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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Less Than 50 Days To Go In '17 Mayor's Race; Where Things Stand Today, Plus: We Find A Gem In Our Summer Reading Pile  

Tim Keller
What sets them apart from Mayor Berry? That's one of the more provocative questions in a wide-ranging and in-depth question and answer session with the eight mayoral hopefuls in the October 3 election. The interviews that allowed for long-form responses were conducted by KOAT-TV. The station says it plans extensive coverage of the campaign prompted in part by the city's crime wave. The ABQ Free Press is also giving the candidates a lot of room to run as it quizzes them on a variety of issues.

With less than 50 days to go before the October 3 election and less than a month before early voting begins September 13, here's our analysis of where the '17 mayoral race stands right now. . .

Brian Colón
The odds that there will be two Democrats in the run-off that will likely occur Nov. 7 following the October 3 balloting appear to have increased some.

The three Republicans in the race--City Councilor Dan Lewis, BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson and businessman Ricardo Chaves may divide the GOP vote enough to prevent any one of them from finishing as one of the two top contenders who advance to the run-off which will occur if none of the eight candidates achieves 50 percent of the vote.

Lewis reports only $169,000 in cash on hand and Johnson has $208,000. The latest reports were filed with the city last week. Lewis was expected to break away more by this point while Johnson has exceeded fund-raising expectations. Chaves is financing his own campaign and is sitting on $373,000 in cash. Will he spend all or a large portion of it? If he does, that could further divide the GOP vote. Lewis spent handsomely on social media in the early going but his TV buy to reach the most likely voters who are over 55 is now critical. He could use more cash.

Insiders report Adam Feldman, who heads up the mail firm Red Tag Strategies and is a very close business associate of Jay McCleskey who heads the Guv's political machine, will be doing Johnson's mail campaign. There is no love lost between Lewis and the Berry/Martinez camp. If they accomplished nothing but stopping Lewis from taking the prize, they would probably celebrate.

Dan Lewis
Democrat Tim Keller still seems the most likely of all the candidates to finish in the top two. He has an extensive ground game and widespread union backing. A political action committee that will support him has $77,000 in cash on hand which will also give him a boost. He opted to take public financing and his campaign has $232,000 in cash. One of our Alligators with media ties reports that Keller will start his TV buy September 4. Given his cash status it will probably be steady but not heavy.

Democrat Brian Colón is certainly hoping that the Republican vote stays divided and that   he can pass Lewis in the polls and secure a run-off spot, even if it means finishing second to Keller. He is sitting on $535,000 in cash. His decision on how he will spend that money is imminent and will have a major say in the direction of this campaign in the final weeks.

A run-off between Keller and Colón would be more dangerous for Keller than if he were to face a Republican foe. The GOP brand under Mayor Berry is severely damaged and the electorate will be looking for change. A run-off with a Lewis or Johnson would make it easier for Keller to provide that contrast. But, like Keller, Colón would be a change candidate who is seen as more moderate than Keller. He could attract GOP support in a  run-off that could prove decisive.

ZUNIE TIME

We blogged erroneously yesterday that Republican Kelly Zunie would make her entry into the race for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor on Wednesday. She will do so today at 5:30 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in ABQ.

SUMMER READING

Why it took us so many years to get to a book that more than lives up to its stellar reputation is a mystery. But this summer we finally met up with "Memoirs 1892-1969 A New Mexico Item" by William A. Keleher.

It is a marvelous read that filled in a lot of blanks for us about life and politics in early 20th century Albuquerque, the key events of state politics from that time and into the 50's. Keleher was a noted attorney but in the beginning of his career he was also a newspaper reporter and he commands a fluid and personable style.

For example, he delivers a gripping tale as he relates the 1935 closed door meeting with Gov. Clyde Tingley, Judge David Chavez, the brother of soon-to-be US Senator Dennis Chavez, and former Governor Arthur Hannett, a key ally of the Chavez family.

Chavez and Hannett had gotten wind that Tingley was considering appointing Judge John Field Simms to the US Senate vacancy created by the death of Senator Bronson Cutting who perished in a plane crash in May of 1935. But Cutting had only very narrowly defeated Democrat Chavez in 1934 and the Chavez's believed Democrat Tingley was obligated to appoint Dennis to fill the vacancy.

Writes Keleher:

Listeners who stationed themselves discreetly outside the doors of the Governor's inner office were horrified at some of the intemperate language which seeped through the door and over the transom; aghast at the threats and counter-threats of retaliation, astonished at the cajoling and wheedling on one side or the other. Finally the smoke and roar of battle cleared away and Governor Tingley emerged from his office, arm in arm with Hannett and Chavez. Spectator friends of Chavez observed: "It's all over. Tingley is going to appoint Dennis. . ."

As a NM political junkie the thought of being outside that door and the way Keleher brought home the naked verbal brawl for power took my breath away. I had to stop reading and reflect.

Chavez went on to become the most important US Senator in state history, serving until his death in 1962.

Keleher, who 100 years ago founded an ABQ law firm that still carries his name and remains prominent, wrote a number of books on NM history but none so personal and reflective as his memoirs about the state he loved and the players that built the foundation upon which it rests today. It's a heckuva a memoir from a heckuva guy who certainly earned his own chapter in the never ending book of La Politica.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017


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