On August 21, 2007 I announced my intention to run for Lieutenant Governor in the 2010 June Primary. There were a lot of circumstances which comprised my decision to run and my decision to announce so early. Bill Richardson was running for President and rumors were rampant that win or lose he would be leaving the Governors office early. After meeting with family, friends and longtime political advisers I decided to run for Lieutenant Governor and to announce the campaign early. The main reasons for the decision were the following.
1. My friends, advisers and myself felt Lt. Governor Diane Denish would be a shoe in if not unopposed for the Democratic nominee for Governor. I really felt that I could make a difference on many issues which I felt were important to the middle class. Not coming from a high income family, not being a lawyer or a high brow politico was something I felt was lacking in the roundhouse. I truly felt we were lacking a majority of progressive democrats who understood the hardships which typical middle and low income families endure.
2. With Lt. Gov. Diane Denish having a solid foundation in Southern New Mexico we felt she needed a Hispanic from Northern New Mexico to balance the ticket and bring in much needed Hispanic votes.
3. We all felt Lt. Gov. Denish would be Governor by Jan-Feb 2009 with Richardson leaving office early.
4. In order to get noticed by Lt. Gov. Denish I would have to begin the campaign early. I am well established politically in Santa Fe County however I did not have strong connections to state wide politics. The goal was to get on Lt. Gov. Denish's radar screen for a possible appointment.
5. It was felt by us all that my lack of connections to state wide politics could be a positive. Even though we did not foresee the scandals and accusations that would later hit the Richardson Administration we did foresee some citizens had become weary of the Richardson Administration and my lack of connections to the administration could be a positive for a Diane Denish run for Governor.
So, I announced my campaign for Lieutenant Governor in August of 2007. In January of 2008 Governor Richardson dropped out of the presidential race and rumors were still rampant that Richardson should leave office at the end of the year. Barack Obama then won the Democratic Primary for President in June and was well on his way to a win in November. At the time it was believed that Bill Richardson would leave soon after the inauguration in January of 2009.
I had reached out to Lieutenant Governor Denish in the weeks prior to my announcing my run for Lieutenant Governor and we were not able to meet. In early 2008 I made more attempts to meet with her and we had sill not been able to meet. This was the first of many roadblocks I began to encounter. In 2008 I had concentrated on meeting Democrats across the state and getting my name out there. In 2009 I began trying to raise money for the impending race. While many were talking about running for Lieutenant Governor and many were rumored to be considering running, I was still the only candidate actually announced. While running in three different elections for Sheriff. I did rather well raising money within Santa Fe County. I was however, encountering a lot of difficulty in raising money for the Lieutenant Governor race. Donors who had given to me in election after election were not donating for this campaign.
Some wanted to wait and see how things would shake out after the Governor left and the Lieutenant Governor ascended to the Governors seat. Others had heard that there was a favorite who would be appointed and they did not want to do anything that could offend an appointee who may not be me. One even claimed they were advised by those in the roundhouse to hold off donating to anyone until "things had a chance to shake out in the Lt. Gov's Race". I did some checking and this was found by me to be true. Some of these donors had given thousands to me in the past and had held fundraisers for me but they were not willing to get involved in the race at this time. This was disappointing to me and would be the beginning of a death blow to my campaign.
The interesting thing to me was how many business owners were not outright saying it but they seemed to be in fear that if they donated to the wrong person it could affect their business with the state. Now I am not saying it was any type of pay to play or corruption but rather cautious large business owners who needed to keep a good relationship with the upper levels of state government and feared making a mistake in their donations. I think that in my county races the donors felt they could make donations based on people they liked or in some cases I know the same donor gave to both me and my opponents but they did not feel that in local races it could come back to bite them later.
