Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Campaign Heat: Keller's Turn To Unload; Dem Mayor Hopeful Matches Lewis Attack For Attack; Plus: Money Race For Two Open Congress Seats; Where They Stand 

After Dan Lewis threw the kitchen sink at him in the first major mayoral debate Sunday, Tim Keller has now filled a lunch bucket to the brim with accusations against Lewis. And, suddenly, the race is fully joined.

Lewis unloaded both barrels at the Temple Albert debate, slamming Democrat Keller on a myriad of issues, most especially on what Lewis says is Keller's "hug a thug" crime platform.

Some Keller confidants were concerned that Keller did not fire directly at Lewis at that first confrontation but they can put their worry beads away. Apparently Keller got the message that he is now engaged in a knock-down, drag-out brawl with Lewis as well as the state GOP which joined the fray Monday, going after Keller's campaign consultants.

Here's how it's all coming down. . .

Keller came with something akin to a greatest hits list on City Councilor Lewis, even mentioning the name of the unpopular incumbent mayor:

Albuquerque voters made their voice heard at the ballot box by voting for a new direction for our city and a fresh start after years of mismanagement and finger-pointing from Dan Lewis and RJ Berry,” said Keller. 

--Dan Lewis cut frontline APD officers from the budget.
--Dan Lewis voted against retaining APD officers while we faced a shortage.
--Dan Lewis’ “good friend” Pastor Steve Smothermon recently made his endorsement of the extreme candidate claiming Lewis would “oppose the gay agenda.”

You get the idea. Look for a more aggressive Keller in the TV debates and forums. Lewis has shown himself to be adept at attack politics and now it's Keller's turn to fight him off and protect his big polling lead.


The ABQ mayoral race is technically nonpartisan. No political parties are listed next to the names of the candidates, but that fig leaf was shredded years ago. And Monday the state GOP put itself in the middle of the campaign, trying to put some dust in Keller's eyes with this:

(The NM GOP) is calling upon all relevant government agencies to review Tim Keller’s practice of funneling potentially illegal campaign contributions through his political consultant in order to collect more cash in his run for mayor. As a publicly financed candidate, Keller is directly prohibited from raising additional funds, but he was caught running a scam in which donors would make cash donations to his political consultant, whose services were deemed “in-kind” by the Keller campaign. This scheme allowed Keller to pay campaign salaries and other campaign expenditures with cash collected outside his agreement to fund his campaign with public funds.

Keller's campaign denies there was any wrongdoing when his consultants--Rio Strategies--accepted cash as in-kind donations. A complaint is pending before the city ethics board. Whether there will be a decision before the Nov. 14 election is unknown.


Tim Keller had Sen. Heinrich weigh in with an endorsement of him in the mayoral run-off. Now Republican Dan Lewis comes with his own congressional endorsement--that of Rep. Steve Pearce, the odds-on favorite to be the GOP Guv nominee next year:

Albuquerque needs a leader who will both make the city safe and move the city forward. . . Dan is a leader on demanding public safety and accountability. He knows how to create jobs and put people to work and he values education as the foundation for success. He will make sure police are patrolling the streets and locking away the criminals that threaten families and communities. I support Dan Lewis for mayor and I look forward to working with him. . . 

Speaking of Pearce, he is not the odds-on favorite to become the next governor, but his relentless drive and military like precision in campaigning has the Democrats talking. They are not taking him lightly.


While Pearce is a needed endorsement for Lewis, the Alligators immediately asked where is the Lewis endorsement from BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson who launched attack TV ads against Lewis during the Oct. 3 election, but finished in fourth place in the eight person field.

Johnson received 9,000 mostly Republican votes that Lewis must have if he is to eke out a win against Keller. Johnson partisans signaled in September that Johnson would not be endorsing Lewis. So far that prediction is holding up, but there's a long way to go.

Finally on the mayoral front, reader Rick Lass wants to know why ABQ is even having a mayoral run-off:

Hi Joe, This reader wants to know why Albuquerque has not adopted Ranked Choice Voting for its elections. Instead, the city is going to spend what, $1million, on a low turnout runoff. Why not just ask voters to indicate their second choices on election day, and save everybody the expense and trouble of having to come back and do it all again in November?

A point for discussion, Rick, as turnout for the run-off could be dramatically lower than the October 3 election.


Former US Attorney Damon Martinez flexed some money muscle out of the gate as he entered the competition for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat being vacated by Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Martinez raised $161,000 since announcing his bid in July and loaned himself another $50,000. He reports to the FEC that he had $189,000 cash on Sept. 30, the end of the reporting period.

With that, Martinez has elbowed himself into the top tier of this crowded eight person battle (eight if you count retired journalist Tom Flores who has not raised anything yet).

That means we now have a "Big Three" list for the nomination: Martinez, retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and former NM Dem Party Chair Deb Haaland--and not necessarily in any order.

ABQ City Councilor Pat Davis needs something to happen. He has raised $139,000 and has $52,000 in cash, compared to $339,000 raised by Sedillo Lopez and $262,000 for Haaland who along with Davis have been raising money most of the year.

Sedillo Lopez reports $240,000 in cash on hand; Damon Martinez $189,000 and Haaland $162,000.

Attorney Damian Lara is pushing hard to break through, loaning himself $125,000 and raising $63,000. He has $138,000 in cash so he will be making some noise.


While former US Attorney Martinez has to be happy with his cash haul, his foes have surfaced a somewhat bizarre public TV interview he recently conducted.

The 40 minute sit down was prompted by allegations of racial profiling made over a four-month federal government drug and firearms sting operation that occurred under Martinez's watch in the ABQ SE Heights. It resulted in the arrest of many low-level offenders who were disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

Martinez answered just about all the questions by saying he could not answer the questions because of ethics and other regulations. So why give the interview in the first place? That's something his foes are asking and that we could hear (and maybe see) more of now that he has vaulted into the inner circle of congressional contenders.


The ABQ congressional district is nearly deep blue and winning the Dem nomination next June will be tantamount yo winning the seat in November. The evidence? GOP hopeful and former State Rep. Janice Anrold-Jones reports raising only $12,000 in the latest quarter.

The only good news for Janice is that she is now the sole candidate for the GOP nod. Attorney Michel Hendricks has quit the race but announced he will seek the GOP nomination for attorney general next year. Attorney General Balderas, a Dem, is seeking a second, four year term.


Former Hobbs Mayor and ex-state GOP Chairman Monty Newman is on top in the money race to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Pearce who is running for Governor. And Newman made a splash getting there.

