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Thursday, October 26, 2017

GOP Elites Fret Over Mayor's Race; One Veteran Consultant Predicts Keller Win, Plus: Abolish City Ethics Board? Slow-Motion Panel Leaves Complaints Hanging 

The towel throwing has started among some of the GOP elites when it comes to the ABQ mayoral campaign and candidate Dan Lewis.

Veteran Republican consultant Reb Wayne, who is based in Austin and who has worked for NM legislative candidates, went public with the pessimism that has been haunting the R's:

The way to have beaten Tim Keller would have been for a wealthy outsider who wants to clean up the city to have been the comparative choice, a political newcomer the way Richard Riordan modeled himself after the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles in ‘93. But no such candidate emerged. Keller will win and he’s going to be a terrible Mayor.

Wayne made his comments on our Facebook page in reaction to our report there on Lewis' latest TV ad.

Much of the downbeat chatter from top R's is not so much about Lewis but about the 8 year run of GOP Mayor Berry and how it is ending in a polling collapse. That would be hard for anyone to overcome, they argue.

Still, the split in the GOP isn't helping. Lewis has yet to produce endorsements from prominent supporters of his rival Wayne Johnson who finished in fourth place in the Oct. 3 balloting. And Johnson himself has notably failed to issue an endorsement of Lewis.

UPDATE: Johnson has now endorsed Dan Lewis.

Johnson, however, is hammering Tim Keller with two ethics complaints that are pending before the city. The complaints charge that Keller's campaign broke the rules by counting cash donations to his publicly financed campaign as "in kind donations" of a good or service. The other says his campaign has violated rules by allegedly coordinating his campaign with an outside political action committee that is supporting him.

The charges are not frivolous and deserve quick resolution but the city ethics board process is seriously challenged and getting timely rulings is often the exception.

The election is Nov. 14 and thousands of votes are being cast this week alone in early voting. It's unclear whether the complaints will be resolved before the actual election day, but with perhaps more than half the vote being cast early, the outcome may be academic.

ABOLISH ETHICS BOARD?

Abolishing the city Board of Ethics and replacing it with a permanent ethics hearing officer who is a classified employee and not able to be fired by the mayor or council is one idea floating. The current board members are mainly appointees of the mayor and city council (one is appointed by the board itself), with little actual ethics expertise.

A professional city employee with a certification in mediation, law and ethics and who is accepted as nonpartisan by the council and mayor could be a great improvement over the unpredictable, unprofessional and messy process we have today.

Here's an update on the various ethics complaints pending before the city.

AUDITOR APPEAL

One reason the GOP is going breathless over the ethics charges against Keller is because his record as state auditor has established himself as the state's chief ethics watchdog. It has earned him the support of independent voters who hold disdain for politics overall but often end up voting for the more conservative candidate.

Not so much this time around. Reader James Fejer compiled a list of headlines that help explain the Democratic candidate's appeal to independents who comprise 25 percent of the city registered voters:

--Audit: Insurers owe the state nearly $65 million
--Tim Keller makes rape kit backlog his priority
--State Auditor: $500,000 Embezzled From La Promesa
--State Auditor Releases Latest List of “At Risk” Agencies
--Audit finds $850K stolen from rural water association
--State Auditor Tim Keller Issues Executive Order to Support New Mexico Businesses
--"Fraud, Waste and Abuse": Keller Describes Northern NM College Audit

There were a lot of skeptics when Keller said he was going to transform the role of state auditor but he proved them wrong and is now benefiting with those skeptical independents.

GOOD NEWS

The self-described ABQ "Westside Gator" closes out the blogging week for us with some good news indeed:

Joe, According to a study by 24/7 Wall Street, New Mexico has the lowest rate of cancer diagnosis per 100K in the nation! 2nd lowest rate for breast cancer and lung cancer. 5th lowest for cancer deaths per 100,000 population. We're still about the national average in number of adult smokers. Can't figure out that last one. Another surprise, the Top 12 were all Western States. Thought you might like some good NM News for a change.

Thanks for stopping by. We'll pick up on the mayoral run-off and more La Politica on Monday. Be sure to join us.

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