Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jump Ball Mayor's Race Gets Sanderoff Polling Treatment This Weekend, A Review Of 1st Mayor TV Forum, Which Candidates Favored If Turnout Is Low, And: Santa Fe Mayor's Race; We've Got The First Polling  

Late Breaking: Former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, the longest serving US Senator in state history, died Wednesday. He was 85. AP obit here.
The jump ball known as the ABQ mayoral race takes another bounce Sunday when the ABQ Journal comes with a poll showing where the eight contenders stand. Not only that but early in-person voting begins citywide today, the TV ads are starting to crowd the airwaves and the ethics complaints are flying left and right--all signs that the crucial stage of the campaign is underway. (Early voting locations here.)

The newspaper poll will be taken this week and for the most part will not show the full impact of TV ads from Dan Lewis--who went on the air yesterday--or his fellow Republican Wayne Johnson who has had a light cable buy for a week and who will go up on the broadcast networks today. The third Republican--Ricardo Chaves--sent us a TV ad that is similar to Johnson's as it criticizes the ART project and then segues into the crime problem. The campaign said it would send details today on where the ad was airing.

The insiders, Alligators and hangers-on are all holding their breath as that GOP vote takes sides and reveals whether the Johnson-Lewis split continues as it has in the early surveys. That could prevent either from advancing to a November 14 run-off featuring the top two vote-getters.

Pollster Brian Sanderoff is known for pulling rabbits out of the hat when it comes to predicting the city and state electorate, but even he might need a second survey to determine where that GOP story line is headed. Still, his Sunday survey will be anticipated because it will confirm or reject the findings of two earlier polls that do not employ the rigorous screening standards Sanderoff's poll is known for.


Here's Wayne Johnson's first ad. It is full of Republican red meat, including a dig at Mayor Berry's hyper-controversial ART transit project which Johnson says "nobody wanted." Bringing up ART makes sense because in polling Republican voters despise the project and it gives Johnson a different angle than simply all-crime-all-the-time that all the candidates are adhering to.

Johnson narrates the spot himself as did his GOP rival Lewis in his first TV outing. Both Lewis and Johnson have solid appeal to base GOP voters. Maybe they end up going negative on one another in order to break away and get in that run-off?


Speaking of negative ads, as we told you it would a couple of weeks ago, the business committee opposing Tim Keller's candidacy unveiled ads attacking the former Dem state Senator for a vote he took and which according to the spot would have made ABQ "a safe haven" for sex offenders. Here's the radio ad.

We'll post the TV spot when we get it and, of course, any response from the Keller camp. Media Alligators report the buy for the anti-Keller TV on cable and broadcast is about $$30,000 for the next week.


Seven of the eight mayoral candidates took part in the first live TV forum of the campaign Monday night on KASA-TV Channel 2. (Ricardo Chaves did not appear).

The questions posed were okay but the format for the 90 minute broadcast did not allow for any rebuttal among the candidates or the chance for them to question each other about their answers to crime and education and other topics they fielded. It was a lost opportunity.

KOB-TV will host a mayoral debate this Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. And even though handling seven or eight candidates can be unwieldy, how about if they let the contenders go after one another and give the public a lively and informative debate?

The entire KASA-TV debate can be seen here.


Early voting for the October 3 election kicks off today at voting centers across the city. They will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6. p.m. through September 29.

Campaign operatives report that in the absentee voting so far about 1,500 votes have been cast. Our initial projection for turnout is 85,000 to 89,000--(about 23 percent of the registered voters) but that's not written in cement and depending on developments in the final weeks it could go higher or lower.

History says we should be biased toward a lower turnout--not one over 90,000 of the 380,000 registered. One of the Alligators tied up in this contest comes with an analysis of what a low turnout could mean for the mayoral field as we continue to give you context and perspective on City Election '17:

The early vote is low so far and I think low turnout helps Democrat Tim Keller. The progressives are motivated. I also think it helps Republican Dan Lewis. He has support from the churches whose membership is prone to vote.

Keller demonstrated that he has a good ground game by getting the $5 contributions needed to qualify for public financing and Lewis has a good ground game with the churches. The 6,000 people who gave the Keller campaign $5 have already made an investment in Keller. I would expect Lewis to be at multiple services on Sunday and Wednesday.

