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Monday, June 14, 2021

Chief Actor In "Crotchgate" Now Heads PAC To Elect Gonzales ABQ Mayor; First Money Report Shows Real Estate Heavyweights Backing Sheriff 

Hallinan & MLG
Major real estate interests are first in line to dole out cash to support BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales in his bid to defeat Mayor Tim Keller this November. 

According to the first money report from the pro-Gonzales Save Our City PAC, the committee has $59,000 in cash on hand after the first weeks of fund-raising with the promise of more to come. 

Don't look for John and Jane Doe on that list. The significant donors are major ABQ real estate players. Like Jimmy Daskalos ($10,000), Titan Development ($10,000), Peterson Properties ($5,000) and business group Fresquez Concessions ($5,000). Full report here.

Reports for the PAC's, which operate separately from the candidates' campaigns, are due with the City Clerk today, including the Build Back 'Burque PAC which is supporting Keller.

And who is supervising the raising of all this moolah to back Manny? Well, none other than veteran Dem operative James Hallinan, fresh from months of making headlines over "Crotchgate" in which he accused then Guv candidate MLG of throwing water on his crotch and then grabbing him there. Hallinan, our reliable Alligators inform, is now the director of the Save Our City PAC hoping to unseat Keller.

The gig marks the return to the state political circuit of Hallinan, 38, who has been cashing checks totaling $62,500 from a lawsuit settlement with the MLG campaign over his sex harassment charges. There could be more coming his way but the Guv is mum:

“I was focused on the pandemic, and I'll stand by that decision every minute of every day," said Lujan Grisham, describing the decision to settle. . . The governor's office and campaign have declined to say whether further payment is still due to Hallinan. 

Gonzales is a conservative Dem who progressives shun. Hallinan has been most often associated with moderate Dems such as State Auditor Brian Colón and Attorney General Hector Balderas. In fact, Hallinan has been supportive of Trump. Sheriff Gonzales fielded criticism when he worked with the Trump administration to curb the city's crime rate. 

The Save our City PAC is headed by Sam Vigil, whose wife was a murder victim, and ABQ state Rep. Bill Rehm, a conservative Republican. Under city rules Gonzales can have no involvement in the PAC--known in city lingo as a "measure finance committee." 

The Dem sheriff, however, made a controversial hiring of his own when he signed longtime GOP operative Jay McCleskey as his lead campaign consultant. 

Both Keller and Gonzales will receive $661,000 in taxpayer money to run their campaigns. The PAC's can be expected to raise enough to make each contender a $1 million player. 

Our Alligators last week broke the news that Gonzales was on his way to qualifying for that public financing. That has been confirmed. According to the city clerk, the sheriff now needs only a couple hundred more $5 individual donations to make the cut. The deadline is this Friday. 

BEARS REPEATING

It bears repeating. A Democratic governor in Dem nominated NM is very difficult to topple. Dems don't like to vote for R Guv candidates. But when they do it is often prompted by corruption or allegations of corruption, so we get this

(MLG) on Friday announced overhauls aimed at helping the Department of Workforce Solutions better handle a barrage of pandemic-related unemployment benefit claims. The changes include a partnership with Attorney General Hector Balderas' office to crack down on rampant fraudulent jobless claims estimated to be as high as $133 million over the last year, as well as hiring an additional 110 employees to staff an unemployment operations center.

Workforce Solutions (aka the labor department) has been a dumping ground for political appointees for at least 50 years. The pandemic exposed its institutional failures and reforming it may be a beneficial side effect of the health crisis. For a Governor facing re-election, reform is now an imperative.  

THE BOTTOM LINES

Former ABQ Dem state Rep. Idalia Lechuga-Tena is the latest prominent Dem to pursue appointment to the vacant seat of State Rep. Melanie Stansbury who today will be sworn in as the state's newest member of Congress. 

The Bernalillo County Commission will make the appointment and is now taking applications: 

The commission will appoint a replacement. . . during a special meeting on Tuesday, June 22 at 4 p.m. The meeting will be held via Zoom. Nominations from interested individuals will be accepted until Friday, June 18 at 1 p.m. Applicants should submit a cover letter and résumé to the Bernalillo County Manager’s Office, Attention: Julie Morgas Baca, County Manager, Suite 10111, One Civic Plaza, NW, Albuquerque, NM, 87102 or via email to: manager@bernco.gov. District 28 is located here.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Competition Heats Up To Fill Stansbury State House Seat, MLG Campaign Works To Turn Ill Fated Re-Elect Speech Into Positive And Best NM Retirement Spots 

Pamelya Herndon
The competition is heating up to fill the soon to be vacant state House seat held by Melanie Stansbury who will be sworn in Monday as the new ABQ congresswoman.

The latest hopeful is attorney and longtime Dem activist Pamelya Herndon. She joins Michelle Peacock, a 13 year US Army veteran and nurse practitioner, in seeking the appointment from the Bernalillo County Commission to fill out Stansbury's unexpired term which runs through 2022. We profiled Peacock May 6.

