On the November 2 municipal ballot, the 5 odd numbered city council district were on the ballot, District 1,3,5,7, and 9. Prior to the November 2 municipal elections, makeup of the Albuquerque City Council was 6 Democrats to 3 Republicans.
The 6 Democrats currently on the city council are:
District 1 Lan Sena
District 2 Isaac Benton
District 3 Klarissa Peña
District 5 Cynthia Borrego
District 6 Pat Davis
District 7 Diane Gibson
The three Republicans currently on the city council are:
District 4 Brook Bassan
District 8 Trudy Jones
District 9 Don Harris
As it stands now after the November 2 election, there are 4 Democrats on the new city council:
District 1 Louis Sanchez (Elected on November 2 defeating Lan Sena.)
District 2 Isaac Benton
District 3 Klarissa Peña (Unopposed on November 2 and elected to another term.)
District 6 Pat Davis
The 3 Republicans on the new city council on January 1, 2022 are:
District 5 Dan Lewis (Newly elected)
District 4 Brook Bassan
District 8 Trudy Jones
THE NOVEMBER 2 SHAKUP
The November 2 city council election saw a shakeup of the city council with 2 Democrat incumbents losing their council seats. In District 1 a progressive democrat was replaced by a moderate Democrat. In District 5 a moderate Democrat was replaced by a highly conservative Republic who ran for Mayor 4 years ago and lost to Tim Keller.
In City Council District 1, Albuquerque’s Central Westside, Democrat City Councilor Lan Sena, 31, lost to Democrat and former APD police officer Louie Sanchez, (56), who now operates 2 Allstate Insurance companies. Sanchez when with APD was assigned to Mayor Marty Chaves’ security detail. Confidential sources have said that Chavez refused to support Loui Sanchez and in fact contacted Sanchez and asked him to drop out of the race and allow Lan Sena to run unopposed.
City Councilor Lan Sena is progressive democrat and community activist appointed by Mayor Tim Keller to the City Council when long serving City Councilor Ken Sanchez passed away on January 1. Councilor Sena is considered a reliable progressive vote for Keller’s initiatives. The Planned Parenthood measured finance committee sent out flyers jointly promoting Keller and Sena.
In City Council District 5, Incumbent Democrat City Councilor and President of the City Council Cynthia Borrego, 64, lost her bid for a second 4-year term to former Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis. Borrego was a reliable Democrat vote for Mayor Keller on the City Council. Dan Lewis won his former city council seat back with 52% of the vote to Borrego’s 40% of the vote with Phillip Ramirez, 43, securing 9% of the vote. Conservative Republican Dan Lewis will now have his old platform on city council and will no doubt take an adversarial approach dealing with Keller on the city council and perhaps run for Mayor again in 2025.
District 7 includes part of the Mid heights and Northeast Heights, covering an area west of Eubank roughly between Lomas and Montgomery with the New Mexico State Fair Grounds, Coronado Shopping Center, Uptown and the Winrock Shopping re development area.
In the District 7 mid-heights City Council District race, 6 candidates ran to succeed Democrat Diane Gibson, who announced in April that she would not seek a third term. Diane Gibson was known to support Manny Gonzales over Tim Keller for re-election after Keller repeatedly ignored and snubbed Gibson.
The total vote cast on November 2 in District 7 was 13,348. There were 5 Democrats and 1 Republican seeking to replace retiring progressive Democrat Diane Gibson. Real estate agent and conservative Republican Lori Robertson, 48, came in first securing 4,285 or 32% of the vote. Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn, who was endorsed by Diane Gibson, came in second securing 3,268 votes or 24.5% of the vote. A runoff will now be held on December 7 between Robertson and Fiebelkorn.
The 4 other democrats split the progressive Democrat vote as follows:
Emillie De Angelis came in third and secured 1, 961 or 14.7% of the vote.
Progressive Travis Kellerman came in 4th and secured 1,913 or 14.3% of the vote. Editor’s note: Kellerman was endorsed by former Mayor Marty Chavez. In 2013, Chavez endorsed in a robo call he paid for himself Diane Gibson. In the 2021 Mayor’s race, Gibson supported Manny Gonzales while Chavez endorsed Tim Keller.
Progressive Democrat LGBTQ activist leader and civil rights attorney Mauro Walden Montoya finishing 5th securing 1,210 votes or 9% of the vote.
