This will come as no surprise to anyone who has read our coverage of the city of Albuquerque these last six months — or for anyone who knows the party affiliations of the three mayoral candidates. There is one Progressive in the race, one Constitutionalist lawman who meanders Left, and one Conservative.
The Albuquerque mayoral race is technically non-partisan. For those who already voted, you noticed there’s no R or D next to the names. Listen to one debate and you can tell who’s who.
But the party line doesn’t matter as much as the policy positions, and our endorsement was based on a three-point system, representing what we think are the top three issues facing Albuquerque: Crime, homelessness, and COVID.
Incumbent Tim Keller is 0 for 3. His approach to crime has been dismal, homicides set records two out of four years, and by his own admission homelessness is nearly double what it was when he took over. Keller seems like a nice guy. Nice is nice. He’s smart. He is the polished politician on the debate stage that makes voters feel like they’re in good hands. He’s not too crazy. He doesn’t get angry, but he’s not too wooden and boring either.
If this were a high school student body election we’d endorse him. But we’re dealing with real problems, and Keller just hasn’t delivered.
Manny Gonzales is 1.5 for 3.
Gonzales’ crime platform is solid. His long career at the sheriff’s department and record (though controversial for Leftists) of backing his deputies against use of force allegations would bring the credibility needed to make Albuquerque police feel like they have a leader at city hall who has their back.
But Gonzales allowed his deputies to enforce illegal mask mandates, including issuing citations, despite claiming to stand for individual liberties when it comes to COVID. His plan for homelessness is Keller lite. It’s easy to identify the contributors to homelessness, and Gonzales has, but the solutions he proposes — “screening, wrap-around services, and resources to address their situation” — is vague on details and wrong in principle. Hiring a liberal Californian to run his campaign was the last straw for us.
Eddy Aragon is 3 for 3.
We support medical autonomy and believe mask mandates and lockdowns are backward policies that infringe on personal freedom and hurt the local economy. Aragon is the only candidate to refuse the vaccination and the only candidate to protest with the nurses and parents who want the freedom to choose what they put in their bodies.
On homelessness, Aragon is the only candidate who takes the principled stance of not doing for others what they can do for themselves. He proposes offering treatment for mental health issues and drug addiction but strictly enforcing petty crimes like theft, loitering, and prostitution. If the homeless won’t accept help, he will remove them from the city.
Liberals don’t like to hear this, but there is no solution to homelessness. Cities that have “solved” the problem didn’t. They simply relocated the problem to cities that are more tolerant of transients. We can do this by physically moving them — offering cash to get out of dodge — or forcing them out with strict enforcement of city ordinances. But continually offering housing and food and clothing and medical services is only making the problem worse, for obvious reasons.
On crime, Aragon proposes combining broken windows policing with more men on the streets. But he’s not throwing out generic statements like “we need more police.” He claimed at a recent debate that while combing through the city budget he found $50 million that can be moved over to the police department to fund $18,000 in raises for officers.
Keller has been sitting on a fully funded police department for years (he walks the #DefundPolice line carefully, siding with the reformers but using “reimagine policing” rhetoric), but he hasn’t been able to put the number of cops on the beat that we need to quell crime.
The reasons for this are obvious. They’re simply not supported. Keller has focused more on his signature police oversight and community policing programs than he has violent crime. Letting cops do their jobs and paying them more to do it will go a long way to reducing crime in Albuquerque. And if it doesn’t work, Aragon has vowed not to run for re-election.
Can Aragon pull it off?
The Albuquerque Journal’s just-released poll shows Keller with a 33 point lead over his next closest opponent — and that opponent is Gonzales. Aragon is a distant third place with 13% support, according to the poll.
Can you believe the polls? No. A sample size of 536 people is small, and with 12% of respondents undecided a week before Election Day, this race could go any direction. Still, for Aragon (or Gonzales, for that matter) to beat Keller, the poll would have to be off by 10 or 15% and Keller would have to lose all of the undecided.
But we’re not here to predict the outcome of the election*. We’re here to advance Conservative principles. Aragon is the closest to our philosophy out of any of the candidates. And a principled Conservative wouldn’t compromise their values just because their guy isn’t the odds-on favorite.
While Aragon probably won’t pull out a win—because Albuquerque voters are Liberal, politics favors personality over policy, and Aragon got into the race too late—he still managed to advance the Conservative cause and get out a message that, if more voters would give it a chance, could make a positive impact on the city of Albuquerque, as it has elsewhere.
Had Aragon started earlier and either qualified for public financing or launched a Spring fundraising campaign, he would have been able to compete financially with his opponents, which is necessary for an outsider who is largely unknown outside of the Conservative radio crowd.
Like Trump, Aragon is his own worst enemy. He thinks fast, talks fast, and acts fast. He doesn’t care what people say about him, he didn’t beg for endorsements or pander to party kingmakers, and he doesn’t care who he offends. All of this is on display every afternoon on his radio show, and each is a potential strength as a political candidate.
But when you launch a last-minute campaign and people don’t have enough time to become familiar with “Aragon the man” versus “Aragon the radio personality,” it’s hard to win the hearts and minds of voters. Which is why even some within his own party have opposed him this election. He is right on policy but rough on personality, and without enough money to saturate the airwaves, voters will go with what they know.
Which is unfortunate.
The status quo hasn’t worked. We know that more freedom is never the wrong answer. And it’s for those reasons we endorse Eddy Aragon or Albuquerque Mayor.
* – For the record, our editorial board was split on how the vote would be divided. One predicted Keller at 55%, Gonzales 27%, Aragon 18%; another said 60% Keller, Gonzales 28%, Aragon 12%; and another said Keller 52%, Gonzales 25%, Aragon 23%.
- “Mayor’s Race Heats Up: The Case for Eddy Aragon“
- “ABQ Voters Have Two Choices for Mayor: Eddy Aragon Or More of the Same“
- “Manny Gonzales’ Campaign Being Run By California Leftist“
- “Gonzales Derails Mayoral Debate Amid Criminal Fraud Investigation“
- “Sheriff Cites Facebook And Blog Post As Basis For DWI, Affair, Domestic Allegations in Mayoral Race“
Categories: ABQ Mayoral Race 2021