Also seeking the post is Bunnie Cruse who would be the first transgender woman in the state legislature.

Herndon has worked as a deputy cabinet secretary in the state General Services Department and in the litigation division under Attorney General Madrid. More recently she was executive director of the Southwest Women's Law Center. 

Herndon would be the first Black woman to represent an ABQ NE Heights district. Dem Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, who is also Black, represents a SE ABQ District and is the House Majority Floor Leader.  

The commission will begin accepting applications for the House seat after Stansbury takes her congressional seat. A Democrat is almost sure to get the legislative appointment The commission is 4 to 1 Democratic. 

House District 28 in the ABQ NE Heights was a longtime GOP bastion held by Rep. Jimmie Hall. But as the county turned more blue Stansbury ousted Hall in 2018 and was easily re-elected in 2020.

LEMON INTO LEMONADE

Working to turn lemons into lemonade the MLG campaign comes with a fund-raising video that puts her ill-fated re-election announcement at the ABQ Museum last Thursday in a better light. 

It uses video of the protesters to show that many were extremists who likened the Governor's pandemic actions to Nazi Germany and even painted a Hitler moustache on her. "These are not New Mexico values," says the video. It then switches to a strong part of MLG's speech in which she says she would not be intimidated:

We're going to protect New Mexico and no amount of noise will deter, intimidate leadership that makes a difference for every single New Mexican.

However, the video does not show the controversial portion of her speech in which she refers to the protesters as “QAnon Lizard People." The video concludes: "We cannot let extremists stop our progress. Donate now." 

ABQ AS THIRD WORLD

One of the Gators took on former Democratic Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya Wednesday for signing up to help BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales beat Tim Keller in the mayoral race this year. Her comeback: 

Tim Keller campaigned on promises to fix crime, homelessness, mental health and the economy but each have spiraled so far out of control most of us don’t recognize our beloved city anymore. Record-breaking murders and violent crime are so bad that third world countries warn their citizens not to visit Albuquerque. Homelessness has exploded. . .and thousands of Albuquerque small businesses have been decimated by the unchecked property crimes, shoplifting and burglaries. No more marketing campaigns. . .We need a leader to clean up Keller’s war zone.

BEST NM RETIREMENT

What are the two best places to retire in our state? It comes as no surprise that Las Cruces and Santa Fe top the Forbes list of places to hang it up here when you're done punching the clock. The magazine ranks the best retirement locales in all fifty states and says of NM:

College town Las Cruces (population 102,000) leads The Land of Enchantment. Median home price $164,000. Cost of living 10% below national average. PROS: Low serious crime rate. CONS: Low ratio of physicians per capita. Poor air quality. NOTED: Elevation 3,900 feet. RUNNER-UP: Trendy state capital Santa Fe (population 84,000). Median home price $349,000. Cost of living 17% above national average. Good rank on Milken Institute list of best cities for successful aging. Good air quality. Elevation 7,200 feet. TAXES: No state estate/inheritance tax. State income tax on Social Security earnings. Top marginal income tax rate 4.9%.

Las Cruces and Santa Fe have alway had a laid back, senior feel. More so now as the state's population ages. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

We blogged this week that the only announced GOP 2022 gubernatorial candidate is Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block. Karen Bedoni is also an announced candidate for the GOP nod.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Mano A Mano: Early Suspense In ABQ Mayor's Race Begins To Resolve; Keller And Gonzales Now Both Expected To Get Public Financing; Race Set To Be Two Man Duel; No Third Candidate Appears; City's Alarming Murder Meter Will Be Top Issue 

Early suspense in the ABQ mayoral race is being resolved. The bottom line is that Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales is on his way to qualifying for critical public financing of $661,000 and the Nov. 2 race will apparently be limited to him and Mayor Tim Keller who will be the only other candidate to receive public funds. 

Gonzales' campaign this week flooded the city clerk's office with $5 individual contributions needed to qualify for the taxpayer money, according to a Gonzales associate. The Keller campaign is quick to point out that he has done so with the help of canvassers from California. Gonzales' side does not dispute that.

That means Gonzales is closing in on the 3,779 individual $5 donations he needs. Without them he would be forced to run a privately financed campaign, not an easy task against an incumbent.

For any mayoral candidates not seeking public financing, Tuesday was their first day to begin collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot  but so far there are no takers.

That leaves the city with a Keller vs. Gonzales do-or-die battle with no run-off election because one of them will get the 50 percent required for the win.

So when will the public see this mano a mano duel in person? Probably not until August when the first round of forums traditionally kick things off. 

What we will see next week are the money reports from outside finance committees supporting the two combatants and which could play an outsized role in the forthcoming political fesitivities. 

MURDER METER

Saving Lives At UNMH Trauma
Keeping up with the ABQ murder meter is like keeping score at a fast moving NBA game. 

No sooner had the city recorded two weekend murders when another two happened Monday. That brings the official toll to a gruesome 54 and on track for an all time yearly high. 

