Weh wins GOP slot in U.S. Senate race

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By Associated Press


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Retired Marine colonel and aerospace entrepreneur Allen Weh Tuesday easily defeated political newcomer David Clements for the unlikely chance to unseat popular Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in November.

The 71-year-old Weh had 65 percent of the vote in unofficial returns from the GOP primary.

A wealthy Albuquerque businessman, Weh spent more than $200,000 of his own money to defeat Clements, a political newcomer with little cash who surprised many by winning 47 percent of delegate support at the state convention earlier this year.

Weh is former state GOP party chairman who made a run for governor four years ago, coming in second behind Gov. Susana Martinez in a five-way primary.

But despite his veteran status and deep pockets, political watchers said he has little chance of winning over Udall, a popular former congressman and state attorney general with $3 million cash on hand. A recent computer model of races conducted for The New York Times says Udall is one of 14 Senate incumbents with a 99 percent chance of retaining their seats.

University of New Mexico political science professor Gabriel Sanchez agreed, noting that Udall has high approval ratings and the GOP candidate will likely have a hard time raising money given projections like those from The New York Times.

Weh joined the race in January and has raised nearly $600,000, including $217,000 of his own money, according to the latest reports. Clements has been running since October, and he raised and spent about $40,000.

In other primary races, two political newcomers are vying for the Republican nomination for the 1st Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Mike Frese, a 66-year-old scientist and small business owner from Corrales, was leading Richard Priem, a 64-year-old businessman and retired Army veteran from Albuquerque, with 64 percent of the vote.

For the 2nd Congressional seat, Democratic three-term incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan easily defeated challenger Robert Blanch, an assistant district attorney in Albuquerque, with 82 percent in unofficial returns.

There were no primary races for southern New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Steve Pearce, who will run against Democratic attorney Roxanne "Rocky" Laura from Carlsbad in November.