Campaign cash, real estate money fueling City Council runoffs - Albuquerque Journal

Campaign cash, real estate money fueling City Council runoffs

District 7 Albuquerque City Council candidates Tammy Fiebelkorn, left, and Lori Robertson

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The real estate industry and Democratic politicians are pouring money into the Albuquerque City Council runoff election, helping the four candidates still in contention raise nearly $180,000 combined in a month.

Heading into the final week of the campaign, District 7 hopefuls Tammy Fiebelkorn, a Democrat, and Lori Robertson, a Republican, are in a financial dead heat. Each has raised about $44,000 total during the runoff cycle and has a current balance of nearly $33,000, according to finance reports filed with the city.

In the District 9 runoff, Democrat Rob Grilley has a financial edge over his Republican opponent Renee Grout. Grilley, who has outraised Grout by about 14%, has nearly $33,000 still in hand compared to her $25,265, records show.

Next Tuesday’s runoff election will settle the two remaining council contests and, although the races are technically nonpartisan, determine the political balance of the city’s nine-member legislative body. The winners will join four Democrats and three Republicans.

Robertson, a real estate agent, has raked in cash from the real estate and construction industries. Her top donors – each giving $1,499 – include Clay Azar of Metro Commercial Realty, Deborah Harms of Sun Vista Commercial Real Estate, Dale Armstrong of TLC Plumbing, and the commercial real estate development association, NAIOP New Mexico. She’s also received big contributions from the oil industry, including $1,400 from Harvey Yates and another $1,400 from Jalapeño Corp.

District 9 Albuquerque City Council Candidates Rob Grilley and Renee Grout

Grout has received support from similar donors, including $1,499 each from NAIOP and Armstrong, and $1,400 from Jalapeño Corp. She also reported $1,499 each from The Auto Clinic (her family’s car repair shop), James Grout and Jeree Hindi Tomasi.

Fiebelkorn and Grilley, meanwhile, have been banking cash from other Democratic officials’ campaigns. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s campaign gave $1,499 each to Fiebelkorn and Grilley. New Mexico Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart’s campaign gave $1,000 to each, as did the campaign for House Majority Leader Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque.

Jim Collie, a former Democratic member of the Bernalillo County Commission, also has given each $1,000. Other donors who gave to both Democratic council candidates include businessmen Paul Blanchard, Steven Chavez and Charles Fresquez who each contributed $1,499 to Fiebelkorn and Grilley.

Grilley also has received $1,499 from the Albuquerque Area Firefighters Union.

There are also multiple political action committees fundraising and spending in the council runoff elections, reports show:

– Healthy Economies Lead to Progress – powered by real estate money – is working to elect Robertson and Grout. It has raised $42,200 during the runoff, and has $60,212 still in hand due to carryover from the regular election.

– ABQ Workers First, a union-backed PAC supporting Fiebelkorn and Grilley, has raised $62,500 during the runoff cycle and still has $10,034 available.

– The Democratic Party of New Mexico’s PAC, which is also backing Fiebelkorn and Grilley, has raised $25,360 and has a current balance of $10,137.

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