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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

From Puppy To Pit Bull: Wayne Johnson Starts To Drag Dan Lewis In Mayoral Clash; Barges In On Dan's Anti-Crime Party; GOP Split Now Obvious; Our Full Campaign Report Is Up Next 

Wayne Johnson
Wayne Johnson is quickly transforming from a mere nuisance into an existential threat to Dan Lewis.

On the day Lewis unveiled a comprehensive anti-crime plan, the cornerstone of his campaign for ABQ mayor, fellow Republican Johnson effectively elbowed his way into the media spotlight with a crime plan of his own. That diluted the message of City Councilor Lewis and signaled that it is game on in the fight for the hearts of the sizable block of GOP voters.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Lewis seems to pull more "regular Republicans" and also has support in the party establishment (think the folks hanging out at state GOP headquarters) but Johnson is the love child of the powerful development community--think NAIOP and guys like Sherman McCorkle and former NM GOP Chair Ed Lujan. Lewis was supposed to shoo away Johnson like a puppy nipping at his heels. Now Lewis has a pit bull chasing him and the withering attacks to come aren't going to be pretty.

Lewis has raised a healthy amount of cash for his effort--$416,000--but at the last report only had $169,000 in the bank. What happened to all that money? Well, just from July 14 thru August 10 Lewis spent over $39,000 on campaign staff and consulting. Also. . .

Lewis has gone gangbusters on social media while BernCo Commissioner Johnson mostly held his fire and has accumulated a war chest of $207,000. That should represent chicken feed to Lewis but he's been burning through his cash with little noticeable impact and faster than hot green chile races to your intestinal tract.

It's an open secret that the average age of a voter in the mayoral derby is well over 50. They are the least likely to consume social media and Lewis knows that. But he's been spending heavily to saturate Facebook with well-produced anti-crime videos. But it's TV news that still is the chief persuader for the prune juice crowd, as well as the printed page.

And speaking of the ink stained wretches, our Alligators are starting to question our early call that the ABQ Journal would likely endorse Lewis. And we're starting to second guess that call ourselves. (Hey, that's why we have Alligators.) From one of the Senior variety:

Based on the Journal's coverage and coordination, it looks like Wayne Johnson's their man

Well, we don't know about "coordination" but there was a decided tilt to give Johnson's crime plan more than equal footing with the Lewis plan, despite the skimpier nature of Johnson's effort contrasted with the 11 page missive from Lewis.

The Lang family--owners of the newspaper--are actually making their coin these days from the commercial property and real estate development business and are heavyweight players in NAIOP--the unofficial campaign headquarters of Johnson. So casting their lot with Johnson makes sense.

About the only race a daily paper plays more than a nominal role in anymore is the low turnout, senior citizen heavy mayoral election. Otherwise, the bloggers and bench warmers wouldn't pay a nickel's worth of attention to their ramblings. But Lewis is going to have to pay attention to that and most menacingly to one Wayne Johnson.

MAKE IT 3.5

Lets make it the "Big Three And A Half." We started the handicapping by naming Dem State Auditor Tim Keller, State Dem Party Chair Brian Colon and Dan Lewis as "The Big Three" in the eight candidate mayoral contest. But with Johnson making that well executed play against Lewis on his crime plan Tuesday, we think he's finally come to play. Will it soon be "The Big Four?"

THE CRIME PLAY

Lewis
Lewis' crime plan is well-crafted. There is plenty to debate in it but there's no arguing that it is meaty. But it isn't the intellectual angle that jumps out most. It is a potential mayor actually calling out the brazen criminal class in this community and putting it on notice, the first of any local leader to do so as the crime wave drowns their resolve and their fight. Said Lewis:

We are not leaving, you are. Criminals are going to leave, not us.

Okay so he delivered it in a rather tepid manner. He could work on the delivery. But the criminals do pay attention to that stuff. "You mean, someone will actually challenge our reign?"

Has anyone heard the current mayor, chief of police, district attorney or city chief administrative officer take it directly to the criminal class? It has been all about finger-pointing and excuses as to why they have not been able to perform their duties.

Of course, it will take action to back up the tough talk. But whoever is the next mayor would be well-served by doing what Lewis has done which is to shift the psychological narrative that is haunting this city--that the criminals are here to stay and we are here to go.

THE DEMON ANGLE

There is one problem with the Lewis shift. In his crime program he continues his demonization of the judiciary, promising to monitor weak-kneed judges who release criminals from jail. The vigilante justice that Lewis seeks puts him back in the lap of the current city leadership which continues to blame the black-robed bench sitters as the problem in chief when it comes to crime.

But we don't see the judges or their surrogates blaming the political leadership for the city's descent into economic stagnation, the ongoing drug addiction and poverty that leads to all-crime-all-the-time or the questionable use of federal money for buses to nowhere. After eight years of fecklessness and finger-pointing shouldn't the next mayor be the one who says the buck stops here?

BONUS ANALYSIS

Here's the deal. The crack in GOP support between Johnson and Lewis is like the San Andreas Fault in Johnson's home county commission district in the far NE Heights. Lewis will shake there Election Night like he's standing at a quake's epicenter. The question is can he keep the fissures in the GOP smaller in other Republican areas? If not, he will be in danger of slipping behind and missing the two person run-off. The fantasy that Lewis can drum up a lot of Dem support to offset the Republican bleeding is probably just that--fantasy.

So? Well, let's rinse and repeat: The conservative establishment would like to have Johnson as Mayor. They could live with Lewis. But if their support of Johnson prevents both R's from making the run-off and gets business Democrat Brian Colon in a run-off against Dem Tim Keller, that's alright, too.

