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          Front Page




White Leaves Carraro in Dust

By Leslie Linthicum
Copyright © 2008 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writer
    If the contest for the Republican nomination in the 1st Congressional District were a basketball game, it would be a blowout.
    Score: 72-13, plus or minus 6 points, according to a Journal poll on the race last week.
    Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White was on the upside of the scoring, with the support of 72 percent of likely Republican voters in the Albuquerque-based district.
    He was smoking underfunded state Sen. Joe Carraro, who had the backing of 13 percent.
    "Basically, what you have here is a race that's over," Research & Polling President Brian Sanderoff said Saturday.
    Research & Polling asked Republicans whom they planned to vote for in Tuesday's primary election for the 1st Congressional District seat currently held by Heather Wilson. The telephone poll was conducted May 27-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.
    Fifteen percent of the Republicans polled said they were still undecided.
    White has been a popular sheriff and has benefited from the endorsement of the Republican Party and from a fundraiser last week that featured President Bush.
    Carraro has been crying foul over the party's endorsement almost from the beginning of the race and asked the New Mexico attorney general to investigate its legality.
    On Friday, Carraro called for the primary election to be delayed while a court considered whether the party broke state law.
    But the attorney general had found the endorsement was legal and time was running out for Carraro to go to court to try to block the election.
    Sanderoff said the Republican Party's backing of White gives him a head start in the general election and also shows how badly the GOP— by taking sides in a primary— wants to keep the seat.
    White had already raised more than $600,000 for his campaign before the Bush fundraiser, which he said netted him another $150,000.
    Carraro, an energy consultant who has spent 20 years in the New Mexico Senate, managed to raise only about $30,000 by the end of the last campaign finance reporting period.
    Carraro spent a good deal of his money on billboard advertising, a television ad and a newspaper ad. Although White has advertised himself to voters only with a mailer to absentee voters, he still outspent Carraro by nearly $200,000, mostly on his campaign staff.
    Looking at the lopsided poll numbers, Sanderoff said, "We now know why Darren White hasn't spent any money on television. In this case, he didn't need to."
    White will have saved most of the campaign cash for the general election fight.
    The winner of the two-way Republican primary will face the winner of the four-way race for the Democratic nomination in the November general election.
    In a May 20-22 Journal Poll on the Democratic contest, Martin Heinrich led the four-candidate field, followed by Rebecca Vigil-Giron, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Robert Pidcock.
    The winner in November will replace Wilson, who is vacating her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.