Monday, October 16, 2017

Lewis Starts His Steep Climb; Attacks Keller In 1st TV Ad As Weak On Crime; Throws Kitchen Sink At Him In Sunday Debate, Plus: Zinging Zunie; GOP Lt. Guv Candidate Finds Tax Trouble; Opening For MoreCandidates? 

Dan Lewis' long-shot mayoral campaign fired its first volley at front-runner Tim Keller, releasing a TV ad that paints him as extremely soft on crime and in doing so resurrects a charge against the Democratic candidate that fell flat in the first round of voting earlier this month.

The Lewis ad is dark--both literally and figuratively. It shows a woman walking to her car in the dead of night being stalked by a man in a hoodie. She repeatedly looks behind her shoulder as the narrator ominously details Keller's crime record as a candidate and former state senator. At the end of the ad the potential attacker (not shown) is in the face of the woman as she struggles to open her car door and reacts frantically: The transcript:

Tim Keller says he’ll keep us safe but his record tells a different story. Keller voted to abolish the death penalty for child killers and rapists. Keller said no to laws that keep convicted sexual predators from living near their victims, and Keller won’t call out catch and release judges who dump violent criminals back on the street. Now…does Tim Keller make you feel safe?

The ad recalls a vote that Keller took as a state senator regarding where sexual predators could live. That vote was the focus of another dark TV ad by the developers of the controversial Santolina development project on the west side. The developer spent some $60,000 on the ads in the Oct. 3 election--also featuring dark and fearful imagery--but the effort failed to move the numbers against Keller who bested Lewis by 16 points (39 to 23) and took first place.

Lewis is so far behind Keller in the early polling for the Nov. 14 run-off--49-36 percent--that he has no choice but to attack. Some of our analysts thought the ad would help Lewis consolidate the GOP vote and move him up. But a pro-Keller analyst says the ad is not going to be a game-changer:

Lewis didn't learn from the Santolina strategy on Keller. Voters didn't buy these scary ads because they were too over the top. This is over the top. It doesn't look like Albuquerque. Lewis' imagery is too stark and doesn't show that anything that Keller voted on resulted in more crimes being committed. They have to do more than just try to scare the living daylights out of people. People voted for Keller to take things in a new direction. As the underdog they have to not just identify what's wrong with Keller but show they've got something better. This ad doesn't do that.

The first mayoral votes will be cast this week as the city clerk begins sending out absentee ballots today so Lewis is fighting the clock. He pressed his negative campaign by unveiling a website titled the thekellercon.com.


And Lewis continued pounding away at the Dem state auditor at the mayoral debate held Sunday at Temple Albert, scoring former Senator Keller for not supporting the death penalty for "cop killers" and "child killers." But is Lewis overreaching?

While polling may show the death penalty for the most heinous crimes is popular, it is not a top of the mind issue like home burglaries, widespread auto theft, hold-ups and lawlessness on the streets and freeways. The death penalty may help Lewis seal his GOP base that he divided with Wayne Johnson in the first round but might not do much more. Still, when you're down 13 points, kids, you gotta do something . .

Lewis did turn the debate into a vigorous affair as he unloaded the proverbial kitchen sink on Keller accusing him, among other things, of running a "sweatshop" in Cambodia but Keller held his own, giving the audience a taste for more of the confrontations.

Here is the complete video of the debate courtesy of KNME-TV.


We blogged last week of a breakfast meeting at the Barelas Coffee House between Keller and fellow Dem Brian Colón who finished third in the initial mayoral balloting. Keller can be expected to get an endorsement from Colón, a former chair of the NM Democratic Party, but the intrigue grew some when the Alligators reported another meeting--this one between Colón and Lewis at a valley Starbucks the day after he met with Keller.

Question: Was Colón meeting with the mayoral candidates in his role as a former contender or as an associate of the Robles, Rael and Anaya law firm that has many large legal contracts with the city of ABQ and the state and is a frequent campaign contributor?


