Over 96,000 Albuquerque residents exercised their right to vote in the mayoral runoff election Tuesday — a race that was decided in under just one hour.
Democrat Timothy “Tim” Keller claimed 62 percent of the votes, making him the next mayor of Albuquerque. His opponent, Republican Daniel “Dan” Lewis, only managed 37 percent.
“The early vote numbers look encouraging,” said Elizabeth “Liz” Keller after the polls officially closed at 7 p.m.
Shortly after she left the stage, it was announced that Keller won the race.
“For the second time, Albuquerque has spoken,” Keller said in his victory speech. “And this time it was loud and clear.”
In the initial election on Oct. 3, no one received 50 percent of the votes necessary to take home the win that night. Keller came away with about 40 percent, and Lewis finished second with 23 percent, resulting in a runoff election.
Hundreds of Keller supporters gathered at Hotel Andaluz in Downtown Albuquerque Tuesday night to watch the election results live.
The watch party had an atmosphere that closely resembled a concert — music blared, the crowd was shoulder-to-shoulder and all eyes were waiting to see the special guest, Keller himself.
Keller said a night like Tuesday is one of those “rare points in your life” — placing it right after his wedding day and the birth of his children.
Being in a room full of people who supported him throughout his campaign, both strangers and people who have known him his entire life, is something he said he will never forget.
“It feels like the vision we had for this city was totally correct,” said Jessie Lane Hunt, Keller’s campaign manager, when asked how she felt after the win.
Keller said his win marks the beginning of a generational shift in Albuquerque, because he is closer to his college years than the end of his career — that’s the first time a mayor has been able to say that in about 20 years, he said.
“I’m really happy I was late to my studio class to vote for (Keller),” said Makayra Yeager, a freshman at the University of New Mexico majoring in music education. “It was definitely worth it.”
Lewis’ watch party had a somber mood as the supporters tried to hold onto hope before he made his concession speech.
Just before 8 p.m. Lewis addressed the crowd, commended Keller on the win and thanking his supporters for their votes and efforts throughout his campaign.
“I want to congratulate Tim Keller on the win,” Lewis said opening up his speech. “I’m (going to) continue to work hard as a businessman in this city.”
Lewis’ supporters were flooded with disappointment over the early loss.
“It was an uphill battle from the very beginning,” said Bronson Reyes, an Albuquerque realtor and Lewis supporter.
Stewart Bragg, Lewis’ campaign manager, said he could not be more proud of him.
“I’m absolutely honored to be a part of (his campaign),” he said.
Former mayoral candidate Gus Pedrotty said Tuesday night was a continuation of Oct. 3.
“With races, there’s a winner and there’s a set of losers, and especially being among them you understand that now is a time to come together again,” Pedrotty said. “It’s exciting to see that we can consolidate and move forward with ideas.”
Keller was not the only Democrat to win on Tuesday. Cynthia Borrego won the City Council District 5 election over Robert Aragon with 54 percent of the votes.
The election of Borrego gives Democrats the majority in a nonpartisan City Council, which could potentially ensure that Keller has a veto-proof council if members vote along party lines.
“I know we are going to do the best job possible,” said Borrego addressing the crowd during the Keller watch party.
As his speech closed, Keller said his work as the new mayor of Albuquerque would begin as soon as possible.
“Tonight we celebrate — tomorrow we get to work,” he said.
Kyle Land is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @Kyleoftheland.
Madison Spratto is a news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Madi_Spratto.