States with later primaries surprised they could matter

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By Ralph Damiani

Who would have thunk it! Normally the presidential primary race is over by now – in fact the last time a race actually went to the convention undecided was 1952.But as the Democratic race drags on, New Mexico is a double loser.See, Democrats in states that refused to join the stampede to the front of the presidential nominating calendar might end up with the final say by voting last.Just consider that the last time anyone cared about the Wyoming primary is when it was the contest that gave John Kennedy the nomination in 1960!Well, this counting this late does not now include New Mexico and it could have. Lead by our governor, Democrats here joined the rush and pushed their primary up to the front.Their logic was that they would count more.Well, not only did they not count more, they could not even count well. As election night went on and on that February day, state after state got its due as results were announced.Except for New Mexico. In fact, not only did we not get our dues that night, by the time some many days later that the results were finally announced, the nation had moved on and we doubly didn’t matter.Now, as we look to our regular June primary, it is possible that if the Democrats had stayed put they would be in a position to matter.Too bad for us. A double loser.So instead of being an afterthought in a contest that had already been decided, states with springtime primaries and caucuses may yet play a role in the hard-fought and unusually long-lived race between Democratic hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.Twenty-two states held Democratic nomination contests on Feb. 5, creating a virtual national primary. But instead of deciding the nominee as once expected, Super Tuesday turned out to be a split decision. Obama has since gained the upper hand, but neither candidate is close to the 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination.And the contests in four states on March 4, including the big prizes of Texas, with 193 delegates, and Ohio, with 141, only fueled the race and gave real value to the later primaries that now really matter.So the good folks in Indiana who will vote May 6, Oregon on May 20, now are in the forefront.After that, more than 500 delegates wait to be awarded in the latest-voting states. Besides Indiana and Oregon, those include Pennsylvania on April 22, North Carolina on May 6, West Virginia on May 13, Kentucky on May 20, and Montana and South Dakota on June 3.All may matter. Except New Mexico.

Speaking of the election

The AP also reported on the finances of former presidential candidate Bibb Richardson.According to their report, state employees were the largest contributors to Richardson’s campaign.Workers for state agencies and state-funded colleges gave about $6,500 to the governor’s campaign in January, with all but $700 of the money contributed before the Richardson ended his presidential bid on Jan. 10.Last year, state employees contributed at least $519,600 to Richardson’s presidential campaign. That’s more than any other group of individuals.Richardson collected $380,379 in contributions last month and nearly $23 million total during his yearlong campaign, according to a report filed last week by the campaign with the Federal Election Commission.Donors who were self-employed were the top donors in January, giving about $43,700, and were followed by retirees, about $38,000.Contributors from New Mexico gave $5.7 million to the governor’s campaign through the end of last month, according to the FEC. Next was California, $2.4 million; New York, $1.6 million; and Texas, $1.4 million.During the fourth quarter of 2007, among the top contributors to Richardson were executives of the Hess Corp., an oil company formerly known as Amerada Hess Corp., $23,000; and executives of Penn National Gaming, $21,300.The Pennsylvania-based gambling industry company last year bought Zia Park racetrack and casino in Hobbs.There is always a danger when those working for a candidate give the most but as long as there is not evidence of pressure – and we know of none – it is enough that these contributors are reported.