Monday, November 06, 2017

Lewis' Last Chance: His Last Bet Is On "The Keller Con", While Keller Breaks His Taboo And Ties Berry to Lewis, Plus: Dems Say They Can Take Out Aragon with Borrego In Key City Council Run-Off, And: The Eden Exit; APD Chief Resigns And Avoids The Mayoral Axe 

(Daily Lobo)
The dual challenge of hyping Republican voter turnout and cooling down Keller fever among Democrats confronts Republican Dan Lewis as he begins his final push to pull off what would be considered one of the major upsets in ABQ mayoral history.

The early voting numbers reveal the formidable task facing the two term westside city councilor. According to Rick Abraham of Data Flux, figures compiled form the city clerk's office show Democrats comprise 54 percent of 33,000 early votes cast, with R's totaling 34 percent and independents and others making up the remaining 12 percent.

Officially, city elections are nonpartisan but that's a fig leaf that was long ago shredded. Party affiliation continues to be the best predictor of voter behavior, driving home the need for Lewis to do all he can to dampen Dem enthusiasm for Keller and keep D's away from the polls,

Lewis' latest effort to increase the GOP vote and give Dems pause over State Auditor Keller is a TV spot that unveils the slogan: "The Keller Con." It again slams Keller for alleged campaign violations and ethics complaints leveled against him by Republicans. Unlike another recent Lewis TV attack, there appears to be no mistakes in this ad and it's strong.

But Keller's campaign and two independent committees backing him are now heavily outspending Lewis on TV in the final crucial days of the campaign, an ominous signal for the underdog.

Even if the "Keller Con" label fails to put Lewis in the mayor's office, you can easily see the GOP putting it to use against a Mayor Keller as they try to immediately define him and harden early opposition to his administration.

The ad is Lewis' last chance to reverse the turnout trend seen in early voting.

And in that early voting there was a very noticeable spike in Dem turnout in the liberal North Valley Council District 2 where Keller pulled off a landslide Oct. 3 and that was key to his first place finish.

And there's another spike in the Dem vote in conservative GOP Council District 8 in the NE Heights. Obviously, the impressive ground game from Keller and associated interest groups has not let up since the first round of voting.


Candidate Keller has resisted advice that he mention Mayor Berry by name and tie his failed policies to fellow Republican Lewis. But in his closing TV spot of the campaign released Sunday, Keller breaks that taboo and for the first time mentions the eight year incumbent in his paid media. Here's the video and here's the transcript:

Albuquerque is going the wrong direction. I’m Tim Keller. And negative ads and false attacks will never help turn things around. Politicians like Dan Lewis and Mayor Berry have divided and failed us for eight years. It's time we come together. As State Auditor, I've cracked down on public corruption. And I'm running for Mayor on a real plan to keep our families safe, step up for our kids and help revitalize our economy. Let's move Albuquerque forward.

Like Lewis's new TV attack, this is a strong, simple spot. Keller faces the camera and makes his pitch directly to voters. That he is young and camera-friendly doesn't hurt. The Keller camp hopes mentioning the unpopular Berry as a failure could slow Lewis' momentum in the final days of the campaign.


Another interesting strategic development in this mayoral race is the swing away from the controversial social issues that could be a headache for Lewis, a baptist pastor.

In the Oct. 3 election Lewis was called out for an endorsement he received from Reverend Smotherman of Legacy Church who praised Dan because he would be a mayor who would not back "the homosexual agenda."

Lewis did his best to squirm out of that one and since then homophobia and other social issues like abortion have been as absent from the run-off as a Lobo football win.

Well, it's certainly not in Lewis' interest to pursue a conservative social issues agenda in a Democratic city. And Keller's team probably saw no need to rouse Smotherman and company to get out and vote against Keller by getting gay over gay marriage.

Those are the same reasons we probably haven't heard anything from either of our contenders about that guy in the White House.


Democrats are expressing cautious optimism over their chances of taking back the northwest side city council seat being vacated by Dan Lewis.

Early voting trends in the run-off show Dem participation outpacing their registration there. About 45 percent of the early votes tallied are Dem, while the district's Dem registration is 39 percent.

This is key race. A win by Dem Cynthia Borrego, combined with a victory by Tim Keller, would give the new mayor a 6 to 3 council majority, up from the 5-4 current Dem majority.

Also, Republican Robert Aragon, an attorney and vocal advocate for Gov. Martinez, would no doubt be a major thorn in Keller's side if the two were serving together. Keller defeated Aragon in 2014 to become state auditor.

Borrego, a self-described "conservative Democrat," has her party out in force in the district, with the congressional delegation and a variety of local politicos all hitting the phones and doors to push her over the top.

Borrego, 59, a retired city planner now in the private sector, is attacking attorney Aragon for being a supporter of unpopular Mayor Berry and his crime policies. And she's bringing up lawsuits and tax liens from Aragon's past--as seen in the piece posted here.

(We haven't received any Aragon mailings but if we get one we will post it).

Aragon, 60, who serves on the state Board of Finance by appointment of Gov. Martinez, made history back in the day when he became the state's youngest-ever elected state legislator at the age of 21.

His family has a political pedigree that goes back decades.

It's amusing to see Borrego attacking Aragon by pointing out he "comes from a political family--convicted felon Manny Aragon is Aragon's cousin."

Of course, Manny Aragon, a longtime state Senate powerhouse, is, like Borrego, a Democrat and in fact one of the most prominent D's in state history who ended up serving prison time on corruption charges. Robert Aragon switched to the R's several years ago.

Aragon is receiving help from the head of the Martinez machine--consultant Jay McCleskey. In addition, Lewis hopes to push Republican vote high in his home district to give his mayoral candidacy a boost. That could help Aragon. But in the early going it's not happening.

While Dems cite the early voting numbers and their unity behind Borrego's candidacy, GOP consultants at party headquarters are holding on tight, believing that in the end the demographics of the district--which they say lean conservative--will save Aragon from defeat.

Aragon only beat Borrego by one point--39 to 38--in the initial October 3 balloting. That was closer than expected and gave her momentum. Catherine Trujillo, who finished third and did not make the run-off, has not made an endorsement.


Chief Eden (Brose, Journal)
The charitable spin that that can be put on ABQ Chief of Police Gorden Eden--who announced Saturday he will retire at the end of the month sparing himself from being fired by the new mayor--is that he was in way over his head and tried his best to keep it above water in leading the deeply troubled agency.

The worst that can be said is that he essentially conspired with other top brass at APD to defy efforts to reform the department, sanctioned lying by his staff to the press and blamed everyone but himself and his department for the continuing crime wave that has upended the lives of thousands in the metro.

However you spin it, Eden, a career government employee, was a failure. The unceasing crime epidemic is the lead paragraph in his political obit.

Now it's up to the new mayor to clean up the mess. But a word of warning: Mayor Berry, in what turned out to be a sham announcement, said he would look across the nation for the best police chief he could find only to settle on the politically connected and unprepared Eden. If the new mayor goes down that path, his honeymoon will indeed be brief.


This is the final week to vote early in the city election and the last day is Friday, Nov. 10. Here are the early voting locations where you an cast your ballot from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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