THE BOTTOM LINES

In a first draft Tuesday we blogged that an op-ed urging NMSU to keep Garrey Carruthers as its chancellor was authored by three Democratic state senators. It was written by two Democrats and one Republican.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Campaign To Stop Keller Has Started; Hit On Campaign Money Could Be Followed By Attack On Sex Offender Vote, Plus: Jaw Dropper: Conspiracy Theory Over Susana As NMSU Head, And: Jay Signs With Monty In Southern CD Race 

The campaign to stop Tim Keller has started. The newspaper--carrying the spear for city conservatives--kicked off the effort with a nearly1300 word article--the longest report of its sparing '17 ABQ mayoral coverage. It calls into question Keller's commitment to public financing, a favorite theme of his progressive base that has helped catapult the state auditor into the polling lead and is pushing him toward a top two finish in the October 3 mayoral balloting that would land him in the expected November 7 run-off election.

And that critical piece is only the beginning of what is to come. Our insiders confirm a political committee backed by major business interests is in the making and collecting cash to further the attacks on Keller. Word we get is that they will use as a key weapon his hyper-controversial 2011 vote as a state senator in favor of Senate Bill 184 dealing with sex offenders. That bill said in part:

A city, county, home rule municipality or other political subdivision of the state is prohibited from adopting or continuing in effect any ordinance, rule, regulation, resolution or other law that imposes distance restrictions for a registered sex offender's place of residence or that creates an exclusionary zone from which all registered sex offenders are excluded.

The same bill, which was defeated on a 24-16 vote, was used to defeat State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez in his re-election bid last year. Expect the campaign mailers to soon scream that Keller, like Sanchez, is more concerned with protecting child molesters than children.

The incendiary charge in a political climate stoked by a city crime wave of historic proportions is sure to inflame the mayoral contest which right now is an ember ready to billow. Also, how much the biz groups put into the effort and how Keller responds could be a key element on who succeeds Republican Mayor Berry. We anticipate it will be at least several hundred thousand, major money for a mayoral race.

On the public financing issue the paper trots out Pat Rogers, the old Republican warhorse, member of and sometimes attorney for the Martinez political machine and often times rabid attorney who officially has nothing to do with the mayor's race. He's employed to condemn the money committee that has formed to support Keller's publicly financed candidacy and is receiving large donations from labor unions:

Keller’s grab of public funds and the huge donation totals in the committee run by his former campaign manager only feeds the skepticism and suspicions of the sucker taxpayers who now know there are no bounds for hypocritical politicians,” said Albuquerque attorney Pat Rogers.

Keller boasts of receiving public financing which he says protects him from being bought by special interests. He has received about $380,000 in city public financing but the outside committee will strengthen his hand and help him compete better with the candidates who opted for private financing and who are raising more than $380,0000.  It would be against the rules for the outside committee to coordinate with Keller's campaign and Keller, rebutting Rogers, says there is no such coordination occurring.

MORE EXCLUSIVE STUFF

Campaign polling shows that attacks on Democrat Keller help rival Democrat Brian Colón. Look for a chief supporter of Colón, wealthy hotel developer Jim Long, to kick in major bucks to that anti-Keller committee expected to soon emerge. Don't say we didn't tell you.

THE SUSANA ELEPHANT

Martinez & Carruthers
Hey, will somebody wake up that elephant in the room because it sure resembles Governor Susana Martinez. That elephant would be the one with a message on its big backside that says Susana is jockeying to become the next leader of New Mexico State University. Say what? Yep.

The conspiracy theory making the rounds is that Martinez has her hand-picked NMSU Board of Regents rushing the departure of NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers in order pave the way for Susana to take the job when her Guv term ends next year.

Carruthers, a former GOP Governor, was unsparing in his criticism of Martinez when this year she vetoed the entire higher education budget to make a political point. Now, the theory goes, it's payback time by getting the Regents to cut short the Carruthers reign. His contract is set to expire next July and he is not being offered an extension.

Meantime, Carruthers is whining a bit that he is willing to stay on longer. Three state senators (two Dems and an R) penned an op-ed saying he has done a great job and should stay around longer. The implication being that this would be until the next Governor takes over in 2019 and who is widely expected to be a Democrat.

By nearly all accounts Governor Garrey has done a great job at NMSU. But he turns 78 in a few days and the challenges of attracting more students and doing something about the collapsing athletic department there need new leadership. The proposal to attract students from Mexico to boost enrollment is chasing fool's gold. And on the athletic department, he is unable to buck powerful Las Cruces boosters who refuse to believe the glory years are indeed over for good. Maybe the new fella or gal in charge could get a fresh start.

Democrats are acting true to form and again shying away from the red meat and picking at the vegetables. Instead of trying to salvage Carruthers by persuading the Governor's operatives on the Regents to keep him on (good luck with that), why not just call out the Governor and have her asked if she is entertaining the possibility of leading NMSU. Her answer (or nonanswer) ought to make things plain in a hurry. And you can put that in your next op-ed, Senators.

MACHINE MARCHES

And the Machine marches on, at least what's left of it. Alligators far and wide are taking note of the newest client of Martinez chief political adviser and the man known as the "Shadow Governor." Jay McCleskey's media firm, they inform, has been signed for the campaign of former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman. He is seeking the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat being vacated by Republican US Rep. Steve Peace who is running for Governor.

Will that hurt or help Monty? Jay is reviled by the now dominant wing of the GOP led by GOP National Committeeman Harvey Yates, Jr. That will hurt. But McCleskey's aggressive attack tactics could help Newman who faces strong opponents like State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. and Alamogordo State Rep. Yvette Harrell.

And another twist. Lt. Governor John Sanchez, still looking for something--anything--that will rescue his drowning political career could be entering the southern congressional race.

John did eveything but announce for the US Senate recently when he began attacking Dem Senator Martin Heinrich. But that talk has died down and Sanchez has gone dark in recent weeks. Now the Gators are chanting that Sanchez of ABQ, who can't run for Governor because of Martinez's unpopularity, may buy a homestead (or already has) in the southern district and launch a congressional campaign.

The twist is that McCleskey is a bitter foe of Sanchez who is member of the Yates wing of the party. And Sanchez has had no relationship to speak of with Martinez, the politico who made McCleskey mucho money and willingly handed off her power to him.