He raised over $315,000 and has nearly all of it--$311,000--sitting in cash. Not surprisingly, much of Newman's loot came from the oil and gas industry so dominant in SE NM and also from Newman's fellow realtors.

Alamogordo GOP State Rep. Yvette Herrell is the other name candidate in this four way contest. She reported raising $129,000 and had $123,00 in cash as of Sept. 30.

The nomination will very likely go to one of those two. Newman's early financial dominance puts Herrell on notice. However, Herrell's support among party regulars like former NM House Speaker Don Tripp who gave to Harrell, could be a big factor at next March's preprimary convention. That gives Newman reason to pause.

This one is all red all the time. No Dems need apply, although a number are running. Newman or Herrell is very likely your next southern congressional representative.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Lewis Starts His Steep Climb; Attacks Keller In 1st TV Ad As Weak OnCrime; Throws Kitchen Sink At Him In Sunday Debate, Plus: ZingingZunie; GOP Lt. Guv Candidate Finds Tax Trouble; Opening For MoreCandidates? 

Dan Lewis' long-shot mayoral campaign fired its first volley at front-runner Tim Keller, releasing a TV ad that paints him as extremely soft on crime and in doing so resurrects a charge against the Democratic candidate that fell flat in the first round of voting earlier this month.

The Lewis ad is dark--both literally and figuratively. It shows a woman walking to her car in the dead of night being stalked by a man in a hoodie. She repeatedly looks behind her shoulder as the narrator ominously details Keller's crime record as a candidate and former state senator. At the end of the ad the potential attacker (not shown) is in the face of the woman as she struggles to open her car door and reacts frantically: The transcript:

Tim Keller says he’ll keep us safe but his record tells a different story. Keller voted to abolish the death penalty for child killers and rapists. Keller said no to laws that keep convicted sexual predators from living near their victims, and Keller won’t call out catch and release judges who dump violent criminals back on the street. Now…does Tim Keller make you feel safe?

The ad recalls a vote that Keller took as a state senator regarding where sexual predators could live. That vote was the focus of another dark TV ad by the developers of the controversial Santolina development project on the west side. The developer spent some $60,000 on the ads in the Oct. 3 election--also featuring dark and fearful imagery--but the effort failed to move the numbers against Keller who bested Lewis by 16 points (39 to 23) and took first place.

Lewis is so far behind Keller in the early polling for the Nov. 14 run-off--49-36 percent--that he has no choice but to attack. Some of our analysts thought the ad would help Lewis consolidate the GOP vote and move him up. But a pro-Keller analyst says the ad is not going to be a game-changer:

Lewis didn't learn from the Santolina strategy on Keller. Voters didn't buy these scary ads because they were too over the top. This is over the top. It doesn't look like Albuquerque. Lewis' imagery is too stark and doesn't show that anything that Keller voted on resulted in more crimes being committed. They have to do more than just try to scare the living daylights out of people. People voted for Keller to take things in a new direction. As the underdog they have to not just identify what's wrong with Keller but show they've got something better. This ad doesn't do that.

The first mayoral votes will be cast this week as the city clerk begins sending out absentee ballots today so Lewis is fighting the clock. He pressed his negative campaign by unveiling a website titled the thekellercon.com.


And Lewis continued pounding away at the Dem state auditor at the mayoral debate held Sunday at Temple Albert, scoring former Senator Keller for not supporting the death penalty for "cop killers" and "child killers." But is Lewis overreaching?

While polling may show the death penalty for the most heinous crimes is popular, it is not a top of the mind issue like home burglaries, widespread auto theft, hold-ups and lawlessness on the streets and freeways. The death penalty may help Lewis seal his GOP base that he divided with Wayne Johnson in the first round but might not do much more. Still, when you're down 13 points, kids, you gotta do something . .

Lewis did turn the debate into a vigorous affair as he unloaded the proverbial kitchen sink on Keller accusing him, among other things, of running a "sweatshop" in Cambodia but Keller held his own, giving the audience a taste for more of the confrontations.

Here is the complete video of the debate courtesy of KNME-TV.


We blogged last week of a breakfast meeting at the Barelas Coffee House between Keller and fellow Dem Brian Colón who finished third in the initial mayoral balloting. Keller can be expected to get an endorsement from Colón, a former chair of the NM Democratic Party, but the intrigue grew some when the Alligators reported another meeting--this one between Colón and Lewis at a valley Starbucks the day after he met with Keller.

Question: Was Colón meeting with the mayoral candidates in his role as a former contender or as an associate of the Robles, Rael and Anaya law firm that has many large legal contracts with the city of ABQ and the state and is a frequent campaign contributor?


There will be an outside committee raising and spending money for Lewis, we've learned. The Coalition for a Better ABQ, we're told, will be headed by ABQ attorney Simon Kubiak. How much it raises and how fast will be something to watch. Our sources say the committee will focus on anti-Keller messaging rather than promoting Lewis.

Keller is publicly financing his campaign and gets about $125,000 for the run-off. But the outside committee that helped him with several hundred thousand dollars of support in the Oct. 3 election is back for the Nov. 14 contest.

Another question: Will Lewis raise significantly more for his campaign than the $125K Keller is getting? Maybe, but he is going to have to move those polling numbers fast if the contributions are going to pour in.


The daunting task facing Lewis as the run-off starts to heat up is revealed in the numbers. The base Republican and conservative vote in the city is about 42 percent. Democratic performance in the city is in the area of 55 percent. And 55 percent of those who voted October 3 were women, according to veteran consultant Steve Cabiedes. That's one reason why Lewis' first TV ad shows a woman being stalked as she makes her way to her car.


Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich, a former ABQ city councilor and often a favorite of the Dem progressives but perhaps not as much as in the old days, comes with this for Keller:

Albuquerque is at a crossroads. The direction we take our city is in our hands – that’s why I am endorsing Tim Keller for Mayor. Tim has the right vision for Albuquerque, but more importantly, he has the experience to make his vision a reality for our city.

While on the council Heinrich represented a large swath of the Democratic SE Heights where Keller hopes to score big Election Night.


We noted last week that Ed Romero, longtime Dem activist, former US Ambassador to Spain and longtime friend of the Apodaca family, endorsed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, not Jeff Apodaca. Romero comes with this response:

My decision, which was a difficult one for me to make, was made solely on the basis of Rep. Lujan-Grisham's experience and accomplishments. . .She has always listened and has been responsive to her constituents. I have admired her energy and commitment. Your "theory" that I felt compelled to endorse her because she was "tighter" with the Clintons is wrong. To my knowledge, the Apodaca family has as much, if not closer, warm and personal relationship with them as either the Congresswoman or I have. 

