Inside the Capitol

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3-19 Party Favorites Determined

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The biggest surprise of last weekend's Republican and Democratic nominating conventions was the impressive winning margins racked up by the victors.
The large number of candidates in the hotly contested races had produced predictions of three or four candidates getting over the 20 percent threshold in those races. Instead only one or two received the required 20 percent.
Without many public polls for guidance, pundits had to rely on claims of candidates about their own polling or estimates of candidate strength at county conventions held earlier.
A poll conducted by Prof. Jose Garcia's political science class at New Mexico State University found Pete Domenici, Jr. with a substantial lead shortly after he declared his candidacy. The findings didn't impress convention delegates but June primary election results could differ.
The strength of Domenici's father, the former U.S. senator, was never among convention delegates, who tend to be more conservative than typical Republicans. His popularity came from moderates of all stripes.
It is safe to say that despite Domenici's four percent convention showing, he will turn in the additional nominating petition signatures to qualify for the June ballot.
The 47 percent showing of Susana Martinez was highly impressive considering she began her campaign nearly unknown outside Dona Ana County
Martinez held former state GOP chairman Allen Weh to only 26 percent of the delegate vote. Her hard work and organizing skills hold promise for both the primary and general elections.
Pete Domenici, Jr. will be the wild card in the Republican gubernatorial contest. His campaign contends that the convention vote was only a straw poll.
That is an unusual stance to take considering no one "polling" in only single digits at a convention has ever won a party primary election.
Over on the Democratic side of the ledger, former state party boss Brian Colon used his connections with delegates to achieve 35 percent of the delegate vote for the lieutenant governor slot. Lawrence Rael took 22 percent. Joe Campos fell two votes short of the required 20 percent.
Two days after the Democratic convention , following a recount and a review of the law governing nominating conventions, it was determined that Campos' 19.7 percent of the vote should be rounded up to 20 percent.
Campos is now on the ballot but contends that hurdles are constantly being thrown in his path. Charges are being heard that Colon is being helped by Democratic officials including Gov. Bill Richardson.
Richardson has not made an endorsement in the race but some critics charge that he is helping Colon financially and otherwise.
The two other candidates in the Democratic lieutenant governor's race, Sens. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Linda Lopez, vow to obtain the additional signatures to be on the ballot.
It appears the state GOP has ruled against putting Adam Kokesh on the 3rd Congressional District ballot. Kokesh received 19.5 percent of the convention vote.
In the GOP lieutenant governor race, Brian Moore, of Clayton, received a surprising 41 percent of the vote. Kent Cravens and John Sanchez, both of Albuquerque received in the 20 percent range. Moore did quite well in the remainder of the state.
Sanchez took third place on the ballot and J.R. Damron of Santa Fe failed to make the ballot. Sanchez and Damron are the past two GOP convention choices for governor. This may show a Republican preference for new faces in the party.
As expected, former state Land Commissioner Ray Powell scored an easy victory over his opponents his attempt to seek a third term.
And over on the Republican side of that race, Matt Rush, in somewhat of a surprise, outdistanced his three opponents easily.
FRI, 3-19-10

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



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