Now there are 3 candidates for Mayor!
On July 26, Eddy Aragon registered with the City Clerk to run as a privately finance candidate for Mayor. Privately Finance Candidates for Mayor are required to gather 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City. The time for privately financed candidates for Mayor to collect 3,000 signatures was from June 8 to August 10, 2021.
On August 10, the Albuquerque City Clerk certified the signatures on Aragon’s nominating potions and posted the following petition verified signature counts:
Required Petition Signatures: 3,000
Verified Petition Signatures: 3,305
Rejected Petition Signatures: -0-
Remaining Petition Signatures Needed: – 0 –
Percentage of Verified Petition Signatures Met: 100%
The link to the city clerk’s petition signature tally is here:
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
There is no doubt that Eddy Aragon is an extremely late entry into the race. A few months ago, he toyed with the idea only to decide against the race saying he was too busy to rum for office.
At first blush, many political pundits will question the verification of 100% of the 3,305 petition signatures submitted with -0-rejected. Another issue that will be raised is how could that many verified petition signatures be gathered in just 14 days.
The reality is that both the shortness in time to collect signatures and the method easily explains what happened.
Four years ago self-financed candidate Ricardo Chaves, who is said to be a very wealthy businessman, entered the race with just about the same amount of time and he too was successful in getting on the ballot. He did it by hiring a person and paid upwards of $10,000 to get it done. Gathering signatures is very easy if you know what you are doing and target the right voters and know what events to attend with canvassers. Voters are far more willing to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot, as opposed to donating, realizing they could decide simply to vote for another candidate.
Another major difference this election year is that because of the covid pandemic, candidates were allowed to use an on line program made available by the city clerk to solicit and secure signatures on line. It is likely all of Aragon’s signatures are indeed valid in that the city clerk used a computer to screen and verify the signatures. No doubt an attempt will be made to have more than a few nominating signatures thrown out on the grounds that a voter signed more than one nominating petition which would be grounds for the city clerk to disqualify the signature. You can only sign one nominating petition. Aragon gathered 10% more signatures than required and that should be enough of a “cushion” to withstand any legal challenges to the signatures gathered.
With this election cycle, gone was the exclusive requirement of in-person solicitation and the use of paper petitions. Aragon also had the huge advantage of using his radio talk show to solicit the required signatures on line. The use of his station and the radio time will likely be required to be declared an in-kind donation, but it’s his radio station and as a privately financed candidate he has every right to do it and even come up with a value.
Now that Aragon has qualified for the ballot, the race for Mayor has change dramatically. Aragon is a staunch supporter of Der Führer and former President Donald Trump. Aragon with his talk show is on the same level as FOX News and the likes of Sean Hannity. Aragon enjoys badgering and taking issue with anyone who is Democrat or he considers progressive. There is no doubt that the Republican voters who voted for Der Führer Trump in the city will be far more likely to vote now in the Mayor’s race and vote for Aragon.
The candidacy of Sheriff Manny Gonzales will suffer immensely as a result of Aragon on the ballot. It’s no secret that Manny Gonzales was attempting to build a coalition of conservative democrats, traditional Republicans and include Der Führer Trump Republicans. After Gonzales traveled to the White House last summer to appear with Der Führer and after working and appearing with former Republican Attorney General William Barr, Gonzales became “persona non gratis” within the Democratic Party to the point some within the party demanded he resign. He is now considered a Democrat In Name Only (DINO). Gonzales appearing on FOX News to oppose Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health orders also alienated many Democrats.
RADIO TALK SHOW HOST EDDY ARAGON
It was in April that Eddy Aragon submitted his candidate registration paperwork to run for Mayor the first time this year. On April 27, it was reported that Eddy Aragon had decide not to run for Mayor and said then:
“I don’t have the motivation to run. I have a business to attend to but I will continue to point out the wrong direction the [New Mexico] GOP is taking including the role of Steve Pearce and Jay McCleskey. Republicans are backing Democrat Gonzales and that is traitorous. Not to mention that the current crime wave has happened under Gonzales’ watch.”
Aragon’s statements regarding Republican Steve Pearce and political operative Jay McCleskey makes clear a motivating factor to change his mind and run for Mayor. Aragón has nothing to lose and everything to gain, including increasing business to his radio station.