 The Clintons and Apodacas have been great friends for many years. I also have enormous respect and admiration for them - which includes Jeff, I find it insulting and juvenile for you to base my support for the Congresswomen based on your "theory." I think that our distinguished Congresswoman would also. 

President Clinton appointed Romero ambassador to Spain. Over the years he has been amajor fund-raiser for the Clintons. In June of 2015 he hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton at his ABQ home. He also hosted a fund-raiser for her in ABQ when she ran for president in 2008 and he also raised funds for Bill Clintons two presidential campaigns. Clara Apodaca, mother of Jeff Apodaca, has also been a frequent contributor to the Clintons.


She got off to a good start, but GOP lieutenant governor candidate Kelly Zunie has just been zinged, and it could mean she will soon have company in her race for the Republican nomination. The news:

Zunie said that she’s working to resolve unpaid tax bills. . . Zunie,  who worked for two-plus years as the Cabinet secretary of the Department of Indian Affairs until stepping down this summer, was hit with more than $15,000 in unpaid Utah state tax liens in 2016 alone, legal records show. She said the issue stems from confusion over filing taxes jointly with her husband – who still lives in Utah – and said she was largely unaware of the tax liens until being contacted by the Journal. “I’m responsible – I want to make sure I’m taking care of the taxes, even though he was there and I’m here. . . I’m stepping up and taking care of it. I knew about one (tax lien), but I had no idea about the others.”

This has all the classic signs of opposition research and not from the Democrats. Zunie got off to a nice start being touted as possibly the first Native American in history to secure the Republican Light Guv nod. Now, all eyes are turning toward ABQ State Sen. Mark Moores, who has been mulling a bid as well as State Sen. Ted Barela of Estancia.

Will one of them get in? Certainly this hit on Zuni paves the way and one GOP Alligator says of the Zunie tax affair: There's more to come on her and this topic. 

Kelly, when you're running for the second highest elected position in the state, they cover you from A to Zunie. Have a nice day, or something.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Glory Of A New Mexico Fall. Plus: The Coming Of The Matanza Season  

Let's take a diversion from the usual tales of La Politica and celebrate the glorious fall weather and the season of the matanza. First, the pause that refreshes from Avi Shama, retired UNM professor:

It is this time of year again: the harvest is over, the kids are back in school, the fragrance of fresh apples perfumes the grocery stores, and in New Mexico the pungent, smoky smell of roasting chile peppers signals the beginning of the fall season. It is that pregnant time of year when the light becomes more transparent, soothing, almost loving; when the equinox tilts toward the long nights of winter, which make some people feel melancholy; when we look backward and forward to get our bearings, readying ourselves for what comes next. It is that bittersweet time of reflection and introspection on the personal, communal and national levels.


The crisp fall air signals it's time again for the matanza where the politicos put a pig in the ground, drink beer while waiting for it to cook and then drink more beer when they pull the pig out of the ground and start divvying up the chicharrones.

Here's Dem Guv candidate and Las Cruces area state Senator Joe Cervantes at a recent matanza with longtime lobbyist and ABQ South Valley native Dan Weaks. The event was a fund-raiser for state House Democrats for the '18 cycle.

We sent this picture to the Committee on Chicharrones of which we are an honorary member and are pleased to report that it passed muster with them.

First and foremost, it is a wooden chicharrone paddle on display, not the utterly offensive and fraudulent metal type that immediately disqualifies a politico from attending or hosting a matanza for a period of five years. The paddle gets extra points for looking exceptionally worn and in need of a thorough scrubbing.

Both Cervantes and Weaks also are commended for their matanza clothing. They sport outer wear that is excessively soiled. Cervantes looks as if he has grease droppings from the pig staining his shirt and Weaks' apron looks as though it was last laundered in 1986 when he was working for ABQ Mayor Ken Schultz. Very well done, gentlemen.

The only apparent departure from matanza tradition that the Committee on Chicharrones mentioned was the name tag Cervantes displayed:

"If you're a politician at a matanza everyone there should know who you are, and if they don't you have no right hosting the matanza but are permitted to attend," wrote the Committee in a letter sent by courier from deep in the heart of Rio Arriba County.

Well, a minor matter there, Senator, but you have been warned.

ABQ State Senator Michael Padilla, who is seeking the Dem nomination for lieutenant governor, will host his 6th Annual Matanza this Saturday beginning at 10:30 a.m. All appears to be in order. However, there has been some late grumbling that the Committee may want to review that early start time because it does not take into account the late Friday night habits of many matanza attendees. We'll let you know if anything comes of it.

The Committee on Chicharrones meets as circumstances demand. All meetings are held at a secret Morada in Mora County. Their word is final and there can be no appeal if they find a matanza in violation of regulations. No politico found in violation has ever been elected or re-elected.

A number of years back politico Brian Colón was photographed stirring the chicharrones with a metal paddle. Last week a number analysts attributed his loss in the mayoral race to that violation.

Thanks for making us the state's #1 site for NM politics year in and year out. See you back here Monday. 

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Keller And Colón Hold Breakfast Meeting As Mayoral Run-off Looms; Colón Endorsement Coming? Plus: Dem Heavy Ed Romero Ditches Apodaca; Goes With Grisham 

Colón and Keller
So when is Tim Keller going to meet with Brian Colón and bury the hatchet? Well, they already have met. As for burying the hatchet, a Senior Alligator who spotted the pair having breakfast together at the famed Barelas Coffee House Tuesday morning says they were deep in conversation and "looked pleasant." The duo had a lot to talk about. . .

Keller trounced fellow Dem Colón in last week's mayoral election, along with six other challengers and took first place. Republican Dan Lewis came in second. Colón placed third despite spending over $800,000 on his campaign. Keller and Lewis will face each other in a run-off election for the city's top job on November 14.

Keller commanded 39 percent of the vote election night. Fellow Dem Colón garnered 16 percent. We're guessing that an endorsement of Keller by Colón had to be the centerpiece of their breakfast held in a back room at Barelas on 4th Street near the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Colón is a former Dem Party chairman and an endorsement of Keller can be expected. Of course, there would be terms to the agreement but what they might be is between the two rivals and not even for the ears of our Senior Alligator.

A notable sidebar: While Keller and Colón ate in the back of Barelas, in the front of the restaurant was former State Senate powerhouse Manny Aragon enjoying his chile. Manny's cousin, Robert Aragon, is also on the November 14th run-off ballot. He will face Democrat Cynthia Borrego in the battle for the west side council seat being vacated by Lewis.

