Historic battle brews: Next NM Governor to be a woman

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By Barry Massey

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Republicans and Democrats made political history by selecting women as their gubernatorial nominees in New Mexico's primary, setting up a fall campaign that virtually guarantees the state its first female governor.

Republican Susana Martinez became the nation's first Hispanic woman nominated for governor by winning a five-way GOP contest with 51 percent of the vote in unofficial returns Tuesday.

Democrat Diane Denish, the lieutenant governor since 2003, ran unopposed in her party's primary.

The Nov. 2 race will be the third time in U.S. history that two women will run against one another in a gubernatorial general election.

With 97 percent of precincts reporting in the GOP race, former state party chairman Allen Weh had 27 percent of the vote. Doug Turner, who owns an Albuquerque public relations company, had 12 percent. Pete Domenici Jr., an Albuquerque lawyer and son of former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, got 7 percent and 3 percent went to state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones of Albuquerque.

Martinez and Denish will battle to become chief executive of a state mired in an economic downturn and struggling with weak revenues, which likely will force the next governor to grapple with a budget shortfall and painful decisions about cutting education and governmental services.

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