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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

KELLER TAKES CONTROL: Scores Landslide Mayoral Victory Taking 62% Of Vote; "Thank You For Clear Mandate"; Victory Ends 8 Year GOP Rule In ABQ; Dem Borrego Beats Keller Foe For Council Seat  

Mayor-Elect Keller (Sorber, Journal)
Tim Keller scored a landslide victory in ABQ Tuesday night, giving Democrats control of City Hall after an 8 year Republican run and setting the stage for a major change in tone and policy in the state's largest city. Keller, who will turn 40 this month, will take the oath of office for a four year term December 1.

The charismatic Keller swept through the city with opposition that was softer than the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Republican Dan Lewis could manage only 38 percent of the vote to Keller's 62 percent. (Complete results here.)

"It was about a city wanting to hope again, to turn the corner on the drumbeat of negativity to getting on with solving our problems and making ABQ realize its potential," opined Gene Grant of KNME-TV to our KANW-FM 89.1 Election Night audience.

Our other experts nodded in agreement. They said the landslide was due to that and these other reasons:

--The city had tired of 8 years of GOP rule under Mayor Berry and his lack of success in curbing the crime wave.

--The smooth campaign run by Keller with emphasis on the ground game and getting out the vote. 

--Keller is charismatic, intelligence and telegenic. He looks like change. It brought voters to his side and he will become the second youngest mayor in city history.

--The Keller message or as veteran Dem activist Sandy Buffett explained: "Tim had an aspirational message and his opponent was all negative."

Keller's assertion in his Election Night victory speech that he was given a "mandate" was backed up not only by the massive win, but by a healthy turnout of 96,908, only slightly lower than the 97,399 who showed up for the initial round of balloting October 3 and led to Tuesday's run-off election. (Keller's full speech is here.)

Lewis alone
The race was immediately called by our KANW 89.1 FM election team when 60,451 votes cast early and absentee were posted thirty minutes after the polls closed. That represented over 60 percent of all votes cast. Keller was ahead with 63 percent and only gave up a point when all the ballots, including the 38 percent of the vote cast on Election Day, were counted.

The small gathering for Dan Lewis cleared out fast and the night belonged to a jubilant Keller who gave media interviews and mingled with the throng gathered at the Hotel Andaluz. Only a couple of hundred yards away at the downtown Hyatt his rival admitted defeat early and called Keller to congratulate him. He then conducted this press gaggle.

The photo posted here and snapped by KRQE-TV's Chris McKee at Lewis' party sums up the moment. Lewis appears abandoned, a fitting analogy as his own Republican Party never fully warmed to his candidacy.

ASKING KELLER

I asked Keller in our radio interview for details on his transition. He confirmed that former high ranking city officials James B. Lewis and Fred Mondragon are helping to head up his transition team. He will need their expertise as he pointed out his will be the shortest transition in city history with only days to go before he takes the oath. However, the transition will continue over the course of several months, he said, and he will select interim leaders for some city departments as he ponders who to name permanently.

As he said during the campaign, APD will get an interim chief as a national search is launched for a new APD leader for a city besieged by crime and which was the paramount issue of the campaign.

Keller's pick for the powerful position of Chief Administrative Officer is widely anticipated and should come soon.

Former City Councilor Pete Dinelli said while there is hope for change in ABQ there is also impatience over the crime epidemic. Realistic or not, Dinelli said "people will expect some results in 6 to 12 months. Because of the state of the city and the high expectations for Keller, this could be a relatively short honeymoon."

ARAGON DERAILED

The Keller camp breathed easier when the results came in from the runoff in City Council District 5 on the west side and showed Dem Cynthia Borrego handily defeating R Robert Aragon, an ardent Keller foe.

The Borrego win--54-46%--gives Keller 6 Dems on the nine member council, a super majority if he can keep them together. Most important there will be no Robert Aragon, an effective opponent who has now been silenced.

FOOTNOTES

Former City Councilor Greg Payne and consultant Steve Cabiedes said that the mayoral election also showed that a progressive Democrat can unite the party. "It doesn't always have to be a progressive reaching out to the moderates. Keller showed how it can be the other way around, even though he also had appeal to independents who liked his watchdogging as State Auditor." Said Cabiedes.

Payne said Keller's willingness to criticize Berry and Borrego's willingness to take on both Berry and Gov. Martinez was a departure from previous "meek" Democratic behavior that cost them dearly. "He brought home the Democrats because he showed something that has not been seen from them--leadership," analyzed the Democratic attorney.

THE E NITE TEAM

Here's our Election Night radio gang and I want to thank them for a great job.

From left to right is Republican Rick Abraham, Democrat strategist Sisto Abeyta, Gene Grant of KNME-TV, Greg Payne, Catherine Trujillo who ran in District 5 in the October 3 election, your blogger and former City Councilor Pete Dinelli. They were all on their game last night.

However there was one problem. We forgot to thank listener Claire Dudley Chavez for buying pizza for the crew. We may be tired but we're not hungry--thanks to Claire and her husband.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017

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