As for what was on the menu for Brian and Tim, our Senior Gator reports: "Whatever Tim was having had a lot of red chile on it. Not so much for Brian."

Well, that's appropriate. Keller is the hot item of the moment while Colón has cooled down.


Reader Steve McCracken writes:

Hi Joe, I wanted to point out how flawed the comment from  "Whatagator" was on Tuesday's blog about the Carroll Strategies mayoral poll supposedly underestimating Dan Lewis. It is complete bunk! In the Carroll Strategies Poll in September they had Tim Keller with a 14.8 point lead over Dan Lewis. Keller actually did better than that on election day and beat Lewis by 16 points! This latest Carroll Strategies Poll has Keller with a 14 point lead. Seeing as how there are significantly more Colon/Pedrotty votes likely to break Keller's way than there are Johnson/Chavez votes likely to break Lewis' way, I think if anything the poll is probably underestimating Keller's lead. A heartfelt thanks for all you do for the citizens of New Mexico!

Thanks, Steve, the mayoral run-off election between Keller and Lewis is Nov. 14. Early voting begins October 25.


It is quite a blow to Dem Guv candidate Jeff Apodaca and his parents, former Governor Jerry Apodaca and first lady Clara. Ed Romero, their longtime friend and prominent political ally, is endorsing Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Dem Guv nomination.

Romero, a longtime Dem activist who served as ambassador to Spain courtesy of President Clinton, said:

Michelle Lujan Grisham is a tireless champion for all New Mexicans and I'm proud to support her. . . As a 12th generation New Mexican, Michelle truly understands the unique nature of our people and our state. . . Michelle is the person we need to transform our state. As a seasoned leader in local, state and national government, she has a real record of accomplishment. . . As our next Governor, she will repair the damage of the disastrous policies of the last six years. . . 

It was speculated that Romero, 83, who has considerable personal wealth and is often a prodigious fund-raiser for candidates he backs, would soon be working for Apodaca. So what happened? Well, one theory is that Grisham is tighter with the Clintons than Apodaca and that connection was put to work in getting the Romero endorsement. Romero has been a soldier in the Clinton army for years.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

No Escaping It: Crime Wave Floods Into Exclusive Tanoan Neighborhood;We've Got The Scoop, Plus: Guv Money Chase: Lujan Grisham Leads TheDems And Handily; Pearce Off To Solid Start 

If you had any doubt this is the worst crime wave in ABQ's modern history, we'll settle the matter for you in a minute by quoting from the newsletter for the wealthiest gated community in the metro area, Tanoan.

Nestled in the far NE Heights not far from the Sandia Foothills, for over thirty years Tanoan has been the quiet hideaway for the metro area's business and professional aristocracy, with the norm being homes valued in the high six figures and not a few over the million dollar mark.

The gated community boasts its own security force and two secure entrances. Neighbors keep an eye out for one another. But this crime wave is a rolling tsunami and now has flooded the gilded gates of Tanoan. From Don Muller, president of Tanoan Community East, writing in the neighborhood's latest newsletter:

Tanoan is undergoing a distributing increase in home burglaries and auto thefts. . . A special meeting arranged by City Councilor Trudy Jones was held on Sept. 25. Representatives from the Foothills Police Area Command outlined steps homeowners can take to secure their home to make them less vulnerable to break-ins.

And in that same newsletter, Austin McFall, Community Association Manager, sounds the alarm:

Tanoan Community East is experiencing a concerning level of home and auto burglaries. In response, we have enhanced our documentation of visitors at the main Country Club Gate entry. . . The Community Patrol drives the entire 14 miles of Tanoan East roads every hour, 24 hours a day. . . Even so, with 14 miles of roads and 601 homes, they can't be everywhere all the time. Therefore, we also need to ask our residents to be proactive in maintaining the safety their homes and property. . .  

You often see statements from City Hall that this crime wave is not as bad as the one that bedeviled the city back in 1996. But this outbreak is different--and arguably more malicious. The crime wave in the 90's was contained geographically, not nearly as widespread as today, and we challenge City Hall to demonstrate otherwise.

And, of course, the crime epidemic back then did not go on for years as has been the case with this one. This has not been some temporary blip. This epidemic has changed the very fabric of this city.

With even the toniest of neighborhoods providing no respite from the crime wave, entrepreneurs thinking about living in ABQ and who seek out safe and upscale neighborhoods, are given yet another reason to stay away.

Mayor Berry's legacy is secure, but a sorry one. The city's dangerous and heartbreaking descent into a haven for crime will be the lasting memory he leaves when his time in office ends December 1. The ironic upside for him is that he has brought together the richest and poorest communities of this city who now have a common enemy--the criminal class that roam all quadrants of ABQ without regard to race, color or creed.


About that survey we blogged of Monday showing Dem Tim Keller with a commanding 16 point lead over Republican Dan Lewis in the ABQ mayoral race--49 to 36--and conducted for KOB-TV by PR firm Carroll Strategies, we get this from the self-described "Whatagator:

Joe, Carroll Strategies had a September poll that substantially underestimated Lewis' support, not just compared to election day results but compared to KRQE and Journal polls that were closer to the same time frame. Unless he's made a compensating adjustment to his methodology, there's reason to believe Mr. Carroll is again underestimating Lewis. Should be an interesting runoff at any rate.

The mayoral run-off is set for November 14th. Early voting will be held Oct. 25 thru Nov. 10.


Maria Bautista took to Facebook to complain that the Alligator figuring out how much each voter cost the ABQ mayoral contenders did not include the several hundred thousand dollars a PAC spent on Keller's campaign. "BS on Keller. Count PAC money!" she declared. A reader calculates the Keller's cost per vote would rise to near $15, up from $9.98, if the PAC money was included.

The cost per vote report is on the Monday blog. If you missed it, just scroll down.


Rep. Lujan Grisham
Sad but true. It takes exceptionally big money to run for Governor of New Mexico and until that changes the money chase is going to be a huge factor in determining who the voters will see in front of them. So we're off to the money chase where fresh campaign reports were filed by the contenders on Monday.

ABQ Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and GOP hopeful Rep. Steve Pearce did what was expected of them and remain the front-runners for their party primaries next June. Pearce especially so since he is the only GOP candidate and will likely remain the only one.

