Monday, March 25, 2013

Berry Starts Chasing Campaign Cash; $1000 A Pop Lunch Slated, Plus: Dem Chair Race Heats Up, And: More Session '13; Compelling Analysis Of Senate Leader Sanchez 

How big will Berry's spending be? That question is fundamental to the 2013 ABQ Mayor's race as incumbent GOP Mayor Berry has decided not to go the public financing route. Instead, he will raise private cash for his re-election bid.

One of his first major fund-raisers will be held April 8 and asks for a contribution of either $1000 or $500. It's being hosted by longtime ABQ GOP businessman Sherman McCorkle and Hong Hou, head of ABQ-based technology firm Emcore. (We've posted the invite here.)

Berry will need to raise over $362,000 to justify his rejection of public financing. That's the amount a candidate gets when he meets the rigorous qualifications for the money. Our campaign watchers say a conservative estimate is that Berry raises $500,000.

The mayor has signed up DC fund-raiser Anne Ekern. Her past clients include former ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson.

Democrat Pete Dinelli is the only mayoral contender with any chance to qualify for the public financing He has only this week left to collect $5 donations from some 3,600 registered city voters. If he doesn't, he will join Berry in raising private cash.

Then there's the issue of the Super PACs. Anyone can set one up and flood the campaign with money--and none of it is very open to public scrutiny. The only real rule is that the Super PAC not coordinate its activities (such as TV ads) with those of an official mayoral campaign. The odds are high that we will see the Super's playing in the  mayoral contest which ends in October. We will get our first idea on how Berry's fund-raising is going when he files a city financial report April 15.


One of Berry's early re-election problems is his 2009 campaign promise to lower the city's rate of  property crime. He ran a hard-hitting TV spot on the issue, attacking the record of then-Mayor Marty Chavez and saying property crime here was much higher than neighboring cities. The attack helped him win, but like previous mayors Berry has found the problem sticky. Here he is today trying to get ahead of the campaign curve.

...Berry rolled out a new package of initiatives aimed at tackling property crime. He wants to cooperate with businesses to access their live video feeds, highlight repeat offenders using the city website and other media, and pass new legislation making it harder to sell stolen copper. Berry said city crime rates hit a 20-year low before climbing slightly. “Although these statistics show a slight increase in property crime, it still shows that APD has been successful at making this city a bad place to be a criminal,” Berry said...

Berry's approval ratings are high, so he will be subjected to a vigorous negative campaign with perhaps an argument over the crime stats being a key element.


While Berry was moving to fill in the hole in his record on property crime, Dinelli continued to roll out endorsements from prominent Dems, including from State Auditor Hector Balderas and ABQ State Rep, Moe Maestas, the House majority whip.

Dinelli will work to consolidate the Democratic base early. He has extra work to do with liberals who shunned Dem Mayor Chavez and who attorney Dinelli worked for as public safety director.


The race is on. So say our Dem insiders closely watching the battle for the chairmanship of the state Democratic Party being waged between ABQ attorney Sam Bregman and attorney and former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne Lara.

The assessment comes in the aftermath of the Bernalillo County Dem convention Saturday. Bregman's forces said they were going for a blow-out win in Bregman's home county. But it didn't happen and now the race is seen as more competitive.

Four years ago Bregman lost the chair battle by only a few votes to Javier Gonzales. He started this bid as the clear front-runner, but Lara, 36, has done well outside of her native south, scoring in Santa Fe County and now insiders say she appears to have held her own in big BernCo. Bregman, however, saw a surge of support at the Sandoval County weekend Dem meeting.

(A third candidate, Cornelia Lange, is also running, but is not seen as a player in this one).

Only about 400 Dem state central committee delegates will vote in late April to decide the race. About 125 of them will come from BernCo.

There is much spinning going on by both sides. Delegates can change their minds right up until the final vote so arm-twisting will be the order of the day for the next month.

The new chair will set the tone for the Dems going into the 2014 cycle when Governor Martinez seeks re-election and control of the state House will again be contested.

Also at the BernCo Dem meeting, Ana Canales was re-elected county chair, defeating challenger Victor Raigoza.


Sens. Smith & Sanchez (Journal)
To the state Senate now--and we don't mean to the public gallery. We mean deep into the Senate--on the floor and up-close for the exclusive insights you can get only here.

We've run much analysis of the legislative leadership--both pro and con--during and after the recent 60 day legislative session. Today the analysis comes from an insider who wanted Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to take a more activist role in opposing the Governor and also make changes to the Senate status quo. We think you'll find it compelling and controversial:

Joe, Your analysis of the legislative session was very insightful. However, some legislative observers believe that you were too harsh on House Speaker Ken Martinez and too easy on Senate Majority Floor Leader Michael Sanchez. It wasn’t just the corporate income tax cut on which Michael caved:

For example, Michael sponsored the constitutional amendment to increase funding for early childhood education, but assigned it three committees (Senate Rules, Judiciary and Finance)--clearly he did not want his own constitutional amendment to pass the legislature and go to the voters. The amendment died in committee without a hearing.

Additionally, the “close the gun-show loophole” bill  passed its final Senate committee on the Thursday night before Saturday adjournment, meaning it could have been heard in the Friday floor session. But Michael, who controls the floor calendar, waited until the final minutes of the session on Saturday to bring it up, making it an easy target for a filibuster.

Does Michael’s real agenda have little to do with Democratic Party values or even defeating Governor Martinez in 2014? Or is it about maintaining his enormous power base in the Senate? Is that why Michael shunned the bid of Senator Campos to become President Pro-Tem? 

Michael doesn’t want any rivals and wants to remain the unquestioned leader of the Senate Democrats. Majority Whip Tim Keller and President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen are ideal from his standpoint because they were selected by a conservative coalition and, therefore, don’t pose a threat to his leadership of the Democratic caucus.

You assume that Michael surrendered and the agenda is about pushing Democratic Party principles and defeating Governor Martinez in 2014. That is naive. Anyone who has carefully watched the Senate  knows that it is about one thing and one thing only: maintaining Michael’s insecure grasp on power. But your main thesis is correct~the Governor has been given a free ride by Democrats....

Interesting. The Alligators have previously said that Sanchez had one of the great political opportunities in state history when he won re-election by beating the Governor's political machine last November. He could have made the play for control of both the Majority Leader position and the Pro Tem post and busted the Senate's conservative coalition. He could have then advanced an agenda that would have forced the Governor to compromise on a more Dem oriented agenda. But it never happened.

That's why we differ with our insider who asserts Sanchez was protecting his "enormous power" this session. His power is not what we would term "enormous." It is based on an accommodation with the fiscally conservative politics of Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith and a handful of Martinez Democrats who agree with much of the Republican Governor's agenda.

One of our Senior Alligators says the lengthy personal friendships in the Senate between Sanchez, Smith and other players may have made a difference in Sanchez's decision to lay back. He said:

"Sometimes these friendships can trump policy decisions, or in this case even the decision to take the power that is there for the taking."

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