Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bill Gets "Official"; How Did It Play? Plus: ABQ Council Veto-Proofs Mayor Marty, And: Santa Fe Press Corp Shrinks 

Bill & Barbara in L.A.
It was not a heavy news Monday around the nation, and that was to the benefit of Big Bill who made his presidential candidacy "official" before a throng of politicos and reporters at a Los Angeles hotel. The announcement, of course, was anti-climatic since the Guv has been campaigning since he formed his "exploratory committee" in January. But the media bought into it, giving him coverage like this from the AP. There was a zinger in there--a reference to a story the news service hit with Sunday that had a mother of a slain New Mexican solider complaining that the Guv has misrepresented a conversation she had with him at her son's funeral. The story shaded the AP coverage, but did not make it into the reports of other major news organizations and seemed to have limited legs.

The Washington Post took the opportunity of the "official" announcement to do a lengthy and largely favorable profile of Bill. ABC News anchor Charles Gibson was on the Web with video analysis of the campaign, mentioning the Guv's recent rise in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire. He replayed a part of the humorous TV spot that is being given credit for that bump in the numbers. Here is big video chunk of the speech as delivered in L.A.


There was a New Mexico reference of interest as he pointed out that Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish was on the stage with him and he joked over who was in charge of the state while the two campaigned. (Secretary of State Mary Herrera serves as acting governor in their absence.)

We also noticed NM Treasurer James B. Lewis on the stage smiling broadly at Bill. Lewis is New Mexico's most prominent black politician and Democratic Prez primaries attract large numbers of African-American voters.

The presence of Denish was notable as it was her comments in December '05 stating that the Governor sometimes touched her inappropriately that set off a stream of ongoing and negative coverage. That seems to have subsided in recent weeks. The Governor was introduced to the gathering by wife Barbara. Also of note is the Guv ratcheting up his references to his Hispanic heritage and his use of Spanish. California's primary is the clear target.

The national media seems pleased to have Richardson reaching double digits, giving them a new angle on the interminably long Prez campaign. Of course, if he starts to climb even higher in the polls the long knives and the negative coverage will come as soon as the sun rises in the east. Such is the nature of the game played at the highest levels.

Council Prez O'Malley
A battle of wills between the ABQ city council and Mayor Marty Chavez ended Monday night with the council of a liberal bent giving reasons that appeal to conservatives for their decision to delay the mayor's eighth of a cent cut in the gross receipts tax from January until July 2008. The council said the $9 million saved by the delay will be used to help fund the Bernalillo county jail. "I don't want to see corrections officers put at risk," declared Councilor Martin Heinrich as he voted to delay the tax cut. The statement could be seen as an attempt to inoculate himself against the charge that he is a tax and spend liberal, a charge he can expect from ABQ Congresswoman Heather Wilson who he hopes to challenge in '08.

The tax delay passed with enough votes to override a mayoral veto, so it looks as if the 11th floor is going to have take its medicine on this one.

Council Prez Debbie O'Malley, armed with the votes, handled the situation with equanimity amid a caustic mood toward His Honor led by Councilor and possible '09 mayoral hopeful Michael Cadigan. She said she thought a delayed tax cut was actually a good compromise with the mayor who had flatly refused to talk with councilors about giving any money to the jail.

The mayor offered no compromise and he got none. A veto-proof majority is not set in concrete on other issues, but Mayor Marty may have to pay more attention to his own backyard, even as he busies himself with preparations for a run for Governor in 2010.


There is one less voice in the news coverage coming from our state capitol. Walt Rubel, who covered the Legislature and state government for Media News Group's half dozen NM newspapers, including the Las Çruces Sun-News, is off the beat. Rubel has landed a job as managing editor for the Sun-News, but no one has been named to replace him in Santa Fe, leaving a hole in capitol coverage for rural New Mexicans. Budget tightening is probably the reason as the newspaper biz continues to deal with the changing media times.

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