Lawrence Rael formally launched his 2014 gubernatorial campaign today, adding a fifth name to a crowded Democratic field of candidates.
A longtime government veteran who helped launch the Rail Runner commuter train, Rael told supporters outside the state Capitol in Santa Fe that his focus will be on jobs, health care access and education. He also criticized the track record of Gov. Susana Martinez.
After announcing his campaign, Rael told the Journal one idea he favors is creating a state fund that could be used to invest in local start-up companies and lure out-of-state businesses to New Mexico.
“We have got to grow the economy,” he said.
Rael also said he supports bolstering the state’s green energy industry as a job-creation measure.
On the subject of education, he said he supports spending state funding on early childhood education, but said he would have to study a proposal to earmark money from the state’s largest permanent fund for that purpose.
Rael, who previously worked as chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque, recently resigned from his job with the Obama administration as the state executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
He first confirmed last week he intended to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
Other announced Democratic candidates are Santa Fe businessman Alan Webber, state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, state Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City and Attorney General Gary King.
Whoever wins the party’s nomination is expected to face Martinez, a Republican, in New Mexico’s 2014 gubernatorial election.
Danny Diaz, a spokesman for Martinez’s re-election campaign, responded to Rael’s announcement today with a statement.
“We are confident New Mexicans would rather have a results-oriented former prosecutor serving as their governor than a lobbyist and partisan like Lawrence Rael who would take the state backward,” Diaz said.