Former New Mexico Democratic Party Chairman Brian Colon appears to be set to cruise to victory in the June 1st Lt. Governor primary election. He maintains a significant lead in the all-important fundraising category and his TV ad saturation campaign is well underway. Colon has also racked up all of the crucial high-profile union endorsements.
Colon may be the most disingenuous of the candidates, but in political circles that is not considered a negative. His ability to indefatigably travel the state and remember the names of everyone he shakes hands with prove to be valuable attributes in the vacuous world of elected public service.
Mr. Colon is obviously laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial candidacy in 2018, following the blueprint of his eventual 2010 running mate Diane Denish, who also started her political ascendancy as head of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. Colon is slick and polished, and perfectly capable of saying that he will deliver everything to everyone.
Among the also-rans in the race is Lawrence Rael. Rael, a career bureaucrat, has headed several large projects in the state, most notably the construction of the Rail Runner and the creation of Isotopes Park. For 12 years, Rael was the CAO for the city of Albuquerque, running a tight ship for a rather prosperous and growing city. He is a successful manager. One thing Rael is not, however, is a politician. His inability to speak platitudes and be all things to all people will cost him dearly.
Former Santa Rosa mayor Jose (Joe) Campos is also in the mix. He does not lay it on as thick as Colon, but it is clear that Campos has honed his political chops in his three terms as mayor and in his current stint as a State Representative. Campos, like all politicians, is an opportunist who is quick to take credit for successes in which he was only tangentially involved. In Campos' case, it is the construction of a for-profit prison that brought much needed jobs to impoverished Guadalupe County. This project does bring up the morality of making money off of human misery and calling it a triumph of economic development. Campos also hammers away at preparing the youth of New Mexico for the jobs of the future, that long-promised, almost-here, Green Economy.
Flaming liberals and State Senators Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Linda M. Lopez are also in the race. Ortiz y Pino is the Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel character in the race who is not afraid to tell the truth because he knows he has no shot at winning. His political spirit matches that of the left-wing bastions of Santa Fe and Taos, but his schtick would have a hard time playing in the more conservative areas of the state. Lopez seems to think that her gender is status enough to vote for her, as she has commented that in state government, "the women work harder than the men." Also, she will remind the voter at every opportunity that she has tried four times to repeal the 2003 tax cuts that Bill Richardson supported.
It would take a serious stumble for Colon to lose. Rael and Campos are working hard to maintain an outside shot. The bottom line is that voters are lazy, Colon has the most connections, and he will cruise to a primary victory.