A “KING MAKER” is defined as “a person who has great power and influence in the choice of a ruler, candidate for public office, business leader, or the like.”
ALBUQUERQUE’S ASPIRING “KING MAKER”
All 70 House seats are on the ballot this year with two year terms. The Senate are 4 year terms and is up every 4 years, with the next cycle in 2024. Democrats have grown their majority in the House from a 38-32 advantage over Republicans in 2017 to 45-24 this year, plus one independent. At least 3 Democrats lost primary challenges over that period. On the Senate side, Democrats have held their numbers roughly steady, but five anti-abortion incumbents lost to challengers in 2020, moving the Senate Democratic caucus to the left. Democrats have a 26-15-1 edge in the Senate.
Enter newly elected Albuquerque City Council District 1 Democrat Louie Sanchez. Sanchez is a retired APD cop and now an insurance salesman. Sanchez has never run in a partisan race. His non partisan city council race was the first time he has ever run for office. It is believed that Sanchez has never been actively involved in the Democratic Party and has never served in grass roots positions such as a precinct and ward chair. His limited exposure to politics is believed to be in charge of Mayor Marty Chavez’s police protection detail when Sanchez was an APD police officer. He worked directly out of the Mayor’s Office.
On March 14, Sanchez announced a new political action committee, or PAC, called the Working Together New Mexico PAC that will back “moderate” Democrats in a host of contested primary races. With his announcement, and less than 3 months on the city council , Sanchez is saying he wants to be a “King Maker” in New Mexico Politics.
The Working Together PAC is registered as an independent expenditure committee, and for that reason it cannot coordinate with any other candidate’s campaign. Sanchez does not define what he means by “moderate” nor what the litmus test is to get the financial support of the PAC. However, based on the Sanchez votes and actions on the City Council, he likely means a plethora of conservative Republican causes that are contrary to Democratic core values and that support corporate interests over the working class.
Councilor Sanchez went so far as to announce Working Together New Mexico intends to support challengers taking on at least 2 incumbents in the New Mexico State House. The New Mexico Legislature has grown more progressive over the past 4 years as challengers defeated 8 Democratic incumbents and it is something Sanchez ostensibly does not like.
According to Sanchez, the PAC will push to elect “commonsense” Democrats in races for 6 House seats, 2 statewide offices and a Bernalillo County Commission District. Sanchez did not disclose the names of the other candidates for the New Mexico House, the 2 statewide offices nor the county commission. It is unknown if any endorsement will be made in the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s race which has 12 candidates running. Given the fact that Sanchez is an ex cop, it’s more likely than not an endorsement will be made in the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s race. The PAC’s financial backers will be made known next month when the first financial reports are filed.
Sanchez had this to say in forming the PAC:
“It’s time for politicians to stop pandering to the far extremes and start solving our multitude of problems at home in New Mexico. … [The PAC looks forward to financial] support from fellow commonsense Democrats and the business community from around the state.”
Sanchez does not identify what it takes to be a “common sense Democrat”. Using the term “common sense” is a ploy taken out Republican playbooks to promote anything they propose believing the term gives the cause credibility in voters minds. Sanchez does not say if the business community around the state include Republican owned businesses, let alone if they have any common sense.
The link to quoted news source material is here:
SANCHEZ BENEFITED FROM PACS HIMSELF
Democrat Louie Sanchez qualified and was given $41,027 in public finance for his City Council District 1 race against Democrat Lan Senna who also qualified for $41,027 in public finance.
In District 5, Republican Dan Lewis qualified for public finance and was given $50,489, as was his opponent incumbent Democrat Cynthia Borrego.
In District 9 Republican Renee Grout qualified for public finance and was given $41,791 in public finance as was Democrat opponent Rob Grilley.
It should come to no surprise that City Councilor Louis Sanchez has formed a PAC to give financial support to candidates he wants elected to the New Mexico House and other offices of his choosing. Sanchez himself knows just how effective PACs can be at raising campaign donations in that he benefited from two such PACs in his 2021 municipal election.
Based on Sanchez’s own experience with PAC’s when he ran for city council, it is likely his PAC will have significant Republican donors. There were 2 major measured finance committees that were formed to promote city council candidates and who opposed incumbent Democrat City Councilors Lan Sena and Cynthia Borrego who both lost on November 2.
