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Thursday, November 09, 2017

More Wind At Keller's Back? Latest Election Results Bolster Dem Hopes For Big Mayoral Win, Plus: Another One? Already? PNM Rate Hike Request Comes Amid Stunning Profit Report 

Keller
There's little question that Tim Keller has the wind at his back going into next Tuesday's ABQ mayoral election, but did a sudden gust push him even further ahead?

The big Democratic wins in the East Coast gubernatorial races, combined with a progressive Democratic sweep of three Las Cruces city council seats Tuesday night, confirm the Dem enthusiasm that we saw in the initial Oct. 3 ABQ mayoral balloting and that continues in the early voting stats.

According to Data Flux, Dems are outgunning the R's in early turnout 54-34. About 46 percent of the city's electorate is registered Democrats.

Keller scored a landslide win in the first round, scoring 39 percent of the vote to Republican Dan Lewis' 23 percent. If Keller scores another big win it will make it that much easier for him in pursuing his goals in the early months of his administration.

Both Keller and Lewis have transition teams at City Hall as each prepares to take over from Mayor Berry December 1, but with Keller the frontrunner the focus is on him.

One member of Keller's transition team says they are uncovering a "real mess" in many city departments, even as they praise Mayor Berry for conducting the transition in a professional manner.

Keller is already being advised by longtime politicos to immediately report to the public problems found within individual departments and announce his plans for reform. Otherwise, they warn, he could get saddled with Berry's negative baggage at the outset of his term.

Keller is said by sources to have several individuals in mind for the critical position of chief administrative officer, who under the City Charter is charged with running the day-to-day affairs of the city. However, the names are being kept under wraps.

But there's still an election to be held--or half of one since about 50 percent of the vote or more is expected to be cast in early voting which ends Friday. Lewis can't let fatalistic talk about his prospects deter him from a final stretch full charge. Nothing is written in stone until the votes are counted.

(Early voting locations here.)

Speaking of counting the votes, we'll do just that when we convene our traditional wall-to-wall Election Night coverage on KANW 89.1 FM and kanw.com. We'll kick it off at 6:30 p.m.

On Monday at 5 p.m. on KANW my guest experts will join me for our Election Eve Special to chronicle the campaign that was and what to watch for when the vote count starts Tuesday night.

We've covered every mayoral election on KANW since 1989 and we look forward to being with you once again to bring you the very latest results, expert analysis and even a few laughs.

SUSANA'S REVENGE?

Reader Jeff Baker reacts to the speculation on the Wednesday blog about who will replace Keller as state auditor if he wins Tuesday:

My money is on Robert Aragon to be appointed by Gov. Martinez as the next State Auditor if Tim Keller is elected Mayor and Aragon loses his City Council run-off race to Democrat Cynthia Borrego. Call it “Susana’s revenge” on the Dems.

Not a bad bet. Susana's appointee will fill out a full year left in Keller's term and could cause plenty of havoc. Of course, if Aragon wins the council seat and Keller is mayor, Aragon will be causing plenty of havoc for the new His Honor. You can bet on that.

ANOTHER ONE? ALREADY?

The local electric company is riding a wave of profits thanks in part to a 10 percent rate hike given to it by the state last year. And its stock price has doubled in the past five years. Now they want another rate hike to the tune of 9 percent?

PNM's net earnings rose by 48 percent in the third-quarter of 2017. . .That marks the third straight quarter of double-digit growth for the utility, driving the company’s net earnings for the first nine months of 2017 up by 71 percent compared to last year. The growth largely reflects a 10 percent rate hike for average residential customers that took effect last October. . . Company finances could improve more in 2018 and 2019, depending on the outcome of PNM’s current rate case at the NM Public Regulation Commission. The utility is seeking another 9 percent average rate hike to be phased in over two years. 

That would mean a 19 percent rate increase over three years. In a stagnant economy like New Mexico's? Where unemployment is among the worst in the USA

And here's the kicker. Because the economy here is a big sag, electric consumption continues to be a problem for the utility causing it to seek to drive our electric rates ever higher:

Those trends continued in the third quarter, with flat or declining consumption among residential, commercial and industrial customers. Overall, the company’s electric load fell by nearly 1 percent from July-September, and by 0.7 percent year to date.

Not only do Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico have to put up with a stagnant economy, it appears they have to pay PNM a fine for it.

If we spot anyone with hind legs at the PRC who is ready to make a serious challenge to Reddy Kilowatt, we'll be sure to light up the blog with the news.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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