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Dems stay in races after poor convention showings

SANTA FE – New Mexico Democrats’ recent pre-primary convention hasn’t narrowed the field of candidates in several high-profile races.

In the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District, the four candidates who did not reach the 20 percent threshold at last weekend’s convention – Pat Davis, Damon Martinez, Damian Lara and Paul Moya – all indicated they still plan to stay in the race, setting up a possible six-way primary contest.

And state Sens. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and George Muñoz of Gallup have both said they plan to stay in the races for governor and land commissioner, respectively, despite failing to hit the 20 percent mark at the convention.

“We’re in,” Muñoz said Tuesday, after pulling in 17.2 percent of the delegate vote in a three-way race.

Candidates who fail to win 20 percent of the delegate vote are required to submit a larger number of voter petition signatures if they still want to qualify for the ballot. But some candidates started collecting the larger amount before the convention.

One race that could feature candidates ending their campaigns is the four-way Democratic contest for lieutenant governor. One of the two candidates who did not hit the 20 percent mark, former Public Education Commissioner Jeff Carr of Eagle Nest, declined to comment Tuesday about his plans, while the other, Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett, did not respond to questions.

The two lieutenant governor candidates who surpassed the threshold are state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City, who pulled in 50.3 percent of the delegate vote, and former state Rep. Rick Miera of Albuquerque, who got 27.8 percent.

giving up: Congressional candidate Angel Peña has dropped his legal challenge to a ruling that disqualified him from the primary election ballot – and with it his campaign.

Although he initially challenged the ruling in court, Peña ultimately decided suspending his campaign would be the “best way” to rally his supporters behind other candidates, his campaign manager said Tuesday.

A Las Cruces resident, Peña had been one of three Democrats vying for the party’s nomination in the southern New Mexico-based 2nd Congressional District.

But Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office ruled last month that Peña had not turned in enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the June 5 primary election ballot.

One problem with Peña’s petitions was that campaign volunteers had trouble printing the letter “ñ” on the signature forms and, in an attempted fix, wrote the letter in by hand and scratched out a character that had been printed incorrectly in its place. State law bars any alterations to the header on a petition page.

The two remaining Democratic candidates in the race are Xochitl Torres Small, a water attorney from Las Cruces, and Mad Hildebrandt, an adjunct college instructor from Socorro. Four Republicans are also running for the seat.

Dan Boyd: