Thursday, April 08, 2021

Where Is ABQ's Woman Mayor? Plus: Santa Fe Mayor Brawl Features Charges Of Anti-Semitism, Mark Moores Worst Nightmare Is On TV And More On Mimi-Daniel Spat  

Anti-Semitic cartoon?
With the races for mayor of ABQ and Santa Fe starting to shape up, reader Nancy Cliff wonders:

Why is it that ABQ has never had a woman mayor? Even Silver City has had one! 

That is an oddity, considering that women now make up the majority of the state House and the ABQ City Council and represent all three of the state's US House seats. 

The only answer we have, Nancy, is that perhaps women are better at recognizing a dead end than the men. No ABQ mayor has ever gone on to higher office, and not for lack of trying. 

ABQ Mayor Tim Keller may want to go higher someday but first he has to win re-election this November. He explains why he thinks he deserves a second term in this recent announcement.

In Santa Fe, the brawling has started seven months before the balloting with Mayor Alan Webber accusing his opponents of engaging in anti-Semitism

 The AFSCME union created and distributed a flyer that includes the cartoon among its members. . .The cartoon depicts a man Webber says is meant to represent him, except with “a large, exaggerated nose.” Large noses have historically been used in derogatory depictions of Jewish people. . . Webber referenced that history when denouncing the cartoon. “This has no place in Santa Fe, not just with regard to me, but for everyone in our diverse city. We must reject this kind of divisive ugliness.”. . . Union officials – who have been critical of Webber’s time in office –said the  person depicted in the cartoon is not supposed to be Webber. Rather, they say it’s a generic city employee and is not based on a real person.

Webber's critics accuse him of ginning up the incident and using it for fund-raising but there's little question that Santa Fe is tearing itself apart along ethnic lines. This campaign is way too long--already.  


Aubrey Dunn, also known as Mark Moores' worst nightmare, says he's joining Dem Melanie Stansbury and Republican Moores on the airwaves as he battles for the vacant congressional seat as an independent candidate in the June 1 special election. 

Dunn, a former R turned Libertarian turned Indy, is back with his familiar trademark cowboy hat preaching the conservative gospel. No "teddy bear" talk from this hard-hitting rancher/banker in his first ad:

My opponents follow their party lines no matter how extreme. The  border crisis, liberal abortion laws, defund the police and Nancy Pelosi. Come on.. . I live on a ranch and know BS when I see it."

Dunn also takes credit, for generating "record revenues" while land commissioner. 

Unlike fellow conservative hopeful Moores, the well-known Dunn doesn't have to introduce himself. Instead he gets an early start at throwing out the red meat to the conservative base. 

No word on how much Dunn’s TV buy is or how much he's raised. That's probably best for Moores whose nightmare is already pretty crowded.


Reader and political consultant Sascha Anderson thinks we got it wrong in our latest coverage of the row between Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and fellow Dem and ABQ Senator Daniel Ivey Soto. She writes: 

I was so disappointed in the coverage of Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart's op-ed. You wrote, "She appears to equate his behavior with sexual abuse she suffered as a child," but it actually doesn't appear that way to any reasonable reader of the piece--at all. In fact, to imply as much is incredibly exploitative of Stewart's candor and courage in recounting that detail of her life. It's clear that she only uses her experience to illustrate that she is able to identify abusive behavior--in no way did it seem that Stewart was calling the two things equivocal. I get that you need to drive readership, but this was pretty beyond the pale. 


We had a passionate crowd of over 100 join us for a webinar Wednesday night sponsored by Retake Our Democracy and moderated by group leaders Paul Gibson and Roxanne Barber. The attendees peppered us with questions on how the legislative process can be made more responsive, even while celebrating several major achievements from this year, including a constitutional amendment for early childhood funding. One disappointment for the group was the defeat of a bill that would have lowered those notoriously high-interest payday loans from 175 percent to 35 percent, but there's always next year. Paul's blog can be found on the Retake site linked above. 

The results of the Melanie Stansbury-Antoinette Sedillo Lopez Dem Central Committee runoff for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination don't add up to 100 percent because one delegate abstained. From the D's: Melanie Stansbury – 103 votes, 51.24%; Antoinette Sedillo Lopez – 97 votes, 48.26%.  

Yes, we do get email about such matters.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Aubrey Dunn Throws A Block At Moores, Files for Independent Run for ABQ Congress Seat And Could Corral R Votes, Plus: More On Filing Day And Key Analysis At The Starting Gate 

No wonder GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores centered his first TV spot on his UNM football playing days. The spot appeals mainly to men and Moores now has a man-sized problem. 

Former GOP Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is officially an independent candidate for the seat left vacant when Rep. Deb Haaland was named Sec. of Interior, and Dunn is likely to split GOP votes with Moores, unless the ABQ state senator can tackle him.

On Tuesday's filing day at the office of the Secretary of State, Dunn submitted 6,000 petition signatures to make the June 1 ballot, about 4,400 more than required. Unless there is a successful court challenge to those signatures Dunn will be on the playing field. 