Early voting will also be lower than expected. It is only Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  There's no Saturday voting. That makes it difficult for people who have jobs to vote early. Well-off progressives in Nob Hill and around UNM have an easier time taking 30 minutes out of their day to vote.

Lower turnout also gives a Republican a better chance to win if one of them makes the November runoff and if a two person race does not energize the voters. I am surprised that interest is so low with the amount of crime in the city. Maybe the voters have not voted because they do not know who to vote for. If that is true, we could see a large turnout on Election Day, if people need more time to make a choice. We also need to see if TV ads increase interest. If they do, we should see a spike in absentee ballots soon.


Back on the TV front, Brian Colón comes with a new ad that highlights his bio, calling him a "respected lawyer" who ran two businesses to pay for his college education and which pledges that "no one will work harder for ABQ."

As the candidate with the largest campaign kitty, Colón has the luxury of rolling out a variety of well-produced 30 second ads. He has also not yet been subjected to negative attacks which would divert his media to defense. That probably will come, but for at least the first two weeks of his ad campaign, Colón has been in the sweet spot.


On the city council front, a body blow for Dem westside Council hopeful Javier Benavidez. The progressive Dem was slapped with a $1,900 fine by the city ethics board:

An Albuquerque board found in favor of an ethics complaint alleging that City Council candidate Javier Benavidez improperly obtained public campaign financing and fined him $ 1,900, or $ 100 per violation found by investigators. The city Board of Ethics voted 6-0 in favor of the complaint filed by Albuquerque attorney Pat Rogers on behalf of two voters who alleged that Benavidez failed to collect $5 donations from each of the 381 voters he need to qualify for about $ 38,000 in public financing.

Benavidez and two other candidates are trying to oust veteran City Councilor and Democrat Ken Sanchez. This ethics slap is not going to help the Benvidez cause. The question remains whether Sanchez can be held below 50 percent of the vote and forced into a run-off with the likely foe being Benavidez. Even if Benavidez now does get into a run-off the ethics action will be fodder for Sanchez as he works to keep his seat for a third, four year term.


ABQ isn't alone in having a race for Mayor. Santa Fe is going to select a new leader next March and in the first polling of the potential field a familiar name pops to the top. He's Alan Webber, the liberal Santa Fe businessman and sometimes political philosopher who made a run at the 2014 Dem gubernatorial nomination.

In a survey conducted Sunday, September 10 by automatic phone calls to registered voters with land lines, Webber, who says he is considering a mayoral bid, garnered 17 percent of the vote to 14 percent for City Councilor Ron Trujillo who is already off and running.

Incumbent Mayor Javier Gonzales is not seeking re-election. The other candidates in the poll were City Councilor and former Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas who came in with 6 percent; Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza who is mulling over a bid and received 4 percent; potential candidate and City Councilor Renee Villarreal garnered 5 percent and Ray Sandoval, known for promoting the burning of Zozobra, came with 3 percent. Undecided is a huge 50 percent, signaling a spirited contest ahead.

The poll was paid for by Santa Fe's Jon Hendry who is head of the union that represents the state's film workers, but he says he commissioned the poll for his own knowledge.

The poll was conducted by veteran Dem consultant and pollster Mark Fleisher and queried 351 registered voters. It has an MOE of 5.1 percent.


Let's keep it in Santa Fe and finish up there this Wednesday with word abut popular radio talk show host Richard Eeds. He informs us that his long-running morning radio broadcast on KVSF-AM and FM is switching stations and headed to the afternoons. From Hutton Broadcasting:

Beginning Monday, September 18, 1260 KTRC-AM, will add local talk shows to its lineup, including The Richard Eeds Show--The Voice of Santa Fe. Eeds has hosted a popular morning drive show on KVSF 101.5 since 2014.  The show's move to KTRC fro 1 to 5 p.m weekdays adds a local voice to bolster the station's national programming which includes top-rated hosts Stephanie Miller and Thom Hartmann.

As a kicker, Eeds says he is considering a run for Mayor of Santa Fe. That ought to get them talking. . .

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