Friday, March 06, 2009

Mayor Marty First To Qualify For Public Funding; Puts On The Speed And Turns Up The Heat; Who Will Keep Up? Plus: A New Mexican Snags Top D.C. Post 

Mayor Chavez
The campaign of ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez is operating on all cylinders, turning in an impressive early performance by collecting over 4,500 five dollar contributions, easily becoming the first mayoral contender to qualify for $328,000 in public financing and putting his foes on notice that he has once again come to play.

The successful contribution drive for what would be his fourth mayoral term was one more reason for the mayor to throw a party this week. The other was to celebrate his 57th birthday which he did with his volunteers at the home of Mark Fleisher, his campaign manager, who told the Chavez faithful:

It was a great birthday present for the Mayor--completing all required contributions in less than two weeks. We will be filing them with the City Clerk for validation and to become certified as a Publicly Funded Candidate. Because of your hard work the campaign will receive $328,000 the first week of April to run The Mayor's Re-Election Campaign.

Mayoral candidates need 3,300 $5 contributions to qualify for public financing. Who else will get it done? Insiders say the bests bets are GOP State Rep. Richard Berry who can lean on the state and county Republican organizations and former Dem State Senator Richard Romero, the favorite of many liberals who also have organizational experience. Dem City Councilors Michael Cadigan and Debbie O'Malley remain question marks. Romero had collected about 1,000 contributions as of early this week while Cadigan had obtained about 700. They have until the end of this month to get to about 3,300.

That Chavez was able to quality for public financing in only two weeks speaks to the many city employees and longtime political contacts he could call on for help. But it also speaks to his ability to whip an organization into shape and take command, qualities that voters look for not just in a candidate, but also in their mayor. Clearly, Chavez is going for a a first round kill--a vote total of 40 percent that would avoid putting him in a run-off with the second place finisher. This early organizational rout of his opposition makes it hard to bet against him.


Mayoral candidates also need to submit over 6,500 petition signatures to make the ballot, but they have until the end of April to get those. My top city analysts believe no more than three or four candidates will qualify for public financing. They say we may have a candidate make the October ballot by getting petition signatures, but not take the public financing, but that is a long shot. The bottom line? We had four candidates in 2005. Look for a similar number this year.

Hilary Tompkins
Ever since Big Bill was forced to withdraw as Obama's commerce secretary, New Mexico has had a political drought in the new administration--no major appointees from our state. That seems ready to change. Hilary Tompkins, the former chief counsel to Big Bill, is in line to become the top legal official for the Interior Department and Secretary Ken Salazar. She is currently being vetted for the post and a formal announcement is expected soon.

Hilary is a member of the Navajo Nation. She was born at Zuni, NM, adopted at birth and raised in New Jersey. The Stanford Law grad is now an adjunct professor who teaches courses in Indian law at the UNM School of Law. Her appointment as Solicitor of Interior requires Senate confirmation, but NM Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman will have no problem touting Tompkins to their colleagues. She gets high marks from those who have worked with her. Also, having a Navajo in the key Interior legal position is going to give NM a seat at the table in an agency that exercises significant influence here.

Our records check shows Tompkins donated $4800 to the Obama campaign. She also donated $500 to the 2008 Udall campaign and $250 to the campaign of Rep. Martin Heinrich.

While Richardson is licking his wounds from his commerce withdrawal, he can take some solace that it was his appointment of Tompkins that positioned her for the top post. NM could use a few more voices in D.C. agencies like Energy and Interior. Maybe that's something for our congressional delegation to work on.


Seeing is believing when it comes to ethics bills at the Roundhouse. That's the opinion of veteran observers of the Legislature. They remain unimpressed with the action thus far, even the approval of a campaign contribution bill by the Senate Rules Committee where a lot of ethics stuff usually dies. We asked several what their outlook was for passage of major ethics legislation and to a person they said expected nothing--nada--to pass this session. Are they too cynical after years of witnessing the ethics graveyard grow ever larger?


Some readers say we were too tough on Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and his SWAT team when we said they had bad luck after staking out a house for over eight hours and an alleged killer turned out to never have been at the location. Retired cop James Flores was among those taking us to task

That was a cheap shot at the Sheriff’s department, including their SWAT team regarding the call-out. They worked hard and stayed diligent to protocol, and trust me, nobody wanted to hook this guy up more than them. Investigating and searching out homicide suspects, and coming up empty handed, is extremely frustrating, to say the least...


There were too may cooks in the kitchen sending us e-mails on behalf of the University of New Mexico Graduate and Professional Students Association and that led to a mix-up. Lisa Knudsen assures us she is the official GPSA chair and says:

...GPSA passed 2 resolutions (not 4) related to the UNM administration - 1) in support of the faculty, including their request for an audit with the amendment that each of the faculty's motions be voted on by the GPSA members as a whole in early April and 2) no confidence in Regent Jamie Koch. We did not vote on either the VP Harris or the President Schmidly resolutions...(Those will be voted on by the GPSA membership). I met with State Auditor Hector Balderas. He seemed open to conducting an audit though cautioned that likely no one would "win" in this situation.

We said Thursday that State Senator Stuart Ingle was a "Clovis lawmaker." Ray Sullivan, publisher for Freedom New Mexico, which puts out the Clovis News-Journal and the Portales News-Tribune, among others, sets the record straight:

Joe: Hate to tell you but you mention in the (UNM Regent Jamie) Koch article that Stu Ingle is a Clovis politico. The folks in Portales and Roosevelt County would be surprised to hear that since he's a farmer down that way.

Thanks for blogging in, Ray. For the record, the Senator represents parts of Chaves, Curry, De Baca & Roosevelt counties. Stu is a farmer? Well, then. Of course he's not from Clovis. Our old friend--former State Senator and lobbying legend Odis Echols, a Clovis native, once told us the only farmers in Clovis are "dirt farmers." With all due respect to Clovis...

And that's a wrap on the week that was. We're a one-man band playing a lot of music and appreciate each of our contributors for helping us keep it in tune.

Reporting and blogging from Albuquerque, NM, I'm Joe Monahan.

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