With just five days to go before Election Day, Albuquerque businessman Ricardo Chaves pulled the plug on his mayoral run and threw his support behind fellow Republican Dan Lewis.
“I very much want a Republican to be our next mayor, and the only way to do this is to unite the party behind one candidate,” he said, asserting that Lewis has the best chance of being the next mayor.
Chaves, founder of Parking Company of America, made the announcement Thursday afternoon at his campaign headquarters on Fourth Street, with his family, supporters and campaign staffers nearby. Chaves’ name will still appear on the Oct. 3 ballot.
Lewis thanked Chaves.
“It is an honor to have Ricardo’s endorsement,” he said, adding that Chaves will have a seat at the table when he is elected mayor. Lewis said he’d like for Chaves to serve as an unpaid adviser, leading important initiatives like seeking ways to lessen burdens on small businesses and exploring ideas that Chaves brought up during the campaign, such as privatizing city golf courses.
“I think that Ricardo has so much to offer,” he said.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson, the only other Republican in the mayoral race, has no intention of following Chaves’ lead.
“I agree. I think there should be only one Republican in the race,” Johnson told the Journal. “I just disagree over which one that should be.”
Chaves, 81, was the only self-financed candidate in the mayor’s race, having pumped more than $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. On the campaign trail, he repeatedly told voters that they should elect a businessman as mayor to bring a common-sense approach to City Hall.
But Chaves’ campaign failed to gain traction. A Journal Poll conducted earlier this month showed Chaves receiving support from just 1 percent of likely voters. State Auditor Tim Keller and Attorney Brian Colón, both Democrats, were leading, with 25 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Lewis was running third with support from 13 percent of likely voters. Johnson had support from 7 percent of likely voters in the poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The other three candidates — independents Michelle Garcia Holmes and Susan Wheeler-Deichsel and Democrat Gus Pedrotty — were polling at 4 percent or less.
If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the top two will advance to a runoff on Nov. 14.
On Thursday, Chaves praised his campaign staffers and volunteers, saying that they had put in long hours and had shown great dedication and spirit. He told reporters that his decision to pull out of the race was a difficult one and came down to a realization that Lewis has the best chance.
“Republicans need to unite behind him,” Chaves said. “Whatever I can do for the new mayor, I’ll be glad to. I think I can contribute something. Dan has always listened to me in the past. I’m very comfortable with Dan.”
Chaves said he has been friends with Lewis for a long time and has supported him in all of his previous campaigns.
“Dan’s experience, maturity and background make him the best candidate for mayor,” he said. “His conservative principles and dedication to cutting spending and regulations match my platform and values. I appreciate his strong stand against ART, his opposition to sanctuary cities, and his full and complete support of the Albuquerque police department.”
Lewis invited Chaves’ supporters to stand with him and to help get the vote out by making calls and knocking on doors.
“There’s so much to do in the next few days getting people to go out and vote,” he said.