Will McCleskey soon be on the warpath against Sanchez and vice versa? If so, the irony will be supreme. Remember, it was back in 2000 that John Sanchez made his political bones by ousting longtime Dem State House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. And who was Sanchez's chief consultant in that historic effort? It was Jay McCleskey.

And so turns the world of La Politica.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Here's a list of upcoming forums for the five city council races on this year's ballot. They are moderated by the League of Women voters and the first one is this evening. Click on the logo for details.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Less Than 50 Days To Go In '17 Mayor's Race; Where Things Stand Today, Plus: We Find A Gem In Our Summer Reading Pile  

Tim Keller
What sets them apart from Mayor Berry? That's one of the more provocative questions in a wide-ranging and in-depth question and answer session with the eight mayoral hopefuls in the October 3 election. The interviews that allowed for long-form responses were conducted by KOAT-TV. The station says it plans extensive coverage of the campaign prompted in part by the city's crime wave. The ABQ Free Press is also giving the candidates a lot of room to run as it quizzes them on a variety of issues.

With less than 50 days to go before the October 3 election and less than a month before early voting begins September 13, here's our analysis of where the '17 mayoral race stands right now. . .

Brian Colón
The odds that there will be two Democrats in the run-off that will likely occur Nov. 7 following the October 3 balloting appear to have increased some.

The three Republicans in the race--City Councilor Dan Lewis, BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson and businessman Ricardo Chaves may divide the GOP vote enough to prevent any one of them from finishing as one of the two top contenders who advance to the run-off which will occur if none of the eight candidates achieves 50 percent of the vote.

Lewis reports only $169,000 in cash on hand and Johnson has $208,000. The latest reports were filed with the city last week. Lewis was expected to break away more by this point while Johnson has exceeded fund-raising expectations. Chaves is financing his own campaign and is sitting on $373,000 in cash. Will he spend all or a large portion of it? If he does, that could further divide the GOP vote. Lewis spent handsomely on social media in the early going but his TV buy to reach the most likely voters who are over 55 is now critical. He could use more cash.

Insiders report Adam Feldman, who heads up the mail firm Red Tag Strategies and is a very close business associate of Jay McCleskey who heads the Guv's political machine, will be doing Johnson's mail campaign. There is no love lost between Lewis and the Berry/Martinez camp. If they accomplished nothing but stopping Lewis from taking the prize, they would probably celebrate.

Dan Lewis
Democrat Tim Keller still seems the most likely of all the candidates to finish in the top two. He has an extensive ground game and widespread union backing. A political action committee that will support him has $77,000 in cash on hand which will also give him a boost. He opted to take public financing and his campaign has $232,000 in cash. One of our Alligators with media ties reports that Keller will start his TV buy September 4. Given his cash status it will probably be steady but not heavy.

Democrat Brian Colón is certainly hoping that the Republican vote stays divided and that   he can pass Lewis in the polls and secure a run-off spot, even if it means finishing second to Keller. He is sitting on $535,000 in cash. His decision on how he will spend that money is imminent and will have a major say in the direction of this campaign in the final weeks.

A run-off between Keller and Colón would be more dangerous for Keller than if he were to face a Republican foe. The GOP brand under Mayor Berry is severely damaged and the electorate will be looking for change. A run-off with a Lewis or Johnson would make it easier for Keller to provide that contrast. But, like Keller, Colón would be a change candidate who is seen as more moderate than Keller. He could attract GOP support in a  run-off that could prove decisive.

ZUNIE TIME

We blogged erroneously yesterday that Republican Kelly Zunie would make her entry into the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor on Wednesday. She will do so today at 5:30 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in ABQ.

SUMMER READING

Why it took us so many years to get to a book that more than lives up to its stellar reputation is a mystery. But this summer we finally met up with "Memoirs 1892-1969 A New Mexico Item" by William A. Keleher.

It is a marvelous read that filled in a lot of blanks for us about life and politics in early 20th century Albuquerque, the key events of state politics from that time and into the 50's. Keleher was a noted attorney but in the beginning of his career he was also a newspaper reporter and he commands a fluid and personable style.

For example, he delivers a gripping tale as he relates the 1935 closed door meeting with Gov. Clyde Tingley, Judge David Chavez, the brother of soon-to-be US Senator Dennis Chavez, and former Governor Arthur Hannett, a key ally of the Chavez family.

Chavez and Hannett had gotten wind that Tingley was considering appointing Judge John Field Simms to the US Senate vacancy created by the death of Senator Bronson Cutting who perished in a plane crash in May of 1935. But Cutting had only very narrowly defeated Democrat Chavez in 1934 and the Chavez's believed Democrat Tingley was obligated to appoint Dennis to fill the vacancy.

Writes Keleher:

Listeners who stationed themselves discreetly outside the doors of the Governor's inner office were horrified at some of the intemperate language which seeped through the door and over the transom; aghast at the threats and counter-threats of retaliation, astonished at the cajoling and wheedling on one side or the other. Finally the smoke and roar of battle cleared away and Governor Tingley emerged from his office, arm in arm with Hannett and Chavez. Spectator friends of Chavez observed: "It's all over. Tingley is going to appoint Dennis. . ."

As a NM political junkie the thought of being outside that door and the way Keleher brought home the naked verbal brawl for power took my breath away. I had to stop reading and reflect.

Chavez went on to become the most important US Senator in state history, serving until his death in 1962.

Keleher, who 100 years ago founded an ABQ law firm that still carries his name and remains prominent, wrote a number of books on NM history but none so personal and reflective as his memoirs about the state he loved and the players that built the foundation upon which it rests today. It's a heckuva a memoir from a heckuva guy who certainly earned his own chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Campaign Trail Dust: Not So Fast On GOP Lt. Gov. Nod; Race Developing, Latest Perceptions On Dem Guv Chase And Our Continuing Crime Wave Coverage 

Sen. Mark Moores
Hold on Kelly Zunie. Even if Rep. Steve Pearce, the presumptive '18 GOP gubernatorial nominee, appears to be in your corner as you announce your candidacy for the 2018 lieutenant governor nomination Thursday, there is trouble brewing for you behind the scenes.

