Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Political Corral Getting Crowded

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Between school and trying to keep up with covering the political meetings and announcements, my blogging has slipped to reporting about once a week. There are other stories; they are just going to have to wait. This is what has been happening.

Thursday Oct. 25, Richardson’s Volunteer Rally

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish introduced Gov. Richardson at the International Brotherhood of Electrical worker’s Union hall.

Richardson was trying to encourage the die-hard New Mexico Democrats to travel to Iowa between Christmas and New Years, to walk neighborhoods and to get out support for their Jan. 3, 2008 caucus.

In introducing the dais, Richardson recognized his host, Martin Chávez, not as a declared U.S. Senate candidate, but as Albuquerque’s Mayor.

The Gov. indicated he was in fighting form and ready to go the distance, reminding the crowd, front-runners in earlier campaigns had been known to fizzle. Citing former Governors Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who were relatively unknowns at the time, Richardson noted that they had survived the early primaries to push ahead of the favorites and go on to be elected presidents.

Saturday, Oct. 27, The Women’s Turn

Democratic Women of New Mexico Convention

Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Germond spoke of the importance of getting out the vote. Democratic State Chairman Brian Colón also gave a speech invoking more participation in getting voters to the polls.

New Mexico Federation of Republican Women

The Republican women held a three-day Biennial Convention where Congressional District 2 Rep. Steve Pearce gave the luncheon speech.
Rep. Heather Wilson, who has abandoned her Congressional District 1 seat and is seeking the Republican U.S. Senate primary nomination, for the seat vacated by current Sen. Pete Domenici, spoke at the dinner.

Both representatives are seen with Republican State Representative Nora Espinoza, District 59 of Chaves, Lincoln and Otero Counties. Espinoza seems to like both.

Friday Nov. 2, Pearce Announces for Senates

Former Gov. David Cargo introduced Congressman Steve Pearce in Albuquerque as Pearce made one of several city tours, announcing his candidacy for the Republican U.S. Senate primary nomination.

Cargo, in a characteristically understated manner, introduced Pearce. He spilled a glass of ice water on his shoes prompting me to ask if it was his way of cooling his heals?

Fellow blogger Joe Monahan pointed out that moderate Cargo had been Domenici’s 1972 primary opponent for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then Sen. Clinton Anderson. Monahan seemed to suggest the Cargo still held a grudge for losing to Domenici.

Saturday Nov. 3, Democratic Party’s Central Committee

I met Lt. Gov. Diane Denish on my way into the Democratic Party’s Central Committee meeting at the Central New Mexico campus.

“Howdy neighbor!” I called; she lives a few houses up the block.

“Oh, Hi!” she responded, as she paused to let me catch up.

“Things are really getting excited,” I observed.

“Yes they are,” she said. “I haven’t seen it like this since, well I guess I haven’t seen it like this. …I told my daughter that since I announced my intentions for 2008, I can get back to doing my job.” Denish had said on Wednesday that she would not enter the U.S. Senate race.

“No you can’t, your doing the Governor’s job,” I noted.

“Oh yea, I guess I am,” the Lt. Gov. said.

Inside the building, I met up with Assistant City Attorney Pete Dinelli, who is the champion of closing down run down motels.
During the past week, there had been a success story. The Downtown Travel Inn, at High Street and Central Avenue, which had been shut down by the city for numerous code violations. reopened after more than a million dollar renovation. The owners of the property said they were going to avoid future problems by only accepting credit cards, because those they felt caused problems usually paid cash. Dinelli had endorsed the position.

I had to ask. I handed Dinelli a one-dollar bill pointing out the fine print, “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE”. I got an “Oh Mark,” from Dinelli, “You know why they’re doing it.”

Yes I do know why they’re requiring credit cards over cash; it’s also illegal.

It’s not that I object so much that the motel is trying to control those who have caused problems for them in the past: drug pushers, prostitutes and the like, it is that Dinelli, representing the government, may not take a stance supporting housing discrimination. If drug dealing or prostitution is going on, arrest the miscreants, but one can’t engage or condone other illegal activity.

