El Paso Mayoral Race: Predictions (pre 30 day report)

Campaign finance reports are due today, and of course we will all be taking a look at them in the next few days. But before expenditures are made public, I wanted to post a prediction on the Mayoral race that is based on the theory of Name ID being by far the most influential factor in non-partisan and primary elections. Based on that theory, and what I have observed from the campaigns and candidates, I am predicting Election Night in the El Paso Mayoral race is going to look something like:

Oscar Leeser: 40%

Dee Margo: 23%

Veronica Carbajal: 19%

Carlos Gallinar: 14%

Calvin Zieldsorf: 3%

Dino Martinez: 1%

Nobody has better Name ID in the county than Oscar Leeser. He was pretty much the only would-be candidate that had a chance of beating Veronica Escobar in 2018. I guess he didn’t like the idea of traveling to DC because he really could have won that election. The point is that the man is extremely popular in El Paso. In 2013, in a field of 8 candidates, he took 47% of the vote and then went on to destroy Escobar-O’Rourke ally Steve Ortega by taking 74% of the vote. Those are dominating numbers. Had he run for reelection in 2017 he likely would have gone unopposed or destroyed his opponent with 80% of the vote. I know Oscar thinks he can win this election without a runoff, and he has enough resources to be able to, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Considering his budget and team of consultants, Oscar Leeser is running the worst campaign in the field. Also, he is absolutely terrible at debates. It was an extremely wise decision to keep Oscar away from all debates versus Ortega. Ortega even sent out a mailer with an empty chair pictured, letting voters know that Oscar refuses to discuss the issues. It didn’t matter. Debates (or lack of participation in debates) rarely matter in influencing election results. The one good thing his campaign is doing is sending a lot of text messages. I think text messages are just as effective as phone calls, and it’s a good expenditure by any campaign. But still, there is no blockwalking being done.  If he had a monster blockwalking program, he would win without a runoff. His commercials are ineffective, so that’s not going to cut it. But he should still easily finish in first, and will easily defeat in Margo in the runoff.

Dee Margo gets the benefit of being the incumbent and the only candidate in the race conservative voters have as an option.  He also is the only candidate challenging Leeser that has Name ID. That alone should carry him to second. But he also has a huge war chest, and he knows how to campaign. While Margo is not very popular, he is still well known, and still has his base of loyal supporters.

Veronica Carbajal is by far running the best campaign in this election. She is blockwalking, phone calling, and killing it on social media. Her debate performances are outstanding. She is very charming and attractive (she even addresses the attention of her attractiveness with a TikTok video). She has an outstanding resume of community involvement. She is pretty much your profile ideal candidate, and if anyone has a chance of being the upset showing of the night, it’s Veronica Carbajal. But by upset, I mean squeaking by Margo, and getting herself into a runoff with Leeser. But despite Carbajal being the best candidate with the best campaign, it probably won’t be enough. Why? Because most voters still don’t know who she really is. Nowhere close to how voters know who Margo and Leeser are. In a city council race, Carbajal would crush it. That’s where aspiring elected leaders are supposed to start. That’s what Beto did. But she may follow Yvonne Rosales’s lead and try again in four years when it will be an open seat. Like Rosales, she would be entering her next race with some fairly strong name recognition. I am definitely a fan of Carbajal, but I just don’t see it happening this time around.

Carlos Gallinar is running a good campaign as well, and also is your profile ideal candidate, but also, no one really knows who he is. And sorry Carlos, no one cares that Escobar and Beto are endorsing you. He’s boring at best. And I would even say unlikable in the debates. He is trying a rarely used tactic for a non-partisan race and “running as a Democrat”, but unfortunately for Carlos, there will be no Ds or Rs next to any of the candidate names in this race. Also, if trying to appeal to the left, Carbajal has Carlos beat by a mile on that. Now add in that she’s a Latina, that’s a huge disadvantage for Gallinar matching up against Carbajal. It is just way too early in his political career to try for Mayor, especially in a field that already has two big Name ID mayors running. Again, should have started with council, unless maybe this is a spring board to be a favorite in 2024.

Calvin Zielsdorf is a good smart guy, with good ideas, and I’m sure he would make a fine Mayor. But the guy is completely new to politics and got as late a start as you can get, filing on the last day. By the way, there is no benefit to filing on the last day in any race. It is a huge disadvantage. The reality is, it isn’t going to happen for Calvin in this election, but I think Calvin can have a future in politics if he stays with it. But of course, he is really going to have to step it down to something like, you guessed it, city council. Maybe even County Commissioner, after all, Calvin reminds me a lot of Commissioner David Stout. If I was Calvin I would be taking huge advantage of the platform that is afforded to mayoral candidates and speak with passion about how we as a city can improve. He may not win, but he may have some of his ideas implemented.

Dino Martinez received 0.5% of the vote the last time he ran for Mayor and I don’t see him doing any better. No need to say all things I just deleted lol. Bless his heart.