ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — February presidential vote will boost region’s clout, leaders say.
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, said Tuesday they will lobby other governors in the West to band together for a regional presidential primary to be held on Feb. 5, 2008, after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and before the so-called Super Tuesday primaries.
Huntsman met Richardson in the Governor’s Cabinet Room at the State Capitol in Santa Fe for about half an hour Tuesday, accompanied by Utah and New Mexico legislators and political leaders of both parties.
Earlier this year, Huntsman joined Richardson in pushing for an idea the Western Governors’ Association OK’d last year as Richardson finished up his term as WGA chairman.
New Mexico scrapped its traditional June presidential primary last year and instead held party caucuses on Feb. 3, the same day Arizona held its presidential primary. New Mexico’s early caucus resulted in more than 50 candidate visits and millions of dollars spent on advertising during the 2004 presidential campaign, Richardson said Tuesday.
So far, only New Mexico, Utah and Arizona have tentatively agreed to hold a joint primary early in the next presidential cycle, but Huntsman said Tuesday that states like Montana, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho may join.
Huntsman said the advantage of a regional primary for Utah, which like New Mexico has five electoral votes, is that it will get more attention from presidential candidates, who in turn must pay more attention to issues affecting the West.
Such issues, Richardson said, include water, land, energy, immigration, economic development, education and border security.
When asked whether an early regional primary would help a Western candidate for president, Richardson ever answered the question. Richardson has often been mentioned as a possible presidential contender but so far has said he is happy being governor of New Mexico.
6:45am — In Santa Fe, Eyes on 2008: Governors meet to boost West’s political clout. New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson and Utah’s Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. are scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. today at the State Capitol in Santa Fe to drum up bipartisan support for a Western States Presidential Primary in 2008.
The move is aimed at creating momentum for a regional primary race sandwiched between the traditional first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary and the so-called Super Tuesday conglomeration of states, to be held some time in early February.
The idea is to give Western states increased influence in picking presidential nominees from both parties in what is shaping up to be the most wide-open races in decades.
Richardson himself has been coy about a possible run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
Elsewhere today, Sen. Pete Domenici plans to break ground for a new silvery minnow sanctuary at 10 a.m. at the Rio Grande bosque, 2nd and Bridge SW along with the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.