Thursday, April 05, 2018

Paul Moya: Mystery Candidate For The ABQ Congressional Seat, Plus: Haaland's Cash Surge And Some Political Odds And Ends 

Sometimes mystery candidates pop up out of nowhere for high political office. Here's an example.

He has an impressive background but so far thirtysomething Paul Moya has gained absolutely no traction in his race for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ US House seat. You may not even know he is running, as he has flown well below the radar. However, he did surface this week with a newspaper op-ed in which he supported banning assault weapons.

His website describes him as "a 4th-generation agriculturalist who grew up in this District on his family’s alfalfa farm" in Valencia County. It further states he is a grad of Notre Dame and Harvard and "is also a small-business owner and CEO of Millennial Labs--a full-service consulting firm that has impacted leaders from organizations ranging from Acura to the US Department of Defense."

In the past he has marketed himself as a motivational speaker and charged for his appearances but he has had trouble motivating his party. At the March Dem preprimary convention Moya finished last in a field of six candidates. There does seem to be some potential there--if voters knew about him.


It appears Deb Haaland, the frontrunner for the ABQ congressional nomination, has blown the doors off when it comes to first quarter fund-raising. And she wasted no time getting the word out.

The reports for the January-March period are not officially due until the middle of the month, but Haaland's campaign wants it known that it has apparently set a new quarterly record for the seat by raising $296,000. And Haaland has improved her cash position, reporting $345,000 on hand. She had taken some hits about the "burn rate" of her campaign but she appears to have shored things up and will be able to finance a major TV buy.

The campaign says it raised $192,000 in March alone. That's the month she won a solid, if not overwhelming victory, at the preprimary convention, and was also featured in a New York Times article about her quest to become the first Native American woman to win a US House seat.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has been chasing Haaland and has been the fund-raising leader, reporting at the end of the year that she had $347,000 in cash on hand. For now Haaland has nearly caught her in cash on hand, but Sedillo Lopez may widen the gap a bit when she files her report.

Former US Attorney Damon Martinez is the third major player. He reported $322,000 in cash at the end of the year and will probably increase that number when we see his report. But Haaland says her internal polling has Martinez back in the pack, with Sedillo Lopez in second place.

What it all means is that this trio will be the candidates whose faces are in front of the public via paid media in the final weeks leading up to the June 5 primary.


In the Dem race for Governor, the insider numbers making the rounds have Michelle Lujan Grisham getting over half the vote in the June 5 primary. She scored 67 percent at the preprimary. Jeff Apodaca is running second, as he did at the preprimary, and Joe Cervantes is third.


We knew former ABC newsman Sam Donaldson had retired to New Mexico but we didn't know he was also blogging. He is and his blog is here. However, don't look for coverage of NM. He concentrates on the national scene he is so well acquainted with. And there's no blog shilling for Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca who Sam has endorsed and also narrated some campaign ads for.


Retired Las Cruces District Court Judge and U.S. Magistrate Judge Joe H. Galvan, 84, died on March 25 in Corrales, his family members announced this week. . .

Did you know that 1 out of 40 New Mexicans is now using medical marijuana. That's 50,000 to be precise. About half of them get the cannabis prescription to cope with post traumatic stress disorder. Many of you who have followed New Mexico politics for more than ten years may have PTSD. Let us know if your medical marijuana app is approved.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Tidbits From The Campaign Trail, ART Funding Still Uncertain And Some Wednesday Bottom Lines  

Let's head out to the campaign trail this Wednesday. . .

That three way battle for the Dem state land commissioner nomination is heating up. Foes of Garret VeneKlasen are scoring him for being a "lifelong Republican" who did not become a Democrat until June 2015.

On the website Democrats Demand Action (authors unknown), VeneKlasen's voter registration history is covered in detail with back-up documentation, including this 2014 article from the Durango Herald in which he is quoted in his role as executive director of the NM Wildlife Federation:

“The genesis of the public lands idea comes out of the conservative party,” he says. “As a lifelong Republican, I don’t understand why the party itself has abandoned this.”

The group asserts that Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich, who has endorsed VeneKlasen, has been "tricked" and that readers should sign a petition "demanding answers" from VeneKlasen about his longstanding GOP affiliation.

The other two hopefuls in the June 5 primary are State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard and State Senator George Munoz. Recent insider polling shows most likely Dem voters are still undecided on the race. Republican Pat Lyons is the lone GOP contender. . .

In the race for the Dem nod for state auditor Las Cruces State Rep. Bill McCamley has come with a long list of union endorsements, including the American Federation of Teachers, the NM Building Trades Council and Communication Workers of America.  Brian Colón has been endorsed by the International Association of Firefighters here. Early insider polling has Colón opening up a lead on McCamley, riding his strength in the ABQ metro. . .

In the race for the Dem lieutenant Governor nomination State Senator Howie Morales scored a landslide win at the Dem preprimary convention. That victory is reaffirmed in early inside polling that has Morales leading his closest pursuer--former ABQ State Rep. Rick Miera. . .


City Hall is so nervous over that $75 million in federal funding for the controversial ART project on Central Avenue that their fingernails are sweating. And with good reason. It remains highly uncertain if the Feds will come with the money. Look at this:

The Trump administration has more than tripled the amount of money flowing from an Obama-era transportation program to projects in rural areas, shifting aid to localities that the White House says have been left behind in years of post-recession economic expansion. The $211 million swing toward rural communities in the Transportation Department grant program is one of the most concrete policy shifts in the agency’s stated goal of helping less densely populated areas of the country—most of them regions that voted for President. . .

