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Mayoral Candidate Finances: Who Got And Who Gave

Mayoral Candidate Finances: Who Got And Who Gave

The biggest campaign finance issue is will the candidates be able to run a respectable and effective citywide television and radio campaign, including mail drops to educate and inform the public?

BY PETE DINELLI

The July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Reports for mayor of Albuquerque have now been filed with the City Clerk.

What is always glossed over is what candidates have spent money on and what they have left to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign.

There are only 10 weeks remaining until the Oct. 3, 2017 municipal election.

The biggest campaign finance issue is will the candidates be able to run a respectable and effective citywide television and radio campaign, including mail drops to educate and inform the public?

Political television ads, especially negative ads, can affect poll numbers and the outcome of the race.

POLL NUMBERS VERSUS VOTER TURNOUT

Political insiders and pundits claim a few polls have Tim Keller with a comfortable lead with his poll numbers in the high 20s or low 30s, while Dan Lewis and Brian Colón are running neck-and-neck for second place, with all other candidates having very low single-digit poll numbers.

Inside sources are saying the polls show there is a high “undecided” number of voters, as much as 40 percent.

A sizable percentage of undecided voters should be no surprise seeing as it is summer, people are taking vacations and the average voter is not paying attention to the race.

The race is still early for any significant amount to be spent by any candidate on media.

At this point the polls are more a reflection of name recognition than public support which would explain why Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller, Republican Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis and former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colón are the top three tier candidates with their name identification and with Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson probably coming in fourth at this point in the race.

From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout. The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older and conservative.

Four years ago, only 19 percent of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977.

BRIAN COLÓN

Colón appears to be the only candidate thus far that has a large bank roll for television and media. He has raised more than $600,000 to date.

Over the last three months, Colón has only spent $54,000 on his campaign. During the last reporting period, he raised $263,000, and has $517,000 available to continue his campaign.

Following are the latest monetary contributors to Colón’s campaign:

1. Monetary donors listed who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Diane Perez, Fed Perez, Allegiance Realty Corporation, Alex Martin Chavez, Gab Alarid, Bryon Perez, Brent DuPont, Luis Robles, Cordova Contracting, Ivan Santistevan, Jared Cobb, Hammer Enterprises, Chavez Law Offices, Larry I. Garcia, Pearlene Garcia, Pamela Wynn, Paul Wynn, Brian Hutson, Kayla Herig, Kevin Herig ($4,750), Christina Anaya ($4,650), Eilee DePonte and United Contractors.

2. Monetary donors listed who have contributed between $2,500 to $3,500 during the most recent collection period include: Alegando Blake, James Gonzales, Lauren Keefe, Gabe Alarid, Byron Paez, John Eave, Maria Cornay, Michael Granjean, Jill Montoya, Michael Montoya, Diana Cervantez, William Cervantes, John Eaves and Aleli Colón.

There are numerous donations of anywhere between $100 to $2,000 or more to Colón’s campaign during the last reporting period.

As a privately finance candidate, Colón can continue to raise as much money as he can up and until election day.

TIM KELLER

Keller is the only publicly financed candidate.

Upon being qualified for public financing, Keller agreed in writing to spending caps and he is strictly prohibited from soliciting and using donations from any other source to run his campaign.

On April 3, the Keller campaign was given $342,952 by the City of Albuquerque in public finance paid by the Albuquerque City Clerk.

The July 14 Keller Campaign Finance Report lists Total Expenditures to date of $130,863.63 of which the following amounts were paid to “Rio Strategies” for consulting and staff salaries and campaign management:

April 17, “Consulting” $42,110.31

April 17, “Staff Salary for Jan-March” $10,471.72

May 10, “Staff Salaries and Campaign Management” $20,784.24

June 6, “Staff Salaries and Campaign Management” $14,410.14

July 11, “Staff Salaries and Campaign Management” $14,201.60

Total: $101,978.01

Keller’s report also shows that on July 11, the campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA Strategies,” with an Albuquerque address, for “research”.

According to their website, “GBA Strategies” is a consulting firm that does research and “offers broad expertise in survey research and strategic consulting in corporate communications, branding strategy, international relations, and political campaigns at all levels of government.

“From Democratic candidates for office to socially conscious small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, labor unions and progressive ballot initiative campaigns to world famous cultural institutions, think tanks to advocacy groups and civic organizations, we delve deeply into our clients’ issues and audiences, conduct high-quality research, and develop winning game plans.”

It appears that Keller’s campaign is in severe jeopardy of being underfunded to finance a realistic and viable media campaign on its own.

The Keller campaign has spent $116,978 of the $342,952 in public financing on campaign staff, consultants and political research, leaving $225,974 available to the campaign until the Oct. 3 election for a television and radio media buy.

According to the Albuquerque City Charter, for the first election, qualifying public financed candidates for mayor are given $1 per registered voter in the city. If the candidate makes it into the runoff, they are given an additional 33 cents per registered voter or approximately $118,000 for the runoff.