Grisham has two major foes--State Senator Joe Cervantes of Las Cruces and ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca. While both stepped up their money game with large personal loans--Cervantes $400,000 and Apodaca $450,000--Grisham reported raising $1.369 million for the period and a cash on hand balance of $1.590 million. That compares to Cervantes' cash balance of $747,000 and Apodaca's $697,000.

Pearce has $911,000 in cash and if he wins his legal battle to transfer $1 million in his congressional account to his Guv account that total would zoom to near $2 million. Grisham has already passed the $2 million mark in total funds raised.

Apodaca and Cervantes avoided getting blown out by drawing on their personal bank accounts but they will have to hustle in the next four months if they are to avoid being overwhelmed by Grisham when the spending starts.

Apodaca confirmed to us in July that he expected to raise in the vicinity of $600,000 in his first report and although he reports a total haul of $900,000 that statement drew an Alligator strike:

You verified from the candidate himself that he raised about $600 to 700K at that point--through July 5. If you look at his report, he had only raised $179K through July 5. Even if you count his $50K in loans in April, that would be just $229K. Maybe he knew he was going to loan another $400K, but he didn't do that until last week, on Oct. 2. They exaggerated their fundraising ability. 

Obviously, there's no slack now. The race for the New Mexican governorship is on and anything you say can and will be used against you.

Apodaca's contributors included old hands from the Guv administration of his father, Jerry Apodaca. Nino Trujillo gave $2,500 and George Goldstein came with $2,000.

Rep. Pearce
ABQ restaurateur Nick Kapnison split his bets--giving both Grisham and Apodaca $2,500 apiece. Ditto for Pojoaque Pueblo which gave both hopefuls $5,500. Ultra Health, a big player in medical cannabis in the state, was another splitter, coming with $5,000 each for Michelle and Jeff.

Grisham took in $5,000 from the Robles Rael Anaya law firm that specializes in government work. Lobbyist Vanessa Alarid, who counts among her clients the developers of the controversial Santolina project, gave Grisham $5,500.

Cervantes received most of his contributions from relatives and entities involved in his family's large farming and property management businesses in Dona Ana County.

Pearce raised big bucks from the oil and gas industry, with the Chase family of Artesia giving heavily. He paid his longtime fund-raiser Andrea Goff nearly $50,000 for helping him bring in his haul.

Grisham paid out tens of thousands to DC's Anne Lewis Strategies for online communications. She also made payments to the consulting firm run by former Gov. Richardson Chief of Staff Dave Contarino. He is producing commercials for the campaign. Apodaca shelled out major dollars to the ubiquitous Rio Strategies headed by Alan Packman who has become a prominent consultant for Democrats. He is also handling Tim Keller's campaign for mayor.


Finally, this one must have been especially sweet for the congresswoman. Entravision, the former employer of Apodaca, gave her $5,500. Apodaca filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the company but lost. Guess Entravision got a bit of revenge but Apodaca did not walk away broke, judging by that $450,000 in loans he gave himself.

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Monday, October 09, 2017

Lewis Vs. Keller: A Done Deal Or Can Lewis Find A Way? Plus: First Candidate Debate Set And How Much Did Each Mayoral Vote Cost?  

Dan Lewis is getting an early glimpse at the steep hill he has to climb. Will he find the stamina to scale it or is the ABQ mayoral race already a done deal?

A robo call poll conducted the night after last Tuesday's city election that dialed only landlines of likely voters--no cellphones--showed Dem Tim Keller already at the threshold of victory in the November 14 ABQ mayoral run-off election against Republican Lewis. Keller garnered 49 percent to Lewis's 36 percent. Only 10 percent were undecided.

The survey, conducted by the PR firm Carroll Strategies for KOB-TV, may actually be more friendly toward Lewis than a poll that included cellphones and that would presumably contact younger and more moderate and liberal voters.

The poll indicates trouble for Lewis on the key issue that got him into the run-off. Forty-seven percent of the voters said Keller would be the best candidate to deal with the city's crime wave compared to Lewis' 35 percent. That follows a month of TV and other media from Lewis vowing he would be the toughest candidate on crime and would hold judges accountable. Keller also attacked the crime problem but not as directly as Lewis.

Lewis is saying Keller is weak on crime but the poll indicates he has a long way to go to convince the voting public. (The complete poll is here.)

Keller, currently the state auditor, scored a similar advantage over Lewis, an eight year ABQ city councilor, when likely voters were asked which candidate could best handle the city's economic challenges, with 49 percent picking Keller and 35 percent choosing Lewis.

The survey included 47 percent Democrats, 39% Republicans and 13% independents which is about in line with recent turnout for city elections.

The poll was badly timed for Lewis.  Keller's big 39 percent first place finish in the initial election was the headline grabber and dominated the night. Lewis finished far back at 23 percent to take second place.

Lewis' hope for pulling off the upset now appears to depend on Keller making a big mistake, either on his own or forced by an aggressive Lewis campaign. Otherwise, there isn't much of a path for a Republican to beat a Democrat in a one-on-one race in a city that has grown increasingly blue in recent years.

Maybe lower voter turnout could help Lewis since Republicans are more avid voters than Dems. Campaign consultants expect turnout in the Nov. 14 run-off to drop significantly from the 97,000 who cast ballots  in the first round last Tuesday. How much lower? That's tricky. No one saw the nearly 100,000 turnout--the highest since the 2001 city election--so forecasting the exact drop off is an art not a science. If it was 20 percent less that would take us to about 78,000 voters.


The two contenders will debate at Temple Albert next Sunday morning:

Congregation Albert Brotherhood’s Mayoral Debate will be Sunday, Oct. 15 at 3800 Louisiana Blvd. NE. . . The candidates will kick off their debate at 11:00 A.M. The cost of the pre-debate brunch is $14 while the 11:00 am debate is free and open to the public. For those not attending the brunch, the doors will open to the public for the debate at 10:45.

Temple Albert has been hosting political debates for over 50 years. This one will be broadcast at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com.

As the front-runner, Keller is in a position to pick and choose which forums he will appear at with Lewis. He's expected to do most of them but not all. For example, Keller declined to appear with Lewis on a radio program hosted by a hard-right conservative on the opening morning of the Balloon Fiesta.


One of our Alligators comes with a run down on the amount of money spent per vote by the 8 mayoral candidates:

If we calculate the average amount of money spent per vote starting with the lowest, Gus Pedrotty was at the top with a mere $2.68 per vote. Keller came in second with $9.98. Michelle Garcia Holmes was a close third with $11.94. Ricardo Chaves, not only came in last in total votes, but he also spent the most per vote at a whopping $601.20.

