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Candidates spread message

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Online video being used to attract political supporters

By Barry Massey

SANTA FE — Republicans running for governor have started to fill the television airwaves with advertising as early voting nears, but the campaigns also are using online videos to attract supporters and show a lighter side of the candidates — from changing tires to cooking.

In a five-way race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, candidates look for a way to set themselves apart in the crowded primary field.

Campaigns traditionally turn to television ads to deliver their message to voters. That’s expensive, and now the Internet gives candidates more options.

“Campaigns are changing now. You have to be on radio. You have to be on TV. But you’ve got to have a great presence on YouTube,” said Kelly Ward, who managed Republican Gov. Gary Johnson’s first campaign in 1994 and is backing Doug Turner in this year’s gubernatorial race. “And why wouldn’t you? It’s so easy to put material up there, and you can do more than 30 seconds.”

GOP candidates for governor and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who is unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, have videos on their Web sites and YouTube. There are vignettes from the campaign trail. Candidates outline their positions on issues and viewers can see campaign ads prepared for commercial television.

Republican Allen Weh shows off his cooking skills. His campaign has two videos on YouTube with the candidate in the kitchen of his Albuquerque home as he demonstrates how to prepare favorite recipes. The latest is for chicken curry.

Republican Doug Turner changes a flat tire during a wintery campaign trip in one video.

TV remains the dominant way to target voters in New Mexico, although national surveys have found the Internet a growing source of news for most Americans.

Republicans represent almost a third of registered voters in New Mexico, and only part of them are likely to cast ballots in the primary election.

However, Johnson’s 1994 campaign demonstrated the potential power of TV.

Johnson was a political unknown who had never run for elective office. He dumped $400,000 of his own money into his campaign and aired a series of edgy TV ads that used close-ups of the candidate as he talked about issues.

The ads accounted for about half of the campaign’s half million dollars in primary spending and Ward credits them for grabbing the attention of voters. Johnson won a four-way primary and then defeated Democratic incumbent Bruce King in the general election.