Master’s from the University of Notre Dame. Is this the change struggling and corruption infested Española has waited for so long? Well, when you get a gay Republican from Texas taking over, something is afoot. A good read from the intrepid Daniel Chacón.

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