Least anyone forget, McCleskey managed the two successful campaigns for former Republican Mayor Richard Berry and the two campaigns of former Republican Governor “She Who Must Not Be Named”. Once they were elected, he exerted great influence over both the Mayor and Governor even to the point of having an office adjacent to the Republican Governor when he was not even a government employee. McClesky has made a very lucrative living as the go to guy to run Republican negative and nasty campaigns to get his candidates elected at all costs, regardless of how unqualified and incompetent his candidates were. McClesky has a history of getting involved in many local races including for Albuquerque City Council and the state legislature, charging top dollar. This year is probably the first and only time McClesky has work on the campaign for a registered democrat as he is a paid consultant for Sheriff Manny Gonzales’ run for Mayor.
Aragon ran against State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce proclaiming the party needed a new generation of leader. Aragon is even more extreme than Steve Pierce and he has total praise for Der Führer Trump, much like Pearce, but only on steroids. No one should be surprised if Aragon makes a trip to Florida to get and endorsement from Der Führer that he can use to motivate his base in Albuquerque. Aragon is known for his sharp tongue approach on his radio programs that alienates both friends and foes alike. Aragon has essentially bought into the Sean Hannity approach to promoting right wing conservatism. Aragon is proclaiming to be THE Republican candidate for Mayor even going so far as saying Manny Gonzales needs to drop out of the race now that a Republican is running.
Mayor Tim Keller no doubt thinks his election for a second term is almost assured now that Aragon is in the race and that he will act as a spoiler to Gonzales. There is no guarantee that will happen. Aragon has been extremely critical of Mayor Tim Keller and Keller’s progressive agenda at the city and the city still has a somewhat conservative steak in it. There is no doubt that Aragon will increase his attacks on Keller and things will get worse on a daily basis as he does his radio program. Because of his daily radio program, Aragon will not likely need to raise that much in campaign finance and just show up to events, including debates, presuming Keller will agree to debate.
If none of the 3 win the election with a simple majority of 50% outright, a runoff will be held between the two top vote getters. If Aragon makes it into the run off, it will not be the first time that a media personality has been a serous contender. Gordon Sanders was the news director at KOB-TV from 1971-1979 and Editorialist at KGGM for several years. He ran for Mayor of Albuquerque in both 1981 and 1985 and also hosted his own talk show on KZIA Radio for several years. Sanders ran as a populist, as is Aragon, got into a run off, but lost to Mayor Harry Kinney.
Tim Keller goes into the election with the clear financial advantage having secured $661,000 in public finance and his core Democrat progressive vote. Keller’s challenge now will be to do his very best not to be brought down by relentless attacks on him. What overshadows Keller’s chances for a second term is his total inability to deal with the city’s historic violent crime and murder rates. A common remark you hear about Keller from Democrats is that he has been a disappointment and he has not brought the sweeping change he promised and in fact has continued many of the same policies of his Republican predecessor, including the disastrous ART Bus project. Another problem Keller has is the ongoing meltdown of APD and the shortage of police officers to patrol the streets and Keller’s failure with Community Base policing he promised.
Elections for Mayor tend to be somewhat fluid and incumbents have lost on silly issues, just ask former Mayor David Rusk when he lost for not cutting the weeds. Then there is the matter of APD and the real possibility a major tragedy will happen and Keller and his inept Chief of Police will fail in dealing with it turning the public against Keller. Aragon will zero in on all this as will Manny Gonzales. Like it or not, negative campaigns do work.
If progressive voters are fed up and disappointed with how little Mayor Tim Keller has done and what little he has actually accomplished during his term, they may just decide not to show up and vote. Its been proven time and again that municipal elections have some of the lowest voter turnouts. In 2013, a pathetic 19% of registered voters actually voted, making it the lowest voter turnout in the history of municipal elections. In 2013, Democrats stayed home and the Republican incumbent Mayor won by a landslide because Republicans out voted Democrats. When Democrat’s do not vote, Republicans win, which is why there just may be a Mayor Gonzales or Mayor Aragon come November.
Things are about to heat up, and its not something we can look forward to, especially with Der Führer Trump still looming large within the New Mexico Republican Party.
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