But it's even worse, says retired APD Sergeant and crime watcher Dan Klein. His unofficial count has the number of homicides at 63. He explains:

Remember APD says these are "homicides" not murders. In my tally homicides have to include those that are deemed "justified." I also include vehicular homicides and child abuse resulting in death. 

Klein says the FBI has categories for both methods of calculating the homicide rate. He adds that the city's  Emergency Medical Services and UNMH's Level One Trauma Center deserve the community's thanks for keeping that homicide number lower by providing excellent medical care for shooting victims.

"I think we would already be over 100 murders without their life saving skills and dedication," he said.

Agreed. And a shout out to the EMS crews, the medical teams at UNMH and the city's other hospitals dealing with the crime crisis. 

ALLIGATOR STRIKE

Former Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya has enlisted as an officer of the Save Our City PAC that is supporting Manny Gonzales. She fast became the victim of an Alligator strike for faulting Mayor Keller over the city's crime crisis:

Someone needs to tell Karen Montoya the dysfunction and crime started under Mayor RJ Berry. Her hometown of Albuquerque and mine became “decimated” by his failed leadership. The excess force of his police force that brought the DOJ here has kneecapped police. Keller inherited a big mess. I’ll agree, it’s Keller’s mess to fix now. Sadly, if Gonzales were to be elected I predict more excessive force and more problems.

BOTTOMLESS PIT?

They might want to rename our famous basketball arena "The Money Pit:"

The Athletics department received over $10 million for the 2021 fiscal year as a result of a second (federal) pandemic stimulus package, according to documents from the UNM Controller Administration. Yet, in spite of the infusion of aid, the department still expects to fall short of meeting its budget goals by the end of the fiscal year. “It's not going to give us everything we're looking for, but it is allowing us to make up some lost revenue. Even with the $10 million, we're still looking at about anywhere between a $1 (million) and a $3 million loss this year,” Eddie Nuñez, the athletics director, said.

Hey, maybe Eddie can win that $5 million state lottery for getting your Covid vaccination. That would keep Lobo Louie fed for a while.  

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Stansbury Set To Take Oath June 14 As Next ABQ Congresswoman, Down To The Wire As Manny Gonzales Chases Public Financing And More Reaction Over MLG Re-Elect Rally 

Rep.-elect Melanie Stansbury will take the oath of office from the House floor Monday, June 14 and become the seventh person and fourth woman and fourth Democrat to fill the ABQ area congressional district since its founding in 1968.

The 42 year old is expected to be a loyal lieutenant of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her campaign says the Speaker will conduct a ceremonial swearing in of the new congresswoman at 4:40 p.m. June 14 ABQ time. That will be streamed here.

Stansbury has been celebrating her June 1 special election landslide win--60-36--over Republican Mark Moores but that joyful mood was jolted when Stansbury last Thursday addressed the re-election rally for Gov. Lujan Grisham. The new lawmaker was visibly taken aback by rowdy protesters who drowned out her talk and that of other guest speakers. The incident was a reminder of how emotions continue to run high in the post-pandemic, post-Trump era. 

Stansbury will fill out the unexpired term of Deb Haaland who is now Sec. of Interior. She will seek a two year term of her own in 2022. Talk of challenging her in next June's Dem primary has quieted but there were strong emotions when Stansbury defeated Antoinette Sedillo Lopez to become the Dem Party nominee. 

Republicans have the unenviable task of coming up with another candidate to take on Stansbury in a district that seems to be getting even more Blue. 

SPECIAL IMPACT

Gonzales
There's little doubt that the Stansbury win in that rare special election is good news for ABQ Dem Mayor Tim Keller who faces re-election this November. 

Progressives dominated the election and their voting history and campaign donations are now available to Keller's team. Turnout is hard to drive in a mayoral election and voters motivated enough to turn out for a special election will now be prodded to do the same for Keller. 

The Mayor's one and only opponent is conservative Dem Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. He's going down to the wire in collecting the $5 donations necessary to qualify for over $661,000 in public financing for his campaign. He is short 1,237 of the 3,779 required and has only until June 19 at 5 p.m. to get them. 

Keller is only a few dozen short and now his campaign is putting heat on Gonzales, filing an ethics complaint with the city clerk alleging fraud by the Gonzales campaign in collecting those $5 contributions: 

Keller’s reelection campaign is accusing Gonzales of committing fraud in his effort to obtain public financing. An ethics complaint filed by the Keller campaign alleges Gonzales personally told a voter that he did not have to pay the $5 contribution that Gonzales must collect from 3,779 city voters to qualify for public financing. In a statement, Megan McMillan, a Gonzales’ campaign official, called the complaint “baseless” and said “neither Sheriff Gonzales nor the campaign covered any contribution.”

A Gonzales associate says the campaign remains confident that they will qualify for public financing but is also raising questions about the fairness of the process. 

If Manny falls short he could still opt for private financing but could there be legal squabbling with the city clerk's office? Stay tuned.