The two measured finance committees were Albuquerque Ahead and Healthy Economies Lead to Progress. Both PAC’s had significant Republican donors. The 2 finance committees were successful in ousting Democrat Incumbent City Councilor Lan Sena with the election of Louis Sanchez and ousting Democrat Cynthia Borrego with the election of Dan Lewis.
HEALTHY ECONOMIES LEAD TO PROGRESS
Healthy Economies Lead to Progress was the largest PAC of the 2 measured Finance Committees formed to raise contributions for City Council candidates.
The Chairperson was identified as SIMON (SCOOTER) T. HAYNES and the Treasurer was 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 manner in which donations were spent by Healthy Economies Lead to Progress depended on donor designation and the PAC donors lean heavily Republican. The donations were made to support the following City Council candidates:
District 1: Democrat Louie Sanchez who defeated incumbent Democrat City Councilor Lan Sena.
District 5: Republican Dan Lewis who defeated Democrat incumbent City Councilor Cynthia Borrego.
District 7: Republican candidate Lori Lee Robertson who made into the runoff and who was defeated by Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn.
District 9: Republican candidate Renee Grout who made it into the run off and who defeated Democrat Rob Grilley Jr.
MAJOR DONORS IDENTIFIED
Donations made to PAC’s come with donor expectations and beliefs that the PAC will be spending the donations to help candidates they support and that share their philosophy on issues that the candidate if elected will advocate for them or support, that is why the donations made to Healthy Economies Lead to Progress merit review. The donations made to HEALTHY ECONOMIES LEAD TO PROGRESS come from known Republican donors and interests.
The 7TH, 8th, 9th and 10th finance reports filed with the Albuquerque city Clerk reveals the following major contributors to Healthy Economies Lead to Progress:
NEW MEXICO RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION (Carol Wight): $20,000
COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS NM: $18,639.22
JOHNSON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE, LLC: $4,000
8TH FINANCE REPORT
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
9TH FINANCE REPORT
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 had an ending balance of $87,864.62 that was 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.
Albuquerque Ahead raised $34,900. The cash contributions were spent to promote conservative Republican candidates, Dan Lewis, Renee Grout and Lori Lee Robertson, and conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez. The finance reports do not indicate with precision the exact amounts spent on behalf of each candidate.
PAC HIRES JAMES HALLINAN AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Sanchez announced that Working Together New Mexico hired as the PAC’s executive director James Hallinan who is the principal owner of two political consulting firms “Intersection Strategies” and “Purple Strategies, LLC. To quote LinkIn, Purple Strategies, LLC is an
“Aggressive public relations, legal communications, crisis management, government affairs, and political campaign management expert with a winning record of election campaigns in 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2014, 2012, 2010 … . After winning four statewide elections in 2018, [James Hallianan] started [his] first company, Intersection Strategies, bringing [his] unique skills and experience to the legal, corporate, government, professional sports, and law enforcement industries across the United States.”
According to the “Intersection Strategies” web page:
“Intersections Strategies, LLC was founded by James Hallinan shortly after his successful 2018 election cycle in which he served as the campaign communications director for Governor Lujan Grisham and Lt. Governor Howie Morales, campaign general consultant for Attorney General Hector Balderas, and campaign general consultant for State Auditor Brian Colón. Hallinan previously served as communications director to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas … James has also worked for and closely with countless elected officials … including … New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, former New Mexico Lt. Governor Diane Denish, former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, and many members of Congress, attorneys general, statewide elected officials, state legislators, and local elected officials.”
The “Intersection Strategies” web page contains no references nor testimonials from the elected officials mentioned.
The link to the web page is here:
2021 ALBUQUERQUE MUNIPAL ELECTION
James Hallinan was the campaign consultant for City Council Candidate Louie Sanchez in his successful campaign to unseat City Council Progressive Democrat incumbent Lan Sena in the 2021 municipal election. According the campaign finance reports filed with the City Clerk, Sanchez paid James Hallinan $16,679 for his work on his campaign.
