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Domenici’s hat is in

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Domenici Jr. enters governor’s race

By Carol A. Clark

ALBUQUERQUE — Pete Domenici Jr. formally announced his candidacy for governor during a press conference at the Embassy Suites Sunday afternoon. Members of his family including his famous father, retired Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, surrounded him.

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Domenici Jr., 50, is an Albuquerque environmental attorney. He explained why he decided to seek the state’s highest office.

“I am not a professional politician. I am an ordinary citizen who, like most New Mexicans, is frustrated and fed up with the unprecedented budgetary and corruption crises our state now faces,” Domenici Jr. said. “I have a deep concern for our state. I have a passion for handling tough situations. I know that I can steer our state in the right direction. This is why I am entering the election for governor now.”

The current mismanagement of the state has left New Mexico on the verge of economic and ethical bankruptcy; he told the small room filled with family, supporters and media.  Continuous revelations of budgetary disaster and public corruption at the highest levels of the state’s government demand that New Mexico not only needs a new governor, he said, it needs a new direction.

“As just one glaring example of the mismanagement and corruption at the top, this governor and lieutenant governor have increased the numbers of political appointees by the hundreds. As a result, they have created a special ‘upper class’ of state employees, accountable to no one, who are selected based on whom they know or how much they contributed, rather than their qualifications and how they can help the people,” he said.

“Had this not happened along with a rash of other terrible financial and spending decisions, we would not be looking at a fiscal crisis of such enormous proportion.”

Helping New Mexicans and New Mexico is the sole basis and motivation for his candidacy for governor, Domenici Jr. said.

“Our state needs healing; people need healing from eight years of fiscal and ethical abuse,” he said.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Domenici Jr. is the oldest son of eight children. He graduated from the University of New Mexico law school and has owned a small law firm for 20 years.

This experience has given him “a deep understanding of the core industries and communities that power New Mexico’s economy,” he said.

Domenici Jr. credits his parents with teaching him how to serve people.  

“My mom, Nancy, nurtured in her children the virtue that every person is special and of great value and that you should care for people one person at a time. My dad is known by millions for utilizing public office to help the people, to take care of them and to deny self-interest for the public’s interest, he said. “I have witnessed his good governance up close. I will serve New Mexicans in the same faithful and honorable manner my father did.”

Domenic Jr. and his former wife, Kathy, raised three now-grown children, Erik, 28, Willie, 26 and Lucy, 24. They both are raising their 9-year-old daughter, Liliana, who attended Sunday’s press conference.

Because of how he was raised, coupled with his life experiences, Domenici Jr. said he is his own man. The campaign will reveal that he has developed his own roots in common sense conservatism, he said, adding this means limited government that removes unnecessary impediments to attracting businesses and creating jobs.

“It means respect and protection of human life, traditional marriage and private gun ownership. And I support the efforts underway to restore capital punishment for those who kill our law enforcement officers, who sacrifice their lives trying to protect us,” he said. “Some may also ask, ‘Why enter the race now?’ I chose this time to enter the race because it is the right time. Voters get worn out over campaigns that stretch on for well over a year and dominate the news and their mailboxes for far too long. Now, at the beginning of 2010, is the time to enter an election that takes place near the end of 2010.”

Domenici Jr. will “work tirelessly to win the governorship and give New Mexico government back to the people,” he said.

He joins a field of four other Republicans including state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque, Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez of Las Cruces, businessman Doug Turner of Albuquerque and former state GOP chairman Allen Weh, also of Albuquerque.

Weh issued a news release following Sunday’s press conference. “This election for governor isn’t about political connections or surname; it’s about who has the experience to create jobs and get New Mexico back on the right track — I believe I have that experience and the ability to lead this state forward. I look forward to the debate,” Weh said.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish is the lone Democrat running for governor.

Gov. Bill Richardson’s term expires in January 2011. He cannot seek a third term.