Congresswoman Debora Haaland Sticks Her Nose Into Municipal Election

Congresswoman Debra Haaland was elected to the United States Congress in November 2018 and on January 3, 2019 was sworn into office and became one of the first two Native American women ever to be elected to the United States Congress. She is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage. Ever since being elected Congresswoman Debra Haaland has been a source of great pride to the people of Albuquerque. She is a fighter for democratic core values, especially civil rights and has been a unifying force when it comes to racial divides. By all accounts, she was doing a good job, until now.


It has come as a major surprise to many city hall observers and democrat activists how active and involved Congresswoman Debra Haaland has gotten involved with the 2019 municipal election, especially in city council races where incumbent Democrats are being opposed by Progressive Democrats. She has exerted herself and her political support to influence the municipal elections by endorsing two anglo incumbent Democratic City Councilors who vote and act more like Republicans over other young Progress Democrats who are people of color.

Further, Democratic activists are surprised she has endorsed “Democracy Dollars” apparently not aware of the “class warfare” and tactics being used by its supporters to get it passed.


The November 5 election ballot includes the Democracy Dollars “Proposition 2” which sets up a city funded voucher system to use city general funds to give out $25 vouchers to voters who in turn will give the vouchers to candidates they support who will cash them with the city. If Democracy Dollars passes, the city will donate and mail $25-dollar redeemable vouchers to all “qualified” city residents, not just registered voters, to make money donations on their own to a candidate of their choosing.

Proponents of Dollars for Democracy argue that it will encourage more people to register to vote and more varied and diverse candidates will run for office who normally do not run or who cannot raise the necessary funding for a campaign. Proponents also argue Democracy Dollars will have the benefit of candidates directly contacting and discuss issues that affect them. Democracy Dollars does not require recipients be registered voters, just city residents.


On November 31, New Mexico Frist Congressional Congresswoman Debra Haaland issued and unequivocal endorsement of City of Albuquerque Proposition 2 by saying:

“I believe campaigns should be run the old-fashioned way, by building a grassroots team of supporters. I fully support Prop 2! Democracy Dollars gives candidates the freedom to walk out of that high-dollar fundraiser and come knock on your door. Proposition 2 puts the power in the hands of voters – and gives all of us a say in how our local elections are funded. I fully support Prop 2!”


“Democracy Dollars” campaign has set up a “web page” and a FACEBOOK page to promote the ballot initiative. The web page link is here . The web page contains numerous bold claims including:

“Too many elections are often decided by a small group of secretive and rich political donors. They have all the power to decide who represents us, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Today’s candidates pay too much attention to wealthy donors and not enough to regular people.

The “Democracy Dollars” web page has an entire section entitled:
“Albuquerque Donors Do Not Match the City’s Diversity: Democracy Dollars Can Make Every Voice Matter in Albuquerque’s Elections”. This section contains the following statements:
“A review of donations from individuals to mayoral and city council races in 2017 shows that those who contribute to campaigns, and therefore are more likely to have their voices heard, do not reflect Albuquerque’s diverse population. Instead, the donor class is whiter, older, and higher-income than the general population. As a result, people of color, young people, and middle- and working-class residents are underrepresented in the city’s politics and policies. Our elections are fairer—and our democracy works better—when politicians listen to the entire public instead of only to a few, unrepresentative big donors.

While 41% of Albuquerque residents are white and 48% are Hispanic, the donor pool in Albuquerque is 70% white and only 23% Hispanic. Native Americans make up 4% of Albuquerque residents but only .04% of donors to city elections.

Together, blacks and Asian Americans make up 6% of Albuquerque residents, but only 2% of donors.”

The “Democracy Dollars” campaign is not even subtle about the “class warfare” they promote when they publish and inflame division within this city on its web site.

Virtually all of the above statements used by “Democracy Dollars” are highly questionable, misleading or downright false and on so many levels. No supporting research or data is offered by Democracy Dollars to back-up the sweeping statements, especially when it comes to ethnicity claims and who donates.

With her unequal endorsement of “Democracy Dollars”, first Congressional Congresswoman Debra Haaland has endorsed “class warfare” never seen done by any congressional representative in the first Congressional District.


On August 26, 2019, Democrats Mayor Tim Keller and Congresswoman Debra Haaland released a joint video endorsing Democratic Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac (IKE) Benton and Pat Davis for another term to the Albuquerque City Council. The joint endorsement raised more than a few political eyebrows, especially among Democratic activists. In the video endorsement, both Mayor Keller and Congresswomen Haaland proclaim that Benton and Davis have been tremendous City Councilors and are in the best positions to move Albuquerque forward and stating “With the right leadership we truly can come together to be the best city we can be.” You can view the full video here:

Keller has been in office for 21 months and Haaland has been in office 10 months, but they both think they know Davis and Benton have done such great jobs for the last 4 years that they need to be reelected.


Registered Democrat Isaac (Ike) Benton, 67, is the District 2 City Councilor and was first elected to the council in 2005. Benton is a retired architect and avowed urbanist. Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily Hispanic.

