Thursday, June 06, 2019

ABQ Council Election: Benton Will Get Three Well-Financed Foes 

Robert Nelson
When he decided to seek re-election to yet another term longtime ABQ Dem City Councilor Ike Benton said it was in part because he could not find a suitable replacement. Well, maybe he didn't look hard enough because now three Benton rivals have managed to complete the challenging process of qualifying for public financing--as has Benton--and will be taking him on in the November 5 election.

Twentysomethings Zach Quintero and Joseph Griego made the cut and will receive about $43,000 in public money to run their campaigns. And in a surprise, newcomer Robert Blanquero Nelson also collected enough $5 donations from individual donors to get the public money. His campaign says:

A Filipino immigrant and nonprofit and neighborhood leader, Nelson expressed thanks to supporters and reemphasized his platform for change in Albuquerque’s city council. If elected, Nelson would become the first Asian American elected into city council office.

There are three other candidates who failed to qualify for public financing but will try to make the ballot by submitting 500 petition signatures by June 28. They are Connie Vigil, Steven Baca and David Bearshield. 

District 2 includes Downtown/Barelas/Old Town/North Valley, among other places. 

Benton showed solid organization by quickly qualifying for public financing. While his foes have enough cash to mount serious challenges none of them yet seem ready to make a vigorous case directly against Benton who was first elected in 2005. The race starts with Benton as the favorite as the district waits for his challengers to make that case.

The likelihood of a run-off for the seat is high because it takes 50 percent to avoid one. However, the city council is discussing adopting ranked choice voting which would eliminate the run-off and heighten Benton's chance for re-election.

Four of the nine City Council seats are up for election this year. SE Heights District 6 coverage is below. We'll cover Districts Four and Eight in the days ahead.


Maybe they'll find something they like  or maybe not. A Senior Alligator reports that a Republican poll has been conducted in the state to test the waters for the GOP US Senate nomination. There's not much reason for optimism, according to mot of thepolticla pros, a It's a view shared by veteran DC pundit Stu Rothenberg:

Seven of the dozen Democratic seats up this cycle are in strongly Democratic states and not competitive: Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Rhode Island. Even Sen. Tom Udall’s retirement does not put New Mexico into play.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Sec. of State Toulouse Oliver are competing for the Dem Senate nomination. Republican contractor Mick Rich, who was the GOP nominee against Dem Senator Heinrich last year, appears to be prepping a bid for the '20 GOP Senate nod. No big name R candidates--former Lt. Governor John Sanchez--have entered the contest.


Did you hear that two well-known Navajo brothers are looking to replace Dem State Senator John Pinto who passed away at 94 last month? One of our Alligators reports that they are former Dem State Rep. Ray Begaye and his brother, former Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. Ray Begaye lost his re-election bid in 2012.

The McKinley and San Juan County commissions will each send a replacement name (s) to Gov. Lujan Grisham who will make the final pick. Letters of interest are being taken.


We erred when we blogged this week that the new state cabinet agency created by the legislature this year is the "Children's Cabinet." It is the Early Childhood Education and Care Department. The Guv's office explains the difference:

The Children's Cabinet is not actually new, nor was it created in this year's legislative session. The Children's Cabinet existed under previous administrations, though the last administration let it fall by the wayside and had not convened it for about five years. It wasn't created or re-upped in this year's session, it was re-convened and given a strong mandate by the governor. ​The Early Childhood Education and Care Department that Mr. Rubel references is new and was created by legislation passed and signed this session.

We made the error in introducing skeptical remarks about the new agency from newsman Walt Rubel who correctly identified the department.

This ranks as a small misstep so instead of the traditional punishment of ten lashes with a wet noodle, we are subjecting ourselves to only five lashes.

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