Inside the Capitol

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2-1 GOP Begins filling Election Slate

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The state GOP has found a solution to having a dozen candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and state Land Office while having none for secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and attorney general.
Its simple. Talk some of them into running for something else. That isn't easy, of course. Why buck the odds and run for an office Republicans almost never win?
One answer might be that if a Republican wins the gubernatorial race, a top job in the next administration might be offered to those who make a good effort.
It won't be easy to win one of those posts. The four races for which the GOP could not find a candidate are held by Democratic incumbents who are eligible to run for a second term.
Getting in this late means scrambling to get new petition signatures and raise some money. The state GOP can help with some of that out of gratitude for having what looks like a slate of candidates.
After all, the Republican Party has to do something to fulfill my predictions that the GOP isn't dead. I've received some teasing about those predictions.
Actually winning will be almost impossible. But without some competition, the four Democratic incumbents can spend their campaign time helping their candidate for governor.
Errol Chavez will move from the state Land Office race to the state auditor's contest. Little chance exists for primary election competition so consider Chavez the GOP nominee.
Chavez says he is glad state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates recruited him to run for auditor because he is now in his element. Chavez has spent 36 years in law enforcement, most of it with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, tracking down corruption. And that's what he will do as state auditor.
Attorney Marco Gonzales will run for secretary of state. In 2008, Gonzales unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District.
Some are surprised Gonzales didn't take on the attorney general race. Gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez has been encouraged to switch to the attorney general contest but she still has high hopes for governor.
As Democrats lose traction on the national level, the governor's office is beginning to appear as though it might be within reach for the GOP. And Pete Domenici, Jr.'s entry into that race adds another strong candidate.
It also is surprising to have a male in the secretary of state race. It has happened before but not successfully since the early 1920s, when women won the right to vote. The post has not been held by a Republican since the beginning of the Great Depression.
But this could be a year when Republicans can put up a good fight. Recent Democratic secretaries of state have had trouble getting the records the office maintains into an electronic form accessible to the public
.And there is the problem with the investigation of former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron for misuse of federal election funds.
So here's how the state Republican ticket looks now. Running for governor are Allen Weh, Janice Arnold-Jones, Susana Martinez and Pete Domenici, Jr.
Candidates for Lieutenant governor are Dr. J.D. Damron and former Reps. Brian Moore and John Sanchez. That's a pretty heavy duty field. Both Damron and Sanchez are former Republican gubernatorial nominees.
Republican hopefuls for the state Land Office are Bob Cornelius, Matt Rush, Jim Jackson and Spiro Vassilopoulos. Why such a big crowd? That's a race Republicans have won three times in the past few decades. The current land commissioner is Republican Pat Lyons, who has served two terms so can't run for another.
Lyons has declared for the Public Regulation seat from southeastern New Mexico, currently held by Republican David King, who also is term limited.
Last week former Rep. Bob Corn, of Roswell, also tossed his hat in, making that another hot GOP primary race.
MON, 2-01-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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