Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hector-Brian Bromance Comes To ABQ Mayor Contest, Latest On Keller-Balderas Tension On Presbyterian Probe And New Major GOP Candidate Poised To Enter Southern Congress Race 

The Brian Colón/Hector Balderas bromance shows no signs of cooling. In fact, Attorney General Hector will be the featured guest as Colón opens his mayoral campaign headquarters Thursday evening in ABQ's SE Heights.

The two Dem lawyers have long been friends, plotting their futures together. But the ant at their political picnic today is State Auditor and fellow Dem Tim Keller who is leading in the early insider mayoral polls for the October 3 election. Colón is running third behind Keller and Republican Dan Lewis. Only the two top vote getters will advance to a Nov. 7 run-off, assuming no candidate in the crowded field pulls in 50 percent of the vote needed for an outright victory.

The Colón crowd sees Keller as an upstart and outsider who thrives on naked ambition. The Keller crowd sees Colón and Balderas as throwbacks to the patrón system replete with shady undertones.

Balderas can help Colón because Colón is of Puerto Rican descent and not a native Hispanic like Balderas who was born in Wagon Mound. Among the major candidates Colón may have the best shot of grabbing a large share of the Hispanic vote. GOP businessman Ricardo Chaves and Dem Michelle Garcia Holmes are native Hispanics but are battling it out in the lower tier of the eight person contest. Giving Balderas top billing at his campaign bash is the opening salvo in Colón's quest for this important ethnic bloc.


Both Keller and Balderas have been actively investigating claims that Presbyterian Healthcare, the largest employer in the city, has not paid its fair share of premium taxes to the state. Balderas outscored Keller in the PR department when he went nuclear on Presbyterian, amping up his rhetoric and vowing to extract unpaid taxes from the healthcare giant who he accuses of fraud. Keller has been critical of Presbyterian but more circumspect in his statements. Balderas has been criticized for failing to wait for the completion of Keller's audit before filing a lawsuit against Presbyterian.

Happier times
Also, Balderas may have reaped PR from the Pres charges but it also brought digs his way, including one that asked, why, if he is so intent on fighting for the taxpayers, has he yet to do anything with the corruption investigation involving former APD Chief Ray Schultz and his dealings with Taser? It has been a couple of years since Auditor Keller dumped his damning investigation into Hector's lap which said it appeared ABQ's purchase of Taser's products was rigged by Schultz and perhaps others.

Back on Presbyterian, no doubt the bean counters there have been aggressive in holding down their taxes, but they are also easy pickings for the AG and Auditor. Big Healthcare is not beloved so bashing it comes with little political cost. But Presbyterian has labored for decades to build public trust here and has been free of major scandal.

Gov. Martinez's administration roiled the behavioral healthcare system by wrongly accusing the NM providers of fraud and replacing them with out of state providers. The charges were found to be hogwash but behavioral health (and the lives of many of its clients) was severely damaged. Certainly, if Presbyterian owes taxes, they need to pay them. But to accuse it of fraud and possible criminal behavior, as the AG is doing, and to do so without concrete evidence put before the public, is a dangerous game to be playing.


Keller's forces are nervous about what we call the half million dollar money bomb that Colón will soon start dropping. They argue (and hope) that the onetime lieutenant governor candidate doesn't have the savvy to craft a winning message. And they also argue, somewhat nervously, that Colón's cash on hand---the aforementioned half million--may be overstated because Colón may be deferring paying campaign bills until later in the campaign or even after it. Still, with Keller confined to a public financing budget of $380,000 they have good reason to use the worry beads as they ponder Colón's cash.


Not all voters want the campaign to be all about crime, but how can that be when crazy stuff like this is happening here and making national news:

Police are investigating a bizarre heist of a 1,700-pound barbecue pit from a popular Albuquerque restaurant. . . Police say the black and red 200-gallon smoker was stolen early Sunday. Daniel Morgan, the owner of Pepper's Ole Fashion BBQ, says the smoker was cooking up a batch of brisket when it was taken. Morgan says most of the meat the restaurant serves is prepared in an indoor barbecue pit and he uses the custom built apparatus for catering gigs.

And the solution to the barbecue pit caper? Well, let's put it this way--it lacks red meat. The vegetarians in charge of fighting crime around here--the Mayor, police chief and DA--are again deflecting responsibility and want you to do their job for them:

The city of Albuquerque and the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced the creation of an initiative called SCAN, or Security Camera Analytical Network. The idea, explained Mayor Berry, is to get the owners of existing security cameras at homes and businesses to voluntarily register their cameras and become part of a potentially large security camera map. Police would then look at the whole collection of video taken in a crime area for suspects or details of a crime or maybe even track an escape route.

How in the name of Powdrell's and Rudy's is that going to stop a stolen 1,700 pound barbecue pit from whizzing down the avenues of ABQ with its smoky trail pleasing the nostrils of the criminals laughing at its passing? Nice try mayor, police chief and DA, but no brisket for you.


Monty Newman
Alligators of the R variety are giving us heads-up on a possible significant development in the race for the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat. They report that former NM GOP chairman and ex-Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman is poised to join the race.

Newman ran for the nomination the last time Rep. Steve Pearce vacated the seat to run for higher office. That was in 2008 when Pearce unsuccessfully sought a US Senate seat. This time Pearce is leaving the seat to try to become governor.

Newman, who is in the real estate business, had big time financial support from national real estate interests in '08 but he came up short and the nomination was won by businessman Ed Tinsley who was defeated by Dem Harry Teague in the general election.  Also in that GOP nominating race was none other than Aubrey Dunn, Jr. who is now the state land commissioner but has decided to give that post up to again run for the southern CD.

If Newman gets in he can be expected to get financial support from the oil and gas industry. They've had their differences with Aubrey. Watching this closely is Alamogordo State Rep. Yvette Herrell, the underdog candidate, who has to be hoping that Newman and Dunn start a dust-up with one another and that it benefits her.

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