Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
In his first three weeks as a privately funded mayoral candidate, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales raised over $330,000 and is reporting more money on hand than incumbent Tim Keller.
The sheriff began seeking private donations after waging an unsuccessful legal battle for about $600,000 in public campaign financing. A judge on Sept. 14 upheld the City Clerk’s decision to deny Gonzales the taxpayer money for violating rules during the qualifying process, forcing Gonzales to pursue a new tack.
Private support materialized quickly after that, with Gonzales registering more than 900 donations by the time the latest campaign finance reporting period ended Oct. 4.
Gonzales has $332,770 in cash available for the final month of the campaign, according to a report filed Monday.
Keller – who is publicly financed and can no longer collect donations – has $313,875 in the bank, reports show.
Eddy Aragon, a conservative radio show host running a privately financed mayoral campaign, has $25,456 in cash.
Keller spent $210,835 – most of it on media services and advertising buys – between Sept. 7 and Oct. 4, reports show.
That was far more than the amounts spent by Gonzales ($26,261) and Aragon ($51,719).
But the three mayoral candidates combined did not spend as much in the last month as the political action committee pushing the city of Albuquerque’s $50 million multipurpose soccer stadium bond.
That PAC, which has changed its name to New Mexico United for All, spent $422,665 last month filling mailboxes and TV airwaves with pro-stadium messaging.
The committee is funded exclusively by New Mexico United, the second-tier professional soccer team slated to become the proposed stadium’s anchor tenant. United poured $525,000 into the committee in the last month.
There is ongoing PAC activity in the mayor’s race, too.
Build Back ‘Burque, a pro-Keller committee, raised $60,847 last month, reports show, and has $89,026 available going forward.
Save Our City, which is supporting Gonzales’ candidacy, raised $45,955 and has $56,829 still on hand.
The American Civil Liberties Union launched a PAC in September to oppose Aragon and Gonzales. ACLU seeded it with $100,000, though it has yet to spend money on the race.
The Nov. 2 election includes the Albuquerque mayor’s race, the stadium bond as well as five of the Albuquerque City Council’s nine seats.
Other notes from the Sept. 7-Oct. 4 campaign finance reports:
• Gonzales’ campaign received 20 donations either at – or just under – the city’s $6,250 limit for individual contributors. They include Admiral Beverage Corp., Cortazar Laboratories, Rodgers Plumbing & Heating Co., and Los Lunas attorney David Chavez.
• Gonzales’ biggest expenditures were payments totaling $13,333 to campaign manager Shannan Calland.
• Keller spent $113,808 on media buys through Washington, D.C.-based Buying Time, and $61,205 with Putnam Partners, a Virginia-based advertising and media firm.
• Aragon’s father, Edward J. Aragon, was the single largest donor to the Aragon mayoral campaign, giving $6,250. Ann Cherry, listed as retired, gave $6,000.
• Aragon’s largest expense was $26,194 for billboards with Clear Channel Outdoor.
• The pro-stadium PAC spent $336,813 on television production and media buys with Pennsylvania-based Win Company; $33,780 on direct mail; and $28,900 on polling.
• In support of Gonzales, Save Our City’s largest contribution came from Daskalos Investments ($10,000). Its largest expenditure was $27,093 for digital advertisements through Washington, D.C.-based Sunny Day Strategies.
• The biggest donors to the pro-Keller Build Back ‘Burque include hotelier Jim Long, the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Ted Martinez, who gave $5,000 apiece. It spent $20,000 with Colorado-based The Majority Institute on campaign consulting.
• ABQ Workers First, a PAC opposing Republican council candidates Dan Lewis and Renee Grout but supporting Democrat Lan Sena, raised $27,525 – mostly from labor unions – but did not spend any money this period.
• A separate committee, Albuquerque Ahead, raised $10,250 in support of Lewis and Grout, including $2,000 from Arizona-based GDC.
• Another PAC supporting Lewis, Grout and council candidates Lori Robertson and Louie Sanchez raised $49,339 but spent none. The New Mexico Restaurant Association led the donations with $20,000.