Progressive Democrat activist Andres Valdes came in 6th securing 711 votes or 5.3% of the vote.
District 9 encompasses the city’s most southeastern reaches, straddling the East Central Avenue east of Eubank and includes the 4 Hills Country Club area.
In District 9, there were 3 candidates were trying to succeed long time serving, ineffective, uninspiring, unknown Don Harris, a Republican who decided not to seek a 5th term after serving since 2005. A runoff will now be between conservative Republican candidate, Renee Grout, 60, who received 5,467 votes or 42% of the vote, and Democratic candidates, Rob Grilley Jr., 37, received 3,648 votes or 30% of the vote. Democrat Byron Powdrell, 54, received 3,481 votes or 28% of the vote and received the Journal endorsement. Powdrell is part of the well-known Powdrell family known for their bar-b-que restaurants.
MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEES
Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee is a political action committee (PAC), person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure within the City of Albuquerque. Measure Finance Committees are required to register with the City Clerk. Measure finance committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates. No Measure Finance Committee is supposed to coordinate their activities with the individual candidates running for office, but this is a very gray area as to what constitutes coordination of activities and it is difficult to enforce.
The fact that measure finance committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates is what makes them a major threat to warping and influencing our municipal elections and the outcome. Any Measure Finance Committee can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and can produce negative ads to destroy any candidate’s reputation and candidacy.
Republican Dan Lewis qualified for public finance and was given $50,489, Republican Renee Grout qualified for public finance and was given $41,791 in public finance, Democrat Louie Sanchez qualified and was given $41,027 in public finance and Democrat Rob Grilly qualified for public financing and was given $41,000.
Despite candidates qualifying for public finance, there were 2 major measured finance committees (MFC) that were formed to promote city council candidates opposing incumbent Democrat City Councilors Lan Sena and Cynthia Borrego who both lost on November 2. The two measured finance committees are Albuquerque Ahead and Healthy Economies Lead to Progress.
Albuquerque Ahead raised $34,900 and Healthy Economies Lead to Progress raised $196,532 for a total of $231,432. The cash contributions were spent to promote 3 conservative Republican candidates, Dan Lewis, Renee Grout and Lori Lee Robertson, and one 1 moderate Democrat, Louis Sanchez. The 2 finance committees were successful in ousting Democrat City Councilors Lan Sean and Cynthia Borrego.
Review of the campaign finance reports for both MFCs and the major donors is in order and reveals the following:
ALBUQUERQUE AHEAD (City Council MFC)
DESIGNATED PURPOSE: “To support those candidates for city council who will move Albuquerque ahead and oppose those who will not.”
This measured finance committee was established by the Bernalillo County Republican Party to promote the 2 Republican candidates Dan Lewis and Renee Grout.
The 5th campaign finance report filed by Albuquerque Ahead reflects that on July 7, 2021, the Bernalillo County Republican Party donated $9,000 to this MFC. The one major expenditure of $5,184.00 is to Majority Strategies, a Republican leaning political consulting firm. Albuquerque Ahead raised $10,250 during the 5th the reporting period designated to support Dan Lewis and Renee Grout, including $2,000 from Arizona-based GDC and from James Baird and Karen Espinosa, each donating $1,000.
The 7th Campaign finance reports reflects the largest cash balances for donations and expenditures for Albuquerque Ahead for the reporting period of September 7 to October 4th with a cash balance of $14,223.47, total monetary contribution for reporting period of $10,520, total expenditures for the reporting period of $17,152 and a closing balance of $7,591.
The 9 th Campaign finance report for Albuquerque Ahead filed on October 25 covering the time frame of October 16 to October 22 reflects cash donations of $3,630.00, expenditures of $8,360.28 and a closing balance of $2,630.95. All donations ranges from $50 to $250
The 10th Campaign finance report for Albuquerque Ahead filed on November 1 covering the time frame of October 23 to October 29, reflects a closing balance of $2,022 and that LARRY RAINOSEK the owner of Frontier Restaurant donated $5,000 to promote Republican Dan Lewis and another $5,000 to promote Republican Renee Grout, with both being successful on November 2.