The ART project remains stalled because of construction errors and buses that don't meet specs. If the city doesn't get the federal money one plan to make up for it would use the bonding capacity of the ABQ Sunport.


From CNN:

A political appointee at the Department of Defense has resigned after a CNN inquiry about controversial postings he made on Facebook. Todd Johnson is a former Trump campaign state director in New Mexico who joined the Department of Defense in 2017 as an advance officer, a Pentagon employee with the sensitive task of providing logistical support related to the secretary's events and appearances...A CNN review of his social media found that Johnson posted birther conspiracies about then-President Barack Obama and shared a video that claimed Obama was the Antichrist.

Obama the Antichrist? Aah, the good old days.


Sen. Stewart
TV news followed up on our Monday blog report from a City Hall Alligator and confirms that APD Real Time Crime Center Director T.J. Wilham has been ousted from his post by the Keller administration after an attempt by the Berry administration to keep him on board. . .

She's been in the public light for decades but these details about the upbringing of ABQ State Senator Mimi Stewart grabbed attention this week:

. . . Her passion for improving the lives of children comes from her own rough childhood. Stewart was 3 years old when her father died in a car crash. Her mother remarried a man she called "a problematic person." “It was just a hard life, trying to avoid being beaten up by my stepfather, trying to avoid being sexually assaulted by him,” Stewart said. She said she coped by throwing herself into school work. "I think I was just as stubborn then as I am now,” she said.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The New Mexico Mood: Poll Shows Record Number Think State On Wrong Track But Cries For Change Somewhat Muted, Plus: Apo's Chances Of Kicking Joe Off Ballot Not Seen As Fantasy And Musings On The ABQ Chamber 

Sadly, there seems to have been a general acceptance of the state's economic and social decline among the political class and even among many in the electorate. But that doesn't mean folks aren't upset.

A Common Cause poll conducted in January but recently released appears to chronicle an historic low in the number of New Mexicans who believe the state is "on the right track." Only 24 percent of the 452 registered voters surveyed believe that. And with the economic stagnation and the crime wave defying quick solutions, we could be stuck in the rut for a lot longer.

You would think such a dreary number would prompt cries for transformational change but so far the leading Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates (Lujan Grisham and Pearce) have shown themselves to be incrementalists, apparently interpreting the electorate as somewhat defensive about the state of the state even as they bemoan its condition. Why?

We have had a massive "vote with your feet" movement as many of the state's young and talented sought greener pastures in neighboring regions. And they are the ones with the energy and enthusiasm who would have pushed hardest for a renewal. Meanwhile. . .

Since the recession's onset nearly a decade ago tens of thousands of additional New Mexicans have found solace in the social safety net of Medicare, food stamps, etc. Others have clung to relatively secure government jobs, among the largest employers in the state. While not a very satisfactory status quo, it does provide some certainty, a quality the electorate thirsts for as it is constantly buffeted by bad news.

Still, there are some green shoots popping up in the form of two new mayors--Webber of Santa Fe and ABQ's Keller. Both have presented themselves as agents of change and were elected in landslides. Perhaps after all New Mexicans are ready for more aggressive leadership. The upcoming gubernatorial race should tell us more.


Speaking of the governor's race, how realistic is it for Dem Guv hopeful Jeff Apodaca to think he can win a lawsuit forcing rival Joe Cervantes off the ballot? Well, insiders say it's not that far out. Apodaca, as we reported Monday, is challenging the petition signatures submitted by Cervantes, saying he does not think he has enough valid ones for the secretary of state to place him on the June 5 primary ballot. A  Cervantes spokesman says the candidate has collected 5,800 signatures but needs 5,014 valid ones from registered Dem voters. The campaign says they will survive the challenge and stay on. However, that's not much of a margin of error and Apodaca will go through all of them with a fine tooth comb. Cervantes was forced to submit additional petition signatures to make the ballot when he failed to win 20 percent of the delegates at the recent Dem preprimary convention. Cervantes called Apodaca's challenge a "Hail Mary" but it's more like a longshot.


Before we corrected it, the Monday blog said that Apodaca had not received 20 percent support at the March Dem preprimary convention to win an automatic spot on the ballot. That of course is incorrect. And neither did he have to submit extra petition signatures. He received 21 percent delegate support. That's important to note because only once in preprimary gubernatorial history has a candidate gone on to win the primary without achieving the 20 percent preprimary mark. That was in 2014 when Dem Gary King pulled off the feat. Thanks to the readers who pointed out our initial error.


Reader Frank Cullen picks up on the thread that asserts the ABQ Chamber of Commerce has fallen behind the curve in ailing ABQ:

I was a homeowner/resident in tourist-oriented Provincetown, Cape Cod for many years, and I think there is a lesson and an opportunity for the many small businesses of ABQ that feel the local Chamber does not serve them. Competition is the game. The Provincetown CoC ignored the local arts and LGBT communities. In 1978 twenty savvy yet "ignored" shop and inn keepers formed the Provincetown Business Guild. By the 1980s, the Chamber was moribund from the defection of small businesses to the younger leadership of the PBG. Currently the PBG boasts over 300 member businesses. The year-round population is under 5000.

And reader Aaron Collins writes:

Joe, Your recent blogging on the long overdue need for change at the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce closely reflects the growing sentiments of the business community. . . Our business community is impatient for the Board members to call for a change, hopefully before the Chamber is a place of irrelevancy and loses its good name and left reeking of old. 

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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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