Thursday, April 22, 2021

Congress Watch: Moores Having Trouble Hitting The Mark, Plus: A Fourth Floor Exit And Rizzo Backlash 

GOP congressional candidate Mark Moores is having some trouble hitting the mark. 

First he unveils a TV ad that says as a state senator he has been a "leader" in the effort to repeal the state tax on Social Security, but there is no such record of his alleged leadership. He hasn't sponsored any repeal bills. Now there's his decision to not attend this week's candidate forum sponsored by the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative. Instead Moores appeared at a Sandoval County Republican event. 

The invite was accepted by Moores' fellow conservative and independent candidate Aubrey Dunn, Dem Melanie Stansbury and Libertarian Chris Manning. Coming as it did on the day of the Derek Chauvin verdict, the forum took on added meaning for not only the Black community but for our entire multi-cultural state. 

If the NMGOP is going to rebuild itself back into a state of relevancy, it's going to have to confront the elephant in the room--the inability of the party to attract voters of color. Moores, who is emphasizing his Hispanic heritage on his mother's side, lost a golden opportunity to give that elephant a swift kick and get on with the task of broadening the appeal of his candidacy and that of the beleaguered Republican Party. 

Not that Dem Stansbury isn't straying some. Her latest attack ad on Moores is labeled "misleading" in this media fact check

The special election to fill the vacant ABQ congressional seat is June 1. In-person early voting begins May 15. Absentee ballots can be requested here


Dominic Gabello, a longtime aide-de-camp to MLG, is headed to the exits amid Fourth Floor turmoil set off by the Crotchgate incident and as the Guv prepares for her re-elect. 

Biden and MLG
Gabello, 41, had the title of senior policy adviser but his expertise is politics. He says he is going to open his own consulting business and that MLG will be a client, but no longer his employer. 

He had a pretty good run (9 years) given the Guv's well-known penchant for employee turnover, working for her as both Governor and as a congresswoman. 

One insider opined that Gabello is leaving because he is simply burned out.

MLG has been hesitant to staff up with personalities that challenge her, preferring the lock-step approach of a staff that serves and does not question. But with the administration showing some wobbly legs, it could be time to consider a change. 

The Guv had a good day Wednesday, as she met up with first lady Jill Biden at an ABQ South Valley health clinic where folks were getting their vaccinations. New Mexico is first in the nation in the rate of full vaccinations and the national recognition brought by Biden was a boost. 


We quoted one of our Alligators Monday about the late former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo and his pithy quote on how a liberal becomes a conservative. In short, they get mugged. That prompted email  decrying Rizzo and recalling the former police official's controversial past. Here's a sample:
Rizzo's hometown has disavowed him because of his racism and backing of violent policing. As this NPR report from last year notes: "In the 1970s, Rizzo famously told Philadelphia voters to "vote white." But on Wednesday, the City of Brotherly Love took down a memorial to a man who exploited its divisions. For many Philadelphians, the larger-than-life statue of Rizzo, who also was police commissioner, was an overt symbol of white police officers' brutal treatment of black people and other minorities. "The Frank Rizzo statue represented bigotry, hatred, and oppression for too many people, for too long. It is finally gone," Mayor Jim Kenney said.


We mentioned Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block becoming the first Republican candidate for the 2022 gubernatorial nomination. Here is a transcript of his announcement speech. . . 

Kim Skaggs is the new executive director of the NMGOP. She's a native of Alamogordo who last year was the GOP candidate against popular Las Cruces area Dem state Senator Jeff Steinborn. Skaggs should have no trouble getting around the state as the next election nears. She's a private pilot.

Thanks for stopping by this week.  

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

No Longer A Swing State But We Get A Jill Biden Pit Stop Today As New Swing State Arizona Is Eyed, Plus: On The Crime Beat With Our Readers 

We're still a flyover state in presidential politics but we'll get our share of pit stops like the one today from first lady Jill Biden who will spend time in ABQ before heading to her real target--the newly minted swing state of Arizona. It's our proximity to that prize that puts us back on the political flight plans. 

Biden's visit to a South Valley health clinic will be enough time for MLG to get some badly needed political cover. The NM governor has been in the unwanted national and international spotlight over her $62,500 settlement of sex mistreatment charges by a former campaign staffer. An embrace from Dr. Jill won't make that political hurt go away but should soften the blow as MLG gears up for her 2022 re-election bid. 

