It’s been a rough couple days for Manny Gonzales. The Bernalillo County Sheriff and Albuquerque mayoral candidate finally gave up his fight for $660,000 in public campaign financing after his legal team lost its fifth straight appeal.
Unless they were lying, you have to believe Manny’s team when they told the the State Supreme Court that it’s “impossible to win,” an “electoral death penalty,” with “write-in-like odds* of victory” to campaign without public financing.
(* I’m sure they meant no offense to write-in candidate Patrick Sais.)
In a desperate pitch to raise private donations following three months of mounting (and as-yet-unpaid) legal fees, the Manny campaign went off the rails — name-dropping Trump in a fundraising email, “unendorsing” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on social media, and generally repositioning himself to appeal to the Conservative donors he ignored when he didn’t think he’d need them.
For politics junkies it was an exciting day — it was more campaign activity in an afternoon than Manny had mustered all summer — only to be followed up by the revelation that Manny’s campaign manager, Shannan Calland, had deleted her Twitter account, which was a hotbed of anti-Trump rants and Leftist endorsements. [See “Manny Gonzales’ Campaign Being Run By California Leftist,” The Conservative New Mexican, August 29, 2021.]
While the campaign scrambles to disassociate itself from anything that even smells of Liberalism, it may be too little too late.
Manny’s strategy was apparent early on: walk softly, play up Keller’s weaknesses, and let Republican Eddy Aragon hammer Keller from the other side on the same issues (crime, homelessness, the economy).
It wasn’t a bad strategy. Albuquerque showed in 2017 that a handsome ribbon-cutter is exactly what they want in a mayor, so Manny put on his Sunday best and kept his head down.
With $660,000 in the bank, he could pump out advertising and play the do-over Democrat that Duke City needs.
But after losing the public financing fight (and racking up God-knows how much debt from his legal troubles), he knows that “milquetoast Manny” won’t draw the flood of private donations needed to make him competitive.
The gloves are reluctantly off.
But Manny still faces some obstacles, one being the obvious credibility problem that come with “unendorsing” someone just because they’re now unpopular. You can no more “unendorse” someone than you can take back your vote for her — at least not without acknowledging that your judgment was off then, which naturally leads voters to wonder why your judgment is so much better now?
With a staunch Conservative like Eddy Aragon in the race, Manny will have a hard time winning the hearts and minds of the more conservative voters he’s ignored all year.
Posturing as a moderate Democrat against the more liberal Keller was good politics at the time, but times have changed, and now Manny finds himself late to the game and without a dugout. He is not the Democrat candidate. He is not the Republican candidate. And as such he is being attacked from both.
Keller has hit him for cheating to get on the ballot, while his never-Trump base won’t let Manny forget that he worked with “Der Führer” to get federal help with local crime. Meanwhile Aragon’s supporters have been so relentless in sharing the photos of Manny and MLG that they literally forced Manny to come out and address his past coziness with the governor.
Joe Monahan wrote this morning that “Eddy and cash-starved Manny are now eating from the same trough.”
Perhaps, but there’s an alpha at the bowl now, and he doesn’t seem keen to share.
Categories: ABQ Mayoral Race 2021