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Former Arizona Rep. Giffords endorses Keller

The gun violence prevention group co-founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was severely wounded in an assassination attempt in 2011, has endorsed Tim Keller in Albuquerque’s mayoral race.

Giffords, the nonprofit founded by the former congresswoman and her husband, retired astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, announced its endorsement of Keller and mayoral candidates in Seattle and Boston on Tuesday.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

“Our nation needs bold leaders like Tim Keller, who prioritize public safety instead of parroting the gun lobby’s talking points,” the former Arizona congresswoman said in a news release. “Tim’s plan to combat gun violence includes supporting local, state, and federal regulations that target the trafficking of illegal guns.”

Giffords was among 19 people shot in Tucson in 2011 by Jared Loughner, who was sentenced to life in prison. Six people died in the shooting. Giffords, who was shot in the head, is partially paralyzed and suffers from a language disorder. She said more than 36,000 Americans were killed by guns last year.

During recent debates, Keller has said there are sensible things that can be done to curb gun violence, including clamping down on the sale of unregistered guns through Craigslist-type sites and throwing the book at convicted criminals caught with illegal firearms.

Dan Lewis, his opponent, has been endorsed by the NRA. Lewis has said the Legislature should tack on a 10-year sentence for violent felons who use guns.

Election day is Nov. 14.

LOCATION POLITICS: Some of the more colorful exchanges between Lewis and Keller in recent weeks have centered on Keller’s move from the International District, which he had previously represented in the state Senate, to the Albuquerque Country Club area.

“Tim doesn’t live in that district anymore. He moved to the Country Club,” Lewis said during one such exchange at last week’s mayoral debate at the Albuquerque Press Club. “Why would you move away from the district you want to fight for…?”

Keller said he loved serving the International District.

“Look, I love my family. We had a second kid. That’s why I moved,” he said. “I was in infill housing. It was really small, and when Jack was born we needed a bigger house.

“And when I was in high school, I dated a girl in the Country Club, and I picked her up for prom, and I saw that neighborhood and those big trees and I literally was like, some day I am going to try to move here. And I am so happy that I have that opportunity. I’m thankful for it every day. It’s a great neighborhood. It’s a lot more diverse than I think he’s making it sound.”

A few minutes later, Lewis brought it up again, saying people in the International District need help.

“But you moved away from there,” he said. “So, I’m glad for you, Tim. Really happy for you. Happy for your family…”

Martin Salazar: msalazar@abqjournal.com

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