Monday, January 09, 2012

An Early Look at the Congressional Elections in New Mexico

If the Iowa caucuses and upcoming presidential primaries in New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina have gotten your political juices going, you also might be gearing up for congressional elections in your community and state.  

Chances are your local newspaper has carried numerous articles about candidates who have tossed their hat into the ring to compete for a seat in Congress or the U.S. Senate.  These elections are especially important when there is an open seat (as we in New Mexico have in the First Congressional District and the U.S. Senate).

Digging for information
But where else besides the local newspapers do political junkies go to find out about elections? You can track developments on Politico.  The C-SPAN Campaign 2012 site currently has information about the presidential race, but is set up to provide developments on congressional races.  One new site I recently discovered is Ballotpedia.  As the name implies, this site provides information about state and federal elections for each of the 50 states. Here is the page for the elections in New Mexico for the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Because the situation is still fluid ahead of the signature filing deadline of Feb. 14, and because the redistricting process was up in the air until last week, the Ballotpedia page for New Mexico is not complete.  (A judge left the boundaries for New Mexico's three districts largely unchanged.)  Gary Smith, who jumped into the Republican primary for the First District in December is not listed. And the rumors persist that Jon Barela, who lost the general election to Rep. Martin Heinrich in 2010, could throw his hat into the ring at any time in the next few weeks.  The candidates will face off in primaries on June 5, 2012.

There are other potentially great sites with candidate information, including Project VoteSmart's VoteEasy site.  I say "potentially" because this site contains no data at present, but I suspect that Project VoteSmart, a well respected organization, is waiting until the fields have been narrowed after the primaries in each state.
Continuing the push for a Circle of Protection
And our Bread New Mexico blog will be following the electoral process, particularly since we're interested in knowing which candidate will eventually be the person on Capitol Hill with whom we will interact.

If you recall, last November and December, we sat down with five of the candidates seeking the seat in the First Congressional District (Janice Arnold-Jones, Martin Chavez, Eric Griego, Dan Lewis, and Michelle Lujan Grisham) to talk to the about creating a Circle of Protection around programs that help the most vulnerable in our country and in other countries. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Martin Heinrich, who is running for the Senate seat left open after Sen. Jeff Bingaman's retirement. 

So we'll follow developments in the First Congressional District as well as the Senate race.  Rep. Heinrich is facing State Auditor Hector Balderas and community activist Andres Valdez in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat. The Republican candidates are former Rep. Heather Wilson, Lieutenant Gov. John Sanchez, business owner Greg Sowards and entrepreneur Bill English.  John Barrie is running as an independent.

And if you're wondering why we've put so much emphasis on the First Congressional District, it's because incumbents Ben Ray Lujan in the Third District and Steve Pearce in the Second District are expected to face only token opposition both in the primary and the general election.

For the record, the candidates who have declared in the Democratic primary for the chance to face Rep. Pearce are Evelyn Madrid Erhard and Frank McKinnon.  Rep. Pearce had not drawn any primary opponents.

In the Third District, Sean Closson had declared his candidacy in the primary against Rep. Lujan. There was one candidate in the Republican primary, Rick Newton.

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