Thursday, November 29, 2007


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 29, 2007

When Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez officially announced his U.S. Senate run in October, he said he had spoken recently with Gov. Bill Richardson, whom he called “the next president of the United States.” At the time, Chávez declined to say exactly what he and the governor talked about, though a statement released the same day by Chávez’s campaign said Richardson “indicated” he had no intention of running for the Senate seat.

That wasn’t surprising. Richardson and his spokesmen have “indicated” hundreds of times that Richardson isn’t going to run for Senate since U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican, announced he’s not seeking re-election.

But in an interview Monday, Chávez provided some details about his conversation with Richardson, indicating there were more indications indicated than originally reported. “He told me he’s not running for Senate, ” Chávez told me. “But then he told me, ‘I never say never.’ ”

The Richardson presidential campaign didn’t respond to a question about his conversation with Chávez except to repeat Richardson is not running for Senate.

Chávez’s version of the conversation reminds me of The New York Daily News’ interview with Richardson in August. When the paper pressed him about his insistence he wouldn’t accept a place on the Democratic ticket as vice president, the governor said, “I never preclude anything.” However, he quickly added, “But I am telling you that I’m not interested.”

Richardson was asked yet again about the vice presidency during an interview Thursday on XM satellite radio’s POTUS ’08 network (the nation’s first 24-hour news radio station dedicated to the presidential race). “Well, I’m not interested in the vice presidency. Obviously, it would be an honor, but I’m going to win the nomination.”

I guess that settles that.

You say it’s your birthday: Chávez might have had a chance to clear things up about Richardson’s possible Senate plans at Richardson’s birthday party a couple of weeks ago.

Only problem is, unlike his Senate primary rival, U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, Chávez never got an invitation to the birthday bash thrown at one of the Santa Fe homes of Andrew and Sydney Davis, who are generous contributors to state and local Democrats.

“Gee, I was at his birthday party last year,” Chávez said. Then, with a wry grin the mayor added, “My invitation this year must have gotten lost in the mail.”

More on Art Hull: For months now, the Richardson administration has insisted Art Hull, longtime lobbyist for Public Service Company of New Mexico, didn’t lobby for the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Act when he worked for the Governor’s Office as part of PNM’s Loaned Executive program.

Attorney General Gary King’s staff took Richardson’s staff at their word about this when investigating Hull’s role earlier this year. “The governor’s office did not assign Mr. Hull to work on legislation creating the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority,” Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Glenn said in a letter to Ben Luce of the watchdog group Break the Grip, which called for the investigation. Glenn said she found no evidence to the contrary.

However, on Wednesday, Break the Grip announced they had unearthed, via the state Open Records Act, an e-mail from Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos to blogger Joe Monahan on Jan. 30 (after the Legislative session had begun) that said, “With the exception of the governor’s proposed Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, Art is not lobbying on behalf of any of the governor’s energy package.” (That’s exactly what Monahan posted soon after Gallegos sent the e-mail.)

Luce — who says Hull’s lobbying for the bill while on the governor’s staff is a conflict of interest — is calling for the attorney general to reopen the investigation. Gallegos couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Back to the races: Speaking of Udall, the congressman from Santa Fe has scheduled his formal announcement 11:45 a.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in the city that calls Marty Chávez mayor. He’ll be doing a three-day “announcement tour” with stops in Santa Fe (4 p.m. Saturday at Eldorado Hotel), Los Lunas, Las Cruces, Silver City, Clovis, Las Vegas, Mora and Taos.

Also on Thursday, state Sen. Joe Carraro of Albuquerque will announce his candidacy in the Republican primary for the soon-to-be-open 1st Congressional District seat. Carraro will be facing Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White in that race. Carraro’s announcement is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the George O. Breace Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 401, 2011 Girard S.E. in Albuquerque.

On Friday, a third Democrat formally will get into the Senate race. Santa Fe activist and alternative newspaper publisher Leland Lehrman will make it official. He’ll announce at noon Friday at the Capitol Rotunda. At 7:30 p.m. that night, he’s having an “after party” at the Green Palace, 209 E. Palace Ave, which Lehrman owns with his wife, Vera. The Shiva Brothers are playing music.

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