In the event Keller in fact gets in a runoff, his campaign will be given approximately $118,000 more in public finance funds.

THE KELLER MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE

Keller thus far is the only mayoral candidate who has a measured finance committee. It is called ABQ Forward Together and was formed on his behalf to support his run for mayor.

Neri Holguin is identified as the committee’s chairperson.

Holguin’s company, Holguin Campaigns and Communications, and its website, lists as former clients the 2008 Tim Keller for State Senate (Primary) and Tim Keller for State Senate District 17 (General, 2012).

The committee has received $21,600 in contributions, spent a little more than $19,000, and has under $2,600 left.

Monetary donors to “ABQ Forward Together” include: New York City business owner Paul Rudd, $8,000; Santa Fe resident Alan Webber, $250; Santa Fe business owner Bill Miller, Miller Strategic Consulting, $500; Santa Fe resident and business owner Beth Beloff, $500; Santa Fe real estate professional Steve Flance, $250; Santa Fe health care professional David Joseph, $250; Santa Fe business owner (Best Daze Inc) Len Goodman, $500; Albuquerque business owner (Consultant) Sandy Buffet, $2,500; “RG Strategies” (Rich Guay Consulting), $1,000; Albuquerque business owner (Los Poblanos Historic Inn) Penny Rembe, $1,000; State Senator Bill Tallman, $400; State Senator and attorney Jacob Candelaria, $500; Albuquerque finance investor David Blanc, $500; retired Albuquerque resident Marla Painter, $2,000; Albuquerque City Councilor Ike Benton, $200; Albuquerque resident David Vogel, $1,000; and Albuquerque Attorney John Boyd, $200.

On July 10, ABQ Forward Together paid $15,000 to “GBA strategies,” Washington, D.C., address, for “research fees”.

The next day, Keller’s campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA strategies” for “research” for a total of $30,000.

The campaign finance reports do not report if the separate $15,000 amounts paid were charges for the exact same work and services to be shared by both campaigns.

On July 13, the committee paid $2,500 to Holguin Consulting, Inc. for “consulting fees”.

The fact that ABQ Forward Together is a measure finance committee, registered with the City Clerk’s office, means it is not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like the individual candidates.

ABQ Forward Together will be able to continue to raise money up and through to the election day and beyond for a runoff election if Keller gets into the runoff.

If a billionaire donor such as George Sorus, the Koch Brothers or organized labor make a financial contribution of more than 30 percent of the mayor’s salary to ABQ Forward Together, their names must appear in the name of the measured finance committee.

DAN LEWIS

Lewis came in second raising money and raised $160,050.50 during the reporting period. He has spent $117,841.82 and has $192,588.87 left in his campaign coffers.

Following are monetary contributors listed in Lewis’ campaign:

1. Monetary donors listed in the July 14 Campaign Finance Report who have contributed $5,000 or more to the Dan Lewis campaign for mayor include: Mary Merrill, Michael Merrill, Sunwest Trust Inc., Jude Baca, Paul Wynn, 4 NM PAC, Albuquerque New Car and Truck Dealers.

2. Monetary donors listed in the July 14 Campaign Finance Report who have contributed between $2,000 and $4,000 to the Dan Lewis campaign for mayor include: Larry Chavez, NTEGRATED Construction Services, Rebeca Gonzales, Manuel Archuleta, Dorothy Rainosek, Justin Baird, Steven Maestas, Phillip Oppedahl, New Mexico Restaurant Investors, Reform Sandoval County, Wayne Mitchell, Platinum Builders Corp., Marco Gonzales, Deborah Maestas, Michael Castro, James Gutherie, Conservative Alliance Committee, and Premier Consultants, LLC.

3. Monetary donors listed in the July 14 Campaign Finance Report who have contributed $1,000 include: Dee Dennis, Jr., Avalon Building, LLC, Precision Surveys, Inc., Joe & Sons Inc, Mark Wiggins, Cliff’s Amusement Park, Pete V. Domenici, Jr., Post Tension Reinforcing Services, Robert Perry, David King ($1,250), Associated Contractors of New Mexico, Albuquerque Center for Plastic Surgery, White Rock Crushing ($1,500), Michael Thompson, Brad Day, Gary Hays, J.D. Holdings, LLC, Robert Wood, James Paul Lewis, John Mancini, Butch Mathews, Riveside West, LLC, Paul Szymanski, and the Mudd Brothers.

As it stands now, Lewis will have very little cash on hand to run a viable, traditional media political campaign on TV and radio.

However, Lewis appears to be running a “social media” campaign for mayor and may not feel much will be needed for television and radio buys.

Lewis has produced and released 2 minutes or more commercials on Facebook that are impressive and and well produced. The ads released on Facebook have been logged as having been viewed by tens of thousands with numerous comments.