As expected, filing for the Dems was State Rep. Melanie Stansbury and Chris Manning for the Libertarian Party. Two write-in candidates, Laura Olivas of NE ABQ and Robert Ornelas who gave an Anaheim, CA address and phone contact. Both are independents. (Full list of filers is here.)

New Mexico has never sent an independent candidate to the US House and Dunn is unlikely to make history, but he is no slouch in the vote-getting department, having narrowly won the land office in 2014 in a Democratic state. 

His presence on the ballot is not a minor headache for fellow conservative Moores. Combined with the Libertarian candidate, who will also tend to draw from the R's, his chances of inching past Stansbury are diminished. 

While Moores took to the gridiron to launch his TV campaign, Stansbury talked a bit like an athlete in her first paid TV outing, saying New Mexicans are "resilient, determined and full of heart."

Both spots were of the "getting to know me" variety. The negative will come in a couple of weeks. The start of early in-person voting May 15 is a psychological deadline to get the race in your corner as the great majority of votes are expected to be cast well before the June 1 election day. 


The ABQ congressional race starts here ranked as "Solid Dem." Here's why:

--No R has been elected to the seat since 2006 and the last close election was in 2010.

--The Dems are coming off an historic 61 percent presidential win in the district for Joe Biden in 2020.

--The sitting Dem Gov. has been involved in controversy but her popularity has not crashed, depriving the R's of an easy target. 

--Some voters may be disappointed that there is not a Hispanic or Native American contender in the contest, but the majority of that vote is registered Democratic and are not about to cross over to Moores who says his mother is Hispanic. 

--No corruption meme has surfaced about Stansbury, a key item for the GOP when they are able to find success.

--Moores is a good fund-raiser but the national R's are not targeting the race which would mean substantially more resources. The national Dems will flood the money zone at the first sign of any trouble. 

The Solid Dem ranking is subject to change but to move it will take a major shift in the campaign. 


They probably have some Ben-Gay at the ready to treat any hand strain MLG may get this week. She continues to sign and veto (mostly sign) over 100 bills approved at the recent legislative session as the Friday deadline for her decisions fast approaches.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Senate's Dueling Duo Continue Feud; Stewart Compares Ivey Soto Behavior To Her Abuse As A Child; Papen Weighs in For Him, Plus: Guv's Busy Week And A Wall-Leaner's Session Winners 

Sen. Stewart
State Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart is showing no signs of ending her feud with fellow Dem Senator Daniel Ivey Soto

Their battle began with a blowup on the Senate floor in late March in the final hours of the regular 60 day legislative session when debate turned hot and heavy over a paid sick leave bill Stewart sponsored.

Instead of the heat going down in the aftermath, it's going up. 

Ivey Soto was accused by Stewart and a number of her legislative colleagues of misogyny and bullying behavior in his persistent questioning of Stewart. She engaged in lengthy debate with him but then, citing his behavior, refused to yield the floor to the ABQ NE Heights lawmaker.

Now in an op-ed, Stewart takes her case against Ivey Soto a step further and in a more controversial  direction. She appears to equate his behavior with sexual abuse she suffered as a child: 

When I was growing up, my sisters and I were physically, verbally and sexually abused by the man my mother married after my father died. I was orphaned as a teenager. Believe me, I know the difference between regular debate and abusive behavior. 

Stewart's Sunday op-ed followed one from the woman who preceded Stewart in the Pro Tem position, former Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Last Cruces. She said she did not view Ivey Soto's behavior as abusive at all: 

From my perspective, I felt Ivey Soto, while asking tough questions, did nothing wrong and did not engage in inappropriate behavior.

Sen. Ivey Soto
A viewing of the exchange between the dueling duo has drawn mixed responses from readers and political observers, with some backing Stewart while others maintain there wasn't much to see and that the exchange did not amount to abuse. (The full exchange can be see here and starts at 9:44 p.m.).

One reader opined that Ivey Soto did badger Stewart by the dictionary definition of  "to harass or annoy persistently" but that did not constitute verbal abuse. 

Both diligent senators have plenty of room to make the peace but Ivey Soto has now emerged as a leading Senate moderate in the wake of the defeats of several conservative Dems. That could give progressives incentive to try to keep him in the doghouse over the Stewart incident. 

The state Senate primary elections aren't until June 2024 but long knives are known to retain their sharpness, even while hidden. Still, John Lennon seems apropos: 

Mimi and Daniel: Give Peace a Chance. 


Lawmakers sent 158 bills to the desk of the Governor during the 60 day legislative session and this the week she starts using her ink in a big way:

Gov. Lujan Grisham began a critical week Monday by signing legislation that will deliver extra funding to some schools and ban animal trapping on public land — a burst of action as she faces a Friday deadline to act on dozens of bills. She approved 50 bills altogether Monday, touching on public financing for judicial candidates, community solar projects and medical debt.


Rep. Maestas
A Roundhouse wall-leaner with a dog in the fights comes with his winners of the session:

HB 6 - State Equalization Guarantee Distributions - Rep. Patty Lundstrom - eliminating credit taken for impact aid - this will allow Native American community public schools to retain millions of dollars in federal funds. Currently the state takes credit against these funds.

