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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Republican Party chairman said on Monday he interjected himself into a squabble over attack ads by two GOP gubernatorial front-runners because of calls from rank-and-file Republicans disgusted by the tone of the campaign.
The complaints prompted a three-member committee, including GOP chairman Harvey Yates Jr., to ask both Dona Ana County district attorney Susana Martinez and former state GOP chairman Allen Weh to substantiate their charges against the other.
"We have to distinguish between negativity and dishonesty," Yates said.
Typically, state parties and their top officials avoid taking sides in a primary election, and Yates acknowledged "it's unusual for a chairman to do this." But, he said, "either we stand for honesty or not. I think we ought to, and that's why I've done this."
The committee found the documents furnished by Martinez's campaign "reasonably supported" her ad against Weh, but that documents outlined by Weh's campaign on a website didn't reasonably support either his radio or his TV ad, Yates said.
Weh's campaign manager, Whitney Cheshire, said Sunday the campaign stands by the accuracy of its ad. Cheshire said Yates' "biased interference in a primary contest is harmful to the Republican Party and wrong for our state."
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