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Ads Attack Wilson; Ballot Grows

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A national environmental advocacy group is airing local TV ads attacking Heather Wilson for past congressional votes they say threatened water quality.

The League of Conservation Voters is spending $150,000 to run two 15-second ads on New Mexico TV stations. They say the ads highlight Wilson’s record of voting to protect oil and gas companies using the gas additive MTBE while accepting campaign contributions from those groups.

“MTBE is one of gasoline’s most dangerous chemicals. When it got into our drinking water, Heather Wilson should have held polluters accountable, but she voted no,” one of the commercials says.

The ads refer to Wilson’s votes in support of wide-ranging, multifaceted energy bills in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Wilson in 2005 voted against a provision in that year’s energy bill that would have removed legal protections for the oil and gas industry in case of MTBE water contamination.

Around that time, Wilson accepted about $61,000 in campaign contributions from MTBE producers, according to the League of Conservation Voters, which is based in Washington, D.C.

Wilson, however, has welcomed the criticism.

Wilson’s campaign says her votes in support of the oil and gas industry are proof of her commitment to protect jobs for New Mexico companies.

“The same environmental extremists who want to increase our gas prices and utility bills are spending a million dollars to falsely attack Heather because she doesn’t share their job-killing agenda,” Wilson spokesman Christopher Sanchez said in a statement.

A coalition of national environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters, has pledged to spend as much as $2 million to help elect Wilson’s opponent, Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M, in the race for New Mexico’s open Senate seat.

— James Monteleone, jmonteleone@abqjournal.com

INDEPENDENT BIDS: Former Republican state Sen. Joseph Carraro filed Tuesday to run as an independent against Republican Sen. John Ryan of Albuquerque in the November general election.

Carraro said he switched from being a Republican in 2008 after losing the party’s nomination for the 1st Congressional District.

Ryan drew no Democratic opponent this year and would have been unopposed in the general election if Carraro hadn’t filed as a candidate.

“The time is right for an independent to run and not represent a party but represent the point of view of the people,” Carraro said.

Tuesday was the deadline for minor party and independent candidates to file for the general election ballot.

The race for an open U.S. Senate seat expanded.

Jon Ross Barrie of Albuquerque filed as an Independent American Party candidate. He’ll face Democrat Martin Heinrich and Republican Heather Wilson.

Barrie, on his campaign website, describes himself as a “constitutional conservative.”
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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