Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12-14 Outsiders Preempting NM Voters


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- New Mexican voters will have some interesting federal contests in which to make decisions. But unfortunately, in some races, those decisions already are being made for us by others.

      In the presidential races, New Mexico voters will get very little say. Democrats again will hold a presidential caucus the first Tuesday in February.

   But whereas four years ago all presidential candidates had been here at least once and some several times, this year, only Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich have been in the state.

   And Kucinich hasn't paid his $2,500 yet to get on New Mexico's ballot. At present, only Richardson and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd will be on the caucus ballots.

   On Feb. 5, New Mexico Democrats will get an opportunity to give Gov. Richardson the great majority of the state's nominating convention ballots -- if Richardson still is in the hunt by then.

   Four years ago, New Mexico was one of the first states in the Democratic presidential selection process. This year, 10 states are ahead of us and 23 states will vote on Feb. 5.

   As for New Mexico's Republicans, they vote on June 3, dead last in the process and likely four months after 33 other states already have chosen the GOP nominee.

   In the U.S. Senate race, Rep. Tom Udall appears to have the Democrat nomination sewed up, partly as the result of the national party's intervention that resulted in Udall being convinced to run for the post and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez being told that he will receive no national help if he wins the Democratic nomination.

   The Republican U.S. Senate primary is wide open with U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson going head to head for the opportunity to defend the GOP seat from Democratic incursion.

   In the 1st Congressional District, it appears that national Republican intervention has tried to clear the field for Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White. Mark Boitano, a state senator who was thinking about running, reports he was given about the same message as Chavez received. So far Boitano is staying out of the race, as is state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones who also was eyeing the contest.

   But nothing deters state Sen. Joe Carraro, a maverick Albuquerque Republican who has run often for higher office, most recently for Sen. Jeff Bingaman's seat two years ago. He lost the primary race and complained that party officials were backing Dr. Allen McCulloch of Farmington.

   On the Democrat side, several candidates are in, but the word is the state party still is looking for a heavyweight to add to the field.

   The 2nd Congressional District appears to be where the most fun is to be had this year. Both parties have wide-open races, with additional candidates still getting in.

   In the 3rd Congressional District, what once appeared to be such a large Democratic field that there was a fear none of them would receive the required 20 percent of the nominating convention vote, the pack now is being thinned significantly.

   Four major candidates have recently dropped out of the race, leaving Public Regulation Commission Chairman Ben Ray Lujan as the presumed winner.

   Political observers are speculating that Lujan's father, House Speaker Ben Lujan, has orchestrated an effort to clear the field for his son.

   Some candidates will remain in the race but the Democrats' pre-primary nominating convention is expected to give none of them the required 20 percent of votes, leaving Lujan as the one candidate on the ballot.

   On the GOP side, there isn't expected to be much of a choice for voters either. The district leans Democrat enough to make the race not very attractive for Republican candidates.

   Ron Dolin, who ran an almost-zero-budget campaign two years ago has thought about getting in. But now Marco Gonzales a former Pete Domenici staffer, is looking at it and should make a respectable showing.

FRI, 12-14-07


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

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



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