GEIER FOR GONZALES

Gonzales supporters continue to bang the drum over crime. That PAC supporting him--Save Our City-- rolled out an endorsement by former APD Chief Mike Geier who was embittered when Keller forced him out. Says Geier:

Manny Gonzales is the best hope for changing the city's direction concering the crime crisis.

NOT SO FAST

A spokesman for MLG comes with this take on her Thursday ABQ re-election rally disrupted by protesters: 

I would not be so quick to say the protesters were simply "constituents who happen to disagree with MLG’s strict lockdown measures," who are not "on the far fringes of conspiratorial politics." These were the deep depths of the deep end -- with Nazi chants, heckles and salutes, signs and shouts about 5G and wifi conspiracies, screaming aggressively and making threats all night, including through the tribal invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem.  It was a sickening display, shades of Jan. 6 at the Capitol, and I'm glad no one was hurt. .  .To suggest this was just your average "we politely disagree with MLG" group is just not correct. 

Reader John Rey came with his reaction:

Now her true colors emerge and all of us ex-lounge lizards are happy about the shout out. Her Qlizard comment is right out of Orange Sunshine’s playbook. Is this the way to counter protests? Your words will come back to haunt you, MLG. It’s a good thing there is no competition so far. Remember not all who protested are Republicans. This state is last in everything and you call constituents names. Biden was right. You are not a good fit! 

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Monday, June 07, 2021

Unsteady Start: MLG's Re-elect Rally Implodes; Guv Image Cast In New Light As She Rips Protesters As "Lizard People"; R's Try To Take Advantage But Still No Name Candidate 

Messy, unnecessary and amateurish. Those were some of the takes from political pros weighing in after the worst PR debacle of Governor Lujan Grisham's tenure. 

Her Thursday evening re-election announcement at the ABQ Museum turned into such a fiasco that for the first time some doubt was cast over the conventional wisdom that her second term is as likely as the summer monsoons. 

The mishap has roots before the event when MLG and her team ordered up a public announcement of her intention to run for another four year term in 2022. 

Why do one at all when she had already said she was seeking re-election? Is there someone challenging her in the Dem primary? No. Is it too early to politicize the image of a sitting Governor and turn her into a candidate? Yes.

And why do it in a public venue like the museum amphitheater where protesters easily drowned out the entire event with indignant shouts powered with megaphones and who dominated the news coverage? 

And why make the event exclusive to the Democratic elite (e.g. House Speaker Egolf and Senate Leader Wirth), reinforcing the notion that the pandemic put her above the fray ordinary citizens faced?

And if you’re going to announce your re-election, can you inform the state what your plans are for the next four years instead of a program of speakers who conducted a pep rally?

Of course the protesters made sure that MLG had little chance of saying much of anything and what she did say only made matters worse. 

Frustrated by the overwhelming cacophony and the knowledge that the event was crashing and burning before her eyes she went after the protesters, calling them “QAnon lizard people.” Say what? 

She should have been kicking herself and her staff for the political folly not those who took advantage of the misadventure. Remember Hillary and the "deplorables?" Well, MLG just empowered the "lizard people."

The protesters are also constituents who happen to disagree with MLG’s strict lockdown measures. That's not a position that puts them on the far fringes of conspiratorial politics. Casting them as such again furthered the narrative that the Governor, already busted for high living ways during the pandemic, is out of touch. 

The chaos at the occasion was all the more remarkable because of MLG's recent legislative successes and her generally well received handling of the virus crisis. The image of that success was drowned out by a small group of protesters who effectively punctured the bubble MLG and her campaign staff have apparently been operating in. 

One mistake leads to another and now that MLG's fallibility has been showcased, the game is on to stage repeats. Heck, the flying dildo drone may even show up next time. (MLG was forced to cancel a Friday campaign event at Espanola because of security concerns).

THE OPPOSITION

Chase and Pence
The Governor is blessed with a weak opposition and we mean weak. The state GOP is at their lowest point since the 1970's. 

There still is no big name Republican Guv candidate but the Thursday mishap may have someone of note mulling over a run.

Who might that be? Probably a hopeful who can mostly self-finance an expensive campaign because raising money will be a challenge against an incumbent, unless her numbers are deep in the cellar. 

Claire Chase of the wealthy SE NM oil family who ran for the southern GOP congressional nomination in 2020 comes to mind. Besides money there is the need for a fresh R face. But Chase isn't even 40 and better opportunities may come along.

While without a campaign leader, the Rs are codifying their 2022 anti-MLG messaging that will rally their base: 

The Governor’s unfair and illegal decisions during the pandemic killed our economy, lost thousands of jobs and cost our children a school year with no classrooms. Many students and job seekers have had to move out of state. . .The Governor even gave her staff pay raises. . .

Her refusal to reopen has caused irreparable damage and has led to suicide and mental health problems. Lujan Grisham based her COVID decisions on political science, not medical science. . . 

Her character must be questioned. She continues to act like a monarch with absolute rule. . .Lujan Grisham has broken the rules that she decreed . . .She closed shops to the public but enjoyed buying jewelry for herself, closed grocery stores but feasted on steaks and exotic foods at taxpayers’ expense.

