Thursday, September 28, 2017

New PPP Poll: Keller A Slam Dunk For 1st, Lewis, Colón Battle For Second But Johnson Back In The Mix As GOP Rift Widens; Early Vote Still Light, Plus: Shades Of Pizzagate; Susana Does "Dine and Dash" Skips Out On Bison Burger Bill 

The struggles of ABQ mayoral candidate Brian Colón remind one of that old Will Rogers line, "it takes a lot of money just to get beaten." After raising nearly $800,000, the most of any of the eight mayoral contenders, Colón remains locked in a too-close-to-call, all-or-nothing struggle for second place with a resurrected Dan Lewis.

A fresh campaign survey from the Dem leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) has their dead-heat match continuing with a mere one point separating the two, with Lewis garnering 17% percent to Colón's 16%.

Tim Keller remains far ahead in first place, garnering 33 percent of the vote. He now anxiously awaits to see who he will face in the November run-off following the October 3 election. It's very likely to be Democratic attorney Colón or Republican City Councilor Lewis, with BernCo Commissioner Wayne Johnson having an outside chance as he closes strong.

Here are the complete results of the poll commissioned by the PAC that is supporting Tim Keller and conducted September 24 and 25:

Tim Keller 33%; Dan Lewis 17%; Brian Colon 16%; Wayne Johnson 14%; Michelle Garcia Holmes 4%; Gus Pedrotty 4%; Ricardo Chaves 1%; Susan Wheeler-Deichsel 1%; Not sure 10%

PPP has a long track record in NM and has usually gotten the major trends right. But there will be one more poll before Tuesday. The ABQ Journal poll, which is being conducted several days later than PPP's, reports its final survey this Sunday.

The PPP survey was conducted among 788 likely voters via landlines but was weighted to make up for the lack of cellphones. (MOE about 4%) The poll was made up of 47% Democrats, 38 percent Republicans and 15 percent independents. That is light on Republicans but appears to reflect what will be the final composition of Tuesday's electorate. More on that below when we update you on early voting.


Lewis was walking with a lighter load this week, basking in the afterglow of the ABQ Journal and NRA endorsements. Then he awoke Wednesday morning, turned on the news and there was his nemesis--fellow Republican Wayne Johnson with a new strike that compares Lewis to Barney Fife, slams him for allegedly supporting the ART project (Lewis voted against it) and blames the eight year city councilor for the "revolving door" of criminals wreaking havoc in the city.

And as a final jab, Johnson shamelessly borrows from one of Lewis's closing ads and pledges to "hold judges accountable."

We received the ad Thursday afternoon. It is here.

Johnson patiently laid in wait for weeks then, like a cobra, struck at his prey. Even though he is a former church pastor, you could almost hear the screams from the Lewis west side abode: "Damn you, Wayne Johnson!"

And why wouldn't he? This is the best negative ad--mail or TV--of the campaign. It's hard-hitting and clear-eyed.

Johnson has doubled his support since the Sept. 11-14 Journal poll while Lewis has moved more modestly, from 13% to 17% and Colón has only gained 3 points to 16% in PPP.

Johnson, who is also attacking Lewis on his Facebook page, is now coming in at 14%. That's right in the area that could deprive Lewis of the second slot he so desperately desires.

We would also note that the Journal gave its unusual dual endorsement of Lewis and Colón last Sunday. The PPP poll was taken that Sunday and the following Monday but we're hard-pressed to find much of a Lewis bounce from that backing.

At this point Lewis must maximize his ground game. Johnson doesn't have much of one. Lewis has formed an alliance--holy or unholy depending on your view--with Reverend Smotherman of the 20,000 member conservative Legacy Church, but that vote is not yet showing up in the early voting tallies. Where is it?

The breath of Colón and Johnson is so hot on Lewis's collar that you might see Lewis and Smotherman reading the Ten Commandants out loud at Central and Coors just to get the vote out.


There was no talking Johnson out of turning into a hit man. The relationship between him and Lewis is icier than the Antarctica, so much so that GOP Gators report the pair has refused to appear in the same room together Election Night.

And don't get started on how Johnson is in the corner of  Governor Susana and Lewis is long estranged from the Governor who loves nothing better than crushing the craniums of her political foes. In other words, this Republican schism is so deep it makes the San Andreas Fault look like a squiggly line in the sand. (Did we just hear Brian Colón yell "Yes!")


So let's set the table for the weekend and before we come back here Monday. . .

Keller wants Lewis in the run-off against him, not Colon. Johnson and Susana want ABD--Anyone But Dan. So Johnson nukes Lewis and the PAC supporting Keller targets Colón in the mail.

Meanwhile, Lewis sends out mailers like the one posted today attacking both Dems Keller and Colón in the hope of showing that he is the true blue Republican conservative--not Commissioner Wayne.

As for Colón, he's the man in the middle, not attacking anyone but praying that Rev. Smotherman's prayers for Lewis go unanswered and that Wayne Johnson's dirty work on Lewis ultimately benefits him by sending Dan into third place.


