Musings on the mayor's race

Here comes today's unfiltered, highly caffinated, totally knee-jerk bloggage in 20 minutes or less. In other words, take it with a grain of salt.

This quote from Brad Winter arrived in the e-mail box about an hour ago, along with a press conference announcement—set to take place at 3:30 today on the north end of Civic Plaza.

"During this Chavez administration, government spending—or the size of our government—has increased by 35 percent while the Albuquerque economy has only grown by 16 percent. The reason I am in this race for Mayor is to restore honesty and trust at City Hall. I believe the first place to start is with our budget and spending policies. Taxpayers—not politicians—should have control over spending."

The part about honesty and trust, I suspect, also refers to an editorial in today's Albuquerque Journal that took exception to the continued stonewalling at City Hall in connection to the APD evidence room fiasco. Police Chief Ray Shultz, presumably with the blessing of his boss Mayor Marty Chavez, has decided to talk tough about the discipline handed out to the deputies and a few other APD staff involved in the scandal, but doesn't want to disclose details. He won't even identify the perpetrators, hiding behind the tried-and-true veil of "this is a personnel matter." True, it is a personnel matter. But it's not a personnel matter at a private, freaking security company; it's a personnel matter involving the publicly funded police force and $58,000 of missing cash, among other things. Release the records! The Journal did a nice job calling out Marty for his cliched comment delivered the first day he took office in 2001 (which sounds exactly like the rhetoric of Gary Johnson--the guy who spanked Marty in the 1998 governor's race): "I learned a long time ago that there aren't any secrets in City Hall worth keeping, so don't keep them. ... Get the information out. That's what works best." Juxtaposed with City Hall's stonewalling, this quote makes Marty look slimy in the kind of way that should give Winter a boost and perhaps the frontpage in tomorrow's paper. However, that space might already be reserved for Marty, who is certainly savvy enough—I'm just speculatin' here—to counter Winter's play with a press conference of his own at 3 or 4 pm today, perhaps with a backdrop of puppies, kittens, cops or maybe an elderly citizen or two.

Winter's shot about budget spending has been a point former mayor Jim Baca (1997-2001) has been making for some time. Baca insists that a simple graph that charts the city's annual spending from Marty's first term beginning in 1993, and runs through this year, would show that Baca ran a tighter fiscal ship and was prone to belt-tightening whenever the city coffers were running low. Marty is more of a spendthrift, he says, and Baca's claims are likely to be used as ammunition by the Winter campaign. It's certainly something worth looking into from an objective journalist's viewpoint, or in the Alibi's case, an objective columnist's viewpoint.

It's also interesting that thus far Brad, the only R in the race and the City Council president, doesn't have a single councilor endorsing him. The other Republicans on the Council, Sally Mayer, Tina Cummins and Craig Loy, all seem content to take marching orders from Democrat Marty on budget matters and generally remain his strongest allies.

Eric Griego, the only progressive in the race unless Judy Espinosa can figure out a way to skirt the state Supreme Court, has the support of Councilors Debbie O'Malley and Martin Heinrich.

Councilors Miguel Gomez and Michael Cadigan are both running for reelection against candidates that are also supportive of Marty. Cadigan is remaining neutral in an act of transparent self-preservation. Gomez has shown a willingness to stand up to Marty, especially during the recent budget fight, and as a result, Marty's former campaign finance director, Ken Sanchez, is running against him. Incidently, Sanchez picked up his petitions on July 8, at a time when the steam from the budget battle had yet to dissipate. Gomez is progressive, but he and Griego can't seem to get along either. So don't expect Gomez or Cadigan to speak up a whole lot on the mayor's race.

As for Judy Espinosa, I talked to her briefly this morning and she said she was heading into a meeting to figure out her next move in an effort to salvage her candidacy and move forward with what has been for themost part an inert campaign. If she can somehow make it on the ballot, all of the publicity about her not making the ballot will have been the best thing that happened to her, since she got into the race as a relative unknown.

Overall, most of the prognosticators see Marty as smart money in this year's horserace. He's got over $1 million raised, compared to Brad's $100k and Eric's $250k, as of the latest filing. But local elections aren't purchased the way federal elections are, and I think this one is going to tighten down the stretch, which unfortunately means it's going to get nasty. Still, I expect the city to vote by region and that will make the outcome, as usual, dependent on turnout. Griego I suspect will have solid support running from the University, through Downtown and into the North Valley. Marty's votes will by-and-large be based on the Westside similar to his numbers in 2001. Winter has a lot of potential, regardless of his sluggish campaign and threadbare budget. He can draw a lot of NE Heights votes and could get a significant boost from Heather Wilson's endorsement, who is beloved by the GOP.

David Steele is a non-issue in my opinion, although one Republican strategist said he hurts Winter as the alternate white guy Republican. I'm not buying it, especially since Steele is a retired union rep and registered Democrat. Nobody knows who Steele is, and if he continues to make public appearances in the manner of Admiral Stockdale, as some early reports have suggested, his cause is lost. But that's all for now. Anyone of these candidates could turn the tide in their favor with a strong showing in the televised debates, or, dare I say, in a candidate endorsement interview with your local alt.weekly.