Peeking into the Crystal Ball
Early odds for the 2005 mayoral elections
By Greg Payne
In less than a month, the nation will elect (or re-elect) a president. Everybody and their monkey is speculating on the outcome of that horse race, so why not look little further down the political road?
The Albuquerque municipal elections will take place a year from now with the mayor's office and five of nine seats on the City Council up for grabs. What better way to cushion the post-election depression many political junkies will feel Nov. 3 than with the comforting knowledge another election cycle is just around the corner?
So, with rumor and conjecture lighting the way like the orange glow from John Kerry's "man-tan," the political bookies in Payne's World are laying down odds for the 2005 Albuquerque mayoral race.
Martin Chavez (2-1). If the election were held today, Mayor Marty would probably win with over 40 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff—if a runoff is a requirement in 2005. A year ago, that might not have been the case, but Chavez seems to have weathered the political hits he took from ABQPAC the first year of his second administration.
Additionally, the City Council is behaving itself, which is probably the number one reason Chavez pulled a 62 percent approval rating in a recent poll. Without Hess Yntema on the Council kicking the crap out of him on a daily basis, Chavez can focus on doing the cute things mayors prefer—like luring Chinese pandas into the zoo.
Potential pitfalls: Fundraising may be a little tricky. If he gets anywhere near a gray area, you can count on an opponent pouncing and filing a complaint with the Ethics Board.
Key to victory: Get through next year's budget hearings with as little Council acrimony as possible. Win big on the Westside and romance crossover votes in the Northeast Heights.
Bob Schwartz (4-1) Bob darn near became mayor in 2001. If the former Bernalillo County District Attorney and current "crime guy" for Gov. Bill Richardson raised a little more money or minimized fellow Republican Mike McEntee's impact on the race (McEntee came in third), who knows?
Schwartz would seem the odds-on favorite to challenge Chavez, but lately his public profile hasn't been all that public. Whether he's being reined in by Big Bill or is still smarting from a silly comment made about a "one-letter" difference between rap music and rape remains a mystery.
Regardless, Schwartz proved a quick wit and wry sense of humor can go a long way in this business. After all, he carried most of Albuquerque east of 1-25.
Potential pitfalls: Another Republican gets in the race.
Key to victory: Keep the Republican field clear. Double his 2001 fundraising efforts.
Brad Winter (5-1) Winter's potential candidacy can't be dismissed out of hand. A two-time president of the Council, Winter proved a surprisingly formidable campaigner in his 2003 re-election.
The development community (under the auspices of Citizens for Greater Albuquerque), along with fellow Republican councilors Tina Cummins and Sally Mayer decided to punish Winter for his middle of the road stance on issues like the restaurant smoking ban and the Planned Growth Strategy. Despite being out-spent 5-1, Winter won decisively.
Potential pitfalls: Winter has a Hamlet-esque indecisiveness. At first he wasn't going to seek re-election, then he was. If he does "to be or not to be" on a mayoral quest, the rest of the pack will leave him in the dust. Also, like Schwartz, more than one Republican in the race makes the numbers problematic.
Key to victory: Announce early and rally Republicans. Take the battle to Chavez on the Republican-leaning Northwest Mesa.
Eric Griego (10-1). Griego, the current Vice President of the City Council, has all but announced he will seek the power and the glory of the 11th floor City Hall office and held a preliminary fundraiser with family and friends a few weeks ago.
The biggest obstacle to Griego's mayoral ambitions is the current mayor. Both are Hispanic Democrats, polished and media-savvy, although Griego is further left on the political spectrum than Chavez. Think a stand-up version of Jim Baca.
Potential pitfalls: Chavez “bags and tags” him early-on as unable to raise money, unable to break out of his District 3 base and unelectable citywide.
Key to victory: Mimic the Baca strategy of pumping up Downtown and Nob Hill progressives. But anything less than a full-frontal on Chavez means certain defeat.
Other potential candidates: Linda Lopez (50-1). Although a state senator and Bernalillo County Democratic Party Chair, her lack of name ID outside party circles and the Roundhouse makes her a real long shot. But as the only woman in the race (so far) and with a grip on the local party apparatus, stranger things have happened.
Alan Armijo (100-1). Former City Councilor and current Bernalillo County Commissioner was dead last in the 2001 mayoral contest. May move up a place if he runs in '05.
Lawrence Rael (100-1). The city's former Chief Administrative Officer and current director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments seems something of a vanity campaign in the making. Rael was one of the longest-serving CAOs and wants people to know he ran City Hall for 12 years. Problem with that candidacy is, he might just get credit.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Payne, a former city councilor, can be reached at email@example.com.
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