Where mayoral candidates got campaign cash and how they spent it

Candidates for the Albuquerque mayoral election filed their campaign finance reports over the weekend. The financial reports shed some light on which privately-financed candidates have raised the most money and from whom they’re getting their contributions. Right now, 16 official candidates are running for the city’s top office, but only four have raised significantly large amounts of money. Brian Colón
Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman and one-time candidate for lieutenant governor Brian Colón leads the pack in fundraising. Most of his $350,000 haul came in large donations from business owners and executives.

Two big-name Dems say no to public financing in ABQ mayoral race

Albuquerque mayoral candidates have about a week to file their next campaign finance reports. For most, it will be their first reports filed this election. While many of the candidates speak highly of public financing, only one has qualified for it. New Mexico Democrats, for example, have pushed for more publicly financed races and campaigns since at least 2008, when the party added language to their state platform that says“all political campaigns should be publicly financed.”

The Albuquerque mayoral race is nonpartisan, so none of the candidates will be identified with any specific political party on the ballot. Related: Privately-funded ABQ mayoral candidates ready for first reporting deadline

Mayoral candidates Deanna Archuleta and Brian Colón are both prominent Democrats running for mayor who both opted to use private funds for their campaigns.

Privately-funded ABQ mayoral candidates ready for first reporting deadline

As the Albuquerque mayoral race rolls on, more than half of the 14 candidates currently in the race have decided to raise their own money instead of using public campaign funding

Most of the nine privately-funded candidates won’t say  how much money they’ve collected with the first filing deadline a little more than a week away. In addition to raising money to operate, campaigns must collect the signatures of 3,000 registered Albuquerque voters before the end of April to qualify for the ballot. Because he is already an Albuquerque City Councilor, Dan Lewis was the first privately-financed candidate to fully report his campaign finances. Lewis’ campaign finance report filed in January shows he raised more than $108,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions from business owners, state lawmakers and other individuals. Some of the businesses include insurance and real estate agents, construction companies, a local ambulance company and a private motor vehicle registration company.

Citing trouble collecting money, some mayoral candidates abandon public financing

Albuquerque mayoral candidates seeking public campaign money have less than a week left to qualify. While the filing deadline may lead to a reduced list of candidates, it’s likely candidates who fail to qualify for public financing will stay in the race and instead fund their campaigns through private donations. The Albuquerque city clerk’s website listed seven candidates as seeking public financing as of Monday night, but two candidates on that list told NM Political Report they will forgo public money and fund their campaigns from regular donations. Those who are still trying to qualify for public money will need to submit almost 4,000 contributions of $5 each by Saturday to qualify. The collected contributions will be deposited into a city account and then divided amongst the qualified candidates.

Official photo of State Auditor Tim Keller

Keller officially announces run for ABQ mayor

New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller officially announced his run for Albuquerque mayor Wednesday. Keller issued a statement in the morning saying he would focus on the city’s economy and reforming the Albuquerque Police Department. “Albuquerque is my home – I was born and raised here – and this is where my wife and I are raising our family,” Keller said in a press release. “I’m running for mayor because I believe, together, we can meet these challenges head on and build a safe, inclusive and innovative city that works for all of us.”

If elected mayor, Keller would leave an open spot in the auditor’s office, which would be filled by appointment from Gov. Susana Martinez. Later in the day, Keller told NM Political Report he is not concerned about leaving his current position if elected mayor.

The line starts here: ABQ’s crowded mayoral race

The race for Albuquerque mayor became a major focus for a group of Democrats, one Republican and one independent over the weekend. On Saturday, a group of Democrats spoke about their respective visions of what the next mayor of Albuquerque should focus on, while Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis officially announced his intention to run for the city’s top office on Sunday afternoon. Lewis told supporters gathered at the business incubator Fat Pipe ABQ that he will focus on public safety, economic development and education. More specifically, Lewis said he wants the city to hire roughly 300 police officers under new leadership at the Albuquerque Police Department. As for paying for more police officers to bring the APD street officer total to 1,200 cops, Lewis suggested that the department could cut “duplications” in dispatch and instead focus on “one professional dispatch center.”

Lewis added that APD must “get ahead of the [federal Department of Justice] reforms” rather than being “dragged” into them by the federal government and the courts.

ABQ City Council

City Council had the chance to address early candidacy problems

An issue with the Albuquerque city charter that allowed a mayoral candidate to run for office without making it official could have been addressed months ago. Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta announced earlier this year she would run for mayor in 2017, but there was no way to file as an official candidate. Her campaign started fundraising about a year before the city filing process starts. During a city council meeting earlier this year, on May 2, Councilor Don Harris called to withdraw two bills he previously sponsored. One of the proposals included new language in the city charter that would update the definition of a candidate.

For one candidate, ABQ mayoral race has already started

There is not an official candidate for mayor of Albuquerque in next year’s election. But that’s only because there is no way for a candidate to become official yet. Deanna Archuleta, a former Bernalillo County Commissioner, announced earlier this year she intends to run for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2017. Since her announcement she has held at least one public fundraiser, but has not filed any campaign finance information—largely because there’s no place to do it yet. The Albuquerque City Clerk’s office does not currently have any procedure in place for candidates starting their campaign early.

Upcoming ballot initiative will reduce influence of money in politics

As we have seen in the current presidential race and in recent local elections, big money still dominates the way we fund campaigns at all levels. From the Koch brothers spending millions in the Republican presidential primary to the Santolina developers spending tens of thousands in the recent Bernalillo County Commission Democratic primary, powerful wealthy individuals and organizations seek to influence elections by spending big money in campaigns. But we have a chance to reduce that influence in next year’s mayoral race. On an 8-1 vote, the Albuquerque City Council recently passed legislation to make the City’s public financing program workable again. Our thanks go to City Councilors Don Harris and Pat Davis* for reaching across the aisle to fix the current system, which was originally approved by about 69 percent of the voters in 2005.