MLG could have laid back for months, making no political announcements and depriving the R's of a target. The silver lining for the D's is that it is still way early and there's plenty of time to forget. But there's no denying that with an ill-advised and poorly executed re-election event MLG shot herself in her colorful cowboy boots and instead of charging out of the gate, she comes out limping.     

LIZARD NATION

The only announced GOP gubernatorial candidate, Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block, didn't waste any time incorporating lizard people, the state's newest political meme, into his campaign

I am very much looking forward to going back to Block Country in Artesia. We have tremendous support there and our campaign is moving along very well around the state. I also will have some huge news to share with you shortly. Stay tuned Lizards!

And don't forget the Alligators. They're still out there, too. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Nothing Happening In ABQ Mayoral Race; Just Another Flying Dildo Drone, Plus: Retribution Over R's Massive Loss In ABQ Congress Contest 

The embryonic ABQ mayoral race wandered into the theater of the absurd Tuesday night, signaling that perhaps all of us need a bit of a break from the campaign trail. 

How else to react to a flying dildo drone in the skies above candidate Manny Gonzales as he made his pitch to a crowd gathered at the Revel Entertainment Center?

Yes, a flying dildo drone. And that was not the end of it. This video (starting around the 4 minute mark) shows the Revel owner grabbing the dildo, inciting a 20 year old mentally challenged man to try to take it back (unsuccessfully). He then goes into a fit of rage, balling his fists and attempting to hit Gonzales. Whether he hit him or not is unclear but Gonzales was not injured. 

The optics of the event were so ridiculous that it prompted comical conspiracy theories that Manny set the whole thing up to draw attention to his banner issue of runway crime or that the Mayor Keller camp sent the flying dildo as a message to their rival. What that message might be is a mystery.

“To suggest we were behind it is pathetic and the kind of desperation that has marked Manny’s troubled campaign,” Keller campaign manager Neri Holguin said. 

Only five months to go in Mayoral race 2021. So far it's "flying by," isn't it?

RETRIBUTION FOR R'S

The massive defeat suffered by Republican Mark Moores to Dem Melanie Stansbury at the special ABQ congressional election Tuesday brought out the critics of today's GOP. Here's reader Armand Huertaz: 

It was just 7 years ago when the GOP garnered control of the state House, had a GOP Guv and a GOP Mayor in ABQ. Now, the party gets its ass kicked all day every day on every race from Prez to Gov to dog catcher. Until (GOP Chairman Steve) Pearce steps down, there is no point. The fact that he did not resign after the Moores defeat shows that he only cares about his own failed race for governor in 2022. BTW, would it kill the GOP to nominate a dynamic latino/a for the ABQ congressional seat?

Pearce has made no announcement regarding any intentions to run for Governor next year.

Reader Steve Crespin writes: 

Regarding Stansbury’s blow out, the Republican Party of NM is a train wreck and Susana Martinez and her inner-circle of jackasses are to blame for running it off the rails. Until the Republican Party can get  folks to forget the disaster of the Martinez administration it will continue to lose like this. Also, the party needs to find a candidate and leaders who will re-unite the party and repair the damage and hard feelings the Martinez administration did. When Martinez left office I said it would take at least two full election cycles (8 years) for the Republican party to begin to recover. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Stansbury Blow Out: She takes ABQ Congress Seat by Over 20 Points; Moores Falls Early; Congresswoman-elect Took Career Fast Track  

Stansbury And Mother Election Night
(Pierre-Louis Journal)
Melanie Stansbury crushed Republican Mark Moores to win the ABQ area congressional seat Tuesday night, reaffirming the deep blue nature of the once competitive district and putting to rest rumblings that the contest could be a national bellwether for the Biden presidency. 

Veteran state political analyst and former legislator Greg Payne said of the Stansbury landslide:

This race was not a bellwether. It simply showed that Blue congressional districts here are going to stay blue. 

Late Tuesday Stansbury was getting 60 percent of the vote to Moores' 36%. Independent Aubrey Dunn received 3% and Libertarian Chris Manning 1 percent.

Latest results here.

Moores never got off the mat. He was immediately knocked down when the early vote was reported and which represented about 75 percent of all votes cast. His big loss to the 42 year old probably quashed any hopes he might have had for the 2022 Republican Guv nomination. 

Stansbury didn't exactly come out of nowhere but she is the least known of any candidate to win the ABQ seat since its founding in 1968. 

It's been a whirlwind for the ABQ North Valley native with the Ivy League pedigree and the White House resume.  She pulled off a major upset in 2018 when she became a state representative by winning an ABQ NE Heights House district never before won by a Dem. 

Then she came with another eyebrow raiser.  In April She lost the first round of balloting at the Dem Party Central Committee nominating meeting to Antoinette Sedillo Lopez only to win the runoff and become the party's choice to replace Rep. Deb Haaland who had been appointed Secretary of Interior by President Biden. 