Republican insiders say Zunie will not be crowned in a solo race and that a handful of other Rs are mulling over a bid. They include ABQ State Senator Mark Moores, Roswell area State Senator Cliff Pirtle and former State Senator Ted Barela of Estancia.

A GOP alligator familiar with the positioning of that trio is hopeful only one of them will take the dive, improving the chances of keeping Zunie at bay. She would be the first Native American to capture the GOP lieutenant governor nomination.

So enjoy your party today, Kelly, but watch your back. The long knives are being sharpened. . .

As for John Sanchez, the current GOP lieutenant governor, he is still on the fence when it comes to his political future. A run for Governor became impossible when Gov. Martinez's popularity plummeted and a run for the ABQ congressional seat looks doubtful as the district being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is seen as solidly blue. That would leave a tough battle for the US Senate against Dem Martin Heinrich in an election cycle that is not favoring the R's. A source close to the Lt. Governor says: "You'll be hearing from him on his decision sooner rather than later."

Well, right now what Republicans are hearing from Raton to Roswell is the loud sound of John gnashing his teeth. . .

We mentioned a social media video on education that Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca has produced but in doing so we made it seem as though the video noted his support for a constitutional amendment that would support very early childhood programs by allowing funding for them from the $16 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund. The video does not mention the amendment, but Apodaca is on the record as supporting the amendment.

Apodaca has made at least a slight dent in the perception that the Dem gubernatorial nomination is a foregone conclusion, with Rep. Lujan Grisham the obvious pick. That's due in part to the news broken here--and confirmed by Apodaca--that he has raised in the vicinity of $700,000 in the early going. That's not pocket change and combined with an aggressive early start it is keeping the Guv door open for him. State Senator Joe Cervantes is also in the race. His friends say he is willing to put $1 million of personal funds into the contest. If so, like Apodaca, he will have at least a foot in the door.

WHERE ARE THEY?

Who are the Republican candidates for attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state and state treasurer? None, so far. And that means some work ahead for GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi.

NEW MEXIODUS

Longtime NM radio personality Larry Ahrens writes on our Facebook page about the city's crime crisis:

Joe, you mentioned that "everyone who wanted to move has left already." Anecdotal info here. But the conversations I'm having with many people indicate there may be another wave of folks preparing to depart NM for greener and safer pastures elsewhere. The rampant crime is driving this. Decisions are being made right now to get out. The exodus is far from over in my opinion.

THAT'S ALL?

Over in Dallas, they are bemoaning the increase in payouts for lawsuits involving their police department.

Records show that Dallas has spent almost $11 million in the past five years settling more than 20 lawsuits against police, a huge increase compared to the previous five years. The city spent less than $400,000 to settle less than 10 cases from 2006 to 2011, KDFW-TV reported . Dallas also currently has almost 40 unresolved liability claims against local police officers.

Heck, they don't know how good they have it. ABQ has paid out a startling $62 million in lawsuit payments over APD since 2010. When New Mexico does anything bigger than Texas, that's a problem.

FREE DINNER, PLEASE

And the mayoral forums continue to flow in. Readers have the info:

Thursday, August 17, 5:00 – 8:00 PM Fatpipe Mayoral Forum. Fatpipe ABQ Coworking Space, 200 Broadway Blvd NE. . . 

Joe, this one is sponsored by the local chapter of NAWBO, National Association of Women Business Owners. It happens Wednesday, August 16, 5:30 PM to 8 PM at Tanoan Country Club. It is a dinner and attendees have to buy a ticket.

You mean we have to buy a dinner ticket to see the wannabe mayors? How about we get contender Brian Colón to pick up the tab for all of us? He just reported he has $535,000 in cash on hand for the final six weeks of the campaign. Surely he could afford a few taco plates for the crowd wanting in? Oops, the event is at Tanoan. Okay, Brian, make that rib-eyes.

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E-mail your news and comments. (jmonahan@ix.netcom.com)

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Mexico Paradox: Really Poor And Really Rich; New Report Shows Permanent Funds With Rising Riches, Plus: Susana's Second Term Slide, Covering For Berry; Newspaper Scored Over Who It Doesn't Mention And Native American Woman Appears Poised For GOP Lt. Gov Nod 

Is it a paradox, absurdity or both that New Mexico is simultaneously one of the richest and poorest states in the USA? The news that the Land Grant Permanent School Fund and the Severance Tax Permanent Fund have reached the staggering total of $22 billion raises questions--or should raise fundamental questions about the governance of our nearly last in everything disenchanted land.

Juxtaposing New Mexico's rank of 49th in child well-being, 49th in quality of education and 50th in poverty along side the vastness of richness represented by $22 billion should  have politicians and policy makers rethinking how this treasure could be repositioned. Specifically, how it can be put to work to lift up hundreds of thousands of undereducated and disadvantaged citizens and place them on a path that reverses the generational dysfunction that has so hampered this state's social and economic development.

To do that we'll need leadership that ditches the austerity rhetoric and policy. If we can first agree that money can solve many problems--particularly those facing a capital starved state with a rickety and slimly funded public education system--then we can get somewhere. The austerity hawks should demand and get accountability on how exactly we could deploy some of our billions in the bank. But the hawks must first agree that investing in anything involves some risk and they must at this critical juncture be willing to assume risk in exchange for accountability.

For example, take the tens of millions in tax dollars and tax breaks that the business boosters happily supported to attract corporations here like Intel, Hewlett Packard, Eclipse Aviation and the like. Those incentives sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, but a risk was taken in an effort to improve the state.

