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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Democrats choose among five candidates for governor Tuesday in a primary election to decide who will challenge Republican incumbent Susana Martinez, a rising star in GOP circles as the nation’s first Hispanic female governor.
Also on the ballot are other statewide, legislative and local office races. Republicans have a two-way contest to pick their U.S. Senate nominee to face Democratic incumbent Tom Udall in the November general election. There are 18 contested legislative races and Democrats also will pick their nominee for state treasurer.
Polls are open until 7 p.m.
Only Democrats and Republicans are eligible to vote in New Mexico’s primary election system. About 28 percent of Democrats and Republicans turned out to vote four years ago when New Mexico last cast ballots for governor.
Seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination are Attorney General Gary King, Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber, former government administrator Lawrence Rael and state Sens. Howie Morales and Linda Lopez.
Without a primary opponent, Martinez has amassed a hefty campaign war chest of more than $4 million and aired television advertisements to polish her image and frame the general election on her terms. One recent ad said Democrats would return to the “same failed agenda” of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.
Democrats refrained from criticizing each other during the primary and focused their attacks on Martinez, blaming her for New Mexico’s weak economy and recent job losses.
King entered the gubernatorial race with the most name recognition of the Democratic candidates. He’s a two-term attorney general and the son of New Mexico’s longest serving governor, the late Bruce King.