As for the #1 lady, she could not ask for more hospitable territory before heading over to Window Rock and the Navajo reservation. Scranton Joe carried the ABQ congressional district 60-37, the largest Dem victory ever in CD 1. (Don't tell Michelle, Jill.)

As for Arizona and the Rez, look at the math for the Prez: 

Voters in precincts on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in northeastern Arizona cast nearly 60,000 ballots in the Nov. 3 election, compared with just under 42,500 in 2016, according to an AP analysis. Biden won Arizona by about 10,500 votes. . . Turnout in two of the larger precincts on the reservations, for example, rose by 12% and 13% — and Biden won there handily — compared with a 4% increase among all Arizona voters.

But the biggest number is 11--that's how many electoral votes Arizona has. Going forward they will be as important as New Mexico's little five once were. You know, back in 2004 and '08 when this place was so crowded with presidential seekers they would stand in line to shake your hand.

Those days are long gone but New Mexico being home to the famous racing Unsers we know all about pit stops. So have a good time, Jill, and remember that today it's como está and Thursday it's Ya Ta Hey.

A city spokeswoman pushes back on retired APD Seargent Dan Klein's speculation this week that the city's housing of the homeless at inexpensive hotel and motels may be contributing to recent gun violence:

I know speculation like that might be fun for stirring up controversy but it’s also 100% inaccurate and further demonizes the most vulnerable people who live in our city. There have been – zero – homicides linked to the wellness hotels. That’s confirmed by APD. What we do know is that we have been able to provide beds for more than 400 people nightly who would otherwise have been living on the street throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We asked for a list of hotels and motels housing Covid and homeless courtesy of the city but did not get a response.

Reader Steve Pilon came with this:  

The COVID hotels house people who have tested positive for COVID, both homeless and from the Pueblos. Would Dan Klein prefer these people to be circulating in the general population? 

ABQ has long had a higher than average crime rate, but crime had been dropping here like elsewhere for 20 years. The recent surge in homicides is nationwide, not just in ABQ. This strongly suggests the cause of the increase is not local but national. I think the nationwide increase in crime is a consequence of the extreme poverty and deprivation during the Great Recession (particularly severe and prolonged here in ABQ). 

If the police were effective in solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice, they might discourage some of these young criminals. However, clearance rates for homicide nationwide are roughly 60% and only about 50% here in ABQ. (in civilized countries they are 90+%). If you want to prevent kids from becoming criminals, the Feds have to run the economy hot enough to ensure their parents have work and you have to fund treatment for their substance abuse issues. Simplistic "get tough on crime" nostrums from the likes of BernCo Sheriff Gonzales will be ineffective if not counterproductive.

It's true there has been a recent surge in homicides around the nation. But police here say more of the homicides now involve drugs. And before the pandemic ABQ ranked near or at the top of the list for auto thefts and overall crime. It still does.  

Those crime categories have not been dropping for 20 years. And at the current rate of homicides, we could have a 50 percent increase for the year. That's not a surge. That's more like a parabolic spike. 

We can debate the causes of crime but let's not define deviancy downward by saying things in ABQ are normal when clearly they are not. 

Klein came with this response: 

I never said to have these homeless people not housed and in the general population with COVID.  


Levi Fetty joins in with this: 

Hey Joe, we readers will get enough of the distortion of truth and blatant lies throughout the Mayoral campaign but we shouldn't have to be subjected to it from the candidates sycophantic supporters when they write the following propaganda: 

 "Why? Because Mayor Keller met his promise to hire more police and we saw car thefts and other non-murder crime rates drop." 

Please quote the year and the total number of APD officer when this promise was kept? Tim Keller didn't just promise to hire more APD officers. He promised to raise APD officer staffing levels to a particular number which is a promise he never followed through with. And, do we really have to rehash the crime statistics fiasco... ooopsie our [APD] crime data computer's are outdated and didn't carry the one excuses?

APD now reports a bit less than 1,000 officers with a goal of 1,200 or more.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Gonzales Gets In: Comes With Mayoral Announcement Video; Sheriff Chides Mayor Keller: "ABQ Deserves Much Better"; Tries To Separate From Trump, Plus: Readers Take On Manny Record  

From Gonzales video 
When the possibility first surfaced last year of BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales running for ABQ Mayor the notion was scoffed at by veteran Dem consultants. But after Gonzales made his formal announcement in a slick two minute video Monday the scoffing was gone, replaced by an all hands on deck attitude. 

