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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Pundits Say No First Round Knock Out of "Rocky" Lara By Pearce As Race In South Is Joined, Plus: Berry Slams Dinelli On City Lawsuits, Even While Tab On His Watch Skyrockets, And: Some Bottom Lines For A New Mexico Wednesday 

Roxanne Lara
Roxanne "Rocky" Lara isn't going to fall to the canvas in the first round. That's the first take from the Alligators and pundits as they assess Lara's Tuesday entry into the race for the southern congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.

Here's how one of them sized up the candidacy of the Carlsbad attorney and former Eddy County commissioner:

Lara will be the Democratic nominee against Pearce. As an educated, young, female Hispanic she is positioned to do quite well. Beating Pearce outright is still a difficult proposition, but the Democratic growth in Dona Ana County (the district's largest) will help her. She should easily be able to hold Pearce below 60%, but getting him under 55% and really getting the race in play is going to be the challenge...

Lara recently ran for state Democratic Party chair, but lost to Sam Bregman, but she won kudos for the effort. Alamogordo's Leslie Endean-Singh is an announced candidate for the Dem nomination, but the Lara entry puts an end to her hopes.

Pearce announced his plans for re-election late last month.

We've been blogging that national Dems have decided to target the Pearce seat because of changing demographics--more Hispanic and more Dems--and because of what the Dems say is Pearce's "unapologetic conservatism." They think the district is changing enough to give Lara a shot.

Her finance reports will be closely watched to see how serious the targeting will be.

'14 is a low turnout off-year election. If Lara does not pull off the upset, but comes close, she could be positioned  to be a problem for Pearce in the presidential election year of '16.

CONGRESS OR BUST

Well, the TV stations are going to be happy if there's a Pearce-Lara race. It could generate a bunch of ads that they are unlikely to see in the US Senate race or even the ABQ congressional contest...Speaking of that...

If former ABQ City Councilor Mike McEntee runs for the ABQ GOP congressional nomination, will Guv Martinez political chief Jay McCleskey handle his media? The answer? Very likely.

As for Dem US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a McEntee entry will not be perceived as a solid threat in the now Dem dominated district, but she will use it to raise bunches of campaign money....

So you have Lara as the probable Dem nominee for Congress down south, Michelle in ABQ and what about Governor? Linda Lopez is trying to beat Gary King for the Dem Guv nomination. Will Linda start touting a Hispanic female trio for the ticket? Duh.

MAYORAL IRONY
There's a great irony (or is it intentional indifference?) to Mayor Berry's first full-blown negative TV ad attack on his challenger Pete Dinelli.

He scores Democrat Dinelli, who served as director of the city's Safe City Strike Force under Mayor Chavez, for costing the city "1.7million in a federal lawsuit settlement."

The irony?

It's all over this chart we've posted from the ABQ Journal showing the millions and millions the city has had to pay out for misconduct by the ABQ police department under Mayor Berry's watch which began in December 2009.

The numerous fatal police shootings that began when Mayor Berry took office have prompted the US government to launch an investigation of APD, police chief Ray Schultz to resign under pressure and a total revamping of the civilian oversight process of APD.

In light of those facts, the $1.7 million federal lawsuit settlement against the strike force that Dinelli led looks puny. But the voters see and hear what's on TV. Berry's attack comes when Dinelli has no ads up and as the Journal begins its mayoral polling which will be released Sunday. (Dinelli's ads are coming this week).

That Berry is going on the offense on one of his key weaknesses--law enforcement lawsuit settlements shows how audacious political campaigns have become these days. But if they can get away with it without any check from the media or the opposing campaign, they will.

(KOB-TV's Stuart Dyson fact checks the ad here.)

MAYORAL MEET

Mayor Berry won't be there, but Dinelli and Republcian Paul Heh will attend the ABQ firefighters and police officers association mayoral forum Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Carpenters Union Training Center at 3900 Pan American Fwy. NE.

The unions are seeking public questions for the contenders and you can post yours here. The report on the controversy over Berry refusing a public safety forum is here. Yours truly will be moderating the event.

MARTINEZ VS. MEDIA

She came in promising the most transparent administration ever, but she is tangling with the Associated Press over releasing security detail records and her daily schedule, is embroiled in a dispute over releasing a controversial state audit on behavioral health providers and now this:

The Santa Fe Reporter filed a lawsuit against Gov. Martinez in the First Judicial District Court. The lawsuit alleges Martinez “routinely” violated the state’s public records law by withholding public records requested by SFR. It also asserts that the governor violated the “freedom of the press” provision in the New Mexico Constitution “by unlawfully discriminating and retaliating” against SFR. The governor’s office refused to respond to the paper’s inquiries for seven months on a long list of stories. Silence from the governor’s office amounts to prior restraint and censorship, the complaint alleges.

While the SFR has been aggressive with the Governor from the start, other outlets have been much less so. But three years is a long time. And forming a habit of being nontransparent is like putting smelling salts under a journalist's nose. Eventually, they wake up.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Paul Gutierrez, the  longtime executive director of the New Mexico Association of Counties, is headed to DC. He tells us:

I am planning to leave in October. I have accepted a job with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Gutierrez is a native of Magdalena who has prior experience in the nation's capital. He will be missed by the many county politicos he has helped guide....

Old timers in Bernalillo County will remember David Santillanes who served on the county commission in the 70s'. We received word of his passing. He was 85....Readers ask where they can sign the petition calling for a special grand jury investigation into the mysterious death in 2010 of ABQ civil rights attorney Mary Han. That can be done here...

We're celebrating our tenth anniversary of blogging New Mexico politics this month. We're awarding $50 a week for four weeks to the readers who come with the best news tips or emails. The email address is right below...

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