In the 2021 municipal election, Hallinan was also involved with the PAC that supported Sheriff Manny Gonzales for Mayor over incumbent Mayor Tim Keller. During the 2021 municipal election, James Hallinan was the campaign manager for the measured finance committee known as “Save Our City”, the PAC headed by Sam Vigil, whose wife was killed in the early morning hours on her way to the gym by a fugitive from Mexico who was in the country illegally. According to the city clerk’s online campaign finance records for the 2021 municipal election, Hallinan was paid $60,680 for his campaign services for “Save Our City”.
NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY
James Hallinan is the Democratic political consultant who alleged that then candidate for governor Michelle Lujan Grisham poured water on his crotch and grabbed him during a staff meeting. Hallinan claimed the assault happened during a senior staff meeting held at Representative Deborah Armstrong’s home in the summer of 2018. In one news report, Hallinan said:
“She took a water bottle and dumped it on my crotch and then slapped and grabbed me in front of everybody. … It really fucked me up.”
Hallinan waited more than a year to come forward and claimed there was a reason for that saying:
“Her campaign manager convinced me not to report it to law enforcement, convinced me not to quit the campaign because I tried.”
NM State Representative Deborah Armstrong was asked if she saw the alleged assault on Hallinan in her home and she had this to say:
“I never witnessed any such thing.”
The Governor’s Office labeled Hallinan’s claims as “bizarre and slanderous”. The Governor and her staff denied the incident ever happened. The Governor’s Press Secretary disputed all of Hallinan’s claims, saying his time working with the campaign was “marked by frequent inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. Hallinan was so unprofessional … he was not offered a job in her administration.”
Hallinan sued the governor and an out of court settlement of $150,000 was reached paid by the Lujan Grisham for Governor Campaign. No taxpayer money was used to pay the settlement in that the incident occurred prior to Lujan Grisham being elected Governor. The Governor’s Office said the settlement was paid due to the expense of litigating business disputes, to prevent any distraction during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and to avoid major distraction to the Governor and her staff.
The link to the full KRQE report quoted and entitled “Man accusing Governor of sexaual abuse speaks out” is here:
RADIO HOST ACCUSES HALLILAN OF EXTORTION
On November 19, 2021, the Albquerquerqu Journal reported that Albuquerque police investigated a local radio host’s complaint that James Hallinan tried to recruit her as a client or he would “expose private information” about a member of her family. Hallinan was named in an August 13 Albuquerque Police Department investigation report that cites “extortion,” “harassment” and “libel” as the potential offenses being reported by the radio host.
The Albuquerque Police Department released the offense report to the Albuquerque Journal in response to a request under the state Inspection of Public Records Act and in turn the Journal reported on the investigation. According to the Journal article, the police report details exchanges Hallinan had with Alyson Lamanna, cohost of “In the Morning with Jackie, Tony and Donnie” on 100.3 The Peak. Lamanna goes by Jackie on the show. According to the police report, Hallinan texted Lamanna at 10 p.m. and offered his services as a crisis manager. Hallinan told Lamanna that negative news about one of her relatives’ alleged involvement in online pornography was about to break “publicly at [some] point and within iHeartMedia corporate.”
Lamanna responded to Hallinan’s text that she didn’t know what he was talking about and told him “do not text me again.” Hallinan sent another text telling her he was surprised by her “aggressive” response and he texted:
“I can only imagine how you must feel … I was simply giving you a heads up and offering my services, and still am, in order to mitigate this situation as much as possible. It’s what I do for a lot of powerful and famous people around the country.”
According to the Journal report, Hallinan sent another set of texts on August 10th and he said:
“Hope you guys get a few winks tonight. … I felt you were very unprofessional and rude to me today when I gave you a heads up.”
Lamanna replied: “Do not contact me again.”
According to the Journal report, Hallinan took to Twitter to say he was hearing rumors iHeartMedia, owner of the radio station, was going to suspend Jackie and her husband, Tony, over “mounting allegations” that involved the relative. Officials from iHeartMedia in Albuquerque did not respond to a request by the Journal for comment.
