Correction issued below:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Election Day is less than two months away and the race for Albuquerque mayor is a contentious one. With mudslinging on both sides, political experts weigh in on who may come out on top.
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There will be three names on the ballot during this November’s mayoral election, but the competition between two of those candidates continues to heat up. The year started with typical campaign announcements in the race for Albuquerque mayor, but in recent months, things have turned ugly with accusations throw between the campaigns of Mayor Tim Keller and BCSO Sheriff Manny Gonzales.
“This is a bit uglier and more fireworks than we’re used to in Albuquerque mayoral races,” said Gabe Sanchez, a political science professor at UNM. He says while it’s not unusual to see conflict between candidates – especially in a reelection campaign – this year’s back-and-forth before the polls has reached a new level. “It seems like the amount of attention that’s been paid to ethics and charges on both sides is a little bit more than I’m used to in an Albuquerque mayoral race.”
The focus as of late has been public contributions with Gonzales facing an ethics board for forgery. However, those backing Gonzales, have accused Keller’s campaign of the same.
“Albuquerque’s mayoral races are supposed to be non-partisan,” said Sanchez. “I think a lot of times that leads to less direct mudslinging, but clearly in this race, we’re seeing that type of activity.”
Sanchez says contentious politics may just be a sign of the times. Another sign – the amount of PAC activity going into these races with big bucks being spent.
“It seems like every single election cycle, the amount of overall money that’s spent, including that from outside PACs, essentially appears to break records every single campaign season,” said Sanchez. “Super PACS can raise and spend as much money as they want, fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it, as long as that’s not directly coordinated with the candidate’s campaign. Candidates can be publicly financed and have outside PACs support them, as long as there’s not coordination.”
Sanchez says, originally, political experts figured this was Mayor Keller’s race to lose, but with the recent focus on crime in the city, that could put a bump in his campaign. He also pointed out how this opposition angle could hurt both Keller and Gonzales’ campaigns.
“Every day, you see more and more news focused on crime. That opens up the door for a challenger to potentially unseat the incumbent,” said Sanchez. “However, what makes this campaign so unique and so interesting is when you have a sheriff making accusations about crime. Does that undercut the ability for that oppositional candidate because obviously a lot of viewers are going to say wait a minute, if he’s the sheriff, how is he going to make accusations about crime when in theory, that’s his job to address as well.”
The election is set for Nov. 2. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there are three candidates in the Albuquerque mayoral race, including Keller, Gonzales, and Eddy Aragon. Patrick Sais is a write-in candidate. According to public candidate information, both Aragon and Sais are privately funding their campaigns.
Correction: In a previous version of this story, KRQE reported that there would be four names on the ballot. That is incorrect. Tim Keller, Manny Gonzales, and Eddy Aragon will be on the ballot. Patrick Sais is a write-in candidate.