That same philosophy can be applied to the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the $16 billion land grant fund to supply roughly $120 million a year for ten years for very early childhood education (ages zero to five) which would include home visits and parental education. The amendment has passed the House but stalled in the Senate by chief austerity hawk John Arthur Smith and a handful of his acolytes.

Dem gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca, who has been busy touring the state this summer, comes with a social media video, saying the state is "cracked."  "Education," he says, "is the key to everything." Apodaca is in support of the constitutional amendment for very early childhood.

Sure, the permanent funds spin off interest and income to the state budget to the tune of over $900 million a year and its corpus must be protected over the long-term. But to let $22 billion sit there and not utilize a modest amount of that largess while this state loses its best and brightest and consigns future generations to more of the same demoralizing life circumstances is not only a financial issue, but perhaps the moral issue of our time. When will we act? When the funds are at $30 billion or $40 billion? Never?

SECOND TERM SLIDE

When it comes to New Mexico governors its all downhill in the second term. And Gov. Martinez is no different as her slide continues:

District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that the governor did not follow proper procedures in vetoing 10 bills — either because she took too long or did not provide an explanation with each vetoed piece of legislation.

This Senior Alligator says the veto decision is one of several developments that signal how the Governor's once vaunted political machine led by her political advisor Jay McCleskey is rusting out:

The Governor suffered a big defeat on the veto issue, the business community (the ABQ Chamber of Commerce) suffered a court loss on the proposed city sick leave ordinance and in response to the pummeling he's receiving on crime, Mayor Berry gets the Journal to write a lame story about his political-hack led study on crime in Albuquerque, News Flash! A lot of crime is Albuquerque is along Central Avenue and in 4 or 5 other areas of town. Who knew? It only took the Mayor 8 years to figure that out. Jay McClesky's finely-tuned machine is breaking down and his crowd is finding it more and more difficult to pull the levers of power in this state.

Let's dissect that some: The reference to the "political-hack led study" is to Scott Darnell, the director of ABQ i-team, which assisted with the geography crime analysis. Darnell is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Martinez who dropped off the radar when he resigned that post, but has now popped up under Republican Mayor's Berry's wing.

The "lame article" was one in a series of articles the paper is currently running on the crime epidemic, but there's still no questioning in any of them of Mayor Berry, APD Chief Eden, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry or any of the nine members of the city council. The crime crisis is not simply a function of the criminal justice system. It is a failure of the political leadership that oversees the funding and policy of that system. But in its persistent determination--for whatever reason--to wall off responsibility from that leadership--this journalism fails in its fundamental responsibility to hold those in power accountable. But you already knew that.

One of the fatal flaws in the newspaper piece on the tremendous spike in armed robbery is how it attempts to assign blame to the State Supreme Court's controversial Case Management Order (CMO) dealing with the release of accused criminals. But the crime spike started in 2010 just as Berry took office, years before the CMO took effect. Some 'splainin to do there.

Also, does anyone think this free political pass the paper gives Berry and Company would be given if it were former Democratic Hispanic mayors Marty Chavez or Jim Baca presiding over such criminal chaos? As we've said many times before, they would be stringing them up in Old Town Plaza and selling breakfast burritos to the throng watching.

A TAME TORREZ

One aside from that crime series. BernCo District Attorney Raul Torrez walked back his blanket condemnation of area judges for being the root cause of the crime wave. His new tack goes like this:

The entire criminal justice system is not properly resourced at every stage of the system.

The pushback against Torrez for trying to shift blame was strong enough to knock him to the ground. The on-the-job taming. . .er. . .we mean training. . . continues for the DA.

PRESS BASHING

Reader Kelley Dupont has a message for the newspaper editorial writers:

It irks me to no end how some are blaming the "liberal Democrats" for the problems our city and state are having. They blame years of Democrats in power, but fail to acknowledge that the Republicans have been in charge for the almost eight years this mess has emerged. Yes, perhaps Dems haven't always done the best job, but Republicans had their chance with the governorship and the ABQ mayor's office.  Their mismanagement at all levels has allowed hell into our city and state. Republicans need to own it and stop blaming "years and years of Democratic politics" for this mess that escalated, expanded and grew at great speed under their watch. Yes, Democrats are to blame as well, but come on. Part of fixing a problem is acknowledging one's part in it and stop blaming the other party while they (Republicans) have been in charge.

PEARCE AND ZUNIE

It appears GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce is gong to try to get a first in New Mexico politics. He's been talking up Kelly Zuni, the former state cabinet secretary for Indian affairs and who Thursday evening will announce her candidacy in ABQ Indian Pueblo Cultural Center  for the '18 GOP lieutenant governor nomination.

If the ticket is Pearce/Zunie--and so far she's the only GOP light Guv candidate--it would be a first for state Republicans. They've never nominated a Native American for a spot on their Guv ticket and no Native American has ever served as lt. governor. Native American Deb Haaland ran as the running mate of Dem Guv candidate Gary King in 2014 but they were defeated.

Here is some background info on Zuni from a news release from the governor's office when she was named to the cabinet:

Zunie grew up in New Mexico as a member of the Zuni Pueblo and currently serves as deputy cabinet secretary of the Indian Affairs Department. She becomes the first female to head that agency. Zunie has also served as a business analyst for Rocky Mountain Power in Utah. Zunie has an extensive background in professional training and experience in critical issues facing New Mexico’s Native American population, including public health, energy, and emergency management.

In the first round of speculation on who would be Pearce's running mate the name of another Native American fsurfaced--Dr. Richard Luarkie, the former Governor of Laguna Pueblo who Pearce has spoken highly of and who has a business background and is also African-American. But it now appears it will be Zunie will carry Pearce's banner into the north.

