On December 7, two Albuquerque city council runoff elections were held for the Albuquerque City Council. In District 7 Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn and Republican Lori Robertson made it into the runoff. In District 9, Democrat Rob Griley and Republican Renee Grout made it into the runoff.
District 7 is the Mid-heights city council district including Coronado Shopping Center and Uptown surrounding areas and parts of the near northeast heights. District 9 is east Albuquerque from Menaul and Eubank, south to Kirtland Air Force base, and east of Tramway.
According to unofficial results of the December 7 runoff elections, Democrats will maintain their majority on the Albuquerque City Council with a 5-4 majority down from a 6-3 majority, but their influence edge will be diminished because come 2022 no party will have a 6 vote majority to override a Mayor’s veto.
According to unofficial results, in District 7, Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn secured 61.75% (5,106 votes) with Republican Lori Robertson’s securing 38.22% (3,159 votes). In District 9, Republican Renee Grout secured 51.69% (4,027 votes) and Democrat Rob Grilley secured 48.31% (3,764).
Fiebelkorn defeated Lori Robertson with a 23% wide margin to represent District 7, after Robertson came in first in the November 2 election defeating 4 Democrats. Republican Robinson raised $72,687 in private financing to Fiebelkorn’s public finance of $44,194 for the November 7 election. Robertson’s campaign contributions came mostly from the real estate and development communities and she received support from 2 measured finance committees promoting Republicans to oust Democrat incumbent Cynthia Borrego and Lan Sena.
Initially, Republican Robinson was considered to have the edge in support and money over Fiebelkorn but what changed the race’s momentum was when controversial Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon endorsed Lori Robertson from his pulpit that stoked fears amongst the districts democrats that Robertson would do his bidding and that she was in fact a right wing extremist on hot button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, transgender issues, the city’s progressive agenda under Keller, all issues that Smothermon has been vocal about and that he has condemned.
The two measured finance committees that promoted Robinson were Albuquerque Ahead that 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. The 2 finance committees were successful in ousting Democrat City Councilors Lan Sena and Cynthia Borrego.
Fiebelkorn for her part was initially a public finance candidate having been given $42,000 in public fiancé after collecting the $5 qualifying donations for the November 2 elections. She changed to private financing for the runoff. Fiebelkorn succeeds Democrat Diane Gibson who endorsed her. Gibson decided not to seek reelection this year after serving two terms representing the city’s mid-Heights and she was known to have supported Sheriff Manny Gonzales over Tim Keller for Mayor.
Republican Renee Grout narrowly defeated Democrat Rob Grilley to ensure District 9 stayed in Republican control. Uninspiring, unknown and unaccomplished Republican Don Harris who served 16 years on the city council ands who has nothing to show for it decided not to run for a 5th term.
The final unofficial votes counted by the Bernalillo County Clerk can be found here:
DEMOCRAT MAJORITY CUT TO 5
The Democrat majority of 6-3 has now gone to a 5-4 majority because Republican Dan Lewis defeated Democratic incumbent Cynthia Borrego to flip the West Side District 5 seat. 4 years ago Borrego was elected to the District 5 seat when then City Councilor Dan Lewis ran for Mayor.
After the December 7 City Council runoff election, the 5 Democrats on the new city council as of January 1, 2022 are:
District 1 Louis Sanchez (Elected on November 2 defeating Lan Sena.)
District 2 Isaac Benton
District 3 Klarissa Peña (Ran unopposed on November 2 .)
District 6 Pat Davis
District 7 Tammy Fiebelkorn
After the November 7 runoff election, the 4 Republicans on the new city council are:
District 5 Dan Lewis (Newly elected)
District 4 Brook Bassan
District 8 Trudy Jones
District 9 Renee Grout
Links to quoted source material are here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALSYSIS
After the November 2 city council elections that saw the defeat of incumbent Democrats City Councilors Cynthia Borrego to Republican Dan Lewis and the defeat of incumbent Lan Sena to conservative Decorate Louis Sanchez, the Republican Party announced an aggressive effort to take over the City Council and secure a Republican majority to oppose Mayor Tim Keller’s progressive agenda. On November 10, the Republican Party of New Mexico and the Republican Party of Bernalillo County issued a joint press release announcing they were joining forces and sharing resources to win the two key runoff elections on December 7 that would decide who would control the city council. Republicans aggressively canvassed both City Council Districts 7 and 9 in a get out the vote effort. Republicans donors continued to fund Albuquerque Ahead and Healthy Economies Lead to Progress the two measured finance committees that raised even more money to promote the Republican candidates Lori Robertson, District 7 and Rene Grout, District 9 for city council.
