CD2 Dem race is 'a lively, spirited contest'

Posted 2/29/2008 12:28:00 PM

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish on Thursday correctly described the Second Congressional District Democratic primary as “a lively, spirited contest.”

Her speech at the Democratic Party’s county convention in Las Cruces was followed by speeches from the four congressional candidates and selection of delegates to the state party’s convention. An enthusiastic crowd heard all four speak.

Bill McCamley twice took shots during his speech at “wealthy oilmen from Hobbs.” Though he was speaking specifically about U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce the first time and never mentioned opponent Harry Teague, Teague is also a wealthy oilman from Hobbs, and the implication was clear.

And Frank McKinnon, who is running in part because of his opposition to the spread of the nuclear industry in Southern New Mexico, accused McCamley and Teague, without naming them, of being in the pocket of the nuclear industry, and also pointed out that the fourth candidate in the race, Al Kissling, agrees with the others that the United States must increase its use of nuclear power.

McKinnon said he wanted one of the other candidates to take on his issue, saying he would have exited the race if one had.

“They have refused, so I have to win,” he told the crowd of about 200 Democrats.

Kissling took a shot too, saying Congress doesn’t need another millionaire – a reference to Teague – or even “another politician” – an apparent reference to McCamley. Kissling has frequently made such statements about his opponents on the campaign trail.

Candidates’ thoughts on preprimary

The meeting was somewhat disorganized, and it took several hours for the party to sort out its balloting and select its delegates to the March 15 preprimary nominating convention. The Second Congressional District candidate who wins that vote gets top ballot position and, if he wins by a significant margin, likely gains momentum.

A candidate must secure 20 percent of the vote at the state convention to get a spot on the ballot, or he must gather a large number of signatures to take the alternate route to the ballot – assuming the governor signs a bill that would allow that alternate path. The governor has said he will sign the bill but has not done it. He has until Wednesday.

Winning the preprimary is an organizational test. Candidates must organize at the ward level to get their supporters elected as delegates to the county convention and then at the county level to get their supporters elected as delegates to the state convention.

Teague said after his speech that he thinks he did “pretty well” in every county that has selected delegates thus far. Eddy, Luna, Otero and Valencia county Democrats have yet to select delegates.

“I think we’re easily going to be on the ballot,” Teague said about how well he’ll do at the state convention. “Beyond that, I’m scared to guess.”

McCamley said his campaign will assess its support after the remaining county parties select delegates this weekend.

“We’re aiming to win. It’s going to take a lot more work,” he said. “… We think this is a good cross section of the district, and if we win the preprimary, it will be a good precursor of the primary.”

Kissling, who has often made bold predictions about his support, sounded less certain on Thursday.

“We’ll see where the dice roll. We got screwed in a couple of counties. … It may be a tough floor fight at the convention,” Kissling said. “I still think I can win, but if I don’t go to Washington, I’m going to stay in the Second Congressional District and reform the Democratic Party.”

McKinnon made the boldest prediction of the night.

“I think I’m in. … I’m shooting for 40-50 percent, but I may be a little lower than that,” he said.

‘One more vote in the U.S. Senate’

Tom Udall, the only Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici, also spoke at the convention. He said he had a good thing going in the House, being in a safe district and having a spot on the appropriations committee, but he’s giving that up to run for Senate because he’s been frustrated that so many bills the House passes go to the Senate to die.

“One more vote in the U.S. Senate, I believe, will make a difference to move us forward,” Udall said to loud applause.

Comments by Teague and McCamley drew the most laughter of the evening. Teague, who grew up in Hobbs with Denish, opened his speech by revealing a little-known detail about his life.

“When I was in the seventh grade, I had a big crush on the lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, and I was one of about 400 boys who had a crush on Diane Denish,” Teague said with a big grin on his face.

McCamley, in talking about his focus on change, said he’s been in the race since long before Pearce announced he would vacate it to run for the open Senate seat.

“I’ve been talking about change since I got into the race in April, since before I chased Steve Pearce out of it,” McCamley said.

Here are some photos from the convention:

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At 10:24 PM, February 29, 2008, Blogger J. Ramirez said...

Why would McKinnon be against the nuclear industry? That's insane! Nuclear energy and technology is the bloodline of New Mexico, be it with defense or energy. Nuclear power would move us one step closer to independence from fossil fuel.

This shows the total disregard some (not all) Democrats in New Mexico have for the working man. They claim to be all for jobs, but instead put their political ideologies first.

As for Udall, one vote closer to what? Closing our national labs and military bases so several thousand jobs for New Mexicans can be eliminated? I know I have said this before, and I will continue to remind people again and again of Udall's incompetence when it comes to New Mexico's interests.

I never had a problem with Udall until he voted to cut funding for our labs. I hope the voters hold him accountable for his actions. He is lucky he has no Dem opponent in June, because his stint in "public service" may be over before November.


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