NEWMAN IN

Former Hobbs Mayor, realtor and former NM GOP Chairman Money Newman has made it official and confirmed our blog report that he was seriously eyeing a run for the GOP congressional nomination for the southern seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Pearce. Newman, who previously ran for the nomination when the seat was last open in 2008 but came up short, announced his candidacy Monday:

Newman, who runs a real estate company, is the fourth GOP candidate vying for the seat that incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating next year in order to run for governor. “Congress has a courage problem,” Newman said: “The federal government has been broken and bloated far too long and the people we send to Congress must have the guts to fix it.”

Newman is the fourth R candidate to seek the nomination. The front-runner for the nod is State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr.

BILLY McKIBBEN

We were sorry to hear of the passing of former State Senator Billy McKibben, the colorful Republican who represented the Hobbs area for a twenty year run that ended in 2000 and after was a legislative lobbyist. He pushed hard for economic development for his big district and was influential in Hobbs getting a racino. McKibben died in Big Spring, Texas where he was involved in real estate development. He was 81.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back On The Campaign Trail With The Land Office Face-Off, The Latest Endorsements And Even More Mayoral Forums  

The chase for the Dem nomination for NM Land Commissioner is more complicated now that Gallup area state Senator George Muñoz has joined the chase. Could he capture a large slice of the important Hispanic vote, leaving the two Anglo candidates--former Land Commissioner Ray Powell, Jr. and longtime environmentalist Garrett VeneKlasen coming up short? Muñoz, a conservative Dem, obviously thinks so.

The Munoz candidacy has to make freshman US Senator Martin Heinrich a bit nervous. He made the unusual play of endorsing political unknown VeneKlasen for the nomination, but if Muñoz takes the prize the land office would not be half as friendly to the enviro movement as Heinrich's pick would.

Powell was celebrating this news when the Muñoz candidacy threw some cold water his way:

Animal Protection Voters announced its endorsement of Ray Powell for Land Commissioner in 2018. . . Ray Powell’s record on serious animal protection and wildlife habitat conservation issues, both during and beyond his past tenure as Land Commissioner, reflects a deep commitment to caring for the health of New Mexico’s land, communities, and animals.

State Senators do not have to seek re-election until 2020 so this is a free ride for Munoz. The sole GOP contender is former Land Commissioner Pat Lyons. For the 18' general, the race is rated lean Dem.

TIS THE SEASON

Tis the endorsement season with the primary 10 months out and candidates scrambling to impress potential donors. In the crowded race (now 9 candidates) seeking the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat, we get this:

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez’ campaign for Congress announced the endorsement of national progressive leader, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “Antoinette’s career has been devoted to the pursuit of social and economic justice, and I know that she will stand with me and other Democrats in our fight for strong democracy and progressive change in America."

Raskin is Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

If endorsements in the ABQ mayor's race decided the contest Dem Tim Keller would win by a landslide, and he comes with another:

The Sierra Club announced has endorsed Tim Keller in the mayoral race. "Tim truly believes in the importance of environmental protection," said Richard Barish, the Political Chair of the Central New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. "He understands that now, more than ever, it is important to do what we can to fight climate change at the local level.

Republican Ricardo Chaves, 81, isn't getting many endorsements but he says he has a number of ideas that set him apart from the 8 candidate pack:

Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the city bus service to the private sector, saving $40 million a year. Ricardo Chaves is the only candidate who will sell the four city-owned golf courses, which are now losing $1 million a year.

In the race for Governor, veteran network newsman Sam Donaldson, 83, a native New Mexican who retired to ABQ four years ago, has endorsed Jeff Apodaca for the '18 Dem Guv nod. He does so in this video, saying:

Jeff Apodaca is the leader that I think should be our next governor. He has a plan as a successful businessman to try to solve all of our problems. And in addition to having a plan, he's the kind of leader who does not work to divide people, but to bring us together.

CRIME BEAT

Longtime reader Robert Palacoiz writes:

Joe, is there not an enterprising lawyer who would be willing to do a class action suit against the governor & mayor of Albuquerque for my increase in auto insurance of $220.00. They have failed the people of New Mexico, they have failed our wonderful state, and now, we are literally paying the price with increased auto insurance rates do to crime.

MORE FORUMS

We listed a number of mayoral forums on the blog this week and that brought more. This one will be held tonight at City Hall:

Police Oversight Mayoral Candidate Forum Hosted by Albuquerque PD in Crisis Thursday at 5 PM - 8 PM. City Hall 400 Marquette Ave NW.

And another:

Three Neighborhood Associations are co-sponsoring a Mayoral/District 7 City Council Candidate Q&A on Saturday, September 9, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Q and A will be moderated by the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico.

And the group APD Forward has one slated:

We want you to be able to hear from the candidates running for mayor and learn how they will continue to restore trust between impacted communities and APD. September 6  from 6 pm - 7:30 pm at the African American Performing Arts Center, 310 San Pedro NE

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Our Continuing Crime Wave Coverage: Sheriff Asks "What's Going On In This Town?" We Answer, Plus: Many Mayoral Forums To Choose From 

And the beat goes on. . . as do the beatings, stabbings, killings, robberies and assorted other mayhem that has become commonplace in this mid-size city gripped by a crime crisis the likes it hasn't seen since they laid down the railroad tracks here in 1880.

We call those days of yore "The Wild West." What will they call this time a hundred years from now? Surely the historians of that far away time will wonder how ABQ slipped so far off the tracks and for so long, assuming the crime epidemic is solved by then. And an epidemic, dear reader, is what our beloved Albuquerque is dealing with.

In only the past few days a gun battle erupted in the middle of the city--in the used-to-be-safe NE Heights--at Carlisle and Montgomery. Across town in the SE Heights yet another slaying is added to the Metro Murder Meter made famous back in the day by legendary newsman Stuart Dyson. His voice would grow hoarse from overuse if he was in charge of the Meter today. As for the "other assorted mayhem," try this one on for size:

A drunk man went on a joyride to the tune of 142 mph down I-40. Police say Jeffrey Aguilar was in a black Mustang and fled officers twice before they eventually traced his plates to his address. When they arrived at his residence, police say they found him lying in bed drunk and arrested him.