That Sedillo Lopez loss left a bad taste in the mouths of some progressives who derided Stansbury as an Obama/Clinton/corporate Democrat, not a Bernie Sanders Dem like Sedillo Lopez. 

But most Dems turned a deaf ear to that. Her margin of victory was evidence that while she was not a household name she was able to present an appealing message of getting behind Biden's pandemic programs, pointing to her legislative record and conducting a campaign that unified the party. 

Republicans enduring one of their worst stretches in New Mexico history never had their hearts in the race. The national GOP sat on the sidelines. Moores could not raise money locally. His all crime all the time message was ignored by the mostly liberal voting public and enthusiasm for him suffered among R's because he was not all in on Trump.

The failure of of the crime message to take hold sent a ripple of optimism through the campaign of Mayor Tim Keller who is seeking re-election in November amid a record setting wave of murders. 

Dem State Rep Moe Maestas, teaming  with Dem consultant Sisto Abeyta on our KANW-FM Election Night airwaves, marveled at how the ABQ district once held by Republicans for a 40 year stretch has become so Democratic. "Democrats like us dreamed of this when we were little kids knocking on doors." He declared.

Melanie Stansbury is the latest beneficiary of that dream. But to make a dream come true takes grit and determination, qualities that during the campaign she credited New Mexicans with having and which it turns out she has in spades. 

MORE ELECTION 

Over 130,000 voters went to the polls, sending the turnout to about 29 percent of the registered voters, a decent showing for a special election. . .Stansbury gave her victory speech to several hundred invited Dems at Hotel Albuquerque near Old Town. NMGOP Chair Steve Pearce commented for Moores who stayed at home. He said R's would win the seat back from Stansbury in 2022. . . The punches are already flying in the ABQ mayoral race. BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales, challenging Mayor Keller, was threatened by an audience member who jumped on the stage where Gonzales was giving a speech and struck him. Gonzales was not hurt. The alleged assailant was arrested. The bizarre incident involved a drone carrying a dildo. We're not kidding.

MORE MAYOR

Now that the congressional election is history, it's just a five month trek to the November 2 ABQ mayoral election. The PAC supporting BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales in his challenge of Mayor Tim Keller comes with this: 

Save Our City PAC announced that former Public Regulation Commissioner and Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya, a Democrat, has joined Sam Vigil as Co-Chair to elect Democrat Manny Gonzales as the next Mayor. . . “It is devastating to me to see my hometown of Albuquerque become so decimated by the failed leadership of Tim Keller in the form of an out-of-control crime crisis, record-breaking murders, and worsening economic crisis,” said Montoya.

An outside PAC has also been formed to support Keller. Gonzales and Keller are both expected to qualify for over $600,000 in public financing that is separate from their PAC's

RACIAL JUSTICE THEN

Former Oklahoma Senator Fred Harris, a longtime New Mexico resident, is 90 years old, but still making news. CNN recently interviewed the populist Democrat about his service on the 1960's racial justice committee known as the Kerner Commission.He is the last surviving member of the panel that investigated civil unrest of that era. Why did the results of the commission's report fade into history? Harris answers.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Dems Positioned To Extend Reign In ABQ Congressional District; Our Live Election Night Coverage Begins at 6:45 On KANW 89.1 FM And KANW.COM, Plus: History Says Tonight's Winner Could Be On Launch Pad For Even Bigger Things 

Join us tonight for live, continuous coverage of the special election for the ABQ area congressional seat beginning at 6:45 P.M. on KANW 89.1 FM ABQ /Santa Fe and at KANW.COM

Democrats Moe Maestas and Sisto Abeyta and R experts Janice Arnold-Jones and Nina Martinez will provide analysis with your blogger anchoring the coverage. The first votes are expected to be released shortly after 7 p.m.

Absent a historic turnout anomaly Democrats appear poised to continue their reign in the ABQ congressional district when votes are counted tonight in the special election featuring Dem Melanie Stansbury, Republican Mark Moores, Independent Aubrey Dunn and Libertarian Chris Manning. 

The sole public poll of the contest conducted two weeks ago had Stansbury nurturing a 16 point lead. She was the only candidate to come with new final days TV. 

At weekend rallies she was pushed toward the finish line by name Democrats, including MLG and Sen. Ben Ray Lujan. And in early voting Democrats out voted Republicans two to one, 54,111 Dems to  27,934 R’s. Indy’s cast 10,700 early votes.   

Republican Moores hit a financial wall and his TV dried up. He could not rely on big name R's in the final hours because of serious branding trouble his party faces here. Also, the national GOP committees refused to feed the kitty and the state senator was left to his own devices.

DC media handicappers, hungry for a race that amounts to a referendum on President Biden's first months in office, never did get their way and now at the end they are fading their initial enthusiasm. That keeper of the Potomac's conventional wisdom, NBC's Chuck Todd, puts it this way:

The race has not taken on the importance as I thought it would six weeks ago, to be honest. . .While the Democrats are favored, I am very curious about margin. I am very curious about turnout. . .about intensity--Democratic base intensity, Republican base intensity.

