Party Divisions Playing Out In Mayor’s Race

Mayoral Race Getting Hot, And Possibly Negative

On September 5, 2017 KRQE reported the first poll in the 2017 Mayor’s race and three days later on September 8, 2017 KOB reported a second poll.

Comparing both polls reveals that the race for Mayor is indeed heating up and there is a major shift in the race when it comes to the two front runners.

For many months, political pundits have been predicting that a runoff will occur between Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis and Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller, but that may not occur.

In both polls, both Lewis and Keller have not performed as well as what was being predicted by insiders.

The KRQE poll was one of 500 likely registered voters conducted by automatic phone calls with a margin of error of 5% which reduces accuracy.

The KRQE poll was taken before any of the candidates began to spend on radio and tv commercials.

KRQE reported each of the candidates polled as follows:

Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller – 22%
Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis – 11%
Former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon – 10%
Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – 8%
Independent retired APD Police Officer Michell Garcia-Holmes – 6%
Republican businessman Ricardo Chavez – 5%
Democrat Gus Pedrotty – 1%
Independent Susan Wheeler Diechel – 1%

The biggest winner in the KRQE poll was “undecided” at 36%.

On September 6, 2017, KOB reported the second poll in the 2017 Mayor’s race.

The poll was conducted by Carol Strategies on September 3, 4, and 5, 2017.

The poll was one of 513 likely registered voters conducted by automatic phone calls with a margin of error of 4.3%.

KOB reported each of the candidates polled as follows:

Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller – 22.6%
Former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon – 19.3%
Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis – 7.8%
Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson – 7.8%
Independent retired APD Police Officer Michell Garcia-Holmes – 5.8%
Republican businessman Ricardo Chavez – 3.5%
Democrat Gus Pedrotty – 1.9%
Independent Susan Wheeler Diechel – 1.8%

The biggest winner in the KOB poll was again “undecided” at 30% as compared to the 36% of undecided in the KRQE poll reported just one day earlier.

The biggest surprise is the fact that Brian Colon has now surged beyond Dan Lewis and Wayne Johnson, each having 7.8%, with Colon at 19.3% and coming in second to front runner Tim Keller, who polled at 22.6% with Colon within the margin of error.

Keller’s poll number in the KOB poll at 22.6% is virtually the same as his KRQE poll number at 22%.


Tim Keller’s support I would say predominantly comes from the progressive wing of the Democratic party represented by Bernie Sanders supporters based upon my observations at forums and attending Democratic functions.

Brian Colon’s support comes from the more traditional wing of the Democratic party represented by Hillary Clinton and traditional Hispanic Democrats based upon my knowledge of the Democratic party and attendance at Democratic Party functions and the forums.

Many political pundits and insiders were suggesting Mr. Keller had at least 30% or more being reflected in private campaign polling given his high name recognition as State Auditor, his very considerable support within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, his endorsements and the substantial union contributions to his measured finance committee or PAC.

What Mr. Keller needs to be concerned about at this point is that he may have peaked with any further increase in his poll numbers stymied by his reduced funding as a “public financed” candidate and an inability to get his message out with television commercials.

Keller is running a 15 second TV commercial, but it may not get enough play given his scarce financial resources.

However, there is a measured finance committee set up for Mr. Keller that will be promoting his candidacy and will have at least $100,000 to promote him.

Colon almost double his poll numbers in one week going from 10% in the KRQE poll to 19% in the KOB poll.

Colon’s increase in his poll numbers can be directly correlated to his recent TV commercials featuring popular Attorney General Hector Balderas endorsing him.

Brian Colon ran TV commercials for a full week featuring Attorney General Hector Balderas endorsing him, with no other candidate running commercials.

The Balderas endorsement was critical to help Colon solidify the Hispanic vote as well as the more traditional wing of the Democratic Party which will offset the progressive wing of the Democratic party which is supporting Keller.


Republicans Dan Lewis, Wayne Johnson and Ricardo Chavez are dividing up the conservative Republican vote, with Wayne Johnson increasing his criticism of Lewis.

Johnson could easily overtake Dan Lewis and giving Johnson the possibility to reach the runoff.

Republican Dan Lewis is drawing his significant support from the more traditional faction of the Republican Party based upon review of his donors and his anti-crime platform to put repeat offenders in jail and his attacks on the judiciary.

Republican Wayne Johnson is far more conservative than Republican Dan Lewis and is drawing significant support of Trump supporters with opposition to making Albuquerque Sanctuary city and drawing significant support from the business community with his opposition to the mandatory sick leave initiative.

Ricardo Chavez remains a viable Republican candidate by self-financing his campaign and willingness to spend upwards of $500,000 of his own money and his appeal to Trump supporters.

I suspect the combined poll numbers reflected by Lewis, Johnson and Chaves are highly reliable conservative voters but if none of these three make it into the runoff, the real question raised is will their voters sit out the runoff election and not vote for any Democrat?


As is the case with any election, voter turnout will be critical.

The mandatory sick leave will also be on the ballot and just may increase voter turnout, but that will cut both ways as having the potential to increase voter turnout of progressives and conservatives.

A coalition of 27 business organizations has been formed to oppose the mandatory sick leave initiative and has raised over $100,000 to oppose it and you can expect more and an aggressive campaign to defeat it as was done with the “soda tax” in Santa Fe.

From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout with between 20% and 25%.

The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older and conservative.

Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977.


Expect large amounts of money spent over the next three weeks on TV and radio ads.

According to the August 11, 2017 Campaign Finance Reports, following are the closing balances for each of the candidates available for advertising and their campaigns:

Brian Colon – $535,579.82
Ricardo Chaves – $373,228
Tim Keller – $227,229.00
Tim Keller Measured Finance Committee – $77,172.00
Wayne Johnson – $207,770
Dan Lewis – $169,600
Michell Garcia Holmes – $33,300
Susan Wheeler Dieshel – $5,955.23
Gus Pedrotty – $3,091

The candidates have no doubt spent and raised more money during the last month and the next fiancé reports are due September 10, 2017.

The wild card is the considerable amount of money sources are saying is being raised and will be spent to run highly negative ads against Tim Keller and Brian Colon.

According to reliable sources, negative ads have already been produced against Colon and Keller and will be hitting the airwaves within a few days.


Even with only three weeks remaining, just about anything can happen in the Mayor’s race.

Although Tim Keller and Brian Colon are emerging as the front runners and may be in the runoff together, only time will tell if a Republican gets into the runoff.

If Republican voters get behind and consolidate their support of one Republican it will give a Republican candidate a better shot of being in the runoff.

Stay tuned for a lively three weeks in Albuquerque politics.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.