Vote, Total Money, Average Cost Per Vote

Garcia Holmes--3,748--$44,756--$11.94


We blogged Thursday that Keller did not mimic Lewis and open fire on his opponent in the immediate aftermath of the election, but that doesn't mean Lewis isn't taking hits. The independent committee that is helping Keller--ABQ Forward Together--is already  nuking Lewis in its fund-raising appeals:

And just who is Republican Dan Lewis? Well, he's as far right as they come: he was an early endorser of Donald Trump and as a City Councilor. . . he's anti-choice, anti-worker and anti-immigrant. Lewis is endorsed by extremist religious leaders who praise him for refusing to embrace a "homosexual agenda." We could go on. But what's clear is that Lewis will take no responsibility for the past eight years he's been an Albuquerque City Councilor where Albuquerque's job market has tanked and crime is out of control. 

That pretty much sums up the attack you will be hearing on Lewis in the coming weeks. Take note of the social issues mentioned there as Keller supporters work to prevent Lewis from making the election solely a referendum on crime.


Joe Monahan
Reader Jim Belshaw writes of our coverage of the city election on this blog and on KANW-FM radio:

You did some yeoman work. Well done. You are in fact the go-to guy for NM politics. Ain't nobody else can make that claim.

Thanks for that, Jim, and for your copy edits.

We started our 15th year on the blog this month and are the longest running political website in the state. That's a lot of digits pecked out about La Politica.

Our goal for our 15th year is simple: Keep being #1 by keeping you informed and entertained about all aspects of politics in our Land of Enchantment.

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

Clippings From Our Newsroom Floor On The Election Week That Was 

On the radio (Bralley) And so it begins. Here's Republican Dan Lewis the day after the city election that put him in a mayoral run-off with Dem Tim Keller:

Let me say this, Tim Keller is not a bad person, but we disagree on how we should reform and renew our city. I am tough on crime, he’s voted for carve-outs for sex predators. I will create a system where you know when judges release career criminals back on to our streets, so you can vote them out. My opponent will protect their identities and their weak-on-crime records. . . If you believe that it’s time to declare war on criminals and restore safety; that it’s time for a champion for entrepreneurs, innovators and job creators; that it’s time to reform and renew ABQ - I ask for your vote. . . 

Front-runner Keller will try to stay above the fray as long as possible and on Wednesday he did just that:

Together, we built a winning coalition that is uniting our city from every corner. Our effort was truly block-by-block, bringing together broad and diverse groups, of every political stripe, in support of a common goal. What is clear is that our message of leadership and urgency is resonating, especially our plans to attack the unacceptable crime crisis and bring immediate relief to our families on day one as mayor. This was also a win against special interest money and a strong statement of support for the idea that how we elect our next mayor matters.

The run-off is not until November 14 so everyone has time to catch their breath before the pace gets breathless again.


Early Wednesday (and we mean early) we had the mayoral turnout on the blog and Facebook at 98,000. It was actually about 97,000 with a turnout of about 29 percent of the registered. It was the highest turnout since the 2001 city election.

Also in that first draft, we forgot to mention that ABQ Dem City Councilor Klarissa Pena was re-elected to the council in a landslide win. And we also did not mention that all the bond issues--totaling $125 million--were approved by voters.

One thing seems certain: The run-off election, lacking the sick leave ordinance and other circumstances, will not approach 97,000 voters. How low it goes from there is anyone's guess.


One of our longtime readers comes with some interesting play on the Election Night numbers:

So working off of a vote total of 96,971 voters who cast ballots in the mayoral race. . . For the bond questions 2,264 people voted only in the mayor’s race and didn’t go any further on the ballot. But of real interest:  The sick leave question drew only 91,384 voters so 5,587 voters did not turn their ballot over.

You had to turn your ballot over to vote on the convoluted sick leave ordinance, another reason it failed Election Night.


The election cries out for more analysis from the spare-no one-Gators. Here they come:

--The election was a big time embarrassment for Attorney General Hector Balderas who endorsed his buddy Brian Colón with TV ads but could not get him over the finish line.

--It was an embarrassment for the ABQ Journal and its owners, the Lang family, who clearly have little influence anymore. Witness their endorsement and performance of Brian Colón who they wrongly labeled a "Progressive Democrat."

--It was an embarrassment for Gov. Martinez political consultant Jay McCleskey who couldn’t get his guy Robert Aragon over 50% to win in city council District 5 on the westside. If he can’t win a city council seat currently held by a Republican then it might not bode well for Monty Newman who is seeking the Republican nomination for the southern congressional seat and who has enlisted Jay's help.

That District 5 council seat ended as tight as a too wet swimsuit, with Dem Cynthia Borrego closing within one point of Aragon. They will face each other in the run-off election Nov. 14. McCleskey is consulting Aragon. Scott Forrester is consulting Borrego. Start your engines, boys.


The ABQ Free Press--the alternative newspaper that raised hell for several years over the condition of the city and did a good job of it--folded its website just days before the election and apparently won't be around for the mayoral run-off. Why it could not hang on a month or two longer after all that spade work is perplexing. Months ago it halted its print edition due to a lack of advertising but the website was relatively inexpensive to run. If you want to change the world, fellas, you gotta be in it.


Early voting was a winner and a loser. We had good turnout, but former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is among those saying it's high time the city followed the county and includes Saturday early voting and also keeps the early polls open until 7 p.m. instead of closing at 6.

But the way, the early and absentee vote accounted for 46 percent of the total turnout and fooled the crystal ball readers who thought it would go higher. It was 47% in 2013 and has grown in popularity sine then. But the surprise Election Day rush to the polls had the early vote failing to breach the 50 percent mark as many (including yours truly) had predicted.

And that is a wrap and a take for this most interesting of weeks. Thanks for coming along for the ride. We'll see you back here Monday. This is it. . .

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Good For You, ABQ! Voter Turnout Soars; Nearly 100,000 Come Out As Apathy Takes A Bath; Keller Blows The Doors Off For 1st In Mayor Derby; Lewis Takes 2nd; Sick Leave Gets The Flu; Incumbent Councilors Fare Well 

Tim Keller (Rosales, Journal)
Wow! You don't hear that often from jaded observers of La Politica but we heard it in spades Tuesday night as the vote rolled in. . . and kept rolling in until we neared the nearly awe inspiring total of 100,000 city voters.

Unofficial results showed just about 97,000 voted in the mayoral contest. That came very close to beating the record set in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks.

