Alan Webber may have taken more than 50 percent of the Santa Fe County vote. Lawrence Rael may have won the vote in Taos County. Howie Morales may have won vital home turf areas like Doña Ana and Grant counties. But Gary King took virtually all of the remaining counties, which was more than enough to propel him to the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday night.
In the end, King won the primary election with 35 percent of the statewide vote. Runner-up Webber garnered 22 percent, Rael came in with 19 percent, Morales tallied 14 percent and state Sen. Linda Lopez finished with just 8 percent. He'll face incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez in the November general election.
King, a folksy, soft-spoken, nasally-voiced policy wonk, did his best to try to rally Democratic Party activists last night at the DoubleTree Albuquerque hotel.
"We as Democrats will work together," he said to the crowd in his acceptance speech. "We're going to stand together for families. We're going to stand together for working people. We're going to stand together for teachers and education ... We know the fate of New Mexico stands at the apex. This is a battle for the future of the state of New Mexico."
Best known as the son of former three-term Gov. Bruce King and as the current New Mexico attorney general, Gary King hasn't exactly convinced his entire party that he's the best candidate to take on the heavily-favored incumbent Republican. King announced his candidacy in summer 2012 to little fanfare. By fall 2013, four other candidates had filed to challenge him. Just three months ago, King made a poor showing at the Democratic Party preprimary convention, capturing just 10 percent of the delegate vote and failing to make the primary ballot (he later submitted 10,000 signatures to qualify).
He is the first candidate to fail to qualify for the ballot from delegate support in a preprimary convention and go on to win a primary election.
King told SFR in April that his poor convention showing had to do with operatives upset over his prosecutions as attorney general of fellow Democratic party officeholders like Rebecca Vigil-Giron. He said that doing well at party conventions required a certain amount of "kowtowing to party bosses" and that he was not willing to do.
"I am not much of a wheeler-dealer, and the conventions are kind of a wheeler-dealer kind of deal," King said. "The party conventions are what's replaced the smoke-filled room."
Pundits are quickly attributing King's victory to his family name recognition. In his April interview, King underlined the importance of being able to get 10,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, a feat that he maintained neither his father nor former Gov. Bill Richardson made.
In other statewide election results, former Republican Party chairman Allen Weh easily defeated attorney David Clements for the US Senate GOP nomination. Weh took 63 percent of the vote to Clements' 37 percent, a marked contrast to Clements' much stronger showing at the state Republican Party preprimary convention in March.
Clements, the 34-year-old former Doña Ana GOP chairman, came into the race early as a "constitutional conservative" representing the growing libertarian wing of the party. Weh, 71, is a former Marine colonel and the CEO and president of Albuquerque-based defense contractor CSI Aviation Inc. A more traditional Republican, Weh won the votes in all but three counties—Union county, Quay county and Clements' own Doña Ana county.
Weh will face the heavily-favored incumbent Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in November.
Former state Sen. Tim Eichenberg edged out challenger John Wertheim in a race for state treasurer that was marked by bitter attacks in its last few weeks. Eichenberg beat Wertheim by a 5-point margin. He'll face Republican Rick Lopez for the treasurer's office in November.