Inside the Capitol

Sunday, November 18, 2007

11-26 U.S. House Races Beginning to Take Shape


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- Contests for New Mexico's three U.S. House seats are beginning to take shape. My thanks to blogger Heath Haussamen for keeping track of the long list and for his frequent updates.

      In the 1st Congressional District, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White may end up all alone on the Republican side. State Sen. Mark Boitano, who expressed interest, reports he was encouraged not to run and told he would receive no national support if he were to win the primary election.

      That has not discouraged state Sen. Joe Carraro, who often seeks higher office while in the middle of a four-year Senate term. Carraro says he is considering running.

      Also pondering a run is state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones, a bright, new face in the GOP firmament. Even without outside help, White will be a formidable candidate. Word is that the national GOP would like to conserve scarce resources by discouraging primary election competition.

      As usual, Democrats are piling into every contest they can find. In the 1st Congressional District, Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich was in the race back when it appeared he would be challenging Rep. Heather Wilson.

      Also in are former state Health Secretary Michelle Lujan-Grissom, attorney Jon Adams and teacher Jason Call.

      In the 2nd Congressional District, Republicans appear to have another one-candidate contest. Rancher and restaurant-chain owner Ed Tinsley is the only announced candidate. He ran a strong race against Steve Pearce for the seat vacated by Rep. Joe Skeen in 2002.

      Still expressing interest in the race are Sierra County GOP chairman Earl Greer, who has run for the post before; former Roswell Mayor Bill Owen; rancher Aubrey Dunn; Pete Domenici staffer Clint Chandler and former Bernalillo County GOP executive director Bob Cornelius.

      Congressional District 2 Democrats in the running include Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley, who originally was in the race to challenge Rep. Steve Pearce. McCamley's head start has enabled him to visit every county in the district and line up considerable support.

      Also in the race are retired Presbyterian minister Al Kissling, who was Rep. Pearce's Democrat opponent in 2006. After the election, Kissling vowed to be back for another try.

      Other Democratic entries are state Rep. Joseph Cervantes, former Lea County Commissioner Harry Teague and Roswell businessman and retired teacher Frank McKinnon.

      Considering the race are state Rep. Jeff Steinberg of Las Cruces and state Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming. Smith was the Democrats' entry against Pearce when Rep. Skeen retired in 2002.

      The GOP hasn't come up with a candidate yet for the 3rd Congressional District slot being vacated by Rep. Tom Udall. Los Alamos National Laboratory engineer Ron Dolin says he's considering another run. Dolin challenged Udall in 2006 and ran an extremely low-budget campaign.

      Although it is a heavily Democratic district, Republicans may try to recruit a candidate with some fundraising potential since it is an open seat.

   After all, the last time the seat was open, when Bill Richardson left to become United Nations ambassador, Republican Bill Redmond won the special election over Eric Serna, a Democrat with too much baggage.

      So far, only two Democrats have definitely announced their candidacy. They are Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya and green developer Don Wiviott, who previously had announced against Sen. Pete Domenici and pledged to spend up to $1 million of his own money to win.

      Others, who say they are awaiting Udall's official announcement, are former Santa Fe County Commissioner Javier Gonzales, Public Regulation Commission Chairman Ben Ray Lujan, former state Rep. Patsy Trujillo, Espanola Mayor Joe Maestas, Farmington City Councilor Jason Sandel and Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano

MON, 11-26-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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