Going 142 mph seems about the only way to attract law enforcement to the city's freeways these days. Driving them gives most citizens the feeling that they are about to step into a war zone.

And if you just happen to be driving through ABQ and stop at one of our friendly bistros for refreshment, there's a decent chance you'll get a personal taste of what this town has become:

While Staci Almager and her family (driving through ABQ) were eating at the Range Cafe last Friday, a man drove up right next to her SUV and starting looking into the vehicle. . . In an instant he started taking everything out of the family's SUV and loaded it into his car. Almager said he took everything: Their laptops, bank information, clothes.

Well, Stacy, it could be worse. You might have had to stay around here and listen to the excuses, finger-pointing and general whining by our leadership on why they can't do their jobs. Speaking of which . . .

There was another shooting involving a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy--the fifth this year--which has BernCo Sheriff Manny Gonzales pounding the table for more deputies--but still resisting the use of lapel cameras for them. And like his colleagues in the city--APD Chief Eden, Mayor Berry, Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry, District Attorney Torrez, the nine member city council and the ABQ Chamber of Commerce, Gonzales is now overwhelmed by the enormity of the crisis this metro area faces:

What's going on in this town? What's going on in this community?" Gonzales said. "What is prompting people to act out with these behaviors that we haven't seen, I'm going to say, for as long as I've been in law enforcement?

Come on, Manny. You know why. And even though you're an affable guy and law enforcement pro, you are partly to blame.

In addition to drugs, poverty, repeat offenders and the understaffed APD, there is the dreadful impotence being displayed about all of it by the Sheriff and the aforementioned city leadership. Their statements to the general public reek of desperation but to the criminal class are music to the ears.

The question isn't "what's going on in this community?" The real question is how did our political and law enforcement leadership become so weak and willing to admit that weakness as this crime wave continues to drown them? And the question for all of us is "Where's our outrage"?

MAYOR WHO?

Readers are beginning to ask where they can see the ABQ mayoral candidates who are competing in the October 3 election. We previously told you about the two TV debates we're aware of--on KNME-TV August 15th from 6 to 8 p.m. and on KOB-TV the evening of September 15. Now we're getting word from the campaigns that KASA Fox 2 will have a mayoral debate from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. September 11 sponsored by the Greater ABQ Association of Realtors (GAAR). Activist Sivlio Dell'Angela has been compiling a list and adds these events:

--National Association Women Business Owners Mayoral Candidate Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Aug. 16, Tanoan Country Club.

--North Valley Coalition Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 23, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

--District 4/District 8 Forum, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., August 29, El Dorado High School.

--MiABQ Mayoral Forum, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., August 30, The Cell/Fusion Theatre Company, 701 1st NW.

--Community Safety and Policing Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 6, African American Performing Arts Center on the state fairgrounds.

--NAACP Civil Rights and Diversity Conference Mayoral Forum, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Sept. 8, Embassy Suites Hotel near Downtown.

--East Gateway Coalition Mayoral Candidate Debate, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sept. 21, The Canyon Club at Four Hill.s

That's a pretty healthy TV and forum schedule and we expect more will be on tap. There has been very little attention paid to this campaign but that could soon change--hopefully.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On The Econ Beat: Not So Fast; The Claims That The Bear Is In Retreat Put To The Test; Oil Drilling Pop Does Not Make For A New Era 

Blogging New Mexico 
The administration in Santa Fe is hailing the end of the Great Bear Market that has embraced New Mexico for nearly a decade because of a shot in the arm of economic activity primarily due to a jump in energy royalties from the heavily drilled SE Permian basin. While the worst may or may not be behind us, it sure doesn't feel like the Bear has completely retreated to his lair.

While the Governor was gushing over an increase in the somewhat obscure economic indicator known as the gross domestic product (GDP), significant layoffs continued. The town of Estancia in Torrance County is preparing for 200 lost jobs at the privately run prison there which is being shut down. When that is fully absorbed the population in Estancia could easily return to what it was two decades ago. And a once high-flying (and heavily state-subsidized) tech firm in Rio Rancho just laid off 50 employees.

There are green shoots appearing in the economic desert. Construction workers are finding plenty to hammer, nail and pave. That's in large part because of the Facebook data center being built near Los Lunas and construction of the controversial ART transit project in ABQ. Notably, new home construction is nowhere near the rate of yore, forcing an imbalance in supply and demand and giving us price increases, but only modest ones compared to our neighbors. Homebuilders don't seem to have the confidence in the economic future that the Governor does.

There are no cranes in the sky of ABQ, no reports of the city's coffers flush with new cash generated by a rush of economic activity and no reports that interest from the educated classes in moving here is now higher than their interest in getting out.

The latest labor reports indicate the pop in employment is due primarily to the oil patch, low-paying jobs like those in tourism and home health care due to Medicaid expansion. Still, that is good news for those without college degrees and any jobs are welcomed.

(The June state jobs report had such a wild gyration that we're going to wait for confirmation of the higher employment numbers).

SAME OLD

So, the GDP increase seems to signal nothing much new about the economy, but something rather old--that when the oil business does well, state revenues do well. But the macro picture for the New Mexican economy has not changed significantly. Some examples why:

The jobless rate relative to other states remains historically high.

Revenue collections for cities and towns remain mostly flat.

Crime remains rampant in ABQ,

High school graduation rates lag the region and nation.

Medicaid eligibility for low income households has soared to well over 40 percent of the state population.

SOME BOTTOMING

Nothing goes up or down forever. And in a number of ways New Mexico has bottomed out. For example, most of those who want to move out, probably have. And local governments have raised the gross receipts tax to stabilize revenues. But the extreme damage done to the Land of Enchantment by the epic Bear Market is now evident--like smoke clearing from a battlefield.