A REPUBLCAN CITY COUNCILLOR STICKING HER NOSE INTO THE RACES FOR PERSONAL GAIN
The “Run Off” Campaign finance statement filed on November 8 for Albuquerque Ahead reflects a closing cash balance of $2,022. The runoff campaign statement also reflects that Republican District 8 Albuquerque City Councilor Trudy Jones made a $500 donation. Informed sources have said Councilor Trudy Jones wants a Republican Majority on the City Council so that she can be elected President of the City Council. As a former Real Estate Agent, it’s expected Jones will endorse fellow realtor Republican Lori Lee Robertson in District 7.
HEALTHY ECONOMIES LEAD TO PROGRESS
DESIGNATED PURPOSE: Independent Expenditure
The Chairperson is identified as SIMON (SCOOTER) T. HAYNES and the Treasurer is identified as JULIA L MACCINI. Both Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes and Julia Maccini are conservative Republicans who ran and lost in June, 2021 for the Board of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD). Haynes is a developer who owns a real estate and construction business based in Albuquerque. Julia L Maccini is believed to be an attorney and believed to be the Development Coordinator at SCM Partners, LLC a limited liability corporation.
The purpose of the donations made, depending on donor designation, were to support the following City Council candidates:
In District 1 Louie Sanchez who defeated incumbent Democrat City Councilor Lan Sena.
District 5 candidate Republican Dan Lewis who defeated Democrat incumbent City Councilor Cynthia Borrego.
District 7 Republican candidate Lori Lee Robertson who made into the runoff and is running against Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn.
District 9 Republican candidate Renee Grout who made it into the run off and is now running against Democrat Rob Grilley Jr.
7TH FINANCE REPORT
According to the 7th Campaign finance report, Healthy Economies Lead to Progress had total monetary contribution for the reporting period of $49,639.22. The major donors and amounts reported are:
NEW MEXICO RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION (Carol Wight): $20,000
COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS NM: $18,639.22
JOHNSON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE, LLC: $4,000
ABRAZO HOMES, LLC: $2,500
JEAN F BERNSTEIN: $1,000
DAVE HILL INC: $1,000
BRUCE J STIDWORTHY: $1,000
WILLIAM T ROBERTSON: $1,000
8TH FINANCE REPORT
According to the 8th Campaign Finance Report filed by Healthy Economies Lead to Progress on October 18 for the time period of October 5 to October 15, the measured finance committee raised $25,606 in cash and spent $73,865.16. The major donors are:
COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS NM: $10,000
PREMIER DISTRIBUTING COMPANY: $5,000
STEVE MAESTAS: $5,000 ( two $2,500 donations)
ANGELA WILLIAMSON: $2,000
TITAN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT LLC: $1,000
MICHAEL LEACH: $1,000
9TH FINANCE REPORT
According to the 9th Campaign Finance Report filed by Healthy Economies Lead to Progress on October 25 for the time period of October 16 to October 2, the measured finance committee reported raising $91,700.00, and spent $34,714.76 leaving a closing balance of $58,365.30. Major doners include:
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS FUND: $64,000
NEW MEXICO RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION: $10,000
PETROYATES, INC.: $10,000
ABC POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE: $5,000.00
10TH FINANCE REPORT
According to the 10th Campaign Finance Report filed by Healthy Economies Lead to Progress on November 1 for the time period of October 23 to October 29 the measured finance committee raised $29,587.00 and has an ending balance of $87,864.62 that can be used for the two city council runoffs. Major doners include:
REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE: $20,000.00
NEW MEXICO NAIOP PAC: $1,500
SHERMAN MCCORKLE: $1,000 EDITORS NOTE: McCorkle has been a Republican political operative and insider for many decades.
On November 8, Healthy Economies Lead to Progress filed its Runoff Finance statement for the time period of October 30 to November 5 reporting no contributions and reporting it has a closing balance of $87,864.62 for the reporting period it can use for the city council runoff election.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The city council run off is scheduled for December 7. The postscript to this blog gives further details.
Republicans could secure a majority of 5-4 on the city council, but it will require winning the 2 remaining city council races in the runoff. A Republican takeover of the city council is very doable with aggressive campaign spending coupled with a low voter turnout in a runoff with both expected.
DISTRICT 7 (MID HEIGHTS)
The 4 city candidates in District 7 who did not make the run off are all decisively Democrat progressives. Their presence on the ballot significantly increased voter turnout that helped Tim Keller get elected to a second term. The problem is that run offs always have significantly less of a voter turnout. Democrats lose races in the city when they simply do not vote, while Republicans make voting a priority. The 2013 municipal election stands as a testament to that fact when only 19% of all registered voters voted with a heavy Republican turnout and an extremely low Democrat turnout resulting in the election of Republican conservative Mayor Richard Berry to a second 4-year term.
