Dems give Garcia Richard, McCamley, Morales top billing in respective races

March 11, 2018 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE — Delegates to the state Democratic Party’s preprimary convention Saturday picked state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos as their top choice for state land commissioner.

They also gave top position on the June primary ballot to Rep. Bill McCamley in the state auditor’s race and to state Sen. Howie Morales in the competition for lieutenant governor.

In the two contested congressional races, Democrats in the Albuquerque-based 1st District made former party Chairwoman Deb Haaland their top choice.

Lawyer Xochitl Torres Small got the most votes in Southern New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.


More than 1,300 delegates from around the state gathered at the Albuquerque Convention Center for a morning full of speeches from various candidates and then voted for their favorites.

Those who received more than 20 percent of the delegate vote will automatically be placed on the primary ballot in June. Those who fell short would have to gather more petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Here is how the votes broke down in the contested races.

State land commissioner

Garcia Richard received nearly 44 percent of the vote.

Garrett VeneKlasen, the former director of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, came in a close second. He received 39 percent, 65 votes fewer than Garcia Richard.

U.S. Martin Heinrich long ago endorsed VeneKlasen. Heinrich introduced VeneKlasen at the convention.

Not making the 20 percent cutoff was state Sen. George Muñoz of Gallup. He got 17 percent.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Patrick Lyons of Cuervo. He is a former land commissioner currently serving on the Public Regulation Commission. Libertarian Michael Lucero also is running.

State auditor

McCamley, of Las Cruces, received more than 60 percent of the vote. In his speech to the convention, he joked about his public persona, saying, “Ask anyone in politics, including the governor, and they’ll say, ‘That dude is a big pain in the ass.’ ”

His only competitor was former state party Chairman Brian Colón of Albuquerque, who received 39.5 percent of the vote. Both candidates will be on the primary ballot.

The winner of that race will face Republican Wayne Johnson in the general election. Johnson is the incumbent by appointment.

Lieutenant governor

Morales, of Silver City, received more than 50 percent of the vote in the four-candidate field.


Before he spoke Saturday, Morales played a video featuring Santa Fe Mayor-elect Alan Webber endorsing his candidacy. Webber, who takes office Monday, said he couldn’t be at the convention because he was in Santa Fe setting up his government.

Webber and Morales were rivals in the 2014 gubernatorial primary that was won by Gary King. Webber said he came to admire Morales.

Former House Majority Leader Rick Miera of Albuquerque came in second in the lieutenant governor race with just under 28 percent.

Candidates Jeff Carr of Eagle Nest and Billy Garrett of Las Cruces received less than 20 percent.

The winner of the lieutenant governor’s primary runs on a ticket with the gubernatorial candidate in November.

1st Congressional District

In the race to replace current U.S. Rep Michelle Lujan Grisham — who is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for governor — Haaland took almost 35 percent in the six-person field.

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a law professor, got 25 percent of the vote.

The other four candidates didn’t make the 20 percent cutoff.

At least one of them, Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, said he will seek more petition signers to get on the ballot. Others who didn’t make the cut were Damian Lara, former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez and Paul Moya.

Former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones is the only Republican running in this race. The Libertarian Party is running Lloyd Princeton for the position.

2nd Congressional District

Torres Small, a Las Cruces attorney, won nearly 66 percent of the delegate vote. History professor Mad Hildebrandt of Socorro got 34 percent.

Several Republicans are running for this seat, currently held by Steve Pearce, who is leaving Congress to run for governor.

Contact Steve Terrell at 505-986-3037 or sterrell@sfnewmexica­n.com. Read his blog at www.santafenewmexican.com/roundhouse_roundup.