That gladdened the hearts of those who have been fretting over a city that seemed to have accepted the historic crime wave, the ongoing economic stagnation and a political class that continually underestimated the city's woes or simply denied them.

But voting, if anything, is an exercise is hope. And hope was the new Duke City fad Tuesday. You could only hope that unlike the miniskirt or Rubik's cube, this fad was here to stay. It brought back fond memories of the city's slogan during the go-go years of the 90's--"Good for You, Albuquerque!"

But voting alone isn't going to turn around a deeply troubled ABQ. It will take strong and determined mayoral leadership and Tuesday voters decided that it would be either Democrat Tim Keller or Republican Dan Lewis who is up to the task, but Keller more so and by a margin of landslide proportions.


Keller aced the pollsters and pundits and secured 38,156 votes or 39.35 percent, just a shade shy of the 40 percent mark that used to be good enough to avoid a run-off election. But the rules changed and now a candidate needs 50 percent so State Auditor Keller, 39, will now engage in what is expected to be a rough and tumble run-off election with City Councilor Lewis, 47, who placed second with 22,238 votes or 22.93 percent.

All results here.

Dan Lewis (Sorber, Journal)
That huge gap between the two was a point of focus for our team of experts on our KANW 89.1 FM broadcast as the returns arrived onto their computer screens. Said former city councilor, longtime political consultant and ABQ attorney Greg Payne:

Dan had to be hoping for a single digit separation between himself and Tim. This gap of close to 16 points makes it much more difficult for him to prevail in the run-off on November 14th. He will need something special to happen, if Keller is to be denied. 

That "something special" will likely take the form of an all out attack against Keller by Lewis. He told our radio audience that Keller is soft on crime, accusing him of having a program that he derisively labeled "hug a thug."

Keller, nursing a victory that everyone knew was coming but no one imagined would be as big as it turned out, was not taking the bait and chuckled at the blistering. But he did dig at Lewis by saying he wants the finger-pointing over the crime wave to stop and indirectly mocked Lewis for blaming the judges. He said politicians need "to own responsibility for our city."

It will have to be Lewis who plays the most offense as he tries to jar the ball loose from Keller's now firm grip. In a city where Dems heavily outnumber R's Keller starts with a decided advantage. For his part Lewis worked those numbers, telling us he has never been "a partisan figure" as he began the job of convincing D's to come to his aid.


Keller was now seen getting the public endorsement of former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colón who finished third with 15,844 or 16.38 percent of the vote. Colón spent over $800,000, by far the most of any of the eight mayoral candidates, only to see an engaged electorate seek the more forceful messages offered by Keller and Lewis.

While Colón can be expected to publicly raise his hand for Keller, it remained uncertain if the former chairman, a consummate deal maker, would play any footsie with Lewis who sorely needs Colón Democrats if he is to have a realistic shot.


The money race begins today along with the vote chase. Will the GOP and its associated groups shrug off the big margin between Keller and Lewis and still go all in with their contributions or will they hold back, fearing a Mayor Keller could call them to account?

And how will Keller's effort be financed? He opted for public financing and only gets $125,000 for the run-off. Lewis can raise as much as he wants. What third party groups will come to Keller's aid and will that create controversy? And will a third party financed campaign be as effective as Lewis's who can run his own show?

Another question: We had nearly 100,000 cast ballots in the first round. But that is sure to drop in the second round. How will that play out?

While Lewis will hammer Keller on crime, lurking in the background is Lewis's association with conservative church leader Reverend Smotherman as well as his endorsement from the National Rifle Association which suddenly looks much less valuable in the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern US history this week in Las Vegas.


(Rosales & Thompson, Journal)
Former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones let out a "Yipee" when former BernCo GOP Chairman Rick Abraham announced at KANW that the turnout had closed in on the 100,000 mark. It was that kind of night for Dems, Republicans, Independents and anyone else who cares deeply about the future of our city. They all agree that only a spirited and passionate debate about the city's future can pull us out of what some have likened to a death spiral.

So what was behind the unpredicted turnout surge?

Payne and I discussed it in detail and came up with these theories:

--Keller's campaign had put unprecedented energy into the "ground game" mobilizing some 400 volunteers to get out his vote--and they did.

--The controversial sick leave ordinance, which was narrowly defeated, energized both foes and supporters when the final polling showed the outcome too close to call.

--Then there was Las Vegas. Did that horrific crime hit home in ABQ where everyday folks are fed up with the constant barrage of thefts and violence? It very well may have, posited longtime Democratic activist and former NM Court of Appeals Judge Ira Robinson.

Whatever the reasons, it was a welcome reprieve from the long decline in voter participation in city elections. With about 336,000 registered voters the turnout amounted to about 29 percent, but it was the raw total of nearly six figures that really brought out the grins.


Incumbent Dem Councilor Ken Sanchez on the westside and Republican Don Harris on the east side coasted to easy re-election victories, crossing the 50 percent threshold to avoid a run-off. Ditto for NE Heights Dem incumbent Diane Gibson. Her race also ended in a rout, sending her back to the council for another four years. Klarissa Pena also coasted to an easy council re-election win in her valley council seat.

In District 5, the westside council seat Dan Lewis is giving up to run for mayor, an exciting run-off will be held between Republican Robert Aragon and Dem Cynthia  Borrego who finished just a point behind him. If Borrgeo pulls off the upset the  council would go from a 5 to 4 Dem majority to a 6 to 3 Dem majority. That would be a veto-proof council, if the next mayor were a Dem.


The vote on the proposed ordinance to mandate sick leave for all city employees--both full-time and part-time--was narrowly defeated late Tuesday--50.39 to 49.61 percent.

Gerges Scott, who helped run the campaign against the measure from his perch at the Agenda PR firm, credited Dems who crossed over to vote against the ordinance.

Supporters of the proposal--financed mainly by out-of-town interests--spent well over $500,000 on the effort to pass it while the opponents never came close to that total. But the ordinance was so badly worded that even leading Dem supporters said they would work to change it if it passed. That kind of messaging sure didn't help.


A hearty thanks to my radio team, one of the best we've had in nearly 30 years of calling elections for public radio. We finished about midnight, late for a city election as we waited for the final sick leave count. I am writing to you at 2 a.m. and want to sign off by also thanking you for your continued interest and support. It makes it a whole lot of fun. Now let's get ready for that run-off election.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Election Day '17: Our Live Continuous Coverage Starts At 6:30 P.M. On KANW 89.1 FM and KANW.COM; Vegas Tragedy Casts Pall on E Day; Keller And Lewis In Dueling Beer Parties And Candidates Start Dropping Out For '18 

Our live, continuous wall-to-wall coverage of ABQ Election '17 kicks off at 6:30 this evening on KANW-FM 89.1 and you can also listen at kanw.com. Joining me to call all the action will be former ABQ City Councilors Greg Payne and Pete Dinelli; former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones; Dem strategist and consultant Sisto Abeyta; veteran attorney David Buchholtz and former BernCo GOP Chairman Rick Abraham. We look forward to having you with us and finding out together who will lead the races for mayor and city council. 