It was a big awakening for me and showed me the stark differences between a local and a state wide race. By spring of 2009 I had five other announced opponents who were out campaigning and starting to raise money. Governor Richardson was no longer leaving and it was clear that the next Lieutenant Governor would have to become Lieutenant Governor the old fashioned way, by being elected. While I tried to talk issues and issued platforms statements, some opponents concentrated on raising huge sums of money and were being very successful at it. Other candidates put tens of thousands of money from their own pockets and borrowed tens of thousand from banks in order to compete with the couple of candidates who were from one hundred and fifty thousand to a quarter of a million dollars. Even today several of my opponents have no issues or platform statements on their website and speak little about the issues and much about their success at raising money. On October 13, 2009 we all had to report the money raised so far. One candidate had raised over $250,000 and two had raised around $150,000 although one did so through loans of $100,000 to his campaign. The other three candidates including myself had less than $20,000 raised.
After all the campaign finance reports came out I decided to go into hiatus on raising money. I needed to make a decision as to whether I would be staying in the race. Until I decided for sure I did not want to take any additional money while I was unsure of my position on staying in the race. We did begin to gather petition signatures which were needed to garner a place on the ballot. In addition to gathering petitions we reached out to State Convention Delegates to see where we were in garnering the 20% needed to get on the ballot in June as well. A lot of voters don't realize that they are the last to decide who wins a race or not. There are numerous hurdles candidates need to get over before voters ever get to see their name on a ballot. One of these is getting past the delegates at the State Democratic Convention. One of my opponents has a decided advantage in that arena having been Chairman of the State Democratic party for over two years. I expect him to take well over the 20% of delegates in the convention leaving the rest of the candidates to fight over what remains.
By Thanksgiving it was becoming increasingly clear I was in for a huge uphill battle. I decided to take the holidays off the campaign trail and make a decision and announcement after the new year. I have met thousands of people who have really supported me, if not with money but with their heart and words. Many of my supporters are everyday people who in today's economic times could not afford to give money to political campaigns while they are facing job loses, furloughs, and fear of just keeping their houses. While the middle and low income people of New Mexico are the ones needing representation and change the most they are the ones least able to pay for the influence they need at the roundhouse. I do feel we have some great candidates running for Lieutenant Governor and I also feel Diane Denish is in touch with the plight of middle income residents of New Mexico and will represent them well. I truly hope the next Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico will remember that as the state faces tough economic times that we must not forget to bail out the people as quickly as the state and nation bails out industries.
I also feel that the state has been remiss in meeting with state employee unions and negotiating cuts and ideas to save money rather than handing down orders, furloughs, and cuts without input from the union members. That is why we have unions to give employees a voice in what happens to them.
At least two candidates have approached me for endorsements should I get out of the Lieutenant Governors race. I am considering whether I endorse and if I do who it would be. So, if you have not figured it out by now I am leaving the race for Lieutenant Governor. It is really too bad that the one thing the media, bloggers, and political operatives care about most is how much money a candidate can raise. The issues, the person are secondary in a state wide race to money.
I lost my first run at political office in 1998 when I first ran for Sheriff. I learned more from that loss than my subsequent two wins for the office of Sheriff. I can honestly say I learned a whole lot from my attempt to become the states next Lieutenant Governor. I have no regrets and the lessons learned will only help me in anything I do in the future. I have never been one to make New Years resolutions. I have always thought you should make decisions on your life and any changes on a day to day basis and not just once a year. So I start this new decade and New Year with a new adventure. The great thing about life is you never know where the road will take you.
When I was a young son of a single mother I would have never guessed in a million years I would even have an opportunity to run for Lieutenant Governor. I would have never guessed I would be Sheriff of Santa Fe County, meet three presidents and numerous movie stars and have the great life and family I now have. I am truly blessed. To all those who have supported my candidacy I hope I have not let you down. I have always been very pragmatic and logical in my decisions, (my wife says I am too logical and not emotional enough), She is probably right and I am constantly working on that. Logically I was not in a position to win. However, I have run races before where I have lost and come back to win another time, so don't count me out.
Thank you all for your support, whether in an elected office or not I will always be an outspoken advocate for you and for what is right. To my wife and children thanks for putting up with a life in politics, few realize what you go through and the price you pay for having me as a husband and father. I do realize the sacrifices you have made and I appreciate it more than I could ever show you.