Battle for DA post highlights elections

By David Arkin

The Brett Carter-Matt Chandler race has officially begun.
On Tuesday, both Chandler and Carter filed their appropriate papers with the New Mexico Secretary of State in Santa Fe for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s post and will face each other in a June 1 primary. The general election will be held on Nov. 2.
The two Republicans were among many statewide who filed papers, including every incumbent lawmaker in eastern New Mexico.
Seats that people filed for on Tuesday in Santa Fe included House, Senate, Public Regulation Commission, Public Education Commission, district attorney and district judge.
In Clovis and Portales, eyes on June 1 won’t be on who wins House and Senate seats, because there is little competition for those posts, but rather who comes away with the Republican nod for the 9th Judicial District Attorney position.
The race for that post is expected to be a heated one.
Last month, Chandler, who had served as an assistant district attorney, was fired by his former boss, Carter, because he declined to back from his decision to run for district attorney.
Carter has said that when he hired Chandler, the 28-year-old Eastern New Mexico University graduate told him he wasn’t interested in running for the district attorney post. Carter has said he regretted Chandler’s decision to run.
Chandler on Tuesday afternoon from Santa Fe said he handed in 935 signatures supporting his run for district attorney.
“I’m just overwhelmed with the outpouring of support,” Chandler said. “I got the help of a lot of different people. I’m really proud of our effort. But we are just getting started.”
But Carter said he didn’t think Chandler’s large number of signatures made much difference in the campaign.
“I don’t think his signatures is that big of a deal,” Carter said. “Just because someone signs a petition doesn’t mean that they are going to vote for that person.”
Carter said he got more than 300 signatures. To get on the ballot, individuals have to have 102 signatures.
“I strived to get three times as many as are needed,” he said. “I’m trying to work 40-50 hours a week and didn’t see a point in getting everyone to sign my petition.”
Chandler said the fact that he got so many signatures and that more than 60 law enforcement officers from both Portales and Clovis have publicly endorsed him proves that his campaign is off to a good start.
“I think this goes to show the relationship that I have developed during the last few years,” he said. “People are ready for a change.”
Carter said he has the backing of several in Clovis, including the mayor, city manager, Clovis schools superintendent and several high-profile business owners.
“I’m still making contacts in town,” Carter said. “I’m getting out and making contacts with voters trying to hear what their concerns are.”
Chandler said he will continue his grassroots effort and attempt to get more new voters to register.
Carter was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2002 when Randy Harris left the DA’s office. Carter won an uncontested election for the post in November 2002.
There will be competition on June 1 in other races that eastern New Mexico voters will have a say in. Here is a look at other candidates who filed.

House
District 63 (De Baca, Curry, Guadalupe and Roosevelt counties)
• Incumbent Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa. He is seeking his second term.
• Terry Martin, D-Clovis
• Russell Grider, R-Clovis
District 64 (Curry County)
• Incumbent Rep. Anna Crook, R-Clovis. She will be seeking her sixth term. No one is running against her.
Crook said one focus of her upcoming term will be the development of a treatment program for drug users. “Funding for the program was passed by the 2002 Legislature and (U.S.) Representatives Steve Pearce and Tom Udall have helped get federal money. We have a pilot program in Espanola and I want to work on getting one in the Department of Corrections.”
District 66 (Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties)
• Incumbent Rep. Earlene Roberts, R-Lovington. She will be seeking her ninth term.
• Keith Gardner, R-Roswell
District 67 (Curry, Hard! ing, Quay, Roosevelt, San Miguel and Union counties)
• Incumbent Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton. He is seeking his third term.
No one is running against him.

Senate
District 7 (Colfax, San Miguel, Quay and Union counties)
• Incumbent Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis. He is seeking his first full term.
• Fred Sparks, D-Raton
• Robert Frost, D-San Jon
District 27 (Roosevelt, Chaves, Curry and Roosevelt counties)
• Incumbent Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales. Ingle is seeking his sixth term. No one is running against him.
District 42 (Curry, Lea and Roosevelt counties)
• Incumbent Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs. She is seeking her second term.
• Will Palmer, R-Lovington. Palmer said he turned in 200 signatures.
He said he expected a tough race.
“It’s definitely going to be a close one,” he said. “We’re going to be doing a grass-roots effort. I look forward to getting out and meeting as many people as I can.”
Kernan couldn’t be reached for comment.
Public Education Commission, District 9
• Dennis James Roch, R-Texico. No one is running against him.

Those seeking other statewide positions in the June primary had to file on Feb. 10. Here is a look at who is running in those races.

U.S. Representatives
District 1
• Miles Nelson, D-Sandia Park
• Eli Chavez, D-Albuquerque
• Richard Romero, D-Albuquerque
• Abraham Gutmann, Green-Albuquerque
• Jeremy Brown, Green-Tijeras
• Heather Wilson, R-Albuquerque, incumbent
District 2
• Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces
• Gary King, D-Carlsbad
• Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs, incumbent
District 3
• Rep. Tom Udall, D-Santa Fe
• Gregory Tucker, R-Farmington
Justice of the Supreme Court
• Edward Chavez, D-Santa Fe
• Ned Fuller, R-Albuquerque
Justice of the Supreme Court (retention, general election)
• Richard Bosson, D-Santa Fe
Judge of the Court of Appeals
• Michael Vigil, D-Santa Fe
• Paul Barber, R-Albuquerque
Judge of the Court of Appeals (retention, general election)
• Roderick Kennedy, R-Santa Fe

IMPORTANT DATES
• April 2: Last day to file for candidates who did not receive pre-primary designation.
• April 6: Last day for new political parties to file their rules, regulations and petition.
• April 6: Last day for candidates to withdraw from primary election.
• May 4: Absentee voting begins.
• May 4: Voter registration closes at 5 p.m.
• May 15: Early in-person voting begins.
• May 29: In-person and absentee voting ends.
• June 1: Primary Election Day.