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Dems choose delegates

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By Katy Korkos

Los Alamos County Democrats gathered in White Rock’s town hall Thursday evening for the countywide pre-primary convention to choose delegates to the statewide convention March 15. Up for grabs were 22 delegate positions, allocated by precinct. The precincts are combined into wards, with the number of delegates from each ward determined by recorded votes from 2004 and 2006 elections, with approximately one delegate for each 200 votes cast for a Democratic candidate.County Democratic Chair Steven Fettig ran an orderly meeting, where voters were certified and delegates chosen in very short order, followed by some vigorous campaigning by several of the candidates who are hoping to get on the June primary ballot.The delegates will represent Los Alamos at the statewide pre-primary nominating convention for the June 3 primary election, where they will choose nominees for the United States Senate and Congress as well as a wide range of state and local offices. The presidential nominee from New Mexico, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was chosen in the Feb. 5 caucus. Clinton outpolled her contender Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, by 1,709 votes in a caucus that saw long lines, insufficient printed ballots and problems with the voter rolls used to certify voters.All three of New Mexico’s sitting representatives are vying for the Senate seat that has been held by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM since 1973, leaving all three Congressional seats open, to be filled in November. Con. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who is currently the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for Senate, represents Los Alamos.“2008 will be a big year for Democrats,” Udall wrote in a letter read by Matt Miller, who works in Udall’s Santa Fe office. “We must break the gridlock that has done such terrible damage to our country.”The Third Congressional district race hosts a wide-open field, and the Democratic candidates who have announced their intention to run for that seat include Harry Montoya, Don Wiviott, Jon Adams, Ben Ray Lujan, Benny Shendo Jr. and Rudy Martin.After the selection of delegates was completed, the gathering became a family affair, as longtime New Mexico legislator Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, spoke on behalf of his son Ben Ray Lujan, and Wiviott’s wife, Martin’s wife and Louis E.Gallegos’ son all appeared in White Rock to stump for the busy candidates.“We must make sure that we derail the current administration,” Lujan said. “People are struggling to pay their every day bills. Investing in health care for everyone will benefit everyone.”Sen. Carlos Cisneros, who represents White Rock as part of a wide-ranging district that includes Taos County, Rio Arriba County and parts of northern Santa Fe County, spoke on his own behalf. “I have been your state senator for four years now,” Cisneros said. “It’s a real rejuvenation of will for me to see democracy at work here in White Rock.”Local ballots will also see a race for district attorney in the first judicial district and for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission (PRC), as well as for three seats on the county council and the election of a county clerk. District Attorney candidates Eliot Gould, Angela “Spence” Pacheco and Joe Campbell each introduced themselves to the delegates on Thursday. The PRC candidates who sent their representatives to White Rock were Joseph Maestas, Louis Gallegos and Paul Campos.Delegates are selected at the county level throughout New Mexico at events such as Thursday’s in White Rock. A total of 1,511 delegates are chosen at local conventions, and at the state nominating convention the party’s central committee members join in the voting for a total of 1,919 votes available for nominating purposes. House Bill 1156, passed last year in the New Mexico Legislature, requires that a candidate must receive 20 percent of the delegates at the preprimary nominating convention to be on the June primary ballot.The party will hold a candidates’ forum at 7 p.m. March 5 at Fuller Lodge. Fettig invited everyone to attend that forum, where candidates will be given a longer period of time to speak – they were limited to one minute apiece Thursday – as well as a question-and-answer period to explain their platforms.