Dinelli said he is eligible for retirement at the end of the year and plans to leave in the middle of next year. He is telling fellow Democrats that he is considering running for mayor. Maybe some of the Constitutional rights that Dinelli has attacked so strongly in his current position will be restored with his departure.

Rep. Tom Udall of Congressional District 3 had previously announced that he was not giving up his House seat and the seniority that goes with it, including his position as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. On Thursday Nov 1, he announced that he is reconsidering seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate primary nomination.

At the meeting, he was introduced as an elected federal official and the current incumbent Congressional candidate. The room gave him a standing ovation with several “Run Tom Run” signs being waved and chanting.

Udall spoke of the need for Democratic leadership in the Senate and the magic number of 60 votes needed for cloture. Cloture is the process in the Senate rules that limits debate; it requires three-fifths of the entire Senate.

Then, with a wink and a nod, he said, for the benefit of any media in the room, that he was not announcing his candidacy at this time. Udall apologized for his wife not being in attendance and said he didn’t even know where his daughter, Richardson’s Deputy Campaign Manager Amanda Cooper, was. The Gov. has her out on the road somewhere, he said.

Udall was pushed hard by the press, here by Albuquerque Journal's political reporter Jeff Jones, right, as to why he would not announce immediately. Udall said he was going to take up to two weeks. His answer seemed to satisfy party faithfuls, but not reporters, pundits and political bloggers.

On the candidate’s table, in the hallway outside the meeting room Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez offered potato chips with his campaign sticker on the bag. Two years ago, while running for reelection, Chávez had one-pound bags of specialty coffee with his campaign material printed on the bag. This was not as elegant, but does raise the obvious question; is he offering chips and dip?

Chávez was introduced, as a current Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidate, much later in the afternoon by Democratic State Chairman Brian Colón.

Chávez took a verbal swing at U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York who is also the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Schumer told reporters in Washington that he wanted the strongest possible candidate to oppose Wilson or Pearce. Chávez told the crowd that it would be New Mexicans, not New Yorkers, who would select the next Senator from the state, to thunderous applause and the waving of Chávez and “Run Tom Run” signs.

Colón, seen here with his ten-year old son, Rafael, who led the pledge of allegiance in English and Spanish, is the newly elected Democratic State Chairman. He ran a tight meeting. He stated that he promised to be, among other things, open and inclusive.

With the eruditeness and aplomb of a sports announcer, he introduced the political elite by dragging out their names, allowing the last syllable to fade off slowly.

During a moment when questions of resolutions were up for debate, he made a ruling to allow the person who wished to present an amendment five-minutes to speak, followed by, up to six individuals, three for – three against, for one-minute each. However, on more than one occasion, while delegates waited to speak, he accepted shouted calls for the question. Procedurally, a call for the question is a way to end a debate. The Democratic Party has it’s own rules, but normally, and especially under Robert’s rules of order, it is improper to accept an unrecognized delegate’s shout over those who are in line to add their comments. The results were not severe, as those calls all passed the two-thirds voted to close the discussion.

In one case however, Colón backed down when Sandra Richardson, left, came forward as a call for the question was shouted.

Richardson left the podium muttering and Colón called her back, ruling that he had recognized her first. Richardson had a rough time the past few months for her disclosed “Honey-Bee” e-mail to Albuquerque City Council District 4 unsuccessful candidate Paulette de Pascal, with whom she attended the meeting. Richardson made an argument that, though the central committee represented Democrats statewide, they could not dictate how all members and voters should act. Her argument carried the day.

Sunday, Nov. 4, Neighborhoods gather to discuss construction plans for University of New Mexico's North Golf Course

Several neighborhood associations and citizens concerned with the announced plans to build on the golf course brought about 500 people to protest and enter into a dialogue with the newly appointed UNM President David Schmidly.

During the rally three fire units responded to a report of gas odors on the second floor of the law library. The fire official investigated using detectors and found nothing, according to department spokesman Capt. Ahren Griego. The presence of fire trucks had attendees wondering as Chávez scampered back and forth. Their seemed to be no actual correlation between the gas leak call and the rally.

