ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Who will run against New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez in November? State Democrats met up to cast their votes Saturday with a clear-frontrunner emerging.
Five candidates squared off Saturday hoping to make it to the ultimate face-off with Governor Martinez in November.
Amidst a field of two state legislators, a public administrator, a business man, and the state attorney general, Democratic party members picked their favorites during the Democratic Pre-Primary Convention Saturday at Route 66 Casino on the Laguna Pueblo. The night ended with an interesting outcome.
At the end of the night, the man with the biggest name in the race finished dead last, while the youngest candidate in the field took a clear first place win; New Mexico state Senator Howie Morales took first place with 426 delegate votes, or roughly 29% of the vote.
In second, businessman Alan Webber grabbed 314 votes or about 21% of the vote. Webber barely just squeezed past the third place contender, public administrator Lawrence Rael, who garnered 293 votes of about 20% of the vote.
With at least 20%, Morales, Webber and Rael are all guaranteed a spot on New Mexico’s primary ballot for Democrat gubernatorial candidates.
Meanwhile, the other two candidates in the contest, state Senator Linda Lopez and Gary King both finished below 20%. Lopez garnered 269 votes, or about 18.48% of the vote. State Attorney General Gary King faired worse, only getting 153 delegate votes or about 10%.
Lopez declined to comment to News 13 on Saturday night and King’s campaign appeared to be absent from the event when results were released.
Senator Howie Morales says he wasn’t surprised by the vote, but believes his affirmative vote shows New Mexico Democrats are ready for someone with new energy.
“Obviously education will be an issue, job creation will be another big issue among others, when we talk about poverty level that we have in the state of New Mexico, we’ve got to look and see if that minimum wage, we gotta look at pay equity and I think that’s going to be a real key,” said Morales.
Rael says he’s ready to differentiate himself with experience, “I think voters will begin to differentiate between the candidates and realize as I’ve said from the beginning, experience matters and results count and I certainly have the experience.”
Webber’s campaign appeared to be absent from the venue as well when results were announced Saturday night and News 13 was unable to get a comment from the candidate.
The pre-primary convention results should be certified by Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear if any candidate will challenge delegate votes at this point but some are expecting that to happen with such a close vote.
Other winners on the night included state treasurer candidates Tim Eichenberg and John Wertheim. Both qualified for the primary ballot with 52% and 40% of delegates votes respectively. Meanwhile, former Bernalillo County Treasurer Patrick Padilla did not qualify for the primary ballot, only receiving 7% of delegates votes.
In the race for the Democratic primary nomination for U.S. Congressional seat 2, Roxanna “Rocky” Lara won, garnering 84% of delegates votes. Her opponent, attorney Leslie Endean-Singh, did not qualify for the ballot, only receiving 16% of delegates votes. Republican Congressman Steve Pierce currently holds U.S. Congressional seat 2.