ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico voters go to the polls Tuesday to nominate their party’s candidates for Congress and state and local offices. Among the key races: the five-way race among Democrats seeking to challenge Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a two-way race by Republicans seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and contested races for state treasurer and the Public Regulation Commission. Here are five things to know about New Mexico’s primary.
WHO IS RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR?
Martinez is unopposed in the primary. The Democratic candidates are Attorney General Gary King, Santa Fe businessman Allen Webber, Lawrence Rael, a longtime government agency administrator, and state Sens. Howie Morales and Linda Lopez.
WHO CAN VOTE IN THE PRIMARY?
Only voters who are registered as Democrats or Republicans. New Mexico’s primaries are closed, so independents cannot vote. But a group is planning to file a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the system as unconstitutional in hopes of opening future primaries to all registered voters.
WHAT KIND OF TURNOUT IS EXPECTED?
New Mexico has had low voter turnout in recent primaries. In the 2010 primary election — the last gubernatorial election in New Mexico — 135,965 Democrats and 122,649 Republicans cast ballots. About 24 percent of registered Democrats cast ballots and 34 percent of Republicans. GOP turnout was up significantly because of a hotly contested gubernatorial race, which was won by Susana Martinez. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Diane Denish was unopposed.
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO VOTE?
Historically, senior citizens have a higher voter turnout, especially in primary races. Pollsters say the primary election outcome will hinge on voters 50 and over, who are expected to turn out in large numbers. Voters 50 and older cast about 75 percent of all 2010 primary election ballots, according to data compiled by Research & Polling Inc.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE HISPANIC VOTE?
Hispanics comprise nearly one-third of registered voters (29.7 percent) in New Mexico, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. Sixty percent of Latino registered voters are Democrats, compared to 41 percent of non-Latinos, and 18 percent of Latinos are Republicans, compared to 37 percent of non-Latinos. Twenty-two percent of both Latinos and non-Latinos are not registered with either major political party, the group says.
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