With 29% voter turnout – a record in modern city elections – voters set up an epic November runoff election that could drastically change the dynamic of Albuquerque politics. Voters whittled the 8 mayoral candidates down to two: progressive Tim Keller and conservative Dan Lewis. City councilors Klarissa Peña (D), Ken Sanchez (D), Diane Gibson (D) and Don Harris (R) won re-election, but no candidate in District 5 (far NW, Ventana Ranch) reached 50% so that race will go to a runoff along with the mayor.
Voters also narrowly rejected the Healthy Workforce Ordinance, a sick leave ballot initiative popular with voters in polls but long-in-form on the ballot and the subject of huge outside spending by conservative groups.
For in-depth coverage of all the elections from sick leave to city council to mayor, check out NM Political Report’s comprehensive coverage here:
Voter participation in runoff elections – this one will be on November 14th – is historically low, but the consequences are huge for Albuquerque.
A progressive mayor like Keller would be a 180-degree shift in political power in the Mayor’s Office, and the race in Council District 5 would determine if the city council will maintain a basic status quo 5-4 Democratic majority or whether Democrats will pick up a seat and create a 6-3 super-majority alongside a progressive mayor.
Here’s a preview of those races:
- Democrat Tim Keller. A former state senator representing Albuquerque’s International District and current state auditor. Keller is the only publicly-financed candidate in this election, and swept endorsements from labor, progressive groups and carried a majority of neighborhood organizations. Keller has a strong and motivated ground game and will receive a public financing runoff bonus.
- Republican Dan Lewis. A city councilor who chose to run for mayor instead of re-election to his District 5 seat, Lewis drew fire for accepting the endorsement of mega-church pastor Steve Smotherman who said the endorsement was issued because Lewis would oppose the “gay agenda.” Lewis raised the most money of Republican candidates in this race and you can be sure he’ll have lots of help from conservative groups who want anyone but a progressive as mayor.
Council District 5
- Democrat Cynthia Borrego. A self-described “conservative Democrat,” Borrego is the former planning director for the city. She knows politics and the city. With this seat creating the opportunity to have a Democratic super-majority on the Council, you can bet Borrego will get lots of help from labor unions, community groups, and Democratic supporters, even if she is not a progressive.
- Republican Robert Aragon. Aragon was a Democrat until 2012 when he registered as a Republican and endorsed Susana Martinez for Governor. He’s been a favorite of the governor ever since. She appointed him to the State Board of Finance. An Aragon win on the Council would be a thorn in the side of progressives on the Council and mayor, but he’ll have plenty of help from the governor’s machine on her way out the door.
Four things you can do to help Tim Keller become mayor
The race for mayor is headed to a run-off; but no matter who you voted for in October, the choice before us now is clear: we need a mayor who will push for reform of our police department, champions inclusion and opportunity and recommits city hall to community from the top down. Tim Keller is the progressive choice.
But a November 14th election day is easy to forget.
The runoff election is on November 14th, but don’t worry about forgetting.
- Sign up here for our Runoff Election Voter Guide.
We’ll send you an email reminder for Early Voting and Election Day, along with our voter guide so you know when and where to vote.
- Pledge to help by volunteering and helping at progressive turnout events before Election Day
With only 5-weeks until election day, we have to keep the momentum going. We’ll host progressive turnout events to remind voters about early voting and that weird November election day. Sign up to be alerted to one of those events you can volunteer to support.
- Register (or update your registration) to vote
Yes! If you (or someone you know) couldn’t vote because you had not registered to vote for October’s election, you can still register to vote this week to be eligible to vote in the November runoff. Check your voter registration here or find a place to re-register here.
- Donate $25, $50 or $100 to our Progressive Champions PAC.
Each election, we create voter guides, get-out-the-vote programs and track candidates and elections like only New Mexico’s largest progressive advocacy group can do.
Pat, Alex, Carlos & Lucas
A very special thank you goes out to all donors and supporters that enabled ProgressNow NM to provide municipal voters with our comprehensive and useful Voter Guide. Because of you over 4,000 were able to view our Voter Guide on Facebook, an additional 2,500 accessed it via our website, and more than 100 people shared it, commented, on it, and or liked our Voter Guide on social media. #WhoWeElectMatters and we are happy to help along the way.