From the time Brian Colón formally announced he was entering Albuquerque’s mayoral race, it was clear he would be a formidable candidate, already having amassed more than $200,000 in campaign contributions at that point.
Since his announcement in January, Colón’s campaign war chest has grown even larger, with more than $308,000 cash on hand as of March 31, according to a campaign finance report filed with the City Clerk’s Office over the weekend. And that doesn’t include the $43,000 his campaign has already spent or the $32,000 in contributions he said he has raised since March 31.
“My campaign has raised $389,834.53 to date,” Colón said Monday in a statement.
“I have long valued my community ties in the great city of Albuquerque and am pleased to have received support from some of the area’s key stakeholders,” Colon, the former chairman of the state Democratic Party, said.
But when it comes to cash on hand, Colón has competition from a local businessman who built a national company and just last week filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office to launch a mayoral run.
Ricardo Chaves, founder of Parking Company of America, has $300,000 cash on hand — money he loaned to his campaign.
“I’ve been a taxpayer for 50 years, and I’m for the taxpayers,” said Chaves, a Republican. He said government wastes too much money.
Of course, in order to get on the Oct. 3 ballot, Chaves will need to gather at least 3,000 signatures by April 28. Chaves acknowledged Monday that his late start will make that a challenge.
Three mayoral candidates have already secured the necessary signatures to secure a spot on the ballot: City Councilor Dan Lewis, State Auditor Tim Keller and Michelle Garcia Holmes, former chief of staff for the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and a retired Albuquerque police detective.
Besides Colón and Chaves, other mayoral candidates who reported significant cash on hand as of March 31 were City Councilor Dan Lewis, former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta and current Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson.
Lewis, a Republican, reported a carryover cash balance of $90,000 and contributions of nearly $101,000 from Jan. 15 to March 31. He spent nearly $45,000 and had a little more than $146,000 in the bank on March 31.
But Lewis points out that because he is already a city elected official, his latest campaign finance report didn’t capture a full three-month period. He said he has raised more than $250,000 as of Saturday.
“Our campaign reflects a large grassroots movement of people from every area of our city and small business leaders that are concerned about our future,” Lewis said in a statement. “This sends a strong message that the people in our city are willing to invest in a new leader who will make Albuquerque No. 1 for the worst place in the country to be a criminal, who will create a booming city economy and who will fix our schools.”
Archuleta, a Democrat, reported raising nearly $141,000 in cash contributions. She spent $47,000 and had nearly $94,000 cash on hand.
Johnson, a Republican, raised nearly $89,000 and spent $422. That left him with a balance of $88,500. Johnson also reported in-kind contributions totaling nearly $22,000, more than any other mayoral candidate.
“I am pleased and extremely grateful for the support my campaign has received from those who trust in my common-sense, bi-partisan leadership to build a safe and prosperous city,” Johnson said in a statement. During his campaign announcement earlier this month, he told his supporters, “This is going to be a million dollar race. I need as much financial support as you are willing to give me.”
Of the 16 candidates currently running for mayor, only Keller is running a publicly financed campaign. Keller has received roughly $380,000 in city funds, minus the seed money he raised, to run his campaign.
Prior to this year, privately financed candidates for mayor who weren’t already holding public office, didn’t have to file campaign finance disclosure statements until about 12 weeks before the election. But the City Council last month voted to require candidates for mayor and council to file quarterly reports, with April 15 being the first deadline.
Other mayoral candidates who filed a quarterly report were:
• Garcia Holmes, who reported cash contributions of $6,120 and in-kind contributions of $9,900; she reported cash on hand of $5,532.
• University of New Mexico undergraduate Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty, who reported cash contributions of $1,707 and in-kind contributions of $48; he has $1,506 on hand.
• Retired Old Town resident Stella Anne Padilla, reported cash contributions of $3,495, expenditures of $2,872 and cash on hand of $622.
• Susan Wheeler-Deichsel, founder of the civic group Urban ABQ, reported cash contributions of $1,583, in-kind contributions of $475 and expenditures of $2,287. Her campaign had a negative balance of $704.
• Elan Colello, CEO of a virtual reality company, reported that he had received no contributions as of March 31. Florida native Jacob Shull and movie theater worker Rachel Golden also reported no contributions.
Garcia Holmes, an independent, said she isn’t surprised by the amount of money flowing to some candidates.
“People associated with a (political) party tend to raise quite a bit of money,” she said. Garcia Holmes said her focus has been on getting on the ballot, and now that she has accomplished that, she will work on raising money.
“I’m not worried about other people raising money,” she said.
Mayoral candidates Lamont Davis, Scott Madison and Ian Page, who only recently filed to run, had not submitted a quarterly report as of Monday morning.