In other words if Stansbury fails to post a double-digit win, the media hounds will be on the trail looking for any signs of blood that such a scratch might leave on President Biden. Otherwise, memories of this one will stay confined to the banks of the Rio Grande.

LAUNCHING PADS

Rep. Lujan 
The district up for grabs tonight has a reputation for launching winners onto higher rungs of the political ladder. 

Republican Manuel Lujan, Jr. was the first occupant of the seat from 1969 until 1989 when Rep. Lujan was named Secretary of Interior in the administration of President George H. W. Bush.

Republican Heather Wilson served the district from 1998 to 2008 when she ran for and lost the GOP US Senate nomination. But in 2017 Wilson was appointed Secretary of the Air Force by President Trump, in part because of her congressional service. 

Democrat Martin Heinrich succeeded Wilson in 2009. In 2012, while serving in the US House, he beat GOP nominee Wilson to become a US Senator.

Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham claimed the seat after Heinrich. In 2018 she ran for Governor as a congresswoman and won. 

Democrat Deb Haaland took over in 2018. She left the seat early this year to become Secretary of Interior under President Biden.

That's quite the track record for promotions. But look at this. The state's northern congressional district has also become a launching pad for ambitious politicos. 

Democrat Bill Richardson was the first to represent the seat, winning in 1982. In 1997 Rep. Richardson was named President Clinton's UN Ambassador. A special election put Republican Bill Redmond in the seat for a short stint but Dem Tom Udall took over the seat in '98. Rep. Udall ran for the US Senate in 2008 and won. 

Fast forward to 2020 when Udall retired. His Senate seat was won by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan who had succeeded Udall in the northern US House seat in 2008. 

Who will be next to get on the launch pad? We'll know in a matter of hours. 

THE BOTTOM LINES

The Stansbury campaign will have an Election Night watch event on Facebook. She will be at the Hotel ABQ near Old Town to deliver an Election Night speech. The event is not public. Moores will monitor the returns with his family. . . Here's a TV news 22 minute Q and A round-up with the four congressional contenders. . .A list of polling locations for today's election can be found by clicking on the advertisement to the left. . .

Word arrives of the passing of former ABQ GOP State Rep. Don Silva. The Bronx, NY native served eight years in the House in the eighties and 90's and served as House Minority Whip. Silva died last month in Arizona. He was 85.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Congress Poll Also Has Juicy Tidbit On Guv Race; We Analyze, Plus: R's Pick Up A Tad In Early Congress Vote, And: Our Expert Team Is Ready For KANW 89.1 FM Election Night Coverage 

That one and only public poll of the ABQ congressional race that we broke to the state this week and that showed Dem Melanie Stansbury beating Republican Mark Moores 49% to 33% also had a juicy tidbit for gubernatorial watchers.

The RRH/Elections Daily survey staged a rematch between Gov. MLG and Republican Steve Pearce who she beat in 2018. In the poll of the ABQ congressional district she bested Pearce 52% to 37%. Not an overwhelming number but in safe territory and hardly encouraging for R's contemplating a challenge.

MLG won statewide 57% to 43% in '18. She has come under sharp criticism for her strict pandemic policies, settlement of a sexual misconduct case with a former campaign aide, obtaining fine jewelry from a store that was supposed to be closed for the pandemic, giving big pay hikes to personal staff and for ordering high-end foods for the Governor's Mansion.

But she has earned high marks for getting the state near the top of the list for vaccinations, for working with Indian Country to prevent an even worse virus disaster there and for shaping a significant and successful '21 legislative session that, among other things, is priming the state economy. 

This has not been the transformational governorship many progressives and others were hoping for. The state continues to languish in many important categories with no big picture solutions being offered from the Fourth Floor, but the ball has been advanced in fundamental ways. Among the successes: early childhood education, a more liberal fiscal policy, a balanced energy agenda and the absence (so far) of any major corruption scandals that can be deadly for an incumbent governor.

Against that backdrop, the 52 percent showing against Pearce in the ABQ area looks more like a base vote that she can build on rather than a mark she is going to recede from.

GETTING SPECIAL

The percentage of votes being cast by Dems in the special congressional election finally fell below 60 percent this week. Not a lot--from 60% to 59%. But it was finally a sign that the GOP vote is becoming more prevalent as we approach Election Day when the R's are expected to outvote the Dems. 

Still, the party is only matching its registration in the early turnout. It was at 28.5 percent at mid-week, just above the 28 percent of voters registered as R's. The Dem registration is 47 percent of the electorate so their 59 percent share of the voting electorate remains quite strong. 

The husband of VP Kamala Harris, known as the second gentleman, will be in ABQ today to give Stansbury a final push. Dough Emhoff will take part in a get out the vote event and of course garner important media coverage with Saturday the final day of early voting. Moores and the R's are also working to spark a more vigorous turnout. They will hold a Unity Rally Saturday at party headquarters.

Independent Aubrey Dunn has faded in the final stretch and Libertarian Chris Manning never did make much of a showing, except for the TV debates.

