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Mayoral Field likely to Shrink

Mayoral Field likely to Shrink

Up to Half of 14 Candidates May Not Make Ballot

While there are 14 people who say they are running for mayor—and only one who has qualified for public financing—the real question is how many of those candidates will actually make it onto the ballot.

We’ll have to wait until late April or early May when the City Clerk’s office determines which of the candidates have met the threshold of 3,000 valid petition signatures from registered voters in the city to get on the ballot.

The candidates have until April 28 to turn in those signatures to the clerk’s office.

Political experts say that while candidates need 3,000 valid signatures of city voters, they’ll probably have to collect 5,000 or more as a cushion against signatures that will be invalidated by the clerk’s office. Candidates without the large group of volunteers needed to do that probably won’t make the cut.

“It’s not that hard [to collect signatures] if you have 25 or 30 people helping you,” said Pete Dinelli, who ran for mayor in 2013. “The disqualification rate is 10 to 25 percent, and so they’ll probably need roughly 5,000 signatures to give them that cushion.”

Dinelli, who now blogs about local politics, said he expects seven or eight candidates to actually make the October ballot.

“It’s not that difficult of you have teams of two or three people that go to major public events, major functions, businesses and even flea markets,” Dinelli said. “One person can gather about 30 to 40 signatures a day.”

Political blogger Joe Monahan said he thinks five or six candidates will make the ballot, and, like Dinelli, he cited the difficulty of getting those signatures without a lot of help.

“You need to turn in 5,000 signatures in order to get 3,000 valid signatures,” Monahan said. “The city clerk has historically checked petitions for accuracy, and if they aren’t checking, the other candidates will be checking. Right now it’s positioning and skirmishing, and we can’t take it seriously until the city clerk tells us who qualifies for the ballot.”

Monahan’s five picks to make the ballot are: City Councilor Dan Lewis, State Auditor Tim Keller, attorney Brian Colón, former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta and County Commissioner Wayne Johnson.

“I’m thinking as few as five or perhaps up to seven, but anything more than that would be an eyebrow raiser,” Monahan said.

Keller is the only candidate who qualified for public financing; he will receive approximately $380,000 in city money for his campaign.

Dinelli agreed with Monahan’s picks, but he added retired Albuquerque police officer Michelle Garcia Holmes, University of New Mexico student Gus Pedrotty and Old Town resident Stella Padilla to his list of those who will probably make the ballot.

Candidate Scott Madison’s experience in collecting signatures  illustrates the difficulty of trying to do it alone.

Madison, a risk manager for the U.S. Air Force’s B61 nuclear bomb modernization program, said that as of March 31, he had collected only a few hundred petition signatures. He said he couldn’t get signatures even when he had offered to pay people fifty cents a signature to go out and collect them.

“Even when you offer to pay people they are not reliable,” Madison said. “I had people lined up who said they were going to collect signatures, and when the time came and I handed them a clipboard they didn’t want to do it.”



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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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