There's just a few days left and anything that can get attention will be trotted out. Lewis got some when he came with this TV endorsement from former longtime TV news anchorman Dick Knipfing. Knipfing called himself "totally independent" as he worked to boost Lewis with that group. And he added:

The crime crisis convinced me to get involved. . . I believe Dan's experience and plans make him the best choice for mayor. I'm voting for Dan Lewis.

Lewis says it is Knipfing's first endorsement of a political candidate. Of course, the anchorman was prohibited from endorsing anyone when he was on the air. But he did get involved in politics years ago while still broadcasting and that caused controversy. He participated in an anti-abortion march, a view shared by Lewis.

Besides Knipfing, another well-known and retired TV news personality has surfaced in the campaign, but not to praise Lewis but to pan his latest TV ad that claims he will hold "judges accountable" for the city crime wave. This comment from Janet Blair, veteran TV reporter and former spokesperson for the Bernalillo County Metro Court:

Just how is Lewis going to “hold District Court judges accountable”? The Mayor has absolutely no say over their activities or their budget or the rules they follow. He can, as a private citizen, make a complaint to the Judicial Standards Commission, but that is the extent of his so-called control. This claim is political baloney!

Well, we guess that does away with the chance of Dick and Janet co-anchoring any newscasts together.


The front-runner in the ABQ mayoral race has been almost an afterthought, having long ago secured enough of his progressive Dem base to nearly guarantee himself a spot in the two person run-off, but Tim Keller is keeping his foot on the accelerator, attending all the mayoral forums and furiously working the phones as he works for a big win Tuesday night. And. . .

He came with a final rebuke of that Santolina financed ad accusing him of coddling child molesters because of a vote he took as a state senator. He wrote in an op-ed that the TV campaign was"retaliation" against him because he was not about to  promise big tax breaks for Santolina. The out of state company is proposing a massive development on the westside, mostly outside the city limits but it needs city water approval to get the go ahead.

Keller, who turns 40 next month and would be the youngest ABQ Mayor since Democrat David Rusk took the office at 37 in 1977, is getting plenty of outside help in his bid. The ABQ firefighters union comes with a TV spot, much of which they used back in 2013 against Mayor Berry. It highlights the crime wave with a new tag line that urges a vote for Keller who they say will add 400 officers to APD. The ad buy is for $10,000 on cable.

And the PAC (or measure finance committee as the city officially calls them) that is supporting Keller recut one of its ads to include what they call "a special update" of Keller's endorsement from APOA--the police officers union.


It's still looking light. Here are your early vote totals for Election '17 through the close of early voting on Friday courtesy of Rick Abraham of Data Flux:

Total vote--42,089
Plus 335 new voters whose registration was not available.

That total is expected to trickle upwards with the return of some more absentee ballots by the Tuesday evening deadline.

That works out to 54 percent Dem, 35 percent R and 12 percent independent. GOP voters are less enthusiastic so far than years past. They should come up some and be close to the 38 percent PPP assumed in its poll, but that is still below performance for the party in a city mayoral election. The energy, what there is of it, is with the Dems. That's not surprising after eight years of Republican rule that is now unpopular.

As far as total turnout, we are probably not going to make our projection of 80,000. But the political pros say that 75,000 is still possible. There are over 380,000 registered voters so that would be near 20 percent of the registered, a tad above the 19 percent that turned out four years ago.


Governor Susana has got to get away from the fast food. First there was that pizza party a couple of years ago that got her in so much trouble that it began a long crash in her approval rating. Now it's her fondness for bison burgers that could further erode her standing and catapult her again into the national headlines. The news:

The general manager of Five Star Burgers near DeVargas mall says Gov. Martinez paid the restaurant a visit Wednesday, then left without paying her bill. Robert Gonzales says  that at first he didn’t recognize Martinez when she arrived in a black SUV, then placed a to-go order of a bison burger and fried green beans.…"I was like, ‘What’s the name on that?’ And she’s like, ‘Susana!’

The governor drank a glass of water while she waited, he says, but when he delivered the bill for her order: “She grabs it off the bar, crumples it up and throws it in the trash. 
Gonzales says he would normally file a police report if he had enough information about someone who skipped a bill, but in this case, he didn’t bother to call about an unpaid tab worth less than $15.“I know us taxpayers are probably going to be paying for it anyway,” he says.

Now from the Governor's side:

The general manager confirms two members of her security detail did pay for their food. It was only after Martinez allegedly crumpled up the receipt and put it in the trash before walking out. The governor's office says it was a simple mistake and the bill was settled later in the evening. The restaurant confirms that "This is a supersized nothing-burger," saida spokesperson for the governor's office. "The governor pays for her meals, including this one, and attempting to exploit an obviously honest misunderstanding just demonstrates how petty our politics have become."

Well, at least there were no beer bottles thrown like happened at the infamous pizza party.

Okay, that's one monster blog, kids. We'll monitor the Mayor's race for you on Facebook and Twitter over the weekend and be back with a full report here Monday. Meanwhile, we're going to do something we've never done before---have a bison burger.

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