In New Mexico we have wide open skies.  We also have wide open political races this year. Or do we?

The system got a huge jolt when Senator Pete Domenici announced he would not seek another term.  All three of our Congressional Representatives (2 Republican, 1 Democrat) seized the chance to run for Senate, leaving all three congressional seats open.
It sounds great.  A chance for real change.  A chance for newly energized grassroots organizers and activists to flex their muscles.  As Booman has pointed out, regardless of who occupies the White House, our best chance for taking the country back lies in the Senate and House.  There are currently 4 Republicans and 12 Democrats running for the three House seats. On the Democratic side, most of the action lies in NM 03, Tom Udall’s current district. There are 5 declared Dem candidates for Udall’s seat with another 3 seriously considering a run.

This would be a great opportunity for activists to get out and make sure the primary is filled with progressives, except for an odious piece of legislation that passed without fanfare last year.

This bill requires a potential candidate to receive the support of 20% of delegates to the state party convention in order to be place on the primary ballot.  There is NO provision for a candidate to get on the ballot via signature petition.  In other words, if you’re not in, you’re out.  We don’t need no stinkin’ outsiders.

Rep. Campos, who chairs the House Voters and Elections Committee, where former Chairman Edward Sandoval, D-Albuquerque, introduced the measure last year, said the intent was to limit the primary field to “serious” candidates. At the time, he said, he knew of no recent instances in which a serious candidate had trouble getting on the ballot by delegate vote. Afterward, he said, someone reminded him of U.S. Rep. Tom Udall’s experience. Udall, who is running for Domenici’s seat, got exactly the number of delegates he needed to make the Democratic primary ballot in 1998.

“Serious” apparently means connected.

Fortunately, there are two moves afoot to undo this travesty.

Dov Wiviott, a candidate for NM03, has filed suit claiming the law is unconstitutional and harmful to both political newcomers and voters.

Wiviott said the change limits ballot access to a “well-connected few. … Elections ought to be a contest of ideas, and open and fair to everyone. We shouldn’t seek to restrict debate or cut some out of the process.”

Wiviott, who declined to say whom he meant by a “well-connected few,” said he remains confident of gaining at least 20 percent of the delegate vote.

In a news release, he called on other candidates to join his cause. One of them, Rudy Martín, a lawyer who lives in Dixon, said he might sign onto Wiviott’s lawsuit.

As New Mexico’s part-time legislature prepares to meet for its thirty day session, a couple of legilators have pre-filed a bill that would undo some of the damage. Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-Valencia County) and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle* pre-filed Senate Bill 1.  Given the quirks of the New Mexico legislative calendar, this will be tough to get through.  The 30 day sessions are meant to address primarily budgetary issues so the law would need to pass by a two-thirds majority in both houses and be approved by the Governor before the state conventions.

To make matters even worse the Democratic Party website makes finding out about the convention and the allegation of delegates almost impossible.  Nor are they inclined to answer email requests for information.

If you have friends and relatives in New Mexico, they can sign a petition supporting a change in the law at Wiviott’s website.

I’m not endorsing Wiviott – I frankly don’t know enough about all the candidates yet – but I’m heartened that he is taking on this fight.

Please watch what is going on in your state.  

The status quo is not going to yield to us without a fight.

For more information you can check out the Santa Fe New Mexican and Democracy for New Mexico.

0 0 votes
Article Rating