Thursday, May 17, 2007

ABQ Election '07: Our First Round Of Handicapping In Key Races, Plus: Musing Over Mayor Marty, And: Rudy Headed To NM; Al Gore Too 

Here's the latest comings and goings on the contenders for the four ABQ city council seats up for election this October. My first round of handicapping has incumbents Debbie O'Malley and Brad Winter positioned for re-election. District Six in the SE Heights will be a wide open affair as incumbent Martin Heinrich has vacated the seat to run for Congress. We will hold the analysis until we have the complete field announced. In District Eight in the far NE Heights, real estate broker Trudy Jones is positioned to take over the seat from fellow Republican Craig Loy who ran unopposed four years ago.

We see the long hand of ABQ Mayor Chavez in candidacies announced against O'Malley and Winter, but they retain solid support in their districts. They go off as 2 to 1 favorites with effective negative campaigning needed against them to shrink the odds. We'll keep you posted as post time nears.

As for the mayor, this is his second consecutive term, a time when the political cycle dictates some weakening. We've seen the city council assert itself more, but they had permitted the pendulum to swing so far toward the executive that it is just returning to a more normal balance. Chavez could be suffering some burnout after so many years, but he combats it with willpower and energy. His ambition for higher office also keeps him on his toes.

His Honor has lost control on a couple of issues, but the central governing ideas for the city continue to emanate from the 11th floor, not the council. His ideas, like him, remain generally popular. If those ideas start to dry up, more substantial power could start to flow through the nine councilors. One other thing. It is possible, if not likely, that Marty could forgo a run for Guv and seek another mayoral term in '09. Having that option doesn't prevent lame-duck disease, but it makes it less severe. (The mayor or someone else would have to go to court to get current term limits overturned as was done with city council term limits in order for him to run for another term.)


Insiders report in that GOP prez candidate Rudy Giuliani will make his first NM campaign appearance in ABQ in June. Additional details to come, but we are told the former New York City mayor will hold a fund-raising event. Meantime, Democrat Al Gore, who is not being ruled out yet as a possible '08 contender, is also coming to the state, not to campaign but to talk the environment.


With pump prices back above three bucks a gallon, the idea of rebating more of the state's windfall energy surplus directly to consumers should again arise, but it isn't because politicians of all stripes want to spend every dime that comes their way. ABQ State Senators Ryan and Cravens made a stab at the concept in 2006, but did little to advocate for their rebate proposal. Even conservatives are too tempted by the huge pot of gold that has been coming into Santa Fe the past five years because of high natural gas and oil prices. If all that money is being spent wisely and is necessary for government programs, we should not have any rebates. How many of you believe that?

It is not much prettier in Washington, where NM's two U.S. Senators command the Senate Energy Committee--Jeff Bingaman as chairman and Pete Domenici as ranking member. But we are hearing the same old tune--the problem is long term. Well, as the fella once said, in the long term we're all dead. Republican Pete could help by working to persuade the President to end the no-end-in-sight Iraq war which creates political instability that puts a premium on world oil prices; Democrat Jeff could slap the oil and gas industry on the butt for their refineries and why they only seem to be working part-time. Yes, less dependence on oil is the long term solution, but does that mean we deserve a do-nothing Congress while New Mexicans tool around in eight year old Chevy Malibus trying to make ends meet? (If you own a gas hogging Hummer, you are on your own.)


Will someone please do something about the over-the-top Santa Fe police department? A crime wave has swept the city and now they want to hire Mexican nationals to fill cop vacancies? Actually, the department needs more vacancies--including the top brass. Where is the mayor? Hiding in a booth at Tiny's waiting for it all to go away as this story breaks nationally? Mayor, you are supposed to be safeguarding an American treasure, our nation's oldest capital city. But you already knew that.


This long, long race for the ABQ congressional seat is going to be a barrel of fun--or not. One of our Dem emailers ripped into hopeful Martin Heinrich here, calling the city councilor a "pretty boy" with no substance, a comment that deserves rebuttal. Here it is from Heinrich cheerleader Andrew Scrank: "Where's the beef?" In a very short political career Heinrich has made enormous contributions on a host of important issues: economic justice (e.g., the ABQ minimum wage initiative), environmental protection (e.g., the protection of Open Space, incentives for hybrid vehicles...crime control..." Opines Andrew. But Heinrich, we're sure, is thankful that they aren't calling him ugly.....Go ahead, Bill. Make it official.

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