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Standing corrected

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By Hal Rhodes

I stand corrected.
In a column late last March this reporter opined to the effect that “Front-runners don’t finish last.”
The impetus for this contention was the dead-last finish New Mexico Attorney General Gary King had posted just a few days earlier at the state Democratic Party’s preprimary convention.
King’s name recognition with New Mexico voters is considerable, I noted. He has been on statewide ballots no fewer than two times. His family has been prominent in state politics going back to the 1960s. He served in the Legislature with distinction for 12 years.
What’s more, leading up to this year’s state Democratic convention, he was seen as the logical front-runner for the top spot on the Democratic June primary ballot where his competition consisted of four other Democrats who were little known to the rank and file party voters who would be voting in the June 3 primary.
On top of all that, no New Mexican who had finished last at his/her party’s state convention had ever gone on to win that party’s primary election contest.
It seemed inevitable, but I now stand corrected.
On June 3, King comfortably won the 2014 Democratic nomination to carry his party’s gubernatorial standard into the Nov. 4 general election where his opponent will be the incumbent Republican Governor Susana Martinez.
Pundits in New Mexico’s political vineyards assure us that it will be an uphill and, most likely, losing battle.
Martinez, they note, has more money in her campaign kitty than Fort Knox has gold in its vaults. Her poll numbers are high. She has a campaign organization every bit as savvy and taut as the one that put her in office four years ago.
She also has the determined support of all the major political figures and big time GOP money bags who call the shots and ladle out the campaign boodle in national Republican Party affairs today.
King’s campaign, in turn, is by all accounts cash poor.
Aside from his primary election victory this month, his campaign organization is untested as it inches its way into the fray.
No less ominous, his national political party has made it known that it plans to put its money elsewhere, in Democratic gubernatorial campaigns where the odds of success are more promising.
And words once uttered by the chairman of his own state Democratic Party, Sam Bregman, are now being used against King in a television advertisement paid for by the national Republican Governors Association.
That ad began broadcasting in New Mexico just days after King’s primary victory.
Bregman has notoriously loose-lips and the state Democratic Party made a curious choice when it picked him to be its chairman heading into a general election year.
He’s a jovial fellow, off stage, that is. But Bregman has a history of grandstanding and popping-off at odd political moments.
In the recent primary campaign for the Democrats’ State Treasurer nomination, Bregman threw himself into the race when he publicly blasted one candidate, John Wertheim, for his criticisms of another candidate, Tim Eichenberg, just days before the election.
Eichenberg won, but Bregman’s intervention on his behalf raised not a few Democratic hackles.
Nor were some state Democrats amused to discover that remarks he made earlier describing King as “the worst attorney general” in New Mexico history are now the centerpiece of that Republican Governors Association TV spot, which became the GOP’s first salvo against King in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign in New Mexico.
Perhaps it is time Bregman says, “I stand corrected.”