The tragedy in Las Vegas casts a pall over City Election '17. Vegas is like a second home for many New Mexicans who vacation there often, taking a short flight on SW Airlines to enjoy the good life and nightlife for a couple of days. The tragedy hit home.

Depending on who you ask the carnage in Las Vegas will drive turnout lower for today's Mayoral election or because it highlights crime, ABQ's #1 problem, perhaps it drives people to the polls. Whatever the case, the election was made to look much smaller and even incidental when set against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in modern US history.

Until the Vegas story broke, ABQ voters continued to get peppered relentlessly with a parade of bad news--all reasons for them to get out and vote--if they could be convinced it would make a difference,

On the heels of the city being proclaimed the worst city in the nation for auto theft came the report that NM is now #1 in the nation in property crime, led by ABQ. Then we were hammered by a WalletHub study that said we rank 450th out of 515 cities for economic growth. Talk about a full plate for the next mayor. The winner may eventually come to envy the losers.


You might say Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis, the favorites to advance to a November 14th mayoral run-off after tonight's votes are counted, aren't waiting to fire up the competition. For this evening's festivities they have both decided to throw parties at local breweries.

Keller's party will be at Red Door Brewing Company at 400 Gold Ave SW in downtown ABQ. Lewis will host supporters at the Flix Brewhouse on the westside at 3200 La Orilla Road.  Before the night is done maybe Tim and Dan will be yelling at each other, "tastes great!" "No, less filling!"

Dem Brian Colón is holding on to hope that he and not Lewis might squeeze into second place and make it into a run-off against front-runner Keller. He will stay at his NE Heights home with friends and well-wishers tonight. Republican Wayne Johnson, who has caused a stir by continuing to attack fellow Republican Lewis right up until the opening of the polls, will host a party tonight at Pelican's Restaurant at 9800 Montgomery NE.


We've lost over 50,000 voters. That's right. Rick Abraham of Data Flux says the Bernalillo County Clerk confirms this year's purge of nonactive voters has resulted in the city regulation total of about 380,000 coming way down:

Per Carrie Fields at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, 52,042 voters have been purged since the last City election due mostly to voters moving or dying. There are currently 336,174 Albuquerque voters as of July 2017. There are 155,490 Democrats, 96,927 Republicans and 83,757 Independents and others. Democrats make up 46% of the voters, while Republicans are 29% and Independents are 25%. Districts 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 lean Democrat. Districts 8 and 9 lean Democrat. Districts 4 and 5 are swing districts. Districts 1 and 7 are very similar registrations, as well as Districts 3 and 8 and Districts 4 and 5. District 2 and 9 are strongholds for their respective parties.

There are elections for city council today in Districts 1,3,5,7, and 9. The council is currently controlled by the Democrats 5 to 4. Abraham has compiled a comprehensive report on the over 41,000 early voters. You can find that here.


We've blogged of the deep rivalry between R's Wayne Johnson and Dan Lewis but Lewis supporter and Republican Doug Antoon says the item that Johnson and Lewis did not want to share election night headquarters was one-sided:

The incorrect item was about the two candidates refusing to even be around each other on election night or collaborating on a joint event. Dan was good with a GOP joint event and we were ready to help put it to together until Wayne refused to even be in the same room as Dan, and nothing and no one was going to change his mind.

Longtime blog critic and former GOP State Senator Rod Adair resurfaced on election eve to challenge our view (and that of innumerable Republicans) that the camp of Gov Martinez prefers Johnson over Lewis:

Monahan claims Martinez is supporting Wayne Johnson. Really? Best we can tell Martinez has not endorsed anyone, let alone Johnson. . . It appears she has not helped Johnson raise a single dime. . . Martinez’s consultants are not working for Johnson. All anyone has to do is look at the campaign finance reports. Johnson’s fundraiser is Anne Ekern, who used to work for Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Finance reports show that Johnson’s mail is being produced by Direct Edge, from Nashville. And Johnson himself is producing his own television ads.


Two '18 candidates are calling it quits early. The biggie is State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn who has thrown in the towel on his bid for the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat which Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating to run for Governor. Dunn is not saying exactly why he is getting out or whether he will now seek a second term at the land office. (We'd bet he will).

Dunn has made some bitter enemies in the powerful oil and gas industry because of his approach to certain energy-related issues. That's a key group when it comes to fund-raising and GOP votes down south,

That development would seem to be good news for Alamogordo GOP State Rep. Yvette Harrell who is also seeking the nomination and is getting positive early reviews. Also running are former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman and Carlsbad pharmacist Jack Volpato.

There are a lot of Dems running but the national party is taking a pass on the race and the GOP nominee will probably have clear sailing.

And Annie Chavez, one of many of the contenders for the Dem nomination for the ABQ congressional seat which is being vacated by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham who, like Pearce, is running for her party's nomination for Governor, says she is calling it quits early. Chavez says her decision is due to unspecified "health reasons"


Maxwell Smart
The guessers jammed our email box with their answers to win the free lunch tickets to Wednesday's NM Foundation for Open Government (FOG) annual luncheon. Just about all of them guessed that the phrase "Cone of Silence"--meaning keeping information that should be public under wraps--originated with the popular 60's TV Series Get Smart and its secret agent Maxwell Smart. It's true the phrase was popularized there but as winner Paul Roybal correctly guessed:

The term "cone of silence" originated  in a TV series titled "Science Fiction Theater" on September 3rd, 1955 in the episode titled "Barrier of Silence".

Paul beat out reader Farley Vener by a mere two minutes who found this from Wikipedia on that episode and gets a consolation prize.

The story focused on finding a cure for Professor Richard Sheldon, who had been returned to the United States in a confused, altered state of mind after abduction by enemy agents while visiting Milan. Scientists discovered that placing Sheldon in an environment of total silence was the means of brainwashing, a precursor to later ideas of sensory deprivation, celebrated in such films as Altered States and sundry spy thriller.

Thanks to all the "Get Smart" aficionados who weighed in. Now go check out that episode of Science Fiction Theater.

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