Tim Keller’s $1.3 Million Campaign For Mayor

In January of this year, I predicted that whoever was elected Mayor of Albuquerque would be spending between $1 million to $1.5 million to be elected.

It appears I was correct in the event Tim Keller is elected Mayor on Tuesday, November 16, 2017.

On Friday, November 10, 2017, campaign finance reports were filed in the Mayor’s race by Democrat Tim Keller and Republican Dan Lewis as well as the measured finance committees.

The finance reports reveal just how costly the Mayor’s race has become and that big money and influence has indeed been involved.

(See: https://www.cabq.gov/voting-elections/candidate-information/2017-mayoral-candidates)


Dan Lewis is a “privately financed” candidate and Tim Keller is the only publicly financed candidate.

Review of all the campaign finance reports filed with the City Clerk reveals that Republican Dan Lewis raised more than $847,000 in cash contributions for the October election and the November runoff election.

Dan Lewis also raised more than $22,000 in “in-kind” contributions for the elections for a total of $869,000, which is an impressive amount of money by any measure for a municipal election.

Dan Lewis still has over $30,000 in his campaign account as of Friday before the Tuesday election.

It is likely the remaining amount will be used by the Lewis campaign for “get out the vote” initiatives on election day and to pay what remaining debts there may be, including attorney’s fees for the various ethics complaints filed against Dan Lewis.


What is a real eye opener is the amount of money raised and spent on behalf of and for the benefit of Tim Keller, the publicly financed candidate.

According to campaign finance reports, Tim Keller was given a total of $506,254 in public finance combined for the first election and the runoff and he collected $37,870 in “in kind” donations.

Notwithstanding being a public finance candidate, Keller had three (3) measured finance committees that either raised money directly to spend on his behalf or that indirectly spent money and supported him financially.

ABQ Forward Together is the measured finance committee that was formed specifically to raise money to promote Tim Keller for Mayor and it is managed by one of Tim Keller’s former campaign managers for his State Senate runs.

ABQ Forward Together raised $663,000, with major contributions from organized labor including city unions such as AFSME.

The measured finance committee ABQFIREPAC, organized by the City’s local Fire Union raised $67,000 with that money spent to help not only Keller but also Democrat City Council candidates.

ABQFIREPAC spent at least $25,000 for a TV commercial benefiting Keller, yards signs and a freeway billboard.

ABQFIREPAC has an ending balance of $9,378.

The measured finance committee ABQ Working Families also supported Tim Keller and raised $122,000 and has $22,000 remaining.

Broken down, at least $1,169,254 minimum has been spent on Tim Keller’s campaign for Mayor ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward = $1,169,254 total).

Broken down further, a maximum of $1,358,254 was potentially spent on Tim Keller’s campaign for Mayor ($506,254 public finance money + $663,000 ABQ Forward + $67,000 ABQFIREPAC + $122,000 ABQ Working Families = $1,358,254.)

Tim Keller had a measured finance committee “Making Albuquerque Safe/Western Albuquerque Land Holdings” that was organized to oppose his candidacy.

“Making Albuquerque Safe/Western Albuquerque Land Holdings” raised $63,000, with most of the money spent during the first election on negative commercials against Keller which I suspect backfired.

The final tab for the Mayor’s race reflects Republican Dan Lewis raised and spent $847,000 to Democrat Tim Keller’s minimum of $1,169, 254 spent or up to $1,358,254 spent.

During the last three weeks, the Keller campaign and the measured finance committees supporting him significantly outspent the Dan Lewis campaign on TV and in all probability the TV ads had a major impact on the polls increasing Keller’s lead even more over Lewis.


Two days after the October 4 initial election, Channel 4 released a poll that showed Lewis was 13 points behind Keller as follows:

• 49.2 percent said Keller.
• 36.4 percent said Lewis.
• 14.4 percent were undecided or didn’t know

Lewis is now 19% points behind Keller according to the final Albuquerque Journal poll.

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, the Albuquerque Journal released it final opinion poll before Tuesday’s, November 14, 2017 Mayoral election.

(See November 12, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-1, “Keller maintains healthy lead in mayoral race; Gap widens to 19 points as Tuesday’s election looms”.)


The Journal poll reflects as follows:

• 53% percent said Keller.
• 34 percent said Lewis.
• 13 percent were undecided or didn’t know

The 13% undecided in the Journal poll is basically the same as the 14.4% in the poll taken six weeks ago because of the margin of error of both polls.

According to the Journal poll, the 13% undecided vote breaks down and consists of 9% Democrat, 14% Republican and 24% Independent.

13% undecided a few days before an election is still a little high, but not enough to overcome the 19% lead by Tim Keller over Dan Lewis in the Journal poll.


When the Albuquerque Journal endorsed Tim Keller on a Friday, I predicted that the Sunday Journal poll would show that Mr. Keller has a substantial lead over Mr. Lewis.

I predicted Keller would have a lead approaching 63% or more to Dan Lewis having 37% or less.

What I did not consider nor predict was the “undecided”.

What I think will happen now is that the 13% undecided vote will break for Tim Keller because Independents will tend to want a Democrat after eight years of a Republican as mayor.

I predict that Mr. Keller will become our next Mayor with a final vote approaching 60% or more for Mr. Keller and Mr. Lewis will get 40% or less of the vote.

Polls tend to become self-fulling prophecies, they affect a candidate’s morale and when taken weeks before and election, dry up a candidate’s ability to raise money.

Polls also tend to affect and suppress election day turnout, unless you are Donald Trump.

Dan Lewis may act and talk like Donald Trump, but he is not Donald Trump.

If we have learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, polls can be very wrong and the candidate that has spent the most, like Hillary Clinton, does not necessarily win.


Political campaign fundraising and big money do influence and do effect on our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.

Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome of an election.

With polls taken and money spent, it is now time for the electorate to have the final say.

No one should take anything for granted.

If we have learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, polls can be very wrong and the candidate that has spent the most, like Hillary Clinton, do not necessarily win.

However, in Albuquerque, it appears that the money spent and the final poll in the Mayor’s race reflect that once again the election will be won by the candidate who spent the most money and had the most financial support to get his message out.

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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.