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Booker visit offered rare opportunity for residents

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Presidential candidates usually flock to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina at this point on the campaign calendar.

Delegates from those states will be up for grabs shortly after the beginning of the new year.

That’s why New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s fundraiser in Downtown Albuquerque turned out to be a rare opportunity this early in the race for residents in a state that is among the last to weigh-in before the political party conventions.

“We don’t have that many opportunities in Albuquerque to come face-to-face with a presidential candidate,” said Jody Neal-Post, who was among the couple of hundred people who came to hear the Democratic candidate speak. She found the cost of attending the fundraiser very reasonable.

U.S. Senator and Democratic Party presidential candidate Cory Booker addresses the crowd at Marble Brewery in Downtown Albuquerque on Aug. 26. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Many in attendance at Marble Brewery on Monday weren’t necessarily Booker supporters. But they wanted to see what his campaign was all about.

Albuquerque resident Byron Lindsey said he respected Booker for the “positive direction” of his campaign.

Jeff Rein wanted to find out if Booker “was relatable and authentic.”

Booker’s event was the first public event by a presidential candidate during the 2020 campaign in Albuquerque. Mayor Tim Keller introduced Booker at the fundraiser, and said his administration gathered ideas from Booker’s time as mayor in Newark, New Jersey. Booker also praised Keller.

“You all have a standout mayor in Tim,” the senator said.

Booker also called New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich one of his best friends in the political world.

“He’s taught me more about your state,” he said. “He’s always corralling me about New Mexico issues.”

Booker joked that he’s a vegan and Heinrich likes to hunt. Heinrich was not in attendance.

Booker is the second presidential candidate to visit New Mexico. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg visited Santa Fe for two private fundraisers earlier this month.

Jill Biden – wife of Joe Biden, the former vice president now running for the Democratic nomination for president – attended a fundraiser in the Albuquerque area last month.

TORRES SMALL IN PERMIAN BASIN: U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., made a number of stops in the Permian Basin last week as part of her District Work Period listening tour. The basin in Southeastern New Mexico is home to much of the state’s booming energy industry, which also serves as the state’s economic driver. Her office said her stops centered around Torres Small’s effort to improve New Mexico’s infrastructure, increase access to health care and bring jobs to rural communities.

“It’s no secret that the Permian Basin is a major economic driver of our state helping fund our schools and roads,” she said. “It’s why I have made it a priority to learn more about their operations and the challenges that face the region myself. We must tackle the daily frustrations that local residents endure such as a lack of health care providers and helping those in the community stay safe by improving roads and the infrastructure families rely on every day.”

She toured facilities at EOG Resources in Hobbs, including its electric fracking site. Afterward, she joined XTO Energy in Carlsbad for a rig tour that was followed up by a conversation with employees about the issues in the energy industry and the challenges facing their community. She also a held town hall at the Carlsbad Municipal Annex, where she fielded questions on topics ranging from rural health care, energy, immigration and local infrastructure.

Torres Small also participated in a roundtable with several members the Hobbs Chamber of Commerce and health care leaders to discuss economic development, workforce investment, and affordable housing in southern New Mexico. After a meeting with the Permian Strategic Partnership for an update on its work supporting local communities, the first-term representative visited Lea Regional Medical for a facility tour and meeting. Areas of discussion included affordable health care and increasing rural physician recruitment and retention, of which she has sponsored legislation.

Scott Turner:

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