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Thursday, September 17, 2015

ABQ Election '15: Analysis Of The Two Hot City Council Contests, Plus: You Can't Hold Them Back; First Gator List Of Possible '17 Mayoral Contenders 

Hessito Yntema
It looks as if if we're in for yet another no-show election, with political pros putting the turnout for the October 6 ABQ balloting even lower than the measly 12 percent of registered voters who turned out in 2011. With no mayoral election on the ballot and only two of the four city council seats having competition, turnout could plunge to the single digits. The early absentee voting confirms the lackluster turnout model.

We know Republican voters are most likely to cast ballots and that has everyone eyeing the SE Heights District 6 council race where it is generally thought nearly impossible for a Republican to win. But the game plan for Hessito Yntema, 28,--the R contender--is probably not an outright win, but to force a run-off election that would be called if none of the three candidates in the race receive the required 50% of the vote. For that reason 22 year old Democrat Sam Kerwin presents a headache to front runner Pat Davis. Kerwin can't win, but he can peel Dem votes away from Davis giving Yntema an opening to hold Davis below the magic number.

With a good ground game Davis should be able to hit well over 50 percent in the liberal district, despite Kerwin nipping at his heels. That would avoid a run-off between the top two finishers where turnout would dip even further and present peril to the 37 year old liberal activist.

A defeat of Davis, one of the most persistent critics of the Governor and her political machine, would likely tip the council majority back to the Republicans--a stunning turn of events that no one really expects but as veteran pollster Brian Sandeorff says:

The lower the turnout, the more unpredictable the outcomes can be. You can have a district that’s very liberal that can vote to the contrary if turnout patterns are disrupted and vice versa.

With an impressive list of GOP wins in recent years, Davis can take nothing for granted.

Meantime, in the other contested council race in NE Heights District 4, 23 year old Israel Chavez has to do the opposite of Yntema--turn a conservative leaning district Democratic.

He is going up against Brad Winter, the longest serving councilor on the nine member panel. Winter boasts a reliable base of GOP voters. Chavez will have to convince some of them that 15 years on the council is enough and it's time for a new face. There's not much time left to tag Brad as 'Ol Man Winter so Chavez will have to make the most of it.

Dem Councilor Ike Benton of Downtown and the North Valley is running unopposed as is Republican Council Trudy Jones of the NE Heights.

The council is divided 5 to 4 in favor of the Dems. If Chavez failed to take out Winter and Davis fell to Yntema, the council would flip to a GOP majority. If Chavez and Davis both win, the council would have 6 Democrats. That would give them enough to override vetoes of Republican Mayor Richard Berry. That would be as big as a deal as the R's retaking the council majority.

MAKING A MAYOR

Steve McKee
The Alligators probably need to control themselves and take care of business with the 2015 city election but they're chomping at the bit to get the 2017 mayoral derby going (What? Are they tired of Mayor Berry, already?). Possible names for mayor started floating here this week, with conservative businessman Steve McKee being mentioned. That prompted this Gator take:

First, the Republicans. Steve McKee has a public relations company McKee Wallwork that works for the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau . I think he is more of an “insider” than is being reported. I had never heard of him before.

I think we all know Republican Councilor Dan Lewis is running for mayor. He hasn’t confirmed but I would be surprised if he doesn’t.

Richard Berry. If the grass isn’t greener for Governor (and after his defeat at the last legislative session where he couldn’t even get all the GOP senators to back him on double dipping that might be an issue) he might change his mind and run for a third mayoral term. God help us.

County Commissioner Wayne Johnson. Will he run? Probably not if Lewis runs.

As for the Democrats, Councilor Ken Sanchez is being introduced at South Valley events as the “next mayor of Albuquerque.” I think that means he is running. But isn’t most of the South Valley in the county?

Former NM Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon appears to be in for the mayoral race, having done everything but announce.

County Commissioner Maggie Hart-Stebbins--Rumors are swirling that she is looking at running for mayor.

Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish. Same as above, lots of rumors.

Thanks for that. The waters of La Politica are never still as long as there is an election somewhere in sight.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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