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Protest Votes Infiltrate Dem Convention

By Sean Olson / Politics Notebook

          A group of about a dozen Democrats — or as many as 30, depending on whom you ask — cooked up a mini-insurrection at the Democratic pre-primary nominating convention last weekend at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino.
        Several convention delegates placed stickers with the name of Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Jon Barela over the name of incumbent Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., on the convention ballot.
        Those delegates were led by Robert Aragon of Albuquerque, a former state legislator and self-described centrist Democrat who is a vocal Barela supporter. Aragon introduced the Republican candidate when Barela announced his candidacy last summer.
        By Aragon's estimate, at least 30 delegates of the nearly 2,000 delegates participating used the Barela sticker.
        State Democratic party spokesman James Hallinan said that the party didn't have an exact count, but that there were "definitely no more than 13" of the Barela stickers placed on the ballots.
        There is no write-in provision for convention voting, which is run by the party and includes only Democratic candidates, so Heinrich received all the votes on the ballots, including the ones with the Barela stickers.
        Aragon said Barela stickers were meant to protest progressive Democrats, who he said include Heinrich and who he claims are now controlling the state party.
        "They are not Democrats; they are socialists," Aragon said.
        Asked to comment, Heinrich spokeswoman Whitney Potter said: "Representative Heinrich's focus right now is not on politics, but instead on reforming our broken health care system, reducing the deficit and putting people back to work in central New Mexico."
        State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales said Tuesday that the Aragon faction doesn't speak for the party.
        "What a few fringe individuals who have a history of supporting Republican candidates did is nothing more than a cheap and juvenile prank. We are talking about roughly 10 stickers out of nearly 2,000 delegates," Gonzales said.
        CAMPOS MAKES BALLOT: Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa, will be on the June 1 primary election ballot after all.
        Campos, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, was just a couple of votes shy of reaching the requisite 20 percent of delegate votes at a Democratic convention Saturday.
        In a hearing at state Democrat headquarters today, the party's judicial committee and state chairman ruled Campos should be on the ballot after his campaign pointed out that convention rules allowed for vote percentages to be rounded up or down. Campos got 19.6 percent of the vote at the convention.

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