Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Clippings From My Newsroom Floor: Susana's Obama Love, A Mayor O'Malley? Also: More Drama In ABQ Westside Senate Battle, And: Our Bottom Line Clippings 

Susana put on her smiley face and warmly greeted President Obama during his SE NM visit this month and even shared how they agree on aspects of education reform. The warm and fuzzy welcome was in direct contrast to a stern partisanship that the GOP Governor has shown to most Democrats. It drew reader reaction like this from Kathryn Carroll of Tucson:

Wouldn't she have eliminated any consideration of herself for the vice-presidency in the eyes of the national Republican candidates when she said "she and the Democratic president "speak the same language" on school reform"?  When you consider that the goal of the Republican party is to defeat the current occupant of the White House, isn't a statement like that which implies that she is in total agreement with his educational policies the kiss of death in their eyes?  I thought it was an interesting choice of words, and I certainly agree with your stand that she could use similar language with the legislature. But the big question remains--why is Martinez buttering up her party's most disliked individual?  

Thanks, Kathryn. Let's take a a stab at an answer. First, Martinez is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP VP candidate but the odds are long indeed. Will her cozying up to Obama cause her some heartburn with the national nominating wing of the GOP? It could. But it's clear Martinez's target audience is not national, but local. She is seeking re-election here in 2014 and needs to maintain the goodwill of conservative Dems and independents. Finding common ground with Obama on  an issue like education which crosses party lines meshes with that goal. (She also spared New Mexico the embarrassment showered upon Arizona when its hard-right GOP Governor insulted the chief executive when he touched down recently in Phoenix.)

Further evidence Martinez is positioning for '14 is found in a recent mailer that went out from Susana PAC. It touted her accomplishments in education at the recent legislative session,  Never mind that her major proposals died in the Legislature, the campaign operatives try to create an alternate reality.


ABQ City Councilor Debbie O'Malley has never drawn raves when her name pops up as a mayoral candidate, She ran briefly in 2009 but folded her tent early. But could 2013 turn out to be an O'Malley friendly year? Her defiance this week (along with two other Dem councilors) of GOP Mayor RJ Berry was the first real showing of any Democratic backbone on the nine member council since Berry took over in December of 2009.

O'Malley took major hits from the mayor and his political operatives for her stance that the $93 million rebuild of the Paseo/I-25 interchange go to the voters, but she came out just fine with her political base and maybe even the community at large. After all, politicians rarely get in trouble for advocating that the public vote on an issue--and that's what O'Malley advocated.

This city council has been borderline obsequious when it comes to pushing back against the 11th Floor, but then the 11th Floor has been pretty somnolent, choosing to do a little but not a lot and hoping that that is enough for another four years.

O'Malley is a liberal in an increasingly blue city. She is also  part Hispanic and a woman in a city that has yet to elect a female mayor.  But her chief appeal is the fight she has in her in contrast to the laid-back Berry. That seemed to work against her when she shared power with more combative personalities like Mayor Chavez. But now the city may hunger for leadership that is more front and center than Berry has been.

Berry's sharp partisan turn on Paseo in which he went after the three council Democrats was intended to polarize them and make him appear as the fighter. But did it have the opposite effect and empower the likes of O'Malley?


The drama continues in that state Senate race on ABQ's west side where 25 year old Jacob Candelaria is attempting to become the first openly gay male to serve in the New Mexico Senate. But unlike, say 20 years ago, it's not his sexuality that has become an issue, but his petition signatures. Are they valid? Carlos Villanueva, Candelaria's rival for the Dem nod in the district from which Senator Bernadette Sanchez has announced her retirement, says that Candelaria's petitions are riddled with fraud.

Villanueva has not been available for comment but a friend of his says he will go to court in an effort to prove the allegation and kick Candelaria off the ballot. The Bernalillo County clerk's office told us Wednesday that they notified the secretary of state of Villanueva's fraud complaint and that the SOS referred it to the state police to investigate.

We posted Candelaria's signatures on Thursday's blog and said some of them looked pretty funky. KOAT-TV learned about the story from your blog and sent a reporter out to interview persons whose signatures were on Candelaria's petitions. Many of them said they never signed their names to the petitions, even though they were listed as signing. The Candelaria campaign released this statement to the TV station and to us in which they acknowledge they have problems with some of their signatures:

We are very concerned if even one of the signatures we filed was improperly collected. Our campaign had no knowledge of anyone who collected signatures improperly and certainly we would never allow that to happen. We hired a local vendor to augment the signatures our candidate and volunteers were collecting and we were assured that all the signatures gathered were in accordance with the law. We are carefully reviewing each and every signature and look forward to working with the authorities to see if anything is amiss.

It takes 75 valid signatures to make the ballot. If Villanueva, a former accountant for Bernalillo county government, can prove in court that Candelaria's petitions contain too many fraudulent signatures to reach that threshold, he could be thrown off the ballot. That would make Villanueva the new senator from the district because no R's have filed for the seat.

Was Jacob Candelaria a young man in too much of a hurry and will he now miss a golden opportunity to make political history? Or is Carlos Villanueva crying wolf as he tries to stave off defeat from the better organized and better funded Candelaria? Stay tuned.

Carlos Villanueva
There's even more drama in the Valley of ABQ. Dem State Senate candidate Michael Padilla is a friend of Carols Villanueva. And while Villanueva is apparently preparing a court challenge over his rival's petitions, Padilla is also alleging that one of his rivals for the Senate nomination--State Rep. Eleanor Chavez--has filed faulty petitions. He has forwarded his complaint to the Bernalillo County district attorney, secretary of state and county clerk.

It's not known if Padilla will pursue a court challenge, but Rep. Chavez tells associates she is confident she has enough valid signatures to make the ballot. There are two other candidates in that Dem race. It is for the Senate seat that is being given up by Eric Griego who is running for Congress. The winner of the Dem nod will get the trip to Santa Fe in the district barren of Republicans.


Longtime blog reader Jim Terr of Santa Fe writes:

My friend Mark Cross has been working on his book for at least 10 years. It's carefully put together and finally coming out!  Northern New Mexico is at long last the subject of a regional encyclopedia. The Encyclopedia of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, scheduled for release in April, contains more than 1,000 alphabetical entries and 180 illustrations, all relating to Northern New Mexico.

Thanks, Jim. That looks like it is right up the blog alley...

Perfect weather for a round of golf lately but it appears it will soon be at a higher price if you want to knock the ball around a city operated course, reports golf writer Dan Vukelich.

ABQ's Doug Douglas comes with this end of week laugher:

An investigation of the racing industry by the New York Times says that five of the six tracks with the nation's highest injury rate are in New Mexico. When the New Mexico racing commission heard this they were shocked and said. "Five out of six?" "That's almost half."

Thanks for stopping in. This is the home of New Mexico politics.

Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan

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