2012 elections preview: New Mexico voters to select winners in congressional, state legislative primaries
The fast-moving primary season of May and June continues tomorrow with elections in New Mexico. Tomorrow is Super Tuesday for congressional and state legislative primaries, with six states holding primaries -- the most of any Tuesday in the 2012 election season.
Here's what to watch for in New Mexico, where polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Mountain time.
|Contested Primaries in New Mexico -- June 5, 2012|
| U.S. House
| State Legislature |
|Total Democratic Contested Primaries||1 (33.33%)||37 (33.04%)|
|Total Republican Contested Primaries||1 (33.33%)||15 (13.4%)|
In an understated primary, Democrats Martin Heinrich and Hector Balderas are saving their intensity for the general election. U.S. Representative Heinrich is polling well ahead of New Mexico State Auditor Balderas. and has spent more than twice what Balderas has. Yet pollster Brian Sanderoff notes, "Heinrich has more name recognition and more money, but typically Spanish surnames on Election Day do a little better than expected in a Democratic primary."
On the Republican side, former congresswoman Heather Wilson is seen as offering Republicans a "fighting chance" to take a long-Democratic seat. She is polling ahead of Sowards, as a mid-May poll has her defeating Sowards in the Republican primary 66 percent to 20 percent. Wilson has outraised and outspent Sowards leading up to the primary. On the other hand, Sowards was endorsed by the likes of Rep. Rand Paul.
Thus far, 57.26% of possible primaries nationwide have been contested. New Mexico's contested figure of 33.33% (2 of 6 possible party primaries) is less competitive than the national average.
Democratic voters will have a choice in the 1st, where county commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham, state Senator Eric Griego and former Albuquerque mayor Marty Chavez are competing. A poll puts Grisham and Griego neck and neck, with Chavez trailing. The poll shows Griego leading among Hispanics, women, and liberals, while Grisham leads among men and Anglos.
The only contested Republican primary is in the strongly Democratic 3rd District. Rancher Jeff Byrd and consultant Rick Newton compete to see who will take on Democratic incumbent Ben Ray Luján in the general election in November. While the two candidates agree on many issues, Byrd supports Social Security privatization while Newton calls for using proceeds from oil drilling on federal lands to pay for the program. Newton wants a national sales tax, in contrast to Byrd's preference for a flat income tax rate.
|Members of the U.S. House from New Mexico -- Partisan Breakdown|
|Party||As of November 2012||After the 2012 Election|
There are 37 (33.04%) contested Democratic primaries and 15 (13.4%) contested Republican primaries. Thus, there will be 52 races tomorrow with at least two candidates on the ballot. The 23.2% figure of total contested primaries in New Mexico is higher than the current national contested average of 22.84% for states that have had filing deadlines.
Heading into this fall's elections, both chambers of the legislature should see a hotly contested tug-of-war for partisan control.
Incumbent Republican Senators Bill Burt and Rod Adair were thrust into the same district via the redistricting process. However, after initially declaring to run, Adair withdrew in advance of the primary.
Here are some primary races to watch tomorrow:
- District 3: Incumbent John Pinto (D), who has been in office for 34 years, will face a primary challenge from Matthew Tso.
- District 4: Incumbent George K. Munoz faces two primary challengers, Genevieve J. Jackson and Charles E. Rountree.
- District 8: Incumbent Pete Campos (D) faces state house District 68 incumbent Thomas Garcia (D).
- District 32: Challenger Cliff Pirtle filed a lawsuit against incumbent Timothy Jennings over ballot access. The lawsuit was thrown out and Pirtle will face Chad A. Hammill in the Republican primary, with the winner to face Jennings in the general election.
- District 35: Incumbent John Arthur Smith (D) is being challenged by Larry P. Martinez in the Democratic primary.
- District 39: Challenger Jack Sullivan filed a lawsuit against incumbent Phil A. Griego regarding use of campaign funds.
In 2010, two incumbents were defeated in the state house primary. Another seven lost in the general election as Republicans closed the gap in the Democratic majority in the chamber. There are 12 incumbent house reps not running for re-election in 2012 -- nine Democrats and three Republicans. Districts 15, 23, 25, 26, 50, 68 are all open seats with large fields of candidates running. Here are some other races to watch tomorrow:
- District 46: Santa Fe Mayor David Coss faces Carl Trujillo in a race to replace outgoing Speaker of the House Ben Lujan, Sr. (D). No Republican candidates filed in the district.
- District 66: Incumbents Bob Wooley and [Dennis Kintigh]] will battle each other in a district with no Democratic candidates.
|New Mexico State Senate|
|Party||As of November 5, 2012||After the 2012 Election|
|New Mexico House of Representatives|
|Party||As of November 5, 2012||After the 2012 Election|
- United States Senate elections in New Mexico, 2012
- United States House of Representatives elections in New Mexico, 2012
- New Mexico State Senate elections, 2012
- New Mexico House of Representatives elections, 2012
- Santa Fe New Mexican, "For U.S. Senate: Balderas, Wilson," May 20, 2012 (dead link)
- Huffington Post, "NM-2012 Senate Democratic Primary: 51% Heinrich, 26% Balderas (Albuquerque Journal 5/21-24)," May 30, 2012
- The (Columbus) Republic, "Candidates to replace retiring NM Sen. Bingaman report spending $1.6M as June 5 primary nears," May 25, 2012
- Associated Press, "Gloves stay on in quiet NM Senate primary," May 24, 2012 (dead link)
- Center for Politics, "Tilting the Toss Ups – the Eight Races That Will Decide the Senate" accessed April 9, 2012
- Real Clear Politics, "Rand Paul Backs Sowards in N.M. Senate Race," May 2, 2012
- New Mexico Telegram, "Poll: Lujan Grisham slight lead over Griego, Heinrich big lead over Balderas," May 23, 2012
- Huffington Post, "HUFFPOST FUNDRACE -- Super PACs Concerned About Tone of Race," May 25, 2012
- Santa Fe New Mexican, "2 vie to be oft-ignored GOP pick for 3rd House district," May 22, 2012 (dead link)
- Albuquerque Journal, "3rd Dist. Rivals Differ On Taxes," May 31, 2012
- New Mexico Telegram, "Primary ballots set -- rundown of competitive primaries in the Senate," March 20, 2012
- Alamogordo Daily News, "John Pinto, in office for 34 years, faces a Democratic primary,"
- Las Cruces Sun-News, "Larry P. Martinez to challenge for District 35 NM Senate seat," March 23, 2012