Thursday, December 01, 2005

Duke City Doings: A Council Prez Prediction; Mayor Takes Oath Today, Plus: We Size Up His New #2; It's Your State Of The City Blog; No Ticket Needed 

ABQ liberals, given a stern whipping by ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez in the October city election, may get a consolation prize. According to City hall insiders, Councilor Martin Heinrich is poised to take over the council presidency when the new council and mayor take their seats.

"It appears Martin has five of the nine votes. Republican Craig Loy appears to be a vote short. At this time, the smart money is on Heinrich," reports our nose counter.

Dem Heinrich is playing it close to the vest, noting that it is another week before the vote and that he is not "ready to count his chickens before they hatch." That said, the SE Heights first term lawmaker sized up the factionalized council this way: "I think it will take some time to determine where enough consensus exists to craft good legislation."

Heinrich has been an even tempered solon, but an unabashed liberal whose possible presidency is raising the hackles of some in the biz community who are still miffed over his advocacy of a citywide minimum wage (It narrowly failed at the ballot box). Despite Mayor Marty's big win and the pro-growth politics it signifies, there are four councilors, including Heinrich, who can be counted on to slow down the hyperactive 11th floor.

The council prez is largely ceremonial and serves just one year. But he does get to appoint members to council committees and other government bodies, so there would be a chance for Heinrich to push his agenda.


When he takes the oath today for an unprecedented third, four year term, Mayor Chavez says he will be "liberated" because he is not running again and can make decisions without political consideration. It's true he's not running for mayor again. The City Charter says he can't. But does anyone really think the ultimate political animal is done with elective office for good? He ran for for Guv in 98' and has always kept his eye on the U.S. Senate. Insiders take with a a grain of salt his claim that there will be no politics in his future or in the decisions he makes in the next four years. Whether he will be successful at future political endeavors seems the more relevant question.


The Mayor's new number two, UNM public administration professor Bruce Perlman received his inauguration into public life this week when he was described in the papers as "a founder" of the infamous ABQPAC which landed the Mayor in so much hot water. The issue is not expected to be an obstacle to his confirmation by the city council, but Perlman has to wonder if the slogan will someday end up on his tombstone.

Perlman comes from the Ivory Tower and while lacking the lengthy government experience of predecessor James Lewis, the UNM bureaucracy has provided him plenty of opportunities to face down the Alligators. Now he will be knee-deep in them in one of the hottest seats in the city. The CAO-designate is known for his keen sense of humor which one surmises he will be calling on frequently in the challenging days ahead.

2009 OR BUST!

Sure, right now it's all Marty all the time. But it's never too early to get ready for the next mayor. 2009, here we come! Councilors Michael Cadigan and Ken Sanchez are already on the short-list. Both of them are from the West side.

The buzz around today's inauguration of Mayor Chavez is curiously sedate for a personality who is so front and center. Little advance publicity and no big parties like four years ago. Maybe after having the job so long he finds less of a need to shout about it--at least on opening night. Or maybe it's the absence being felt of social butterfly and ex-mayoral wife Margaret Chavez.


The state of the city is good, contentious as always, but good. The government supported economy chugs along, the city is clean and local government has been relatively scandal-free. (The bugaboo being the unsolved APD evidence room rip-off). For growth, Chavez's re-election means more of the same. And is that so bad? It's not like we are L.A.

The next four years will finally see settlement of the age-old road arguments--Paseo del Norte will be extended, an expanded Montano Bridge will be a done deal and more roads and schools will be built on the West side to accommodate growth. Why? Because we had an election where the arguments were aired and the people voted. Don't like it? There's another city election in just two years.

ABQ's biggest problem is the ongoing crime wave and the poor image it has spawned nationally. It has also been a considerable impediment to economic growth. Chavez has done about all he can in getting tough on crime. Now we face difficult social and economic issues to beat this problem. The mayor wants to butt in to the local education system which is the first line of defense against crime. He will get his head kicked in for it, but if he doesn't burn political capital on the number one issue, what's the point of having power?

Always enjoy having you here. Come back again soon.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Some Love For The Guv: Big Bill Backers Urge Offense As "Nitpicking" Mounts, Plus: Heather And Patsy Go Their First Round; Who Scored? 

Luvable Guv?
Loyalists of Big Bill say enough is enough. They say it's time to start firing back at the "nitpicking" in the press, on the blogs and on the whisper circuit. It's been a defensive game for the Fourth Floor lately with the baseball draft story, a negative report over his use of state planes, and another on when he will report the proceeds of a big California fundraiser. Supporters say the Guv needs to retake the offense.

"They are trying to New Mexicanize him. That means anytime someone is successful they try to take them down. It seems to be the state sport and the Governor cannot allow himself to fall victim to it," declared one Big Bill loyalist.

And liberal radio talk show host Mike Santullo let loose with old fashioned fire and brimstone. "The alleged sins of the Governor are nothing but nitpicking. Look at the Republicans. (U.S. Rep.) Tom Delay indicted; a California congressman admits taking millions in bribes; the Vice-President's chief of staff indicted. All that and a discredited war policy that is taking the nation into the gutter. And what are they hitting the Governor for? Using a plane to get around the state and a mistake in his resume 40 years ago," bellowed the veteran politico.

