On the corner of Ninita Street and St. Francis Drive is CG Higgins Confections—a veritable Taj Mahal of sweets, of which proprietor and namesake Chuck Higgins is the maharaja.
His ingredients, Higgins says, are top-shelf ("I don't use anything I can't pronounce") and his technique, second to none. The brittle's hand-stretched, the fudge is made from scratch and his truffles—with flavors that range from raspberry chipotle to blue cheese—have a cult following.
With pride in his eyes, the man behind the ever-popular Chuck's Nuts booth at the New Mexico State Fair says the latest addition to the brood—almond toffee—has been "a huge success."
He hopes his next venture proves to be as ambrosial.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 11 am—"One hour before the Governor gives her state of the state address"—Higgins will announce his run for lieutenant governor in the 2014 election's Democratic ticket.
Higgins plans to make the formal announcement outside the southeast end of the Roundhouse with his husband Donald by his side.
"I expect the gay marriage thing to be a factor," Higgins says. "[It's] a facet of who I am, but I'm not using that as a centerpiece of the campaign," the confectioner, who originally registered before the state's exploratory committee a couple of months back with his eye on the Governor seat, says.
"It's better fit for me," he says of the revised position.
Along with "brushing up" on his Robert's Rules of Order, Higgins studied the lieutenant governor's website to make sure he was up for the job. According to it, his constitutional and statutory duties will include serving as "President of the New Mexico Senate" and "Acting Governor when Governor Susana Martinez is out of the state."
Just because there's a list there doesn't mean I have to stop there," he says. "There are other issues I can pick up and lead the charge on."
Not one to sugarcoat the issues, Higgins—who first showed inklings of entrepreneurship at age 8, when he sold nightcrawlers to fisherman in his Iowa hometown of 200 inhabitants—hopes his efforts and "Midwest work ethic" will pull New Mexico from its close-to-last-place rank it currently holds in things like education and employment.
Aware of the low blows the politics game brings with it, Higgins also has choice words lined up, should opponents choose to bring up his involvement in the leather community.
"It's only negative if you look at it as a negative," the former Arkansas Mr. Leather says. "What I do in my personal erotic life is my business, and if that [is] to be brought to the table for discussion, then I think that it's fair to start asking people in office—like the governor—'So, tell us about your sex life?'"
The 64-year-old says he'll draw on the positive lessons he's learned from the leather world, such as mutual trust and respect, and opt to focus his energy on his course of action—which includes a statewide series of sit-downs he's dubbed "Chats with Chuck."
"It's more of a listening tour than a telling-people-what-to-do tour," he says.
Higgins also plans to arrive at each salon bearing a tray of homemade fudge. "It'll be my trademark," he says—and it bears unique symbolism.
"When it comes to candy, if it can be done better, I'll do it. It's the same in politics," Higgins explains.
"After all," he points out, "the candy man can."