Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2-17 Political attention turns to June primaries

21712 races

SANTA FE – Now that the 2012 Legislature has adjourned, lawmakers can turn their attention to their impending contests for reelection. For House members it will be tricky because the shape of their districts still is in doubt.
The House district map, pushed through by a Democratic majority, was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. It was appealed and James Hall, a retired state district judge chose the Republican plan.
That decision was then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which referred it back to the district judge for further work. The Supremes set a February 27 target date for Judge Hall to submit his next attempt.
All 112 legislative seats will be up for grabs this year, with a primary the first Tuesday in June and the general election the first Tuesday in November. Some of the five Public Regulation Commission seats also will be on the ballot.
Add to that the U.S. presidential primary. It is quite a horse race right now but likely will be decided long before our last-in-the-nation election. A few pundits are predicting a drawn out race in which every delegate vote will count but don't bet on it. The Republican race already had been decided by this time four years ago.
All four Republican candidates, who still are in the race, have been certified for the New Mexico ballot. Any others who want to get on will need to submit 16,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office by March 12. If former Gov. Gary Johnson gets the Libertarian Party nomination, he will be on our November ballot.
Our U.S. Senate race, along with the three House races also will be on the June ballot. Those candidates will face a pre-primary nominating convention in mid-March to determine who gets on the ballot. It takes a vote of 20 percent of the delegates to get on our state ballot. Filing additional signatures also will get a candidate on the ballot but that never has been a road to victory.
Most of the congressional races have seen some action lately so let's look at those.
In the U.S. Senate primary, the big news is that Lt. Gov. John Sanchez has withdrawn his candidacy. That throws a very new dynamic into the race. Two candidates remain from the original four. Bill English, of Alamogordo, withdrew earlier and threw his support behind Greg Sowards of Las Cruces.
Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson remains the favorite in the race and at this point appears to be a prohibitive favorite. She has about $1.2 million in her campaign account.
Sowards has $636,000, which isn't shabby but the question is will he use it and how will he use it?
Like Newt Gingrich, Sowards fired his campaign staff a few months ago. He has replaced some of them but will he be able to develop the organization necessary to give Wilson a run for her money?
From the beginning, Sowards has billed himself as the only true conservative in the race. That should give him an entrée to Tea Party voters but how well can they be organized?
Wilson has spent her time traveling the state presenting herself to voters. She is projecting a softer image of this time around instead of the hard edge that has defined her in the past.
The big question is if and how soon Wilson may begin a move toward the philosophical middle in order to attract independent voters and conservative Democrats.
In the 1st Congressional District race, Democrat Marty Sanchez has landed a huge endorsement from former President Bill Clinton. State Sen. Eric Griego jumped in the race first and has picked up some environmental endorsements despite Chavez's accomplishments in the area.
Michelle Lujan Grisham leads the tightly bunched pack in fundraising with a big endorsement from powerhouse Emily's List and one from the national Women's Political Caucus.
In the 3rd Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Ben Ray Lujan has picked up a challenge from former rival Harry Montoya.


Post a Comment

<< Home