There will be an outside committee raising and spending money for Lewis, we've learned. The Coalition for a Better ABQ, we're told, will be headed by ABQ attorney Simon Kubiak. How much it raises and how fast will be something to watch. Our sources say the committee will focus on anti-Keller messaging rather than promoting Lewis.

Keller is publicly financing his campaign and gets about $125,000 for the run-off. But the outside committee that helped him with several hundred thousand dollars of support in the Oct. 3 election is back for the Nov. 14 contest.

Another question: Will Lewis raise significantly more for his campaign than the $125K Keller is getting? Maybe, but he is going to have to move those polling numbers fast if the contributions are going to pour in.


The daunting task facing Lewis as the run-off starts to heat up is revealed in the numbers. The base Republican and conservative vote in the city is about 42 percent. Democratic performance in the city is in the area of 55 percent. And 55 percent of those who voted October 3 were women, according to veteran consultant Steve Cabiedes. That's one reason why Lewis' first TV ad shows a woman being stalked as she makes her way to her car.


Dem US Senator Martin Heinrich, a former ABQ city councilor and often a favorite of the Dem progressives but perhaps not as much as in the old days, comes with this for Keller:

Albuquerque is at a crossroads. The direction we take our city is in our hands – that’s why I am endorsing Tim Keller for Mayor. Tim has the right vision for Albuquerque, but more importantly, he has the experience to make his vision a reality for our city.

While on the council Heinrich represented a large swath of the Democratic SE Heights where Keller hopes to score big Election Night.


We noted last week that Ed Romero, longtime Dem activist, former US Ambassador to Spain and longtime friend of the Apodaca family, endorsed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, not Jeff Apodaca. Romero comes with this response:

My decision, which was a difficult one for me to make, was made solely on the basis of Rep. Lujan-Grisham's experience and accomplishments. . .She has always listened and has been responsive to her constituents. I have admired her energy and commitment. Your "theory" that I felt compelled to endorse her because she was "tighter" with the Clintons is wrong. To my knowledge, the Apodaca family has as much, if not closer, warm and personal relationship with them as either the Congresswoman or I have. 

 The Clintons and Apodacas have been great friends for many years. I also have enormous respect and admiration for them - which includes Jeff, I find it insulting and juvenile for you to base my support for the Congresswomen based on your "theory." I think that our distinguished Congresswoman would also. 

President Clinton appointed Romero ambassador to Spain. Over the years he has been amajor fund-raiser for the Clintons. In June of 2015 he hosted a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton at his ABQ home. He also hosted a fund-raiser for her in ABQ when she ran for president in 2008 and he also raised funds for Bill Clintons two presidential campaigns. Clara Apodaca, mother of Jeff Apodaca, has also been a frequent contributor to the Clintons.


She got off to a good start, but GOP lieutenant governor candidate Kelly Zunie has just been zinged, and it could mean she will soon have company in her race for the Republican nomination. The news:

Zunie said that she’s working to resolve unpaid tax bills. . . Zunie,  who worked for two-plus years as the Cabinet secretary of the Department of Indian Affairs until stepping down this summer, was hit with more than $15,000 in unpaid Utah state tax liens in 2016 alone, legal records show. She said the issue stems from confusion over filing taxes jointly with her husband – who still lives in Utah – and said she was largely unaware of the tax liens until being contacted by the Journal. “I’m responsible – I want to make sure I’m taking care of the taxes, even though he was there and I’m here. . . I’m stepping up and taking care of it. I knew about one (tax lien), but I had no idea about the others.”

This has all the classic signs of opposition research and not from the Democrats. Zunie got off to a nice start being touted as possibly the first Native American in history to secure the Republican Light Guv nod. Now, all eyes are turning toward ABQ State Sen. Mark Moores, who has been mulling a bid as well as State Sen. Ted Barela of Estancia.

Will one of them get in? Certainly this hit on Zuni paves the way and one GOP Alligator says of the Zunie tax affair: There's more to come on her and this topic. 

Kelly, when you're running for the second highest elected position in the state, they cover you from A to Zunie. Have a nice day, or something.

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