The Albuquerque police officer wrote in his report that he responded to the iHeartMedia building in response to Lamina’s complaint that Hallinan was “threatening” her “by text messages to pay or they would expose private information about the caller.” The APD officer wrote:
“The continued texts and Twitter posts were done by Mr. Hallinan as he is knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct that is intended to annoy, seriously alarm or terrorize another person, and that serves no lawful purpose. The conduct must be such that it would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress and, in speaking with Miss Lamanna, she was in substantial emotional distress.”
The police report said the case was forwarded to APD’s Central Impact team, which investigates crimes not covered by other specialty units. At the time of the Journal report, Gilbert Gallegos, a police spokesman, said the investigation was ongoing. The final disposition of the investigation is unknown and it has not been reported on by the Journal.
You can read the full Albuquerque Journal article quoted entitled “Radio host accuses strategist of extortion” at this link:
DEMOCRAT CANIDATES OPPOSED BY WORKING TOGETHER NEW MEXICO SPEAK OUT
Working Together New Mexico has already endorsed and is getting involved in two Democratic New Mexico House primary races. Those House races are District 40 and District 46 in Northern New Mexico.
NEW MEXICO HOUSE DISTRICT 40
New Mexico House District 40 is a northern New Mexico house district. Democrat first term State Representative Roger Montoya is being challenged by former state Rep. Joseph Sanchez. House District 40 stretches from the outskirts of Española and Chimayó to the Colorado border. The Secretary of State has lists Gerald Steven McFall as the Republican candidate but the Secretary of State also lists him as a Republican candidate for the northern congressional seat. It is more likely than not that the Democrat will win the race come November 8.
In Democratic New Mexico House District 40 state Representative Roger Montoya of Velarde is facing a primary challenge from former Representative Joseph Sanchez, who has been endorsed by Working Together New Mexico to unset State Representative Roger Montoya. Representative Montoya for his part takes issue with Working Together New Mexico getting involved with his race and said this:
“My votes reflect the people, the needs, and the hearts and minds of rural New Mexico. ”
Montoya said he has stood up to progressives in his party when they go too far and he describes his record as “moderate”, yet the PAC is opposing his candidacy. Montoya points the fact that he voted against legislation to establish a clean fuel standard, a proposal that died on a tie vote this year, and it was considered a major setback to the progressive agenda.
NEW MEXICO HOUSE DISTRICT 46
New Mexico House District 46 is a northern New Mexico house district and includes Pojoaque and parts of northern Santa Fe, Española and Chimayó. Two term progressive Democrat Representative Andrea Romero has drawn 3 democratic primary challengers and one Republican challenger. Democrat Henry Roybal is a well-known moderate Democrat Santa Fe County Commissioner.
Working Together New Mexico has also announced that it is supporting challenger Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal. Representative Andrea Romero of Santa Fe. A third candidate, Ryan Erik Salazar, is also running for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Democrat Representative Andrea Romero said she is not at all surprised to see “conservative forces” in the state lining up to support one of her opponents and she had this to say:
“Our politics and ideas couldn’t be more different. … I’m proud to run on my progressive Democratic values against corporate interests funding Mr. Roybal.”
The link to the Journal article quated entitled “PAC to intervene in contested democratic races” is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The antics of City Councilor Louie Sanchez forming a political action committee to promote “moderate Democrats” falls under the category of “Stupid Is As Stupid Does”. The city of Albuquerque is often vilified in the New Mexico legislature, especially in rural parts of New Mexico, often coming in on the short end of the stick when it comes to funding of major projects, such as the centralized homeless shelter and major issues, such as crime legislation, affecting the city.
Albuquerque is viewed as the major source of many of the state’s problems, such as rising crime rates and homelessness. Now we have “big city” City Councilor Louie Sanchez who wants to stick his nose into Democrat New Mexico legislative politics that will likely result in even more resentment towards the city, especially if the Democrat incumbents prevail.
Three-month tenured City Councilor Louis Sanchez would serve his constituents much better if he would just learn his own job duties and responsibilities first. He has no business sticking his nose into Democratic races and establishing a PAC to unseat elected Democrats that no doubt know far more about their Districts than Sanchez and his PAC could ever hope to know or understand. But then again, Sanchez has hired a firm with extensive experienced in “opposition research” to run his PAC and do his bidding and his dirty work for him to disparage Democrat incumbents.