Late date means New Mexico likely a non-factor in presidential primary


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s Super Tuesday and while many states with early primary dates are seeing presidential candidates roll through, it’s been quiet in New Mexico.

For the second presidential cycle in a row, it appears New Mexico won’t play a role in deciding who will be on the ballot. The state votes on June 7th, the last day for presidential primaries in the country. While it’s not certain, it’s certainly possible both nominees could be decided well before then.

Neither the New Mexico GOP or the New Mexico Democrats appear happy with that low profile place in the process.

“We’re seeing a lot of media a lot of attention going to all these different states and I think it’s important that New Mexico is on the same stage,” said Juan Sanchez III, vice chair for the New Mexico Democratic Party.

“The more [the candidates] learn about New Mexico, the more they can come here and get an idea of what the issues are in this state, the more those issues are going to get some play on the national stage,” said Tucker Keene, a spokesperson for the NM GOP.

New Mexico’s primary is set in June by state law. A 2015 bill introduced by Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, would’ve bumped that primary up to March 15 this year, but it didn’t go anywhere.

UNM political science professor Gabe Sanchez says while not having an earlier primary is a big missed opportunity in many ways, there’s a small chance it could pay off.

“If we ever do have a race that’s neck and neck all the way down into June then all eyes are on New Mexico,” Sanchez said.

Gabe Sanchez also said possible opposition to an earlier primary stems from state lawmaker fears that having a primary too close to the end of the legislative session would be tricky.

Currently, both parties are allowed under state law to hold earlier caucuses so the state can weigh in on the presidential race. That was changed in 2003 at the urging of then-presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson. Democrats elected to run caucuses in February in 2004 and 2008. While that led to several candidate visits and some attention for the state, the party says that proved to be an expensive mess.

In 2012, neither President Obama nor Republican nominee Mitt Romney made their way to the state for the campaign.

A recent Albuquerque Journal poll shows Hillary Clinton with a clear lead over Bernie Sanders among New Mexico Democrats and a tight race between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump among New Mexico Republicans.

Unless something is changed, those preferences may not have any effect on the race for the White House.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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