ELECTION NIGHT COVERAGE

Rep. Maestas
We've put together a team of veteran political experts for our Election Night coverage on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com that begins at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. 

Attorney and Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas is 52 and serving his eighth, two year term in the NM House. If he doesn't know what he's talking about by now, he never will. But he does and then some. No Election Night surprises will get past this ABQ westside favorite.

Longtime Dem consultant Sisto Abeyta is back and with a warning. If Stansbury doesn't get a double digit win DC Republicans, he says, will try to make a big deal of that and get some aid from the national media who are on the Biden strength watch. Sisto will crunch the numbers carefully. 

Republican attorney Nina Martinez has toiled for former GOP US Sen. Jack Schmitt, ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and in one of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaigns. She is also a former vice chair of the NM GOP and onetime chair of the Santa Fe County GOP. That's over 30 years of experience. Just the way our listeners like it. 

Republican Janice Arnold-Jones, a former ABQ state representative, city councilor and a longtime thought leader in the GOP has run her share of races. She'll be back to analyze the whys and hows of this special election. Janice ran for the ABQ seat in 2018 when Deb Haaland took the prize. In other words she knows the lay of the land like few others.

This is our 33rd year of anchoring election coverage for KANW but it's the 47th year on duty for station manager Michael Brasher. That's 80 years of experience between us. What can go wrong? Well, let's not go there. Join us Tuesday night. It's going to be special.  

Enjoy the holiday, New Mexico.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Herrell Broadens Pitch As Far Right Trouble Continues; Plot To Redistrict Her Gets Specifics, Plus: On The Biz Beat; Home Buying Frenzy Hits Home In NM  

Southern GOP Congresswoman Yvette Herrell is happy go lucky as she engages with controversial colleague Marjorie Taylor Greene on Capitol Hill recently.

Herrell hasn't publicly embraced (or rejected) the problematic views of the Georgia lawmaker, but Democrats could press the matter as they prepare for the special legislative redistricting session later this year when Herrell's future will be on the line.

Herrell has been pitching issues lately that have broad appeal and are her first steps to establish a more independent identity. 

Those issues include pausing the federal gas tax, expanding broadband and immigration legislation. While she does that, she still has to dodge the shrapnel that flies when Greene does stuff like this

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is facing calls to boot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) out of the GOP conference for her remarks comparing COVID-19 mask and vaccine rules to the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II. “Just stop. This is demented and dangerous. There is no comparison,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted at Greene Tuesday after she doubled down on her Holocaust comparison.

No incumbent NM congressional rep in memory has been taken out by a primary challenge. That gives Herrell room to distance herself from the far right and do what she can to stop a Dem incursion into her district brought about by redistricting. 

Our Senior Alligators report there are already two options under discussion to redistrict Herrell out of the seat she captured last November from Dem Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. 

One would have Dem heavy BernCo South Valley precincts packed into her GOP leaning district. The other would pull a sizable chunk of McKinley County into the southern district, a chunk that would include precincts that are dominated by Native Americans who reliably vote Democratic.  

FINAL PUSH

News broke Wednesday that the congressional race will get a dab of national attention in the final days with second gentleman Doug Emhoff making a Thursday get out the vote ABQ appearance here for Dem Melanie Stansbury. 

Will Yvette get along with Melanie Stansbury as well as she seems to with Rep. Greene? That question will probably not be hypothetical after next Tuesday when Stansbury is widely expected to defeat Republican Mark Moores and take the congressional seat vacated by Deb Haaland who was named Sec. of Interior. 

Stansbury's final TV ad--"Future"--positions her as a Biden Democrat, not the "radical" that Moores has insisted she is and even features a photo of her with first lady Jill Biden. 

The ad is narrated by a Spanish accented speaker. Ethnicity is a background issue in the district. Moores has repeatedly noted that his mother is a Hispanic northern New Mexican. 

Election Night coverage of the June 1 special congressional election begins at 6:45 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM ABQ/Santa Fe as well as kanw.com. Our expert analysts include ABQ Dem State Rep. Moe Maestas. 

HOME BUYING FRENZY

Let's head over to the Biz Beat as a mini-mania in home buying continues here and around the nation. Sellers are the big winners of course, but developers are also making major coin. Among them is AMREP corporation which basically founded the city of Rio Rancho back in the early 70's. AMREP's stock price hit an eight year high this week, climbing over $15 a share. And why not? The backstory:

The company sells developed and undeveloped lots to homebuilders, commercial and industrial property developers, and others. As of July 1, 2020, it owned approximately 18,000 acres in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. . . AMREP (NYSE:AXR) reported net income of $2,093,000, or $0.29 per share, for its 2021 fiscal third quarter ended January 31, 2021 compared to net income of $338,000, or $0.04 per share, for the same period of the prior year. For the first nine months of 2021, AMREP had net income of $3,484,000, or $0.44 per share.

That's a lot of dream houses springing up. Go ahead and elaborate, Frank. . . 

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

E-mail your news and comments. (newsguy@yahoo.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2021
 
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