Monday, August 26, 2013

Mayor '13: Berry Starts Hitting Dinelli; Calls him "Risky," Plus: Heh-Raising; Other GOP Contender Making Noise; Dinelli's September Gamble And The Big ABQ Picture: Just Not Detroit? Or Something Better?  

Conventional wisdom has Mayor Berry with a healthy lead over Pete Dinelli in the October 8 mayoral face-off, but lead or no lead, Berry is starting to take some bites out of his Dem challenger.

Here's the Mayor's first "compare and contrast" piece against Dinelli in which he calls him a "risky choice who will hit our pocketbooks hard."

The mailer cites two long ago tax votes Dinelli took when he served on the city council from 1985 to 89'--some 25 years ago.

He slams Dinelli for supporting a a penny a gallon increase in the gas tax and blasts him for supporting a quarter cent tax increase for public safety. Berry says he resolved a $90 million budget shortfall without cutting city services for laying off workers. Dinelli's camp says:

As a City Councilor Pete was proud to raise salaries for our police officers and fire fighters while leading the fight for clean air and stronger emissions testing...We have a Republican Mayor who has cut public safety dollars and made us less safe by reducing the number of cops on the street. 

 Pete has always supported removing the gross receipts tax on food and medicine and was shocked that the Mayor sat on his hands while the Republicans in Santa Fe cut $40 million from the city's budget when they repealed the "hold harmless." provision. 

The mailer is printed by "MMS." That's McCleskey Media Strategies, run by Jay McCleskey, the Berry/Gov. Martinez political consultant who has become a trigger for controversy because of his rough campaign tactics against Dems and some R's. A good reason not to put your name on campaign literature.

Dinelli did not do much over the summer to soften up the mayor so he is going to have to have a very strong message in the final month to overtake the mayor. His goal is to keep Berry below 50% and force a Nov. 19 run-off election. Beating Berry in the first round is not seen as realistic by Dem consultants.


Republican Paul Heh is also in the race and making noise. His populist style is getting attention. He recently blurted out that downtown is drug infested and that's one reason why business does not want to come to ABQ. The Dems think Heh will pull votes from Berry--not Dinelli. But Heh has not raised much cash--not even $10,000. That's going to make it difficult for him to get much more than 5%.

Heh, a retired APD sergeant, is a hell-raiser in a town notably devoid of many in recent years. Kind of like the "mad as hell and not going to take it any more" every man. His passion is his power, but if he is to become a major factor it needs to be harnessed and marketed. And that takes campaign cash.


Berry has set the bar very low for his re-election, arguing that he prevented ABQ from becoming another Detroit which has gone bankrupt. But ABQ was never threatened with bankruptcy. What we have been threatened with is a demoralizing loss of jobs and opportunity.

The city has been dead money since the onset of the recession over three years ago.

Berry's "ABQ: The Plan" has landed with a thud. The federal investigation of APD for civil rights violation is not just about civil rights, but it's also a business killer.

The city's lack of interest in fighting for its federal military and energy presence as DC downsizes also stands out as the town drifts. We're no Detroit, but we're not what we used to be either--vibrant, on the move and seemingly headed somewhere. Shouldn't Berry and the city expect more?


As for Dinelli, he's like a gambler in the casino who is down $1000 and is going to try to get it all back with one roll of the dice or spin of the roulette wheel. He'll jam his $300,000 plus of public financing into September TV.

He will have to paint a positive portrait of himself as well as a negative one of the Mayor in that short period. Not easy.

Unlike Berry, his personality is not affable and not an easy TV sell. Berry's strongest point may be his likability. He is that "nice guy" down the block. People like voting for someone they like.


Joe Monahan
Berry has a very friendly daily newspaper and four years in office in which the Democratic opposition has been nonexistent. If no one says anything bad about you, you are not going to sink in the polls--regardless of whether you have a record of much accomplishment.

The power centers of ABQ have been decimated by the recession. They seem confused, but not divided. They are supporting Berry unless perhaps in the final weeks they see Dinelli as a plausible alternative--if he sets out a holistic vision of what ABQ should be.

The expectations of Mayor Berry may be very low but they seem to match the mood. It's as though a low-level depression has descended over the city. People sport "Don't Worry, Be Happy" smiles as a defense against what we all know--the city has lost its pulse and is need of a new identity for the new century.

No one wants to be the next Detroit, but the question for this campaign is: What do we want to be?

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