North Campus Neighborhood Association President Sara Koplik moderated both the rally outside the school of law and inside the lecture hall. The room was crammed beyond overflow with more than 300 people. A second lecture hall was opened and audio was piped to the crowd.

Koplik, left, whispers to New Mexico State Representative Gail Chasey while speaking to the rally in front of the UNM School of Law, where Chasey currently attends.

University officials are willing to form an advisory committee to help in directing the project. The crowd seemed to have other ideas; specifically, that UNM leave the golf course untouched. The discussion is at two different points.

Schmidly, seen here in the projector light of his proposal, is trying to hold on to the current agenda, stated as, this is our plan and we will only talk about it, while the community wants the agenda to be about not developing on that site.

Emotions are running high and lots of statements are being made that constitute hyperbole. Some call the 80 acre site a ‘Central Park,” and the largest green space centrally located in Albuquerque. However, it is only a nine-hole golf course. There are several larger golf courses in town.

One question that has been raised is, what is the educational benefit derived by the project? The transverse is also true, what educational benefit is derived by the golf course? The University owns a lot of undeveloped land, some on the North campus and a fair amount on the South campus. It does not seem that the issue is so much an opposition to the proposed senior living center as it is to its location. Might the same project be relocated elsewhere? Apparently the City is amenable to a land swap and is willing to take over the Golf Course as a City Park.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish was the ranking political leader, that included: Bernalillo County State Senators Cisco McSorley, District 16 and Gerald Ortiz y Pino, District 12, Bernalillo County State Representatives Danice Picraux, District 25 and Gail Chasey, District 18, who is also a current UNM law school student. County and city officials included: County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez, City Councillor Isaac Benton, and Councillor-elect Rey Garduño, and Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority Chairman Danny Hernandez, whose districts includes all or parts of UNM’s main campus. Other political figures also present included: U.S. Congressional District 1 Democratic primary candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham and former Land Commissioner Ray Powell Jr.

Denish, seen above right, chastised Schmidly and UNM officials, including Regents’ President Jamie Koch in the red sweater and Chairman of the Regents' Finance and Facilities Committee Mel Eaves, in the yellow sweater, for their proposal to encroach on the golf course.

Michelle Meaders correctly caught that I had transposed Michelle Lujan Grisham's name and pointed out that there were three other Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidates present besides Chávez. My intent, poorly executed, was to distinguish that Udall was not yet an announced candidate for the Senate seat.

Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidates: Jim Hannan, left, Leland Lehrman, center, and Don Wiviott, who also spoke.

Meaders' point that she, "thought Dem. officials were careful not to appear to favor a candidate before the Primary," might be true. but it is a fact that Chávez is a candidate. Saying so is not an endorsement and if it weren't for the fact that Richardson, despite denying the possibility of his getting into that race should his presidential aspirations fail, it can be viewed as being dismissive of a potential rival. I believe the reaction of Chávez, in the picture above says it better than my words could.

1 comment:

michelle meaders said...

Wow! Thanks for covering all these recent events, which don't get much mention otherwise.

I thought Dem. officials were careful not to appear to favor a candidate before the Primary.

Thursday Oct. 25, Richardson’s Volunteer Rally "In introducing the dais, Richardson recognized his host, Martin Chávez, not as a declared U.S. Senate candidate, but as Albuquerque’s Mayor."

Saturday Nov. 3, Democratic Party’s Central Committee "Chávez was introduced, as the only current Democratic U.S. Senate primary candidate, much later in the afternoon by Democratic State Chairman Brian Colón." Odd that he wouldn't mention the other 3 Senate Candidates (from Santa Fe), who were probably still there. Maybe he meant the only one who was currently an elected (though nonpartisan) official.

Did "Michelle Grisham Lujan" change her name? By the way, I was sitting across from her table at registration for the state Dem. convention, and noticed almost no one went there. Congressional candidates don't have to live in the district they run in (only in the state), but it sure helps.