Eric Griego has set himself up as the undisputed front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the ABQ congressional seat and Hector Balderas appears to have enough gas in the tank to continue his uphill challenge to US Rep. Martin Heinrich for the Dem nod for the open US Senate seat. Those are the chief conclusions from a long and drawn out day at the Democratic Party preprimary convention in downtown ABQ Saturday.
Voting results from the nearly 1700 delegates were not released until early Saturday evening but when they were, it was the Griego triumph over former ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez and Bernalillo County Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham that drew the most attention. State Senator Griego took it by eight points, garnering 41% of the delegate support in the 1st congressional district which is mainly Bernalillo Count to a disappointing 33 percent for Chavez. Lujan Grisham's late-starting bid received 26%, matching expectations, but still leaving her far behind freshly minted front-runner Griego.
Griego called it an organizational triumph and it was hard to argue with him. Republican analyst Bruce Donisthorpe said the results show the nominating wing of the Dem Party is clearly behind the liberal Griego and he is now the clear favorite to win the June primary.
"We said he could have a break away day and he did. It is his to lose now," analyzed Donisthorpe a 30 year veteran of state politics.
One of our Alligators offered a stop Griego strategy, saying if Chavez got out of the race and tossed his support to Lujan Grisham it could alter the character of the contest.
As for the Senate race, our Thursday blog reported expectations that if Heinrich could somehow come up with 60 percent of the vote against State Auditor Balderas he might force him from the fray. But it was not to be. Martin scored 55% to 45% for Hector and the campaign goes on. Still, Heinrich retains superiority and remains the likely winner unless Hector can improve his fund-raising. What Dems have to worry about now is a a negative campaign erupting between the two, one that would help probable GOP Senate nominee Heather Wilson.
In other contests, northern Dem Congressman Ben Ray Lujan stopped challenger Harry Montoya dead in his tracks, Lujan received 92% of the delegate support in the northern district, with Montoya getting 8 percent. It takes 20 percent to get an official spot on the ballot, so Montoya will have to file additional petition signatures if he hopes to keep his long shot challenge alive,
In the race for the open seat on the NM Court of Appeals, Judge Monica Zamora bested Judge Victor Lopez. Both won spots on the ballot but Zamora overwhelmed Lopez 63% to 37%.
In the southern congressional district Evelyn Madrid Erhard received 88% delegate support in the south to 12 percent for Frank McKinnon. Likely June primary winner Madrid Erhard would be facing GOP US Rep. Steve Pearce.
Long-winded speeches were cited as the primary culprit in slowing the preprimary to a snail's pace, but party officials said enthusiasm was high and they declared the event a success in spite of the late vote counting.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2012
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