ONCE UPON A TIME

The once NM monied middle class has shrunk. They wanted a Nordstrom's but they got payday loan stores. They wanted housing prices to roar again, but they whimper. They wanted local business to flourish as the Federal money spigot for the military/scientific complex flowed. Today it only trickles upward. They wanted to make a dent in crime and poverty, but the Bear (and a listless leadership) mauled that dream.

Given the cellar-dwelling polling numbers of those in charge in ABQ and Santa Fe, it seems a bipartisan conclusion that the current leadership has failed and failed mightily. New leadership will soon arrive and be charged with repairing the damage from an economic earthquake. From a state buried in rubble come cries of hope from the survivors.

LIVING "A LITTLE"

You may not be bowled over by the 8 individuals running for mayor of ABQ in the October election, but you can take heart that we don't have this problem:

Half of the eight mayoral hopefuls on Detroit’s primary have been convicted of felony crimes involving drugs, assault or weapons, a Detroit News analysis shows. Three were charged with gun crimes and two for assault with intent to commit murder. Some of the offenses date back decades, the earliest to 1977. The most recent was in 2008. Political consultant Greg Bowens said there are candidates with past hardships in every election cycle. It’s not something unique to Detroit or the political arena in general, he said. “Black marks on your record show you have lived a little and have overcome some challenges,” said Bowens. . .

Being charged with "assault with intent to commit murder" shows you "have lived a little?" Well, now we know how Detroit got to where it is. Today's Detroit mayoral primary is the first since the city exited bankruptcy in 2014. The field of eight will be narrowed to two who will meeting in a fall run-off election.

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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Notes From The Trail: SOS Oliver Dissed By Dark Money Groups But No Major Election Challenger Expected, Yet Another GOP Contender For Southern CD And A Dispiriting Display Of City Corruption Makes News 

Notes from the campaign trail. . . She's been plunged into a sea of controversy over her proposal broadening just what groups need to publicly report who gives them money, but that doesn't mean Dem Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is going to get stern GOP opposition. No GOP challenger has emerged for '18 and Republican insiders say don't expect one.

Oliver had no trouble last year when she crushed GOP foe Nora Espinoza 57% to 43% and was elected to fill out the final two years of the term of Republican SOS Dianna Duran. She resigned after a corruption scandal. Oliver will be seeking a four year term next year.

Here's the Oliver proposal that is causing the dark money groups such pain:

Under Toulouse Oliver’s proposed rules, a group that spent money on advertising or other communications to influence an election would have to file a report with the Secretary of State’s Office identifying itself. If it spent more than $3,000 on an election, the group also would have to identify some of its bigger donors. The revised proposal would raise the threshold for reporting spending intended to influence statewide campaigns to $7,500 from $3,000, differentiating between the race for governor, for example, and the race for a county commissioner’s seat.

Both the left and right are attacking Oliver's changes. Lefty state groups backed by dark money from the network of billionaire George Soros are sour on the idea as well as those getting cash from the conservative billionaire Koch Brothers network. Meanwhile, the general public is probably about 95 percent in favor of more transparency. It's about the only weapon they have against the avalanche of cash that the billionaire class uses to advance their own political agendas.

GETTING CROWDED

It's getting mighty crowded in one of the largest congressional districts in the USA. We blog of the race for the Republican nomination for the NM southern congressional seat. No sooner had we reported that former NM GOP Chairman and ex-Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman is seriously eyeing a bid when former Eddy County Commissioner and Carlsbad pharmacist Jack Volpato beat him to the punch.

Volpato pledges to fight for New Mexico job creation by promoting oil and gas production and exportation and an end to the damaging overregulation of the industry. He promises to support the district’s key industries, including potash and agriculture, by ensuring fair competition and advocating for necessary roads and infrastructure.

Volpato didn't mention the huge federal military presence in the district, protection of which is really job #1 for the southern congressional representative. Well, maybe even mentioning the word "federal" in the district carried by Trump is now verboten.

How we see it: State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is the frontrunner for the nomination. If former Mayor Newman gets in he's probably second. Alamogordo Rep, Yvette Harrell is third, but has potential. And Volpato is in fourth, but not condemned to stay there if he can raise funds. As for the Dems, their candidate mix is making this one look increasingly like a long shot indeed.

DISPIRTING DISPLAY

Well, no matter who is elected ABQ's mayor this fall the change can't come soon enough. The latest dispiriting display of corruption is a heart breaker:

A Civilian Police Oversight Agency investigation has concluded that two Albuquerque Police Department spokespeople lied to the public about the department’s role in the Victoria Martens case before the girl was drugged, raped, murdered and dismembered.
The spokespeople, officer Fred Duran and civilian Celina Espinoza, lied when they told a reporter earlier this year that APD detectives had investigated a report that the boyfriend of Victoria’s mother had tried to kiss the 10-year-old girl several months before she was murdered in August of 2016. No APD personnel ever visited Victoria or her mother to investigate the allegations, the investigation said.

We've got four months more of this before the next mayor takes over December 1. Will that mayor have the intestinal fortitude to use a big broom and sweep City Hall and APD clean? Is it an overstatement to say the city's future literally depends on it?

Mayoral hopeful Michelle Garcia Holmes, who put in a lot of years with APD, reacted to that by again calling for APD Chief Eden to resign. Ya think? By the way, we referenced Garcia Holmes this week as a Dem candidate. She is a registered independent.

DAMN THE APATHY

Damn the apathy. People do care but they need leadership. For example:

The Neighborhood Alliance Against Crime will hold a “Downtown Crime Tour” for ABQ mayoral candidates on August 6th at 3:00pm. The event will draw attention to the rise in crime in the downtown area and also show mayoral candidates firsthand the problems residents face on a daily basis. All eight mayoral candidates have agreed to attend. “One of these eight candidates will be the next Mayor and we want them to head into office having seen for themselves the problems we have with crime downtown," said Terry Brunner, downtown resident and organizer of the event. 

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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 

N
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.

KELLER VS. BALDERAS

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.

WORRY BEADS OUT

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.

STILL ALL CRIME

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.

NEWMAN POISED

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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