Written By: Michael Straw
Edited By: Annie Phan
On Oct. 3rd we have an excellent shot at winning Albuquerque, New Mexico’s mayoral seat with Democratic State Auditor Tim Keller. Prior to his election to State Auditor in 2014, Keller served as State Senator from 2009-2015. Many believe that Keller will be one of two candidates to advance to a nonpartisan runoff election on Nov. 7th. The question is who will be Keller’s opponent. We could see a Democratic or a Republican opponent this year. If Keller faces a Democrat, team blue will already have a pickup secured.
The Democratic Party held this seat for nine years until Republican Richard Berry won in 2009. However, Mayor Berry will not seek re-election in 2017, creating the first Albuquerque mayoral election without an incumbent in 20 years.
On the Republican side, there are two prime candidates in the race for mayor - City Councilor Dan Lewis and County Commissioner Wayne Johnson. Lewis has been a city councilor for as long as Richard Berry was elected mayor in 2009. Lewis could be Keller’s most favorable opponent due Legacy Church Pastor Steve Smothermon’s endorsement of Lewis. Smothermon stated, “I wholeheartedly support Dan Lewis for mayor. He's the one true believer in the race, and would never in anyway support the homosexual agenda," alienating many voters in Albuquerque's electorate. The other conceivable Republican, Wayne Johnson, who serves as a county commissioner since 2011 in district 5. Johnson seems to be the establishment Republican of the race, however, he faces ethical complaints that he took money from associates that do business with the county.
Brian Colón, a former Chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party, is the other main Democratic candidate in the race. If Colón and Keller advance into a runoff, the Democratic Party would automatically pick up the seat. However, if Colon advances into the runoff as the sole Democratic nominee, he may be more likely to lose as a result of the baggage he brings with his law firm’s activities in defending police officers that are involved in shootings. Consequently, the chairman of the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico stated he will not support Colón over these activities. A recent survey predicts a runoff election: 25% of respondents support Keller, 14% for Colon, and 13% for Lewis.
Keller, as mentioned above, currently serves as State Auditor of New Mexico. Despite the GOP mini-wave of 2014, most of New Mexico’s row-offices remained Democratic, including Keller’s win for the State Auditor position.
If Keller wins the mayoral race, he would resign from his office, meaning Republican Governor Susana Martinez would have a chance to put a Republican in the position. However, considering how elections are going in 2017, New Mexico Democratic Party should have confidence in retaking the Auditor’s office next year if need be. Keller centers his campaign on revitalizing Albuquerque's economy, stopping crime, and rejecting BIG MONEY in politics.
In the 2016 Presidential election, Bernalillo County (which includes the City of Albuquerque) voted for Hillary Clinton by a 52.2%-34.5% with former Governor Gary Johnson taking 10.8%. In 2012, the county voted 55.6%-39.4%-4.5% for Barack Obama. In between these two presidential elections, Mayor Richard Berry won his second term 67.9%-28.7%, evidence of Republican voter devotion in off-year elections. Thus, the Democratic Party needs to rally its base during this off-year election.
Let’s win this mayoral election and lock the GOP out of the largest city in New Mexico. SHARE this post with your friends in New Mexico and remind them to VOTE EARLY, VOTE ABSENTEE, or VOTE IN PERSON! Democrat Tim Keller is our best shot at taking the Albuquerque's mayoral mansion from the GOP!