My two-cents on the mayor's race

Take this for what it's worth, which ain't much, but here are a few thoughts on the mayor's race. Brad Winter, gracias! I was a little surprised Winter got in, but I am now thrilled that the race has taken an interesting turn and gives the voters more options. One thing I've learned about Brad: Until he says "no," the chances of him saying yes get better and better. Or as one of his close colleagues told me recently, "That's part of Brad's charm, he vacillates." Though Winter is seen (mostly by his detractors) as capricious, I've always thought of him as thoughtful and patient. Now he's the flavor of the day in a race that'll be decided in less than four months, but we'll have to wait and see if he catches fire.

Winter entered the race after the national and state GOP forces tried to lure a number of candidates—Darren White and Tim Cummins, for example—that didn't bite. One Republican consultant told me "the GOP now has the option of getting behind Brad and giving him a hand." What the hell else are they going to do? He's the only Republican in the race! Why is it even an option? Sure the race is theoretically non-partisan and much has been made of Winter's moderation, which in this day is somehow seen as a vice by political pontificators, but I doubt the general public will hold that against him.

On another interesting note, Sander Rue is Winter's campaign manager. Rue, a Westsider who sells pharmaceuticals, ran against Michale Cadigan four years ago for the District 5 Council seat, lost in a close three-way race, and showed his poor character as a sore loser and lowlife, by running a recall campaign against Cadigan that was all smear tactics and no substance. Let's hope Rue has returned from the dark side intact now that he is running with Winter. Speaking of the dark side, Jay McClesky, the political consultant for John Sanchez' gubernatorial campaign and later Citizens for Greater Albuquerque, is rumored to be “back in politics.” McClesky ran negative campaigns in opposition to Martin Heinrich and Brad Winter (yeah, that Brad Winter) in the 2004 City Council elections, but is now a consultant on Winter's mayoral campaign, according to one GOP source and picked up by Joe Monahan's blog [link]. Joe also says Gov. Richardson could be throwing his considerable weight behind Marty. Of course, if Joe, a former Marty Chavez campaign worker, was as accurate as he is witty with the old school prose ... .

The numbers: OK, in the words of George W, Bush, "I don't care about polls." But there are some numbers worth considering. Again, this is all worth two-cents. If half of Marty's support comes from Republicans, obviously Brad's presence puts a bur in his saddle. At least half of that half, if not more, should go immediately to Winter. The question is, just how much support does Marty have and how tenuous is that support outside his base, which I'm betting is solidly 25 percent of the voters.

So let's say Marty has a solid 25-30 percent base, Winter has about the same if he runs a strong campaign and every Republican in town knows he's the only elephant on the ballot. That leaves a lot of votes out there to be swayed.

And if the voter breakdown in Albuquerque by performance in the last mayoral election was 49 percent Democrat, 41 percent Republican and the bulk of the remainder independent, the race seems to be wide open.

Then there is City Councilor Eric Griego. Yes folks, right now it's a three-way race and I'll get to Judy Espinosa once I've met her. Right now I wouldn't recognize her in an elevator if we were trapped in it alone together. Griego needs independents and progressive Democrats to come out for him. If Brad doesn't catch fire and build a solid base I don't think he'll get to 30 percent. On the other hand, if Brad runs a smart, active campaign, he could really pull in some votes.

Even with a smaller field than four years ago, when Marty won with only 30 percent, I don't know think the sitting mayor can pull in 40 percent on election day and avoid a runoff. Marty's by far the most politically skilled of the bunch and uses the media well enough, but the sting of ABQPAC should not be underestimated. I know I haven't forgotten about it. Taking cash from city employees and city contractors and using it to fund your campaign debts and cell phone bills is not cool. Using city employees to fundraise for you while they are on the clock isn't cool either. But just how much of an issue this will become is anybody's guess, and unless Winter and Griego make it an issue at every turn, don't expect the local dailies to rehash it.

Then there is the minimum wage initiative. Winter and Chavez both oppose increasing the minimum wage. But what happens if it gets on the ballot? That could help Griego win some votes, since he is pushing for it. (Rumor—Democratic vice-presidential failure John Edwards is supposedly going to deliver the signatures to the Bernalillo County Clerk's office once the petition drive is complete)

The wrap-up: The numbers for Marty show at least half of his support coming from Republicans. If he had 60 percent of the electorate supporting him (the best I think he could hope for) half have gone over to Winter. Just by stepping in Winter gets 20-25 percent and it all comes from Marty, not Eric. If Marty is in the 50 percent range of support, he's gonna be in the 30-39 range on election day. So it's going to be a tight three-way race, coming down the wire, with Winter and Griego fighting for the run-off spot to oppose Marty.

But don't quote me on any of this. I'm just speculatin'.