2021 ABQ Mayoral Race

Lawsuits: How the ABQ Mayor’s Office Was Won

No matter who wins the Albuquerque mayoral race, they’ll have done in with the help of lawsuits and ethics complaints. 

That’s because each of the three candidates has been on both ends of court petitions or ethics complaints alleging various types of election rule violations.

First it was Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign manager who filed complaints (two) against challenger Manny Gonzales. Then it was Jason Katz, working with Gonzales’ political action committee, who filed a complaint against Keller. Even write-in candidate Patrick Sais got in a dig, also against Gonzales. 

Katz then added two more Keller complaints, followed by a lawsuit in state court by a Gonzales supporter to remove candidate Eddy Aragon from the ballot.

That’s not all, folks.

Gonzales’ PAC filed a complaint against Aragon in mid-October, which Aragon batted back with a complaint of his own. All of this happened at the same time the city attorney referred Keller’s fraud allegations against Gonzales to the state of New Mexico for a criminal investigation

And finally, an as-yet-unfiled defamation suit is being considered by Keller following a debate last week where Gonzales accused the incumbent of covering up a colleague’s alleged drunk driving crash and an affair, also claimed so far without hard evidence. 

No matter who takes the throne at city hall this winter, the victory no doubt will have been nudged forward by the legal back and forth. 

That’s not to say the petitions lack merit — though some obviously did. A judge threw out the lawsuit to remove Aragon from the ballot, Sais’ complaint was moot after the ethics board ruled on an identical complaint, and Katz himself withdrew his petitions for lack of evidence.

It’s only to say that by any reasonable standard, ten legal filings in a local election seems excessive. 

For politics junkies, the back and forth is what we live for — weighing the evidence, gauging each campaign’s response, the political maneuvering to capitalize or do damage control on the rulings themselves — but for average voters, how many are left wondering what happened to the good old days when candidates campaigned on solutions to real problems?

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