"I know he won't hit back directly and dignify the critics, but the state Democratic party needs to start a better offense on his behalf. The campaign is here and now. To hell with waiting for the calendar," fumed Santullo as he echoed the war tone of several other D's checking in here.


Another Dem insider took on the ABQ Journal's recent news report and editorial hitting Big Bill for not immediately releasing donors to his California fundraiser. The Guv's office says the records will be released when campaign reports are due.

"Do they ask (Senator Pete) Domenici to immediately release his campaign donors? Or Heather Wilson? No. They wait for the reports. So why such a big deal over the Governor? It's a double standard and smacks of innuendo," decried our Dem.


At the Governor's office the official line is more restrained, but it is evident that they too are tiring of the drumbeat. Communications Director Pahl Shipley, responding to the R operative who blasted the Guv on this blog Monday, swung into action Tuesday:

"The General Services Department (GSD) keeps the records for state aircraft and GSD has complied with every request for those records. Several media organizations have reviewed the material. It is wrong to say the Governor hasn’t made them available.

Also, the Governor has always fully complied with campaign finance requirements, and...documents every dollar received. Rarely, if ever, do candidates (Republicans included) provide fundraiser information on a case by case basis. To portray him as secretive is a blatant political attack with no basis in fact," said the head flack.

And without supplying details, Shipley indicated that a Big Bill counteroffensive will be more noticeable in the days ahead.


Another Dem upset at the turn of events e-mails in: "You have a Governor who has advanced the most progressive agenda in a generation. But the Republicans are trying to put it in the shadows and demonize him. But do you hear them offer even one concrete policy proposal to get this state moving again? He has ideas. They have snipers."

There is also scuttlebutt that the Guv may not only be fighting the R's but possible Dem opponents for the 08' Prez nomination and perhaps, just perhaps, they could be starting some of the mischief. It seems whomever fires volleys in the future better be prepared to reload. Big Bill's camp is returning the fire.

Just as we got done blogging that negotiating the Iraq war on the campaign trail would take all her formidable political skills, there was ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson stepping into the minefields. A House Intelligence Committee member, she defended her party's decision to block an investigation into faulty information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction saying: "We would do the country a terrible disservice if we spent our time looking in the rearview mirror." It was just the kind of opening the D's wished for and got Dem congressional hopeful Patricia Madrid off the bench and at bat:

“America’s citizens are paying a high cost for this conflict in tax dollars, and, more than that, America’s soldiers are paying an even higher cost – they are being asked to give their lives. The least that the government of this nation can do is to tell them why they are being asked to pay that price,” scored Madrid.

Who's to say who scores on this first round? But the fact that there is a round this early does underscore the opinion in top tier political circles that, for now, this race is in play and that Heather and Patsy have only scratched the surface.


And it looked like it was going to be a slow week! Thanks for your company and don't forget to e-mail me your New Mexico political news. You can remain anonyomous, just be right. There's a link at the top of the page.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Heather The Hawk Or Heather The Dove? Iraq War Tests Her, Plus: More 1st CD Action, And: Yet Another Reporter Embraces Big Bill 

Rep. Wilson
It is Heather the Hawk in the ABQ GOP Congresswoman's most recent statement on the problem-ridden Iraq war. She continues to equate the war with the fight against terrorism. "If they weren't blowing them up in Amman, they would be blowing them up in America. We are much better off hunting them down there, and I have no problem at all articulating that whether it's an election year or not."

Contrast that tough talk with her recent statement posted here saying 2006 could be the year troops finally start returning home. "I expect U.S. forces to stay in Iraq through December's elections at roughly the current level. But...if political and security progress continues...American forces should be able to start being drawn down in significant numbers during the course of the next year."

Heather Hawk appeals to the conservative GOP base and Heather Dove appeals to swing voters who have had enough of the war and are looking for a way out. The life span of Heather Hawk could be limited to the time leading up to the June primary. After that, a larger pool of voters becomes engaged who have the potential to go either way.

The Iraq war is a dilemma on all fronts. In the year ahead it will continue to test the patience of the American nation and the formidable political skills of New Mexico's Heather Wilson.


It's been assumed here and elsewhere that Heather wracked up a ten point win over Dem Richard Romero in 04', but the numbers can change with the final canvass and the change in this one is worth mentioning.

While fiddling around on the secretary of state's Web site, I ran the final numbers and found that Wilson actually beat Romero by 8.9%, not ten percent. Her 2002 victory was a ten point win, but 04' was not quite the landslide that it was made out to be Election Night.


Heather recently had her first Capitol Hill fundraiser since learning that she would get a challenge from Dem Attorney General Patricia Madrid next year.

She hosted a lunch at La Colline, asking individuals for $500 and political action committees for $1,000. She was also one of the beneficiaries of a fundraiser that the Republican Main Street Partnership hosted in Washington. Wilson's campaign kitty contained $732,000 as of Sept. 30.