After defeating incumbent Democrat Cynthia Borrego, Republican Dan Lewis made it know that he believed both City Council Districts 7 and 9 would elect Republicans. Lewis made it know he intended to be the next City Council President and that he intended to aggressively question Democrat Tim Keller’s department directors, including APD management and Mayor Keller’s representatives in person to hold them “accountable”. Lewis has already made it known to his supporters he intends to run for Mayor again in 2025 and use his city council seat as a springboard to the Mayor’s Office like he tried to do 4 years ago. The reality is that many sitting city councilors have attempted to run for Mayor ever since the creation of the existing Mayor- City Council form of Government. Only one city councilor has gone on to become Mayor and that was Mayor Ken Schultz who later was indicted and plead guilty to federal charges stemming from the Metropolitan Court house scandal and kickbacks where he worked with then Senator Manny Aragon to steal millions.
A DEMOCRAT CITY COUNCIL IN NAME ONLY
After the November 2 election when conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez defeated progressive Democrat Lan Sena, who was appointed by Mayor Tim Keller, Republican operatives soon began to rationalized that conservative Democrat City Councilor Elect Louis Sanchez will identify more with conservative Republicans. Republican operatives rationalize that he has very little in common with progressive democrats who did not support him, that he owes Mayor Tim Keller absolutely nothing and owes the Democratic Party nothing with Sanchez believing he was elected on his own.
WAS IT WORTH IT?
Complicating matters for City Council Democrats is Councilor elect Louis Sanchez made a big stink that he should not have to wait until January 1, 2021 to join the city council. He went so far as to threaten to file a civil lawsuit, did news interviews and was interviewed on the Bob Clark morning radio program. Clark is decisively right wing Republican. Sanchez was no doubt emboldened when the Albuquerque Journal editorialized that he should file a lawsuit and get a definitive court ruling on the issue. The link to the editorial is here:
Sanchez argues that he should be sworn immediately replacing City Councilor Lan Sena and that he is the district’s rightful representative because Lan Sena was appointed by Mayor Keller to fill a vacancy. Sanchez is correct only to the extent that he was elected to the term that begins on January 1, 2022 and nothing more than that. He was not elected to fill the last two months of former City Councilor Ken Sanchez term, yet he wants Sena to be removed. City Counselor elect Louis Sanchez is not satisfied with winning the election by defeating Lan Sena. What he wants to do is humiliate her and force her off the council over his imaginary right of entitlement that he should be sworn into office before his term begins.
City Hall confidential sources have confirmed that city hall security were advised to remove City Councilor elect Louis Sanchez if he appeared at city council offices or city council and made a scene demanding he be sworn in and disrupting the regular course of business at city hall. Sanchez does not realize that his antics and publicity seeking ways to be sworn in before his term begins resulted in the loss of credibility that will be difficult to recover. Councilor Elect Sanchez needs ask himself was the press he garnered worth it, especially given the fact his vote was not needed on the city council to kill the $140 million bond package he was objecting to and which failed.
FIRST TEST OF PARTISANSHIP
Now the City Council remains a 5-4 Democratic Majority, the biggest test for the Democrat City Council and for Democrat City Councilor Louis Sanchez will be if he votes for Republican Dan Lewis, or any other Republican, to become the new Council President when the council convenes for the first time in January, 2022. Progressive Democratic City Councilor’s Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and moderate Democrat Klarisa Pena have all expressed an interest in becoming City Council President. Republicans Dan Lewis, Trudy Jones and Brook Bassan are also said to want the job.
DECEMBER 9 NEWSUPDATE: Confidential sources are saying the Councilor elect Sanchez has already met with City Counselor Isaac Benton to discuss the vote for city council President. What is emerging is that Sanchez wants to be President of the Council and if the other 4 Democrats do not get behind him, he will seek support from the 4 Republican’s to be elected President with one of the Republicans elected as Vice President. Committee chair appointments would be divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Councilor Elect Sanchez no doubt thinks is he is now the swing vote that can make or break Mayor Tim Keller’s progressive agenda. Should Sanchez side with Republicans more often than not than with Democrats, look for him to be labeled a “Democrat In Name Only”, DINO, which many people think right now. Any argument he makes that the City Council is non partisan is simply not going to cut it in today’s climate of sharp partisanship and with the likes of Dan Lewis and the Republican Party pushing to take over the City Council.
The election for a new City Council President and Vice President will be held at the very first meeting of the City Council in January, 2022. The council president appoints all committee chairs. When the votes are taken on City Council President and Vice President, it will be revealed if City Councilor Louis Sanchez is a Democrat or a “Democrat In Name Only” when he casts his vote. The one vote for city council president will reveal exactly what kind of a Democrat Louis Sanchez really is. His vote will likely set the entire tone for his 4 years on the city council. Should Sanchez decide to throw his support to Republican causes, and should he have higher ambitions, including running for Mayor or County Commission, he might as well change his party affiliation to Republican now and not pretend he is a Democrat. Sheriff Manny Gonzales landslide loss to Mayor Tim Keller is proof that pretending to be a Democrat in a Democrat City gets you no where fast.