 HJR 1 - Permanent Fund for Early Childhood - Rep. Moe Maestas and Rep Javier Martinez - to tap a portion of the $22 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to be used for early childhood education - this will be a long term investment to make New Mexico's future brighter for the children of New Mexico if the voters approve the Constitutional Amendment. 

HB 255-Alcohol Deliveries - Rep. Moe Maestas - allowing for restaurant liquor licenses and eliminating mini's and sales at gasoline stations in McKinley County other than beer.

Special Session HB 2 - Cannabis Regulation Act - Rep Javier Martinez - to legalize the adult use of marijuana for recreational use. This also included SB 2 the Expungement of Certain Criminal Records - to allow those with past cannabis criminal records to have a clean record and open up more employment opportunities in the future. 

The Martinez-Maestas combo is starting to become a common refrain. When Popejoy Hall reopens maybe they can be the opening act. 

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Monday, April 05, 2021

Stansbury Upset Win For CD Nomination Draws More Analysis; Men Appeared Key To Victory; High Profile Endorsers Also Pushed Her Across Finish Line, Plus: More On Deb's Rocky Interior Start 

Interest in how State Rep. Melanie Stansbury pulled off last Thursday's upset for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination is sky high in the political community. Stansbury's stunning 51 to 48 second round win over Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, after a 16 point first round shellacking, has the political detectives looking for answers so we take a deeper dive. 

The candidate herself assigned credit to the "grit and determination" of her team. They went to work minutes after their first big loss Wednesday--37.2 to 21.6 percent. No doubt that was a major reason for the success as were numerous late high profile endorsements.

In any election there are also demographic and ethnic considerations. We asked longtime Dem political consultant Sisto Abetya how the 200 Dem Central Committee members from the ABQ district broke out in the final round: 

Joe, Sixty-six percent of the votes were cast by Anglos and 34 percent minorities. Stansbury received 54% of the Anglo vote and Sedillo Lopez received 46%. Sedillo Lopez received 54% of the minority vote and Stansbury 46%.

When it came to gender Abeyta said 60 percent of the men voted for Stansbury and 39 percent for Sedillo Lopez. 51 percent of women voters went for Stansbury and and 48 percent supported Sedillo Lopez. Both received 1 percent of the nonbinary vote. So it was the men who appeared to move the nomination Stansbury's way. 

The question lingers: Would Stansbury have won a regular primary election featuring thousands of Dem voters instead of just 200 party insiders?

She may have had a tougher time. There were eight candidates running and a plurality not a majority would have decided a primary election. 

In the first round at the Central Committee--the plurality election--Sedillo Lopez scored that 16 point win over Stansbury 37 to 21 percent but when forced to get a majority she came up short. 

One other issue would have confronted Stansbury in a primary. A majority of Dem voters are Hispanic and Sedillo Lopez would probably have been the strongest and best financed Hispanic candidate in the field.

There have been murmurs about Stansbury, if she is elected, getting a Dem primary challenge in June of 2022 when she would be expected to seek a full two year term. History says don't count on it. Congressional incumbents, whether appointed or elected, have access to a mountain of resources, financial and otherwise. 

It's a quirky law that permits party central committees to nominate candidates for vacant congressional seats. The law will probably will be revisited by the legislature in the future (an attempt this year failed) but for Melanie Stansbury that quirk may have made her a United States Congresswoman.


Well-known names came in for both Stansbury and Sedillo Lopez when crunch time arrived with the final round of voting Thursday. 

Among those with endorsements for Stansbury, 42, were State Sen. Katy Duhigg, former Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (who supported Georgene Louis in the first round), State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, Julie Heinrich, former Land Commissioner Ray Powell Jr., veteran lobbyist Vanessa Alarid and former NM first lady Clara Apodaca

Pushing Sedillo Lopez late in the game were State Sen. Mimi Stewart, State Rep. Andres Romero, House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton and former Sec. of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. 

State Rep. Georgene Louis and activist Selina Guerrero, who both sought the nomination, threw their support to Sedillo Lopez after losing the first round.


The special election to fill the vacant seat of of Rep. Deb Haaland who was named Sec. of Interior will be held June 1. Republican State Senator Mark Moores is the GOP nominee and Chris Manning is the Libertarian Party candidate. Former GOP Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr. says he will present petition signatures to get on the ballot, making it a four way race. 

Early in-person voting in Bernalillo County will begin May 15th. 

The winner of the election will fill out the remainder of Haaland's term that runs until the end of 2022. 


Haaland is off to a somewhat rocky start in her new job. More developments on that ill-advised party--now cancelled--that was being planned for the new Secretary:

The White House is removing the Interior Department’s chief of staff, Jennifer Van der Heide, who recently planned a 50-person indoor party at the agency that the White House ordered canceled, and is moving her to a senior counselor job at the agency, according to two Biden administration officials. 

The White House’s Cabinet affairs office ordered that party, which was intended to celebrate Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation, to be called off amid fears it could become a superspreader event. . . A White House spokesperson said that Lawrence Roberts, who was the head of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs at the end of the Obama administration, will be the new chief of staff.

It's nice to make history, but there's a price to pay when you shine so brightly in the limelight. 

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