Still on the 1st CD, Dem Chris Berkheimer will not run for the Dem nomination to take on Heather, yielding to party heavy Madrid. Says Chris: "Joe, I am no longer considering a run. Instead, I will support AG Madrid. I am going to be her co-chair for veterans outreach and will informally advise her on national security and homeland security."

Berkheimer worked Homeland Security for Big Bill and is a veteran of the first Gulf war.


Big Bill continues his quest to lift the New Mexico journalistic fraternity out of poverty and into his army of spin doctors. Radio news reporter Tom Trowbridge is the latest to head for the secure embrace of state employment, setting up shop at the NM Transportation department. Tom is known statewide for anchoring the "Dateline New Mexico" broadcasts for a time and for his work at ABQ'S KUNM-89.9 FM.

Big Bill said he would work to raise the per capita income of all New Mexicans. When it comes to ex-reporters, it is a campaign promise that has been fulfilled over and over again.

E-mail me your latest political news, gossip and juicy tidbits and help keep the politics coming.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Big Bill's Bean Ball: Faulty Resume Highlights Peril Of Prez Run; Microscopes Are On High Power; Is He Ready? It's Batter Up On Your Monday Blog 

It was a long holiday weekend of indigestion for Big Bill as news hit that his gold-plated resume had a turkey in it--he was not drafted by a major league baseball team as his bio has stated all these years. That was enough for the national media to clear their holiday plates and get back to work and cast the Guv's quest for the White House in a new light.

"The good news is the mishap came early and the bad news is that it came early," explained one Big Bill watcher. "The campaign has a long way to go so getting this out now gives him a chance to recover. At the same time, the national press which has been fairly glowing in their approach, now have reason to be tougher on him, not to mention the other contenders for the nomination."

The Guv's admission of resume inflation was released on Thanksgiving, giving hope to his numerous spinmeisters that its impact would be minimal. But in a perverse sort of way it got even more attention because there was nothing else going on in politics.

"It's the credibility issue that has to concern them," offered a Big Bill sympathizer. "It won't be dubbed 'Baseballgate,' but now the microscopes are on high power and everything he says, at least in the short term, is going to be greeted more skeptically. The presidential elimination process is fickle. At this level of politics, it's the little things that can can cause the most grief. He needs to circle the wagons and get his campaign running at a more disciplined level."


Not that there was a lot he could do about this mishap. He has been saying he was drafted for over twenty years. But the news came on the heels of several other campaign misfires, according to yet another Big Bill examiner.

"He flew to New Hampshire the same day it was revealed that the state was buying an expensive jet plane for his use. That was hit number one. Then his first TV spot for his re-election campaign had faulty information. Now this. Do you see Hillary Clinton with these problems?"

Some Santa Fe wall-leaners were saying its time for the Guv's chief of staff, Dave Contarino, to move over to the campaign full-time as is his widely expected. Others said Big Bill also needs a national political operative who can be charged with looking at the big picture and heading off trouble.

"Someone with national experience could be placed on the Guv's re-elect staff, someone he will actually listen to. It's like that old saying: When you decide to be your own lawyer, you have a fool for a client." Declared the insider.


Still, Big Bill remains blessed with ineffective opponents, at least when it comes to his re-election bid. "The R's are still on Sominex. If they have any hope of making a game of this they need to be out on the field now. But they are not and that gives Bill breathing room." Commented a GOP operative.

But politics is is a fast-paced biz these days and some R's were clamoring for action when they heard of Big Bill's bean ball. "Let me pile on, Joe. He won't release records on how he uses state airplanes; he was recently hit for not releasing records of a California fundraiser and now the resume incident. Is it a pattern of deception? There's a case to be made, but do we have the talent and drive to do it?" Wondered our frustrated GOP operative.

The Big Bill persona still dominates and the river of goodwill among New Mexicans runs deep. But the chinks in the armor--the incidents mentioned here and the balky Legislature he had during the recent special session--are now laid bare.

"It's giant chessboard and you have to be looking at all the pieces all the time before you make a move. What they have not understood is that behind every move is a countermove and you have to watch out for it. You've got to think about what can go wrong, not what can go right." Said another longtime Dem observer of high-level politics.

And so it goes on the brightly lit stage of La Politica where the stakes are the glory and the power. Every pitch you throw is seen by millions. Even a wild one thrown those many years ago.


And there's more from the Prez trail. The Guv is starting to move a bit on the Iraq war. Instead of 'staying the course,' he's now saying: "It is now time for the military commanders to design a phased, definitive withdrawal plan." Hey, is Hillary Clinton saying that? Not yet. And is wanna be Congresswoman Patricia Madrid? Inquiring minds would like to know.


Having a holiday bash featuring your favorite politicos? Don't forget your blog. Let me know where and when and we'll tag along and feature some of the highlights right here. Don't worry, no embarrassing photos of politicos kissing strangers under the Mistletoe, not without your permission anyway. And we work for food, so no added expense either. Just drop me an e-mail and lets celebrate the season ala La Politica.

E-mail me your news and comments and help keep the politics coming. There's link at the top of the page.

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