The unceasing, soul draining violence that has enveloped the city with an even deeper ferocity this year is the heart of Keller's problem. He remains the favorite but too much blood has been spilled for Gonzales to be brushed away like a bothersome gnat. 

(Gonzales full news release.)

Gonzales, a conservative D, is dangerous because he has a simple yet powerful message--a self-described "tough on crime sheriff" who maintains "ABQ deserves much better than what we are getting."

With no Republican in the race and Gonzales emphasizing crime fighting and his service as a Marine, he should quickly consolidate the predominantly male GOP vote. 

His announcement also stressed his native ABQ roots and family which will serve him well in the historic Dem precincts in the Valley. 

Gonzales took steps to address the attack that is incubating--that he is a Trump Democrat. US Sen. Martin Heinrich actually called for him to resign last year when Gonzales supported federal intervention by the Trump administration to combat the city's crime. In response, Gonzales's video says he will "work with anyone to make our community safer" and trots out photos of himself with President Obama as well as then Trump Attorney General Barr. 

The "work with anyone" message is similar to that of former southern Dem US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small who attracted GOP crossover votes in her successful 2018 campaign in a conservative district.


As has been noted, outside of crime fighting Keller has had a successful administration, dodging major scandal, combatting Covid, generating optimism about the city, handling finances capably and making strides in expanding the economy. As also has been noted, leaving crime out of the equation is like serving a hamburger without the bun. 

Politically Keller has a large progressive base, over a dozen years of campaign and fundraising experience to draw on and the nagging issue tugging at Gonzales of electing a law enforcement official as Mayor--and one with worrisome traits of authoritarianism. 

Both Keller and Gonzales are expected to qualify for $661,000 in public financing and then rely on outside PACs to each raise an equal amount, if not more. 

They must get 3,779 individual donations of $5 each from registered voters to qualify for the public money. The window for doing so opened this weekend and closes June 19.

Also actively running is progressive Nicholas Bevins who could chip away at Keller if he could qualify for public financing, but Dem insiders think that's too tall of an order for the newcomer. To qualify for the ballot candidates need 3,000 petition signatures.


Former ABQ city councilor, attorney and veteran political consultant Greg Payne came with these takeaways from the Gonzales video:

The video easily surpassed low expectations that Gonzales would be a joke of a candidate or not serious. The video establishes him as a serious player and one to be reckoned with. However, he will have to run a nearly scorched earth campaign of all crime all the time in order to be positioned for a November upset.

Payne is a registered independent.


Gonzales is running on an anti-crime platform, but that doesn't mean his jurisdiction is exempt. Only hours after his mayoral announcement this came down: 

 (Sheriff's) deputies were called to 1932 Coors Blvd SW in front of Valley Fence Co. in reference to a roll-over crash involving a dark-colored sedan. Deputies located two unidentifiable male subjects deceased on the scene from apparent gunshot wounds. Witnesses stated that a white sedan, occupied by 2-3 male subjects, fired several rounds at the crashed vehicle. Shortly before BCSO deputies were dispatched.

Sometimes the fates of La Politica conspire. 


While Gonzales had a successful debut as a mayoral candidate, he will face a broad range of criticism over his term as sheriff that has been riddled with controversy. Here's reader Larry Anderson:

Gonzales has fought police body cameras all the way, refused to rein in his deputies (remember the innocent Black woman stopped on I-40 that resulted in a cash settlement), refused to enforce some laws on Covid restrictions because he doesn't agree with them and taken an attitude more than once that the law is what he says it is. Surely, those opposed to Keller could do better than this. The "pro Manny tilt" authoritarian post should be cause for anyone concerned about their Rights or their pocket books. 

Reader Mitchell Freedman writes:

As for the "Alligator" quoted Monday who thinks Mayor Keller has gone too far "left" on policing, they obviously did not follow the hearings on the consent decree before federal Judge Browning, and never spoke to anyone who actually knows how badly the City failed to adhere to the decree--instead bending over backwards for the police union. 

Also, the biggest point: The drug cartel. That will require federal action, perhaps even sending in the Marines to treat the cartel as a foreign operation. Why? Because Mayor Keller met his promise to hire more police and we saw car thefts and other non-murder crime rates drop. However, the ease in which the cartel operates is a problem more police cannot solve. 