Benton now has 5 opponents with 4 having qualified for public finance. Four of his opponents are Hispanic males ranging from the ages of 28 to 39, and one is an Hispanic female registered as independent.

Benton’s 5 opponents are:

Hispanics Zack Quintero, 28, a recent UNM Law School graduate and economist, Steven Baca, 30, a process server, Joe Griego, 29, a medical equipment business owner, American Filipino Robert Nelson, 39, a nonprofit manager with The Grants Collective and community activist. One Hispanic woman is also running against Benton, Connie Vigil, 62, President of the Greater Albuquerque Business Association (GABA).

Incumbent Isaac Benton supporters are now embroiled in controversy over a racist political flyer that uses a “photo shopped” photo of Mr. Quintero superimposed on the body of another. Hispanic Progressive Democrat Zack Quintero, 28, is a recent UNM Law School graduate and economist, and was born and raised in New Mexico. He is one of 5 candidates running against long serving City Councilor Isaac Benton who calls himself a progressive Democrat. Political observers are saying Mr. Quentero has gained on Benton in the race and may even be leading in the polls.


Democrat City Councilor Pat Davis was elected to the Albuquerque City Council on October 6, 2015 to represent District 6. District 6 encompasses the International District, Mesa Del Sol, Nob Hill, Southeast Heights, and the University of New Mexico. Last year, Davis ran unsuccessfully for US Congress in the First Congressional District. Davis withdrew from the race when he polled at 3% and could not raise the money to run a viable campaign.

Before Davis withdrew from the congressional race, Davis had no problem accusing the then Democrat front runner former US Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez of being a “racist”, which was an absolute lie. Pat Davis endorsed Debra Haaland who went on to become elected to congress. Candidate Debra Haaland allowed Davis to make the racist accusation against Martinez on her campaign letter head and never condemned the false accusation.

Democrat Pat Davis has only one opponent: Gina Naomi Dennis a progressive Democrat, who is an attorney, a neighborhood activist and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic Party National Convention in 2016.


The “Democracy Dollars” system is touted as a “voucher” system to allow the city to donate $25-dollar redeemable vouchers to all “qualified” city residents who are less fortunate to make money donations on their own to a candidate of their choosing like those who can afford to make donations on their own. This is a warped interpretation of democracy. It equates political donations as the only meaningful way to participate in the election political process.

It is very misleading to call citizens who are not able to make monetary contribution under the present system to be referred to as “small donors” when they have been given a $25 money voucher to donate to a candidate of their choice and when the funding source for the voucher is the city general fund. Those who cannot afford to make political donations can and usually do get very involved with campaigns and volunteer time and “sweat equity” to campaigns on a grass root level. The hallmark of city elections is “door to door” campaigns to ask for a vote and support.


Congresswoman Debra Haaland is a former State Democratic Party Chair. She knows that Democratic Party Officials are prohibited from taking sides in contested races within the party. It has been long unwritten practice within the Democratic party that federal office holders refrain from getting involved with local elections. It is also an unwritten practice within the Democratic party that Democratic federal elected officials not endorse anyone in particular when there are a number of Democrats candidates running against each other.

Congresswoman Debra Haaland has been in office for only ten months, has yet to accomplish anything other than notoriety, but yet she feels compelled to get involved with Albuquerque’s municipal elections. It is very curious to many why Congresswoman Debra Haaland would endorse the likes of Isaac Benton and Pat Davis. It is highly questionable why Haaland endorsed “Democracy Dollars” which is strictly a municipal public finance measure that has nothing to do with federal election laws and with Democracy Dollars violating both State and Federal law.

Major proponents and financial contributors of Democracy Dollars, include New Mexico Working Families Party, Common Cause New Mexico, Ole, Planned Parenthood, Equality New Mexico, Center for Civic Policy, Progress Now, Adelante Progressive Caucus and Strong Families New Mexico, and are all progressive organizations that supported Debra Haaland.


It does not take a political genius to figure out why Congresswoman Debra Haaland with her very public support and endorsements of Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Democracy for Dollars why she did it. She does not want to alienate or oppose some of her biggest donors or supporters who are also promoting Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and “Democracy Dollars” and no doubt calling in the debt she owes to them for the help they gave her to get elected.

With these endorsement’s and a lack of accomplishing much in her 10 months in office, Congresswoman Debra Haaland has sown the seeds among those she has not endorsed inviting opposition when she runs for another term.

On November 5, vote no on Proposition 2 Democracy Dollars and Vote Out DINO’S Pat Davis and Isaac Benton

For related blog articles see:

On November 5, Vote Out DINO’S Pat Davis and Isaac Benton

“Democracy Dollars” Engages In Class Warfare And Tribalism While Mayor Tim Keller Promotes Funding Source For His 2021 Election; VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 2 “DEMOCRACY DOLLARS”

Vote NO On Proposition 1 Updating Public Finance; Changes Not Public Finance Reform But Increases Taxpayer Money Trough For Politicians

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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.