The December 7 ballot will only consist of the names of Lori Robertson and Tammy Fiebelkorn without delineating party affiliation because it is officially a nonpartisan race. District 7 has elected Republicans in the past, even when the area was District 5 before council districts were realigned and it became District 7 eliminating democrat precincts on the west boundary and pushing boundaries east making it more Republican.
In order for Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn to prevail, she will have to more than double her 24.5% vote she received while Republican Robertson needs to increase her original vote of 32% by 18%. Fiebelkorn needs the support of the Democrats in the race and has already received the endorsement of Democrat Mauro Walden Montoya but such endorsements do not mean much especially when people do not vote.
Republican Robertson is a privately financed campaign and she spent $72,687 for the Nov. 2 regular election. Expect Republican Lori Robertson, a successful realtor, to raise a huge amount of campaign donations from the real estate and development communities.
DISTRICT 9 (FAR NE HEIGHTS, EAST CENTRAL AREA AND 4 HILLS AREA)
Confidential sources have confirmed that the APD Police Union have met with Republican Renee Grout and will be endorsing Grout so she can run on a law-and-order platform. With the city’s homicides reaching 101 homicides and breaking the all-time record, the endorsement and help could make a difference. In exchange for its endorsement, the union will expect Grout to support union initiatives and oppose Mayor Tim Keller’s progressive agenda and “make Keller miserable” as one union official put it. It is more likely than not that the police union will also endorse Republican Lori Robertson in District 7 “to make Keller miserable”.
The District 9 runoff is between conservative Republican candidate, Renee Grout, 60, and progressive Democratic candidate, Rob Grilley Jr., 37. Democrat Grilley could become the first Democrat to win in the district after many years of Republican control if he can get the support of Powdrell and his voters but only if Grilley’s and Powdrell’s supporters get out and vote in the same numbers as the November 2 election. As is the case with city council District 7 runoff, the December 7 ballot will only consist of the names of the candidates without delineating party affiliation because it is officially a nonpartisan race.
Democrat Rob Grilly qualified for public financing and was given $41,000 for the November 2 election. Grilly has announced he will not accept $14,000 in public financing available for the runoff and will seek private financing for the runoff, which means there is no cap on what he can raise and spend in the runoff. In explaining his decision to go with private financing, Grilly said he believes far right Republicans will be raising substantial contributions to elect Renee Grout. Expect Grilly to seek the support of Mayor Tim Keller to help him raise campaign finances and campaign for him.
Conservative Republican Renee Grout also accepted public financing of $41,000 for the November 2 election. However, the measured fiancé committee Albuquerque Ahead was formed by the Bernalillo County Republican Party and upwards of $50,000 in political contributions were raise and spent to promote Renee Grout and Dan Lewis. Grout has yet to announce if she will seek private finance, but may not need it given the Republican party’s desire to again have a majority on the City Council as they did under Republican Mayor Richard Berry. A low voter turn out will harm Democrats to the benefit of the Republicans.
After the December 7 runoff election, progressive Democrat Mayor Tim Keller may be dealing with a more conservative 5 – 4 Republican City Council majority. Even if Democrats retain a majority on the city council, Mayor Keller will still be dealing with a more conservative city council come January 1, 2022. Moderate Democrats Klarissa Pena and Louis Sanchez could form a coalition with Republican conservatives Dan Lewis, Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones to hold a majority and dramatically diminishing the influence of progressive Democrats Pat Davis and Isaac Benton.
To complicate matters for Keller, Dan Lewis is returning to the city council and no matter if the council retains a Democrat majority it will be far more hostile to Keller than in 2017 when Lewis lost to Keller in a landslide.
As the saying goes, “ An elephant never forgets.” That is especially true when it comes to revenge and conducting well financed smear campaigns against Democrats.
“The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office is administering the election and will offer early in-person voting starting Nov. 16 at eight sites. It will continue through Dec. 4, though will not be available Nov. 21 or Nov. 25-28. There will be 16 voting locations from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day. Voters wanting absentee ballots must request an application, which is available online or by calling 505-243-8683. The application deadline is Dec. 2. For more information, including in-person voting sites or an absentee ballot application, go online to berncovotes.org.”