Keller would more likely lose to a progressive Latino/Latina than Manny Gonzales, if people woke up to the realities and not fall back on 1968 era "law and order" nostrums. But I guess we'll have Manny "You had one job!" Gonzales running against the often hapless Keller. 

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Ground Becomes More Fertile For Gonzales Mayoral Run As Crime Epidemic Rages On, Plus: MLG Needs A Spring Break And McCamley's Downfall  

Keller and Medina
If Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales is having second thoughts about running for Mayor of ABQ he can put them on the back burner. The explosion in the city's murder rate alone is enough to make a challenge to Mayor Tim Keller a major political event with the seeds of an upset already planted.

(Gonzales officially announced his candidacy Monday morning with a two minute video.)

The media murder meter has the city at 35 homicides so far this year but our cop watchers say it may be near 40 as cases under investigation are closed out. That puts the city on track for an annual murder rate in triple digits. ABQ, always a violent town, has never seen anything like this. Never. 

If ABQ approaches or surpasses a 100 or more homicide rate as the November election nears, how would the city react? What would be the spin to that ignominious event? Would it be brushed off as the "new normal" and would an acquiescent public buy in? 

The political community is carefully watching polling results from the ABQ congressional district election to see where crime stands on voters' list of concerns. If it heads higher the prospect of a tight mayoral race would loom large. 

As to why so much of the violence is now occurring at inexpensive hotels and motels, former APD Seargent Dan Klein opines that it could be because during this pandemic many homeless are being housed there courtesy of the city. The homeless is a population heavy with mental illness and drug addiction. 

Here's how the campaign is being framed by Alligators of a pro-Manny tilt: 

Keller and CAO Sarita Nair have gone way too far left on policing. Ambitious Chief Medina goes bumbling along for the ride. Keller took tentative steps to get the Feds to lighten up on the consent decree governing APD but then backed off. Now we have plunging police morale, a record murder rate and still sky high property and auto thefts. Sure, ABQ is a progressive city in many ways, but there's an old adage from Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, himself a former police chief: "A conservative is a liberal who was mugged the night before." 

And now the personal relationship problems of Medina's son have spilled into the public forum and have led  to a city council discussion of changing arrest procedures with Councilor Pat Davis and Chief Medina leading the charge. Really? While the bodies pile up in Davis' district and elsewhere? 


Gov. Cuomo 
Maybe the Guv should take a spring break and get away from the news cycle that's been clobbering her. That includes sensational headlines over the settlement she made with former campaign staffer James Hallinan in the infamous Crotchgate case. And her critics aren't through with her over the mishap. They dig up this MLG WaPo quote on the sex harassment charges against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

We have to take seriously all these allegations, and I’m frankly in that group of elected leaders that you believe the individual. You give credit and credibility there. If you don’t, we’re re-victimizing brave men and women who come forward, so that’s critical.

Maybe the Guv's thinking that we "believe" anyone who makes an allegation has shifted after her experience and that she now believes the accused should not immediately be subjected to being cancelled from the culture or otherwise shunned. After all, she strenuously denied sexual abuse allegations when she agreed to a $62,500 payout to Hallinan (and perhaps more.) 

There's much to be said of the positive impact of the #MeToo movement. The worst that can be said is that one of its tenets is often the Stalinesque: "Guilty when charged."


We broke the news here Thursday that Bill McCamley, secretary of the Workforce Solutions Department, would be leaving. He has and did so without much explanation but it's obvious McCamley was overwhelmed by the pandemic and the resulting massive unemployment claims (as were administrators in other states). The Guv's statement upon his departure was tepid, signaling she had lost confidence in him. 

As for McCamley, KOB-TV's Megan Abundis combed his social media and found this April 1 post from the former secretary: 

I have nothing but pride and admiration for the people I work with, but trying to navigate a system designed a century ago for an economy that was vastly different, and never set up for the conditions we saw in the Pandemic, has been the most trying thing I have ever done. My emotional state for the past year has mostly consisted of a numbness only broken through by spikes of pure, wall punching, rage. This hasn’t been… healthy. For me, nor the people around me.

Bill McCamley stepped it up a notch and won a cabinet post, but the severe pressure of a pandemic and the vagaries of La Politica sent him tumbling to the ground.


Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block became the first GOP contender for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination over the weekend he made his announcement in Rio Rancho. Here is video.

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