Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plots And Subplots As Flood Of Candidates Makes It Official; It's Our Super-Sized Blog On Key Races Around The State And In Big Bernalillo 

Sen. Taylor
There were plenty of plots and subplots keeping the Alligators busy Tuesday as they tracked the candidates filing for the 70 State House and 42 State Senate seats up for election this year. How about that move in the Dem Senate primary in ABQ's South Valley and East Mountains featuring incumbent James Taylor against former ABQ City Councilor Eric Griego? When 5 p.m. rolled around, another candidate had joined the race--senior citizen Al Armijo of Tijeras. All of a sudden, Taylor, seeking a second four year term to the seat once held by Manny Aragon, was looking a bit more secure. Not that he had anything to do with Armijo getting in the race. Nah, that would never happen in New Mexico.

(Complete legislative and other office filings at Secretary of State's site. Bernalillo County filings here. An AP report is here. And here's ABQ Journal North filing day coverage. While we're at it, here's the Journal's report on the "vote-buying" story that has been making the rounds.)

Republican Steve Komadina better get his walking shoes on. Not only did a Democrat file for his Senate seat, Komadina drew a GOP challenge. Barry Bitzer has left his job as chief of staff to ABQ Mayor Marty to seek the GOP nod. John Sapien, a well-known Sandoval County Dem, will run unopposed in the mainly Sandoval County seat and face either Komadina or Bitzer.

State Senate Dem powerhouses Tim Jennings of Roswell and John Arthur Smith won free rides Tuesday--no primary or general election foes. The two have often tangled with Big Bill and not having any challengers will keep them free to keep tangling with him.

We could have a good Dem June duel in the Grants area where David Ulibarri, appointed to the State Senate to fill the vacancy left when Joe Fidel resigned, drew Clemente Sanchez and June Lorenzo as foes. Ulibarri, a county manager, is favored, but will have to work, say the insiders.


Navajo Dem State Sen. Lynda Lovejoy drew three foes in her Indian Country seat in NW NM. She has previously won a House and PRC seat. Don't bet against her this time, but do keep any eye on this one.

No, Joe Carraro did not pull an about face and file for his West side Senate seat. He will stick to his guns and continue his long shot campaign for the GOP nomination for the ABQ congressional seat against Darren White. Attorney David Pyne and Sander Rue will face off in the June primary. Whoever wins is likely to take the general election as this is a Republican area.

As promised, telephone call center expert Michael Padilla filed for the Dem nomination for the South Valley State Senate seat held by Linda Lopez. Padilla is saying he will spend what it takes to oust Lopez. Our Valley Gators say he has a shot.

Remember Spiro Vassilopoulos? He's the ABQ Republican who toyed with the idea of running against US Senator Pete Domenici before Pete announced his retirement. Well, Spiro still wants to be in the Senate--the State Senate. He is the sole candidate seeking the GOP nod for the seat held by Dem Bernadette Sanchez who is unopposed. Spiro's chances of ousting Bernadette are about as good as us learning how to pronounce his last name, but he'll have fun trying.


Blogger Eric Maddy reports we are in for a real showdown in the Rio Rancho State House seat that Dem Tom Siwsstack is leaving. Tom was recently elected Rio Rancho Mayor. He will keep the seat for the rest of the year. Paula Papponi is the Republican candidate and no slouch. The Dem contender is also a heavyweight. He's Sandoval County Commissioner Jack Thomas. The R's did a good job of getting behind one candidate. A lot of the Alligators think the seat leans R, but that Swisstack's popularity kept it in the D column. No action for June, but a race to watch in the fall.


Over on the House side, we have to give a special award to the candidate with the best last name. It's Rhead A. Story. No kidding. And get this. His father was a newspaper editor who covered "stories." Rhead is the lone R running for the right to take on Democrat Al Park for Park's ABQ SE Heights seat. Park is favored, but let's see if this Story can make some headlines.

He has an ample personal treasury to wage a State House race, but Santa Fe's Brian Egolf won't have to dig deep into it. He was the only Dem to file for the seat being vacated by Rep. Peter Wirth who is running for State Senate. The seat is heavy Dem so Egolf will take the crown in November. Despite having no primary opposition, Egolf says he will go door-to-door this primary season anyway. Me? I'd be at the craps tables in Vegas living it up.

My Valencia County Senior Alligator confused me with late night Blackberry dispatches, but I did pick up that in the June primary longtime politico Solomon Montano will challenge incumbent Democratic State Rep. Elias Barela in what the Gator describes as a "factional grudge match." Two Republicans are running for the GOP nod in what is known as a swing district. Dem. State Rep. Andrew Barreras, a Valencia County freshman like Barela, gets a free ride in the Dem primary, but he gets a Republican foe in the general--businessman Tim Lardner is running unopposed for the GOP nomination. This is also a swing district.

In Rio Arriba County, a popular past time is going after the Rodellas. So why is Dem State Rep. Debbie Rodella getting a free ride--no opposition in the June primary or November general? A taste of political peace in Rio Arriba? Say it ain't so, Debbie.


Here in River City, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver was on her way to getting no Democratic primary foe when Kelli Fulgenzi decided not to run, but Tuesday up popped Ambrose Esteban Chavez to take on Maggie. The clerk is the favorite since no one seems to know her challenger. Is this the Esteban who plays guitar on those shopping channels?

Dem Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta drew no primary foe. She does have a Republican rival, but this is a Dem heavy ABQ SE Heights area which means she is headed for re-election. Her fellow Dem Commissioner, Teresa Cordova of the South Valley, drew two Dem foes--Art De La Cruz and Andrew Leo Lopez. Art and Andrew have both run for office before,
but hope springs eternal in the South Valley on filing day. (Here comes a Lopez e-mail blast.)

What happened to biz guy Chuck Gara? A bunch of R's told us he was going to run for the county commission seat being vacated by Tim Cummins. But he was a no-show Tuesday. That makes former State Senator Michael Wiener the best known name among the three R's hoping to replace Cummins. The other two are attorney Ned Fuller and Ivonne Nelson. No Dems filed.


Looks as if ABQ NE Heights GOP State Rep. Larry Larranga will be free to be on KANW FM radio with us on primary and general election nights. He is unopposed in both the primary and general. ABQ GOP NE Heights State Rep. Justine Fox-Young can make the party circuit Election Night. There was talk that she might draw a GOP primary challenger. But she didn't. There is a Dem running against young Ms. Young, but this seat is an R keeper.

GOP State Rep. Kathy McCoy was not so lucky. She drew two GOP challengers for her far NE Heights and East Sandia Mountains seat. Kathy and Justine both voted for a domestic partners rights bill last legislative session--a Republican no-no.

Another free ride alert. Dem State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino is a free man. No primary or general opposition as he seeks his second term. I live in Jerry's district and can affirm that he did nothing to persuade potential opponents to stay out. But on behalf of the entire neighborhood, Jerry, thanks for all those free Starbucks coupons you passed out before filing day.

We don't know who to call the frontrunner in the Dem race for State Senate featuring John Blair and Tim Eichenberg. They want the right to take on Republican NE Heights incumbent Diane Snyder in November. The primary could be tight. As for the general, Diane knows how to make friends. Heck, I even went to her Christmas Party one year without getting permission from Mickey Barnett.

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