At the end of one of the advertisements, the Stoneridge Group is identified as producing the commercial.

The Stoneridge Group is “a political campaign marketing firm based in Alpharetta, Georgia, with offices in Louisville, Kentucky. The company provides the following services to pro-life, Republican campaigns, associations, and nonprofits: voter contact mail, website design and complete online campaigns, print and collateral items, and strategic consulting.”

The July 14 finance reports reflect the Dan Lewis campaign paid the following amounts to Stoneridge Group:

April 24 $8,500 for “Digital, Video Photography”

May 3, $2,810 for “Digital Media”

May 4, $13,313 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Consulting”

May 5, $11,500 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”

May 5, $5,300 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”

There are severe doubts that a “social media” campaign will actually reach the older, conservative voters who are 50 years of age or older and do not use social media such as Facebook.

RICARDO CHAVES

Republican Ricardo Chaves is a highly successful Albuquerque businessman and the founder of Parking Company of America. Chaves is a “self-financed” candidate for mayor.

Notwithstanding his self-financing campaign, Chaves reported receiving $8,647.48 in contributions in his July 14 campaign report. Chaves reported that he personally loaned his campaign another $200,000 resulting in a total of $500,000.

Chaves reported he has spent $134,666.27 on his campaign and he has $373,981.53 remaining in his campaign account.

The July 14 finance report reflects the following expenditures were made to SC Consulting (Steve Cabiedes):

April 10, Consulting Fee, $500.00

April 19, Consulting Fee, $6,975.31

April 26, Consulting Fee, $273.00

April 26, Consulting Fee, $15,331.54

April 28, Consulting Fee, $3,027.48

Total: $26,107,33

SC Consulting is the consulting firm believed to be responsible for the successful signature gathering of over 3,000 signatures of registered voters gathered within two weeks to get Chaves on the ballot.

Chaves’ campaign paid the following sums to Robert E. Cornelius for “Campaign Consulting and Management” services:

May 17, $25,000

June 21, $75,000

Total: $100,000

The fact that Chavez has personally loaned his campaign $500,000 and has spent $126,107.33 in consulting fees indicates he is a serious candidate and is prepared to spend whatever he feels is necessary on media to win the election.

WAYNE JOHNSON

Johnson came in fourth in fundraising activity for the reporting period among the privately financed candidates. He raised $121,944 during the last period and now has $187,000 cash on hand with $88,511.24 having been reportedly raised during the first reporting period.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14 Campaign Finance Report for Wayne Johnson:

1. Donors who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Keith Cheshire, Sedillo 500, Mosher Enterprises, 3313 Girard LLC, Vista Encantada Realtors, Mount Corporation.

2. Donors who have contributed $2,000 to $3,000 during the most recent collection period include: Ted Martinez, Steve Maestas, Wilson Law Firm, Admiral Beverage Company, Don Kaufman, Harrison Schmitt, Kevin Yearout, Russ Rhodes ($3,193) and LPG Enterprises, Don Bruckner ($3,193).

3. Donors who have contributed $1,000 during the most recent collection period include: Nancy Johnson, Scott Throckmorton, Lisa Torraco, NM Dental PAC, Hal Stratton, Doug Turner, Mike Frese, Gene Hinkle, Martin Haagmans, Steve Maestas and GCC Rio Grande, Titan Property Management, LLC, John Rockwell, Mike Mechenbeir and Paul Szymanski.

The amount raised by Johnson to date raises real questions as to how much more he can raise and if he will be able to get his message out with a viable media buy.

MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES

Michelle Garcia Holmes is a former Chief of Staff for the State of New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and former Albuquerque Police Department detective.

Holmes reported contributions of $22,131 with expenditures of $73.28 and a closing balance of $27, 590.11. She and her husband, Earl Holmes, each contributed $5,000 for a total of $10,000 to her campaign.

SUSAN WHEELER-DEICHEL

Susan Wheeler-Deichel is the founder of Urban ABQ, a civic group who concentrates on urban planning and promotes the “walkable city” philosophy on urban development. The Wheeler-Deichel campaign reported monetary contributions of $6,275, in-kind contributions of $420 and expenditures of $5,955.23.

Of the $6,275 in monetary contributions, $6,175 was a personal loan to her campaign.

GUS PEDROTTY

Gus Pedrotty is a recent University of New Mexico graduate having earned two degrees.

Pedrotty reported beginning monetary contributions of $1,506, monetary contributions for the reporting period of $2,955, in-kind contributions of $81.95 and total expenditures for the period of $2,474 with a closing balance of $1,986.64.

Pedrotty is a privately financed campaign so he can continue to raise as much money as he can up and until election day, so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount is not likely given the meager amount he has raised thus far.

CONCLUSION

As the saying goes a week in politics is an eternity.

There is plenty of time for events to develop and missteps to influence the race for mayor.

However, there is precious little time to raise serious money for an effective media campaign.

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

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