Thursday, June 03, 2004

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: PRIMARY MOP-UP

One of the real eye-openers during the recent primary season in Santa Fe was the sheer amount of money being raised by a couple of the candidates — tens of thousands of dollars all for a part-time position that pays a modest per diem.

Peter Wirth raised more than $101,000 according to his most recent report filed last week. If that’s not a local record, someone please let me know. Some of his critics grumbled that he was “buying” the election. And indeed he won the House District 47 race in a landslide.

But over in Senate District 25, Sen. Roman Maes reported raising more than $70,000, more than all his three opponents’ totals put together. But Maes came in second to John Grubesic, who raised less than one-sixth of Maes’ total.

So how much did the candidates pay for each vote?

Using the total amount of money the candidates reported raising as of last week (the final campaign finance reports aren’t due until July), assuming all that money got spent, and dividing the number of votes they received, according to unofficial results, here’s how it broke down:

Grubesic got the most bang for the buck. Each of the 2,928 votes he got cost $3.87.

That’s a stark contrast to Maes, who paid about $27.60 for each vote he got. And that doesn’t even include the $9,000 that Gov. Bill Richardson’s PAC paid for mail-outs and automated phone calls.

Maes’ votes cost less than those of Wirth’s. For his race, Wirth paid $31.83 per vote.

Down in House District 45, which was a low-key, low-budget race, Rep. Jim Trujillo, who handily beat challenger Robert Ochoa, paid $9.33 per vote.

Local government blues: A word to aspiring politicians. Local government positions in Santa Fe are rarely springboards to state office. At least not in recent years. My editor reminded me that a couple of guys named Bruce King and Ben Lujan started out on the Santa Fe County Commission.

But that was a long time ago. Two candidates from local government bodies got turned down by voters in legislative races Tuesday.

City Councilor Carol Robertson Lopez, who ran for the District 47 House seat, came in a distant second behind Wirth. Wirth had 65 percent of the vote in the four-candidate race, compared with 21 percent for Lopez.

Ochoa, who served on the Santa Fe school board for eight years, lost to Trujillo by a 70-30 margin.

The only Santa Fe local officials to go on to state offices in the last decade or so are senators Nancy Rodriguez — a former county commissioner, and Phil Griego, a former city councilor. Both senators won their unopposed primaries Tuesday.

Don’t forget the GOP: Democrats outnumber Republicans in Santa Fe by about 3 to 1, but several Republican legislative candidates will be on the ballot. Wirth will face Gregg Bemis in District 47, while Griego will be up against Republican Al Lopez in Senate District 39.

In Senate District 25 Grubesic has a Republican opponent in Bob Mallin. Also on the ballot is Green Party primary winner Rick Lass. Lass probably would have gotten more traction running against the more conservative Democrat Maes than Grubesic, who was endorsed by several progressive political groups.

Making good on his word: One opponent Grubesic doesn’t have to worry about is Robb Hirsch, who had been gathering petition signatures to get on the November ballot as an independent.

Hirsch on Wednesday did what he said he’d do if Grubesic won the primary. He officially ended his campaign and threw his support to the Democrat.

"The outcome of this election is a testament to the wonderful people who turned out to vote yesterday and who single-handedly defied the status quo power politics, overcame the special interest money game and put their confidence behind someone with new blood and integrity," he said in an e-mail press release.

Hirsch said he’ll devote his energy to a group he and his wife founded called Independent New Mexicans for Kerry.

He’s given up his campaign, but not his web site.

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