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.
Despite the majority of 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 Sena and Cynthia Borrego.
NOVEMBER 2 ELECTION
In District 1, Democrat Louie Sanchez qualified and was given $41,027 in public finance and went on to defeat incumbent Lan Sena who also qualified for public fiancé. However, Sanchez received significant support from a measured finance committee.
In District 5, Republican Dan Lewis qualified for public finance and was given $50,489 and went on to defeat Democrat Cynthia Borrego who also qualified for public fiancé. However, Lewis received significant support from a measured finance committee.
In District 7, Democrats candidates Tammy Fiebelkorn and Travis Kellerman qualified for public finance and were given $44,194. Democrat candidates Emilie De Angeli, Mauro Walden-Montoya and Andres Valdez, Sr. were unable to collect the required number of $5 qualifying donations. Candidates Walden-Montoya and Valdez switched to private financing during the qualifying period. Republican Lori Robertson raised and spent $72,687. Democrat. Robertson came in first on November 2 and Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn came in second.
In District 9, Republican Renee Grout qualified for public finance and was given $41,791 in public finance as did Democrat Rob Grilly. Both have made it into the run off. The third candidate Democrat Byron Powdrell elected to seek private financing.
DEMOCRATS FOR CITY COUNCIL ABANDON PUBLIC FINANCE AND SEEK PRIVATE DONATIONS
The runoff election for City Council Districts 7 and District 9 are scheduled for December 7. Public finance funding for the city council candidates dictates that candidates in a runoff get 33 cents per registered voter. In District 7 that translates into $14,584 and in District 9 that translates into $13,791. Simply put, that amount of money makes it difficult to be competitive against privately finance candidates.
It has been reported that District 7 Democrat candidate Tammy Fiebelkorn and District 9 Democrat candidate Rob Grilley and Republican Renee Grout have decided not to accept nor seek public fiancé for the runoff campaign and will be seeking private campaign contributions.
Republican Robinson raising private financing of $72,687 to Fiebelkorn’s public finance of $44,194 for the November 7 no doubt played a major role in Fiebelkorn’s decision. Fiebelkorn had this to say:
“I’m a firm supporter of public financing and keeping special interests out of the election … but the allotment [of $14,584] for the runoff is really too low. … We’re up against a really well-funded opponent [Republican Lori Robertson]. ”
In District 9, both Republican Renee Grout and Democrat Rob Grilley qualified for public finance for the November 2 election but have announced they will seek public financing for the runoff. Grout had this to say:
“We thought it was in our best interest to do it that way …We don’t think $13,000 in public finance is enough [ and we can raise more]”
Democrat Grilley said Republicn Grout’s decision to seek private financing forced his hand. Grilly had this to say:
“I really don’t want to be in a situation where I get to stand proudly [accepting public financing and then] getting absolutely blown out of the water because I have no opportunity to [defend] myself from my opponent because she has three to five times as much money and mailers as I do.”
The link to the quoted source material is here:
MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEES EXPLAINED
Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee (MFC) 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.
FOLLOW THE REPUBLICAN MONEY
Because of the sure magnitude of $231,432 raised by Albuquerque Ahead and Healthy Economies Lead to Progress, a 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)
This measured finance committee was established by the Bernalillo County Republican Party to promote the 2 Republican candidates Dan Lewis and Renee Grout.
5TH CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
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.
7TH CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
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.
9TH CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
The 9th 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.
10TH CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORT
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 respected businessman 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
The purpose of the donations made to Healthy Economies Lead To Progress is to make “independent expenditures” but depending on donor designation was created to support Republican candidates and one moderate Democrat to oust a Democrat progressive. The candidate were District 1 Democrat 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 and 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 donors 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.
FIRST RUNOFF STATEMENT
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
It was under Republican Mayor Richard Berry that the Republicans had a majority of 6 to 3 in 2010 on the Albuquerque City Council. That Republican majority began to change in subsequent election cycles in 2013 and 2017 after which Democrats had the advantage with a 6-3 majority as the city became more democrat.
It is absolutely clear that the Republican party is making a serious attempt to secure a majority of 5-4 on the Albuquerque City Council, but it will require winning of the District 7 and District 9 city council races in the runoff. The Republican Party of New Mexico and Republican Party of Bernalillo County issued a news release to announce they “are joining forces and sharing resources to win two key runoff elections,” saying they are mobilizing an “army of volunteers” to get out the vote for Republican candidates Republican candidates Lori Robertson in District 7 and Renee Grout in District 9. 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.
Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman John Rockwell had this to say:
“We have an opportunity to take control of the Albuquerque Council, and this could mean great things for the future of the city. … We have to do everything we can to grow our base and to get more Republicans involved.”
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.
VOTER TURN OUT WILL BE CRITICAL
The 2021 municipal election saw upwards of 22,000 more voters over the 2017 election. According to the Bernalillo County clerks office, 119,745 votes were cast out of the 383,000 registered voters. According to the Bernalillo County clerks office, turnout countywide was 30.5% and city-wide turnout was just over 32%. With 119,745 votes cast, representing 32%, the 2021 election goes down as having the highest voter turnout going back 20 years. In the 2017 mayor’s race and municipal election, 97,399 voted or 29%. In the 2013 mayor’s race, only 70,473 voted, or a miserable 19%.
The likely explanation for the historical turnout in 2021 is that New Mexico law was changed that consolidated local elections that that increased the voter turnout. This year’s municipal election was not conducted by the city clerk but conducted by the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office. The 2021 ballot featured the mayor’s race, 5 city council races and voter bond approval of multiple bonds, including one for a soccer stadium. The 2021 ballot also had the the Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College, the Village of Tijeras, the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District on the ballot and more.
The city’s 2021 run off election is now scheduled for December 7 and only District 7 and District 9 will be on the ballot and for that reason the voter turnout will be dramatically lower. To complicate things is that the city council races are nonpartisan and therefor party affiliation will no be delineated on the ballot.
The blunt truth is that Democrats lose elections in the city because they do not vote and Republicans rely on low voter turn outs and spend considerably more than Democrats to win municipal elections. That was the case in 2013 mayor’s race when only 19% voted and Democrats stayed home while Republicans voted and outspent the only publicly financed Democrat candidate with $1.1 million in private finance spent by the Republican incumbent and $340,000 spent in public finance by the only Democrat who qualified for public finance by collecting the required number qualifying $5 donations.
The Republican party is no doubt champing at the bit to make progressive Democrat Mayor Tim Keller life’s miserable during his second term in an effort to end his political career knowing full well he could run for higher office which will likely be Governor. 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.
LINKS TO DONATE
The link to the Tammy Fiebelkorn District 7 campaign where you can volunteer and can make a donation is here:
The link to the Rob Grilley District 9 campaign where you can volunteer and can make a donation is here:
EDITOR’S DISLOSURE NOTICE:
www.PeteDinelli.com is a political blog established by a life long Democrat who ran for Mayor in 2013 and who was on the receiving end of nasty Republican smear tactics prepared and orchestrated by Republican Political operative Jay Mc Clusky who managed Mayor Berry’s campaign in the 2013 Mayor’s Race. “It’s my blog and I can do what I want, do what I want and you would cry foul too if it it happened to you!”