Day of the Beast
A primary election wrap-up
By John Bear
It was a day that will go down in history as having borne the mark, or at least the marketing, of the beast.
The Omen opened in theaters. Another Left Behind book hit shelves. And, coincidentally, New Mexico held its midterm election primary, the run up to the midterm general election in November.
Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling, says voter turnout this time around was “historically low.” He says only one in five registered Democrats and Republicans cast their ballots, which translates to about 20 percent of voters. According to Sanderoff, the low turnout might be due to a lack of competition in the more high-profile races—such as governor or the District 1 congressional seat—in which the respective Democratic and Republican incumbents ran more or less unopposed.
The Alibi endorsed candidates for seven races in our Primary Election Guide. A little less than half of them came out on top. And the winners are:
Land Commissioner: Jim Baca beat out Ray Powell for the Democratic nomination in the election’s closest race. He will face off against Republican Pat Lyons in the general election.
Attorney General: Gary King clinched a solid victory, squarely beating his two opponents Geno Zamora and Lemuel Martinez for the Democratic nomination. He will be up against Republican Jim Bibb in November. According to Sanderoff, this was the most visible of the primary races, but King’s victory wasn't surprising because he has high name recognition. He also says the two-to-one Hispanic-Anglo ratio probably played a role.
“Unfortunately, in New Mexico, ethnicity is a big predictor,” he says. “When voters don’t know anything about a candidate other than their gender and name, those things can play a role.”
Sanderoff says this wasn’t a slight against King, who did well throughout the state.
Speaking of the Attorney General's Office, current AG Patricia Madrid will attempt to usurp Rep. Heather Wilson for the District 1 congressional seat in November. Sanderoff says this will likely be the most interesting race in the general election, because Democrats in Washington feel Bernalillo County is held onto precariously by the Republicans. He says Democrats will try to tie Wilson into President Bush’s 37 percent approval rating to bring her down. On the flipside, he says, Wilson will try to paint herself as an independent-minded candidate.
Secretary of State: Mary Herrera beat three other candidates to clinch the Democratic nomination. Stephanie Gonzales came in second, lagging about 10 percentage points behind the victor. Herrera will challenge Republican Vickie Perea in the general.
State Auditor: Jeff Armijo beat Thomas Buckner for the Democratic nomination. He will run against Republican Daniel U. Alvarez.
Public Regulation Commission District 4: Carol K. Sloan won the Democratic nomination, beating Derrith R. Watchman-Moore and three other candidates. She is running unopposed in the general election.
County Commissioner: Alan Armijo defeated Loretta Naranjo Lopez in a close race. He is seeking re-election and is unopposed.
U.S. Senate: In the only Republican primary race the Alibi covered, Allen McCulloch beat Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer and State Sen. Joseph Carraro. McCulloch will try to unseat Democrat Jeff Bingaman in November.
Sanderoff says the governor and Senate races in the fall should be interesting, because two Republican physicians who have never been elected to public office are running against two well-funded, career politician Democrats seeking re-election.
“It will be an uphill battle,” he says.
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